Stephan Richter is publisher and editor-in-chief of The Globalist.
1. Little Britain
Far from the grand promises of the Leavers, the sovereign choice of the British people will prove to be a boomerang. Britain has always preferred to punch above its weight class, but it will find its traditional immense pride in global status gravely diminished.
Britain will also come to realize that its past greatness did not rest so much on its own ingenuity, but rather its ability as an imperial trading country to leverage the sweat of others for the benefit of domestic wealth (see India, China, Africa).
Britain's interest in the preservation of global status may be rightfully characterized primarily as a concern of the country's elites. However, the majority of people who voted for the standalone island mentality will find that, left to its own devices, it will suffer. That will manifest itself not least as major global companies over time cease to use the country as their primary European operating basis.
2. Going after the wrong target
Britons, in their majority, falsely chose to blame Brussels. Since a sense of spreading economic uncertainty – which a majority of the population feels rather directly – ultimately determined the outcome of the vote, it would have been more appropriate to "blame" China.
That country, not the European Union, is surely the major factor shifting global economic realities. There is just one problem: In grand historic lines, after an absence of almost a century and a half, China is just trying to take its rightful place in the global economic firmament.
Lest we forget, China used to dominate the global economy until the British started the Opium Wars – a crude imperialist manoeuvre that, in its ultimate consequence, also delivered China into the hands of communism and Maoism.
A particular irony of the Brexit campaign is that the Conservative government has even sought to cozy up to China. In what may be a precursor of Britain pursuing special deals with countries around the globe, it sought to position itself as China's preferred partner in Europe.
That is a difficult choice to make for a country that had based its economic strategy more or less on deindustrialization.
Regardless, count on a rigorous display of Chinese pragmatism. The Chinese always like to exploit a weak target – with all the more delight as they see Britain, with good reason, as its former economic oppressor and a perpetrator of great historic injustices.
Even worse, they will now look at Britain – about to throw away its major economic asset, to be a convenient platform for access to the EU market – more as a larger Greece than an important partner.
3. Globalization in trouble?
Perhaps. But only for those who think very superficially. National solutions only go so far. The ultimate hope behind the Brexit vote – to turn back the clock – isn't just wishful thinking, it's delusional.
For all the current worries about domino effects on other countries becoming keen to pursue exit options of their own, the British example may serve as a "live" example on why not to opt for that choice. There is next to no evidence or prospect that it will be better off economically once Brexit becomes a full-blown reality. That hope is resting on fumes.
Globalization is here to stay. To the extent it can be managed – and that must be the key goal of politicians and societies everywhere – that strategy is much more effectively executed as part of a larger group than as a standalone country.
Yes, that implies the loss of sovereignty, but also a gain in terms of co-insurance.
4. Black Friday for Europe?
There is a great deal of hand-wringing in all quarters. How could we "sell" the EU better? Is the European Commission too arrogant and too removed from the people's concerns? Do we have to reinvent Europe? Does it have to become more democratic, warm and fuzzy?
The answer to all those questions, of course, is yes. The only question is: What does that mean in the real world?
By necessity, Europe and the European Union are imperfect creations. But that is not a "failure of Europe," as is so readily argued. Rather, it is part of the human condition.
We need to become mature enough to understand that perfection really isn't an option. We need to understand that life is a sequence of – often painful – tradeoffs. Countries are free to make their own sovereign choices. But they have to live with the consequences of those choices and votes.
Most simply put, globalization means rainy weather for many countries. It exposes most people in Western societies to the uncomfortable realization that a direct feeling of insecurity is no longer just a concern of the global south.
The question is, to the extent that an umbrella can be provided, whether the nation state is really the best tool for offering that protection.