Deborah Hill Cone
Deborah Hill Cone is a Herald columnist

Deborah Hill Cone: 'Leavers' framing EU as bogeyman

Blaming the EU for Britain's woes is unhelpful in a decision as big as Brexit. The result of the referendum should be known on Friday, New Zealand time. Photo / AP
Blaming the EU for Britain's woes is unhelpful in a decision as big as Brexit. The result of the referendum should be known on Friday, New Zealand time. Photo / AP

This morning I got up, meditated for five minutes, staring fixedly at a lemon, cleaned up three lots of cat vomit and then thought "I know, I'll write a column this week about Brexit".

Then another voice in my head said: Brexit? REALLY? You mean you're not just going to do your usual lazy-arse list of random psychobabble copied out of your journal?

Shut up, other voice! I can write about Brexit if I want to. Oh, I do like a swellegant portmanteau word. Brexit sounds like a really chic minimalist designer like Helmut Lang or Jil Sander. "That's a cool bag. Is it Bottega Veneta?" "No, it's Brexit."

I give up. You're already talking about handbags.

Oops. Clears throat.

You're regretting never bringing the topic of Brexit up to any of the clever people you know aren't you so you can just recycle their ideas?

Actually, yes. I saw Matthew Hooton at a Centre for Gifted Education evening last week and we had to make lighthouses of newspaper and ice block sticks and balance tennis balls on top.

You're rambling again.

Fair dooze. Well, the Spectator says the UK should leave because the EU is a bloated bureaucracy that has outgrown all usefulness.

Sounds about right.

They say Britain has to pass laws written by people whom no one in Britain elected, no one can name and no one can remove.

But I thought it was really about Romanians coming in and getting hip replacements on the NHS?

Quite possibly, but the lofty sovereignty arguments sound a lot better.

But forget the rights and wrongs, isn't the cost of leaving ginormous?

The Speccie says warnings just seem to have served to reinforce the caricature of a globalised elite telling the plebs what to think.

Oooh, globalised elite, I like that. Eat the rich. I'm feeling angry already. Or maybe hungry.

You're permanently angry.

Well that's only because I'm your shadow.

Anyway, the Speccie says: "Of the many economists who have made projections for 2030, none have suggested that we'd be poorer."

So you're for leaving then?

Steady on, vicar. I also read Paul Krugman.

Isn't he a dangerous lefty?

I'm ignoring that. He won the Nobel Prize for Economics. Krugman says: " The straight economics is clear: Brexit would make Britain poorer." Two per cent poorer than it would otherwise be, essentially forever. That's a lot apparently. "So I'd vote Remain. There would be no joy in that vote. But a choice must be made, and that's where I'd come down."

That's hardly a rousing call to stay.

I know.

And you can't even make up your mind.


See what I mean?

Yes, I take your point. But I do know one thing.

Do please enlighten us.

The Leave campaigners seem to be projecting their fear, anxiety and darkness on to the EU. Making it the "other".

Rolls eyes.

The tendency to see one's shadow "out there" in one's neighbour or in another race or culture is the most dangerous aspect of the modern psyche.

What next? I bet you're going to bring Hitler in here somehow.

Well, now you mention it, World War II gave us endless examples of shadow projection - one of the most highly civilised nations on earth Germany, fell into the idiocy of projecting its virulent shadow on the Jewish people.

You're warming up to throw in a quote from some obscure psychologist aren't you.

Oh good idea.

Christopher Lasch: "The distinguishing characteristic of selfhood is not rationality but the critical awareness of man's divided nature."

Lasch, wasn't he a dirty lefty?

You really like to demonise don't you?

I'm your Shadow, it's my job.

Well, I'm trying to listen respectfully to you, Shadow. Because I know for sure that we can't afford to carry on projecting our own unlived side, our shadows, on someone else. And it seems this happens just when we are making a breakthrough to greater freedom. When the inquisition of the Middle Ages judged someone and often condemned him or her to be burned at the stake, there had to be an unquestioned basis for such a decision. The fact that individuality and freedom of belief was evolving in the Western psyche added fuel to this one-sided attitude. Fanaticism always indicates unconscious uncertainty not yet registering in consciousness.

Who said that?

Robert Johnson.

Who's he?

A Jungian scholar.

Never heard of him. You know this column is not going to be vaguely enlightening or helpful about Brexit don't you?

Maybe not. But I think after Jo Cox was murdered, the result will be to remain in the EU anyway.

Oh please. What was the point? You could at least end with something simple which people will understand.

Okay. Try to find ways to hold the tension between opposites. Resist idealising or demonising. But the cat seems to be vomiting again. I think I might have to take him to the vet.

- NZ Herald

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