To understand the astonishing achievements of Western Civilisation you have to understand what makes it different from anything that came before it.While Jews argue over everything about Judaism, there’s very little dispute that the Exodus from Egypt is the formative event of the Jewish Nation: “Am Israel.”
The Exodus story is so important Jews sit down every year and make our children listen to a retelling of this story in a form simple enough for even the youngest to understand. One night in Israel, two in the diaspora, every single year for centuries!
And when we’re done we eat.
The story which is so important to Jews that even the most secular of us still tell it, is our transition from Slavery to Freedom and the resilience of the people who made that transition through the desert.
Freedom is the essence of the creation of the Jewish people AS a people. It defines who we are. The reason we have to repeat it to ourselves over and over is not because it’s a nice story, or because we’re proud of it, but because it is so unusual!
The Exodus is a cataclysmic fissure in the universal acceptance of slavery. A motley crew of Hebrew slaves demand freedom from Pharaoh, Chief Tyrant of Egypt, the global superpower of its day. This dramatic story of freedom, the Exodus, becomes the archetypal meta-narrative of the Western world.
Freedom is not the natural human condition: slavery is.
Judaism is a cultural super technology because it instills a desire for freedom and it legislates, by handing down one set of laws for all, including laws that are supposed to bind rulers as well as the most lowly in society. The same laws.
This is why corrupt, despotic rulers have always hated Judaism (and by extension Jews): pesky Jewish laws keep trying to restrain their impulses to absolute rule.
Christianity took most of this cultural super technology as its basis and gave it a proselytizing fervor which spread it first to Europe and then the entire Western Civilization we have today.
So if you want to understand Brexit and the ongoing failure of the British to actually follow through on their own Exodus from the EU, remember how rare it is for people to transition from safe, comfortable slavery to dangerous and uncertain freedom. Just as the Nation of Israel did when it left Egypt and became a nation and a people. Ultimately, freedom is so much more rewarding and productive for all.
Leaving the warm embrace of slavery takes resilience. And staying away from rulers who promise free stuff takes resilience and self-sufficiency. A lesson most of the west, sliding away from freedom and back to slavery seems to have forgotten.
Inebriated by the elixir of entitlements, millennials, in particular, are opposed to Brexit. They cite free university education (including the Erasmus scheme), cheaper airfare and cell roaming charges, and affordable housing. And what the slaves leaving Egypt saw as a cucumber famine, the slavish BBC sees as a chocolate shortage. Companies are stockpiling ingredients for making chocolate in case of Brexit, it threatens!
For more, read this tremendous post on Brexit by Jules Gomes, which was quoted above. He truly understands what’s missing from all the Brexit debate in the UK: any notion of what really makes Western Civilization special.