Why Americans shouldn't freak out about Brexit

There is only one proper, appropriate, and fruitful response to Brexit, and that is to chill. But deep—or not so deep—inside too many Brexit critics is a repressed desire to freak. Although we should all stage an exit of our own from the therapeutic mantra that everything repressed must be released, it’s true that this bottled-up freakout—far more powerful than even the pent-up rage of the world’s populists, fascists, or racists—has to do with something real. Millions of people simply do not think they can cope with a world gone seriously wrong.

Ask, or look, around: how many of your fellow citizens, how many online interlocutors, have the cognitive, psychological, or spiritual readiness to live into a world like the world of 1918 or 1940? Even the smaller worlds of the Black Plague or the Thirty Years’ War are beyond contemplation. Just a whisper of a risk of catastrophe ushers in an all-consuming fear. Even life as it was last year had people muttering they could never bring a child into this uncertain a world.

This is what Brexit went up against—and will keep butting against as the panic spreads. How dare you unbolt the door of “History” even for a moment, the better to let the nightmares rush in?