Brexit the Movie

Brexit the Movie is certainly worth seeing. It gives the case for the UK leaving the European Union and trading with the world like Switzerland, Norway and other countries than did not join up. The message is simple: take the regulating bureaucratic hands off our buying and selling and things will work through healthy business competition and freedom to trade. I know too little about international business and economics to give a critical answer to this exposé, but I have the impression that it is a tad one-sided. What is there to stop the unlimited domination of the biggest businesses through corruption as bad as EU or State cronyism? Small businesses do very badly under the present system, so would they do better with less European and national regulation?

However, the case is well made about the EU being a faceless bureaucracy of functionaries who are neither elected, known by the people or accountable. Unchecked, the EU has the potential of becoming a totalitarian government with no way of fighting against it like against the Nazis in 1944-45. I find that scary!

My own intuition is to go further than Brexit – Eurexit! The complete dismantling of the Brussels bureaucracy and the restoration of national sovereignty to each European country as before the days of the Common Market. I’m not keen on nationalism either, being something of an anarchist, but that is better than a western and modernised form of a “soviet union”, which it could become. Such a wish may come true given the refugee / migrant crisis which the documentary is careful not to mention (together with exposing the threat of ultra-nationalists). We can’t expect help from the Americans this time, but I do believe that Europe should begin to smoke a pipe of peace with Putin and Russia.

The documentary discusses trade and economics, which brought about the old Common Market in the first place. It is surely not all. There is European culture which was built on classical paganism and medieval Christianity, which together forged a kind of humanism that give ideas of the dignity of the person and human rights that correlate with duties. There are also traditions of constitutional law going back centuries with aim of protecting people against abuse and injustice. Our Magna Carta is the great example. The EU has done a lot to damage popular culture by regulating in the domain of food and cooking and the liberty we have of taking reasonable and calculated risks. Health and safety regulations are necessary to take reasonable precautions against accidents and injury (especially at work), but they have gone beyond the limits of common sense!

Whether there is opposition from the EU bureaucracy to religious practice is anyone’s guess. Perhaps someone who knows about modern EU ideas about religious freedom and issues of conscience would be welcome to comment.

There is of course the burning issue of the immigration of large numbers of Muslim refugees and economic migrants. The EU welcomes them probably because they are willing to work for less than indigenous Europeans – but we give them benefits to the tune of billions of Euros each year. We can’t afford it, and our social security systems will inevitably collapse. Individual countries are no longer free to determine their limits of legal immigration. There are two sides to the argument, as there is real suffering (used by the hordes of young men with their smart phones). The question is highly politicised, and a critical mass of people from other cultures will destroy indigenous European humanist and Christian culture. It can also be said that materialist / consumerist Europeans just gave it away and deserve to be introduced to Sharia Law! True, I am concerned not to get into trouble for saying “politically incorrect” things, but I am not attracted to the red-neck / nationalist mentality either.

Perhaps this issue should make us think more deeply, even though we have been brought up to think in terms of our nation and mother country (or Fatherland as the Germans say). I am English and am deeply nostalgic of many things that are ours. I was born in the north but became quite southern culturally. My mother was southern, but she married a Yorkshireman and went to live up north. I appreciate both the cosmopolitan sophistication of southerners and the down-to-earth plain talk and honesty of the north. We still have these things. The French too are different between Normandy, Brittany, Paris and area, Lyon, Marseilles and other areas. There are still the culinary traditions and local accents. In Germany too, Bavaria is a wonderful area, and I loved the countryside east of Munich and towards Austria when I went there in 1999. It occurs to me that we are made for smaller entities than our nation states or even counties or other administrative units. Some of us have moved around a lot and have been influenced by lots of different cultures, as is the case with me. Others, like the organ tuner I once worked with, was so parochial and narrow-minded in his “single-culture” in the north-east of England where they speak Geordie. We do well to put down roots somewhere, which I find very difficult.

I can understand the whole history of wanting to unite Europe like a kind of “United States” federation. There is the French-American model, and there is the Swiss model on a much smaller scale. I like the Swiss way of uniting very small states for some things like the Armed Forces, but leaving the Cantons to govern themselves in other matters. Europeanism essentially goes back to Napoleon’s imperialism, and, I suppose, our own imperialism which was not always very Christian or moral! Napoleon was a visionary even if he was something of a Hitler in an earlier era. The twentieth century brought two world wars because of alliances between certain countries. The idea of a Union to prevent war and solve all problems through diplomacy was certainly something from the early inspiration. One lesson to be learned is that you can’t legislate against perverse human nature!

What I now see fills me with foreboding. It has become a monster that eats money, our money and other people’s money. It is leading us to totalitarianism, and I hope and pray for the day when the EU will be dismantled and neutralised before it causes World War III and the destruction of us all. Certainly, I believe that the UK should get out and trade with the outside world, but I believe that all European countries should also do the same thing.

* * *

PS. I should mention that I live in France and find quite a lot of anti-EU feeling with quite a few moderate and even left-wing French people I come into contact with. If England leaves the EU, then I will have to apply for dual nationality or the old permis de séjour as I had in the 1990’s.

In any case, even if the vote of the British people is to leave the EU, the actual process will take longer than many of us expect to live. There would be sanctions and reprisals. Nobody ever leaves the KGB – one would imagine said by an actor with an exaggerated Russian accent. The whole question is probably academic anyway.

* * *

Here are two blog posts that give us no hope, but at least give us other points of view:

A question to ask is whether the whole question is trade and economics, and then whether the UK outside the EU could limit the excesses of capitalism and evils they bring on humanity. I am not inviting debate in the comment column of this blog, simply that we reflect and inform ourselves the best we can.

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9 Responses to Brexit the Movie

  1. You are aware that both Switzerland and Norway have to accept EU immigrants as part of their arrangements to trade with the EU? They also have to observe the regulations that the ‘bureaucratic’ EU imposes without having any say in those rules.

    I know you don’t like the EU, Father, and nobody says that you have to like it, but if you want to advocate leaving, you have to think seriously about how life would be better for the UK outside of it.

    • My real intuition is that the EU should be brought down entirely and redesigned ab nihilo. Perhaps you could write a comment on why the EU should continue rather than shout down those who support the Brexit movement. I’m all ears…

      • The EU for all its faults provides a free market for the trade of goods and services. It allows you or I to move from one member state to another to work or set up a business, at the same time protecting our access to healthcare. It defends our employment rights and ensures standards of health and safety in the workplace and for the consumer.

        EU competition law comes down sharply on big companies that try to gain an advantage in the market due to size.

        The EU creates a powerful negotiating block for member states that can reduce the price of energy and fuel for consumers.

        Do you really want to see those things disappear, Father?

      • When I saw the Brexit documentary, the argument was for a complete hands-off policy in regard to big business, so I am sceptical of my own Euro-scepticism. The big companies would take the place of the bureaucracy and maintain the status quo. The problem is that of the EU being unelected and unaccountable, and with the possibility of leading to totalitarianism. We have a choice between unrestrained capitalism and unrestrained state (multi-state) capitalism. Man exploits man and the other way round as Boris said to Ivan as they stopped for a discussion in Red Square about Capitalism and Communism.

        You may well be right. I don’t dismiss entirely the New World Order conspiracies. Again, I’m sceptical and don’t know which liars to believe. In the end I’m an anarchist even if I have to be “realistic”. What a bloody world!

  2. The thing is, we don’t have to make that choice. At the moment, under the EU we have restrained capitalism. Capitalism is restrained by employment laws and competition laws. Things aren’t perfect, but we don’t have the nightmare scenario that you seem to envision.

    The EU is accountable. It is led by the commission (appointed by elected governments), the council of ministers (of elected governments), and the EU parliament (directly elected). Again, it’s not perfect, but I challenge you to show me a perfect political system.

    • I’m not interested in perfect political systems and your EU seems to have it all worked out. I’ll go back to sleep because I no longer live in England – I just hold a British passport. Naturally, the vote in June will be for staying in the EU, so you have nothing to worry about.

      That is until there are really big problems on a European scale. Perhaps….

      Any other opinions?

  3. Fr. David Marriott SSC says:

    Father, Your comment, ‘However, the case is well made about the EU being a faceless bureaucracy of functionaries who are neither elected, known by the people or accountable. Unchecked, the EU has the potential of becoming a totalitarian government with no way of fighting against it like against the Nazis in 1944-45. I find that scary!’ prompts me to write that all democratic governments have ‘faceless bureaucracies’ but Britain and others have always been able to deal with them, not by anger or rioting, but with humour: even to this day ‘The Men from the Ministry’ is available on BBC Radio, as are many other comedies poking fun at our administrators, notable ‘Yes Minister’. Surely, that is a far better way of defeating incompetence, as happened in the great war of the British sausage….some years ago!

  4. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Before reading this, I ran into Damien Thompson’s 12 May Catholic Herald article, ‘Why bishops love the EU’, which I thought quite interesting with respect to some aspects of historical background and current realities and possibilities.

    I don’t know ‘The Men from the Ministry’ but delight in rewatching the ‘Yes Minister’ and ‘Yes Prime Minister’ critiques of relations between the UK and whatever the EU was called at that point (EEC? EC?).

    What might a more truly federal or confederal Europe, with not so much centralist uniformitarian inclinations look like? (And how might one get one?)

    • The Swiss system seems to work well, but would it work for bigger countries and federations? I do see nationalism as a leading cause of war in the 20th century. There needs to be something, but not such an infernal machine!

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