I believe Britain should be independent for exactly the same reasons why Gandhi believed that India should be independent. If you’re pushed for time you can stop reading there and get on with your stuff, but if you want a point-by-point rebuttal of every argument for Britain remaining in the EU then read on.
Why is independence important?
Every country needs independence for the same reason why every house needs party walls. Not because our neighbours are evil, or because we are mean, parochial or insular, but because we need to effectively organise our own lives. Conversely, being in The EU is like knocking down the party walls between our homes but on a much bigger scale – it doesn’t make us more united, liberal, prosperous, safe or influential, it just turns the simplest decision into an endless technical negotiation.
But Britain would lose influence if we left.
Influence to do what? Can you imagine a friendship where one person craves influence over the other? Of course not, because that’s not a description of a friendship but a power struggle in which the weak obey the strong. Within the EU Germany has influence over Greece but Greece has no influence over Germany. To govern people like this isn’t just impractical, it’s cruel. It is arrogance to impose on another and it is pathetic to be imposed upon, which is probably why the ‘influence’ argument has completely hypnotised our political leaders.
But Europe passes laws to advance equality, social justice and environmental protection.
Oh. They gave us rights? Britain pioneered equality and environmental law years before joining the EU. We passed the Equal Pay Act in 1970. We passed the Race Relations Act in 1965. We passed the Clean Air Act in 1956. We decriminalised homosexuality in 1967. Britain gave women the vote before France, Spain or Italy, and slightly before Germany in 1918 and Magna Carta set out a charter of rights 700 years before the treaty of Rome. We became liberal before we joined, since we joined the only thing that has been libersalised is Market Capitalism, which is why the richest want change the least.
Tom Paine said “the greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes” and indeed this is the case with the EU – as our ability to democratically hold the powerful to account is eroded we are constantly assured that the EU is ‘progressive‘.
But leaving would cut us off from the Common Market.
Of course it wouldn’t. We would just carry on trading exactly as we do now, in precisely the same way that we trade with the USA, India, Canada, New Zealand and Australia since they declared independence from us.
Here is a photo of two lots of tomatoes form my local supermarket.
One is from Spain, and costs 90p
One is from Morocco, and costs 90p
Spot the difference? thats right, there is pretty much fuck all difference, They’re both round, both red, I bought a pack of each and can confirm they both tasted like tomatoes.
Is anyone seriously suggesting that Moroccan tomato farmers can sell their stuff in my local Sainsbury’s but that an independent Britain would be shut out from French or German markets? I invite you to take a good look at that photo of the tomatoes again because it shatters the basis on which the whole Bremain argument rests. There are about 118 countries in the world. 27 of them are in the EU. The EU isn’t called ‘the Common Market’ anymore because as trade became more international the whole world has became a common market so the term became meaningless. And we see this not just when we buy tomatoes, but wine, phones and cars, indeed the contents of every shop demonstrates the fact that there’s no need to be in a political union with our trading partners.
Why do you suppose the Bremain camp assert that leaving the EU would alter our trading agreements in such a way as to make us poorer? Because it allows them to distract us from the vast self-evident truth that independent countries are always more prosperous, and instead pretend that the crucial arguments are about obscure technicalities – clauses we’ve never seen in documents we cannot name; paragraphs of small print which we are absolutely assured are all that stand between us and lives of penury. I have demonstrated in one simple image that the people by whom we are we are governed need not be the people with whom we trade. Let the Bremain team try to demonstrate the benefits of this absurd union in one single image if they can.
Free trade areas and the EU are not the same thing, there are other free trade areas in Europe apart from the EU (EFTA & CEFTA) So it is perfectly possible to freely trade in Europe without being a member state. This means we could get the same free access to the same market without having to pay the £55,000,000 daily membership fee – that’s right, being a member of the EU effectively means we are paying for access to a market that other countries get for free…It’s a tax on stupidity!
It’s possible to buy Japanese produce in Europe isn’t it? Japan trades internationally without having to sacrifice its sovereignty? Why on Earth shouldn’t Britain? In fact Japan is the exact model for what I advocate: an outward looking island democracy with it’s own distinctive cultural identity. Simple.
But Euro-sceptics are far-right fruit cakes and loonies.
“The opponents of EEC membership inside the Labour Party know how much more difficult it would be to foist their brand of left-wing socialism on the British people if we remain part of a community based on the principles of free enterprise and the mixed economy. We in the Conservative Party must vigorously oppose this ominous development”
Edward Heath speech to the the Conservative Group for Europe, The Times 09.10.80
Labour was the original euro-sceptic party. It was the Tories who took Britain into the EEC (without a referendum) it was John Major who forced the Maastricht Treaty through Parliament and it was Margret Thatcher who signed the Single European act. Why? Because the EU is a technocratic bureaucracy designed to prevent democratic oversight of markets. So if you think this is a simple left v right argument then think again because ‘far right’ is just an emotive phrase that the establishment rolls out because it closes people’s minds to one side of the argument in a way that ‘far left’ does not. Self determination is not a left / right thing, it’s a free / unfree thing. My fellow right-wing crazies agree:
“Communism run by commissars from Moscow did not work, and nor will capitalism run by commissioners in Brussels. Both deny people their right to develop in their own way” Tony Benn 1966
“Cyprus should leave the Euro now” Paul Krugman 2013
“everything good about the EU is in retreat; everything bad is on the rampage” George Monibot 2015
“The only sense lies in exit” Simon Jenkins. Guardian 2013
When Britain is independent maybe it will pass right-wing laws, maybe left-wing laws, that really isn’t down to me – that will depend on whatever governments you decide to vote for. The important point is that whatever laws we pass will be written by us, debated by us, and effected by us, in our own interest. That way, when on reflection we see our laws are badly worded, we can easily amend them. That is the exact opposite of the current situation where a distant executive, with it’s own agenda, foists unreformable laws and leaders on people who never ever ever voted for them – this is not an argument between left and right but a choice between the functional and the dysfunctional.
But Britain would lose prestige on the world stage.
What prestige is that then? Please refresh my memory about this stupendous bonanza of prestige Britain has acquired since 1973.
In the 40 years before we joined, Britain stood against fascism, set up the NHS and welfare state and rebuilt our shattered country, libralised our society, pioneered environmental law, became multicultural, criminalised prejudice, and decriminalised homosexuality. But in the 40 years since Britain has achieved nothing comparable. Since we joined the EU what big social breakthroughs have we made? Where are the great reform acts? Name them.
I present to you a nation in decline: Since Britain joined the EU, inequality has increased, pollution has increased, terrorism has increased and debt has increased. Since Britain joined the EU have our towns and countryside become more beautiful? Do we now care for pensioners better? And do we now raise more well educated children to support future pensioners? Are the army, navy or air force better? The police? The Civil Service? The Home Office, Lords or judiciary? In the last 40 years has any institution of state been successfully reformed? Has Britain set up a National Education Service? No. When Britain joined the EU you got a grant to go to college, now you get a loan to go to college. Has Britain confronted the energy crisis? No. Since joining the EU we wasted North Sea oil, and shut the coal mines so we could buy fuel from tyrants. 40 years ago we had a steel industry, 40 years ago we had a fishing industry, 40 years ago we built ships. When Britain joined the EU we made things, today we lead unhealthy sedentary lives, filing files and following procedure. That’s not prestige, that’s decline, and while it would be petty to blame all the ills of the modern world on the EU, Britain’s decline clearly stems from our failure to govern ourselves in an adult way. 40 years ago British elections were a meaningful battles about ideas, but now you have a meaningless ‘choice’ of mood music between career politicians who have never had propper jobs, and who all have the same background, education and views and policies.
Whenever people suggest that independence would mean a loss of prestige take a note of who they are and you will spot they all have something in common – they are all people with prestige now. Why do you think the establishment is always against change? Because they care about us? The establishment prospered under the current system, so they naturally feel threatened by change and instinctively see it as their self-interest to keep everything just the way it is; so it’s no surprise they try to portray this as prestige, and the alternative as ignominy; to keep you where you are, and to keep them where they are. But the claim that an independent Britain would lose prestige melts under scrutiny – every lesson of history shows independent people flourish, whilst those submitting to external rule decline. But don’t take my word for it, when do youthink Britain contributed the most to the humanities, arts and sciences? In the last 40 years? Or in the previous 400?
But we would be cutting ourselves off from the modern world.
The modern world was defined by people like Gandhi, Mandela, Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa, Aung San Suu Kyi, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington who all said basically the same thing:
“A government of our own is our natural right” (Thomas Paine)
In the opposing corner you have all the old-school colonial dinosaurs who believe that a few sophisticated geniuses in a palace somewhere should prescribe how people 1000 miles away should live. For the EU to masquerade as modernists is laughable – you never got to vote on their economic policy, or the president, or the commission; there is noting modern about being governed by political appointees we didnt vote for, there is nothing modern about moving power ever further from the electorate and there is nothing more old-fashioned than imposing unwanted laws and economic policies on people.
But Britain would be isolated.
Bullshit. My daughter is half Jamaican, and sometimes on 6th August I send her a text joking: “Happy Independence Day!”
On Independence Day in Jamaica do you think people trudge around crying about how isolated they are? Do you think they stare into space yearning for instruction from overseas? Like fuck they do – in Jamaica the 6th August is party time! No country in the world ever marks Independence Day with regret, it is always a day of pride and celebration, so on 6th August Jamaicans feel proud that they stood up and took their destiny in their own hands, and we should feel embarrassed that for so long we actually swallowed the lie that membership of the EU = prosperity, influence and prestige when the reality is it means subservience, uniformity and decline.
Now cast your mind back to the day you grew up and left home, maybe you felt a bit scared about what the future might hold? Maybe you even felt a little bit …isolated? Exciting wasn’t it!
But Britain would lose its voice on the world stage
1, Britain would continue to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a member of NATO, the G7 and head of the Commonwealth; so an independent Britain would still have ample opportunity to voice it’s opinion. Alternatively if the Prime Minister has anything else they want to say, they can always tweet it for free without having to pay £55,000,000 per day for the privalage.
2, I listen to people who are good at what they do, and people will listen to what Britain says if we are a happy, prospering nation with a system of government that is clearly functional. Being heard isn’t about joining this or that trendy gang – it’s about having something to say that’s worth listening to.
3, No one joined th EU because they wanted to listen more, so they dont. Name a time when the EU listened to anything. What great deals have they struck? And name a time when anyone bothered listening to the EU. It’s an international joke, a deaf, dysfunctional entity preciding over its own decline.
But the EU has given us peace.
That claim is false for the following reasons:
1- There are about 50 countries in Europe, six of them signed the treaty of Rome in 1957, membership of the EU is now 28 countries, yet the EU claims credit for ALL the peace enjoyed by ALL of Europe since the end of the Second World War – which ended 12 years before the EU even came into existence!
2- If we refer to the Steven Pinker book ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature: a history of violence and humanity’ we see that the decline of war between countries since the end of the Second World War has been a global trend and not something exclusive to Europe. This is illustrated in this incredible animation.
3- The actual peace-keeping force is called NATO not the EU.
It’s hard not to be scornful of such a hollow boast, but for the EU to claim it has ‘given us peace’ is to claim credit for events that began beyond its borders, before it was created, to which it has made no contribution. The claim that Europe has enjoyed peace is false anyway, what about the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans? The ongoing Islamic civil war? The war in the Ukraine? Or The Prague spring? We are terrorised by low-level war, Parisians are massacred, a plutocracy wages war against nature, small economies are bullied into submission, we are fettered by a web of technical procedure and our assets are seized to subsidise Eurozone failure, yet all the while we are assured they have given us peace? EU leaders conflate union with peace and nation states with war because it provides a convenient mind-closing narrative allowing them to masquerade as peacemakers, and caricature their opponents as monsters even as lives are crushed.
“Europe brings peace. Is that so? It is becoming obvious that you cannot have the economics of the Great Depression without having the politics of the Great Depression” Nick Cohen. The Spectator.
But the EU promotes multiculturalism.
The opposite is the truth. The EU was set up to eliminate multiculturalism which is why everything it does is designed to homogenise the culturally diverse peoples of Europe into a single mono-culture, so every rule, every treaty and every judgement are about criminalising diversity.
But Euro-sceptics are closet racists.
Was it racist for Gandhi to say that India should be independent? Was Washington racist for saying the Colonies should govern themselves? And the people who celebrate independence in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Jamaica, I suppose they’re racist too are they? And when Michael Foot advocated independence, notice how he campaigned against the National Front at the same time?
I think we should fight racism by confronting hatred and respecting people’s right to be themselves. Yet somehow this facile parody that independence = nationalism = racism has been allowed to go unchallenged. The EU are fanatics engaged in a huge social experiment to homogenise Europe’s indigenous cultures, but as soon as someone questions them, hysterical accusations are banded around without any hint of irony: ‘agree with us or else you are racist!’ Yeah right, so if I don’t concur then I am mentally ill? Call that an argument?
Ok now let’s look at this racism accusation from the other direction. It was wrong that Moscow dictated to Czechoslovakia and East Germany right? And it’s bad that Tibet is governed from Beijing right? And it’s good that the USA, India and Australia are no longer governed from London right? So look in the mirror. Search your conscience. How can you morally condemn every instance of external rule in history….except when it’s inflicted on the British?
But we need a coordinated international response to the crisis.
No. The crisis exists because we ‘coordinate’ internationally.
Whatever you may think about the jihadists, they are definitely right about one thing, and that is they think globally but act locally. They want the world to be Islamic, but do al Qaeda, Isis, Hamas and Boku Haram, the Talliban et al meet up in Cairo and issue a joint communique? No, they get on with it. They understand that imposing their will on the world involves many people making a large number of local micro-decisions so their way is incrementally imposed by means of numerous concessions.
Now contrast that with the way western leaders deal with say pollution, climate change, the war, migration, trade or any other hot topic…They fly off to some glamorous location, eat and drink a lot, talk a lot, then eventually issue a joint communique saying that the negotiations were tough but they have secured a terrific deal.
Is pollution diminishing? No
Is climate changed reversed? No.
Have they struck a peace agreement? No
Is the migration crisis sorted? No.
Have trade reforms benefitted you? No
Is Islamic territory expanding? Yes.
Now I don’t want this to turn into an essay about Islam, I am simply observing that thinking globally and acting locally is at the very least a functional way of achieving progress. But the modern trend in western politics to think globally and talk internationally moves the process of governing as far as possible from the voters, automatically seperating the power from democracy. Consequently national parliaments decline, elections become meaningless, voters find their only real choice is between frustration and anger, the [insert your preferred crisis here] then gets worse, and so the leaders call for another ‘coordinated international response’…a vicious circle is established, endlessly seeking to halt social decline by moving power ever further from the average person on the street.
Let’s think about the word ‘international’ (inter-national). A nation is a holistic legal and cultural entity, therefore an inter-national discussion by it’s very nature will be conducted at rarefied heights beyond the scrutiny of the electorate or clear legal jurisdiction. This is why inter-national organisations (FIFA, IAAF, UNHCR, Starbucks, Facebook etc) are good at enriching their management, bad at paying taxes, good at incubating corruption, and contribute so little to humanity. And who do you suppose is bankrolling the ‘In’campaign? Small local traders? Nope. JP Morgan.
It’s perfectly understandable that our leaders like the idea of having their photos taken with glamorous people in glamorous places, but having an international conference about something isn’t visionary or decisive – it reveals an unimaginative and cowardly failure to put one’s house in order. A coordinated international response isn’t the solution – it’s the problem. So if you want a situation to get worse, then go have an international conference about it.
Often I have doubts, and worry that we will lose this once-in-a-lifetime chance for self-determination, but I am always reassured when I see our opponents are stuck stuck stuck in their fatal mind set of failure, hypnotised by the belief that centralised masterplanning works better than having a ground campaign, and forever talking internationally rather than addressing what’s right in front of them.
But unions make us stronger.
Some do, some don’t. It depends whether it is a union based on friendship or greed.
As I write this I have a ring on my finger, I won’t bore you with my personal story, but basically myself and my wife freely chose to be together. We enteredour union fully aware it would mean sacrificing independence for togetherness, and you will be delighted to read that so far it seems to have worked ok and we are mutually enriched.
The opposite of this type of union is called an arranged marriage. An arranged marriage is a shabby affair, a cynical stitch up where deals are cut, dowries are paid, and people are pushed into dysfunctional relationships they don’t believe in. And when the downtrodden dream of freedom the language of paranoia is used to keep them in line: leaving would mean nightmarish isolation, uncertainty and poverty. Sounds familiar? Do you disapprove of arranged marriages? If so then you must be appalled that despite the fact that we never said “I do” Britain finds itself wedded to a spouse it cannot love, honour or obey.
As a general rule, collective action works well for small to medium-sized projects. Collective action doesn’t work on large scale projects because the responsibility for doing good gets exported. For example as I am writing this I have in front of me today’s Sunday Times. I could use any one of a hundred issues to illustrate the point but the big deal this week is that flight MH17 has just been shot down (probably by Russia) and David Cameron has written a column saying:
“Sitting around the European Council table on Wednesday evening I saw that same reluctance [to act] at work again. Some countries with Britain at the forefront, have consistently pushed for action that reflects the magnitude of the long-term threat”
Question: if he believes action is necessary then why doesn’t he act?
Answer: Because calling for a collective response does three things:
1, it makes him look tough and principled.
2, it allows him to strut around on the international stage demanding shit.
3, it allows him to continue to do nothing.
If he thinks something should be done then why not grow some balls and do it?
Collectivism can achieve wonderful things, but as we see here, on a large scale it actually becomes an excuse for inaction; a screen behind which the challenges we face can be endlessly blocked out. Don’t fancy facing something? Just kick it into the long grass and pretend you’re ‘building a consensus’ after all, so long as ‘the system’ can be blamed, nothing is anyone’s fault, and failure doesn’t exist. So you see, when applied at the wrong scale collectivism becomes a deceit that allows everyone to feign outrage as societies fail.
Unions not based on friendship are just cartels designed to incubate failure by compelling people and institutions that work to support people and institutions that don’t. Besides, if being a collective makes the EU so strong then it seems to have borne surprisingly few fruits. Let’s try naming the big strong EU’s great achievements:
Did th EU leap to the defence of Ukraine when Putin sought to annex it? No.
Did the EU heroically stand against ethnic cleansing in the Balcans? No.
Does the EU speak out against the mistreatment of women in Saudi Arabia? No.
Did the EU drive a hard bargain with Iran over its nuclear program? No.
Does the EU ever mention that China is the world’s biggest polluter and executes more people than all the rest of the world put together? No
Did the EU attempt to prevent ISIS’ genocide of the Yazidis? No.
Does the EU confront Turkey about its disgraceful human right record? No.
Has big strong Europe ever stood up to any tyrant? No.
Sure they are well butch when it comes to pushing round little countries like Ireland, Greece or Portugal, and they are super-macho once America has safely taken the lead, but if union = strength then why the cowardliness? Why is it impossible to recall any momentous political event when big strong united Europe actually stood up for something? But, I have to admit, they may be spineless, but … BOY can those guys assemble a good golf team!
But jobs and prosperity would be at risk if we left.
Bullshit. Independence = prosperity.
India declared independence and prospered.
Canada declared independence and prospered.
Australia declared independence and prospered.
The USA declared independence and prospered.
New Zealand declared independence and prospered.
Switzerland wisely chose not to join the EU – it prospered.
Norway also chose not to join – it has no national debt and free higher education.
Greenland declared independence from the EU in 1985. It’s bravery was rewarded. It has higher growth and lower unemployment than the EU!
Iceland also refused to join, and in spite of their banking crash they also have much higher growth and lower unemployment than the EU – and they jail corrupt bankers!
The above amounts to overwhelming anecdotal evidence that independenceworks, and to set your face against such clear facts is denial. Conversely EU membership = decline. Germany is in decline, France is in decline Spain is in decline, Italy is in decline, Greece is in decline, Portugal is in decline. And what EU member states have the highest growth? The ones that didn’t join the Euro (Poland, Sweden and the UK) so you see there is a clear correlation: the less you govern yourself the greater your decline will be.
“It is in reality a self evident position that no nation in a state of foreign dependence, limited in its commerce and cramped and fettered in its legislative powers can ever arrive at any material eminence” Thomas Paine.
Incidentally, if we return to the marriage analogy for a moment, it’s worth noting that all unions are also ‘debt unions’ so my wife and I are ‘jointly and severally liable’ for our debts. That means if one of us were to fall into a vortex of crippling interest payments, the creditors would be able to seize jointly held assets. Now think about the mass unemployment in Spain or the debts of Italy and Greece, if you think that’s their problem, think again, it’s the EU’s problem, so as long as we are members we are liable.
But Parliament is loathsome.
True. But this is because we have abdicated the responsibility of governing ourselves, and as Westminster has become more marginalised, so it has acted with less maturity, shown less vision and cost more money! The less it serves us, the more it serves itself!
Clearly we need to be responsibly governed by one functional parliament, rather than half-governed by two dysfunctional parliaments. And of the EU and Westminster parliaments, Westminster (though venal and unfashionable) is actually the easier to reform and hold to account. We know our representative’s names, we can lobby them, visit their surgeries, and if we don’t like what they are doing we can campaign against them. But if you don’t like European policy, how do you reform it? Who’s listening? And how can we steer it by the manner in which we vote? The obvious answer is that we can’t, which is why the EU has never successfully reformed anything. Returning the burden of real authority to Westminster, would mean there would no longer be a hiding place for the authors of poor legislation and elections would once again become a meaningful battle of ideas rather than a choice between identikit career politicians who all have the same education, background and beliefs. So of the two it is The European Parliament that needs to be abandoned and Westminster that needs to be reformed, not the other way round.
But the referendum is causing uncertainty.
Well what vote wouldn’t? That’s an argument against the existence democracy! Give me democratic instability over centrally planned decline any day of the week!
Conservatives often seek to maintain the status quo by trotting out words like ‘uncertainty’ or ‘destabilising’ to try to dupe us into thinking that however shit their leadership is, the alternatives would be worse. It’s just the same old tired language of paranoia, and there’s even a name for it: ‘Project Fear’. It’s based on the notion that the crisis that is real will never be as frightening as the crisis you can only imagine, and the establishment use it time and again to incubate their failure. So be on the lookout for phrases like: ‘lurch to the exit‘ or ‘miss the boat’ or ‘left behind’ or ‘isolated‘ etc etc because this is how conservatives chip away at your hope that a better world is possible.
But it’s defeatist to not attempt renegotiation.
No, it’s defeatist to obey rules written by unelected existentialists beyond the sea who don’t stand for anything. There is no point in debating the technicalities of our membership with the EU because membership is morally wrong in principle. Besides the EU wasn’t set up to iron out technicalities, it’s raison d’être is to integrate. Integration is what the EU does. The clue is in the title, it’s called the European Union.
And in negotiations, what are the best terms we could hope to achieve? Semi-autonomy? A sort-of-independence? whereby they govern us and agree to occasionally hand back some of our contributions? Yet that is exactly how the EU supposes we should live – by the endless petitioning of a deaf executive, that has never successfully reformed anything, for permission to live our own lives.
But independence would sour relations with our European Partners.
Ghandi’s Declaration of Independence in 1930 probably didn’t endear him to Ramsay MacDonald. Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence probably didn’t go down a storm with George III. But today Britain has cordial relations with India and the USA precisely because neither seeks dominion over the other.
Once Britain has declared independence we will have friendly relations with its member states the same way we do with Australia Canada Australia and India since they declared independence from us.
But leaving would be like trying to unscramble an egg.
The opposite is the case: it is membership that entails a nightmarish labyrinth of technical procedure. Independence is a position of crystal clear clarity.
But other issues are more important right now.
But we can’t pass laws on those other issues because Parliament can only govern within a framework set out by the EU, and the EU will suffer no laws to be passed other than those which suit it’s purpose, so any law that actually benefits us gets swiftly ‘harmonised’.
But we can’t turn inwards.
Absolutely. Which is why Britain should look outwards again to the wider world, extend the hand of friendship to every decent human alive, and stop this parochial mean-spirited fixation with the 27 countries of the EU.
But divorce would be messy.
Not as messy as the marriage, or as expensive!
But it wouldn’t make any difference.
Then we have nothing to lose.
But it’s wonderful that Europe has come together in an act of brotherliness.
Even I have to admit that this is a really nice argument which I warm to because of its idealism, because some people signing up must have genuinely thought it to be true, and because if it works for some countries then good for them. You won’t be surprised though, to read that I think there is also a more cynical side to it – that most joined either out of arrogance or paranoia. So on the one hand we have countries like Germany and France who, let’s admit it, have always liked to tell others that their way is best; then on the other you have countries like Portugal and Greece who, hypnotised by greed and uncertain of their capabilities, chose to side with the big boys.
Having said that, I don’t believe the leaders of the EU are evil; they are not pantomime villains or saboteurs, they are decent people who genuinely want to do good, but paradoxically, this is what makes their project so dangerous. They have been hypnotised by the notion that nation states = war so they conflate integration with peace. Consequently whatever problem confronts them, they are hard-wired to espouse the same response: less national law, less borders, move power further away from the people, more collective ‘action’ and more top-down centralised control….Their righteousness has blinded them to the fact that they have created a dysfunctional monster, stuck in an endless feedback loop of decline, forever seeking to actually improve society by increasing central control. So even as their project fails for all the world to see, they manically repeat the mantra: “the solution is to be more European“. It’s sad and frustrating to watch, it’s like a cult but without the charismatic leadership.
But the Euro is an incredible achievement.
It is indeed incredible that the EU got so many people to do something so stupid. The Euro is precisely the sort of top-down vanity project that has diminished the continent. Clearly it has been a catastrophe, taking away member states ability to control their monetary policy but giving no prosperity in return. No country in the Eurozone has the interest rate or money supply it would chose for itself. Disagree? Then how come unemployment in the Eurozone is about double that of the US or UK? And if their governments have no control over money supply or interest rates then what choice do the unemployed youth of Europe have other than to migrate from the debt colonies to the creditor states?
Think I’m a rabid Nazi fruitcake? Then ask yourself this question: what event in modern times benefited Britain’s economy more than any other? Leaving the ERM. For the next 20 years our economy never stopped growing. Sure it seemed like a catastrophe at the time, but in the long term, taking back control of our own monetary policy was so staggeringly successful, that it took Gordon Brown spunking one billion pounds a day for ten years to derail it. And despite all that, in the 15 years since the start of the Euro, Germany’s economy has grown 18%, Britain’s has grown 30% So you see there is a clear correlation: Disengagement = Prosperity.
Is a power that is jealous of our prosperity a proper power to govern us? Why do you suppose they wish us to remain in their group? For our benefit?
Isn’t this all just a ‘Passport to Pimlico’ argument?
Fair point. In the 1949 Ealing comedy Passport to Pimlico, the people of Pimlico declare themselves to be an independent nation state, so could my argument not be also used as an absurd case for every region, town or even family declaring themselves to be apart? Also it should be noted that for hundreds of years the place we know today as Italy was constantly over-run by moronic invaders because it was arranged as a cluster of disunited, easy-to-conquer towns and principalities. And how might my argument be applied to Scotland’s claim to independence, or Quebec or the Basque Country etc etc? So, whilst it is beyond the scope of this essay or the intelligence of its author to settle every border dispute the world, it is unfair of me to say “we should leave them” without attempting to say who ‘we’ and ‘they’ are…
There is an optimal size countries should be, and the sensible way of defining them should be with regard to topography and culture. In the case of Italy we have a peninsula defined by the Mediterranean to the East, South and West and by the Alps to the North, additionally the people of this peninsular speak the same language. I was actually in Loretto in 1982 when Italy won the World Cup, yes there were tensions between the northerners and southerners, but in that room when the third goal went in against Germany, I will never forget the happiness of the Italians that they had won.
Nation states should be delineated by rivers, seas, mountain ranges and deserts because people tend not to settle in these places, and when I see Britain on a map of the world, I notice it has lots of blue stuff all around it. That is not my opinion, it’s not what I dreamt up, it is how I find the world.
The various islands of Japan have one government. That works.
North and South New Zealand share one government. That works.
Australia and Tasmania share one government. That works.
Greenland, Iceland and Jamaica each have one government. That works.
Sri Lanka, Cyprus and Ireland each have two governments and are consequently plagued by strife.
The Korean peninsular has two governments. that doesn’t work.
The Kurds, Palestinians and Tibetans don’t have their own governments. That doesn’t work either; and who but a hypocrite would claim that Palestine should be a legitimate nation state but that Britain should not?
You get the idea I’m sure. And you may well have good arguments against it, but until you can draw an outline of Europe please spare me your quibbles. How convenient, how fortuitous, that Mother Nature has spared us all the effort of having to set out our boarders!
But leaving would lead to rising nationalism.
If I were to ask someone in Japan, New Zealand or Australia whether they would like a external executive to preside over their affairs for them they would no doubt be puzzled at such an odd question. I could persist that the external executive is well meaning, but the retort would inevitably come: “we can do all that ourselves“. I could labour the point and list all the nice qualities of the external executive like how they are animal-loving friends of the poor, but there would be no way past the retort “but we can govern ourselves thanks” No, if you want a people to submit to external rule, first you must make them suplicants and crush their belief in their own abilities, lay them low with self doubt and make them fearful that independence would mean nightmarish war, isolation and poverty; tell them that people who don’t sign up are unfashionable, racist or mean and that pride in their culture a thought crime. Sounds familiar?
Personally I don’t have much time for nationalism or patriotism, indeed I can’t recall ever waving a Union Jack or singing the national anthem, but the salient point is that a lack of pride in our culture can be as dangerous as an excess of it. We have been lied to that celebrating our way of life is some parochial harbinger of tribalism and war, and this accusation has been levelled with such manic righteousness, so many times, that defending our indigenous culture is seen as tantamount to fascism. Indeed the self-hate has become so much a part of our national psyche that we find ourselves imperilled by our indulgence of ideologies that are genuinely Fascistic, which subjugate women, persecute gays, censor artists, attack free speech and eulogise patriarchy.
There is no moral relativism between British culture and the alternative models on offer in China, the Middle East, Africa or Russia. Our way really is better. Freedom of expression is better than censorship. People telling the government what to do is better than the government telling the people what to do. Gender equality is better than patriarchy. Reason is better than belief. Philosophy isbetter than religion. In short, our great, sophisticated culture is imperilled by its indulgence of inferior thuggish ideologies, and if saying so risks accusations of nationalism then we will have to live with the accusation, because indulging brutal ideologies risks the rise of real right wing extreemism.
Self love is not so vile a sin as self neglect. Shakespeare said that.
But it is good to grow ever closer.
Ever wondered why it’s impossible to name a great piece of ground-breaking EU legislation? Or how the EU manages to be so much less than the sum of its parts? How great countries like Germany, France, Spain and Italy suddenly decline when conjoined? I think a clue lies in the phrase “ever closer union”
The notion of ever closer union is the product of an adolescent, infantile mindset. You do not get married or divorced gradually. The beginning or ending of any union is a tumultuous affair involving a courageous romantic decision, so the notion that a whole continent can gradually unite is to suppose that decisions can be arrived at incrementally without actual conviction.
I am very fortunate to have become a father again, because I am with someone who believes in me. Again I don’t want to bore you with my personal story but a house that doesn’t believe in anything will not endure. This is because if you don’t look up then you look inside, and when you only look inside, you base all your decisions on how you feel, and when you do that the notion of pain or sacrifice for something greater than yourself disappears.
In the 1950′s the notion of the ‘teenager’ was invented, when, between childhood and adulthood, people could, for a while, have fun without too much responsibility. Today we seek to extend the teenage years, sexualising children earlier and avoiding responsibility longer in order that teenage behaviour can be strung out for as long as possible. That is why in every European town you will see ageing childless adolescents, clinging to an extended play time and denying the necessity of adult decisions. Their beliefs are printed on their T shirts, they’re not interested in super ideas or super achievements, they are interested in super heroes, there’s the man playing video games or the woman who sterilises herself because she doesn’t feel secure about her job or her relationship. Peoples that rose through struggle decline through comfort.
This section must seem like I’m rambling on about something totally unrelated, but actually it is the most important point of all. To sustain itself every society must produce a minimum of 2.11 children per woman but that is not being managed in any EU state. Now ask yourself, how many brothers and sisters did your grandparents have? How many brothers and sisters do your parents have? And how many brothers and sisters do you have? And who is going to look after you when you are old – the state or your family? And if the EU represents such a great way of life then why do Europeans not want to bring children into their world anymore? If Europe is so at peace then why is it dying in front of our eyes?
For the first time in human history an entire continent has been duped into thinking that paying taxes to the state is a better pension plan than raising well educated children. It is a vast social miscalculation that dwarfs the fall of the Roman Empire and the consequences are on the front page of today’s papers. Europe is dying demographically, culturally and economically. The king is in the altogether. The EU project has failed, failed, failed. And every defence of the status quo is basically just middle class people who are in denial sneering at working class people who are not.
Don’t you ever wonder why Europe is staring demographic, cultural and economic oblivion in the face? Why it never stands for anything? Do you ever ponder how it could be that between 1781 and 1828 the city of Vienna turned out a thousand times more great music than the the Eurovision Song Contest has managed in 60 years? Well my theory is that Europe is in decline because it doesn’t believe in anything other than sensations so it has gone from being Post Christian to Existential to Pre-Autocratic.
For example, in the Great Depression, President Roosevelt introduced the ‘New Deal’ to restore the USA. Why is there no New Deal for Europe today? You already know the answer – because the EU is a belief-free-zone governed by existentialists who don’t have any vision.
The 20th century was a golden age for the United States of America, with the USA confronting the depression in the 30s, fascism in the 40s, communism in the 50s and embracing civil rights and feminism in the 60s, all the while reforming itself and contributing to the arts and sciences. Do you think the 21st Century will be a golden age for Europe? with Russia, China, Africa and the Middle East enviously copying the EU way? Well, right now it’s not looking like it. From where I’m sitting the more likely scenario is that Europe will fall as Russia, China, Africa or the Middle East overtake it. But sure, good luck with your ‘ever closer union’ but don’t kid yourself it’s any substitute for actually believing in something good.
What would it take for you to change your mind?
I don’t think there’s any point in reading something unless it might change your mind. So what would it take for me to have second thoughts? Well if the EU stood for humanity and nature then even I would have to sit up and take notice. For example, if they halted all trade and cultural links with the apartheid state of Saudi Arabia, or the dictatorships of China and Russia then that would be a significant development. Or if the EU resolved to stop burning fuel, recycle everything and close down all nuclear power stations within ten years, or if they totally stood for free speech, artistic expression and women’s rights against the religious bigots, then I could not pretend I was not impressed. But that’s not the way they operate. For example, I work in an architectural office and every year the EU regulations become more onerous. So every year every person in the office has to familiarise themselves with another set of here-today-gone-tomorrow legislation, making work that should be joyful into a technical chore. Why not simply legislate that all new buildings be super insulated, such that they require zero heating, that they be made 100% from recycled / recyclable materials, and that all new properties be totally accessible to one disabled standard? Get the law right once and then stop issuing new edicts every year. But no, that would require a bold statement of actual belief so instead the EU passes laws the same way they take power – by means of incremental low level harassment – they don’t believe in establishing meaningful principles, just endlessly pestering people to be compliant. So as long as the EU persists in its infantile attempts to incrementally usurp power from local democratic institutions, this remains a simple argument of right verses wrong.
So what’s the choice?
Leave or obey.
Since Britain joined the EU inequality has increased, debt has increased, pollution has increased, terrorism has increased, education has become more expensive, the NHS is no better, the armed forces are diminished, pensions are lower, we are less democratic, manufacturing has declined, our cities, towns and countryside are less pleasant, increasing numbers of women are subjugated, we are less literate, we have less privacy and fewer children.
Britain used to have a culture of practical optimism, now we have meetings about how to complain better. We have swapped meaningful work for answering phones, we have swapped re-writing the rules for following them, we have swapped moral beliefs for technical procedure, we have swapped the IRA for Al Qaeda, and we have swapped making things for selling bullshit. It’s not working.
Why do we not change laws to remedy this? The answer is of course, because we have become supplicants who have abandoned the notion of governing ourselves. But now it’s time to admit it’s failed, grow some balls and deal with our society like adults rather than palming off responsibility for decisions onto the Euro-geniuses. We don’t need to believe in God or Marx or markets, we only have to believe in ourselves, to believe in humanity, cast off fear, look up, and decide on a better future.
Unless you live in denial, closing your eyes to a mountain of empirical evidence and every lesson of history, you must accept we cannot remain subjects of an external power. Therefore the authority of the EU over Britain is a form of government which sooner or later must end. In the name of peace let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later.
Anyway, I hope you have really enjoyed reading my doom-and-gloom rant about how everything is fucked, but now I will actually sign off on an optimistic note, for in one aspect we are actually very very fortunate: throughout history many people have had to struggle for independence, many have faced terrible persecution, insurmountable odds, scorn, violence and intimidation, many have had to fight for it, and some have even had to die for it, but all you have to do, is vote for it.
By Sebastian Handley.