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A good pro-EU argument?

I am at Brian Micklethwait’s place for his latest Friday. This argument against leaving the EU was made (I am literally live blogging, this is breaking news!): The good thing about Brussels is that it is impossible to be emotionally attached to it. This weakens the state.

Interesting discussion is now ensuing. And we have not even got to the speaker yet.

25 comments to A good pro-EU argument?

  • Mr Ed

    It might weaken the sympathy or affection for the State, but not its power, without more.

  • Sam Duncan

    Impossible, or just unlikely? I think that underestimates both the effort Brussels will put into creating a “European identity” (have a nose around for “My Country? Europe” sometime), and how powerful its effect will be on those who’ve never known any different.

    But anyway, even if the European state is weakened, opposition to it is likely to lead to calls for stronger nation states. It doesn’t necessarily weaken the idea of state power. As, in fact, we’ve seen. Ten years ago, UKIP was talking about being a “broadly libertarian” party, and calling for “the independence of the British people, not just from Brussels, but from the state as a whole”. Now, there’s not so much of that sort of thing. It’s all “standing up for London cabbies”, “saving the NHS”, and “taking control of immigration”.

    There may be something to that argument, but I wouldn’t count on it.

  • Mr Ed

    A bit of reductio:

    Would anyone suggest that Finland letting Soviet troops in in November 1939 would have had a similar effect on the State, or perhaps, statism?

    The premise is based on there being one State.

  • QET

    The State doesn’t need your affection. Europeans should have taken Cassius’ advice and killed the EU in its shell.

  • By this argument, we should always seek a large, intrusive, unjust state, so people will dislike it as much as possible – and clearly should join parties devoted to that aim, not blog here about ideas for reducing its power. I am reminded of the pre-WWI socialist who, seeing his friend about to give money to a beggar, grabbed his arm and said, “Don’t delay the revolution!”

    If _we_ could be persuaded to endure the state enough to encourage its growth instead of voting for any step, however partial, that would reduce it, who are these “people” who will be motivated by its growth to resist it and from whom will they get the idea of doing so – clearly, not from us.

  • Lee Moore

    Well yeah. Getting a really unpleasant disease will make you dislike unpleasant diseases even more than you did before. This is not a good reason to rush out and try and get the clap.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Niall: Good point; very good point.

    Lee: Excellent illustration of Niall’s Very Good Point. LOL !!!

  • Regional

    Venezuela has literally run out of paper money.

  • Laird

    I don’t find that argument any more compelling (or even rational) than Perry deH’s old argument that the US was better off electing Obama than Romney because it would hasten our collapse.

    I think Lee Moore wins the thread so far.

  • Paul Marks

    Sadly it is not impossible to be “emotionally attached” to “Mother Europe”.

    We think it is absurd – but many other people (especially the “educated”) do not.

    And the state does not rest on “emotional attachment” or “opinion” (David Hume was wrong about this – as he was wrong about so many things).

    The state rests on compulsion – force.

    And the E.U. is very good at that – even though its iron fist is covered by the velvet glove of administration.

    That bureaucracy is not harmless – it strangles small business enterprises and ruins lives.

  • I don’t find that argument any more compelling (or even rational) than Perry deH’s old argument that the US was better off electing Obama than Romney because it would hasten our collapse.

    If the GOP end up running Cruz, maybe I was right and it has turned around and the Bush/Obama calamity was worth it. If they run Trump, I was wrong, and it simply never mattered as there was never a chance the GOP would get its shit in order and turn the tide. Might as well vote for Bozo the Clown.

  • Patrick Crozier

    The statement that the state is the institution that claims a monopoly of force is not the same as the statement that the state relies on force or the threat of force. Most states will go quite a long way to avoid using it largely because the repeated use of force tends to undermine a state’s legitimacy. What they rely on is ideas. These can be religious or ideological. The Soviet Union relied and modern-day Saudi Arabia rely on ideas to keep people in line and justify the state’s violence. This explains why states tend to be so concerned with education.

    Not sure if this has any relevance to the topic in hand.

  • Alisa

    That, and emotional attachment as well – a Stockholm syndrome of sorts.

  • Jake Haye

    An error of reasoning that gives rise to much leftist thought is the failure to apply inductive constraints to things unseen, hence the historical belief in the existence of dragons in far-off places, people in the distant past with super powers, etc, and the current belief in the magical power of the government.

    The more detached and aloof the government is perceived to be, the more leftists will worship it.

  • RRS

    Is something missing in the Fisher post? WHAT is “this argument?”

    For all the blather about “Union,” it seems to me that a general sense is dawning on people -something to the effect:

    Is the “Union” and membership in it regarded as essential to individual liberty;


    Is individual liberty regarded as essential to the “Union?”

    Which is dependent on the other?

    The differences in the concepts of necessary freedom amongst the populations of the “members states” should be clear enough evidence that contrived “authority” is not a sufficient cohesive force, the fragmentation has begun.

  • James Strong

    This addresses the point made by Perry de Havilland about the Republican Presidential nominee.

    If the GOP nominates Cruz then they will expose themselves either as insane or as self-interested ‘insiders’ who are happy to lose to another insider rather than let the voters choose.
    It seems that the GOP establishment are searching for a candidate who can comfortably lose to Hillary.
    Trump is a candidate who can, and I think will, beat Hillary.
    You libertarians don’t like Trump’s policies. I take a different view, I am delighted that he is giving the established political class a kicking, and I think that is the way forward.

  • Laird

    I’m not following RRS’s argument. He posits two alternatives: that the Union is essential to individual liberty or that individual liberty is essential to the Union. To me that seems a false choice; I can’t see any relationship at all between Union and liberty. You can have either, and possibly both (although the evidence is against that), but neither is dependent upon the other.

    The Trump/Cruz dilemma facing the Republican Party is a fascinating Hobson’s choice. Either it goes with the candidate who is the choice of a very large plurality (if not an absolute majority) of the party base who are engaged enough to participate in the primary process, and who is attracting a large number of previously unengaged voters*, or it goes with the one who is marginally more acceptable to (although clearly not actually liked by) the party elites. To me, it seems likely that the best choice, tactically, would be to hold their collective noses and go with the people’s choice (Trump). The alternative could prove disastrous to the party’s very existence. Whether that will prove to be good or bad only time will tell. Personally, I think that Trump could beat Hillary whereas Cruz could not (barring an unexpected indictment, of course), and that he would be no more of a disaster as president than were any of the last three, but all that remains to be seen.

    The real problem, of course, is the primary election process itself, but that’s another discussion entirely.

    * I have read that participation in the Republican primaries is up 75% over that at the same point in 2012, and many of these new voters are independents.

  • RRS

    Then what is the cohesive force that holds this union (as a form of governance) together.

    Have not the most deleterious effects of that governance been its impacts on individual liberty?

    Wherein is the consent of the governed (that essential individual liberty) to the usurpations of authority to govern?

    Has this all been simply a group mastodon hunt for a “State” defined by Bastiat?

  • RRS

    As to the electoral concerns; to paraphrase:

    Americans will [probably] always do the right thing, after they have tried everything else.

    Currently it appears that they are not sure they have tried everything else quite yet.

    We may be getting close !

  • Laird

    RRS, we may indeed be getting close! Indeed, one is reminded of the famous H.L. Mencken quote: “As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their hearts desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” Or, indeed, “Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.”

    But as to your previous comment, the EU appears to be held together mainly by force, not by consent. Far from being “cohesive”, it is merely compressive; it is maintained by external pressure rather than internal adhesion. Retaining the EU is in the interests of the political class, globalists and overt statists, but no one else; it subsists on sovereign, not individual, consent. And indeed it certainly has done nothing to advance the cause of individual liberty; quite the opposite. The absence of true individual consent is evidenced by the “remain” campaign, which is relying primarily on the arousal of fears rather than the promise of benefits. A timeless tactic, and frequently successful, but not an elevating one.

  • Regional

    Venezuela is running out of beer, and

    “A liberal’s paradise would be a place where everybody has guaranteed employment, free comprehensive health care, free education, free food, free housing, free clothing, free utilities, and only law enforcement has guns.

    And believe it or not, such a place does indeed already exist: It’s called Prison.”

    Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
    Maricopa County, Arizona

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    RRS: ” Is something missing in the Fisher post? WHAT is “this argument?” ”

    My interpretation at the time was that such a state would at least be limited to petty regulation, and would not be able to get the population sufficiently excited to do anything atrocious, and would prevent the kind of nationalism that enabled war in Europe. This does rather ignore just how bad bureaucracy can be, though.

  • Julie near Chicago


    We got to admit Sheriff Joe has a point there! :>)!

  • Cal

    It’s noticeable that there’s quite a few defences of staying in the EU going around which acknowledge that the EU is a dreadul thing (Roger Bootle had one such argument in the Telegraph recently).

  • Nicholas (Excentrality!) Gray

    With the War on Drugs, America will need more prisons. Prison-building is a guaranteed growth-business. If the authorities ever stopped the wars on drugs, poverty, and terror, the economy would collapse!