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Dmitri Prieto-Samsonov: I define myself as being either Cuban-Russian or Russian-Cuban, indiscriminately. I was born in Moscow in 1972 of a Russian mother and a Cuban father. I lived in the USSR until I was 13, although I was already familiar with Cuba-- where we would take our vacation almost every year. I currently live on the fifth floor of an apartment building in Santa Cruz del Norte, near the sea. I’ve studied biochemistry and law in Havana and anthropology in London. I’ve written about molecular biology, philosophy and anarchism, although I enjoy reading more than writing. I am currently teaching in the Agrarian University of Havana. I believe in God and in the possibility of a free society. Together with other people, that’s what we’re into: breaking down walls and routines.

Brexit and Bureaucracy

July 16, 2016 |

Dmiti Prieto

Brexit. elsalamoncontracorriente.es

Illustración: elsalamoncontracorriente.es

HAVANA TIMES — This whole business of the UK leaving the EU – BREXIT – can be read and interpreted in many ways. The results of the referendum, where the majority of England and Wales (it wasn’t the case in Scotland and Northern Ireland) voted to “leave” and won, are now being questioned by millions of British youth who have now lost the opportunity to work in the EU’s 27 member countries.

Those who voted to leave the EU were in their majority, older British citizens who saw the EU as a hindrance to what they understood to be independent national policy…

Brexit isn’t my controversy. Here in Cuba we have more than enough foolishness to deal with.

However, a part of this controversy has caught my attention and isn’t really touched upon in the analyses I’ve read.

This is the subject of bureaucracy.

The referendum’s binary nature or the “leave vs. remain” status of its results, transforms the pro-EU supporters into unvoluntary defenders of a downright bureaucratic and out-of-date institution. Even when the European Union has – unquestionably in my opinion – created great opportunities for free movement, coexistence and peace.

I’m convinced that beyond the irrational politics behind this referendum (ideological, national identity, emotional factors, and even xenophobia), there is a very reasonable argument to leave the EU and that’s being aware of just how bureaucratic the EU has become. However, just so we’re clear, in the same way those who are pro-EU were forced to support European bureaucracy, those who refused the European Union voted for “national” bureaucracy of an “independent” State; and the outcome would be repeated in any referendum to be held in any other European country.

The “United States of Europe” concept, promoted in the 19th century by progressive and radical figures from a wide range of sectors, from Mikhail Bakunin to Victor Hugo, didn’t imply creating colonies of new bureaucratic decision-makers for its defenders back when it was conceived. Rather, it was created in order to ensure peace between traditionally war-hungry powers, through institutions that would prove their solidarity and their democratic nature, in a fundamentally non-authoritarian coexistence.

It all began to get utopian in the second half of, and especially in the late, 20th century, when the EU dream became a burden for many. Its headquarters: in a building of bureaucrats.

It’s pretty messed up that somebody who is far away in an air conditioned office, decides for somebody else here and now.

And it’s because this authoritarian, state-led and modern capitalist system doesn’t know how to, can’t and doesn’t have the means to reason in these terms.

Bureaucracy is one of the main causes for Euro-skepticism. And this skepticism will weigh down any idea of integration, while such bureaucracy exists.

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  • Carlyle MacDuff

    A pretty reasonable analysis to be reached by a Cuban with admittedly some experience of living in London (which voted against Brexit).
    The issue of bureaucracy is not only a difficulty in the EU with all those centered in Brussels. It is a very substantial problem in Cuba where the bureaucrats at all three levels of the administrative system (national, provincial and municipal) are loath to take a decision regarding almost anything. This is a consequence of a combination of fear of making a mistake and lethargy. It is easier to allow the various applications and requests to just pile up. As previously recorded in articles in Havana Times, this leads to frustration which cannot be vented as there are no ‘representatives of the people’ to whom to complain, only Party loyalists who either don’t care or are unable to do anything being but cyphers within the system of dictatorship.
    One obvious difference between the bureaucrats whom Dimitri Prieto mentions sitting far away in air conditioned offices in Brussels, and those whose offices are in Cuba, is that in Brussels, the air-conditioning actually works!

  • Gerard Matthews

    it was not a regional vote it was a UK vote and the majority of people who took the time to vote, voted to leave so we will abide by the will of the majority. It is a pity that this does not take place in Cuba!

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      Gerard, you are correct in saying that Brexit was a UK vote, not regional. But, if you had watched the BBC reporting on the night of the referendum you would have heard the reports on the individual constituencies as that was how the system was organized. My reason for mentioning that London voted against Brexit was that you may have noted that Dmitri studied there, and in consequence it is the part of the UK with which he is acquainted.

      It is correct that the UK Government will abide by the will of the majority as confirmed by Teresa May. But equally, the will of the majority in the Kingdom of Scotland was to remain in the EU. In consequence the UK may cease to exist if Scotland holds a referendum and separates. One blessing of that would be the end of UKIP!

      I agree totally with you that the will of the majority does not apply in Cuba

      • Gerard Matthews

        Scotland is a part of the U.K. As is Wales and Northern Ireland and together we are leaving the EU so people will just have get use to the idea of having the UK not as as active member of the EU, however we will still trade with countries inside as well as outside of the EU. I will still holiday in European countries and I feel sure that they will still permit me to spend my hard earned money in their shops and restaurants whilst on holiday, and yes I will purchase a visa if so required. Why has the UK vote caused so much debate? I believe that we will not be the only country to leave the EU over the next twelve months!

        • Carlyle MacDuff

          Gerard you just missed out one word! Your first sentence should have read:

          Scotland is currently part of the UK.