107 thoughts on “Brexit

  1. @Nicholas

    I am not so sure – what sort of economics will a Boris and a Farage produce?

    Presumably they will get support from a large section of the British Tories based on National independence and even the right of the Brit Labour party.

    Farage and Boris could make things worse.

  2. I’ve just read Paul Krugman’s latest post, and I’m not going to register with his NYT blog hence I can’t comment there. So I will here (and praise be to ProfQ for his ‘liberal’ commenter permission !).

    Krugman says (inter alia): “…blame .. Britain’s tabloids, who fed the public a steady diet of lies. ”

    Hmmm. If people are still so easily taken in after all this time by “a steady diet of lies”, shouldn’t we actually blame the people for being so gormlessly gullible ? Or just plain carelessly ignorant and maybe a little stupid ?

    The same goes for Australia too, of course.

  3. Those who don’t want to see a Brexit (which group obviously does not include me) need not give up hope yet. A Brexit is not inevitable even now. The losers want to change the rules, predictably enough.


    This movement might yet gather steam. In one sense, I can understand where they are coming from. An entry to or an exit from the EU, and especially the EMU, is a momentous change for any country. It would not be unreasonable to stipulate a need for a 2/3 majority referendum for a country to change their situation by entering or leaving. However, that ought to be stipulated up front before any referendum and failing referendums should be required to languish for a set period. Referendums on non-constitutional matters are non-binding on the government of the day unless the constitution expressly mandates such referendums as binding. The UK of course has no constitution which complicates the matter further. The Continent’s demand for a quick exit, coupled with alarmist and even combative rhetoric implying a retribution aspect, might be a bluff. They just might be hoping to break the UK’s nerve and get them to stay via some expedient or other.

    The situation is non-ideal. Both events, “leave” or “remain”, have serious downsides which vary nation to nation, class to class, party to party, person to person. This to me is somewhat diagnostic of neoliberalism which continually hands workers dilemmas of this kind, “You can lose this way or you can lose that way. Take your pick.” Meanwhile, many of the 1% can win out of either scenario.

  4. Correction for above: “the UK has no written constitution”.

    “From a comparative perspective, we have what is known as an ‘unwritten constitution’, although some prefer to describe it as ‘uncodified’ on the basis that many of our laws of a constitutional nature are in fact written down in Acts of Parliament or law reports of court judgments.” – Robert Blackburn.

  5. As has been pointed out in many places in the above discussion the underlying cause was not tribalism but economics. The demographics show this up very clearly. The losers under the neo-liberal orthodoxy (and its bastard child, globalism), when freed from the tribalism of the political duopoly, in the majority voted out.

    Was that a smart move? As Ivor points out, the disaffected have no effective leadership, and the vacuum has been filled by political opportunists, Johnson & Farage in the UK, Trump in the US. Corbyn and Sanders offer some alternative, but as yet perhaps not a coherent alternative.

    The media are to a large extent a contributor to opportunism. The tabloids construct a narrative that dismisses real economic duress for the many under the current orthodoxy, possibly because as winners under the current regime they literally do not comprehend the issues. Instead they demean and incite with their divisive use of the other, as in immigrants, welfare recipients, and any group without standing to defend itself (which, by definition, excludes the rich).

    Unfortunately, Brexit is unlikely to change any of the underlying causes of itself, so the UK is set for more dislocation before a renewal can be effected. From an Australian point of view, I can only hope that the lessons from this upheaval can be learnt here without having to descend to the same depths.

  6. I’m not sure if the Brexit takes the foot off the brake or puts the foot on the brake for the UK’s gradual slide into global irrelevance.

  7. So this is Krugman:

    A number of people deserve vast condemnation here, from David Cameron, who may go down in history as the man who risked wrecking Europe and his own nation for the sake of a momentary political advantage, to the seriously evil editors of Britain’s tabloids, who fed the public a steady diet of lies.

    Unfortuately it is our institutionalised Keynesians who deserve “vast condemnation”.

    They will go down in history as the men and women who risked wrecking society for the sake of artificially maintaining countervailing tendencies to protect capitalist profits.

    They are the “seriously evil” spin doctors who provided a steady diet of lies.

    They promised growth but produced stagnation.

    They promised wealth but produced poverty.

    They promised jobs but produced zero-hour contracts.

    They promised houses but produced street-people and food stamp ghettos.

    They promised that trade would lift all boats – it destroyed half of Europe.

    They promised their price on carbon would reduce greenhouse effect – it didn’t.

    Maybe Krugman has finally learnt that 1 + 1 does not equal 3.

  8. In the meantime I learned there is not only a sharp geographical divide in the Remain vs Brexit votes but also among age groups. The young (16 to 24) voted overwhelmingly (close to 70%) for Remain. The next age bracket(s) combined into a 25 to 49 age bracket, voted close to 50% for Remain. Only those who don’t have all that long to live with the consequences voted overwhelmingly for Brexit.

    It seems Ikonoclast has a point when he writes: History makes fools of us all.

  9. The divide is not so much geographical but wealth related;

    The Remain was clustered in the South East with a y=shaped extensions into both Oxford/Cotswolds on the west and Cambridge on the East.


    Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds were hotspots for the Remain in the North. These have been the recipients of northern development policies.

    You cannot use the youth vote because they did not turnout to the same extent as the rest of the population. So their sample would be the least representative.

  10. Quote: The page, set up by William Oliver Healey, reads: “We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the Remain or Leave vote is less than 60% based on a turnout less than 75%, there should be another referendum.” End of Quote

    The petition has already been signed by 200,000 people. [Source: the guardian]

    It is a bit late, it seems, to now think about voting rules in a democracy to distinguish between electing a government for a few years (ie simple majority) and a popular vote on an institutional change that is either permanent or lasts for a very long time.

    From what I can gather, Boris Johnson’s immediate response to the outcome was to stall the ratification in Parliament – not only by three months as is implied by Cameron’s time of departure. It seems to me, Boris Johnson will need his bicycle for backpeddling on a number of claims.

  11. After all this time blaming the EU for their woes, the promoters of exit can and will blame everything that doesn’t go well in the lead up to and after the exit on the EU!

  12. All very interesting. Yet someone has been winning the propaganda ‘war’ since1900… press council has no teeth… why…
    wikipedia.org wiki Daily_Express …” If Winston Churchill was Britain’s bulldog, then Lord Beaverbrook’s Daily Express andSunday Express were surely his bark. His papers were always bright, lively, and fiercely patriotic, and Beaverbrook had no qualms in telling a Royal Commission on the Press that he used them “purely for the purpose of making propaganda”
    … you may all pontificate, reference, agree or not, most seemed to have missed the boat.
    It seems porn, money and rogues beat all the history and evidence you’ve provided here.
    Rogue: a dishonest or unprincipled person. Something’s crook! in tallarook.
    I love this blog by the way John.

  13. Peter Chapman has got it right.

    Globalisation has failed for a reason. It was implemented without the necessary high tax rates (rent taxes) on the wealthy. Taxing the wealthy on their unearned income, gives them an incentive to pay their workers fairly. If they don’t the government can redistribute the profits from the taxes collected.

    That way you don’t get the angry masses voting against their own best interests.

  14. I hope people feel this post is at least tangentially related to Brexit. I want to point to a short article which I think provides an excellent overview of macroeconomics.

    Keynes, Steindl, and the Critique of Austerity Economics – by Nina Shapiro.


    Its topics are listed as : Economic Theory, Global Economic Crisis , Political Economy and Stagnation. However, it also deals centrally with issues involving “the fallacy of composition” and the economy as an interconnected feedback system (complex system). It does this even though phrases such as “fallacy of composition” and “complex system” appear nowhere in the article. The article does not take a specifically Marxist stance despite the fact that it appears in the socialist Monthly Review.

    Indeed, the article presents a basic overview of macroeconomics under capitalism or under the mixed economy (pick your preferred term) which Keynesians, Marxians and even MMT proponents would all be equally comfortable with, in my view. Only followers of the neoclassical synthesis would reject its position. This illustrates, I think, that Keynesians, Marxians and MMT proponents all essentially understand capitalist mixed economy macroeconomics in basically the same way. There is no fundamental disagreement so far as I can see within the bounds of macroeconomics concerning our really existing economy. Disagreements occur elsewhere, in “political economy” (which is more than just macroeconomics) and in moral philosophy. But that would be another long post under quite another topic header.

    What is the relation to Brexit? It is this I think. We need to overcome the fascination with the crisis of the day or even the crisis of the year or the decade. We need to think more deeply; both historically and systemically to discover the fundamental reasons for the recurring long-term patterns and crises in our extant economic system. Because some are not doing this they are misinterpreting the Brexit issue IMO.

    A key point going along with this is that if nationalist democracy is the only kind of democracy going around (and that largely is still the case) then the Left must support nationalist democracy for the time being (at the price of charges of chauvinism and xenophobia from others of the moderate left and centre). If the Left does not do this, it cedes its only institutional democratic arena to right wing populists and demagogues to use and abuse without any serious contest. This last because the soft left or centre are unduly influenced by at least some neocon ideology and tactics in economics, if not in the issues of human rights and culture.

  15. Pr Q said:

    Brexit…A big win for tribalism.

    The present commenter, who is conservative social democrat and not a “tribalist”, was a small winner out of Brexit*.

    Brexit is a vindication of the Alt-Rights critique of the post-modern liberal Establishment attempt to dismantle traditional nationalism and replace it with “multicultural” regional/global administrations. As one of the early members (2001) of Steve Sailers HB-D discussion group I take some intellectual pleasure in this vindication. Although as an EU citizen I am saddened by its disintegration.

    By the middle aughties it was clear to me that the EU swing to the Cultural Right was based on a solid underlying shift in public preference towards traditional national self-governance. Not a flash in the pan result of “dog whistling”, “wedge politic”, “moral panic”, “scapegoating”, “scare campaign” or any other of the Cultural Lefts litany of lame excuses.

    Back in MAY 2008 I drew attention to this this massive conservative swing, which seemed to be flying under the Ozblogistan pundit radar:

    The Centre-Right parties now hold national office in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Austria, France and Italy. I make that a clean sweep for the Centre-Right in all of the USE’s Big Four. These parties have swept to power in pretty much all the main USE states over the past few years, generally running on conservative populism.

    That makes about 3/4 of the USE’s population listing to starboard.

    And I will wager that the Tories will win the next [2010] UK election. The defeat of Livingstone is significant since he is a strong candidate, obviously a capable manager and electoral contestant. Bo-Jo, by comparison, appears to be an affable light-weight. So the swing to the Right was probably based on policy rather than personality.

    This is exactly as my “Decline of the Wets” theory predicts. The Cultural Left is on the nose with the general populace in most OECD countries. Most notably in Old Europe where cultural policy has been mishandled by Brussels-insulated elites.

    If party politics is now reflecting the underlying secular change that I predicted almost a decade ago then the European Centre-Left will be given a stark choice: lose your loonie liberalism that indulges special interest groups or lose political power needed to make good public policy.

    Well the European Centre-Left did not loose its “loonie liberalism”. Quite the opposite, it was joined by the Centre-Right – Merkels Million Man Middle Eastern Muddle – in doubling down on the open borders multicultural madness. With the predictable result that the EU Establishment has now “lost political power”.

    The only way the EU can survive over the long term is if it is based on a recognition of the fundamental importance of the traditional cultural identity of its constituent nations:

    – Caucasian race,
    – Christian religion and
    – Constitutional ruler.

    i.e. you can only enjoy your socialist economics & liberal ethics if you get your Darwin/Durkheim/Bagehot conservative ethnicity sorted out. As Faulkner said: “The past is not dead, it’s not even past.” Putin, for all his faults, gets this. I predict that CIS will demonstrate more political unity than the EU.

    But post-modern liberal elites, whose opinion of their “chav” populace does neither them or their electoral prospects any credit, don’t want to be told. We don’t call them “knee-jerk” for nothing.

    The electoral scoreboard is clear. My question to liberals of all parties is: what have you learned from this “teachable moment”?

    * Betfair Brexit
    Back: In favour of leaving EU (matched)
    For $100.00 @ 3.15 Profit $215.00
    Bet id: 69758348168
    Bet Placed: 12-Jun-16 14:03 GMT

  16. @Jack Strocchi


    The only way the EU can survive over the long term is if it is based on a recognition of the fundamental importance of the traditional cultural identity of its constituent nations:

    – Caucasian race,
    – Christian religion and
    – Constitutional ruler.

    You obviously do not know what Caucasian means, you don’t know much about the Christians and no-one wants a Constitutional ruler, thank you very much.

    Enjoy your betting but remember, the workers were never asked if they wanted to bet their jobs and conditions for the sake of giving British capitalists a hand up and a hand out.

  17. The better part of Europe has been populated by the Caucasian race, observing the Christian religion and ruled by Constitutional regents for much of the past millennia. All I am saying is that perhaps we can learn from our ancestors before blundering into a continental-building project armed with nothing more than the conventional liberal pieties.

    As my mother used to say: you won’t be told, will you?

  18. @Jack Strocchi

    Europe observing the Christian dogmas and ruled by monarch of all kinds was nothing but a field of war, bloodbaths, serfdom, Inquisition, and slavery. The rack, the wheel, the stake and the guillotine were all emblems of European “past millennia”.

    Life in Europe was nasty, brutish and short.

    Europe, at every stage of history until they chopped of the heads of Charles I and Louis XVI, was a violent, oppressive totalitarian-ridden continent, that no-one should learn from.

    From that point the Europeans spread out and desecrated the rest of the profitable world using opium when possible but usually just musquets and cannon and microbes.

    Good bye to all that.

  19. Jack Strocchi, your ‘caucasian race’ criterion is sufficient for Boris Johnson to to feel save (great grandfather was Turkish, executed by Ataturk) but it raises the question why you have a problem with Merkel’s humanitarian policy on refugees.

    1 (or 2 if you like) out of 85 million isn’t really the ‘larger part’, is it Jack Strocchi?

    Wasn’t there one or several wars over shorter and longer periods between Protestants and Roman Catholics Christians, Jack Strocchi, at various places populated by your caucasian race and led by constitutional rulers? And, Strocchi, aren’t the caucasian refugees fleeing from caucasian rulers?

    Talking about muddles.

  20. Suppose the Ireland decides to have Goidelic as its official language. With the completion of the UK leaving the EU and assuming Scotland either remains in the UK or separates and decides to have Scottish Gaelic as its official language then the EU would have no obligation to continue publishing all its communications in English. I wonder whether this would make any difference to the opinions held about the EU.

  21. @Ikonoclast
    Brexit is not a strike against neoliberalism. It will mean more neoliberalism for Britain, as the Tories (and probably Labour after them) will just heap more and more austerity upon the poor with no Euro subsidies to soften the pain. Farage has already put a lie to the Leave campaign’s promise to reinvest in the NHS. Brexit sharpens the knives for the ruling neoliberal clique in British political elites to gut the welfare state.

  22. @Ivor

    As is your wont, you’ve written an impossibly long list of incorrect things in this thread, and I’ll correct just one of them.

    “British leftwing and rightwing workers have moved to defend their own interests against the designs of capitalist politicians, academics and journalists.”

    The exit polling indicates that most workers wanted to remain—as, rather emphatically, did students. It was the pensioners who wanted out. The exit polling also indicates that those who view capitalism purely as a good thing were, if anything [1], more likely to vote to leave—hardly a surprise given that the referendum was a product of the Tory hard right and the far right which, if successful, would obviously empower them. Left-wing voters in the UK certainly understood this—pre-referendum polling indicates that the support for remaining in the EU from voters describing themselves as “very left wing” and “fairly left wing” was very strong. Why so many commenters here can’t see Brexit as the disaster for left-wing aspirations that it is I find quite remarkable.


    [1] By my calculations, the difference from 50 per cent is less than the margin of error (95 per cent confidence interval).

  23. Authoritarianism and Brexit:


    “The Leave campaign’s stunning upset has barely sunk in and already the pundits are flogging a familiar storyline. Those ‘left behind’ in the hard-luck provinces have punched privileged, corporate London in the nose.

    “The facts tell a different story: culture and personality, not material circumstances, separate Leave and Remain voters. This is not a class conflict so much as a values divide that cuts across lines of age, income, education and even party.”

    It’s an argument that certainly makes sense in terms of the exit poll results I linked to above. A dislike of multiculturalism, immigration, social liberalism, feminism and the green movement are stronger predictors of support for Brexit than old age or low socio-economic status or lack of education.

  24. @Luke Elford

    I find it amazing that people are trying to push weird polls as if they were more representative than the actual ballot.

    British polls are false and just generate partisan noise.

    The so-called poll you linked to was one of the worst offenders – it was not a properly constructed statistical sample but “online field work”. You have been misled.

    These gimmicks are part of the problem

    However most trade unions organisations supported Remain. They now have a serious problem.

    Some pensioners supported Leave, some supported Remain. These people have had years of experience from entering the Common Market and the destruction of British manufacturing.

  25. @Luke Elford

    Stating that particular groups tend to vote Remain or Leave does not address the merits of each actual case. Analysis of such groupings is an interesting after-the-fact exercise and has its own lessons and insights for the arts of public persuasion and the social sciences like sociology and psychology. However, it is not an analysis of political economy nor contemporary movements in it like neoliberalism. It is not an analysis of the merits and demerits of the EU and the EMU. If we don’t analyse the system in terms of political economy we will not gain any understanding of what really is at stake.

    The EU started as a capitalist and corporate construct. State involvement was largely of a state capitalist nature which is not the same thing as social democracy or socialism. The EU was not and is not a democratic construct. In addition, it has now been captured by the neoliberal program and remade as a neoliberal construct. Its democratic deficit is severe. It’s understanding or its rather lack of understand of macroeconomics is deplorable. It’s arrogance and disdain for poor and unemployed people, especially in peripheral EU countries like Greece, is boundless. it’s macroeconomics in practice has led to a “dismal” performance. That is Joseph Stiglitz’s descriptor.

  26. @Luke Elford

    I am stunned that people would spread Fabian tales so carefully constructed to deliberately only present the views of

    … restricted to White British respondents, …

    to show

    ‘Surprise’, ‘surprise’ ….

    … shows almost no statistically significant difference in EU vote intention between rich and poor.

    You could pull the same trick in America. Just poll white Americans and declare only a trivial minority are poor and need food stamps.

    Why did you delete the information on the Fabian sample? ? ?

  27. @Historyintime

    To the best of my knowledge, there is no ‘dominant’ official language in the EU. The EU publishes all its communications in the language of each member state. In 2014 there were 23 official languages (dialects are ignored. Hence Ireland’s language is English and Austria’s language is German, etc) I am not aware of there being another rule.

    If you like, you may practice or refresh a second or third or fourth European language you may have studied privately by reading the same news or official documents in EU publications. eghttp://hu.euronews.com/news/web/ (I arbitrarily preselected Hungarian for you.)

    My best guess is that the Irish would be persuaded to retain English as their official language. It is not only the people and their politicians of ‘smaller’ countries who are interested in keeping English as one of the EU’s languages. It was the late H. Schmidt, former German Chancellor, who argued for adopting English as the common language of the EU. He was Chancellor during the period 1974-82. The number of member countries, ‘small’ and ‘big’ in terms of population, has increased a lot since then.

  28. Enrico Tortelano gets it right.

    “It’s being argued that the EU underpins our rights and that if we leave Britain we will become prey to a Conservative government free to attack workers in ever more aggressive ways. These fears are not justified. It is not the EU that protects our rights; the EU is their greatest threat.

    We have rights because trade unions and the labour movement fought for them. The struggles for improved workers’ rights in Britain were long and hard and led to many advances here before similar rights were secured in other countries. Our rights were not given by a right-wing EU, but by our determination to fight for them and our ability to channel this action into laws through our parliament.

    The right to vote has always posed a threat to organised capital, especially since the second world war when reform of the economy in the interests of working people began to be realised. Today the EU has become the means by which people are once again segregated and marginalised from those in power. As EU laws become more distant from democratic control, they inevitably act against the interests of working people and in favour of large corporations and corporate finance.

    The lack of transparency and the complexity of law making have allowed the powerful business lobby to shape the EU’s agenda in its interests. The secretive TTIP deal is a perfect example of how remote and elitist the EU really is.

    As a result, the EU is eroding workers’ rights across the continent. Two rulings by the European court of justice (ECJ) make the point. In both the Viking Line and Laval cases, the ECJ created new restrictions on industrial action and required these to be recognised in UK courts. In short, they ruled that employers’ rights always trump workers’ rights.

    The recent fiscal waterboarding of Greece by the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund brilliantly illustrated the new limits of national democratic power in the eurozone. These neoliberal policies are part of an austerity agenda intent on cutting public pensions, applying downward pressure on wages, privatising public services and removing the safety net of benefits right across the EU.

    The EU has no regard for our most fundamental right either – the right to work. EU reforms have devastated employment on a staggering scale. More than 21 million people are unemployed in the EU today. According to Eurostat, the average rate of unemployment among under-25s across the eurozone is 21%. In Spain the figure is 45% and in Greece it is 51%.

    There is no democratic governance, only management of austerity measures and of repression by unelected commissioners and financiers. The treaties have ensured reform remains an illusion. That is why now is the time to leave the EU.” – Enrico Tortelano.

    Expressions of astonishment at dissenting views seem to be de rigueur in this thread so I feel I must express my astonishment in turn. I am astonished that those who claim to be “left” or social democratic don’t understand the clear and obvious case against EU neoliberalism. Neoliberalism has run an incredibly effective and persuasive propaganda machine. Tentacles of neoliberal ideology have now penetrated deep into the minds of many of the centre and “moderate left” and seriously distorted their picture of political economy and social democracy.

    The fact that the EU supports the TTIP ought to ring major alarm bells in the minds of centrist and “soft left” social democrats. The fact that it doesn’t is testament to their completely confused and incoherent thinking on this issue.

  29. @Ernestine Gross

    No. I travelled though the UK, Europe, the EU and Russia in 1991 for six months but I did not work there. This still qualifies as a “no” to your question of course. How could I afford this? But that time I was part the “aristocracy of labour” in the West but I had done my hard yards over many, many years.

    In turn I ask you.

    1. Have you ever lived as an unemployed young person under 25 years in the EU in the last two decades?

    2. Have you ever been unemployed in Australia and a worker in the mining and extractive industries and in the building industries and in a fibro factory covered in fibro dust (asbestos) and for a cleaning contractor and in a bank and in a Federal Government Department? I have experienced all these over the entirety of my working life. I have experienced low wages, highly unsafe working conditions and capitalist exploitation. In other words I have been a real worker. I know what I am talking about. I have been down in the belly of the beast. In addition, I self-educated in political economy and obtained a B.A. in Humanities (a fairly soft qualification in intellectual terms, I admit.) I don’t take kindly to suggestions (if they are being made) that I don’t know what I am talking about. I have the theory AND the praxis.

    It’s alright so far is it goes for liberal, university intellectuals and secure, white collar liberal professionals to opine about these matters but I hope over their entire life span they have some real experience down in some kind of pit. Otherwise it is theory without practical experience.

  30. @Ivor

    By all means, prove your point about left-wing and right-wing workers using the “actual ballot”. Do you think voters fill out a questionnaire in the polling booth?


    You’re misrepresenting Stiglitz’s (entirely valid) criticism of the Eurozone to make out as if he is supporting Brexit. He is not your “backing”. The comments about “a compelling case” relate specifically to Eurozone countries run into the ground by the Eurozone’s macroeconomic mismanagement. He even says:

    “They have a much strong argument for getting out of the Euro than Britain has for getting out of the EU…it’s an economic case there that is much stronger”.

    No wonder you didn’t provide a link to the interview. I will:


    I’m not really interested in arguments about whether Brexit is good or bad any more than I would be in debates over whether the UK joining the Euro would be good or bad, because in both cases the answer is clear. The issue of the relative role of economic and social factors in feeding right-wing populism is much more interesting, and is very important—you know, Trump and that.

  31. @Ivor

    “You could pull the same trick in America. Just poll white Americans and declare only a trivial minority are poor and need food stamps.”

    You can do lots of things, but that doesn’t make doing one thing analogous to doing another. In particular, exploring how voting intentions vary with income and views on social issues, whilst holding race/ethnicity constant, is not the same as pretending that some races or ethnicities do not exist and making policy recommendations on this basis. It was whites who voted for Brexit; other groups voted to remain, by a very strong margin.

    “Why did you delete the information on the Fabian sample? ? ?”

    Because I doubt Professor Quiggin wants the thread clogged with the entire article, when an introductory quote and a link will do.

  32. It’s perfectly legitimate for people to withdraw their consent and cooperation from a political order that hurts them. Brexit should be understood in those terms. What happens now is up for contestation, and I acknowledge that the odds are long that a non-neoliberal outcome will emerge. Nevertheless, Brexit at least opens up the potential for non-neoliberal possibilities. Brexit puts massive pressure on elites to change their ways or lose power.

  33. @Luke Elford

    IF what you say is correct that:

    It was whites who voted for Brexit;

    Then this only emphasises the uselessness of a survey of:

    “… restricted to White British respondents, ”

    Try something else.

  34. @Nicholas

    It could be one fantastic disaster as the the two forces that combined to just get over 50% are in fact incompatible with each other.

  35. @Ikonoclast

    It seems to me the various anti-TTIP grass root organisations in the EU have a greater chance in convincing their national governments and their representatives in the EU Parliament to vote NO deal than you and I agreeing on anything regarding the EU.

    The TTIP is, roughly speaking, the mirror agreement of the TPPA, except for the name of the ocean of course. It is strictly speaking not true what you wrote in your post #80 that “The fact that the EU supports the TTIP …” The EU does what the various national governments agree with. Recently, one French EU official, stationed in Strasbourg, was so annoyed about the misinformation regarding TTIP that he or she ‘leaked’ to the French press that the French politicians make statements (concerns about TTIP) to the French public (who are largely against the TTIP) while saying the opposite to the EU officials. A dismantling of the EU, as you seem to be in favour of, would also result in the dismantling of the network of grass root organisations as well as labour unions across the countries within the EU.

    My question to you was not intended to imply in any way that you are not qualified in some general sense. It was motivated by my observation, rightly or wrongly, that you don’t seem to be aware of the role of national governments in the EU framework. For example, income and wealth redistribution via taxation and subsidies is entirely under the control of national governments. (As for Greece, the current PM, Tsipras, is the first who has shown determination to use this power with the result that the EURO members have gained confidence in the Greek government and debt relief is on the agenda.)

    I like your question 1. It is a hypothetical choice situation for me: Would I rather be 20 years younger and unemployed in the EU or not? I can give you a hypothetical answer, which I hope will indicate to you that to talk about ‘the EU’ as if it would be a homogenous institutional environment with a homogeneous history is misleading. If I were unemployed in the Netherlands (EURO member), Denmark (EU but not EURO member), Germany (EURO member, if I would be living in a relatively small town), I would be indifferent between being 20 years younger and unemployed. If I were say 20 years younger and unemployed in Spain but fluent in French or German or Italien or all with an engineering degree, I would be indifferent. If I were 20 years younger and from Polen but working in the UK, I would now be upset by the outcome of the referendum.

    I can also tell you a story about my experience travelling as an actually very young person in then Western Europe and Hungary (then Eastern Europe). At that time I observed inequality of income and living conditions in Hungary that were much worse then I’d seen anywhere in ‘the West’. Specifically, a Hungarian Professor and his wife had a three-bedroom spacious apartment in down-town Budapest and, while he did not own a car, he and his family members had access to a chauffeur driven official car at their disposal. The apartment building had a concierge, an elderly woman living in one small room in the basement, dark and damp. There were fine restaurants and plenty of politics being talked quite openly. I learned, early on, that both sides of the iron curtain are good in propaganda.

    I don’t feel like responding to your question 2 because I don’t feel like participating in a competition for who has suffered most.

  36. I wonder if Brexit will actually happen. It seems to me that the Tories will be saying, ‘we have never listened to the little people before, why listen to them now? ‘ So in a month Cameron will give a speech saying that Brexit will not be legislated, and daring the Right to kick him out.
    The speech would write itself, as they say. “Brexit is too big for Britain alone, the world wants us in… I want to be PM of Great Britain, not Little England…Our seat on the Security Council…our nuclear deterrent… I want London to be a major financial player…”.

  37. The original members of what has grown into the EU (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Luxumburg) understood that if there is ‘free capital movement’ then ‘free labour movement’ is also called for. At that time, the Brettonwoods international monetary system was in place. Direct foreign investment by corporations was of primary concern regarding ‘free capital movements’. Prof Vernon comes to mind, among the English language economists who have written on this topic.

    Cameron negotiated with the other 27 EU member countries a special deal for the UK late last year, signed in February 2016. IMHO, he managed to take the basic framework to its limits regarding divergence of freedom of capital vs labour in the UK’s favour (that is ‘the City’s’ role in capital movements). He showed grace in the face of the Brexit result. This agreement is conditional on the REMAIN vote not on the eventual separation of the UK. It is cancelled as of 24 June 2016. France has a bilateral agreement with the UK regarding EU internal borders, which is the legal basis of large numbers of refugees living under miserable conditions in Calais (because there are UK border control officers on French soil.)

    It takes years until a negotiated agreement filters through to the last official in the various countries. I’d hate to think how long it will take to undo the various agreements. The reaction to Brexit of local French in the Calais area is very different from that of the French President.

  38. @GrueBleen
    From Glenn Greenwald:

    Guess which one you are.

    The decision by UK voters to leave the EU is such a glaring repudiation of the wisdom and relevance of elite political and media institutions that – for once – their failures have become a prominent part of the storyline. Media reaction to the Brexit vote falls into two general categories: (1) earnest, candid attempts to understand what motivated voters to make this choice, even if that means indicting one’s own establishment circles, and (2) petulant, self-serving, simple-minded attacks on disobedient pro-leave voters for being primitive, xenophobic bigots (and stupid to boot), all to evade any reckoning with their own responsibility.

  39. @Ikonoclast


    That was one of the best considerations of all the issues.

    A key one was:

    Worryingly, in two landmark legal cases – Viking and Laval – the European Court of Justice ruled that collective action by a trade union could be deemed illegal if it is taken to prevent an employer setting-up in, or posting workers to, another member state, for example in an attempt to pay cheaper wages.

    And it is a pity more Trade Union executives, and Jeremy Corbyn, did not give a damn.

  40. Video: Prior to Brexit victory, Paul Craig Roberts puts the compelling case for Britain to leave the European Union

    On 23 June, just prior to the vote on whether Britain should leave the European Union (referred to as ‘Brexit’), Paul Craig Roberts put the case for Brexit in a 30 minute interview with Richie Allen. The interview is embedded below as a YouTube video.

    This 30 minute interview, provides clear, compelling arguments as to why it is urgently necessary for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, not only to preserve its national sovereignty, but to prevent the war against Russia planned by the rulers of the United States.

    In the interview Paul Craig Roberts also confronts, and thoroughly demolishes, claims by those arguing for Britain to remain in the European Union, that those advocating Brexit are racist and xenophobic.

    He puts clearly and succinctly the arguments that everybody has the right to control the numbers of people entering their community. It is not unreasonable for a community to object to large numbers of people from a different culture suddenly moving into their midst.

    Paul Craig Roberts argues that while the British and other Europeans are right to object to as sudden high influx of refugees and immigrants, they should remember that these people are fleeing their own countries because of wars that the rulers of Europe and Britain have inflicted upon their countries.

  41. Paul Craig Roberts argues the UK must leave the EU. He asserts the EU has been set up by the CIA and is controlled by the USA. Further he says the USA is planning a war with Russia and the EU is part of NATO. There is one little problem with this story. The UK remains part of NATO after Brexit and his war argument hinges on NATO.

  42. Reality could hit home to the ‘leave’ brigade in a very Tampa moment. Imagine the RN participating in patrolling the Mediterranean between Libya and Italy. As in previous patrols it rescues an overloaded vessel and proceeds to Sicily to disembark. A port authority refuses to accept the non-EU member’s ship causing initial embarrassment in Rome but later capitulation following a popular backlash against the Brits. The RN ship proceeds to a Channel port where UKIP blockaders gather under Nigel’s leadership. Far-fetched? Maybe but I can see a minor EU official calling the initial shots on what then becomes a major reality check

  43. Ikonoclast :
    I am astonished that those who claim to be “left” or social democratic don’t understand the clear and obvious case against EU neoliberalism.

    There is no question that the EU is a vector of neoliberalism in some respects. In others, it’s a vector of socialism, as in the subsidies it gives to poorer regions. An England under Tory rule without the ameliorating effects of EU investment in poor areas would be more neoliberal than one without.

    It’s a case of choosing the lesser evil. But those of you on the far left are never, ever good at that, are you? They’d always rather not play the game if those are the only two choices available. Nice privilege you’ve got there, Captain Kirk, if you feel you can declare yourself barley cross-fingers in that game, but others are going to cop the consequences either way. Their suffering will be a direct result of the harm done by Lexiters.

  44. Ernestine Gross :
    Paul Craig Roberts argues the UK must leave the EU. He asserts the EU has been set up by the CIA and is controlled by the USA. Further he says the USA is planning a war with Russia and the EU is part of NATO. There is one little problem with this story. The UK remains part of NATO after Brexit and his war argument hinges on NATO.

    Only one problem?

    If it is sensible to reason like this:
    the CIA talked about how they wanted something to happen;
    then it did happen;
    therefore. the CIA made it happen
    — then it’s also sensible to reason like this:
    some people talked about how they wanted it to rain;
    then it did rain;
    therefore, those people made it rain.

    Some people don’t find anything unreasonable about that kind of thinking.

  45. @J-D

    You are quite right, there isn’t only one problem with Paul Graig Roberts’s theory but finding one critical error, an error which changes the conclusion, is sufficient to discard the rest. (I am told we all must work efficiently.)

  46. @m0nty

    I happen to think that Brexit is the lesser evil for the world. Peaceful political actions, like voting, which impede the march of global neoliberalism are a good thing to the best of my analysis. That is not to say that such actions are without dangers or costs, local or global. No action is risk free. No course of action in an extraordinarily complex world is guaranteed to be free of unintended consequences or to lead to the intended result. Those in favour of the EU, like yourself and Ernestine Gross on this thread, just might be right after all (although my opinion is contrary obviously). That is why we have freedom of expression and democracy.

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