Voting presents the essential act of democracy as exogenous to governance. That is that the act of voting, of selecting representatives falls outside the operation of the governmental system within which the delegated power of the sovereign people is exercised by their representatives. Once elected--and elected for their personal or factional characteristics among other reasons perhaps, the individual remains essentially free to act as her own personal agent, accountable generally only by having to stand for election periodically and by the somewhat broad constraints of law.(Democracy Part 31: In a World Premised on Exogenous Democracy is a Theory of Endogenous Democracy Possible?).
possibility of developing a theory of endogenous democracy, one in which the touchstone of the democratic architecture of the state is centered within its government rather than in the periodic election of representatives to one or more of its organs. This is a preliminary consideration with specific application to China, where the possibility of a form of endogenous democracy is being considered. These ideas are further developed in the Chinese context in Backer, Larry Catá, Crafting a Theory of Socialist Democracy for China in the 21st Century: Considering Hu Angang's (胡鞍钢) Theory of Collective Presidency in the Context of the Emerging Chinese Constitutional State 16(1) Asian-Pacific Law and Policy Journal – (forthcoming 2015).
This is a vote, then, that globalization as a political phenomenon, makes possible. And it is a vote that exposes, the crisis point of the traditional model of a symbiotic relationship between mass democracy and governance. The failure to take the ruptures of globalization within Britain serves as the foundation both for the folly of calling for a plebiscite and the inability to manage mass democratic sentiment in the direction sought for by governance elites. Folly follows from the rupture itself. The construction both of Europe and the globalized cultures in which it operates has been driven by a vanguard. That vanguard has produced Europe, but has also divided the masses within this global space between those within transnational communities and those outside. Those transnational cultures are supra national in outlook--those involved in supra national labor, culture, religious, cultural and societal communities and markets. These are the citizens of Europe. And these citizens include individuals plugged into global chains. But those communities outside of European space are increasingly national in orientation. They react against a threatening transnationalism and the normative framework of globalization that supports it, with an increasingly inward looking nationalism. These are the Japanese peasants and rural elements of the 1879s. But it is also the mass of national populations that have not been in or that have been displaced by the transnational project that built Europe. Consider the result where both communities occupy a single political space--like the U.K. A plebiscite invokes the mechanics of a single polity, but the reality is that this polity has been fractured. The voting community and the functional communities do not match up anymore. Te vote then becomes absurd. The performance of voting, then, does npt produce a representative result in the face of fundamental fracture.
Folly is compounded when, having called for an election in these circumstances, those who traditionally manage mass democratic exercises fail to target their own masses. For transnational communities, those outside global space are as invisible--politically, socially and culturally--as were servants in Edwardian great houses. They have a role to play but are treated as invisible to those who run the house. And they are despised and tolerated. For the owners of these globalized Edwardian mansions, the serving classes have a duty to obey, to serve and to absorb the values of those who own the house. And that, indeed, appeared to be the tone of much of the debate--the management--of the voting sensibilities of the masses. The masters of the house--captains of industry, high prestige academics, elected representatives, and their counterparts globally (consider in this respect President Obama's intervention in this debate before the Brexit vote)--all deployed the language of the global to signal their instructions to the masses. These interventions were powerful--but only for those already members of the transnational community for whom this was meaningful. But for those outside European and transnational space--for those beneath the communities created and sustained by globalization--these elite appeals and arguments might be meaningless. The U.K. elites invoked the mechanics of mass democracy without considering its transformation in the wake of globalization. They campaigned to win the hearts and minds of their own transnational communities, and perversely by those exercise pushed those outside away and gave them a traditional mechanics to resist. This was not an exercise in mass democracy as much as it was an illumination of the character of the civil war now raging in many states.
Globalization and its consequences, then, might provide an explanation of Brexit, in part. And then there is Scotland. Clearly, no single explanation can capture the complexities of the European Union, the U.K. within it, the politics within the U.K. and the insinuation of globalization within those discourses and actions. But to speak about the vote purely in national or regional terms is to miss an important element in the transformation of political discourse globally. The pressures and realities that fracture British society, especially in England are present in all states--even the United States and China are not immune. It affects developing states hardest, precisely because the fractures of globalization are more apparent in the breakup of the unity of the political structures of those states, But make no mistake, those fractures and its consequences will be felt in even the most developed states in the coming decade. The Brexit vote is a harbinger of more complex politics in the decade to come.