UK Prime Minister David Cameron miscalculated when he pursued the idea that Britain should vote on whether to stay in the European Union.
He likely thought that the vote would easily favor remaining in the EU and neutralize a festering issue at home, and that he could then return to negotiations with EU officials to attain a better position for Britain.
Recent polls suggest that Great Britain is heading for a Brexit. A Financial Times poll of leading polls found that 48% of voters want to leave the EU while 43% want to stay. The Economist magazine's poll tracker found that 40% want to leave while 41% want to stay, but a sizable 14% of voters told The Economist that they were undecided. The Economist tracker's trend in recent weeks has inched toward an exit.
Although it had been growingbefore Cameron made his decision, nationalistic populism in the UK grew faster than anyone expected -- just as it has elsewhere in Europe and in the U.S.
Yes, there had been cries of limited national interest in France, Spain, Italy and parts of Britain. But the noise was primarily coming from people like Marine Le Pen, president of the National Front in France and others who wanted to see their countries retreat from more international interests and focus mainly on local ones.
We have also seen this attitude in the U.S. as people have wanted to see the country pull in its boundaries, reduce migration and end free-trade negotiations like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement that the U.S. and 11 other countries signed on Feb. 4 in Auckland, New Zealand.
The move to vote on Brexit has highlighted the concern of many people and became a catalyst for those fearing the future to express these fears.
But the world is changing, and there is no going back.
The driving force behind this change is the increasingly rapid spread of information worldwide. The origins of rapid information dissemination date to the 15th century invention of the printing press. More information could be collected, stored, and distributed. It is a phenomenon that cannot be stopped, although it has occasionally paused.
Especially, since the end of World War II, ways of creating, distributing and using things have spread more rapidly, to the point that someone can hardly do something interesting anywhere without vast numbers of people knowing about it almost immediately.
As a result, world trade has grown strongly and steadily in the past 65 years, people have spread worldwide in greater numbers than ever, and financial transactions can occur in real time almost anywhere.
Most of the world has access to news reports, television, movies and social networks. Among the world's most recent developments are internet "platforms" or information resources that contain almost unlimited data and move with almost instantaneous speed.
Some people don't like this world because it breaks up what they know. These people see how the world is becoming more homogeneous. As these people recognize the threat that this changing world brings to what is closest to them, they become afraid. There is little or nothing for them to hold onto.So, there is a fight-back. These people are afraid, but they also see other people who are afraid. They have benefited from the spread of information via television, and social networks. These people are banding together. This is one of the things the Internet does, and does well.
But, this rebellion against change cannot win. Since the invention of the printing press, the world has changed due to the spread of information.
This move continues as world trade and financial markets grow, and as people work together more. History shows us that this does not stop.
If those in Great Britain that want to remain in the European Union lose, which I hope they don't, the country will face an overwhelming problem. Change will continue to rule the world and a new, more isolated Great Britain will have to find its place anew.
If the European Union collapses, the rest of the world will continue to grow and change and individual European countries will have to find places where they can be competitive and reach a scale where they can impact world trade.
David Cameron may have misjudged how those who feel disenfranchised would react to a Brexit vote. But the British nation still has an opportunity keep its place in the world's economic and technological evolution.
Opting out is not the right choice.