George Soros is not the first person of late to draw a comparison between the current state of the EU and the final days of the Soviet Union. Across Europe there is genuine fear that the European Union may be on its last legs. At the very least it is one of the possible future scenarios. And a large reason that such a scenario is being viewed as having potential is down to the quite obvious retreat of what may be described as the liberal world view across the continent ie the ideology to which the continents powerhouses have been anchored for nigh on 50 years is in the process of being rejected by significant sections of the population such that the centre ground is moving to the right. As per the above article even George Soros is of the view that this is not a temporary phenomenon but is rather a shifting of the plates that is likely to remain in place over the coming decades.
In Ireland however, there appears to be no evidence that the establishment is even aware that any of this is even a possibility. Perhaps this may be chalked down to the fact that the Irish establishment has only over the past 5 years or so, succeeded in embedding the type of social democratic liberalism, that has reigned elsewhere in Europe for a generation, into the heart of the Irish body politic. In essence, what is now perceived as old, outdated and flawed across much of the rest of Europe is still viewed in Ireland as a kind of new bright and shiny departure from what’s perceived as having been a somewhat puritanical past.
In light of this, question marks must surely be raised as to whether the type of mono-conceptual group-think that has informed the Brexit debate on this island is really in Irelands long term interest. In this regard the only approach considered has been one of intransigent compliance with the EU line as it pertains to the backstop issue. While it is obviously in Irelands interest to avoid a hard border on the island at all Costs, one would hope that this approach is borne of the furtherance of Irish self interest alone and that a few plan B options are lurking in the background. In other words, if a hard border was to come about because of slavish adherence on the part of the Irish political establishment to a line in Defence of a world view and a European political establishment (and even European political institutions) that may not be around much longer (at least in their current form), especially given the numerous likely attendant long term implications for our relationship with our nearest neigbour, that would not only be a disaster in base economic terms but it could go down as one of the worst mistakes in modern Irish history. That nobody in Irish public life appears to be even factoring in alternative outcomes is a worry…you’ll note Soros doesn’t mention Ireland even once in the course of that article ie we are a tadpole proxy within a Brexit debate that is itself a proxy for bigger, broader issues that are playing themselves out across the continent and beyond.