Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Dismantling Britain Stronger in Europe's Leaflet


Last week saw the first substantive leafleting in the EU referendum campaign, a leaflet delivered to 10 million UK households. Given the pretty mediocre at best content inside, and the slightly odd timing, the only thing that I can get out of this is that Britain Stronger in Europe is incompetent and is also probably out of the Downing Street loop. Far from running a smooth propaganda programme to build up public support for a dubious position, the official remain group is bombarding the general public with factoids so poor that only an overworked intern looking to get through the day would be satisfied with his work if he were to produce them. Only someone who has already accepted the Europhile position lock, stock and barrel would accept anything written on the leaflet.

During the Second World War, different methods of propaganda were used. Goebbels was famous for his mastery of rhetoric, using polemic, word meanings and big ideas, many of which were already held by the German public, to suggestively imply his desired ends, which worked well– at least until Germany started losing. The BBC achieved huge prestige (much of the totally misplaced prestige that it has today is inherited from this period) as one of the few truthful wartime wireless broadcasters – when a little white lie was told, it was much harder to spot, and hence more effective. By the end of the war, the whole of Europe was infatuated with an ingrained respect for BBC impartiality.

However, the most interesting approach for us was that of the Soviets – while other nations thought of propaganda, the Soviets referred to education. A term by which the Soviets meant that would shoot anyone who propagated anything other than the party line – everyone knew that what was spouted about the Eastern Front was bollocks but that didn’t matter to Stalin because Gulags.

'Under the leadership of the great Stalin - Forward to Communism!' - a classic example of Soviet propaganda . Everyone in Russia knew that Stalin was a colossal arsehole who was killing millions - but no one said otherwise because that got you a road building job 1,000 miles east of Yekaterinburg, because of which, the Soviet authorities didn't actually care if anyone believed it or not because nobody could act on their beliefs (a total contrast to Hitler who cared deeply how Germans thought of him)

In terms of the BSE campaign, it seems as if they are following the Soviet approach – throw facts at people which only the already ideologically blinded believe. Except they differ in one key respect – they don’t have any Gulags, Commissars or political secret police to make sure that their assertions stand as fact in the public arena. They have the servile BBC, company CEOs (who read the same newspapers as we do and use blasé assertions about job losses to disguise the fact that it is well beyond their competence to know the finer points of international law) and a bunch of MPs, all divested with an obscene amount of public prestige and the ability to send their opponents to social Siberia.

Anyway, back to the leaflet. I may as well just go through it.



It is structured as a pamphlet, called ‘Europe and You’ and marked January/February, an ominous warning that our letterboxes are going be assaulted with this drivel every two months between now and any referendum.

‘The vote will be final: if the UK decides to leave, we will leave. There will be no going back.’

How reassuring – can someone let Vote.Leave know about this?

‘And there is so much at stake: jobs, the prices in our shops, rights in the workplace, our national security, and opportunities for future generations.’

Meaningless assertion – the leave campaigns could write exactly the same thing on one of their pamphlets and it would not look out of place.

‘The Prime Minister is renegotiating to get a better deal for Britain.’

No, he isn’t. The Prime Minister is renegotiating because a shock election victory presented him with the bizarre situation whereby he actually had to carry out his manifesto commitments – he gave us this referendum with all of the grace of a student vomiting in someone else’s dustbin in the small hours after realising that his seething stomach will not go away after just retching a couple of times.

‘Being a part of Europe means businesses in the East Midlands [where this leaflet is – I really don’t understand why they bothered regionalising when it is so clearly a stock message for the whole country] get free access to over 500 million customers in the EU – and can trade with no tariffs and barriers.’

For once, they are right – being a part of Europe, more specifically the EEA (not the EU) does get us free access to over 500 million customers in the EU and quite a few million outside it as well. Notice the use of vague, rather than specific terminology to conflate the EU and the Single Market, and hence conflate leaving the EU with leaving the Single Market.

‘Independent sources estimate that one in every ten UK jobs is linked to our trade with the EU.’

Again, we are not leaving the EEA, and so there would be no difference to jobs (other than for MEPs) – Cameron will not suddenly adopt the UKIP manifesto the day after a leave vote and decide to mine the channel/fill it with sharks/create a lava lake around the whole UK so nothing gets in or out.

‘And it’s estimated that remaining in the EU will mean another 790,000 jobs being created across the UK over the next 15 years – creating more opportunities for young people in the East Midlands.’
…quoting a report titled ‘The Impact of the UK being in the Single Market.’

Again, the clue is in the name – we are not planning on leaving the Single Market any time soon – just the EU. The report says:

‘It is perfectly possible of course that the UK outside the EU may be able to retain a number of its current arrangements and still be able to export a significant amount to the EU. But trade relations are not static. Outside the EU, the UK will not be able to influence, and may not be able to benefit from, further deepening of the single market and trade agreements between the EU and third countries. Likewise, the UK would not be able to trade tariff free without accepting continued compliance with Single Market rules or without making a contribution to the EU budget as Switzerland and Norway both do.’

As such, it is clear that the report is grossly politicised. By ‘may be able to retain a number of its current arrangements’ read ‘retains all’ – the entire thing is based on the premise that by leaving the EU, we leave the Single Market as well (just looking at the contents, all of the sub-headings use the words single market, not EU), something that simply is not true. Within the EEA, as EFTA states, ‘throughout the EEA, economic operators and citizens from the EEA EFTA States enjoy the same rights and have the same obligations in the areas covered by the Agreement as their counterparts from the EU.’ Regarding 3rd party trade agreements, the EU’s own briefing on EFTA states that, ‘Although the Agreement does not cover common commercial policy, the EEA-EFTA states have often concluded trade agreements, parallel to those of the EU, with third countries.’ EFTA states retain their own ability to negotiate trade deals.

And of course, the bit at the end – the Norwegian budget contribution is significantly smaller to the EU (and funds many non-EU things) and Single Market rules are only 21% of the EU acquis currently in force (see here), so this really is not the caveat that the report makes it out to be – and the pamphlets own derivation from the report is pure rubbish. Regardless of the research behind the figures, anything forecasting that far ahead is purely speculative – this report gets the figures from assuming the UK trade share with the EU is constant – which in turn is predicated almost entirely on GDP growth projections and uncertain assumption the UK trade share of the EU will not go up or down, both of which are almost certainly not reliable. Just look at the GDP growth predictions over the last ten years to see that. Notwithstanding that this report ignores a myriad of different factors that come into play (e.g. financial markets) – it is impossible to isolate a certain number of jobs as being brought about by EU membership.

And then, there are the Six Key Facts:

I am not bother quoting them for fear of becoming tedious, but numbers 1,2,3,5,6 are totally irrelevant because our niche of the Leave Campaign is not rooting for the UK to leave the Single Market.

Number 4 states that: ‘We are safer thanks to the European Arrest Warrant.’ That is a relatively minor point – not a referendum clincher by any means when faced with the argument for democracy. 
Either way, there is nothing stopping us reaching an interim agreement immediately after we leave followed by a permanent deal – with something like this, it is in the clear interests of both sides to be able to arrest criminals.

‘How will shop prices in the East Midlands be affected?’

They won’t – we’ll still be in the EEA.



For the same reason, the WHOLE of page 2 is irrelevant, including everything that Karen Brady has to say about the issue – her statement looks like it was written by the same intern who wrote the rest.
And, again, there is some more on the European Arrest Warrant.

Page 3:



God, this is repetitive – the quality of this publication is shocking.

Page opens with a flagrant, falsifiable lie: ‘If we leave the EU, we would lose all of these benefits – because we only get them if we remain a member.’

No mention of the EEA to be seen anywhere here.

For about the third time, businesses, jobs and the European Arrest Warrant are mentioned – but what is this? A newcomer – ‘UK holiday makers get free healthcare in EU countries – and we’re free to move and live anywhere we want in the EU.’

None of that would change with the EEA – except maybe the healthcare, which I don’t know much about. Firstly, it is a tiny argument when compared to the ‘let’s not get subsumed by an unaccountable supranational body which seeks to strip us of our democratic rights and powers for what could well be the next couple of centuries.’ Secondly, many people take out insurance to go to much of the EU anyway, because the public hospitals in places like Cyprus are essentially death traps – you’ll go in with a minor fever and come out missing a leg but with a five year jail sentence. Even in France/Austria, many people take out insurance to go skiing, for instance. Health insurance is all of £30 anyway - this should be the smallest of inconveniences. Thirdly, there is definitely room for a bilateral agreement anyway.

‘Being in Europe, working together and sharing intelligence with other EU countries, is essential to Britain’s national security.’

The ‘being in Europe’ bit looks like the same intern got at the sentence because it didn’t ostensibly connect any of the benefits with membership of the EU – indeed, we everything mentioned and more without being a member of the EU. After all, Five Eyes (UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) is the most extensive signals intelligence sharing system in the world, and none of us are members of each other’s states (cue nostalgia for the colonies).

As for Russia, I do not trust Brussels not to do something reckless and stupid which dramatically escalates tensions – aka the Ukraine coup a few years ago, which was catalysed, if not actively supported, by the EU.

Again, the EU is conflated with cooperation with EU countries.

Then there is the financial risk column – again, with about the same level of cognitive insight as a sixteen year old (by now, I’m fairly sure that this leaflet was either written by a 16 year old or for 16 year olds – the only difference being whether the BSE is barking up the wrong tree because 16 year olds cannot vote, or is nauseously patronising, because it doesn’t expect us to understand the issues at stake).

‘Nobody knows what life would be like for UK families if we left Europe.’ – err, yes we do – see The Market Solution.

‘It would take many years to negotiate our future trading relationship with Europe – and then we’d have to negotiate our agreements with other countries on trade, travel, investment, security and more.’

No it wouldn’t – the EU itself only gives us 2 years under Article 50, and joining EFTA would not take very long. As for other countries, all we would have to do is agree to continue our existing treaty obligations aswith the EU.

‘Britain’s credit rating could be cut by two notches if it left the EU.’

Irrelevant – after a few years, they’d quietly put it up once they realised that because we remained in the Single Market, there was actually no threat. The BSE chain of causation from this is also suspect – as in, we don’t know if we’d have to pay more interest on our debts; such things depend on volatile markets, not politicians or Will Straw – putting that much emphasis on a mere assertion is tantamount to lying. The last rate downgrade did not see any significant change in borrowing costs. All of this is notwithstanding that the Telegraph has no way of knowing whether rates would be cut – or if their cutting would be significantly down to Brexit.

As for page 4:



Truth 2 – ‘We are an independent nation within the EU.’

Haha. Good one.

As for opt outs, they are a ratchet – they are not something we are likely to get more of or more power over, but it only takes one tit like Tony Blair to get in and they’re lost for good – hardly an amazingly powerful argument as it only serves to highlight the huge power that the EU already has (after all, they are opt outs, not opt ins). A bit like being proud of the fact that you don’t yet have leprosy on your nose when you do have it on your feet – how kind and magnanimous leprosy is being, and what a good deal it is for you.

Truths 1, 3 and 4 conflate the EU with the Single Market.

Truth 5 – not all of us Eurosceptics get that hot and bothered about immigration. And being out is definitely favourable to being in regarding freedom of movement reform anyway, which is literally impossible within.

Truth 6 – irrelevant. No reason why our government could not put in place schemes to cover the transition, and a pretty pathetic argument when compared to huge concepts like democracy and self-determination.

Having a whole page directly against UKIP is a not-so-subtle attempt to conflate UKIP with the leave side.

In terms of its truthful value, this leaflet is laughably easy to dismantle. I would not have a very high opinion of the intellectual capacity of anyone who was swayed onto the remain side by this rubbish. I doubt most of the recipients will read any of it – the referendum is too far off.

As for its value as propaganda, it is a ‘2 out of 10, must try harder.’ It has ignored the successful Nazi method of appealing to high-minded rhetoric and pre-existing public sentiment. It has ignored the even more successful fact-based method, whereby facts are reported as impartially as often as possible to gain trust (incontrovertible facts - not phoney statistics), used by the British.

Instead, Britain Stronger in Europe have opted for the Soviet method – a shoddy attempt full of lies, half-truths and omissions, put together poorly and unconvincingly, yet the authors do not really care because they are safe in the complacent knowledge that anyone who dares challenge it will be shot (metaphorically, of course, in the case of the Europe debate).


By the way, before anyone asks, I am not equating the BSE with the USSR – only the USSR’s method of propagandising during the Second World War. I would urge the leave campaign not to sink to their level (either the USSR’s or the Remain Campaign’s) – the truth is on our side so we do not need to resort to base propaganda at all.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Another letter to UKIP

Dear UKIPer,

Let us call a temporary truce – I have only written one blog post that can possibly have offended you (the most recent two being an existential crisis that probably didn’t need to be shared publicly while the first two were some rather poor attempts to deal with Muslims and Syria – please ignore them by the way, as they probably couldn’t get much worse as far as blogs go), but it didn’t pull any punches against you as a collective, and not always just against your arguments. I did not portray UKIP or UKIPers in a favourable light. You probably have a legitimate reason not to like me very much based on the limited experience of me.

If we met in real life, I am sure that we would be able to get along perfectly well – but this is not real life; this is the internet, and the rules of the internet give me free reign to be a total bastard to anyone and everything without any consequences, a freedom worth dying for.

I am writing this letter to try to convince you to at least drop your opposition to the EFTA leaving plan, even if you do not come around to supporting us. I’ll be blunt and straight-talking – I am no politician, no stooge, no liar. I can claim no credit for this idea – it came entirely from Samuel Hooper. His is probably better than mine but, I think his approach so necessary and forward-thinking that I have tried to emulate it. Maybe the two letters are complementary (if it is possible to put such an overt, shameless piece of plagiarism on the same pedestal as the original).

While freedom of movement may not be at the top of my agenda as it is for your party, I am going to try to convince you that the best course of action for both of us in our disparate aims is the Norway option. Sometimes, the obvious solution is not the one most likely to reap results.

I firmly believe that the way to solve immigration is through leaving the EU and then applying pressure on governments who can no longer hide behind supranationalism to miss their targets – rather than equating immigration and the EU referendum. Hence, the way to get immigration under control is to leave the EU, which means launching a campaign to win over successful moderates. This can only really happen, beyond extraordinary circumstances, if a plan is presented to the electorate that can negate government scare-mongering about the economy. In the eyes of most of the swing voters we must win over, their job is more important than immigration – we must guarantee their job for them, and only then can a genuine debate about the national interest begin.

The cause of the levels of immigration to Britain is not primarily the EU – it is the British establishment itself that is to blame. I’m not denying that European commitments to the free movement of people require us to keep an open border – more that our government positively wants that open border, rather than being forced to accept it.

That our government wants high levels of immigration is not idle speculation. Osborne is dependent on immigration for 1% of annual GDP growth (out of about 2-3%) in order to fulfil his political obligation and promote the narrative of a recovery. This immigration does not make us all richer – it is simply a fact of there being more people in the country which expands the economy. Hidden away in the small print of the budget is a little-touted admission by the government – Osborne’s budgets require at least 185,000 net migrants per year to work, almost double the nominal conservative target of 100,000. Moreover, immigration from outside the EU is at record levels, and there is very little stopping the government reforming that.

The conservatives do not want lower immigration.

This coming referendum is on the question of EU membership, and I would argue that it is pretty much binding on that. I don’t think that any government could simply ignore a leave vote. But the nature of that ‘leave’ will be heavily determined by parliament. Parliament will pass all of the legislation of ‘leave’ – and parliament is fundamentally pro-immigration bar some conservative MPs. Even your MP, Douglas Carswell, is not really anti-immigrant.

I do not think that a conservative government would feel it necessary for any immigration reform, even if we were leaving the EU, and it is a conservative government and pro-immigration parliament that will be handling any Brexits. The next general election is in 2020. The EU referendum is before the end of 2017. Article 50 negotiations give us two years. Therefore, logically, if we invoke Article 50 (which is almost certain given the nature of the parliament), negotiations for leaving will take place before the 2020 election. This means that all Brexit matters, beyond exceptional circumstances, will have been handled by the pro-immigration conservative government and pro-immigration parliament that we have now.

The upshot of this is that Brexit will not lead to lower immigration in itself – it will merely free us to reform immigration should we grow the collective balls as a democracy to panic the establishment into doing something. This parliament is not going to put immigration on the agenda with ensuing EU negotiations (it would merely create an intractable issue that would hold up progress), let alone deciding to abandon the single market and accept the hit to the UK economy, which all of the other options entail.

We are left with the situation where we need Brexit to lower immigration (as the government’s hands are tied by EU laws in a way that they wouldn’t be afterwards), but Brexit in itself will not lower immigration because our parliament do not want this. It is only the campaigning that comes afterward any potential Brexit that can actually succeed in freedom of movement reform. Therefore, the path to lowering immigration must start with Brexit, Brexit at all costs – the only way that both you and I can achieve our future aims is in pushing the leave vote well above 50%.

To leave the EU, we need the Norway option because the key to winning undecided voters is in persuading that there will be no economic crisis resulting from Brexit, and in order for that, we need to guarantee single market access. The rationale of this is that if we are still in the same market, then as now, we cannot possibly have a crisis caused by leaving that market. The WTO option does not entail access to the single market – and so will not win undecided voters. The Swiss option does entail access to the single market – but only after more than a decade, and even then, the Swiss agreement is in severe trouble verging on collapse (over precisely this issue).

The argument that they sell us more than we sell them, while having an economic base, does not take into account political reality – the EU cannot give us a better deal leaving than staying (otherwise everyone will want one and the EU simply cannot tolerate this). Bear in mind that EU politicians spent the best part of a trillion Euros pumping stimulus into bankrupt, un-reformable dumps rather than simply have them leave the euro for a bit, the economic equivalent of pumping air into a corpse until the blood starts to flow again to avoid having to pronounce death. The level of political megalomania that inhabits the higher echelons of the EU over-rides any economic sense and almost certainly will not let us part on those terms – anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

I must stress, the key is to reassuring undecideds, not embarking on pipe-dream scenarios, when discussing the referendum – because parliament will be the body that negotiates the form of post-EU Britain anyway, in conjunction with the EU itself. Only after the Brexit can we influence parliament in the way that we might want through our domestic democratic institutions, and so the terms upon which we win Brexit, or the plan which we espouse, bears only marginal relevance to the actual outcome.

Hence, the Norway option is the only way that undecided voters can be convinced enough of their economic security enough to vote with us in restoring democracy – Cameron et al. do not have any seriously potent arguments on their side when their scare-mongering is stripped away.

And so, please, please join us. We totally understand your ideological revulsion at the Norway option’s capitulation on free movement, but we beg you to consider two things. Firstly, parliament isn’t suddenly going to turn anti-immigrant overnight in the event of a leave vote. Secondly, once outside the EU, under almost any terms, immigration can be reformed comprehensively over time to reflect public opinion more accurately – hence, the only way that you can get the reform you so want is through Brexit, and the most likely chance of that happening is by weaponising the Norway option to undermine any arguments about the economy.

Yours,
Tommy R


Oh, and truce over – you tin-foil hat wearing morons ;-)

Monday, 11 January 2016

On Supranationalism



This is going to be a long post – just read the pictures, maybe the summary. Or just don’t bother.
In my last post, I tried to give a little historical context on nationalism – mainly to dispute the reputation given to it by the EU establishment and many UK politicians (historically, nationalism has been far more associated with self-determination than domination, and I believe that it is wrong to put them on the same spectrum). I could have gone on for at least twice the length that I did, but I realised that it was very unlikely that anyone would read the whole thing even at the 3,000 words it was on, so I decided to kill it (this one nearly reached 4,000). Here is the opposite, an attempt to place supranationalism in historical context.

The supranationalist position is a rejoinder to nationalism – it is founded on the abject fear of nationalism and the need to prevent war rather than any intrinsic benefits of supranationalism. Only later, with globalisation, has an economic argument asserted itself. There are two wings of supranationalism – the economic end is held up by the idea that we need supranational bodies to regulate trade, which, to be honest, is only so much horseshit (because exactly the same regulatory results can be achieved by intergovernmental cooperation) while the political end is caught up entirely in an abject fear of future genocide and world war.

The ideology of supranationalists is fundamentally based on the assertion that the world has moved on, making nationalism dangerous and irrelevant – due the destructive effects of the last war and advances in technology, we can and must pull together as a human race, which in practice means the subjugation of our right to autonomy under an ever-increasingly barrage of global and regional bodies designed to stop us bashing the hell out of each other yet again.

Supranationalism is everywhere. It is the kind of crap in whose paradigm The Economist wallows, along with Keynesianism and a totally unmerited respect for Marxism (which even if not followed, gives far too much respect for an ideology which, after 170 odd years of being proven wrong time and time again, really does deserve to eat shit and die for the misery that it has wrought upon the world). All of these –isms tend to be quackery, by which I mean an idea which due its repetition and the dogmatic prestige attached to it by its followers, is widely accepted uncritically as gospel despite not being proven and very often not undergoing adequate peer review.

A complex graph outlining how Keynesian economics functions

Take Keynesianism, for example – it must empirically be wrong because after 70 years of running our economy on more or less Keynesian lines, the outcomes have fallen far shorter than the aims. I only dabble in economics (a genteel way of saying that I sometimes feel the need to give my money away to William Hill), but I can tell that there must be a crippling weakness in Keynesian theory – otherwise we wouldn’t have ended up in the position where we are now, with central banks holding interest rates at rock bottom, exponential increases in the monetary base (conjuring money into existence – what was stimulus has become life support, a desperate last-ditch attempt to inflate asset prices) and a vast, ever-increasing debt mountain in both the private and public sectors, with the UK economy having to have created roughly 2-4% of new debt for every 1% of GDP growth since the war. That this bollocks is still ongoing without serious questions being asked is a measure of the prestige attached to a theory – of course, governments love Keynesianism because it amounts to carte blanche in terms of spending money that you do not have and have no conceivable chance of ever producing (but what does that matter? – you’ll be out of office in five to ten years).

I cut short shrift with the economic argument because it holds no water – as Dr. North has pointed out time and time again, supranational government is not necessary for economic harmonisation. Institutions which provide a mechanism for inter-governmental cooperation probably are necessary (e.g. UNECE, CODEX, etc.), but this does not need a fundamental transfer of sovereignty and the creation of all-encompassing new political bodies. The supranational body we are talking about, the EU, is only a regional body in a global system anyway – it does not go nearly far enough to solve the basic problem which politicians purport that it solves in creating common regulations because its writ can only apply to Europe not the all-important international supply chain. In practice, the EU gets involved in the creation of global regulations under the auspices of truly international bodies anyway (the EU is a law-taker, not a law-maker), and these bodies are grounded in inter-governmental cooperation rather than supranationalism.

In other words, the EU implicitly acknowledges the redundancy of its own economic position everyday by taking part in that which its proponents are adamantly opposed to us doing as a nation. In the 1950s and 1960s, the creation of a single market may well have been facilitated by the forerunners of the EU, but now, in 2016, globalisation has long ago overtaken the usefulness of that model.

The fall-back position for this obvious failing is that the EU gives us greater negotiating clout if we negotiate as a bloc (Clegg’s emphasis not mine). The blunt fact is that being in a bloc adds little – a minority say in larger negotiating position ties us into pushing things we might not like and prevents us forming common interest groups to cooperate on certain issues – there is literally no reason why we would not be able to cooperate with the EU, or anyone else, in pushing for commonly-held interests in global bodies post-Brexit for greater ‘clout’ should we need it. Moreover, our current position stops us walking away if what is being pushed is potentially very damaging. All of this is quite apart from the democratic cost.

Anyway, it is the geopolitical end of supranationalism that interests me more. In the last post, I pointed out that nationalism did not cause the two world wars and the atrocities that went with them other than as a limited factor among others; anyone who still believes Fischer’s thesis (that German nationalism was inherently to blame for the First World War) needs to read at least some of the 50 years of historical scholarship that has taken place between his time of writing and now.

A German cartoon about something - I really don't know, but it just seemed relevant

It is becoming increasingly clear that the First World War happened, not because of powers succumbing to popular jingoism or harbouring long-term plans at world domination, but because a diplomatic failure stemming in the outcome of the Franco-Prussian war triggered a crisis in which each power was forced to mobilise defensively (or what they believed was defensively), which in the case of Germany was perceived to entail a pre-emptive attack on France, which in turn caused global conflagration.

The Second World War happened because of the poor handling of the end of the first – a restrictive treaty was placed on Germany without the economic or military means/desire to cripple her beyond taking action against this treaty, causing the creation of a huge, aggressive grievance in the form of Hitler (along with several other factors, like the rise of communism and a couple of economic collapses).

The end of the Second World War was a totally different scenario from the first. Namely, the allies divided and occupied Germany, launching a de-Nazification process (which was rendered largely unnecessary when the shocking crimes of the Nazi regime came to light during the Nuremberg trials, as opinion polling from the period shows) and making it abundantly clear who was wearing the trousers, or at least that it would now be the Americans and the Russians fighting over who wore the trousers, not Germany.

There was no significant grievance created – Germans accepted that Hitler had clearly played a major role in starting the war, that German institutions had acted atrociously, completely outside the bounds of fledgling international law, that there was no power vacuum (as the West and the USSR put effort into running the place, largely because of the friction between each other), there was no prolonged economic slump beyond a few years due to the Marshall Plan, and there was no punitive treaty that could not be enforced. While the Treaty of Versailles had provoked uproar in Germany by having a War Guilt Clause written into it blaming Germany for the conflict, it seemed as though the Germans could not feel guilty enough after the Second World War.

And yet, these cataclysmic events are often cited by Europhiles, many going as far as to imply that the presence of nation states was a cause of the Holocaust, or that supranationalism is required to prevent another Verdun. If their arguments are to hold any water at all, they would have to prove that the presence of self-determining nation states acted as a proximate cause to the Holocaust/World Wars, establishing a chain of causation, and they would have to establish a likely chain of response following a Brexit which would lead to a similar state of affairs developing. Of course, they cannot do this because there is little historical evidence to support such a position. But then again, they don’t care; they have already assumed what they seek to prove.

The main flaw with supranationalism is that it forces multiple strong identities into the same set of political and legislative institutions. Necessarily, wealthier partners are grouped with poor ones, populous partners with small ones, and powerful partners with pathetic ones. Whether this state of affairs can practically work to everyone’s benefit is highly doubtful in itself because it must be assumed that identities lapse into self-interest, but the crux of the issue is in the tensions and grievances generated between the multiplicity of identities.

For a start, the wealthier, larger and more powerful partners always have more influence in shaping communal decisions. This is a given – you can look at any supranational organisation to see that this is the case. The security council of the UN, Russia in the USSR, Serbia in Yugoslavia, Austria and Hungary in the aptly named Austro-Hungarian Empire, Prussia in the German Empire, and yes, Germany in the EU. When it is not the case that a powerful identity wields significant influence (mainly because they are excluded from power by other groups), they will seek to gain it, often by force, or secede – e.g. the Shi’ites in Iraq, everyone apart from the Alawites in Syria, Biafrans in Nigeria, Catalans/Basques in Spain, etc. – sovereignty is the greatest commodity that groups fight over.

A Germano-centric Europe 

The EU tries to sidestep the identity issue by keeping skeleton nation states in place, but in reality, the undefined role of the nation state within an evolved EU generates friction because it creates a potential conduit through which identities can be expressed. If the machinery of even one of the EU nation states were to fall into the hands of anti-EU forces, it would cause serious problems. At present, most of the opposition to the EU is either democratic or negligible – if the EU were to resort to repression, it could potentially turn violent (e.g. terrorism, rioting, etc.).

The likelihood of an EU state falling into anti-EU hands is intrinsically linked to the opposition felt by minority or unrepresented identities towards central policies – either as opposition to German domination or the EU itself. It is dependent on circumstance and the EU’s reaction to circumstance.

At present, the EU’s writ is exceedingly powerful because it is perceived as necessary by all of the states – while they may not like some policies, they like the free movement, the free trade and many of the states feel that they are not big enough to ‘go it alone.’ The trouble with opinions and zeitgeists like this is that they change – often very rapidly. The EU has overcome every crisis since its inception – if it were perceived to fail, the consequences would be very damaging. The presence of institutions (nation states) that express the powerful identities within the bloc makes the scope of any anti-EU position that is able to seize power infinitely more potent.

Hence, the EU, despite all of the expensive glass buildings in Brussels and the colossal budget, is a very unstable organisation – it has to strike a balance between advancing its own interests and alienating the volatile national identities on which it is built. So far, the tensions within the model have mainly been kept underground – the EU has not faced any crises that it has not been able to deal with, or at least sweep under a rug somewhere, and national governments keep a façade of sovereignty. Yet, this could all change.

I can identify three challenges off the top of my head that could potentially destabilise the EU to crisis point: migration, economics and the presence of a viable alternative. Obviously, more could arise.

The migration question, namely concerning the incoming refugees from the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans, represents a challenge to the EU because it highlights a gap in between the perception of Eastern and Western European governments (who dominate the EU). Eastern Europe doesn’t want them (and by and large, they do not want Eastern Europe); Western Europe does, or at least, does not object. Another problem is that the issue has cast light on the perceived influence of Germany in the EU establishment, with Merkel becoming a bogeyman (or bogeywoman in these gender-equal times) in the eyes of many Eastern European countries. The EU’s reaction is widely perceived as inadequate, too late or diametrically the opposite of what people want.

The migration question is so important because for one of the first times, it puts what could well be a majority of people in many countries against the EU’s policies, in the clear knowledge that the policies come from the EU (or should because it is a European issue), on something that they care very deeply about. Already, after one million refugees, the problem has affected polling and dominates political discourse across Europe – there are a further nine million reportedly waiting to come, almost certainly tied in the public mind to further terrorist/lack-of-integration incidents like the Paris attacks or the Cologne New Year’s Eve debacle. It is difficult to see how the EU can possibly deal with this smoothly, without taking criticism and raising opposition against itself.

The economic situation is probably more important than the migration question. The effects of the 2007 crash have been swept under a rug by enormous central bank/government intervention (globally, but especially in Europe – e.g. Greece). But, the debt is all still there (and growing rapidly), and if another crisis were to arise, the ensuing problems would be of much larger proportions. Given that interest rates are roughly 0 and base money has expanded even now beyond rational economics, it is becoming more and more clear that the central banks would be almost powerless to intervene.
For a supranational entity such as the EU, this would be cataclysmic should it occur (we might no longer be talking about a Greek Crisis, but a France Crisis) – and it is difficult to see how the EU would emerge from any situation of such magnitude unscathed. Even the Greek Crisis has marked a newly-rekindled enmity between Greeks and Germans – any future crises would have a similarly national bent between rich countries and poor countries.

If another global recession hit soon (and let’s face it, one will – no one has believed in an end to boom and bust since that sage, Gordon Brown, who coincidentally is also a supranationalist Europhile), it would mark a duden – the German translation of the English ‘shitstorm’ of epic proportions.

I believe that British swearwords, finely crafted over 1,000 years of tradition and bashing the French, are the best in the world. They are our gift to the world, a part of our great internationalist legacy along with liberalism, the rule of law and democracy. We are to swearwords what Germans are to cars – ‘scheisse’ frankly sounds comical and ‘putain’ and its Spanish derivative don’t make grammatical sense unless used in very specific circumstances, as well losing out on all of the sharp plosives that the ‘big three’ (F, S, and of course, the C-bomb) utilise in abundance to such devastating and satisfying effect, let alone all of the different variations. It can only give me great pleasure to see that the Germans are finally cottoning on to this fact and are generating words to take account.

Malcolm Tucker - the 'other' Shakespeare - one of our most powerful, yet unappreciated, linguistic pioneers
Anyway, back to the point, there is a strong chance that various members of the Eurozone would bleed out faster than a haemophiliac getting hit by a train if a recession came to pass, and the Eurozone would have to deal with the consequences of that, if it even could.

The final problem I mentioned would be the presence of a viable alternative. The easier it would be to leave an organisation such as the EU, the more unstable is its intrinsic powerbase. This was the reason for the 2 year time limit on article 50 – the EU is trying to set itself up as a gargantuan Hotel California. This is also the reason behind suspected attempts to coerce EFTA into the EU framework (to force Norway et al. to adopt a British model at the next treaty).

If, however, Britain were to vote to leave in 2017 and managed to push the regulatory system governing Europe into prominence successfully, countries in the EU would have a binary choice – free market with political subservience to the EU or free market without political subservience to the EU. A no-brainer for anyone who isn’t following politicians’ logic. The opportunity cost of leaving the EU would have decreased to the extent that it would now be remaining that was the cost, all other things being equal (by which I mean talking about ends, not painful means to those ends like leaving the Euro).

At present, any country could leave the EU. It would be painful for the members of the Eurozone and absolutely unthinkable for some of the larger players like Germany or France, yet still possible. However, future integration is planned, with the year 2017 set to bring us news of another European treaty to finish the job that the others started. This treaty will likely consolidate the Eurozone into a fiscally integrated body while formalising the outer-tier of non-Euro states. This has been on the cards for years and will most likely get done in 2025.

And yet, once the EU moves this far, it crosses a line. By consolidating the Eurozone, an economic necessity, it consolidates divisions between those who would like to stay out and those already inside, and makes the EU visibly responsible for policy in a way in which it has never been before. There will be friction between those on the inside of the core and those on the outside, and even possibly frictions within the core (huge wealth transfers will be required to bridge the gaps between economic productivity between the northern economies and the southern – the grievances generated will depend on how transparently this is done).

Presumably, other political trappings will also follow, such as foreign policy and legal harmonisation – yet there looks to be no increase in accountability to the public as of yet. I doubt whether such accountability is even possible given the huge number of differing identities over such a huge population. The national identities are too strong to simply give way to a larger democracy, and hence the resulting government will brook serious opposition of a type that the current EU simply cannot even dream of.

Once in this form, with this lack of accountability, with increased identity tensions and with the EU increasingly seen as to blame for problems, the EU, while never having looked stronger and more powerful, will come up against its greatest challenges. It is essentially providing the perfect conditions for such insurgent nationalism that its entire raison d’etre is to so keen to avoid.

Possibly even violent nationalism – it would not be the first large political bloc to tear itself to shreds along identity lines. For example, China in the 19th century, where tens of millions died in a spate of ethnically-aggravated rebellions. Yugoslavia is another case in point, as are many Middle-Eastern ‘countries’ where separate identities vie for political control, causing many institutions to break down.

Obviously, we live in one of the most peaceful corners of the world, but nothing concrete should be assumed at this point about the future, at least definitely not until the EU has been through the next treaty. While the EU is frequently touted as being synonymous with the end of all war in Europe because nationalism can finally be overcome, this rhetoric falls far short of reality if seen in a historical sense – if the EU takes the wrong path following this upcoming treaty and does not tread very carefully over national sensibilities (which it shows no signs of doing), the European dream could become a continental nightmare.

In this post and the last post, I have been trying to set out an alternative paradigm, the fundamentals on which my thinking is based – as much to clarify my own thought as anything else. I’m not going to even try to promote them as such. Next post will be back to more petty issues directly concerning the referendum. This has ended up so long that I’m not even going to bother proof-reading it – if you got this far, I both pity and respect you.

In summary:

·         Supranationalism is a reaction to nationalism and the world wars

·         There are two sides to supranationalism – the need for international economic regulation and geopolitical consolidation for peace

·         Both of these reasons are flawed – there is no inherent reason why international regulation requires supranationalism, and supranationalists fundamentally misunderstand nationalism itself – nationalism was not the primary cause of either of the two world wars, and hence supranationalists are going out of their way to prevent something that doesn’t need preventing

·         Supranationalism has problems itself because placing strong identities in single political units necessarily creates tensions because it places identities with different strengths and values in the same governmental system

·         As such, supranational systems are always somewhat unstable because they are built on volatile foundations – they must create ideological loyalty (something the EU has not really done – in propping up national governments to take the blame for mistakes, the EU hasn’t established a large popular following of its own)

·         Tensions can very often boil over into terrorism and violence as identities/nationalities seek to reassert themselves – if grievances are not addressed democratically

·         The EU has been relatively lucky – nation states are still the object of blame for unpopular policies, very few problems that could unseat the EU have arisen, and public opinion in the member states has remained supportive enough for it to function without problems

·         The EU is reaching a critical turning point – the feted 2025 treaty will enshrine differences and give the EU too much power for it to avoid stoking opposition – volatile public opinion may roll over and become hostile very quickly, at least in some places, if the EU fails to meet expectations

·         The EU is not democratic or accountable enough in its present form to face these challenges without causing a huge amount of grief – it is doubtful in my mind if the EU can ever be a functioning democratic body given the presence of such strong nationalities

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

On Nationalism


A lot about this referendum, when all of the faff about jobs and clout is scraped off the government position, comes down to a fundamental argument over one of the most divisive political issues of the last century: nationalism. It is no coincidence that the establishment, so keen to keep us in the EU, also views nationalism as a dirty word and a fundamentally bad principle in itself. After all, according the historically-unversed establishment classes, was it not the driving force behind two devastating world wars? The Nazi party, after all, was the Nationalist Socialist party, was it not?

We are frequently told how being in the EU is required to prevent poisonous nationalism, like vaccination prevents a disease, which in turn is required to prevent war. Hollande even reputedly went as far as to say ‘nationalism is war’ in one heated debate, while people like Ken Clarke, those who read the Guardian and this bloke, who believes that the nation state is an abomination, live in constant fear of a return to 1930s.

I want to argue the opposite, that the establishment totally misunderstand the nature of what nationalism is. I want to tackle the myth that the idea of nationalism in itself was responsible for the huge European upheavals in the last century, and highlight that there is more than one type of nationalism – rather, I want to shift the emphasis to the carrier-vehicles with which nationalism can become associated, mainly grievance. Instead of attacking nationalism in itself, a wholly pointless exercise, our aim should be on highlighting the creation and promulgation of grievance narratives when they attach themselves to nationalist groups. And I will concede that Europe has problems with nationalism – the Balkans is a long-running sore and anything east of the Elbe is such an ethnic mess that it is well beyond my competence to explain. Rather, my focus, as it should be regarding this referendum, is Britain.

In this day and age, I now have to virtue signal just so no one else has any excuse for putting me on the wrong side of the fence. At no point will I utter a word of support for Hitler, Nick Griffin or any other greasy-haired midlife crisis-ridden fool – hell, I won’t even give Hitler credit for the German motorway system (it was actually planned prior to his taking power, as was the re-organisation of the army which proved so devastating in 1939-1940). The bloke was a lazy bigot who found himself, almost by accident, at the head of monstrously efficient state apparatus.

So, what is nationalism? There are two definitions that crop up – one involves patriotic feeling, principles or efforts centred on the desire for a unified state (a nation), while the second one associates all of these feelings with a belief of superiority over other states/ethnicities. The second is a modern addition, just another of the legacies of Hitler – it makes about as much sense as defining racism as something that only white people can do or sexism as something that can only happen to women when put in its proper historical context (although recently there has been a rather alarming tendency to take neutral terms and redefine them to one side of the argument).

There have been many violent nationalist groups – put your finger on a map of the eastern half of Europe and you will probably find yourself looking at a place that has previously been or still is subject to half a dozen of them. Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Ukrainians, Latvians, Estonians, Poles, Finns, Greeks, Bulgarians, Turks, etc. Similarly, the same can be said of most other areas of the world – the Middle East, for example, is littered with every –ism under the sun (including a healthy dose of nationalism). I could probably fill out the entire word count of this piece just by naming groups, conflicts or civil disturbances in which nationalism played a part. However, most of these groups never believed themselves superior to others – nationalism became violent as a method of overcoming opposition, rather than being used to subjugate others.
Common specimens of the lesser haired nationalist
Everyone can name examples of nationalist groups which did or do believe that they are superior to other states, or at least use nationalism as an excuse for imperialism. Wilhelmine Germany, Nazi Germany, Mussolini's Italy, Nasser’s Egypt, extreme Zionists, Hussein’s Iraq, the Young Turk movement, Serbia generally and about the last 300 years of Russian foreign policy. This form of aggressive, jingoistic nationalism is often, but not exclusively, associated with racial ideology (dating from the 1870s, but pretty much dead in Western Europe after 1945, bar some white nationalist groups which tend to believe that there time will come when us sheep wake up – they have plenty of hope, but about as much chance of fulfilment in their views as me in my persistent crusade to bring the ruff back into fashion – both seemed like good ideas to some people in their day but once people saw the dreadful results they got abandoned pretty quickly, never to be exposed in public again).
However, these groups are the exception rather than the rule. Indeed, it would actually be very hard, if not impossible, to claim that Moldova was an intrinsic superpower, or that South Ossetia must claim her rightful place in the sun and force other nations to respect her divinely-ordained supremacy by force of arms.

The fact that nationalism has led to violence in more recent times is normally an independent product of grievance-repression complex between two separate identity groups rather than a case of Small Country Syndrome (the collective of Small Man Syndrome). All political nationalism normally has a certain amount of grievance; otherwise there would be little reason to separate from the existing state. However, instances of grievance leading to civil violence are by no means confined to nationalism, and there is nothing intrinsic in nationalism that makes violence inevitable.



Take the breakup of Yugoslavia – Croats, Serbs and Bosnians et al. were fighting over carcass of a state infrastructure previously dominated by Serbs (who were, admittedly, one of the nationalist groups that did seek hegemony) and linked to the Soviet Union. The fighting was ignited by a grievance against the Serb-dominated Yugoslav People’s Army. That the war became so delineated along ethnic and then nationalistic lines was because of a desire for self-determination and security – and the only way to achieve this was to remove Serb domination, and as the Serbs were unwilling to relinquish their position of power, force became the only conduit. Then, the whole thing spiralled out of control as grievances escalated through actions during the war. Nationalist-inspired violence can be some of the worst and most intractable, as it was in Yugoslavia, but it depends on circumstances.

There have also been plenty of peaceful nationalist movements. Even German Nationalism was largely peaceful before the 1860s – a notoriously liberal movement full of student organisations (Burschenschaften – the spelling of that word is one of the few things I still remember from A Level history). In our own times, Scottish nationalists, bar a few pathetic attempts at letter-bombing in the 1980s, Bavarian nationalists, Catalan and Basque nationalists (post-ETA), Venetian nationalists, Walloon nationalists, Texan nationalists, and many, many more have campaigned peacefully, attempting to fulfil their aims through the ballot box rather the bomb. The thought of Leanne Wood and Plaid Cymru attempting to launch armed insurrection is positively laughable. And of course, Gandhi and his followers (not all Indian nationalists) notoriously made peace their greatest weapon, while the fall of the Berlin wall/reunification of Germany in itself was a triumph for nationalism, the desire for one united nation state.

Indeed, the deciding factor in how violent a nationalist movement becomes seems to be the level of repression, political opportunities and the breadth of grievance (as well as opportunities presented) rather than the aim itself (e.g. Kurdish nationalism became violent as a result of repression, political exclusion and genocide/regime violence – then Saddam’s fall and the Syrian civil war provided opportunities for success, which the Kurds have used to advance their nationalist aims through growing monopolies of power in certain regions).

It is a cheap smear to include all nationalist groups with the Nazis under one umbrella. The nationalism that seeks to assert one nation’s intrinsic supremacy is a different beast altogether to the movements seeking to create/maintain their own states.

Mormons in action
It is at this point in my narrative that the bloody Mormons turned up – more persistent than Jehovah’s Witnesses and brimming with missionary zeal in the form of a rather large American. I must confess that I much prefer the English specimen – so used to rejection are our homegrown nutters that threshold confrontations are comparatively quick and painless events. This invasive alien form of the species is not content to leave a leaflet and be about their business, and obviously has little else to do on a Tuesday evening, a warning to anyone else in the general vicinity of Crewe. God knows how they managed to coax 20 entire minutes of my time away.

By campaigning for Brexit, we are nationalists – we believe in a British nation state de facto as an alternative to the EU. But there is nothing inherently wrong with this, as many in the establishment would believe – and there is certainly no cause to jump the gun and run to full-blown supranationalism as a remedy to a problem which does not exist. Notwithstanding that supranationalism comes with its own set of potentially violence-inducing problems.

The other implication of this misunderstanding of nationalism is that the EU’s position on the issue is utterly untenable – in taking advantage of the fact that the English dictionary inexplicably places Nazi jingoism and the peaceful desire for self-determination of identity groups under the same word (why not just make the former a separate word? – ‘prickism’ has a ring to it, although Tony Blair may have borrowed that one already), the establishment rhetoric relating to nationalism implies that the latter groups are as disreputable as the former which is simply wrong.

Not only that, but the self-determination group will also only generally resort to mass violence if repressed and driven away from using more democratic means – in other words, it will be the EU and the pro-EU governments will be the main actors determining the levels and forms of repression and grievance, hence dictating whether the violence they so fear occurs.

Unless there is a renaissance in Social Darwinist thought that makes it mainstream again, about as likely as me being next prime minister, most nationalism in Europe will concern self-determination rather than global hegemony. There are a few fringe morons who still treat the gospel according to St. Adolf (Mein Kampf) as fact, even fewer in Britain - probably about enough to mount one fight against UAF with a hundred reserves, or for two more modest civil disturbances at the same time. There is almost no prospect of them seizing power under any normal, or even most abnormal, circumstances.

Of course, it can be argued that the presence of nation states rather than supranational blocs makes the risk of state-on-state war more possible. However, this argument does not stand up to scrutiny – in this day and age, in a world straddled by nuclear-armed alliances, inter-state war is hardly likely to break out in the most democratic spot on earth (not to mention the most bankrupt region – in practice you can have a large welfare system or a large military, not both at the same time).

Imagine trying to get a bill supporting the declaration of war on France through this parliament, let alone one with Jeremy Corbyn at the head – agreeing to blast the hell out of a few jihadis was hard enough. If David Cameron walked onto the Downing Street steps tomorrow and said that he was declaring total war on the entire European Union, even after a diplomatic spat, the public would take it as a poorly-timed joke, or perhaps the result of a bet he must have made the previous night while drunk, rather than an order to ready the spitfires and man the trenches. I doubt there has been a more pacified and less-warlike society in human history than that which exists now in Western Europe.

The last British king to start a continental war
Even throughout history, the British have never really gone in for wars of domination on the European continent – the last time we started a war there (excluding the Anglo-Dutch Wars, which were not fought on European soil) we were ruled by a ginger, testosterone-fuelled eccentric who killed several of his wives (future Prince Harry?). In practice, we tend to intervene in European wars that other people start, while our clear borders have historically been one of our greatest assets. There is literally no reason why Brexit would, or even could, contribute to any increase in violence whatsoever.

Nationalism is typically blamed for the two world wars (or at least since Fischer propounded the theory of a Sonderweg, a turn to the right in German nationalism dating from the Prussian victory in 1871 that made popular support for war inevitable). However, this is a gross over-simplification.

The First World War was fundamentally down to a breakdown in the alliance system – the seizure of Alsace-Lorraine in the 1871 war created intractable enemies in Germany and France. This broke up the previous system, whereby the four continental powers – France, Germany/Prussia, Austria-Hungary and Russia – maintained a slowly evolving balance of power by acting against any party that grew two assertive, while Britain intervened on a case by case basis on the side of the defendant/victim.

Because Germany and France were now firmly in opposing camps, the alliance system dissolved into two rough sides (as in every crisis, Germany and France were eying each other as well as the actual issue at hand – normally the Balkans). This meant that Germany’s actions were motivated by the need to deal with French involvement on the other side and vice versa, and also a need to protect allies from defeat in order to prevent being the 1 in any following 2 on 1 war. Instead of calling a conference to sort it all out over champagne and caviar, as Bismarck would probably have done, incidents escalated into crises between two armed ententes and tactical imperatives came into play. Hence, catastrophe, in a nutshell. This is simplified a lot.

The Second World War was a result of the first, or rather the handling of the first. The Treaty of Versailles was punitive enough to create huge grievances among the German people, which combined with Nazi ideology to create a regime that sought to upset the European order and restore Germany to power. With Britain and America playing at splendid isolation again, Austria-Hungary ceasing to exist and Russia following its own rather sordid communist path divorced from everyone else, bankrupt, unwilling France was left to uphold the European balance of power with the help a number of unreliable new states (Poland, Italy) under the auspices of the League of Nations. It is little wonder that the whole thing fell apart so quickly.

The point of this is that nationalism almost certainly doesn’t work in the way that loathsome polemicists like Clegg and his ilk think that it does – the idea that populations in 1914 were stupid enough to declare war out of jingoist spirit is, to quote C. S. Lewis, ‘chronological snobbery’ or to quote Karl Pilkington, ‘bullshit.’

The initial spark in the Balkans necessitated war after the Austrians decided to invade Serbia and Russia decided to challenge the invasion – all sides knew that once this war was certain, failure to mobilise their own forces would be catastrophic, and as a consequence, all sides thought they were acting defensively.

The Austrians thought they were rooting out terrorists, the Serbians thought they were defending against Austrian annexation, the Russians believed themselves to be defending fellow Slavs and preventing Austria gaining too much power in the Balkans, the Germans were defending the Austrians (whose collapse would leave Germany vulnerable) and against Russian invasion, as the Russians knew that Germany would be forced to defend the Austrians, the French were defending against German invasion which in turn was forced by the fact that Germany did not want to fight a war on two fronts so launched a pre-emptive strike, the Turks were defending against Russian expansionism, and finally, the British intervened because of assurances given to France and a genuine alarm at the fate of Belgium. That this immensely complex situation developed was not the result of nationalism but a failure of diplomacy which set up the dominos for a disastrous fall.

The Second World War was a direct result of the first – aggressive German nationalism was only one reason among several: mainly, a reaction the punitive terms of Versailles in the form of Hitler, the lack of a functioning balance of power to stop Hitler, the rise of communism to bolster Hitler’s support, two widespread economic collapses (immediately post-war and the 1929 crash) which made Hitler’s populist authoritarianism more appealing and the lack of allied planning pre-1940 which handed Hitler a miracle victory.

There is literally nothing to suggest that the situation today bears any resemblance to either, with or without the EU – and there is also literally nothing to suggest that a Brexit would destabilise the balance of power. The situation pre-1945 has nothing to do with the realities of the modern world – Europhile arguments referencing the world wars really are clutching at straws and at best represent a skewed misreading of the facts.

To sum up my argument:

1)      Nationalist views that seek a state to govern a common identity group and nationalist views that seek to dominate other societies are totally different movements, arising in different circumstances, and probably shouldn’t share the same word

2)      Despite prominent examples (e.g. the Nazis), the vast majority of nationalist movements are the first version of nationalism in 1)

3)      Among this first version, key factors in determining whether movements are peaceful or violent include the levels of grievance and the extent to which nationalism is resisted through repression

4)      Hence, nationalism is neither intrinsically dangerous or violent – Brexit is a form of peaceful, democratic nationalism

5)      Because the levels of repression and grievance depend on the actions of the EU and Europhile governments in this case, any resulting violence is likely to have been caused primarily by EU actions anyway – the only real thing that they have to be scared of is their own lack of appetite for true democracy

6)      In point 5), I’m speaking hypothetically – I don’t think such a movement would arise, but it is important to address hypothetical Europhile arguments

7)      There are very few jingoistic nationalists around – especially not in Britain

8)      The World Wars were not caused primarily by jingoistic nationalism, and the situation is so different now anyway that they are irrelevant

9)      This piece is all relevant because… ok, most of it isn’t, but the nation state must be defended as a principle to avoid Europhile smear attacks invoking nationalism as a dirty word - it is the only  viable alternative to the supranationalist nightmare that we have now

10)   I think that that is about it

11)   Oh, and never open your door to Mormons – close the door quickly, count to 10 to see if they leave, and if this fails call in a bomb disposal squad (it is important to let the robot with the arm approach them – human contact only exacerbates the situation), an air strike or, if possible, a large, malnourished lion


Sorry for the long, probably unintelligible sentences. Sorry also for the fact that I’m not going to footnote this – I have to write and plan proper history essays for most of the week, and the last thing I want to have to do is another here (although once the referendum campaign heats up and I graduate, I’ll put more effort in). I’ll try to engage with any criticism/requests for sources, etc. and I’ll try to write one for supernationalism to build on this one and to make more of it add up at some point soon.