Thursday 12 April 2018
The media are slowly waking up to the madness of European Integration. The antidote, rational thought.
The end of the Cold War was supposed to mark the “end of history”, a return to an enlightened society, built on the pillars of rational thought and democratic values, and free from the fundamentalist ideology that had caused so much slaughter over the past century.
Yet firmly seated in the 21st century as we are today, irrational thought continues to skew and stifle debate. Great statesmen like Nigel Farage and the people themselves are still able to dictate history, but day-to-day discourse remains firmly fixed in the elites’ favour, dragging government policy in tow. A classic example is the establishment’s attitude towards the European Union, a political project which does not fare well under the unyielding beam of reason.
Since when does it make sense for a transparent and institutionally sound nation state to vest powers in a foreign and opaque capital? Whoever could possibly think it would be a good idea to create monetary union across 19 extremely diverse countries without the necessary fiscal union to contain the inevitable challenges posed by that diversity? Why bind nations to open borders when their subjects have historically resisted mass migration and rapid change?
Western governments not only create problems with their irrational ventures, they also choose not to resolve those that inevitably materialise. Whether its widespread deindustrialisation and job losses in the US, or the ruinous state of the British housing market, elites have long preferred to direct their attention at global issues of little or no relevance to the wants and needs of the ordinary voter. A case in point is climate change, an unfolding crisis so glacial we do not know if it truly represents a challenge. Yet the summits, legislation and column inches devoted to it are vast, the frenzy worked up by the liberal elite insufferable.
But then came Brexit, and later Trump, who baffled the commentariat, but spoke to the millions of Americans abandoned by successive US administrations. The Hullabaloo provoked by Brexit is astounding Given Britain’s constitutional character has barely altered in 300 years – with those changes brought about by European integration – meanwhile, the EU project has lasted little more than half a century, with little to show for it. Nevertheless, signs are emerging that the age of rationalism, where each viewpoint is not confined to one end of the spectrum over the other, is back.
Academics gone rogue
Academics in particular – for they are the ones expected to provide evidence – are waking up. French economist Thomas Picketty’s data heavy 2013 bestseller Capital in the 21st Century was the first major work to take a hatchet to establishment consensus. In it, he concludes that unless the state is there to check wealth, free markets increase income inequality, raising the possibility of public unrest. While Picketty – who it must be said, does have a political agenda – failed to give due consideration for capitalism’s unique facility for creating prosperity for all, he gave sufficient reason for globalists to question their faith in open borders and markets. He may have missed out some key arguments, but there was no denying the validity of the reams of data presented in his book.
Others have cropped up since, the object of criticism, the EU, an incongruous empire in a supposedly more democratic age.
“The [EU] ‘project’ drives forward ever more relentlessly; and in reaction the people become ever more disaffected, making it necessary to impose more instruments of control more stringently, writes LSE professor Gwythian Prins for Briefings for Brexit.
“Gains have become increasingly pyrrhic because of the cost in social alienation,” he adds.
Prins likens the EU’s “mounting complexity and declining legitimacy” to the Soviet Union and predicts that, like the USSR, it will not last longer than a human lifespan. The Soviet comparison echoes French Sociologist Gil Delannoi’s latest book, the nation against nationalism.
Delannoi’s preoccupation is democracy, without elected representatives driving the agenda, a political system will not be sustainable. He identifies the nation state as “the indispensable space for democracy”, which over the course of the last century has shown itself to be the immovable object of the global system, despite the efforts of scheming eurofederalists who the author describes as “nationphobes”. This is no polemical rant however, like his compatriot Picketty, Delannoi is scrupulous in the extreme with the facts.
Delannoi concedes, that if the EU were to adopt the trappings of a nation, bound together by a common language, culture, values and traditions, it could become the superstate its architects so desperately wish it to be. However, the EU’s diversity across all these categories is so profound, there is absolutely zero chance of such a coming together. Here, Delannoi is essentially making the same point as Prins. What the EU lacks in the fibre that makes a nation, it seeks to make up for with despotic edicts from Brussels. Like the Soviet Union, it will founder.
Belgian Historian, David Van Reybrouck also views the EU as an empire, likening Europe’s national governments to the showpiece councils set up by the British, French, Belgian and Portuguese Empires, who like Brussels today, possessed the real power.
Columnists and commentators
As academics Prins, Delannoi, Van Reybrouck and even data-obsessed Picketty are vulnerable to being marginalised as crusaders for an illiberal, and therefore illegitimate cause. But events have conspired to compromise the liberal media’s position, it can afford to ignore the scholars, not the popular will however. Commentators must now choose whether to defend their own incoherent positions or adapt to the emerging consensus.
The elites still rejoice in mocking President Trump’s tweets, but are far less scathing of his America First posture, which resonates so strongly with left-wing voters in the UK via the economic nationalism of US Democrat Bernie Sanders. The rise of Jeremy Corbyn and the Five Star Movement in Italy are testament to this trend.
Corbyn’s ideology is grounded in the other globalism conceived by Marx, while Italy’s radical M5S eschews political ideology altogether. Certainly, Corbyn’s Labour is not fit to run a modern, industrialised economy, but it is not devoid of rational ideas. Faced with the threat of irrelevance liberal commentators must now change their focus and cherry-pick the good ideas.
As part of this transition, the notable members of the liberal media are opening their arms, albeit gingerly, to such mad ideas as restricted immigration – heaven forbid! Last month, a columnist at German mainstream broadsheet Die Welt wrote a biographical piece on Enoch Powell, sketching out in particular how portentous the great conservative’s rivers of blood speech has proved to be. Germany is facing serious challenges stemming from mass immigration, the commentariat are finally waking up to its consequences.
Similarly, the Financial Times is now dipping its toe in unchartered territory. It recently interviewed another economic nationalist, Steve Bannon at a live event. The ex-Goldman Sachs banker is a devastatingly effective critic of the failing global economic system. His presentation before to the liberal elites by the FT was mitigated somewhat by an excruciatingly apologetic article printed on the first page of its best-selling weekend edition.
Bannon is a hugely divisive character however, his views are not limited to the economically rational and his dismissal from the White House proved to be completely justified. Some sort of plea for forgiveness to the FT’s intolerant, globalist readership was inevitable. The EU, on the other hand, is a far easier target, and here too the paper, particularly its Brussels columnist is being increasingly honest in its appraisal of integration.
Recent pieces by Wolfgang Münchau have highlighted the EU’s interminable weakness as a state without a nation in global affairs, and its inability to win a trade war with Trump thanks to its irresponsible dependency on US demand for European exports. Unlike his colleagues on Fleet Street who pathetically use examples of what has not happened (e.g. war on the continent) to justify integration, writing for a financial daily, Münchau, a German well-versed in how the EU functions (an astonishingly rare trait among the British press corps) is obliged to examine the evidence at his disposal and draw logical conclusions. If they are damning of the European project, it is because the EU is a disaster, which it of course is.
As the inevitability of Britain’s independence draws nearer – another Münchau admission – more commentators and academics will shift their focus, and adopt the rational perspective taken by the 17.4m almost two years ago. May it happen soon.