Wednesday, 18 January 2017
Where Does British Nationalism Go From Here?
The Excellent New Blogger, Alterorbis, whose site can be found here, gives us his thoughts on Theresa May's recent Brexit speech.....
Like myself, many of us are relatively young. For those of us who came to political maturity in the late 00s, the European question has acted like an ideological kaleidoscope. Every issue has been refracted through the prism of euroscepticism; distorting some things and softening others, rather like the walls and ceiling collapsing inwards in a bad acid trip. The country had deindustrialised? Leave the EU! We have too much immigration? Leave the EU! Abu Hamza waves his hook-hand at the British taxpayer? Leave the EU! Instead of formulating plans on how to deal with our position, eurosceptics and nationalists have been able to point to the blessed day when we part the English Channel, retreat back to our island and allow to deluge to overwhelm the oncoming horde of bureaucrats, Belgian ticket-collectors and pince-nez wearing tariff-setters.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the referendum campaign was the way in which it acted as a Rorschach test. In many ways, this shouldn't be surprising. When Britain was first being inveigled into the Common Market by Edward Heath, Alan Clark recorded in his diaries meeting Dennis Skinner in the dinner queue. Skinner expressed surprise that Clark, a Tory, was against membership. Clark responded, rather abruptly, `I'd rather be governed by communists than a bunch of fucking foreigners!`. This was undoubtedly the right attitude, but membership could be opposed for any number of reasons. If you were Peter Shore or Tony Benn, the Common Market's regulations about state ownership and state aid made it impossible to subsidise your own industries, or put in place import quotas. If you were Enoch Powell, membership was an absolute affront to parliamentary sovereignty. If you were an Orcadian fisherman, your fishing grounds would be annihilated by large Spanish cruisers. If you were Ian Paisley, the Common Market was actually the prophesied Whore of Babylon spoken of in the Book of Revelation; a bestial and unholy plot by the Pope and the Jesuits to destroy the Protestant reformed faith, and a harbinger of the Antichrist's reign on earth.
Things turned out similarly this time. Daniel Hannan wanted to leave the EU so that we can have more Pakistani immigration. No lover of economic nationalism, Hannan wants to open up our markets to everyone. Never mind food security, let's buy our food from Namibia and Ghana and British farmers can go to the wall. Douglas Carswell, another prominent leaver, wants to use our leaving as a springboard for converting to a Cobdenian paradise. Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations talks about exceptions to free-trade. Any rational nation, says Smith, will maintain government control over dockyards and vital military infrastructure because to do otherwise would be `the triumph of opulence over defence`. But this is far too wet and namby-pamby for Carswell. Why do we have dockyards in this country? We should buy our ships from South Korea, they're much cheaper. Our helicopters are too expensive, let's get the Chinese to build them.
Opposed to this would be figures like Galloway, or Corbyn who secretly wanted out. They opposed the EU because it was a bosses' union, grinding the faces of the poor under austerity in southern Europe. For them, the Single Market is the mechanism by which capitalists have unimpeded access to drive down regulatory standards and impoverish local communities. So which is it? Is it a lodestone around our neck, preventing us from achieving our full potential outside of the EU? Is it a statist behemoth, a giant with feet of clay, a huge organisation designed for yesterday and out of date in the globalised world? Or is it a sinister capitalist's club through which foreign capital and rich people can screw as much money out of the working classes? Is it the source of all our woes?
One of the astonishing things about the right-wing British media is how it covers France. France is seen as a sclerotic country of welfare-scroungers. The French are too busy having orgies and drinking wine to work, they'd much rather sit on the sunlit terrace, smoking Gitanes and discussing existential philosopy unlike we hardy Anglo-Saxons. Undoubtedly, France has twice the unemployment rate that we do. But when you break things down, who is really worse off? The two countries have nearly identical GDP per capita, that is they are roughly as rich as one another. But when the figures are looked at, the French are 30% more productive! The average French worker, on a 35 hour week, is producing almost a third more economic activity than his British counterpart. Nor is this caused by Britain having a lower rate of unemployment: the Germans have a lower rate of unemployment than we do but have an identical productivity rating to the French. When we look at the balance of trade, the difference is even more stark. The French run a very slight trade deficit, but are nearly in balance, that is they practically export in value as much as they import. We on the other hand have run a chronic balance of payments deficit since the 80s. Our trade deficit has splurged in recent years, reaching almost 7% of GDP, an absolutely horrifying figure and one of the worst in the industrialised world.
Our currency has gone from $2.10 in 2007 to $1.20 today. Undoubtedly, it was too high. But in any ordinary country, devaluing your currency by almost half would cause an export boom. Germany benefits from having a devalued currency: the Euro is roughly 20% cheaper than the Deutschmark would be. But if Germany, France, the Netherlands or any wealthy northern European country devalued their currency by fifty percent, then they would experience a gigantic export boom. BMWs and Volkswagens would roll off the assembly lines like hotcakes; German commercial agents would use the advantage to drive out their rivals from export markets. But despite this supposed advantage, our trade deficit has actually got worse. Why is this?
The reason behind this is that we have destroyed so much of our industry, that we have very little to export left. A great deal of our wealth comes from our financial sector acting as a sucking system for foreign capital. We actively encourage foreign companies to buy our infrastructure, as opposed to France, which refused to allow foreign capital to buy Danone, a vital yoghurt company! This brings huge amounts of money into the country, which bolsters the value of the pound, allowing us to import Germans cars and Chinese machinery. But this is the economic model of a third-world country. Once you sell off your vital assets, or large parts of your economy, you have very little control over how those companies function. Foreign investment funds, efficient as they may be, have no sentimental attachment to this country. A lesson on this can be seen in the asset stripping of Cadbury, which now makes its chocolate in Poland. This government has privatised Royal Mail. We have just sold off the National Grid to foreign hedge-funds. We have sold off the family silver and now find ourselves in the position of someone who is tearing out the bathroom-fittings, or ripping out the kitchen pipes to sell to itinerant gypsies at a dodgy car-boot sale.
We have to accept that the European Union has not destroyed our educational system, or created generation after generation of sub-literate and innumerate children. The European Union did not close down the coalmines, or wipe out our steelworks, or our light industry. Our own government refused to put transitional controls on Polish migration, unlike nearly every other country in Europe, thus meaning that we took the brunt of eastern European migration for 10 years. The European Union is not an effective agent of cultural marxism, or countries like Poland and Hungary would not be able to take very nationalistic positions on immigration or homosexuality. Our membership of the European Union is fundamentally a symptom of our decline, not a cause.
Theresa May's speech on Brexit today was horrifying. She made the threat that if we underwent economic retaliation for leaving the EU, she would change our economic model. In reality, this means deregulation of safety standards, more part-time and unstable work, more shelf-stackers, more salon-tanning booths, more hand carwashes and unproductive, low-wage work so that we can compete with the Vietnamese and the Bangladeshis as low-paid supplicants for foreign capital. Genuinely reforming our economy and regaining our manufacturing industries would require a long period of relative hardship, which nobody seems prepared for.
Our membership of the European Union was a long-running sore, frequently breaking out into blisters. But now that we've lanced the boils, are we prepared for what happens next? It is entirely possible with immigration slowing down to relatively small numbers that people's immediate sense of the threat vanishes. Even as we are ethnically replaced, people will be able to point to strict border controls, temporary visas for fruit pickers and hard-backed blue passports as evidence that we've `taken back control`. We can no longer point to the golden time in the future when we can sort out all of our problems. The future is here and time waits for no man. We have to take our arguments directly to the people, rather than create future utopias. Unless we put forward the nationalist perspective, then the energy from Brexit will be coopted by shysters like Hannan and within 20 years we will be gloriously independent, and we will have gloriously lost.