Stephen Hawking wrote a piece for The Guardian arguing people need to rethink the societal role of money in the wake of the Brexit decision. Hawking attributes the British decision to leave the EU as stemming from greed and selfishness. He says that money has played a “practical” and “crucial” role in his life, but it is only a “facilitator.” He has missed the point entirely. When multi-millionaires like J.K. Rowling and Hawking condemn those with legitimate financial concerns—whether or not they agree with the political actions taken in the name of those concerns—they only exacerbate the deep economic divisions that made Brexit possible. The average person is not engaged in the “cathedral” thinking Hawking suggests, they are trying to make rent.
A similar factor is at play in the presidential race in America. If these votes show us anything, it’s that the demands bureaucratic governments are placing on the working class, those whose net worth is less than 5 percent of the $20 million Hawking currently claims, are too heavy to bear. Of course money was a “key factor” in the Brexit vote. Not, as Hawking suggests, because people are greedy, but because most people simply don’t have very much.