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Monday, April 25, 2016

Thoughts On Brexit

I will emulate The One, and stick my nose into the middle of the "Brexit" debate.

In June, British voters decide whether the UK should begin the two-year process of getting completely out of the EU--the UK was never completely in the EU. Before, however, I begin to ruminate, let me say that I would love to see a debate between Barack Obama and Nigel Farage on Brexit. Nigel would cook a fine Barackburger before the debate went more than a few minutes. I doubt Obama, a very ignorant man, could or would make much of a case for Britain's staying except for condescending progressive platitudes about EU membership allowing Britain to "punch above its weight." Re Farage, judge for yourselves: go to YouTube and watch him in action at the European Parliament or on stage at home. Unlike most politicians in our sorry times, he has a clarity of vision, a mastery of facts, a quick and cutting wit, and a stunning erudition. You do not want this guy on your case! If only we could declare him a natural born citizen and get him to run for President  . . .

I won't go into the economic arguments over whether it's better or not for Britain to remain in the EU. You can go here for a pretty good and somewhat balanced explanation of the two sides' arguments. Let's put all that aside, however, and generously agree both sides have some valid economic and financial points.

One other little aside: I notice that polling shows the vote "too close to call." You know my view on "too close to call" when there is a progressive supported issue up against real world voters. Almost inevitably--note, almost--that means the progs are heading for a fall. Let us hope that while past performance is not a guarantee of future results, in this case, per the Bard, "what's past is prologue."

At the risk of being reprimanded and corrected by this blog's one or two British readers, I offer that the force driving the pro-Brexit movement is not solely or even mostly about economics, or finance, or currency exchange rates. It is about something much, much more important. It is about reclaiming the soul of Britain; preserving and restoring that which made Britain, notably England, one of the world's greatest countries, a nation of stunning consequence. It is about deciding whether the great British traditions and innovations that have made our modern world are worth saving or should be discarded.

Back in April 2014, I wrote a piece about the Bundy Ranch standoff in Nevada titled "One More Thing to Blame on England." I noted that in the stand-off between ranchers and arrogant federal bureaucrats, we saw the,
clash between two English traditions or tenets: the first, respect for the "Crown" and the law; the second, a demand for individual liberty. Where those two rub up against each other the resulting friction produces a lot of heat and, at times, even flame. On another April, this one in 1775, we saw those two English principles also come into conflict when Royal troops went into the Massachusetts countryside to retrieve guns and some powder defiantly stored by English farmers. The resulting clash, which began on April 19, 1775, saw the Royal troops retreat in the face of an armed countryside, and served as the spark for the American Revolution. Angry and armed English farmers should not be your enemy of first choice. That Revolution was a continuation of a great theme in the English Civil War, the battle over the nature of the individual's relationship to the Leviathan. The victors in the American Revolution were those Englishmen who held liberty above loyalty to the Crown. 
The cow "war" in the Nevada desert, perhaps, could provide the spark that lights a more widespread resistance to the increasing arrogance and stupidity of those who now operate in the name of our "Crown" . . . this event could well be the watershed in a new struggle to preserve our English liberties. 
Blame it on England. I do.
Our Revolution and Civil War echo with themes from the Magna Carta and the English Civil War, in particular, the nature of the individual's relationship to and with the "Crown." Now in Europe, as if things weren't bad enough for the individual thanks to the overwhelming and intrusive national governments, a huge supranational bureaucracy has been created and installed in Brussels. Every year it seems this Leviathan grows and grows, demanding more and more tribute. It erodes the sovereignty of the nation states of the EU and places ever greater demands on individuals via taxes, decrees and regulations of all sorts that govern the most major aspects of life, e.g., immigration, to the most minor, e.g., the percentage of cocoa in chocolate. This EU/EC bureaucracy is stuffed with extremely well-paid bureaucrats who grow evermore removed from their countries of origin, their national personas absorbed by the European Project body-snatching monster--a system of rule unaccountable to the people over which it presides.

I have had a lot of dealing with the EU and its executive and diplomatic arm, the EC. Not good, not good. Trying to get EU countries to move quickly and decisively on just about anything was an exercise in frustration. Before anything could be decided, the EU members would need to have long and, often, inconclusive meetings. The British found themselves often tied up by the EU and unable to joins us, the Canadians, and the Australians on key actions. I remember an Australian Deputy Head of Mission, muttering about the EU, "They're worthless, worthless, worthless." The British had to be mindful of the French, the Belgians, the Italians, and their resentment for the relationship between the US and the UK. The EC Ambassadors were almost inevitably cartoon characters of pompous Europeans. Often French, a few Germans and Belgians thrown in, EC reps were extremely anti-American and--surprise!--did not like the British all that much either. In fact, in nearly all my dealings with the EU/EC, I found a high degree of anti-British sentiment. They apparently saw the British essentially as Americans with "Upstairs, Downstairs" accents.

As I have noted before, the vision for the EU, apparently, was French politicians, using German money, and relying on British troops as a way of eliminating American influence in Europe. The euro would serve as the amulet that would ward off the evil dollar. It seems that the grand French dream, however, has gone by the wayside as France's economy has imploded, leaving France punching below its weight. Now Merkel sits in the captain's chair--of the Titanic?--apparently dreaming of doing what neither Kaiser nor Fuhrer could, a Germany-dominated region extending from Lisbon to Moscow.

How's that working out, Angela? Didn't quite. The collapse of Greece was just a trailer for the horror movie to follow. The EU is dead or at least mortally wounded. Already staggering from its absurd economic and fiscal policies, the EU was not ready for what came: Islam, the Muslim invasion of the past few years. Germany went mad in a progressive way and opened the floodgates to jihad. The EU has proven totally inept in confronting the Muslim threat, and, in fact, has adopted a sort of Petain/Vichy approach wherein they allow the invaders to occupy unopposed huge swathes of Europe and hope that by babbling on about love, welcome, tolerance, etc., the Muslim crocodile will allow the remainder of Europe to live--at least for a bit. Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, much of Scandinavia have become hotbeds of Islamic jihad, with parts of their cities "no-go" zones.

I think that the British, not known for welcoming invaders, have had enough. Well, those who are still British and appreciate their country and its history. Let us not forget that there was a deliberate Labour policy to alter irreversibly the social composition of Britain so as to make it much less British. As I wrote in May of 2013, Britain underwent,
a leftist attempt to alter radically the nature of British society by encouraging immigration from poor countries and have those immigrants become dependent on and vote for Labour. It appears from documents recently made available that this was a planned effort. The Labour politicians involved in altering Britain's immigration laws deliberately sought to change British society, and knew the country would see a rise in social pathologies such as crime as a result. A visitor to any major British city can testify that Labour's plan has succeeded, social pathologies and all. Some two to three million immigrants from the third world entered the UK in less than ten years. The Labour politicians understood that this radical attempt to alter British society would not have public approval, so they did what leftist politicians do best: lie and label as "racist" anybody opposed to this massive social engineering.
The same people who so strongly support Britain's membership in the EU seem the same who oppose halting the foreign invasion. Now we see the Muslim hordes gathering just across the channel, champing at the bit to get over and enjoy the land of "the white dudes," before they destroy it, to do what Hitler could never.

For me as an outsider, a person with zero British blood, and no family ties to the UK (although I do like British cheese), what's driving the anti-EU movement in Britain is the need to save the country, or what's left of it. Perhaps without the EU and its courts and mandates, British common sense can prevail, and the UK be saved, or at least England--and if the Scots want to stay in the EU, they should have another referendum and swap London's "rule" for that of Brussels, that'll teach 'em.

Those are my thoughts. Don't know if I am right or wrong. I retreat to my bunker.

36 comments:

  1. An Antipodean view; Britain should leave the EU.

    The idea that Britain can no longer exist / succeed outside the EU is nothing short of ludicrous; ignoring as it does the immense and proud history of Britain long before the the EU was conceived, and Britain begin to winnow away its sovereignty and ultimately its identity. Britain has given the world so much; the common law, the secular state based the Westminster system of democracy with the separate of powers, the English language its cultural and social achievements; many of which are foundational to some of the most successful countries in other parts of the world.

    Others can argue the economics; although I cannot pass without saying that there are may vibrant and successful economies that exist outside the EU and other political / trade blocks. There is economic life without Brussels running the game.

    That said, the idea that Britain should further surrender its history, sovereignty, law and very essence to the unaccountable EU is, to me, simply unimaginable. I really thought, and hope, the British people have more respect for themselves and their history than to sell the farm to the petty tyrants in Brussels.

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  2. Hey Dip, a little revisionism might be in order as to who thought it up.
    You must not have got the memo in Guatemala but this EU thingy is really a great big devious American plan that those wonderful folks at state decided on to stop all those pesky Europeans from fighting each other over 20 minutes countries.(20 minutes to drive through). The aim being if they were all one big happy family they would stop fighting each other and the Poms Skippys Kiwis Canucks and Yanks wouldn't have to come and rescue the Frogs from their lack of cooperation with the Wehrmacht every couple of decades and we could all get back to normal with the Commonwealth drinking beer and the Americans making things.

    Seriously, one of the original and major architects, George Ball, wrote of this achievement in a number of his books starting with lend lease, and many tenets of the Marshall Plan and the European Steel Community but like you I am certain he did not contemplate the end result but his overall influence I would suggest had political not only trade implications that would eventually neutralise or incorporate obsolete states.

    I hope that Brexit succeeds because we down here also suffer from the same malign influence of the EU statists that provide an example for the Marxist/Leftist/Green activists to try and similarly alter our history and our common law values.

    Brett's comment says it all, and Britain is an integral part of our history.

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    Replies
    1. Sure. I am well aware of the long history of the EU concept. Americans have a habit of inventing things like the League of nations, the OAS, the UN, Nato which get taken over by progressives and quickly become bureaucratic monsters with agenda far removed from the original idea.

      I hope Brexit succeeds, as it will be a huge shot not just across the bow of international progressivism but a solid hit amidships

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    2. " Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left wing.
      The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies" .

      — Robert Conquest.

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    3. It its original conception, it was a customs union. That's fine. A custom's union, a military alliance, and a co-operative coast guard and border police would be salutary institutions. What it morphed into was a supranational regulatory scheme. It may have been 1992 was the watershed, but problematic features were, I think, already in place 'ere that.

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    4. Was the UN (as opposed to its component and affiliate agencies) or the OAS (as opposed to the Rio Treaty) ever worth a rip to begin with?

      Delete
  3. EU, EU, EU,
    Out, out, out.


    It's going to be utterly dismal seeing historic European countries fold over the next couple of generations - Sweden first, perhaps. Or even johnny-come-lately countries such as Belgium or Germany. It's maybe too late for Britain to save herself, but nothing ventured nothing gained.

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    Replies
    1. Belgium would benefit from a velvet divorce od Flanders from Brussels and Wallonia. Political decision-making therein suffers from cumbersome institutions and both components are of an adequate size to function as stand-alone states.

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  4. Re: Nigel Farage- for fun you might like to view the Monk debate from last month at the U of T. Nigel and Mark Steyn vs. Louise Arbour and Dr. Sharma on the subject of the " refugee crisis". Walloping good fun

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  5. I comment here on European, and specifically British affairs but not, for example on D&N or Samizdata. It is just not seemly. There are things that I do not really understand, just as there are so many American things that they can not wrap their heads around, like the fact that our President has, by careful design, less power than their PM, or even why we think that their government controls too many facets of their daily lives. However, we don't have to care, because it is not our business.

    But and however, free trade seems very sensible to me. Consider the damage done by our protective tariff. The tariff made the South cash poor, as all the colonies had been under British rule, so, slavery persisted in the South, and died out in the North, because there was no cash in the South to pay for labor. The cash poverty caused a feminization of schooling, because families sent daughters to teachers' college, while the sons could make a living, in a good year, working the farm. but a teacher in the family brought in some cash, enabling the family to pay their taxes and the interest on their bank note, in good years and bad. So, in the rural South, and in the Northern cities which received the transplants and their rural values, Black and White rural kids had to get over the idea that school was for girls, or for 'sissies.' Two hundred plus years after the tariff was passed, we are still groaning under its heavy load. Is a sector of a nation's economy suffering in competition with another nation? Is a nation suffering from the after effects of slavery, and its replacement, sharecropping? Did a half million young men die from competition? People have urged free trade for over a century, and yet,the only benefit from the Common Market was removing trade barriers. Why does anyone think it is necessary to have a United States of Europe? I like Belgian cooking, but does everyone in England need to have its food controlled by rules made in Brussels?

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    1. You've conflated the effects of the monetary regime and the trade regime. That aside, 19th century tariffs, while higher than today's, were not that severe. The alternative to tariffs would have been to attempt to raise revenue through direct taxes, which had challenges of its own.

      (As for the rest, that's your imagination).

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    2. I am re-re-reading this comment, and I still conclude that you do not understand the difference between protective tariffs and revenue tariffs. The widely expressed purpose of the first protective tariffs in the early nineteenth century was to "protect our infant industries." This produced economic disparity, and the rest is, ahem, history.

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    3. The economic effect of a tariff of a given level is the same whether you call it a 'protective tariff' or a 'revenue tariff'.

      A discussion of antebellum tariffs is to be found here

      http://www.nber.org/reporter/summer06/irwin.html

      Which indicates the period of exceptional tariffs lasted from 1820 to 1840, with continuing decline from 1840 to 1860.

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  6. The question is: Will the EU go to war over it?

    Okay.. now that I've stopped laughing at my own lame joke, please continue..

    No... europe.. you don't, and never will have, the american spirit.

    - reader #1482

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    Replies
    1. Actually, they did. That's why they left and came over here.

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  7. Anon at 25 April 20916 at 2:32PM: Yes, they will go to war, and depend on the US to arm them and provide the cannon fodder. Like last time.

    - The Gentle Grizzly

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  8. Brussels, The Cucumber, and Deregulation

    (2008) EU regulators are minutely concerned with food. Ever wonder what all of those people are doing in our own government? Remove some rules, make some rules, it is all about managing every minute part of your life. Motto: "The extra cost and our salaries are worth it."

    === ===
    [edited] European Union Commissioner for agriculture and rural development, Mariann Fischer Boel says "It's a new dawn" in Brussels. Next July, the EU will lift rules dictating the size and shape of 26 fruits and vegetables. Hello, curvy cucumber.

    For decades, the EU has issued rules in the name of "consumer protection", such as how to use mayonnaise, the definition of an egg, the diameter of a peach, and protecting European shoppers from the sight of a misshapen carrot. This requires an army of bureaucrats and a few editorial writers.

    The EU will continue to set standards for apples, tomatoes, and 8 other fruits and vegetables making up 75% of the value of EU trade.
    === ===

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  9. "It is about reclaiming the soul of Britain; preserving and restoring that which made Britain, notably England, one of the world's greatest countries, a nation of stunning consequence."

    An accidental result of the Great Diaspora, everyone setting off on a search for decent weather, and decent food. ;)

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  10. Talk of Scotland leaving the United Kingdom makes me nervous. Picture the Scottish National Party government's Treaty of Friendship with Russia followed by Russian submarines in Scottish bases.

    Would they not?

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  11. We were in England last September and stayed with friends. "Britain" is the part north of London. England is south and our friends pointed out that, if we saw a brown face in Chichester, their small city, it would be "an NHS physician." They were right. The faces were those I saw in London in 1977 before the Blair gambit with Muslims.

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  12. Our problem is that extricating ourselves from the EU will be tricky and the people doing it will be the same people who got us into the mess in the first place.

    Personally I favour the Gordian Knot approach. Repeal the 1972 act and escape.

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    1. Getting out of the Euro would be tricky. Walking out of the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers, the Commission, &c is no trickier than cleaning out your desk. As for your trade regime, the EFTA still exists and has various arrangements with the EU, so you have that template.

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  13. "the people doing it will be the same people who got us into the mess in the first place": they needn't be. I am available for a reasonable fee. I'm perfectly capable of saying "sod off" in French and German, and my wife can add the Spanish and Italian equivalents if needs be.

    Naturally we'd rather not use such foul language to the Dutch, Danes, Swedes, or Portuguese.

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    1. If need be, the Portuguese can usually understand the obscenities flung at them in Spanish. The Danes and Dutch can nearly always understand ours, coming, as they do, from the same root stock.

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  14. Come on Dearieme, you know they will be same people. And they will be operating to that well known documentary "Yes Minister".

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  15. I first heard 'Yes Minister" on BBC radio, in 1983. I do not believe that I can convey how much that silly program contributed to my understanding of our own sordid politics. It is a bit analogous to science fiction:strip away the setting and the story can be told boldly. Seeing what was happening in all of Britain that year was rather like the lab to the lecture of Y, M. I can not thank the BBC enough, and there is very little that they do that could merit such praise.

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  16. Wolf Howling has a piece as Bookworm's stand in, over at BookwormRoom.com, which y'all ought to be reading regularly, anyway, but this piece is a fairly detailed analysis of Anglo-American legal history, and it is excellent. Britons and Americans will learn a great deal from that piece.

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  17. In the end it is often the demographics that hold sway ,,, as Diplomad the Younger has suggested in his previously referenced Mises article.

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  18. A British perspective on the referendum. First let it be said that I cede to no-one in my hatred of the EU, for all the reasons stated in the article and then some more.

    But you're backing the wrong horse in Nigel Farage. The fact is that many Britons *are* worried about the economic consequences of leaving the EU, and they need to be reassured that we can leave with no, or few negative consequences in the short term. These are the people who will decide the outcome.

    Despite the fact that Nigel has had twenty years to come up with an exit strategy, I have yet to see any evidence of one from him. If one does exist it's on the back of one of his fag (UK slang for cigarette) packet. To heap further irony on the situation courtesy of his being the leader of a group of MEPs in the European Parliament he has been sucking at the very generous teat of the organisation he claims to despise. This money should have been used to prepare for this day, with research grants etc.

    He is what used to be known as a saloon bar bore. He is very good at preaching to the converted, but he is a liability for the Brexit campaign in the UK. People need answers about how the UK will work out of the EU, everyone knows it's faults, but there has to be a plan. Nigel will never provide that.

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    1. Good points, I won't dispute them. My only counter that we could much the same about Trump as you've said about Farage--and yet Trump is winning. I still think the economics are second to the issue of national identity, as it is here in the US. Thanks.

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    2. Dear Mr. Reid,

      I can safely reassure Britons that they can neither leave the EU nor stay in without serious economic and noneconomic consequences. There is no realistic scenario without, for either option.

      So your perfectly-risk-averse voters are going to be disappointed, whatever they do.

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    3. What consequences? You'll have some speculators on financial markets making trouble now and again. Free trade has some welfare benefits, but they're not very large. You can eat the cost readily, unless M. Hollande and the Grand Duchess of Krautlandia propose to impose the economic sanctions they'd rather not institute against anyone else.

      What sort of 'exit strategy' do you need? You can incorporate extant and operative EU codes into British law with sunset provisions and then work on replacements at your leisure.

      Delete
  19. The EU is the enemy of self-government, which is why it is admired by much of Britain's professional-managerial bourgeoisie. Proof of the utter unseriousness of Scottish Nationalists is their commitment to the EU.

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  20. The voting outcome will probably involve some pain either way. If we leave the EU we will really need also to dismantle Westminster and Whitehall to make meaningful gains for a nation. Well a Brit can dream can't he?

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  21. I suggest eureferendum.com to all who want to hear an informed and practical approach to Brexit. It lies in article 50 and having a plan.

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