Streetwise Professor

March 23, 2019

Brexit: Britain’s Hotel California

Filed under: Politics — cpirrong @ 8:57 pm

One can understand the reason why a slim majority of the British electorate voted to divorce from the EU. They wanted out from under a condescending, arrogant, meddling, progressive, metropolitan, globalist elite that has no appreciation or respect for British (especially) English tradition (as indeed they scorn all national traditions, including not least religious ones).

There is only one problem with that plan: the UK governing class today is dominated by a condescending, arrogant, meddling, progressive, metropolitan, globalist elite that has no appreciation or respect for British (especially) English tradition. These are the people who are in apoplexy over the prospect of the UK departing from their soul brethren in the EU. Britons may be able to escape the grasp of the mandarins in Brussels, but they have little prospect of escaping that of the mandarins in London, who if anything are even more loathsome.

The incompetence of the British ruling class is manifest. The incompetence, oppressiveness, and intolerance of its social elite is plain. They make no attempt to conceal their antipathy for the traditionally, conventionally English. Brexit, in whatever form it takes, will do little to free those who voted for it from the tender mercies of those who hate them. And there will not be the consolation that it’s bloody foreigners doing them wrong: it will be their own fellow Britons.

I really find it hard to find any real difference between the behavior of the British government and ruling classes and that of their peers on the continent. Transnational progressive policies, political correctness, and extreme intolerance of dissent characterize British political and civil society as much, and perhaps more, than continental.

Britain was a pioneer in omnipresent surveillance on the streets and the denial of the right to self-defense, yet crime has become endemic. Speech is under constant threat. British police brag about punishing those who express disapproved thoughts: think of the Twitter censors, only with the power to arrest, fine, and jail, rather than merely shadow ban or suspend. Indeed, to an outsider it appears that British police pursue thought crimes with much greater zeal than they do personal and property crimes–because it’s easier, perhaps, or because it brings the police greater approbation from their social superiors? Regardless, that’s the distinct impression. Speaking ill of some religions–or even speaking unpleasant facts–brings down the full weight of the British state, which at the same time deems Christianity too violent, and hence bars entry by Christian converts from twisted theocracies.

As a consequence, I doubt that Brexit will enhance the freedom or sovereignty of ordinary Britons in any meaningful way, or allow them to restore more traditional British and English ways, institutions, and values. Indeed, not only will they not gain greater freedom, they will lose the psychological comfort of being able to blame Johnny Foreigner for the loss of it. It will end up being a Hotel California experience: they will check out of the EU, but they won’t check out of an establishment run by those with the EU mindset.

I have often written that the UK is like the US’s Ghost of Christmas Future, because it has gone much further down the progressive road than the US, and its increasingly dystopian present should be a warning to the US about proceeding down that road. That future, moreover, may be distressingly close, because virtually the entire Democratic establishment, including virtually every presidential candidate, would fit in quite well in the UK. What I view as dystopian that lot views as utopian, or at least a waypoint on the road to utopia.

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  1. If you were to see this transcribed into the mainstream, you’d be castigated as a crank. However, you are correct. See the blowback from Steven Moore elevated to his Fed post, and think about if someone like Robert Reich would be elevated to the same post.

    I don’t think it’s that you should be dumb to be a federal appointee. However, you do need to critically think. Unfortunately there is precious few of us that can critically think.

    Be well my friend. For we are going to enter the wilderness.

    Comment by Jeff — March 23, 2019 @ 9:07 pm

  2. “Crime has become endemic?” British crime rates are at their lowest level since the 1980s.

    Comment by Patrick Caldon — March 23, 2019 @ 10:17 pm

  3. It is good to have the Streetwise Professor turn his eye to my side of the Pond, and examine our current malaise. Also to ponder whether the UK’s example teaches anything for the USA.

    Commenter Patrick Caldon defends the UK with: “British crime rates are at their lowest level since the 1980s.” I find that interesting: firstly because having been able to do better in the past is surely no way of praising the present; secondly to wonder at the cause of the 1980s lower crime rates. On cause, I think of the Classical Liberal policies of then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. And first amongst Classical Liberal policies is that one, more than anyone or anything else, is responsible for one’s own self and success (or failure). If one is very busy and careful making a success of one’s life, for self and family, there is less time to be a criminal.

    So when Streetwise Professor does his analysis of the UK’s and EU’s woes, I can agree with his analysis of: government (infiltration) by “a condescending, arrogant, meddling, progressive, metropolitan, globalist elite that has no appreciation or respect for British (especially) English tradition.”

    However, I cannot agree with him in his synthesis: “[in doubting] that Brexit will enhance the freedom or sovereignty of ordinary Britons in any meaningful way, or allow them to restore more traditional British and English ways, institutions, and values. […] It will end up being a Hotel California experience: they will check out of the EU, but they won’t check out of an establishment run by those with the EU mindset.”

    In order to leave (at least peaceably), one must first ‘check out’. That really is necessary, even if not sufficient. That other EU states are not ‘checking out’ should be seen as their problem. It’s Classical Liberal to set a good example (and advertise it a bit); it is not (outside of self defence) Classical Liberal to force one’s opinion on others.

    And the USA should also remember for itself, in its current and ongoing woes, that without changing its majority mindset (from the increasingly prevalent Social Democracy back to Classical Liberalism), it really will be struck down in the same way as the UK has suffered – whether or not it goes beyond Social Democracy to full-blown Socialism.

    Best regards

    Comment by Nigel Sedgwick — March 24, 2019 @ 3:25 am

  4. PC – The way that British crime rates are tabulated & recorded means they are susceptible to manipulation & misinterpretation, but by no means are they “at their lowest levels since the 1980s. Take a look at London crime figures, in particular knife crime.

    Comment by david morris — March 24, 2019 @ 4:09 am

  5. All that guff about ‘taking back control’ which apparently motivated the peasantry to vote for Brexit was hilarious. As if the peasantry ever had control! It was all about the country gentry taking back control: Rees-Mogg, Nicolas Soames etc. The latter is most partial for canvassing the electorate on the back of his horse – all the better so that the riffraff know to genuflect.

    It’s pretty easy to get the peasantry to parrot the phrases of their betters. Take back control, spirit of the Blitz, Winston Churchill … Speaking of which, does a single person stop and think why it was that Churchill (hero of Gallipoli amid many other wonders) is considered such a great leader yet was deluged beneath the most colossal electoral landslide in British modern history? 1945 marked the most extraordinary repudiation of a wartime leader, a victor at that? Prof: you know your history. Has any wartime victor ever been so overwhelmingly rejected by the people he led? … Just asking

    Comment by Simple Simon — March 24, 2019 @ 10:45 am

  6. Simple Simon

    Are you rewriting history?

    Labour in ‘45 was matched by the Tories in ‘51 & ‘55 and came nowhere near what the Tories achieved in the Twenties.

    Nicholas Soames and J R-M are Tories and that’s where it ends: completely different sides of the Brexit question.

    Brexit is stuffed, but in stuffing it the current ruling class has stuffed themselves.

    Comment by Recusant — March 24, 2019 @ 1:33 pm

  7. Hey Street, How about some coverage on Glencore, them seem to be in trouble.

    Comment by TomHend — March 24, 2019 @ 1:42 pm

  8. @TomHend–Be patient–working on it. I have to look into Gunvor too.

    Comment by cpirrong — March 24, 2019 @ 4:28 pm

  9. Trying to get more information here in America on what is actually holding up the Brexit negotiations remains a daunting task. Without really wanting to do major research, I would expect that British and/or Continental news sources would spell out the exact reasons why PM May keeps getting thwarted in her negotiations. I’ve been unsuccessful in finding any such outlet.

    Is it because the media think the details are too arcane? Or because they feel that if the people knew of the hurdles Brussels has put in the way, it would only heighten animosity against the EU?

    That is the conclusion one should draw when the details are omitted.

    Comment by I.M. Pembroke — March 24, 2019 @ 9:07 pm

  10. @Nigel:
    “That really is necessary, even if not sufficient”
    I disagree – the level of enforced political correctness, surveillance and control that is exercised by the UK government is far greater than what happens elsewhere in the EU. Leaving the EU is a necessary step for certain goals (notably (and, of course, obviously) immigration, trade policy, etc.) but it will do nothing to mitigate the problems listed in the post…

    I disagree that the rulers of the UK hate their population – I would describe it more as indifference, coupled with a need to do just enough to keep the media from complaining too much. BUT, the majority of the population seem to be OK with it – I think they should be more demanding…

    Comment by HibernoFrog — March 25, 2019 @ 4:43 am

  11. HibernoFrog argues: “I disagree – the level of enforced political correctness, surveillance and control that is exercised by the UK government is far greater than what happens elsewhere in the EU.”

    Against this view, I note that: (i) the arming with guns of UK (and Republic of Ireland) police officers is very much the exception rather than the rule; this is not the case throughout the rest of the EU. (ii) the attempt to introduce a UK National Identity Scheme (with compulsory registration for all residents) was abandoned in 2010 because of public pressure; all other EU nations except the Republic of Ireland and Denmark have compulsory registration for the whole resident population.

    I would have thought that (pretty much) 100% gun-armed police and compulsory registration of citizens are the two strongest indicators of government surveillance and control!

    Best regards

    Comment by Nigel Sedgwick — March 25, 2019 @ 5:20 am

  12. @recusant
    If you spent less time with your nose at the wrong end of your digestive tract and more time on Wikipedia you’ll learn the following
    1945: Lab 393 Con 197
    1951: Lab 295 Con 321
    1955: Lab 277 Con 345
    So, no, Tories didn’t match overwhelming nature of Lab victory in 1945.
    Popular vote percentages even more impressive. 1951 election Labour actually won the popular vote.
    As for the Tories in 1920s … achievements include NHS, OAPs??
    Perhaps you think the gunning down of strikers in 1921 and police action in 1926 counts as achievements?? Really, do yourself a favor and read a bit more instead of parroting the words of some wacko on the ‘Net.

    Comment by Simple Simon — March 25, 2019 @ 1:37 pm

  13. I am struggling to find factual support of one of Simple Simon’s points against the Conservative Party.

    As far as I can see, the 1921 miners’ strike involving shootings to death (of 6 strikers) took place in Madras, India. Police action there was the direct responsibility of the Governor of Madras. Given no Wikipedia page for the 1921 UK miners’ strike, I find it difficult to believe there were any fatalities. In any case, the UK government of the day was the coalition Liberal/Conservative government led by the Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George. Colonial Secretary (so arguably the responsible government minister) at the time of the Madras shootings was Winston Churchill, who was a Liberal Party MP at that time (as he was from 1904 until 1924).

    Does Simple Simon actually mean the 1921 strike in Madras (with 6 shot dead)? Or is it some other strike in the UK? If the latter, a web link or similar would be useful.

    Best regards

    Comment by Nigel Sedgwick — March 26, 2019 @ 1:49 am

  14. @ I.M. Pembroke

    The issue is broadly that the EU won’t discuss post-trade arrangements until after Article 50 has taken effect, which means that instead of a post-EU-membership trade and tariffs landscape ahead of departure, departure is when you start to negotiate it.

    This means that what we have is a Withdrawal Agreement which is intended to be supplanted by an eventual post-Brexit trade accord.

    The problems with this are mainly two. One is that the terms agreed include Britain paying $50 billion to the EU (£39 billion) over 2 years, i.e. still paying the subs while giving up any representation. The bigger issue is that because Eire will now have a land border with a non-EU state (Northern Ireland), the WA terms specify that all EU rules to continue to apply in Northern Ireland, and there is no unilateral method to end this (the so called ‘backstop’). This constructively annexes part of the UK to the EU – in effect it unifies Ireland. It’s these two things May can’t get Parliament to approve. She is coalition with the DUP, who for 30 years were vehemently opposed Irish reunification and still are.

    To the obvious rejoinder, “Why are the EU being so unreasonable about the backstop?’, the answer is, er, it was Britain’s idea. No, me neither.

    So in the UK Parliament you now have a bunch of factions:

    1 hard Brexiteers: keep the $50 billion and leave with no deal.
    2 soft Brexiteers: take the deal because it will be replaced (Eire doesn’t actually want Northern Ireland)
    3 forked tongue Brexiteers: let’s have a different deal (that’s not on offer from the EU) that’s indistinguishable from being in the EU except you pay but have no influence (so is arguably the same as now), which isn’t Brexiting at all
    4 Remainers who think we should stay in an EU that will never integrate further (this does not exist)
    5 Remainers who think we should stay in an EU that will continue to integrate further, while denying that it will
    6 Remainers pretending to be Leavers who are determined to thwart Brexit while making it look like someone else’s fault
    7 MPs who couldn’t care less whether we Leave or Remain as long as it is chaotic and dishes their political enemy (Corbyn)

    None has a majority, and it’s not even clear any individual faction even commands a plurality. What does seem clear is that 4 to 6 add up to about 400 MPs, 350 or so of whom were elected on a ‘deliver Brexit’ platform, but who all stood in bad faith never intending to do any such thing.

    There isn’t a majority or a plurality in the country either. Although most polls now give Remain a slight advantage, Remain in the country at large is broadly my 4 and 5 above, which are incompatible. When the next round of political integration comes, it will as usual initially be denied, and then we’ll be told it’s too late because it’s all been decided. By that time there’ll be no way left to withdraw, so this really is the last chance saloon.

    Comment by Green as Grass — March 26, 2019 @ 11:58 am

  15. @ Green as Grass

    Thank you for that succinct explanation to a complex situation. Now why can’t Main Stream Media do their job and deliver the same?

    Long live the blogosphere!

    Comment by I.M. Pembroke — March 26, 2019 @ 1:38 pm

  16. @ IM

    The MSM and MPs alike are as thick as mince and as a lazy as a sloth on Valium. Many confuse the WA with the permanent terms of departure, which isn’t the case. Some even think there’ll be a transitional period with No Deal, apparently not recognising that the WA *is* that transitional arrangement. Alarmingly, the former Brexit secretary David Davis thinks this.

    Some Brexiteers think if we walk with No Deal, we’ll never have to pay the $50 billion. Of course the EU will then argue that until the arrears are paid, they will not consider any trading arrangement between the EU and the UK. The money, by the way, is 2 more years of subs for market access, plus UK’s share of programmes agreed and budgeted for by UK that play out past the end of membership. This takes in things like the pensions of UK civil servants based in Brussels, for example. It sounds like a gimme but it’s not especially so.

    The really tricky issue is Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 that ended the overt terrorism essentially dissolved the border. For all practical purposes there is no longer a border at all between southern Ireland (= Eire) and northern Ireland (= Northern Ireland aka Ulster). After Brexit, however, there will be – it will be an *EU/non-EU* border, because Eire is EU and NI isn’t.

    So the EU requires a border with customs checks, while the UK has said Nah, not going back and not putting up any such stuff on our side of the border. The “solution” is the so-called “border in the Irish Sea”, which means Northern Ireland would in effect stay in the EU and the border/passport checks would occur within the UK, moving from one part of it to another. As well as undermining the GFA, this is also constructive annexation, and I doubt any other country would accept anything similar.

    In many ways the situation is like July 1940. There’s a fucking fiasco unravelling, but if you boot Chamberlain, you need a Churchill to come in and say “Fuck the French, we can win from here and we start by getting some better allies”. What we actually have is a spectrum of quislings saying variants on “We’re of no account, let’s capitulate, in which German port would you like to take custody of our navy?”

    Comment by Green as Grass — March 27, 2019 @ 3:59 am

  17. This post could almost be categorised as ‘Yanksplaining’, but you do hit the mark in your description of the British ruling class, especially those pushing hard for Brexit.

    As for the reasons why we voted out, hate to break it to you but this was all about the aftermath of 2008 (of which you are no doubt intimately aware) and subsequent austerity agenda, and f*ck all to do with the EU. Any Leave voter would be hard-pressed to name a single piece of legislation imposed on us by the EU which they contested OR any laws they wanted that the EU prevent us from enacting. Immigration was clearly a factor but we’ve always had the ability to control it, as many other EU member states do – the fact we haven’t is largely down to budget cuts.

    Re your Tweet about the march on Saturday (yes, I was there, and very impressive it was too), I’m guessing people aren’t allowed to change their mind in the light of new facts? After all, we did have a vote on more-or-less this very issue way back in 1974.

    Comment by David Mercer — March 27, 2019 @ 4:44 am

  18. Forgot to add: On a related topic, I’m not sure if it was reported stateside but we got a taste of the brave new world we’re trying to enter when our esteemed defence secretary announced that one of shiny new carriers was to make passage in the South China Sea to reassure our allies in the area, which prompted China to cancel trade talks which we’d just commenced. Now had we been remaining in the EU I’m pretty certain we could have performed this little show of force with impunity..

    Comment by David Mercer — March 27, 2019 @ 4:55 am

  19. @Nigel Mea culpa. Of course, India though then part of the Empire, doesn’t really count, does it? Dark-skinned natives and all that.

    Comment by Simple Simon — March 27, 2019 @ 10:41 am

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