Following the upheaval earlier this summer, the GCSP hosted a public discussion to examine both the factors leading to the Brexit vote and the ramifications which the world is beginning to experience.
Mr Manuel Muñiz began by presenting his thesis that the Western world is in the middle of a systemic shift. The outcome of the Brexit vote can be seen as the symptom of a loss of faith in the political and economic regime that has been in place since the end of World War II. There are rapid changes happening in Western society, as a result of technological progress and liberalisation, that have taken away jobs, increased inequality, and led to a drop in hourly wages even as productivity increased drastically.
The consequence of failure to adequately address these changes is a rise in anti-elite sentiment that has manifested itself in the Brexit vote, although it can be seen in the rise of nationalist, anti-establishment political rhetoric across the Western world. More broadly, there has been a noted loss of faith in democracy among voters. Clearly structural changes are needed, both political and economic.
Mr Muñiz presented his solutions to these challenges as a combination of stronger policy initiatives and greater investment in reskilling workers for the modern economy. Most importantly, there should be a change in how democracy is capitalised and how people are prepared for the economy of the 21st century.
GCSP Deputy Director and Academic Dean Professor Mahmoud Mohammedou moderated the event.