Posted by: rogermitchell | May 26, 2016

For love’s sake vote Remain

For love’s sake vote Remain!

In my view the greatest deep-structural delusion of the western world is that peace comes through the exercise of sovereign power. There is another way, peace through love, which an exciting network of my friends and fellow activists call kenarchy and this blog is all about. Kenarchy attempts to outwork the kind of love characterised by the life of Jesus and defined by Thomas Jay Oord in his book The Nature of Love as “to act intentionally, out of empathetic, sympathetic, response to God and others, to promote overall well-being”.

Nationalism, imperialism and the nation state are all forms of sovereignty that uphold the western delusion of peace through sovereign power. This is why, for me, it’s a no-brainer to see that the best place to outwork kenarchy is within a wider situation than a single national institution of sovereign power. Much better to be in a situation of sovereignty shared between states such as the European Union. Of course within such a union where sovereignty is shared between 28 states we need to work hard to ensure that the EU does not ever become a single sovereign power. But it will be much easier to do that inside a union deliberately based on the idea of shared sovereignty rather than in a single nation state, especially one that wants to leave behind shared sovereignty in order to strengthen its own.

So while there are many things wrong with the European Union that I want to see transformed by love, I see far greater chances for such transformation within the EU rather than in a deliberately strengthened sovereign power outside it.  I have other reasons for encouraging readers of this blog to vote Remain in the coming referendum, but this is the overriding one.

If you want five other reasons to think through and reflect on, here they are, presented compellingly by my dear friend Dr Andy Knox. I’m with him all the way!






  1. Very much in agreement with this!

  2. I hear you Roger, love the sentiment and would also love to go with you, but isn’t Europe just heading towards being an even larger “sovereign power” and an empire where people’s rights and freedoms will be even more subjugated than they are now?

    • My point in the post acknowledges that we need to be alert to this danger, but that at least part of the reason for the EU is to share sovereign power. Whereas one of the main arguments put forward by the Leave campaign is to maintain and increase it.

      • But the Remain campaign is very much about keeping control too – it wants us to remain to have a say and to lead the continent in reform that makes it more like how we want it (ie make it more like us). It doesn’t want us to give up our sovereign power, but to pool it in the EU to have more power. And I can’t see how a Remain vote will sadly not be understood by Cameron, Junker, et al as a vote for empire building (through diplomacy rather than war), rather than a vote to give up power.

        A key thing to remember is that there are kenotic arguments on both sides and one can vote either way for good reasons. For a Leave example: Giles Fraser’s desire to take control of our borders so that we as a nation can then decide to open them up and welcome immigrants with open arms as we invited them, rather than the status quo of being powerless over who comes in (rather than having the power, but choosing not to use it) and that fuelling xenophobia.

      • I take the point that what matters most is the kenotic way of love, and am only too aware that the Remain campaign has plenty enough powermongers in it. But retrenching into national sovereignty represented by “taking control of our borders” is a much less likely reform and anti-racism scenario than working within the EU as I see it.

  3. Interesting discussion, and a useful way to help me think through all this from the perspective of the politics of love. But one thing this certainly isn’t is a no-brainer. The complexity of the leave or remain question is deep, and not reflected in much public debate. From the perspective of kenarchy, neither remaining nor leaving have that much to do with working out a Christ-like love, beyond the symbolic idea that pooling sovereignty is better than holding fast to sovereignty. That’s OK as an abstract stance, but it is not clear that ‘remain’ is less supportive of sovereignty per se than ‘leave’. ‘Remain’ still insists on sovereignty, but a sovereignty at a different level, further away from the people. ‘Leave’ has far too much nationalism in its rhetoric for my liking, but also includes those who reject multi-national corporatism supported by political power distant from our lives. I’ve not made my mind up yet, but I’m sure it’s not a no-brainer.

  4. Thanks for your thoughtful insights Jo. But I am convinced that the delusion of the West is that overall wellbeing comes through the exercise of personal & national sovereignty. It does not. It leads to violence & war. Whatever else we may think about the EU, it was a deliberate attempt to dilute national sovereignty in order to minimize the threat of war between member states. This is why there is more opportunity for the spread of kenarchy in than out, in my view. So while I agree with you that there are many complex issues involved, at a deep structural level I really do think it is a no-brainer that the way to vote is Remain.

    • Obama wants us to remain because he would like to see a united front against Russia.

  5. Reblogged this on The Armchair Theologian and commented:
    Some great thoughts from Roger on the EU Referendum

  6. Reblogged this on hungarywolf.

  7. Hi Roger,
    Lot’s of good points ..for me the most important thing is that if Britain leaves and Europe continues then the UK will be left out of the loop, floating in the Atlantic with a huge ‘club’ on it’s doorstep …a bit like when Hitler had got large bits of Europe under his control (including France) and Britain was left on it’s own. Okay we’re not at war but the same kind of isolation could exist in the future. As regards the Kingdom of Heaven, UK Protestant Christians have a lot to offer countries that historically have suffered under Catholicism and free movement across Europe is essential. By leaving the EU we could be trading our inheritance long term for a short term solution to immigration and cash flow.

  8. Christian social ethics is a complex area, and different to personal ethics. I have always appreciated Reinhold Niebuhr’s work. He said that personal ethics should be governed by agape love but social ethics can’t ever be governed by apape – no statesman has the right to sacrifice the interests of their own citizens. Social ethics should be governed by the ideal of equal justice, which is an approximation of love but not exactly self-sacrificing. Each nation state should question whether the EU is good for them before continuing to hand over sovereignty. And there is much to be said for the collectivisation of political power in the hands of the people rather than in the hands of an unaccountable technocratic elite.

    • Hi Stephen! Thanks for diving in! However, I don’t think that you are familiar with my work. At its core it challenges exactly the distinction that you and Niebuhr make. Can I encourage you to dig into this blog and related research on academia and elsewhere (see the blogroll link).

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