Britain after the EU Referendum: So Who Are ‘We’ Now?

[This is the first in what I hope will be a series of posts on the seismic events triggered by the EU Referendum result. This is my attempt to take a step back and take a broader look at what’s happening.]

The most fundamental question in politics – that comes before “how are we to live together and govern ourselves?” – is “who is the ‘we’ that will live together in this polity?”. 

I do not believe, with Rousseau, that humans were originally noble, isolated, individuals who come together in a ‘social contract’. Nor do I agree with Hobbes that we were likewise isolated, but ignoble, individuals and needed ‘Leviathan’ (government) to force us to live together in some sort of order.

We are a social species – we have always lived together in groups much larger than our immediate family. As Peter Singer so memorably puts it, “we were social before we were human”.

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