Carl Sagan once observed “If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge – even to ourselves – that we’ve been so credulous.”
Most of the harmful effects of EU rule on UK and European prosperity go unrecognised by the average EU supporter who is ignorant of sound economic theory. But if EU lawmakers enact their proposed copyright directives (the chillingly entitled ‘Article 13’) and stamp down a government boot on the face of free speech/creative expression on the Internet, then this effect of EU rule will be impossible to ignore.
Those who voted for the UK to remain in the EU (Remain-ers) seem set to be faced with the hideous spectacle of the institution they believe to be a force for social good debasing and defiling something they love – the Internet. And debased it will be. Article 13 would effectively compel ISPs and Internet giants like Google and Facebook to become Internet content censors. For years liberals have fretted that private enterprises would engage in web censorship, but, ironically, the first (and only) to do it will be an institution that seemingly exists to protect us from the evils of capitalism – their beloved EU. And on a much larger scale.
Remain-ers will have to acknowledge their credulity towards the EU. It won’t be easy. It’ll be difficult for Remain-ers to admit they’ve been bamboozled by the idea that institutionalised coercion on a continental scale is a force for social good.
Some won’t find the intellectual courage to admit they were wrong about the EU. There’ll be some, perhaps many, Remain-ers who, finding it too painful to acknowledge the bamboozle, will close their eyes to the evidence and cling to the EU that exists and operates only in their imagination. The unicorn one that poops prosperity, freedom, equality, birds and sunshine.
Today, free movement of goods and people across European borders is indeed dependent upon EU rule. But this isn’t because peaceful, complex and highly organised trade across European borders can’t happen without being planned by a centralised coercive authority. It’s because Europe’s rulers made it that way. There’s nothing written in the firmament that says it must be this way.
At the core of the whole EU concept is a corrupted version of the political ideal of equality. The classically liberal concept of equality means equality of opportunity, but the corrupted modern liberal version means equality of outcome. The former is the ideal of equalising everyone’s legal status, an achievable and noble goal, but the latter seeks to equalise everyone’s economic status, an impossible and ignoble goal.
This is why there are so many thousands of EU regulations. Every one is an attempt to create by force a level economic playing field across European borders in regards to the production of some specific good. But forcing different cultures to produce goods according to a single EU-approved blueprint doesn’t and can’t benefit everyone. It only benefits some at the direct expense of others, those who successfully lobby EU lawmakers, by bestowing unjust economic privileges upon them.
The only universal effect of the EU system of economic dictatorship is that it makes everyone resentful of the fact that ‘some foreigners’ are dictating to them how they should run their business. The EU didn’t cause Europe’s economic stagnation, but its suffocating presence is making growth harder to come by than it otherwise would be if the EU didn’t exist as one giant, irritating cost and headache to producers across Europe.
Deal or No-Deal, market society will keep calm and carry on
Three years ago, MPs voted in favour of holding a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. Given that most MPs then and now are pro-European Union, this seems a foolish thing to do from their perspective. Why would the UK’s political class give voters the chance to drive a juggernaut through the UK’s carefully manicured political landscape?
Perhaps hubris and egotism, typical character flaws of people in power, were their downfall. Perhaps they were so convinced they knew exactly how the commoners felt about the EU that they never imagined anything but a resounding victory for ‘remain’. They saw the referendum as a public relation’s exercise; an opportunity to loudly reaffirm the nation’s love of the EU and shut-up the naysayers once and for all.
How wrong they were. It turns out they didn’t know how the people felt towards the EU; they greatly underestimated how many people were irked by the idea of having their lives planned by faceless and unaccountable lawmakers in foreign lands. Politicians never realise how out of touch with the people and with the world they actually are. They always imagine they know exactly what’s happening, like society is a mere extension of their own minds.
How they must wish they could turn back time, but they can’t. What they can do, however, and indeed what they have been doing for the past two years is desperately trying to find a way to ‘leave’ the EU without actually leaving the EU. That’s why it’s taking so long. Evading the truth at a professional, political level is a complex business. It takes time to construct a giant labyrinth of legal back doors. Although their efforts may be in vain if the EU’s power elite decide to make an example of them and refuse any deal the UK government proposes, regardless of how generous it is in terms of concessions of soverign powers and other bribes.
It’s telling that the Mayor of London and many other democratically elected politicians are still openly calling for what would clearly be undemocratic government action – a ‘do-over’ referendum. We’re beginning to see how democratic government could silently morph into authoritarianism over the coming decades in the UK.
It starts with nearly half the population agreeing with authoritarian/elitist politicians and intellectuals who say the common man is morally and intellectually unfit to govern society; they say that if ignorant and xenophobic commoners have the power to make big decisions about our nation then this poses an existential threat to good society. And they all propose the same ‘common sense’ solution of granting veto powers to a group of democratically elected ‘experts’ so they can democratically overrule the people – and thus avert economic/social disaster when the people make foolish decisions in referendums.
The British public mind is in a vulnerable state. One half of the nation is imagining what an enormous relief it would be and what peace of mind it would bring to hand over responsibility for steering the nation’s course to a small group of liberal ‘experts’. And to take that power away from the common man (i.e. anyone outside of London) who, to Guardian readers at least, has clearly shown himself to be easily manipulated, xenophobic and unenlightened.
The dark siren call of minority rule by an intellectual elite is drifting across the British political landscape, but the danger is that much of the public mind is hearing something totally different: a bright bugle call for a new and improved democracy being blown by a figure wrapped in an EU flag.
Regardless of whether the EU’s power elite agree to throw the UK’s power elite a bone or else decide to make an example of them by kicking them out for real, society will go on. The UK economy will keep breathing through the loopholes left by government economic controls and the people will continue enriching each other’s lives through trade.
Contrary to the panicky claims by liberals in the media and in parliament, the sky won’t fall in if/when the UK secedes from EU rule. In the same way that without the sun there could be no life on Earth, many Remain-ers seem to believe that without EU rule there can be no good society. A sorry mindset of delusion about and psychological dependency on state authority.
And then there’s the delusions of MPs. People in government still imagine they can control and plan society, but 21st-century capitalism is a force too large and well established for even the most Orwellian and economically authoritarian government to paralyse completely.
For most of human history, this wasn’t the case – many people’s very survival often depended on the actions of those who ruled over them. So our power, as 21st-century humans, to sustain and enrich ourselves, despite hefty blows from state-sanctioned plunder, is certainly something to be grateful for and at least one cause for optimism about the future. As long as we desire to keep this power and resist the urge to relinquish it to governments, the torch of human progress should avoid being snuffed out by statism and keep burning bright.