Europe: The Age of Globalism, 1989-2016 (?)


Europe: The Age of Globalism, 1989-2016 (?)
by Sean Gabb
(26th June 2016)

I spoke earlier with a friend who lives in Bath. He told me how, in 1989, he sat on the Berlin Wall as it was being torn down, and how, last Thursday, he went and voted to leave the European Union. Writing history before it has happened is particularly unwise. We have not left the European Union. We have not even notified our intention to leave, and no one knows what settlement will eventually be reached, or if other member states will decide to leave as well. This being said, it may be that future historians will regard the time bounded by these two events as forming a distinct epoch, different in its tone and assumptions from what went before and what came after.

The fall of the Soviet Empire was the opportunity for a return to an order of civilised nation states in Europe, each respecting the others’ borders and particular ways of life – but at peace with each other and trading and cooperating as they thought convenient. Instead, that opportunity was wasted. Instead, we got a vast expansion of American power via NATO, and a growth of the European Union and other global institutions. I grant – indeed, I have argued – that the European Union has been to some extent a counterweight to American power. But both have worked along similar lines, which are to undermine the cohesiveness of every European nation state in favour of a single territory, culturally levelled and made safe for multinational corporations.

The British vote last Thursday may have brought this dispiriting age to an end. Even if other member states do not leave, the European Union has been weakened. It has been weakened economically, in the sense that Britain has been one of its largest and richest and most powerful members. More fundamentally, it has been weakened morally by the ending of belief in its finality. Counties can not only join, but also leave.

Now, rather than say what I think will happen – something I cannot begin to speak about just a few days later – I will say what I want to happen. I want Britain to leave as quickly and as cleanly as can be achieved. I want us to set about a profound restructuring of our institutions to allow a recovery of our lost freedoms and our damaged identity. We need to create an environment for the revival of manufacturing and agriculture and fishing. Unlike the counting of other peoples’ money in which the City specialises, this is real economic activity. It gives work and security to the working classes and remakes us as a formidable power.

On reflection, I rather hope the Scottish will abandon their fantasy of breaking up the United Kingdom. If that is what they want, that is what they must be allowed to do. There will be benefits for England, I have no doubt. But the Union has been useful to both nations, and can be again. I also hope the Irish will see the logic of their position and leave. There will not be another Cromwellian conquest that only the European Union can prevent. Instead, there are obvious ties of shared blood and shared interests.

I would like, before I am eligible to collect such pension as I may receive, to see a Europe of three interlocking zones. There will be Britain, with Ireland, Holland and Denmark as its allies or soft dependencies. There will be Germany, leading the Austrians and Western Slavs. There will be France, with its ties to the other Latin nations. These three zones will form a trading bloc, based on multilateral treaties and mutual respect. They will cooperate in areas of common interest. They will establish a friendly relationship with Russia and its dependencies. They will keep a cautious distance from the United States. In time, these zones may progress, though a process of organic growth – and based on a perception of common external threats – to something like the confederations of the Greek city states. There will be no Maastricht Convergence Criteria, or Common Agricultural Policy, or Europol – no centralised attempt at “ever closer union.” But Europe is a common civilisation, and it is worth our looking out for each other.

Is this what we shall move towards? Or will Britain become a sort of Airstrip One, ruled by lunatic necoconservatives and authoritarians? It was my worries about this that caused my wobbles over Euroscepticism. But we have made our decision. If I did not sit on the Berlin Wall, I lived in Czechoslovakia shortly after its liberation. I am now reliving, in my own country, the same feeling that everything is possible and that everything may go wrong. I can only hope that we are able to face the challenge of building for ourselves, and leading our European brothers and sisters towards, a better order of things than the one we are leaving.

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13 comments

  • Another fine piece, and as usual I find plenty to disagree with. But on this occasion, I’ll confine myself to just one tangential point concerning the paragraph quoted below:

    [quote]”On reflection, I rather hope the Scottish will abandon their fantasy of breaking up the United Kingdom. If that is what they want, that is what they must be allowed to do. There will be benefits for England, I have no doubt. But the Union has been useful to both nations, and can be again. I also hope the Irish will see the logic of their position and leave. There will not be another Cromwellian conquest that only the European Union can prevent. Instead, there are obvious ties of shared blood and shared interests.”[unquote]

    Let me be brutal: the Scots have brought shame and disgrace on themselves by voting overwhelmingly for Remain. They did so for entirely spiteful and selfish reasons, and I believe this to be the most shameful, the lowest, point in the history of Scotland as a nation – what was once a great nation. Every Scotsman should hang his head in shame and beg our pardon.

    I want the Scots out now. I am sick of them and I want them out as soon as possible and I want the border with them sealed – forever.

    In this regard, I think I speak for most English people. We want them gone. We want English independence.

    The situation we must face is that the Scots voted overwhelmingly to Remain in the EU. Before somebody jumps in to correct me, I do realise that it was a UK-wide vote, that it’s the raw numbers that count, and that Scotland as a sub-national territory cannot vote discretely one way or the other. I know all this. I also realise that lots of Scots voted to Leave. I do feel sorry for those Scots who voted to Leave.

    But the fact is that Scotland is a nation in its own right, and as a nation the Scots voted overwhelmingly and decisively for Brussels. This is a fact that cannot be ignored. It is a betrayal. The Scots know very well the damage and hurt that the EU and mass immigration is causing England, but they knifed us anyway, to save themselves and manoeuvre tactically for a second ‘independence’ referendum. That is vile and disgusting – and treasonous.

    I even think that there is now a ripe question mark over whether the Scots can even be considered ‘British’ at all.

    • They won’t leave.
      At the end of the day money talks and neither Northern Ireland, or Scotland could reasonably thrive; on what other alternative arrangements they could make for funding, if they left the UK and aligned with the EU.

  • Scotland has betrayed us, and potentially even jeopardised Brexit itself due to the resultant narrow majority. What has happened has happened, but we must not forget this betrayal. The next time I hear a Scotsman boast about his ‘great’ country, he will be getting an earful from me. There must be no more pandering to them, no more indulgence of their petty whining and whinging. I’ve had enough of it.

    I now want to turn my attention to the Welsh and talk about them. It’s time we did. We don’t mention them enough.

    The Welsh combine so many qualities and attributes in tension. They are the quietest and most understated people of these islands, yet they are proud and passionate and anything but quiet.

    These brave and noble people have put up with so much, including from us English, yet they have remained steadfast and loyal.

    At the moment we needed them, they stood by us. I am so proud of them.

    I will now make a point of examining the Plaid Cymru manifesto. I expect I will find much to agree with there anyway.

    I will lend my support – for what it’s worth – to any initiatives that promote the Welsh language, culture and tourism, and so on. Anything to help Wales.

    In addition to restoring industry in England (especially in the north of England), we must also do the same for the Welsh.

  • I think if there is another independence referendum, rather straighter and blunter talking will be in order than English politicians managed last time round.

  • Comment moved to front page, and embarrassing typo corrected

    • Comment moved to the front page, and Nigel Farage relieved of the need for a sex change operation

      • It wasn’t a typo, it was a joke.

        • Redone

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  • Sic renascit gloria mundi.

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  • The Brexit vote reminds me more of the June, 1989 democratic election in Poland than the fall of the Berlin Wall. It’s the start of something big.

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