The Centrifugal Forces in Europe

It seems that Theresa May is running into concerted opposition:

Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement with the European Union, based on her Chequers proposals, has been unveiled, to nigh-universal condemnation.

She may be forced to step down as party leader and Prime Minister:

A vote of no confidence, therefore, appears to be in the offing, with it seeming certain that enough letters have been sent to to the chairman of the 1922 committee, which represents Tory MPs who are not government ministers (backbenchers), to reach the 15 per cent threshold required to trigger a leadership challenge under Conservative Party rules.

Even if the Prime Minister survives a confidence vote, it seems certain her deal will not survive a parliamentary vote, with the left-wing opposition, the DUP, and a large number of her own MPs now determined to vote against it come what may.

I suppose the way I see all this is that there is a growing mismatch between the aspirations of the British people and the aspirations of the British political class.

The British people want Britain to be a self-governing nation. They have always wanted this. When they voted to join the European Economic Community in 1975, they did not vote to hand over the governance of Britain to Brussels. And the same applies to every other European nation: they all want to govern themselves. They want to govern themselves in exactly the same way that Americans in the USA wanted, circa 1776, to govern themselves, and not be governed by Britain. It is in the nature of all peoples everywhere to want to govern themselves.

But the British political class is not the British people. The British political class is the governing class. It is the “Deep State.” So as far as they are concerned, Britain is already “self-governing”: they are self-governing themselves. For them, the pressing question of the past half century or so has been: In the aftermath of the demise of the British Empire, do we strengthen our position as the governing class by keeping Britain as a small separate nation state, or by joining in the larger emerging European superstate? And their answer to this question was to opt to join the EU.

And in part (and this is just my guess) this was because the British political class was, up until 1945 or thereabouts, was an imperial political class. For back then the British Empire still existed. And so they were accustomed to think in global imperial terms. Once the Empire was dissolved, they ceased to be major players in world politics. And so the EU looked to them to be a new empire they could join, and thereby recover their lost global influence.

And exactly the same reasoning was followed in Europe. For the French and the Dutch and the Germans (and also the Italians and Spanish and Portuguese) had also just lost their empires, and thereby lost their global status and influence. What better way to regain that lost clout than to all band together in a new European empire that could equal the USA and Russia and China? And this is why there is now a European political class made up of one time imperial leaders desperately trying to regain the status they used to enjoy. If you’re Angela Merkel or Immanuel Macron or Theresa May, you really really really want to meet Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping as equals, not as minions or vassals (which is what they currently are).

But the peoples of Britain and France and Germany, and every other European nation, do not share these aspirations of their governing classes. Instead they just want to put bread and butter on their tables, and govern themselves to the best of their ability.

So the emergent political division across the whole of Europe is between the governed and their governors, the people and the state. Because the aspirations of the governed are increasingly wholly at odds with the aspirations of their governments, all over Europe.

I really don’t know what the result of Brexit will be, but I’m quite sure that the British political class, acting in concert with the European political class (of which they are all members) will prevent Britain from leaving the EU. And that’s what Theresa May’s latest proposal would succeed in doing.

But I don’t think that whether Britain does or does not stay in the EU in the short term (i.e. now) is going to matter in the long run, given the mounting centrifugal forces now tearing the whole of Europe apart. For if Britain doesn’t leave, then Italy will. And if not Italy, then Hungary. For as I see it, the desire for the peoples of Europe to govern themselves is sooner or later going to overwhelm the desire of the European political class to govern each other. Short of some other development, the people of Europe are going to win. And when they have won, they’ll probably dismantle Brussels as the European imperial capital, and restore something like the loose-knit European Economic Community.

But that’s just my guess.

About Frank Davis

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6 Responses to The Centrifugal Forces in Europe

  1. USA circa 1776
    Interesting analogy. In 1776, the American states wanted to govern themselves. The original constitution was written so that there could never be a powerful central government with power over the individual states. Self governance of the states was paramount and the only powers the central government had, were those expressly granted to it by the states
    Now look what they’ve got. i would suggest the all powerful European union is very similar to the way the independent US states have now become part of the whole, with little remaining autonomy

  2. waltc says:

    The problem is that it’s not all the people who want self-governance. IIRC, the margin for Brexit was relatively slim and the Remainers remain. (I even wonder if, if a new vote were taken, they wouldn’t prevail.) I heard that, despite the screws being turned on Italy, its new premier just assured the EU he was going to “cooperate.” Somehow I think too many people, worldwide, have lost the will for autonomy, just want to be taken care of and are more than willing to have the elites take care of them. The notion of –and virtues of–self reliance (and the freedom it promotes) isn’t taught any more, is out of fashion, is even propagandized against, to which I attribute the acceptance of the growing power of the federal government in America.

    • I do agree with you that many people have lost the will for autonomy – but it isn’t that easy to say they’ve lost the will so much as they’ve capitulated. External forces make it easier to want (or need) to be taken care of. I cite the case of myself with being self employed and paying for my own insurance. Every year my rates rise about $125 a month. I spend more each month now on my health insurance than I do on my mortgage – and I never go to a doctor – I NEVER use it. I have it only in the event of an emergency. But it is the law now to have it, and, while I personally wouldn’t go without it, it’s becoming grossly unfeasible to afford and simply obey the law. Sadly, there is no real choice, when it comes to being ass-raped every year with an expense you never budgeted or anticipated and are compelled to pay for.

      That is how “they” win. They rob you blind completely in every single way they possibly can. They make you just want to see a stop to hemorrhaging your cash, your income, the money you would much rather put into savings and retirement. But you cannot. That is why people capitulate and give up. That is why ultimately people beg for social security, government run health care, and more government control over their lives.

      • waltc says:

        Yep. That’s Obamacare. Otherwise laughably known as “the affordable care act.” It’s been speculated that its sneaky goal was always to torture people into demanding socialized medicine as supposed relief. It needs, instead, to be repealed but with the cultural pressure going the other way, as well as the House, that seems less and less likely. But socialized medicine will simply take the same amount of money out of your pocket, this time in tne form of taxes–not just income taxes but taxes on every product they deem “unhealthy.” and meanwhile give you less actual medical care, with more rationing and longer waits as well as fewer doctors and more doctors who are simply bureaucrats in white coats.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I imagine that, prior to 1776, American settlers in the New World were almost entirely dependent upon Britain for more or less everything. If you wanted a new spoon, you’d have to wait about 3 months for one to arrive by sailing ship.

      But when Americans started manufacturing their own spoons, they ceased to be quite so dependent. And at that point British demands for taxes became increasingly irksome. And finally this triggered a war of independence. And pretty much exactly the same thing happened in the rest of the Americas.

      So I would imagine that, around 1776, those Americans who remained dependent on Britain in one way or other probably wanted to maintain their colonial status, while those Americans who were largely or completely independent wanted to run their own affairs.

      So it’s perhaps not so much that there is any “will for autonomy”, but simply that some people are dependent on others, and some people are independent. It’s the same as leaving home. One day you’re dependent on Mum and Dad for your next plate of food, and the next day you’ve got yourself a job and a home and you can live independently of them. The will reflects the actuality.

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