Matt Ridley on Brexit and Nation Building

 

shutterstock_398391760From my experience with the author, I expected Matt Ridley’s piece on Brexit to be largely about trade and economics. And while those subjects loom large in his article, the more arresting ones to me were on nationalism and what Ridley sees — correctly, I think — as the ultimate goal of the EU:

Be in no doubt that if we vote to remain on Thursday, turning the continent into a country is the path we are on. […] If the continent is not to be crucified on the cross of a currency, then it must become a country. It must have a single government that automatically transfers tax revenue from the productive to the less productive parts of the country. […] [The EU’s undemocratic diktats fly] in the face of all that we have striven for and shed blood for over centuries, especially in Britain: that laws cannot be passed and taxes cannot be raised except with the consent of the people through their elected representatives. I say again: is this worth it? What is so fearful about the world today that we feel it necessary to be absorbed into such a risky project?

Nation building is a bloody business, perhaps the bloodiest there is. We’ve seen that play out in American and European history; we’ve seen it play out in Iraq these past few years; we’ve even seen it play out in popular fantasy entertainment.

This is not to condemn nationalism: Surgery is a bloody business as well, and a very salutarory one at that. Without a geographically, culturally, and economically sound polity that thinks of itself as pieces of the same body, liberty does not long endure: either the parts turn against each other, or predatory neighbors take advantage of their weaknesses. Ben Franklin (or Richard Penn, or whomever) wasn’t joking when he said that the options before the colonies were to hang together to hang separately. The trick is forming a group truly willing to do that if circumstances demand it. Even the deepest believers in spontaneously order should concede that willingness to die for others doesn’t often happen on its own fast enough to matter.

It’s an open question whether the United Kingdom can (or, indeed, should) stay united: The English, Welsh, Scots, and Northern Irish are all very different, but also have a long and successful history as a single nation. Whether they have anything to gain from joining into a single state — as the EU almost certainly must become under its current policies — with Germans, Italians, Frenchmen, Greeks, and Finns that they cannot get through free trade and a loose military alliance is far easier question to answer.

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  1. KC Mulville Inactive
    KC Mulville
    @KCMulville

    The sticking point for me is the notion of consent of the governed.

    …[The EU’s undemocratic diktats fly] in the face of all that we have striven for and shed blood for over centuries, especially in Britain: that laws cannot be passed and taxes cannot be raised except with the consent of the people through their elected representatives.

    “Consent of the governed” is a core American principle, one we inherited from the British. And now, with the American regulatory bureaucracy moving into the same neighborhood as the EU, it seems more urgent than ever for someone to stop the principle from being totally abandoned.

    I want Brexit for entirely selfish reasons. It advocates the principle of “consent of the governed.”

    • #1
  2. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: Ben Franklin (or Richard Penn, or whomever) wasn’t joking when he said that the options before the colonies were to hang together to hang separately. The trick is forming a group truly willing to do that if circumstances demand it.

    The greatest accomplishment of the Modern Left is the destabilisation of social trust on the macro level.

    Their actions seem to be predicated on the idea that if they reduce social trust in traditional institutions and force people to defer to the state as the ultimate arbiter because people will not trust anyone beyond perhaps their immediate family. This will allow them to create a situation where they can engineer their perfect society.

    The problem is that their strategy of balkanization of the body politic into competing interest groups hasn’t led to trust in the state but in a reflexive amoral factionalism. At the moment people of one interest group favor others of those interest group above the body politic in general: conservatives associate with conservatives, liberals with liberals, blacks with other blacks, hispanics with other hispanics and, inevitably, whites with other whites.

    The ultimate destination is a failed state based on amoral familism in which nepotism is the guiding motivation of decision making. You see this in many of the various Arab states to one degree or another, apparently in the developing fascist state that is the PRC with the second generation rich children of PRC party members and heirs to the billionaires and in crime families for example.

    This is one of the reasons the EU is so pernicious to a solid society: if a Briton has the same relationship to another Briton that he has with a Pole, a German, an Italian then he doesn’t really have any relationship with other Britons at all. Better for Britain to stand on its own so its people can stand together through a common history, language and culture.

    • #2
  3. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    I’ve no doubt whatsoever that the great English kings of the past would have put David Cameron’s head on a pike near Traitor’s Gate. All of the blood spilled through the centuries so that “Britons never will be slaves”,  and a Tory… a Tory… is leading the charge to make Great Britain a province of Brussels.

    • #3
  4. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Tom,

    I have never heard Matt Ridley so eloquent. Go Go Go Brexit!!!

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #4
  5. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    KC Mulville:The sticking point for me is the notion of consent of the governed.

    …[The EU’s undemocratic diktats fly] in the face of all that we have striven for and shed blood for over centuries, especially in Britain: that laws cannot be passed and taxes cannot be raised except with the consent of the people through their elected representatives.

    “Consent of the governed” is a core American principle, one we inherited from the British. And now, with the American regulatory bureaucracy moving into the same neighborhood as the EU, it seems more urgent than ever for someone to stop the principle from being totally abandoned.

    I want Brexit for entirely selfish reasons. It advocates the principle of “consent of the governed.”

    One man, one vote, one time…or in the case of the EU, as many times as we need to get the answer we wanted.

    • #5
  6. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    We have to stop these One World people before it’s too late and we find ourselves the United Federation of Earth. That’s their goal.

    • #6
  7. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily
    @tigerlily

    Fricosis Guy:

    KC Mulville:The sticking point for me is the notion of consent of the governed.

    …[The EU’s undemocratic diktats fly] in the face of all that we have striven for and shed blood for over centuries, especially in Britain: that laws cannot be passed and taxes cannot be raised except with the consent of the people through their elected representatives.

    “Consent of the governed” is a core American principle, one we inherited from the British. And now, with the American regulatory bureaucracy moving into the same neighborhood as the EU, it seems more urgent than ever for someone to stop the principle from being totally abandoned.

    I want Brexit for entirely selfish reasons. It advocates the principle of “consent of the governed.”

    One man, one vote, one time…or in the case of the EU, as many times as we need to get the answer we wanted.

    “…as many times as we need to get the answer we wanted”. That does seem to be the way the EU operates.

    • #7
  8. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    RightAngles:We have to stop these One World people before it’s too late and we find ourselves the United Federation of Earth. That’s their goal.

    …without warp drive, to boot.

    • #8
  9. Brian Clendinen Member
    Brian Clendinen
    @BrianClendinen

    He does not go far enough. If you look at the current anti religion & speech laws on its books, its structure and the insider political maneuvering to gain more power thru any means. It is leaving a organization whose end goal is to become a communist dictatorship. Leaders of the EU have even said so.  The EU is our enemy and it will make Putin look tame in 20 years.

    • #9
  10. Charles Mark Member
    Charles Mark
    @CharlesMark

    Polls just closed. Farage says Remain will edge it.

    • #10
  11. Joe P Member
    Joe P
    @JoeP

    Charles Mark:Polls just closed. Farage says Remain will edge it.

    And he was wrong.

    • #11

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