- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

Exercise: 100 people vote on jumping off a cliff. 48 say no; 52 say yes. The majority wins and collective death looks inevitable. Discuss.

100 people get together and decided that it would good to jump off a cliff. Some people think it’s crazy. Others than it would be fun and risk taking. Others see it as a ‘Russian roulette’ equivalent. There are arguments about the depth of the water below, or the absence of, or the wisdom of buying some parachutes.

After a few drinks, they decided that a democratic decision via a secret ballot would be pertinent. Some people think this is very silly but, after more drinks, they agree to a secret vote convinced that this would be the end of it, since no idiot would like to jump, deep water or not, parachute or not.

The secret vote takes place. 48 people decide not to jump and 52 to do so. Most people are surprised by the result, to say the least. Some of those who had decided to jump say that they did not mean to vote that way, and they had voted pro-jumping for fun, to see if there would be some others also joining the joke.

With a few more drinks, the leader of the pack say that the majority wins, and that 52 is a bigger number than 48 (by now the only rational bit of reality around), so they all will jump. The question is when, but ‘jumping off meas jumping off’.

48 protest strongly. The (tiny) majority surely can’t dictate collective suicide on behalf of democracy. The pro-jump people get very angry and accuse the rest of (a) not understanding democracy, (b) being inconsiderate to their colleagues, (c) not respecting diverse views and a few other things. Some of the not-for-jump leaders say that they do understand democracy, indeed, but understand death much better.

The rest of the world sees this 100 as mad, playing games, and with a collective sub-zero credibility. They wait days and weeks hoping that they would say that the whole thing was a joke, out of jolly collective drinking,  and that surely, they have understood, 48/52 is not ‘a majority of respectable views’ when it comes to a democratic  outcome of collective suicide. But they wait in vain. ‘Jumping off is jumping off’, they keep hearing.

Decision making experts wake up from their hibernation shelters and ask for a time out to reflect on both decision making process and madness. But, ‘jumping off is jumping off’. Existentialist professors elaborate that actually death is death, that death has a meaning, and others gems which add a rather ephemeral, if tangential (‘the meaning of death’) addition to the debate.

The Donal Trump School of Unthinking supports the pro-jump position as the biggest gift to mankind and the most gracious act of bravery. Provided he does not jump.

There are lots of emotions following: desperation, rage, uncontrolled hysterical laughter, well wishes for a successful crash, offers to help in the pushing of people off the cliff, and insults from the pro-jump camp to the others. Jumping off the cliff, the pro-jumpers say, will open fantastic possibilities to all (in heaven, it is assumed) and they, the pro-jumping,  will make all ‘Great Again’. (‘Hey buddies, that line is mine, I am going to sue you’,  the Black Swan Trump say)

I wish this was a bad script, a bad joke in itself, an add for an Australian beer (they make the best adds, not sure about the beer) a theoretical exercise in a Critical Thinking course, or a lousy case study written by a third rate lecturer in Political Sciences exploring ‘democracy and its discontents’.

But it’s not. Brexit is Brexit.

I learned over the years to always, at least, attempt to decide which emotion I am going to dwell in, because once in, that will dictate all I think and all I do.  I am functioning  in Perplexity mode since the early hours of the 26th of  June 2016. For the time being it is the safest place (for my mental health) I can find. It keeps my further emotional options open and, while in this,  I am saving on psychotherapy fees.