It's no secret that the gulf between the political right and left in Western society is a gaping chasm filled with piranha. The level of virulence in the debate between the two sides rarely reaches levels of calm, reasoned discourse and inevitably any serious interaction between them ends in a rancorous exchange.
It should be no wonder then that the fight over the recent British referendum on whether or not the UK should leave the EU was characterized by loud arguments, physical violence and one political assassination. The increased level of fighting since then has only continued the pre-vote trend.
On the surface, it should have been a no-brainer for the Stay side to win. They had almost every important card in their hand, including economic, politican and trade stability. The Leave side, on the other hand, focused its campaign on the ugly side of matters: immigration and xenophobia. Why did the English and Welsh vote decisively (which is was when you take the Scots and Irish out of the numbers) to leave a system which has served them well for decades?
To understand why this happened you have to look at the tactics used by the right and left in political debates. On the right there is no shortage of vulgarity. One need only look o'er the pond at Donald Trump for the stereotypical approach. The right does not mince words but proceeds to insults, especially those that question their opponents' intelligence. Don't look for complex put downs either. "You're a stupid head" is pretty basic fare in this camp.
On the left, however, the approach is quite different. For the left, disagreement isn't a simple matter of someone not being smart enough to agree with, like it is with the right, although it is part of the system. Instead there is an approach based on morality. You're not stupid if you disagree with them, you are evil. They have many words for evil such as homophobia, Islamophobia, misogyny and so on but at the base of it they treat their opponents not just as intellectual inferiors but as moral ones as well with themselves being the arbiters of what is true and righteous in the universe.
We saw this in Canada with the recent Jian Ghomeshi scandal in which a well-known radio broadcaster in Toronto was accused of sexually assaulting several women. The justice system eventually determined that, at least with three of the principle victims, the charges were unwarranted and he was acquitted. The social justice system, on the other hand, had declared him completely guilty as soon as the story broke and then went on to vilify the judge who let him off, the proectuing lawyer for not getting the conviction, the defence lawyer who had dared to defend him despite his "obvious" guilt and any others who questioned whether or not he was guilty. Such people were quickly labelled as women haters and enablers of rapists.
In Britain the referendum campaign ran pretty much along the same lines. For those on the Leave side, people wanting to stay were simpering fools who preferred to have their lives controlled by the bureaucrats in Brussels. There were idiots who didn't want Britain to return to its former glory. But the Stay side? Their opponents were labelled as xenophobes, racists, neo-fascists and the like. It wasn't about seeing things differently or not understanding how great the EU has been for the UK, it was a campaign to legitimize their opponent's right to a differing opinion. What's more, it didn't matter how mild the concerns were on the Leave side. If you weren't on Stay you were Sauron's handmaiden.
That is what ultimately backfired on the Stay side. Yes, there is a hard core of the British population that is living in denial. This group really believes that Britain has mattered as a world power since the end of the Second World War when it really hasn't. They really believe that, unfettered by EU constraints, Great Britain shall be great again. They want all them yucky foreign types out so there's no competition for jobs. Britain for the British, eh guv'nor?
There is also a large, more moderate population that has legitimate concerns with the current arrangements Britain has with the EU. They worry that uncontrolled immigration will cause economic upheaval. They worry about the increasing role Brussels has in regulating their lives. They wonder why un-elected Europeans seem to have more and more control over the government that they actually vote for.
But when they express these concerns, the Left responds in monolithic fashion. "I want all 'em grubby types out!" and "I'm worry about a sudden expansion of the population and how our economy will handle it" are met with equally vehement cries of "Racist!" So resentment builds and then, given the chance, it expresses itself as it did in the referendum.
The response of the left to the results is also instructive as to its condescension for its opponents. One smarmy left wing talk show host after another has gone on record condemning the results. Never mind that in democracy the golden rule is that the electorate never makes a mistake. For the left, the electorate only gets it right when they win. Otherwise the people are indeed wrong. Don't think that large numbers of folks in the moderate middle weren't thinking this in the ballot booth.
In short, the left's delusions of moral superiority have pushed the UK to the edge of an abyss and, in their lack of insight, they now stand poised to push it off the cliff.