The idea behind the politico-economic union known as the European Union (EU) was to enable free movement of people, goods and capital between European nations to increase prosperity, and in the hope of preventing war breaking out ever again. (Although the EU, like all coercive Authorities in history, has now crept far beyond its original mission and is now dictating many aspects of the economic lives of half a billion Europeans across 28 nations – according to the plans in the minds of the current members of the European Commission/Parliament and “global experts”).
Laudable end, damnable means
Everyone should want free movement of people, goods and capital because it serves to maximise peace and prosperity for Europeans, but there is only one way to manifest this state – shrinking governments’ control over people – not creating another layer of government to crush society under in the form of a Higher Authority to shape nations according to the will of a few.
Instead of allowing a free and harmonious European market economy to emerge spontaneously by scrapping internal restrictions on the movement of people, goods and capital across borders, Europe’s political leaders attempted to design and engineer greater freedom and prosperity by government decree; by replacing a patchwork of different sets of restrictions with one giant blanket of restrictions (EU Directives) to throw over much of Europe. Or, to put it another way, it’s like they took half a billion people out of lots of little fish bowls and put them into one giant one. (Europeans can ‘swim’ further but EU rule is a poison pouring into the single body of water they all now occupy).
The problem, as Europe’s political class and mainstream economists/intellectuals saw it, was not that there were sets of laws restricting the movement of people, goods and capital across borders, but that these sets of laws were not harmonious and were prone to change. From this misdiagnosis the solution seemed obvious: a single set of directives to regulate the governments that regulate the economic exchanges of Europeans, enforced by a single Authority.
One Authority to rule them all
By this logic, the more centralised is the power over the economic lives of a greater number of people the better off we all are. In short, the more people ruled by a single Authority the better. And that can only mean the drive towards a world government. One group of people to rule over every single human being on Earth. That’s a recipe for human impoverishment or at the very least stagnation of the average standard of living on a global scale and if it ever happened it would reverse the effects of the global spread of capitalism. For humanity this would be nothing short of a tragedy.
Needless to say, the idea of super-sizing the State is regressive thinking, which threatens to reverse two thousand years of human progress. It takes us back to an age when individuals, such as Pharaohs and Kings who in themselves were The State, controlled (or rather tried to control) every aspect of the lives of vast numbers of people. The common man of the Old World tolerated this for a very long time because he believed he could be and needed to be controlled to fulfil his role in society as assigned to him by a God or the Gods.
Do we believe that the members of the European Commission and Parliament are some kind of Higher Beings who have some special power to know what the purpose of our lives should be (even when we don’t ourselves) and thus what is best for us at any given moment? Because they certainly do.
The harm of EU rule is inescapable
Before the founding of the EU there was variation and therefore competition between European nations in terms of rules governing the movement of people, goods and capital across their borders, because governments were free to make their own laws. Some were better, some were worse.
The more liberal ones (such as Britain) attracted more people and facilitated more wealth creation, and thus became more prosperous. Which had the effect of incentivizing the less liberal nations to adopt more liberal policies on trade and movement of people across their borders, which in turn raised the standard of living for more people.
But in a European economy under the ‘management’ or ‘direction’ of a European Commission and Parliament there is now no such competition because governments of European nations have little or no power to determine their own policies in terms of the movement of people, goods and capital across their borders.
The EU, as a single Authority, has a monopoly on creating rules governing the movement of people, goods and capital across territories. Until now the EU’s Authority has been relatively liberal, but the number of directives only ever continues to rise and so eventually its controlling power will be so inhibiting that it will lower and constrict the standard of living for hundreds of millions of people. The collective weight of countless directives preventing the average European from raising his standard of living much or at all.
Interventionism: the angel that failed
Interventionist governance has never made any one nation of people in Europe more prosperous in the long-term, so it will never do so for half a billion people across many nations. Europe’s continuing economic stagnation only serves as further evidence of this fact. In the same way that interventionism on a national scale only ever increases as governments (Left and Right-wing) vainly attempt to solve the problems caused by previous interventions with more interventions, the EU’s continental-scale interventionism will only continue to increase as it responds likewise.
It’s time to end the grand experiment in super-statism
The UK and every other member state should exit the EU and nullify its authority. The EU isn’t broken. It never worked. This giant, misguided experiment in supranational interventionism and super-statism conducted on half a billion people must, one way or another, come to end sooner or later. The EU needs exiting and dissolving quickly. If this doesn’t happen, then its Authority and its worthless currency could easily collapse economies and plunge societies into mass civil unrest. That, combined with the European migrant crisis, could create the conditions for conflict and war in Europe. That nightmarish and utterly destructive outcome so many politicians felt sure the European Union would prevent.
Perhaps the shocking spectacle of the giant edifice of the EU crashing down around us will leave many of us in little doubt about what the next grand experiment should be: genuine economic freedom (not faux freedom under a super-state). That is, the absence of any laws prohibiting or dictating the movement of people, goods and capital across European territories; realised as the natural consequence of the expansion of individual economic freedoms, not temporarily simulated by permission of a new layer of Authority.
The absence of any government restrictions on the movement of people, goods and capital in Europe must be accepted as the future political ideal by the majority of the public for the European economy to start growing again.
That requires a somewhat seismic shift in the average person’s mindset, it’s true. But although that hasn’t happened often in the history of human civilisation, the rapid progress humanity has made over the last few centuries alone reminds us that it isn’t unprecedented and might just be becoming a more frequent occurrence. And that, I suggest, is why hope and even optimism isn’t entirely misplaced.