The Maritime Nations

The date today – 02/02/2020 – is palindromic:

The previous eight-digit palindrome like this was 909 years ago, on November 11, 1111.

The next one will be December 12, 2121, 101 years from now.

Breitbart:

The British author of the European Union’s exit clause has predicted no-one country will be “as stupid as us” in voting to leave the bloc, and that in 10 or 20 years the British will crawl back to Brussels with our tail between our legs.

He might be right. But I suspect he’s wrong. The way I see it, Britain is going to be just the first to leave the EU, and by no means the last.

I suspect that for this author, and many Remainers, the EU looked like a safe haven. I suspect he’s someone who always wants to belong to one of “the big battalions.” I suspect he sees safety in numbers. I suspect he’s no gambler.

And by leaving the EU Britain is taking a gamble, in the same way as the girl in the Beatles’ song: She’s Leaving Home. It was so much safer at home, where there was always food on the table and a bed in which she could sleep. But that safety was attended by all sorts of petty rules and regulations. And she wanted to be free of all that. She wanted to be free.

I won’t be surprised if it’s a bit difficult for Britain in the short term. But I think that if Britain deregulates, gets rid of most of the stifling EU rules and regulations, it has a bright future. Even more so if it reconnects strongly with the British Commonwealth of Canada and Australia and New Zealand, renewing trade links that dwindled while Britain was in the EU. Reconnection with the USA, of a kind that Donald Trump wants with a new trade deal, could also be revitalising. We might even see the renewal of the Anglosphere, with closer links between all the English-speaking countries in the world, in something like a reprise of the British Empire.

I hope that Boris means business:

Boris Johnson is to say he won’t accept alignment with EU rules when Britain negotiates a trade deal with Brussels.

If we don’t tear up the rules, there will have been no point leaving. And among those rules the one most in need of being torn up is the EU-driven smoking ban.

In many ways, Britain is returning to what it always used to be: a globally-trading nation. Britain is a nation of seaports, and it’s as easy for Britain to trade with America or Australia or India as it is to trade with Holland and France and Spain.

In one of his articles not long ago, the Czech former president Vaclav Klaus pointed out that the Czech Republic was completely landlocked, and so was obliged to do all its trade with or through its immediate neighbouring countries. There was no getting away from them. Most of the countries of Europe are stuck with each other. And that’s a powerful incentive towards the formation of a union in which every country has equal rights (and it’s also a reason why disputes between them can become intense).

But Britain with its numerous seaports is not so constrained. It can trade with anybody, and historically that’s exactly what it did. So Britain is going back to doing what it always used to do.

It’s no accident that the great colonial powers were all maritime nations: Portugal, Spain, France, Britain, Holland. The reason there was never a global German or Polish or Russian or Italian or Greek empire was because those countries were not abundantly supplied with Atlantic ports. They were bottled up in the Mediterranean and the Baltic.

And the reason that there’s now a very powerful American empire is in very large part because America has abundant seaports on the shores of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. And it now has a fleet that is even bigger than the British Empire’s Royal Navy.

And it might also be that one result is that maritime nations tend naturally to be outgoing and adventurous and even aggressive nations, while landlocked continental countries are naturally inward-looking and placid and conservative. If China is counted as the world’s oldest and most illustrious civilisation, it’s because it’s historically been a largely landlocked and inward-looking country that could develop a serene high culture of a kind impossible in Britain.

I suspect that many EU states rather envy Britain for being able to quit the EU. They would like to do the same, but for them it’s much harder. Perhaps the only ones who can do it are those with Atlantic seaports, the old colonial nations. The rest of them are stuck with each other, and necessarily engaged in internal, inward-looking politics.

About Frank Davis

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18 Responses to The Maritime Nations

  1. Timbotoo says:

    I hadn’t thought about it like that, but I must say I like it.

  2. margo says:

    No Italian empire? The Roman Empire was fairly wide-spread in its day!
    But yes – Britain’s separation by water has always meant it was not truly part of Europe, and Europe’s lack of natural borders (except maybe for a few mountains?) makes it a good idea for European countries to work together.

    • Frank Davis says:

      The Roman Empire was a European empire. It was the EU of its time. The EU is yet another attempt to recreate the Roman Empire.

      And the Roman Empire wasn’t really a maritime empire. It was a continental empire, and its military power lay in its legions.

  3. Pete J says:

    Frank, further info on palandromic dates, today the palindrome also aligns in the American date system which is even rarer.
    It is also the 33rd day of the year which is also a palandromic number, and because it’s a leap year means there are 333 days left to the year end. Another palindrome, all in all I think that makes today unique!

    • Mark Jarratt says:

      Thanks very much for the palindrome facts! Fascinating, and I almost missed it here in east coast Australia (11hrs ahead of Zulu/GMT).
      I too hope leaving the EU leads to a reinvigorated Commonwealth realm, in trade and cultural exchange, although totalitarian Australian tobacco prohibition policies should be a prohibited export.

      • Rose says:

        I think the first thing we’ll have to do for the Commonwealth is apologise, out politicians weren’t exactly frank with us, when we finally got a vote that is.

        “This page contains the text of the Government produce pamphlet advocating a vote to stay in the “European Community (Common Market)” in the 1975 British Referendum on continuing British membership.”

        “HELPING THE
        COMMONWEALTH
        It has been said that the Commonwealth countries would like to see us come out.

        This is not so. The reverse is true.

        Commonwealth Governments want Britain to stay in the Community.

        The new Market terms include a better deal for our Commonwealth partners as well as for Britain. Twenty-two members of the Commonwealth are among the 46 countries who signed a new trade and aid agreement with the Market earlier this year.

        Britain is insisting that Market aid for the poorer areas of the world must go to those in most need.

        Here is what Commonwealth leaders have said about Britain’s role in the Market:

        Mr. Gough Whitlam
        Prime Minister of Australia, speaking in Brussels on December 18, 1974:
        I do not want to give any impression that the present Australian Government sees any advantages for Australia, for Europe or for the world in Britain leaving the Community.

        Mr. Wallace Rowling
        Prime Minister of New Zealand, said in Paris on February 22, 1975, that it would not be in the long-term interest of the New Zealand economy if Britain were to withdraw from the Common Market.

        Mr. Donald Owen Mills
        Jamaican Ambassador to the U.N., New York, February 28, 1975, talking about the Lomé Convention for trade and aid between the Common Market, including Britain, and 46 developing countries:
        The Convention is a major move towards the establishment of a new international economic order and demonstrates the considerable scope which exists for the creation of a more just and equitable world.”
        http://www.harvard-digital.co.uk/euro/pamphlet.htm#11

      • Timothy Goodacre says:

        Very true Mark. The Australian plain packaging nonsense is spreading all over now !

  4. beobrigitte says:

    I won’t be surprised if it’s a bit difficult for Britain in the short term. But I think that if Britain deregulates, gets rid of most of the stifling EU rules and regulations, it has a bright future. Even more so if it reconnects strongly with the British Commonwealth of Canada and Australia and New Zealand, renewing trade links that dwindled while Britain was in the EU. Reconnection with the USA, of a kind that Donald Trump wants with a new trade deal, could also be revitalising. We might even see the renewal of the Anglosphere, with closer links between all the English-speaking countries in the world, in something like a reprise of the British Empire.
    This could well happen. Who will rule the New British Empire, though?

    If we don’t tear up the rules, there will have been no point leaving. And among those rules the one most in need of being torn up is the EU-driven smoking ban.
    Option 1: Britain tears up the EU-driven Smoking ban.
    (Could quickly be done. This, however, is not curing the anti-smoker lobby infestation).

    Option 2: Britain will set a precedent for Australia and New Zealand etc. etc. for their governments to amend their draconian smoking bans.
    (Pipe dream.)

    Option 3: Britain will incorporate Australia and New Zealand etc. etc. measures, such as tobacco price hike and 50g duty free tobacco, into the new anti-smoker lobby infestation driven NEW SMOKING LAWS.
    (Remember:
    https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/smoking-in-england-to-end-by-2030-under-new-government-pledge-a4196621.html# ?).

    Option 3 is the most probable outcome. I would love to be proven wrong.

  5. Rose says:

    I won’t be surprised if it’s a bit difficult for Britain in the short term. But I think that if Britain deregulates, gets rid of most of the stifling EU rules and regulations, it has a bright future

    I couldn’t agree more, Frank.

    In fact, I’ve been sitting here hoping that if we could just make it to 11 o’clock on the 31st of January with out any more setbacks, Brittania, after 40 odd years in dry dock, would begin to loosen her moorings and begin to slip quietly towards the open sea.

  6. smokingscot says:

    Is this coincidence or what!

    The Maldives rejoined the Commonwealth yesterday.

    https://thecommonwealth.org/media/news/maldives-becomes-54th-member-commonwealth-family

    Now if the EU became something similar to our Commonwealth of Nations, things would be very different.

    And just in case you guys are not aware, Tonga, Mozambique and Samoa were never colonised by Britain; they just feel it’s a good thing to be a part of. Even or buddies over the pond are considering becoming an Associate Member – and Palestine I believe has applied.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/23/donald-trumps-love-royal-family-may-see-united-states-join-commonwealth/

  7. Fumo ergo sum says:

    And no Greek empire either? I think that Alexander the Great would most definitely disagree. And nor would the Byzantine emperor Justinian.

    If the dichotomy is between a more adventurous, aggressive mindset inherent to colonial, maritime nations versus a more inward-looking and conservative attitude akin to landlocked countries on the continent, then I do not really see why it would be any better to live in an empire than in an inward-looking, landlocked country? After all, if you are more outward-looking and seeking for adventure, then you are more inclined to conceive of the world not only to be conquered, but also to be moulded according to one’s own conceptions of how the world should look like. And isn’t that exactly what ‘globalism’ stands for? That is, imposing a set of one-size-fits-all rules and measures upon every part of the world that has been vanquished? Indeed, rules and measures such as draconian smoking bans and other kinds of antismoking legislation. And is it no coincidence, then, that these measures actually spread around the world through the ‘Anglosphere’, and the United States in particular, as its main conductor? After all, those countries that once were or still formally are part of the British Commonwealth together form the largest and culturally most influential empire seen in history.

    On the other hand, continental countries might be inward-looking, but I do not think that it is necessarily a bad thing. Because if you tend to be more inward-looking than outgoing, then this implies that you realize that it is more important to keep yourself occupied with your own life instead of busybodying with how others ought to behave. And that you will indeed conceive of other people or other supranational organisations as intruders and perpetrators that have no valid entitlement whatsoever to impose their petty globalist regulations. You mentionned the landlocked Czech Republic as an example of how European integration works. But it could also be the other way round. At that time still part of a larger Czechoslovakia, it was the landlocked Czechs that most vehemently and unconditionally opposed Soviet occupation during the Prague Spring of 1968. As of today, it is still landlocked or near-landlocked countries such as Germany, Luxembourg, Austria and even my native Belgium where antismoking legislation trickles through at a much slower pace than in maritime countries such as Britain or The Netherlands. Not to mention landlocked Switzerland and Liechtenstein, that simply still refuse to be part of this megalomaniac project which is called the European Union.

    So I am not very sure whether it is only maritime nations such as France or Spain that could finally ‘break free’ from the EU. From the conquests of the Romans up until now, there always have been multiple attempts to unite the different people, cultures, languages of Europe under one common political denominator – whether it be Habsburg Spain, Napoleonic France or Hohenzollern Germany. All of these attempts ultimately failed, as European identity precisely lies in its diversity, especially in its landlocked heart. And that is why I think that the European Union, as a project of one-size-fit-all integration, will fail in the end as well.

    In any case, I hope for you that Britain will eventually see its liberties restored. And that even I may finally book a weekend trip to Canterbury or London, which are still on my bucket list of places to visit. That a serious amendment or even repeal of the smoking ban is expedient before I would even consider this is of course self-evident. But you’d better take care what you are wishing for, Frank. Dreaming of the former glory of the British Empire or the Anglosphere is one thing. But it may eventually turn out that you will find yourself under the sway of all sorts of dictates coming from Washington D.C., Ottawa and Canberra. And that instead of being the cultural and political centre of a British Empire, Britain might then just be an outskirt of Orwell’s Oceania. I am not sure whether that would make you better off than being a hostage to Brussels…

  8. Frank Davis says:

    Alexander’s was a continental empire carved out of Asia using the military innovation of the phalanx. It was certainly an empire, but in no sense a global maritime empire like those of Portugal and Spain and Britain. These global empires required navies, and Alexander didn’t have one.

    if you are more outward-looking and seeking for adventure, then you are more inclined to conceive of the world not only to be conquered, but also to be moulded according to one’s own conceptions of how the world should look like.

    And that’s exactly what Portugal and Spain and Britain did. They all brought with them Christianity to replace native religions. And they brought their languages as well. And they also brought their modes of government.

    And isn’t that exactly what ‘globalism’ stands for? That is, imposing a set of one-size-fits-all rules and measures upon every part of the world that has been vanquished?

    The Dutch and Portuguese and Spanish and British empires were global in extent, but they also existed in rivalry with each other. They weren’t “globalistic” in the sense that is meant today, which is of virtually every country in the world being part of a system of totalitarian global governance with one-size-fits-all rules and regulations issued by unaccountable transnational organisations like the UN and the WHO.. If you didn’t like living in, say, a Spanish colony, you could try out life in a Dutch colony. But there’s no escape anywhere from totalitarian globalism’s smoking bans.

    I am not very sure whether it is only maritime nations such as France or Spain that could finally ‘break free’ from the EU.

    I simply think that it would be easier for them, because they would be rapidly able to build trade ties outside Europe. And it took a very long time for East Bloc countries like Czechoslovakia to escape from the Soviet Union, and they only managed to do so as the Soviet Union was disintegrating.

    Dreaming of the former glory of the British Empire or the Anglosphere is one thing. But it may eventually turn out that you will find yourself under the sway of all sorts of dictates coming from Washington D.C., Ottawa and Canberra.

    Well, as you point out, all this antismoking hysteria is largely a product of the Anglosphere. And so also is global warming alarmism.

    But I think that Britain’s return to the high seas will probably revitalise our ties with the Commonwealth. After all the “Anglo” in Anglosphere refers to England.

  9. smokingscot says:

    With regard to others leaving the EU, I believe we’ll eventually set the precedent. A roadmap of sorts and the glaring messages are to make certain you have s strong majority in the political sphere as well as the people totally committed to getting you out.

    There are several very important things to consider:

    – Most EU countries run a coalition government, so getting a strong mandate will be far more difficult for them.

    – A knot that’ll be a devil to untangle is for countries that have adopted the Euro. No absolute reason to dump that currency, but a clean separation will not be possible. Returning to their previous currency will be expensive to do and is very likely to be manipulated by the Forex market. (Something us Scots are well aware of) and the EU itself.

    I do not see any net beneficiary country having much reason to quit, though I do see the real probably of donor countries taking stock of their liabilities and doing a cost benefit analysis – and doing a dive, especially as the Ukraine, Macedonia, Albania and the rest lined up for accession will take several decades to be weaned off the public purse.

    As the EU expands it becomes increasingly difficult to have a voice in the decision making process – and that bugs a lot of voters. They can’t do Jacksy in Brussels, but they can at their national level… and that can be exploited.

    It’ll take time, but I do agree the default in Europe is the nation state. IMO it’s not so much a question of if, rather… when. And Farage intends to be there to assist.

  10. Rose says:

    Empires are old hat and very expensive to run in a variety of ways as history shows, a loose alliance of willing friends would be a much better idea.

  11. waltc says:

    Unfortunately I think you have far too many home-grown nannies (who, in turn, have convinced far too many of the general public) to get rid of the smoking ban. Or any other of the nannyisms and pc-isms that have been inflicted. But now that you’ll have more local control, perhaps you can vote them out?

  12. RdM says:

    Another Beatles song;- “A Day In The Life” from Neil Young at Glastonbury 2009

    Complete with dramatic ending.

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