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Britain leaving the EU will be disruptive: that is (mostly) good

In recent years it has become fashionable to hail changes and technologies that are “disruptive”. The example of Uber, the business that Brian Micklethwait of this parish and others have saluted, being a classic case in point. Of course, just because something is disruptive doesn’t make it good for the consumer. Blizzards and earthquakes are disruptive, for example. (Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur, has pointed out that disruption can be a painful, if not always desirable part of the process of reaching a destination, not the desired destination as such.) Even so, it seems to be highly fashionable to praise technologies if they are “disruptive”; in my daily work-related reading it is hard to avoid seeing this or that business model as “disruptive” with the strong implication that this is a Good Thing.

Ironically enough, however, one of the most disruptive events that may occur in the next few months is if British voters elect to leave the European Union. This will, so critics of such a “Brexit” claim, create uncertainty and be clearly a very disruptive event. All kinds of assumptions of how things are will be turned upside down. My goodness, we poor little moppets might have to learn about how to negotiate trade deals, repeal, replace or cut down on legislation, or have to recalibrate our relations with other nations. There will be a lot of disruption.

And yet apart from a few isolated examples, I see few signs of the pro-Brexit camp saying that this disruption will be a positive good thing; if anything, I sense they want to play this down, although senior Telegraph journalist Allister Heath has argued that the shock effect of Brexit will be positive for the rest of the EU (such an argument is likely to be lost on the existing EU elites barely able to conceive of life outside the comforting embrace of what they have known). It would be good if the pro-Brexit campaigners could argue two things: 1, that Brexit will be disruptive and interfere with the tranquil world of certain people, and 2, that this disruption is good, healthy, necessary and likely to trigger a run of reforms and changes that otherwise are unlikely to happen.

 

 

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22 comments to Britain leaving the EU will be disruptive: that is (mostly) good

  • John Galt III

    Why be a part of an organization that includes Merkel, Hollande and a dozen other leaders of countries wishing to commit cultural suicide along with majorities of their populations?

  • John Galt III

    Speaking of Cultural Suicide Department:

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/2016/03/uk-national-union-of-teachers-rejects-teaching-fundamental-british-values-as-cultural-supremacism

    Get rid of the EU first, then tackle the Corbyn Cultural Marxists.

  • Alsadius

    Remember that disruption is mostly praised in the tech press, not the mass market. Most people aren’t in favour of it in general, and virtually nobody is in favour of disruption for its own sake. Creative destruction is not a widely-accepted idea.

  • Maximo Macaroni

    Those who like disruption should favor the Trump presidency. It takes dynamite to blow the Washington limpets out from under their shells.

    None of the other candidates have any ideas that haven’t been proven to have failed whenever they have been tried.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Those who like disruption should favor the Trump presidency. It takes dynamite to blow the Washington limpets out from under their shells.

    While I would prefer to keep the comments on-topic (not everything is about Trump, thank goodness) bear in mind that for a lot of us who are watching the election, and have watched Trump’s performances and track record, his claim to be against any sort of establishment is, in many ways, overblown. If he has made a comment calling for a serious rolling back of the State, for a return to Federalism and so on, I must have missed it. It is hard to see a man who delights in attempts to use Eminent Domain, who calls for protectionism, as being radical in any way that matters.

  • I second Alsadius’ warning that praising the ‘disruptiveness’ of leaving the EU, as if for disruption’s sake, is not a sure-fire vote-winner. It would be wise to point out the inevitable disruptiveness of staying in the EU. EU leaders have a wretched track record of predicting events. How things actually turn out is always a huge surprise to them. This will continue, so huge and unanticipated disruption will increase if we stay in the EU. Leaving also means some change, but better change. Staying means the kind of disruption that we do not control and that our leaders fail to anticipate. Leaving means the kind of disruption that we have more control over, and that our leaders are less likely to be dropped-jaw surprised by.

    An example was the education secretary today telling us to vote to stay in “for the children” because the out campaign are allegedly unable to say what will happen to education and young people if we leave. The right reply is not to spell out some detailed 500-page ‘plan for the young’, but to point out that she and the eurocrats are provably unable to say what will happen if we remain, since they are repeatedly wrong-footed by events.

  • Mr Ed

    Call it clearing the undergrowth of brambles and ferns in a forest, allowing long-dormant flowers to burst forth and flourish, and so fill the beehives with honey.

    As for education, we can start by teaching metric and Imperial measurements again, so that our engineers can work easily anywhere on Earth. If that is too much hard work for the teachers, then sack them on the ground of a lack of capability.

  • James

    This all assumes the more widely-used definition of disruption being something disruptive, rather than the overly-abused-and-misused definition of disruptive innovation. Brexit could certainly be the former, but it takes some imagination to argue for the latter (and I can foresee situations where that might be the case – a resurgence of EFTA or the Commonwealth, for example).

  • Regional

    European politicians are shit scared of a Britexit as it will see agricultural subsidies that provide cheap food begin to evaporate.

  • Paul Marks

    The European Union is an additional layer of government – and it is an especially nasty one for Britain and other country that claims that the public have some say in how they governed.

    As the works of Christopher Booker, and many others, have shown – the edicts of the E.U. short circuit the political process. There is nothing people can do to oppose or repeal them, as politicians and Civil Servants can simply say “it is an order of the E.U. – there is nothing we can do.

    Supporters of the E.U. are people I want nothing to do with. They either do not understand the above (and it is hardly rocket science), or they DO NOT CARE.

  • Regional, food would be a great deal cheaper of both subsidies and all import barriers were ended.

  • Regional: “agricultural subsidies that provide cheap food” – cheap ?!?!

    The subsidy system the UK had _before_ we joined the EU led to cheaper food prices; British farmers were paid a set subsidy for each pint of milk they sold, another sum for each egg, etc. They were paid nothing for whatever they did not sell. This let them charge the consumer less. When we joined the EU, this changed to mandated prices above the market, leading (as every economist already knew) to surpluses – the famous wine lakes, butter mountains, etc. – and to higher prices.

    Leaving the EU will permit lower UK food prices and the UK can easily subsidise its (smaller and more efficient) agriculture in the same way as before we joined, if it so desires. Ordinarily, I’m wholly opposed to all subsidies. I’d be prepared to discuss whether maintaining some % of UK food consumption from UK agriculture as a basis for another survive-in-WWII-style ramp-up has genuine strategic value – one of the various defence-of-subsidies arguments that are usually false but perhaps not incapable of having merit.

    Of course, such a discussion would be wholly academic. Politically, we can take it that after brexit some farming subsidies will be maintained at least for a while. It is worth noting in any debate that the pre-joining method was preferred by farmer and consumer, and afforded easily by the taxpayer – IIRC, this was admitted by all even at the time.

  • […] The Grauniad continues apace with its scaremongering. Brexit will cause a credit crunch, destroy the NHS and is bad for Muslims. Thing is, we shouldn’t be bothering to worry  about it, we should  be facing it head on ad point out that these things  aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Change can be good. […]

  • Laird

    “I see few signs of the pro-Brexit camp saying that this disruption will be a positive good thing”

    I don’t understand this comment. Admittedly, being an ocean away I don’t see all the passionate commentary (pro and con) which I’m sure pervades your media. Still, from what I can tell the pro-Brexit camp is trumpeting such things as the elimination of that additional (and expensive) layer of government; freedom from burdensome regulations and irrational laws over which you have absolutely no control; the ability to establish your own immigration policies (both Muslim and otherwise) without regard to the idiocies of Angela Merkel; and similar attributes of a free people. True, those are all expressed as negatives, but (as any mathematician will attest) the elimination of a negative is a positive. And indeed, all those freedoms are, for most people, positives. So why the complaint?

    The European Parliament is a powerless joke; it is merely the pretense of representative government, and its only real function is to provide sinecures for failed politicians and cover for unelected bureaucrats. Once upon a time you were on the losing side of the slogan “No taxation without representation.” You should try being on the winning side of it; you might like it.

  • Fred Z

    Sometimes one looks at a misbegotten mess and says: “We can’t fix that thing, let’s just destroy it and start over.”

    A lot of people have reached that point with a lot of things, the EU and the Republican Party being two obvious examples.

    I sometimes wonder if the power of Islam to convert some of our people stems from this urge to clean up a mess.

    Gibbon giving reasons why Roman citizens joined the barbarian Huns, namely “… the vices of a declining empire of which he had so long been the victim; the cruel absurdity of the Roman princes, unable to protect their subjects against the public enemy, unwilling to trust them with arms for their own defence; the intolerable weight of taxes, rendered still more oppressive by intricate or arbitrary modes of collection; the obscurity of numerous and contradictory laws; the tedious and expensive forms of judicial proceedings; the partial administration of justice; and the universal corruption which increased the influence of the rich and aggravated the misfortunes of the poor.”

    Hmmm, sounds like Brussels.

  • Resident Alien

    Putin will try to exploit a Brexit, not necessarily in ways that immediately and seriously harm the UK but whatever he tries won’t be good for the West as a whole.

  • Fred Z, your excellent and relevant quote from Gibbon’s “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” inspired me to recall a quote of John Adams:

    “While all the other arts and sciences have advanced, government is practically at a stand, little better practised today than three or four thousand years ago.”

    (Quoted from memory as I am away from home at the moment.) John Adams was one of those who made an effort to remedy that in the US constitution. What he’d say now about things in the US I’ll leave to those over the water there to comment on, but your Gibbon quote makes John Adams sound at least as right today about government on the European continent as he was two-and-a-half centuries ago.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Still, from what I can tell the pro-Brexit camp is trumpeting such things as the elimination of that additional (and expensive) layer of government; freedom from burdensome regulations and irrational laws over which you have absolutely no control; the ability to establish your own immigration policies (both Muslim and otherwise) without regard to the idiocies of Angela Merkel; and similar attributes of a free people. True, those are all expressed as negatives, but (as any mathematician will attest) the elimination of a negative is a positive. And indeed, all those freedoms are, for most people, positives. So why the complaint? Writes Laird.

    The complaint is because not only will Brexit lead to better things for the UK but the disruptive impact of such a departure will be like beneficial shock treatment for the rest of the EU. Disruption of this sort, so long as it produces a rational response, benefits not just the disruptor, but others. And this is important because at present, the EU, and particularly the eurozone element, is locked in a death-spiral of rising regulation, monetary incontinence, and a lack of will to overhaul a socialistic culture. Sure, there are differences and some countries such as France, Italy and Germany retain world-class companies. But there is, by and large, a relative dearth of innovation. Where are Europe’s versions of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Andy Groves, etc> (I am not totally endorsing all of these men as role models, in case one asks, but pointing to them as examples.)

    Disrupting this state of affairs is what Europe needs, quite as much as the UK does. And that argument is, apart from the odd exception, not being made by the Brexiters, which they should because it would show that their case is not purely about one country. It also helps shift the narrative and makes it harder to paint the Brexit case as a narrow one. (And the media coverage of it certainly reflects that.)

  • Alisa

    Fred Z:

    Hmmm, sounds like Brussels.

    Sounds like every Western government I know of (and some nominally non-Western as well).

    Thank you for the excellent quote.

  • Laird

    Johnathan, your last comment is very different from what you originally posted. I wish you had said it that way, as I would not have taken exception. If I read you correctly now, I think you are arguing that ultimately Brexit would be good for the rest of Europe, too. And that’s fine; I don’t disagree. But I wouldn’t expect that argument to be made very much when the question on the table is limited to the effects on Great Britain alone, and is directed solely to its citizens who will be voting on the question.

    You might suggest that Dan Hannan bring it up at the next meeting of the European Parliament, though.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Laird, I could have made that point more clearly but I re-read the comment and it wasn’t just framed about disruption as good for Britain, although it will be good, I think. Anyway, we agree on the general issue: the EU needs to wake up and needs a shock.

  • Mr Ed

    Here is a legal opinion from a noted lawyer advising the Trades Union Congress on the legal implications of ‘Brexit’ for the UK’s employment and health and safety law.

    It is not likely to be an exciting read.