People of Albyon — the Imperium of Man needs you!


Hey everyone, I am actually dipping my toes into something very different today, and I have gone back and forth a few times on whether or not I should be posting this at all, but it is something that I feel really strongly about, so I guess I’ll just have to take the plunge. Rest assured that we’ll be dealing with little plastic men again, come the next post. Anyway, what is this about?

Today, on the 23rd of June, the United Kingdom is running its referendum about whether to leave the European Union or remain one of its members. And I’ll be up front with you: The prospect of the country leaving the EU fills me with a lingering sense of sadness that has only grown stronger over the last days and weeks.

There are many reasons for this, but most of it has something to do with the fact that I am endlessly fascinated with the UK, its culture, history – and let’s not forget about its popular culture, either: Many of my favourite bands, authors, films, tabletop games or novels are of British origin. I was raised on the humour of Monty Python, and I loved the dystopian novels of the early 20th century (and, once again, of mostly British origin) during my early adulthood. I fell in love with the various settings of Games Workshop which are a very British take on the apocalyptic (and also, on a deeper level, a very British kind of satire). And for this reason, and countless reasons like it, I’ve always seen the UK as a dear member of the family, and one that I am especially fond of.

Dear British readers of this blog: I cannot and will not tell you what does and doesn’t work in your country. I will not tell you what to do, either, as I understand there are good reasons for either choice (although I’ll be perfectly open about clearly favouring one of them). I am also not going to defend the frequent ridiculousness of EU bureaucracy, because there’s a lot to dislike about that part of the union. What I would like to tell you, however, is that this is not all the EU represents:

These last few years of blogging and interacting with the international hobby scene have been a blast for me, and they have also shown to me – more than anything before, possibly – how incredibly valuable it is to be able to talk openly and peacefully about a common subject to people from different countries and wildly different cultural backgrounds. To be able to be in contact – and on friendly terms with – at least a dozen hobbyists scattered all across the globe has been ( and continues to be) an incredibly empowering feeling, even if we may merely be talking about little plastic figurines more often than not. There I was a short while ago, for instance, once again exchanging friendly e-mails with fellow hobbyist (and all around great guy) PDH: We are both of the same age. A mere hundred years ago, we would have shot each other on sight in the trenches of the Great War. And now we are talking about playing war by pushing plastic figures – that’s a hell of an improvement in my book.

And that, to me, is what’s at the heart of the EU. Not the economic bargaining. Not the endless bickering. Not the hunting for privilege. But the concept of lasting peace on the continent that renders the idea of ever waging war against one another again patently ridiculous. Is peace only possible through the EU? Definitely not. But it’s the idea at the centre of the whole thing. And it’s an idea worth fighting for more than any other. And to fight, you have to be there.

Dear British readers, please consider this as you make your choice today: The Imperium of Man may be corrupt and defective and over-inflated and leaking in a thousand ways and in a thousand places – all the more reason why it needs you!

Thank you for reading and Godspeed!

24th June update: Alright, I have just spent most of yesterday night and virtually all of this morning watching BBC News, and I am not going to lie to you: The result leaves me feeling oddly heartbroken. I keep seeing talking heads giddy with excitement at the “great opportunity” this supposedly represents for the UK, and while I am just not seeing it, I certainly hope it’s true, if only for the sake of Great Britain. Or maybe I am just missing a vital part of the puzzle here? Anyway, this feels like a truly awful day: An already complicated world just got a whole lot more complicated. Good thing I’ll be returning to talking about cutting up little plastic men shortly, as talking about politics just seems too damn depressing right now…

On a – slightly – more upbeat note, thank you very much for all the thoughtful, well-considered and sympathetic comments that have at least managed to soften the blow a bit! If nothing else, let us do our best to make sure this doesn’t divide our respective countries any more than it already has.

37 Responses to “People of Albyon — the Imperium of Man needs you!”

  1. I’m British and therefore European and I totally agree with all the sentiments you’ve expressed. The history of Europe has been one of terrible wars and conflicts. It can come as no coincidence that the longest period of peace in Western Europe happens to be when the European Union has meant closer cooperation between nations. Old enemies and old rivals have become our closest friends … and long may that continue.

    The sad truth is that we, in the UK, have been lied to and been bombarded with anti-EU propaganda for decades, by a right wing press. The lies and half truths have been repeated so often that they have become ‘facts’ in the minds of too many people. As I type this, I’m genuinely frightened about what the result of the referendum might be.

    I hope that enough people see sense and realise that the UK should be standing side by side with its friends.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment, mate! I couldn’t agree more!

      A sad thing our countries (and, for that matter, countries all across Europe) seem to have in common is a worrying rise of right wing populism, with populist parties ceaselessly offering “simple truths” and equally “simple solutions”, as if those did actually exist. And arguably the worst thing is how many people seem to believe their hyperbole and propaganda due to a wide number of reasons. Of course it also has to be said that both the EU bureaucracy as well as political elites in many European countries have done precious little to support trust in a common political union. And in spite of all that, the underlying idea is still compelling enough to be worth fighting for!

  2. Dexter Says:

    Okay, so pretend this is Reddit and explain it to me like I’m 5.

    I’m an American, and I’m not familiar with European politics. The politics of my own country are ugly enough, and the currently campaign season has me sorely wishing I could go live on another planet (preferably one with good Mexican food). And when my news exposure isn’t saturated with zealots for one particular candidate or the other trying to convince me that the other candidate is pure, concentrated evil, it’s full of people re-hashing the argument I’ve been listening to for the last 20 years about gun control.

    So, what are the ramifications of the UK leaving the EU? Why is the UK considering leaving? Economically, socially, culturally, what is to be gained/lost by this decision?

    • Oh boy, that’s opening a whole new can of worms, especially since many people don’t even agree on many of the points you mention. Let me try to give my position (which, it has to be said, is probably biased on account of being pro-EU and continental in nature, so take that with a grain of salt):

      One, maybe the biggest challenge in having to organise a union of countries like the EU is to both form a concensus about a common policy and to decide how much power will rest with the EU itself and how much autonomy the respective member countries will retain. On the one hand of the spectrum, there are those who advocate something like “The United States of Europe”, with the Union itself being the actual governing body, with the individual countries as mere states of the whole. This is a very ambitious, and arguably utterly utopian, idea. On the other end of the spectrum, several countries would prefer a EU that is basically a loose agreement pertaining to mostly economic questions, with the member countries still keeping virtually all of their autonomy.

      This central question has been at the heart of the EU for decades, and – historically speaking – the UK has always been one of the countried advocating less integration and more autonomy for the individual countries.

      The growing integration is therefore seen as a development endangering national autonomy by many (in the UK, but also in other member countries). And one of the aims of having Britain leave the EU seems to be the attempt to reclaim greater autonomy and stop the EU from meddling in what the supporters of the “Leave” campaign see as the country’s internal affairs.

      At the same time, it’s true enough that the EU is currently faced with grave problems, ranging from the amount of refugees arriving in Europe to the monstrously bloated EU bureaucracy that is, more often than not, not nearly democratic enough.

      So the short version would be: There are many reasons to be unhappy with the way the EU works right now, and the question is ultimately whether to stay in and try to change it for the better or to leave and try something else (whatever that may be). Please note that I have tried to word this as neutrally and carefully as possible…

      As for the possible consequences…well, there are many experts saying the UK’s economy will tank if Brexit really takes place, but such academic predicitions naturally don’t change anything about the valid points of criticism about the EU (and neither will those predicitions do anything to allay the – often very irrational fears – of the public). The EU, on the other hand, could easily be de-stabilised by an important member state leaving — after all, if it’s possible to just up and leave, who is to say that other countries aren’t going to follow suit?

      Ultimately, the UK leaving the EU would probably deal another pretty big blow to an already ailing European Union. It would also suck royally from an entirely emotional and cultural standpoint. But yeah, that would be my take on the matter…

      In the interest of balance, however, I would appreciate it if a British reader could maybe give Dexter the other side of the story — or, at the very least, a different perspective on things.

      • American reader who follows such things, and I think you did a great job summarizing the issue Kraut. I believe there is also the chance that Scotland will use a “leave” vote as a chance to go through its own “leave” vote again.

      • Dexter Says:

        I realized it is an incredibly nuanced issue, but I definitely have a better understanding of it now. Kudos to you for that, because if you asked me to explain the political appeal of Donald Trump, I would ramble on for hours on end.

      • You missed that the reason why Great Britain has always maintained a greater sense of autonomy from Europe insisting on exceptions and clauses upon which European laws apply is because of our government wishing to maintain its control in terms of it being a elected body of control for governing the country on behalf of the Queen opposed to being the chosen body of the people for the people.

  3. An excellent post. I, too, feel that one of the greatest achievements of the EU is lasting peace in Europe. At first merely about making nations dependend on eaxh other what concerns essential resources other initiatives made enemies to friends. I myself had plenty of opportunities to get to know people from all of Europe in some EU workshops. Was a really good experience that showed me that we are more similar than we think, no matter the cultural background.

    I do hope this will end with the UK remaining in the EU. From within change and reform can come more easily than from without. Reform is necessary in many regards, but I would hope people do not dimiss the EU outright, but rather work in its limits to make it better.

  4. couldn’t have said it better myself. annoyingly I’m stuck in Korea and didn’t get my postal vote sorted in the notice I had so missing out on the vote. fingers cross sensible heads win on the day, leaving is a terrible idea built on nothing but lies.

  5. Well, I’m in the thick of it over here in UK, and I am hoping and praying that common sense wins out over the crap being pushed by the immigration fear rhetoric, and all the right wing bollocks that it validates. As if the world isn’t in enough of a mess! *tut*

    • Yeah, you don’t really need to be a conspiracy nut these days to feel like the world is going to hell in a handbasket, do you? o_O

      • Very true mate… More people are ‘on the move’ now than ever before, either through terror and conflict, or through economic pressure. It is the fear around this influx, (and the perception that EU membership increases this influx), that is the clarion call to ‘the man on the street’ in the current referendum. Our more right-wing political groups have resorted to some frankly sickening imagery to make this point… I suppose that the island mentality runs deep :-/

  6. If I am understanding correctly this is being decided by a popular vote of just the citizens?

      • I don’t have anything really meaningful to add but with our convoluted voting system here in the U.S. it is really refreshing to see actual democracy being used to handle such an important decision.

    • Point to note – it’s a referendum, so not an actual vote on policy as such (though logically, one should follow the other). If the result is ‘leave’ then the government will then have to implement policys to make that transition happen… it certainly wouldn’t be an overnight thing

    • No its a vote of Subjects, British people are not citizens, we are Subjects the difference is HUGE and something many people in this country are utterly ignorant of.

  7. Inquisitor Mikhailovich Says:

    Please tell me somebody else read the last line in Brian Regan’s voice….

    That said, interesting thoughts. The news where I’ve been has been dominated by the Presidential election so I wasn’t even aware of this.

  8. A great post (and follow up replies). It’s nice to get a non-British perspective on the EU debate. I can understand why you were in 2 minds about posting as it is something that many people seem to have got rather worked up about.
    I can tell you that I have voted and I don’t mind telling you that I voted to stay in. I grew up in Scotland and my Dad’s side of the family is from Scotland but for more than half my life I’ve lived in England. I think there is a much more pro-Europe attitude in Scotland (possibly as a result of being part of a union but ruled (mostly) from London) and so I’ve always felt a bit at odds with my English neighbours who have seemed more ready to find fault with or grumbling about the EU (grumbling is a great British pastime – we do it very well but you won’t catch any decent British gent actually doing anything about the situation). So I haven’t been convinced by any of the so called facts that have been being spouted by both sides (seems like it’s doom and gloom either way!). No, for me it is as simple as the fact that Britain is a European country so we should be in the EU (that and nobody likes a quitter).
    I think if we do end up leaving I’ll move to Scotland and start campaigning for independence.

    • Damn it! When I wrote the last sentence I thought it was a throwaway comment without being serious. I may have to think more seriously about the first part at least.

  9. Great post mate – genuinely cheering to read at an extremely worrying time. As you say the EU has many problems and I’m certainly not blind to them, but here’s hoping that common sense, tolerance and inclusiveness triumphs over fear and bigotry. I am British, Scottish and European and my feeling is very strongly that countries, cultures, languages; none of that matters. In the end we are all citizens of Holy Terra. No matter what happens I will never shoot you from a trench.

  10. Great post Kraut. It seems the Remain votes prevailed. Very strange time indeed in the UK. I just moved here in September but it has been quite strange for me to observe the “leave” campaign. Living in a mix cultural part of London, I was proud to see people having British and European flags by their windows. Why proud? because I lived in China for 3 years and democracy and the right to express one´s opinion are priceless. I was ashamed also this morning in reading the “leave” letter from Boris in the Metro newspaper. It was almost North Korean. It was the worst propaganda I have read in a long time. A pure insult to the intelligence of the readers. After living on 3 continents during the last decade I was proud of my British neighbors to brave the awful weather to express their opinions. oh and I´m French so supporting British people is not something we do often :). Hopefully UK will remain. I´m also especially proud of our next doors neighbors, the Irish. Their football supporters have been exemplary in joy, good spirit. Their is hope in these dark times where our way of life is frightened and it might be in the brother next to us. If he has a +3 saving armor and a bolter I´m even more hopeful. 😀

  11. Sadly the vote is in and lost 52% to 48%, I’m actually gutted i’m not registered to vote in my new house and I honestly didn’t believe for a second we’d be stupid enough to have a majority vote to leave, I’m shocked by the level of ignorance this shows because many of the complaints and issues we are shown are those based around utter ignorance to what we gain.

    While the news is filled with supposed shocked politicians about the result I can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t the end goal of those right wing groups, because the loss of europe removes our human rights and once again we are nothing but subjects in a country where crown prerogative makes any others laws irrelevant, and leaves us without any recourse legally to guard against the actions of our government. Now let us not even begin to discuss the xenophobia and only increasing levels of fear against the unknown or misunderstood will now result, this will be heighten and reinforced by the press who thrive on exaggerating foreign threats and this will only end badly.

    Immigration is supposedly the biggest factor for causing the vote to go the way it did is actually laughable we are the most mixed race heritage I think you could find anywhere out side of remote parts of Scotland and wales we are French, Scandinavian and Roman at least in part.

    Finally I will say this result to me says we will see War, not in this decade, perhaps, but within my life time, because in the words of Yoda
    “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

    – Yoda

    While I’m angered and disgusted by the vote I’ve also got only myself to blame and those like me, who didn’t acknowledge the strength of the vote of the misinformed, truth be told the vote I’m talking about is the one that has traditionally been the one that doesn’t make its way to voting booths and one that is ignorant rather opposed to the non voting though apathy which is something I suffer from simply because generally our electoral system is screwed where the larger majority of votes are ones that count for nothing and one that bring forth change isn’t something that’s easily implemented.

    This is my opinion however, I respect that its not one held by all and in fact a larger number of people than I realised feel differently or at least are vocal about it, now I’ll happily debate and discuss why I say those who vote to leave have made a decision based on ignorance, so please if I’ve offended anyone I apologise I am not meaning to be insulting simply that your information and knowledge is one born of propaganda and not facts in my mind because I can see literally no reason why you’d have voted in such a way otherwise.

    Thanks for reading, as ever;

  12. Phil morris Says:

    As a leave voter I only hope that people in europe can come to understand that just because we have voted against further federal integration it doesn’t mean that we don’t view the rest of the e.u as close friends (if not family) and allies.
    Surely it doesn’t have to be a case of if your not with us your against us.
    I am also of the opinion that if the EU had been prepared to consider tangible reform that this situation would never have come about, in many ways it feels like the most monumental bluff has been called out with some seriously negative consequences possible for both the UK and the wider world.
    With family links to Germany, Spain and Austria I’m no right wing wing isolationist ( I wouldn’t urinate on Nigel Farage ‘s face if his head was on fire) but the lack of democratic accountability within the European union was the main reason I voted leave.

  13. The result shows deep divisions in UK society. Polls show that people under 50 voted to mostly to remain. In fact the younger you are, the more likely you were to be in favour of the EU. There is a lot of anger amongst young people who now feel like the future they wanted has been taken away from them by the old. In my day job I’m a teacher. I didn’t do a lot of teaching today. I spent a lot of it talking to very angry, upset and depressed teenagers, trying to convince them that their future might not be as bad as they think it will be right now. It’s been a very sad day.

  14. A really thoughtful post. It’s a weird time in the UK and it’s hard to summarise how a lot of folks feel. A lot of people were frustrated with the EU but given the choice between that and sliding into the arms of nationalism, isolationism and a misinformed view that immigration is to blame (as opposed to a domestic government that failed to invest in infrastructure and public services and hid behind a lie that austerity was the only way forward)…the choice to stay felt obvious. I guess a lot of people disagreed. The UK will be a poorer place and not just economically. A sad time.

  15. Thanks for this mate, if it wasn’t enough we have to put up with the endless preaching from idiots in this country, we now have it from abroad.

    It’s sad to see that you allowed your virtue signalling to infect what was a decent wargaming blog. Stick to the toy soldiers in the future rather than risk irritating 52% of Brits.

    And to the bitter remain voters on here, you lost. Grow up and deal with it like the adults you’re supposed to be, and stop trying to overturn a democratic decision because you didn’t like the result.That makes you guys the fascists.

    • Hey mate, seriously, why the aggression? All I was talking about was how sad I was about this development, and I tried to give as even-handed a rundown of events as I could. If that makes me a fascist, then maybe this blog indeed isn’t for you.

      Just to be clear: I’m glad you think this was a decent wargaming blog, and I would certainly be glad to keep you as a reader and a commenter, but I reserve the right to occasionally talk about things I feel strongly about, even if those things aren’t toy soldiers, and I also reserve the right to have an opinion, even if it may be different from that of my readers. If that is a problem, then there are plenty of blogs that don’t share these shortcomings.

      Sorry to have irritated you, though, as that certainly wasn’t my intention!

      • LostinInanity Says:

        The referendum has been fairly polarising topic for people in the UK, those of us on the leave side have been accused of being misinformed, uneducated and much worse. Sentiment is a little high and being carried into places where it isn’t warranted.

        He by no means meant that you were a fascist, some people here in the UK wish to have a second referendum on whether to leave the EU, the poster was referencing people with that opinion (although I can’t actually see anyone who has posted that opinion here :/ ).

        Your post has been about the gentlest I’ve seen on the matter.
        I enjoy your work and hope you make good use of the more favourable exchange rate so that I can see more magnificent conversions from the Krautscientist’s lab.

      • Thank you for the kind words and for the clarification! I am very much aware of the polarising nature of both the referendum and its ramifications — indeed, one does not need to look any farther than the actual numbers to see how deeply this issue currently seems to divide the UK. That being said, I am not accusing anyone of anything (and Phil Morris, for instance, who commented as a Leave voter certainly seems neither misinformed nor uneducated to me). By the same token, I believe the comments here have been rather civilised so far, and any oubtreaks big or small may certainly be chalked up to people feeling passionately about this issue — as do I. So to swoop in with a first comment to throw around words like fascism, preaching or what have you did feel unwarranted, and I would have liked to see Lloyd actually replying to my comment.

        In closing, make no mistake: I think this has ultimately been a bad decision, and I deeply regret the UK leaving the EU. I acknowledge that there are far more (and far more relevant and justified) issues at play here than merely xenophopbia and isolationism, but as a foreigner, I have to admit I still fail to see how this vote will improve any of those issues. But that doesn’t change anything about the fact that I wish the UK all the best in these times and that my sympathy for the country , its culture and its people remains as strong as ever.

  16. […] A blog about KrautScientist's wargaming exploits « People of Albyon — the Imperium of Man needs you! […]

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