Today is a day which will go down in infamy as the day which the Conservative Party of Winston Churchill finally died. Today is the day which the cheerleader for mercantilism, isolationism, and fascism ascended to the highest office of the land of Great Britain. Threatening trade routes, the free movement of people, and putting the very freedom of the people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland at risk of evaporating to nothing, if he succeeds in his truly evil goal.
3 score and 14 years ago, the Armies of the United States of America, United Kingdom, and more stormed the beaches of Normandy, fighting against one of two evil menaces which haunted the 20th century, to finally end the power of Nazism which divided Europe and killed tens of millions of people. The people of France were liberated, and the armies of the Allies stormed through Occupied France, marching on Germany to liberate the Germans from their fascist dictator. Through another year of fighting the Allies stormed through Western Germany in the West and the East, and the Third Reich fell, never to rise again.
The first step to prevent a future of Fascism was the founding of the Western Union on 4 March 1947 when the Treaty of Dunkirk was signed by France and the United Kingdom. This was the first step to modern international cooperation in Western Europe between free countries. This treaty lasted until 1954.
In response to this crisis, Germany lay in ruins, entire cities burned down to rubble as a result of the necessary response to the evils of Fascism’s total war economy. For four years Germany was divided among the French, British and Americans until West Germany was founded on 23 May 1949. NATO was founded three months later on 24 August 1949, as a response to the Soviet threat while Stalin was still dictator. The United Kingdom was a founding member.
In 1952, the European Coal and Steel Community was founded, as the first major international organization of free European countries in the 20th century. Two years later on 23 October 1954 the Western Union was abolished when it was turned into the Western European Union. The United Kingdom remained a member until the treaty was annulled in 2011 as part of the consolidation of the European Union following the Lisbon Treaty.
The United Kingdom joined the European Coal and Steel community in 1973 under Prime Minister Edward Heath. The United Kingdom chose to opt out of two major treaties, namely the Schengen Area (free travel among most European Union members) and the Eurozone, but besides those two treaties the United Kingdom is a full member of the European Union in every way, with full representation in Parliament.
All of these treaties have grown over the years because when you get into the details of politics, things can become quite complicated, but it allows for dialogue between countries early when disagreements happen, and the freedom of movement and rights the European Union provides to all of its citizens is something very few other places in the world have. It is the second largest area of free movement in the world by number of people (second to the Indian sub-continent between India, Nepal, and Bhutan), and has more member states than any other international free movement area in the world.
The purpose of the European Union to increase trade and improve the lives of Europeans has clearly succeeded in my observation. We are living in the longest stretch of time in history without a war in Western European history, deep trade links across the continent have significantly improved the economy, and the charter of rights and freedoms has succeeded in improving the human rights record across Europe. All of its authority comes from the Members of Parliament who are elected by Europeans, from the heads of government who sit on the Council of Europe, and various cabinet members from all of the member states who cooperate on the Council of the European Union. The powers of the remaining institutions, and appointment thereof, stems from these three deliberative bodies of the European Union. The point is, the European Union is a democratic institution, and all of the decisions it has made have been made jointly by the member states. More so, treaties like the Lisbon Treaty were approved with a majority of parliaments, with the exception of Ireland who did it by referendum. Ultimately, all the powers of the European Union come from voters, either through Parliaments or directly in European Parliamentary elections. It is a democracy.
This is the problem with the ideas that the Conservative Party has about the European Union. The Conservatives say that these are decision put upon Britain by the famous “Eurocrat”, but in reality every decision is made jointly by all member states, Britain included. From leave.eu‘s website:
By voting to leave the EU, we are taking back control of our sovereignty, we will be able to put in place our own policies and laws on immigration and our economy, including industry and energy. Agriculture and fishing will also benefit from falling under national administration for the first time in over forty years. We will now be able to take back control of our country.
In time we will be able to improve upon our position as the 5th largest economy in the world by taking back control of our finances and trade deals. We are now in a position to dictate our own trade agreements with the rest of the world.
This is the main problem with the arguments made by Eurosceptic parties. They think that the United Kingdom will have enough power to negotiate favorable trade deals by themselves, and that they will have better luck. On this they are fundamentally wrong. Negotiating as part of a big block is always better than negotiating as an individual. This is why trade unions exist, this is why people work together to be able to get better bargains. Becoming a member of a club like Costco is a good idea because Costco is a major buyer which then passes some of its discount on to its buyer. It is far more effective to join a price club like that then to be a single individual with little to no market power. The United Kingdom is a major global economy in its own right, with the 9th largest economy in the world right now, but they have only one eighth the economic weight of China, which will make treaties with China less favorable than they otherwise would be as part of a larger bloc, such as the European Union. On top of this, leaving the common market will mean less efficient supply chains from trading with the rest of the European Union. This will inevitably lead to a lower supply of goods for British consumers and a lower supply of tariff free factor inputs for British companies to purchase, and it will inevitably cause stagflation very soon from that reduction in supply.
This isolationism which many have been convinced of is only going to hurt the British economy, social life, and this inevitable reduction in quality of living is going to give power to extremist factions on the left and right who are going to offer conflict theory based statements in response to problems which are only going to make the situation worse. The Brexit vote was fueled by anti-immigrant hysteria which Theresa May wooed. Such hysteria has died down now, with remain having a small lead in the polls for over a year at this point in time. The polls remain close, as they have always been, but it doesn’t change the fundamental fact that the message of the Leave campaign is factually wrong in major ways as I just described.
To protect the future of the European Union, Boris Johnson will hopefully fall flat on his face, and the European Union will stand their ground that Britain should stay in the European Union. There is plenty of historic evidence already that staying in the European Union is the right decision for Britain, and we don’t need to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors by moving towards an isolationist era again where demagogues like Boris Johnson are in power and instead move toward progress on issues like Global Warming.
Brexit is a policy which is opposed by most business leaders, environmentalists, trade unions, economists, and more. Any decision where business leaders, trade union leaders, and economists agree it should not be done is probably a very bad idea indeed.
When it comes to the leave campaign, a few supporters stand out, and the theme is nationalism. Marine La Pen, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Donald Trump, Andrew Scheer, Vladimir Putin, and the writers of the National Review all support Brexit. The common thread among these is very clear, and it is nationalism.
In Boris Johnson’s speech, he was lacking in much policy detail except for saying how he was going to get back at Europe, and get back at Labour. He offered no ideas, no hope, and it took 5 minutes for him to get onto any loose example of a policy. He is the least inspiring speaker I have ever seen, and gave one of the worst inauguration speeches I can imagine. We still have just under 3 years until the next election in Britain, which gives Boris Johnson plenty of time to do immense damage to the United Kingdom.
We are watching a lot of lies being spread by racists in order to isolate people from one another, which was created in response to the Holocaust. People say never again about the Holocaust, and the European Union, particularly the Schengen Treaty, are the biggest actions done in history to prevent future genocides and wars. The current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is doing everything in his power to undo these institutions which have saved countless lives, and there are very few mechanisms in place to stop him, except if what few moderate Conservatives there are left decide to oppose him and at least give him a very difficult time while he is trying to destroy the best institutional defense against fascism ever created. This doesn’t mean that the European Union is infallible, and it obviously doesn’t mean that far right leaders cannot come to power. This has happened with Viktor Orban in Hungary most notably, and there are 73 seats in the European Parliament currently held by Identity and Democracy, a party of nationalists. Democracy can only exist by giving a way for anti-democratic parties a path to victory. This is the paradox of freedom.
Ultimately what we need to do is increase social trust, and improve political culture to be more caring, empathetic, and problem-solving focused versus a politics based on fear. We need to build an understanding that we get strength through cooperation and trade, not animosity and walls. This needs to happen everywhere across the world right now. Canada is coming up on a major election in October, and it is highly unlikely that there will be a majority for one party. Hopefully the Liberals, New Democrats, and Greens can work together over the next few months on being the parties of hope and working towards a future. With the United States we need to have a Presidential Primary which is a constructive as possible, with so many highly qualified progressive candidates running, we must work towards building a culture which is based on dialogue and empathy.
This is how we will build a world which works for all. We need to build economic systems which further empower people, improve access to education, and grow a global community of humanity where we can face the major problems which face us as a species together, trading with one another across the world, and helping each other out when natural disasters come our way. Opening borders further, increasing people to people connections across the world is absolutely critical to the long term goal of a world where there will be no war. It starts in our daily lives by being kinder, more honest, and starting from a place of love instead of fear. When we do this, it spreads across the world like an ocean, and we are more likely to have empathy for our neighbors, as has been spoken by prophets for as long as there has been philosophy. Billions of people can then translate this internal energy into action, organize our communities, build systems which raise up the powerless, and improve livelihoods without significantly harming the environment. This power will then trickle up to the highest levels of government ensuring that local regulations, national laws, and international trade treaties can then work to build a better world.
This is not the end, this is only a step to remind those of us who fight for freedom that we must remain constantly vigilant. This is a wake up call for people to realize that we are better when we work together, and this is what will come in the election in 2023 when Britain will vote in a better government which will work towards cooperation and freedom. This is how the Hegelian dialectic works, where we have a problem, followed by a reaction, followed by a solution. Currently we are facing the reaction to the Arab Spring which caused millions of people to look to Europe for Asylum, to which Nationalists responded by arguing for closing borders and their hearts. The next step is the solution which is going to be working on ending the roots of disruption in Europe, and empowering people in Europe with even better economic opportunities in order to narrow the inequality gap which nationalists use to gain power. Things always look bad in the reactionary period of the cycle, but we have seen these types of times before, and we will see them again in the future. But as Theodore Parker once said, the arc of history is long, and it bends towards justice. The question is what the shape of the arc of history is, and it is not a straight line, but the overall curve of the line does indeed bend towards justice as Rev. Parker said hundreds of years ago. This is only the second act of the story.
Stay strong, and keep fighting for freedom.