In the Brexit debate the EU enthusiasts manically accused their opponents of being the “far right” to conceal the fact that actually it was the other way round. The supporters of the EU were nationalists, conservative and anti-democratic. They were religious zealots arguing using unfalsifiable pseudo science; they sought to rule through fear and they were neo-capitalists. In short they were everything they claimed to abhor.
Ok, am I just calling people names myself or can I back those accusations up with examples? Let’s go through the charges one by one to see…
EU supporters are nationalists.
On the issue of nationalism their position was oxymoronic – they denounced nationalism whilst simultaneously believing themselves to be citizens of a nation called The European Union. A nation with its own flag, anthem, president, parliament, court, legal system and ‘Common Defense Policy’. Here is a picture of the ‘March for Europe’
…but that’s not nationalism right? Here is another…
…down with nationalism yeah? What about this?…
These images represent nationalism at its most delirious and terrifying.
EU supporters are conservative.
They sought to conserve the current system. The March for Europe was a mass demonstration demanding zero change, and ‘Remain’ relentlessly campaigned for the (clearly necessary) reforms to our relationship with the Europe to be as small and as slow as possible. For example let’s take their proposal for a second referendum:
“We the undersigned call on HM Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% based on a turnout of less than 75% there should be another referendum.”
Britain’s electorate is 45 million so a 75% turnout would be 33.75 million votes. 60% of 33.75 million is 20.25 million. So if, for example, Leave managed to amass a staggering 20.25 million votes, Remain would still only require 13.5 million votes to keep their system in place.
See how the proposal masquerades as a democratic contest whilst hard-wiring the outcome? Independence could ‘win’ by 6 million votes without anything changing! Imagine if a football team had to get 20% more points than the previous champions to be given the trophy! If general elections were conducted on such a basis then the government would never ever change, which of course was the whole point. There is only one word to describe it: ‘conservative’. Even the two words ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ demonstrate my point: one is about change, the other is about preventing it.
For EU enthusiasts conservatism wasn’t some freak one-off blip, it ran through their entire philosophy which is why they favored a political system specifically designed to be unreformable, Why do you suppose the Common Agricultural Policy has never been reformed? Because the EU wasn’t designed to reform things, it was designed to be impossible to reform.
Think of the great reform acts that Britain enacted in the 43 years before we joined the EU: setting up the NHS, setting up the Welfare State, setting up the green belt, the Race Relations Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Sex Discrimination Act, the Clean Air Act, the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the abolition of the death penalty. That’s reform. No one could claim that those changes were backward steps taken by ‘far right’ conservatives.
Now contrast that with the EU ‘reforms’ that have taken place in the 43 yearssince Britain joined the EU: They signed the Kyoto Protocol but failed to implement it. They created the Euro and their economies promptly stopped growing. They created the Schengen Area and workers stopped getting pay rises. They created an El Dorado for multinational tax dodgers and corporate lobbyists. The only thing they liberalised is trade and commerce. They claimed to have given us rights (that we already had) whilst importing theological authoritarianism on an industrial scale. Pollution increased, inequality increased, debt increased, and the subjugation of women increased horrifically. Where are the great EU reform acts? Name them! And even if you can name some, why aren’t they working?
Why the failure? Because EU supporters are conservatives who defend a conservative institution – at every turn they seek to thwart meaningful reform.
EU supporters are against democracy.
The apologists for the EU did everything they could to prevent us from having a referendum in the first place. When they could no longer prevent the referendum they complained it shouldn’t have been allowed because it was ‘destabilising’. Once they lost the referendum they marched through the streets calling for the result to be ignored, when that didn’t work they proposed a ‘second referendum’ which was a pseudo-democratic sham. Why do you suppose Leave campaigned before the vote but Remain campaigned after? Because Leave respected democracy whereas Remain didn’t.
Can I give another example? Yes. Let’s contrast the European Parliament and the European Commission. The Commission are appointees but they have the power to draw up laws, whereas the European Parliament is elected but they only have the power to amend law. So it’s like the Lords and the Commons but switched around – the elected chamber is subordinate to the appointed chamber. Why? Because they don’t believe in the supremacy of democracy.
Can I give another example? Yes. For Leave it was all about the referendum where everyone could participate and every vote counted equally, whereas Remain constantly sought to move the process to smaller, less representative institutions like the High Court or the House of Lords. They won where there was less democratic representation, we won where there was more.
Can I give another example? Yes. Now Britain is independent we can have whatever laws we like, the only precondition is that now we actually have to votefor them first. Why do you suppose Remain were against that? The answer is obvious – they favor laws that people wouldn’t vote for.
Can I give another example? Yes. The EU removed democratically elected leaders from office in Greece and Italy.
Can I think of another example? Yes. The whole point of the EU is to move decision making beyond the control of voters, so their idea of confronting any problem is for the leaders of member states to meet and decide a common policy. The negotiations duly take place and the leaders then emerge to assure us they have haggled a terrific deal. Let’s pretend that this is actually true and they really have done a brilliant bit of negotiating. Whether they have negotiated a good deal or not is immaterial – the point is it should be us tellingthem the policy not them telling us the policy! Problems don’t get solved by international talks, they get solved by local actions, which is why every crisis the EU have had an international conference about has got worse.
There’re two types of nation on planet Earth: ones where the people tell the government what to do, and ones where the government tell the people what to do. The EU clearly favors the latter – it is set up that their vision be projected onus, not the other way round. But although all their problems stem from their contempt for democracy they manically drive onward and have even concocted funny little phrases with which they convince themselves that there is virtue in not listening:
“The solution is to be more European“.
Translation: ‘the solution is to be less democratic‘
So we see, just like their conservatism, their contempt for democracy isn’t just some isolated incident but a consistent ideological position – the very foundation of their philosophy. We are assured with a nudge and a wink that although the EU may have shortcomings, it’s lack of democracy is there to favor the good guys over the bad guys. Maybe this is a laudable statement, but in practice it means that the person deciding who is good and who is bad – is king.
EU supporters argue using unfalsifiable pseudo-science.
One of the greatest political essays ever written is Karl Popper’s ‘Science as Falsification’ and if you have 17 minutes to spare it’s really worth listening to it on YouTube. But if you don’t, then this is it in a nutshell:
Karl Popper maintained that science is about falsification rather than confirmation. For example, Marxists argued that theirs was a scientific analysis of history – everything that happened was determined by class struggle, so a workers revolution was inevitable. However when the workers failed to revolt, rather than take this as a refutation of their theory Marxists suggested workers were victims of false conscientiousness, unable to see the situation as it truly was. Popper fulminated against this way of dealing with counter evidence, claiming it immunised Marxist hypothesis (which were originally testable) turning them into irrefutable pseudo-science. There was no imaginable observation that could prove the Marxists were wrong: if the workers revolted it showed the Marxists were right, if they didn’t it also showed they were right. So if an argument is unfalsifiable that means that any fact can be used to support it whereas no fact can disprove it. Another example – if I accuse someone of being racist how do they prove they’re not? If they are seen helping people of another race, that could just be a cunning ruse to trick us into thinking they are not really racists, whereas any odd choice of words or peculiar mannerism can be assumed to indicate concealed depravity. Similarly any forecast (guess about the future) is also unfalsifiable because a chief characteristic of the the future is that it doesn’t exist yet, therefore there are no facts to argue about.
Naturally it’s tempting to make unfalsifiable arguments because they can’t be disproved, but ultimately unfalsifiability is a weakness rather than a strength because theories that can’t be tested are basically just opinions so they’re not very useful; worse still because they appear scientific they tend to be used to incubate lazy thinking. Karl Popper compared the theories of Marx, Freud, Adler and Einstein and concluded that only one of them presented theories that were falsifiable – Einstein.
Sure enough, if we go through the various remain arguments made during the Brexit referendum, guess what they all have in common? …
1, Vote remain or there will be an economic crash.
2, Vote remain or you will lose your job.
3, Vote remain or there will be a war.
4, Vote remain or you are racist.
5, Vote remain of you wont be safe.
6, Vote remain because it’s so cool.
7, Vote remain or Boris Johnson will be Prime Minister.
8, Vote remain or there will be uncertainty.
9, Vote remain or we will lose prestige / influence.
The above are all either guesses about the future, opinions about people’s character or appeals to our nature. They’re all unfalsifiable.
Conversely the leave arguments again and again cited empirical evidence:
1, Look how independence worked for India, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway, South Korea, Iceland and Greenland.
2, Look how not having independence is failing in Spain, Italy, Germany, France and Greece.
3, Contrast Britain before and after January 1973. Inequality, debt, pollution and the subjugation of women all increased, unemployment increased and GDP halved.
Now, whatever you think about those leave arguments the point is that any amateur can go onto Wikipedia and check to see if they are sound. Some of them may be strong arguments, others less so, but at least they all involve talking about numbers, dates and events which actually exist and are observable. So we see arguments for independence tended to be empirical whereas the Remain arguments tended to be unfalsifiable pseudo-science. It was just another masquerade – this time the masquerade of opinion as fact.
Misrepresentation and religious fanaticism.
Question: What sort of people love unfalsifiable arguments?
Answer: People who really want to believe something.
If we take Karl Popper’s critique of Marxism we see there are strong similarities to the debate about the Judaeo / Christian creation myth when dinosaurs were discovered. Like Marxists, did Christians accept that their theory had been falsified? No. Instead they pressed the new, inconvenient facts into the service of their dogma, claiming that God must have put the dinosaur skeletons there to test our faith.
Now it is indeed hypothetically possible that there really is a supreme being up there who loves us and who surreptitiously hid some dinosaur skeletons about the place to test our faith; but at a certain point the reasonable person must call time on bullshit, and conclude that, whilst anything’s possible, it is altogether more likely that the Abrahamic explanation for creation is, in fact, bollocks.
People who are obsessed with belief, love unfalsifiable arguments because they indulge fantasy whilst maintaining a veneer of rationalism. And the pseudo-rationalism of the EU enthusiasts doesn’t end there!
-Why do you suppose the EU created a political system with no reverse gear? A political system incapable of recognising its mistakes and rectifying them?
-Why do you suppose they flagellate themselves with the Euro?
-Why do you suppose their high priests accuse everyone who disagrees with them of heresy?
-Why do you suppose their arguments are fact-free emotional spasms designed to instill fear rather than appeal to reason?
It’s just another masquerade: the EU is no longer a political entity – it is a religion.
Supporters of the EU seek to rule through fear.
It was not for nothing that the Remain campaign was referred to as ‘project fear’…
“Brexit could be the beginning of the destruction of not only the EU but also Western political civilisation in its entirety.”
– Donald Tusk.
“The job you do, the home you live in are at risk.”
– David Cameron.
“A vote to leave would tip our economy into a year long recession with at least 500,000 UK jobs lost.”
– George Osborne.
…and a week before the referendum, the head of the (EU funded) IMF, Christine Legarde, said the outcome of a decision to leave ranged from “pretty bad to very very bad”
Obviously I could go on all day regurgitating quotes Remain came out with to terrify people into not changing anything, and every well informed reader will be aware of them already. My point is that going right back to Galileo and Spinoza it was simply the same strategy conservatives have always used against empiricists: “if you challenge the established order you will burn in hell!”
EU supporters are neo-capitalists.
Regarding capitalism, again we see there is a stark contrast between the official line and the reality. The official line is that the EU stands for social democracy, workers rights and redistribution. The reality is that the EU has crushed the economies of Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. It has presided over mass youth unemployment, imposed crushing austerity and created an El Dorado for lobbyists and multinational tax-dodgers.
Sure some trade union groups supported EU membership, but they tended to be bodies like the GMB, UNITE, the NFU and TUC who received EU funding (and were therefore speaking out of self interest). Generally the employers favored membership whilst the employees favored independence.
EU supporters’ accusations of racism are misplaced.
On this, most emotive of issues EU enthusiasts really need to pause for a second. The Schengen Area is clearly an act of social engineering. Furthermore it seems over-the-top to accuse people of being racist for wanting to live in a nation state, maybe they are not motivated by hate at all but by a preference for the functional over the dysfunctional? In addition to this, when EU enthusiasts accuse their adversaries of racism I have to wonder why they tend to denounce every instance of external rule in history except when it’s happening right in front of them. They shriek that leavening the EU would mean a “loss of influence” but what is ‘influence’ if not the power to tell foreigners how to live?
I have given examples to back up my assertion that there is a misrepresentation going on, and that EU enthusiasts are everything they claim to disdain. So when they claim they are ‘progressive’ this is choice of adjective that is at best lazy, at worst mendacious. That is unless it’s actually possible to ‘progress’ to an undemocratic, conservative, neoliberal, nationalistic, theocracy that imposes its will through fear.
The above is an excerpt from my forthcoming book Politics and Representation.
by S. Handley