So it happened. After 70 years of an ever-closer union, on June 23rd the UK decided to break away from the European Union. Since then we have heard countless predictions of the end of days. Listening to some people in the last few weeks it would be hard not to think that Brexit was the first sign of the apocalypse. We all need to calm down a little bit.
I lived through the fall of the Soviet Union. Compared to the chaos that followed that, this is nothing. We seem to have forgotten in the past few weeks that in a lot of cases change is a positive. However, it is not hard to see why for many people Brexit is concerning.
The European Union was originally founded as a platform to replace the centuries of war in Europe with trade and cooperation. Over the decades, the EU helped nation states integrate their economies and provide the structures that have helped unify Europe. Not through ideology but through the industries of nations working together. Europe was held together ultimately not by a political structure but the practicalities of business.
Indeed, throughout the history of the world we have been united more by business driven technology than by any political project. In the 19th century it took months to trade globally. In the 20th century it took days. Today this takes minutes.
While it may seem like Brexit is going to tear us apart from Europe and the world, with technology now driving humanity towards more integration this could not be further from the truth.
Companies, organisations and even people are being empowered by technology to transcend states and regional groups like the EU. Whereas in the past nations and international organisations provided the platform for business, today technology is the platform. Operating globally companies have no need for a 'home nation.' They can interact and conduct work with anyone, anywhere, instantaneously.
It is not just corporations that are empowered to interact globally. Now more than any other time in human history, technology is helping people from the four corners of the world meet, interact and share. As the world becomes ever more interconnected and the barriers between technology and people are broken down, the need for nation states to be the means by which we are brought together will end.
No longer bound by political structures, corporations and individuals will be brought together like never before. United not by philosophy and political constructs but by technological practicalities and the requirements of business.
While the European project, in its current form, may be on its last legs and without change is likely to face more difficulties, we should reject predictions that this will lead to division and even, as claimed by some, another war in Europe. The simple truth is the expansion of technology into every part of our lives means despite any political changes, we will be united more than ever before.
Trade, cooperation and greater understanding avoid wars. With technology as the platform for human interaction and business, rather than states, these will only deepen.
While the solution to every problem is not always more technology, with nation states and regional political groupings under increasing pressure, the solution is more technology, in more parts of our lives. Since the Second World War humanity has become more integrated, more connected and is moving towards one global community. Technological expansion will only deepen this.
The end of the UK's membership of the EU could be seen as the beginning of the end. Or as the start of a new world order where war and division are replaced by technology, peace and a global community. Bound together not by political ideology but by practicalities.
I want to believe in this.
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