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Noah Smith

The EU Never Made Hearts Beat Fast in Europe

Brexit wasn't the result of excessive devotion to country; it was a lack of commitment to Europe.
Is that all there is?

Is that all there is?

Photographer: Michal Fludra/nurphot/getty images

Financial markets are still trying to make sense of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, and almost everyone is wringing their hands over what it all means -- popular anger at elites, an eruption of racism and xenophobia, the collapse of the liberal world order, the resurgence of English nationalism.

The uncomfortable truth is that it’s probably all of the above, and more. Like swings in the stock market, big events such as Brexit rarely have just one dominant cause -- people had many reasons for voting to leave. But I’d like to add one more explanation to the mix, one that I think is being under-emphasized: Europe’s failure to build a pan-European nationalism.