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?