Is Brexit just the beginning?
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It was a very good day for Thomas Jefferson when Britain voted to leave the EU. The best day, possibly, since Jefferson and his ally James Madison determined that a state need not participate in the overall wrongdoing of the centralized government in the Kentucky Resolutions in 1798. And indeed, proposed instead that each state, each woman and man, had the moral, human obligation to choose freedom at each and every turn, regardless of its cost. The freedom option would always be there, at every turn, in every moment.


Most ironically, this occurred today across the waters when Britain — the very antithesis of Jefferson and Madison — voted to leave the EU and its centralized bureaucracy which in such a very short time had become more and more centralized on the continent and hostile to the sovereignty of its member states, leaving Britain in the margins. Not surprisingly, this time, Jefferson received no help from America and had to go alone. On this day, the world shifts and the Leviathan of global dominance yields again to Jefferson's plain folk.

Frankly, I thought Britain would be the last to go. But was not surprised that it went, and went against American will. It was the second time in barely more than a year that Britain had defied American dominance; the first was in March, last year, in a move even more symbolic and significant than yesterday when Britain, reportedly without warning or consultation, broke with American leadership and became the first Western country to team up with China's Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

I asked here then, and the question is relevant again today: "Who lost Britain?":

Since the last days of empire, Britain, in what is oddly called the 'special relationship,' has been expected to be America's tasteful and submissive second; Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the intuitive sidekick to President Franklin Roosevelt; Mick Jagger, the edgy pal of President Clinton. We assume that American dominance is not just related to the post-World War II conquest, but is eternal. It is our destiny. Britain will always go along. She is expected to. It is the price of victory in World War II.

Or not. Parag Khanna, a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation, writing in The New York Times, asked in 2013 if we are seeing the end of the nation-state. He cited a report by the United States National Intelligence Council, which every five years gives a briefing to the CIA on challenges ahead. The first challenge, the report suggests, is a "Nonstate World," a world in which "urbanization, technology and capital accumulation had brought about a landscape where governments had given up on real reforms and had subcontracted many responsibilities to outside parties, which then set up enclaves operating under their own laws."

The second trend makes perfect sense given the first: "The second great political trend of the age: devolution."

But perhaps what we are seeing is the beginning of or the return of the true nation-state.

By 2013, that movement was already 10 years or more on, started perhaps in 2003 when a bumper sticker began appeared in the hills of the Green Mountains declaring a Second Vermont Republic.

Vermont is expected to do such things. But Texas and California and New York City are not. Now, perhaps it has come to this, for as Britain goes, so might everyone go, as they did last year when most all of Europe followed the Brits to the Asia bank.

This past week, Ben Castleman asked in FiveThirtyEight:

Imagine that the states of the Northeastern U.S. — New York and New Jersey, plus New England — don't like the outcome of November's election (not that far-fetched!) and decide they would rather split off on their own. After all, the Northeast is culturally different from the rest of the U.S., it has the most prestigious universities and the dominant financial capital, and it pays far more in taxes than it gets back in benefits. Why should people there let leaders they didn't vote for impose policies they dislike?

Today the plates have shifted. Thomas Jefferson has awakened, in Britain.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at