Brexit the Movie is certainly worth seeing. It gives the case for the UK leaving the European Union and trading with the world like Switzerland, Norway and other countries than did not join up. The message is simple: take the regulating bureaucratic hands off our buying and selling and things will work through healthy business competition and freedom to trade. I know too little about international business and economics to give a critical answer to this exposé, but I have the impression that it is a tad one-sided. What is there to stop the unlimited domination of the biggest businesses through corruption as bad as EU or State cronyism? Small businesses do very badly under the present system, so would they do better with less European and national regulation?
However, the case is well made about the EU being a faceless bureaucracy of functionaries who are neither elected, known by the people or accountable. Unchecked, the EU has the potential of becoming a totalitarian government with no way of fighting against it like against the Nazis in 1944-45. I find that scary!
My own intuition is to go further than Brexit – Eurexit! The complete dismantling of the Brussels bureaucracy and the restoration of national sovereignty to each European country as before the days of the Common Market. I’m not keen on nationalism either, being something of an anarchist, but that is better than a western and modernised form of a “soviet union”, which it could become. Such a wish may come true given the refugee / migrant crisis which the documentary is careful not to mention (together with exposing the threat of ultra-nationalists). We can’t expect help from the Americans this time, but I do believe that Europe should begin to smoke a pipe of peace with Putin and Russia.
The documentary discusses trade and economics, which brought about the old Common Market in the first place. It is surely not all. There is European culture which was built on classical paganism and medieval Christianity, which together forged a kind of humanism that give ideas of the dignity of the person and human rights that correlate with duties. There are also traditions of constitutional law going back centuries with aim of protecting people against abuse and injustice. Our Magna Carta is the great example. The EU has done a lot to damage popular culture by regulating in the domain of food and cooking and the liberty we have of taking reasonable and calculated risks. Health and safety regulations are necessary to take reasonable precautions against accidents and injury (especially at work), but they have gone beyond the limits of common sense!
Whether there is opposition from the EU bureaucracy to religious practice is anyone’s guess. Perhaps someone who knows about modern EU ideas about religious freedom and issues of conscience would be welcome to comment.
There is of course the burning issue of the immigration of large numbers of Muslim refugees and economic migrants. The EU welcomes them probably because they are willing to work for less than indigenous Europeans – but we give them benefits to the tune of billions of Euros each year. We can’t afford it, and our social security systems will inevitably collapse. Individual countries are no longer free to determine their limits of legal immigration. There are two sides to the argument, as there is real suffering (used by the hordes of young men with their smart phones). The question is highly politicised, and a critical mass of people from other cultures will destroy indigenous European humanist and Christian culture. It can also be said that materialist / consumerist Europeans just gave it away and deserve to be introduced to Sharia Law! True, I am concerned not to get into trouble for saying “politically incorrect” things, but I am not attracted to the red-neck / nationalist mentality either.
Perhaps this issue should make us think more deeply, even though we have been brought up to think in terms of our nation and mother country (or Fatherland as the Germans say). I am English and am deeply nostalgic of many things that are ours. I was born in the north but became quite southern culturally. My mother was southern, but she married a Yorkshireman and went to live up north. I appreciate both the cosmopolitan sophistication of southerners and the down-to-earth plain talk and honesty of the north. We still have these things. The French too are different between Normandy, Brittany, Paris and area, Lyon, Marseilles and other areas. There are still the culinary traditions and local accents. In Germany too, Bavaria is a wonderful area, and I loved the countryside east of Munich and towards Austria when I went there in 1999. It occurs to me that we are made for smaller entities than our nation states or even counties or other administrative units. Some of us have moved around a lot and have been influenced by lots of different cultures, as is the case with me. Others, like the organ tuner I once worked with, was so parochial and narrow-minded in his “single-culture” in the north-east of England where they speak Geordie. We do well to put down roots somewhere, which I find very difficult.
I can understand the whole history of wanting to unite Europe like a kind of “United States” federation. There is the French-American model, and there is the Swiss model on a much smaller scale. I like the Swiss way of uniting very small states for some things like the Armed Forces, but leaving the Cantons to govern themselves in other matters. Europeanism essentially goes back to Napoleon’s imperialism, and, I suppose, our own imperialism which was not always very Christian or moral! Napoleon was a visionary even if he was something of a Hitler in an earlier era. The twentieth century brought two world wars because of alliances between certain countries. The idea of a Union to prevent war and solve all problems through diplomacy was certainly something from the early inspiration. One lesson to be learned is that you can’t legislate against perverse human nature!
What I now see fills me with foreboding. It has become a monster that eats money, our money and other people’s money. It is leading us to totalitarianism, and I hope and pray for the day when the EU will be dismantled and neutralised before it causes World War III and the destruction of us all. Certainly, I believe that the UK should get out and trade with the outside world, but I believe that all European countries should also do the same thing.
* * *
PS. I should mention that I live in France and find quite a lot of anti-EU feeling with quite a few moderate and even left-wing French people I come into contact with. If England leaves the EU, then I will have to apply for dual nationality or the old permis de séjour as I had in the 1990’s.
In any case, even if the vote of the British people is to leave the EU, the actual process will take longer than many of us expect to live. There would be sanctions and reprisals. Nobody ever leaves the KGB – one would imagine said by an actor with an exaggerated Russian accent. The whole question is probably academic anyway.
* * *
Here are two blog posts that give us no hope, but at least give us other points of view:
A question to ask is whether the whole question is trade and economics, and then whether the UK outside the EU could limit the excesses of capitalism and evils they bring on humanity. I am not inviting debate in the comment column of this blog, simply that we reflect and inform ourselves the best we can.