We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

An outsider’s view of Brexit

I’m not British. However, I’m a reasonably frequent visitor to the United Kingdom.

I spent last Thursday night having dinner in New York City with a bunch of Brits from the home office of the London based consulting company I’m affiliated with. I’m not an employee, but I’m a close-enough friend of the company’s management that there that there’s much more of a spirit of “we” than “they” when I talk to them.

The whole firm was, of course, heavily on the “remain” side since they have contracts all over the continent and The City is a huge source of revenue. The reason The City itself has grown to be so huge is because it is the finance capital of Europe, and it vies with New York for finance capital of the world as a result.

That, sadly, may be over soon.

The firm’s business also relied (I should say relies, it isn’t gone, at least not yet) on being able to do things like taking a contract in Frankfurt and sending people there from London without more of a thought than an American firm would have about taking a contract in Stamford, Connecticut even though they’re based in White Plains, New York – another state entirely.

We in the U.S. are of course used to such things – we don’t give thought to the idea of someone from New York selling something to someone in Los Angeles or flying there to do work for a month. No one needs to give you permission to do this, you just go and do it. We’re one big market, and that has helped our economy tremendously over the centuries. Europe had finally become like that, a place where you could do business all over without permission, and with it, a whole new class of companies like the one I work with rose up, companies that didn’t trade with Europe but in Europe.

As we had dinner, I kept reading results from the overnight count off my smart phone. We were five hours behind the London timezone, and as we slowly crept towards dessert, the direction of the tally became clear. After a while, their interest in knowing the number waned, and they quite reasonably didn’t want to hear them any more.

I emphasize these were not fanatical Guardian readers who support Corbyn in the next election. They mostly vote Conservative. They’re not politically correct people, or people who had an ideological desire to see nation-states smashed and replaced with international socialism. They are, rather, simply businessmen who had prospered because of a certain new-found freedom of international trade.

The mood grew a bit dark. We sipped the last of our drinks, went out into the warm evening, and I bid them farewell as they returned to their hotels. As I traveled home, I turned on the live BBC stream, a product I have access to thanks to an international network that respects no borders and makes you feel like the world is slowly losing its parochialism. Not long in to my trip the BBC called the vote for “leave”.

I felt more than a bit sad.

It has been a good run working with these chaps. I’ve made a fair amount of money with them – with them, because trade is nothing shameful, and both sides of a free exchange benefit. I’ve done business with these guys on and off for the last two years and they are a dedicated and hard working bunch, good fun, very smart, loyal to each other and fanatical about bringing value to their customers. The firm had grown to over a hundred twenty consultants scattered around on various projects, many of us “affiliates” like me rather than full timers. They’d thrown a lot of work my way, which paid the bills for a while, and I got to visit London a bunch, which was fun.

I liked working with them enough that I vaguely considered moving to London if things got bad here in the States. I’m entitled to a German passport, and until now that meant I could work in London any time I liked, even move to there at will with my family, another product of a world of loosening borders, though that will soon be past.

I’ve been a regular visitor to the UK for decades, and London has become so different from even twenty years ago. It’s gorgeous now, and very cosmopolitan, with people from around the world, much like my home in New York. I feel comfortable there, amidst restaurants run by Italians and Frenchmen, buildings built by Poles and Bulgarians, hotels staffed by people from all over. With time, London has seemed more and more like home – a place where people cared more about what you could do and more about how hard you worked than about where you happened to be born. I also confess I like cooler weather in summer and warmer in winter and London provides that. London is very expensive, but with the money rolling in from bank contracts, it would have been fine to live there for me. I shall have to put such thoughts behind me now.

Anyway… I’m guessing my buddies are very, very screwed now, though the internal chatter in email and IM has put a brave face on all of it. I can find other consulting gigs of course, I’m pretty good at that sort of thing, but it’s a shame to see what they built over about six years of hard work likely getting hammered so hard so a bunch of sponges don’t have to hear Polish being spoken at their Tesco Express while they buy food on the dole paid for by the taxes said Poles are paying that they aren’t.

I realize that’s not why people who read this blog voted to leave, but that was a big reason the referendum passed.

Anyway, my prospects of ending up in London are probably gone for now – and you folks have a great task ahead of you.

I argue that now that the EU will no longer be there to be a whipping boy, it will at last be obvious to you what an outsider could have told you all along – that Whitehall is your enemy, not Brussels.

Your majority party is not run by Herbert Spencer, John James Cowperthwaite, or even Margaret Thatcher. It is run by small men with no real ambition to fix anything. Sure, the jerks in Brussels want to take away your high wattage tea kettles, but the fact that your tax rate is astronomical is your fault, not anyone else’s. The NHS was not imposed upon you by alien overlords, but by yourselves, and you kept it because you were too scared to trust the same markets that at last feed you fresh vegetables from the continent. Gun bans, speech codes that will get someone thrown in prison for using an unapproved adjective, the Snooper’s Charter, all these and more, came not from without, but from within.

Many of you argue that now that the U.K. is at last rid of the yoke of external domination you will finally be free. From what I can see, as an outsider, the people who voted for Brexit – much present company excluded of course – were largely upset about migration and free trade, and their interest is not in making the U.K. into a free market paradise but rather on returning to the good old days.

I remember those good old days – I recall visiting London when I was quite young in 1970s, when it was filthy and poor, and the U.K. was trying as fast as it could to join Portugal and Greece at the bottom of European per capita GDP.

So, here is your task: make good what you claimed this would bring. Bring Whitehall to heel. Abolish the NHS, abolish income taxes or at least lower rates to a flat 12% (or whatever you can manage), return the right to self defense, open the borders to unilateral free trade in the manner that made Hong Kong richer than the motherland, restore the right to true freedom of speech and all the rest. Show us, the outsiders who did not understand why the E.U. was so bad for you, how you will bring England (and it appears it may soon just be England) into a golden age. Make me even more unhappy that I fell in love with a city I might never live in by making it prosper even more than it does now.

My fear is that all you’ve done is thrown out the baby with the bathwater, that you’ve traded better teakettles for the financial industry, the joy of spiting the left wing commentariat for the freedom to take a job in Berlin for a year if it pleases you. You insist that isn’t the case, that you’re better off out than in. Fine. I’m an outsider, who will perhaps forever remain one forever. Show me that I’m wrong, not by arguing with me, but by demonstrating that you can, in fact, do better without the E.U.

Meanwhile, I’m going to hope my friends manage to weather the storm, because it would be a shame to see the business they worked so hard to build fall apart for so little reason.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VKEmail this to someone

48 comments to An outsider’s view of Brexit

  • Lee Moore

    To the extent that your friends may not now be able to pop over to Frankfurt to do a job, the reason is that the Frankfurters won’t let them. Nothing to do with British rules. It’s obviously true that if you export to places which have import controls, your trade may be restricted. Ignoring the fundamental question which is what demos do the British wish to be ruled by, and looking merely at the economic winners and losers, your friends may be losers.

    But in all such stories there are Bastiat’s things unseen. If the UK does actually escape lots of businesses which don’t sell their stuff to the EU won’t have to abide by EU regulations as to how to conduct their affairs. That will improve their economic position. Exporting to the EU is an important part of the UK economy, but it is a much smaller part than you would imagine from all the scaremongering.

    I expect your friends, being bright folk, will find a way to adjust their activities so that they continue to be profitable.

    But I agree – if John Cowperthaite was to take over from Dave as Tory party leader, things would be set fair indeed.

  • My fear is that all you’ve done is thrown out the baby with the bathwater, that you’ve traded better teakettles for the financial industry

    Frankly… I could not care less.

    My support was not based on economic utilitarianism but rather that increasingly the laws governing my life in the UK cannot be repealed, no matter who get voted into or out of 10 Downing Street by virtue of a majority in Parliament.

    All the rest is just fluff.

  • Mr Ecks

    Where did Samizdata dig up this well-off New York prick?

    The UK strangely has not been filled up –outside of lovely cosmo London–with lovely cosmopolitan Noo Yawkers but with surly child-rapers and benefits seekers and criminals and those who have taken low paying jobs natives could have done and are still getting benefits as well. Including many of those “hard working” Poles.

    As for business travel etc the only obstacle to that is political and bureaucratic scum in the first place. While the cultural Marxist trash who run the EU are keen on flooding Europe with pig-ignorant 18-30 yobs who are fond of sexual assault and heavily into medieval barbarism, the EU is a customs union that keeps out a vast range of products from all around the world. Perhaps our New Yorker is more fond of corporate socialism than he is of free markets. Despite his hot air.

    The UK is infested with socialistic ideas. We have stood by while Cultural Marxist shite has been boosted in schools and Unis. But what price Bernie Sanders and Killery Uncle Freemarket? And the GOP arseholes who support Killery cos they hate white working class Americans so much? And they like the money your corporate socialism channels their way.

    Start with your own house before you come preaching here.

    The program you set forth is good –but to try it all at once –now would be disaster. It will take time to undo the evil of statism and socialism. All the evil in the world cannot be scotched in one go.

  • Where did Samizdata dig up this well-off New York prick?

    Not acceptable. This will be the only warning before comments (from anyone) get deleted if they are less than civil.

    samizdata_smite_control

  • Mr Ecks

    Civil is more than not swearing Perry.

    You man was rude and insolent and has cast the Leave vote as scum even if he doesn’t have the guts to use the word.

    Your gaff–your rules fair enough.

  • Cal

    >Bring Whitehall to heel. Abolish the NHS, abolish income taxes or at least lower rates to a flat 12% (or whatever you can manage), return the right to self defense, open the borders to unilateral free trade in the manner that made Hong Kong richer than the motherland, restore the right to true freedom of speech and all the rest.

    You think we don’t want to do that? Nobody’s saying that exiting the EU is a magic bullet. But it solves one set of problem, as Perry says.

    And EU or not, there will always be lots of immigration into the UK by skilled, non-criminal foreigners.

    BTW I did live in London for a while not so long ago. It’s a magical city if you’re making money. But if you’re poor, like I was then, and living in a shitty part of it (and there are a lot of them), well, it was pretty grim. French programmers I’m all in favour of. But I can’t say I was hugely impressed with the behaviour of some of the other immigrants, who could be just as abusive and violent as the arses currently yelling abuse today.

  • thefattomato

    Calling the lawyers, with regards to unilateral free trade;
    Could the UK parliament decriminalise the collection and payment of tariffs for products imported into the UK?

  • Paul Marks

    You do not need a European STATE to do business with other people.

    This post has the “logic” of Louis XIV minister Colbert.

    “You can have trade with France – if you accept all our regulations in your own country”.

    The correct answer to that is punch in the face.

    As for the United States.

    The modern United States is being presented as an example of what to imitate.

    Does the poster know what the Founding Father (even Hamilton) would have thought of the modern Federal government?

    With its endless regulations, arbitrary “Justice system” (Orwellian use of the word “Justice”) and Credit Bubble financial system.

    If this was the time of Grover Cleveland (at least before he created the ICC) one could make the argument that the United States was a modal to follow.

    Even in 1928 Federal government spending was only 3% of the economy – although Prohibition and the Federal Reserve are rather hard to overlook.

    But the modern Federal government – the government that can just steal privately owned gold and rip up private contracts (1933 – upheld in 1935).

    How about the modern Obama regime – not that it was much better under George Walker Bush.

    “But one can do business in California – so the Federal government is worth it”.

    No it is not.

    The only justification for such a government is the Common Defence (not the “general welfare” whatever the bleep the “general welfare” is supposed to mean).

    And that is the one thing the E.U. does NOT do – NATO is the “Common Defence” not the E.U.

    And the military has never been a SMALLER part of the American Federal government budget than it is now.

    I think Texans and others should have a good hard look at this “Federal government” thing that has grown like a cancer and seeks to control every aspect of people’s lives.

    And treat the argument that “without the Federal government you could not do business in New York and California” with the contempt such an “argument” deserves.

  • nomenym

    The elites have been stoking this fire for a long time. They’ve allowed too much immigration without enough integration. Since the 90s, this peasants revolt has been growing, but it has been largely unrepresented at the level of national politics. They’ve been dismissed as rubes and racists for decades, and have mostly felt disenfranchised while the elites plowed ahead with their projects of globalisation and multiculturalism.

    Now the chickens are coming home to roost, and I say this as someone who is not pleased about the prospect (except for the satisfaction of saying ‘I told you so.’) If the elites had been more sympathetic, less condescending, and less willing to flush their cultural heritage down the toilet, then this, and other similar political developments, would probably not be happening.

  • Sam Duncan

    Spot-on, Perry.

    This wasn’t a general election. It wasn’t about matters of policy. It was about what form our government takes.

    The policies our governments will choose from here on in are uncertain. That’s the point.

  • Paul Marks

    “So here is your task” – and then a list of things that American Republicans rejected when Ted Cruz suggested them (and even he was more moderate than this).

    And if we do not complete this “task” then we have “thrown the baby out with the bathwater” and should not have left the lovely E.U.

    The European Union is nothing to do with freedom. It is an effort to control every aspect of life by endless regulation.

    If these are “businessmen” they show how government has grown, and grown, and grown.

    Capitalism is not safe from the capitalists.

    From people always eager to “do a deal” with the powers that be.

    I bet they loved Cameron and Osborne.

    What part of the United States has (for many years) had the highest taxes and the most government spending – even as a percentage of the economy?

    New York.

    The home of this sort of “businessman” – and the New York Federal Reserve which produces the funny money that keeps their world going.

    These “businessmen” do not care about my freedom – the post made it very clear that they have nothing but patronising contempt for ordinary people like me.

    So why should I care about their freedom?

    When the big government that, they make endless deals with, comes for them (say on the grounds they violated some regulation) why should I care?

    Of course I SHOULD care.

    They do not care about me or people like me – but that is NOT an excuse for me not to care about them.

    But it is hard, very hard, when they spit in my face with patronising posts such as this.

    By the way most people in Wales also voted against the E.U. – against having aspect of their lives controlled by E.U. people they did not elect and can not remove.

    So cut the nonsense about “just England”.

    Of course the next move will be to blame the collapse of the Credit Bubble economy and the “prosperity” of London (the London that elected Mayor Khan) on independence – even though it would have happened anyway.

    Clearly the American colonies should have stayed under George III – independence was to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”.

    The rule of George III and the Redcoats (especially the German soldiers sold by their Princes) was “freedom”.

    And anyone who denies this should be given an impossible “task” to perform – and if they fail to find the square root of minus one (or whatever the task is) independence is clearly a Bad Thing (T.M).

  • I can certainly understand the spirit of the post but oh what a poor job at marketing that spirit. I too am an outsider and I too wish our UK cousins across the Atlantic have success in putting the state into its proper role, but….

    I think that what the original poster missed is that the EU has been used as something of an excuse for inaction. Brexit takes away that excuse and makes success in reform more likely because there’s no other government to hide behind anymore. I would suggest, and I hope the locals do not take it unkindly, that mapping the state, or more specifically, forcing the state to map itself, is probably the next great task to accomplish. Once the bad results of the state can easily, within seconds, be traced back to specific rules, regulations, or legislation you have a much better chance at ending the travesties of the modern soft-socialist state. Brexit has caused the remove of a layer of fog and bravo for doing it. That layer is not the only layer and the removal of the rest will take different tools and different approaches.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    Americans are used to a continent-wide market. But their governments are all democracies, not a Mandarinate! Your delegates have power, even if they misuse it. The Members of the European Parliament are more like figureheads, a lot like those Chinese Party Congresses you see, with the bureaucracy really setting the agenda. Would he want that for the United States?

  • Phil Terry

    The single market in the US most certainly does not apply to “professions” you can’t practice law, medicine, sell car insurance, etc, etc, etc across state boundaries. And you still can’t in the EU despite all the fluff they quote. Sure plumbers can undercut each other but you damn well better be licensed (ie greased the right local wheels) if you do anything “professional”

    Just saying…

  • The Wobbly Guy

    In the past, it was ‘no taxation without representation’.

    In light of recent events, it seems that many people are willing to accept elites and aristocrats ordering their lives around as long as the welfare checks keep coming. It’s now ‘no authority without welfare’.

    Brexit was great, but dare I say that ‘Remain’ could have won just as easily under the following events.

    1. Syrian refugee crisis never happens – Merkel seals the borders and the EU is not deluged.
    2. The Brexit vote takes place ten years later – demographics of the UK has changed so dramatically that the ‘Remain’ vote wins.
    3. False flag attacks on Remain politicians gaining sympathy and votes for the ‘Remain’ position.

    I’m dabbling in hypotheticals here, but given the narrowness of the vote, we can’t take victory for granted yet. Press on!

    I’m putting sarcastic rebuttals to some posts that support the ‘Remain’ position on Facebook. I urge everybody to do the same. As Perry pointed out, the key reason for ‘Leave’ was local state accountability. Keep hammering away on that point.

  • Josh B

    “on being able to do things like taking a contract in Frankfurt and sending people there from London without more of a thought than an American firm would have about taking a contract in Stamford, Connecticut even though they’re based in White Plains, New York – another state entirely.”

    It would be nice if doing cross border business (especially where services are involved) was as simple in the States as most people think – it’s not. State tax issues (and I’m not talking about sales tax, which is a whole different awful issue) makes cross border services provision for businesses difficult unless they are big enough to have the economies of scale to handle the multi-State tax reporting. That’s not to say that there aren’t many businesses (actually almost all small businesses) simply ignoring the issue and not reporting in States where they do business, but the ability to do that much longer will increasingly disappear as States facing huge debt burdens try to bleed dry every stone.

  • NickM

    I agree with the original post. There was a Swiss/American astronomer called Fritz Zwicky.Whe someone really annoyed him he was fond of calling them “spherical bastards” (that means bastards from every possible angle). That is how I feel about Brexit. Economically, socially and in terms of travel simplicity. I don’t like the EU – I don’t think it is needed because it could be achieved very simply but the Brexit alternative is shocking.

  • Mr Ed

    My take on this is that the poster now has to adapt to changed conditions, having done well out of the previous ‘rigging’ of the UK’s economy as an EU member, and he does not appreciate his opportunities possibly being reduced or removed, and the arduous challenges of change.

    And as for London becoming like New York, again, it is all part of a bubble, imposing costs on the rest of the UK, what is seen and what is not seen.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    TMLutas wrote, “Once the bad results of the state can easily, within seconds, be traced back to specific rules, regulations, or legislation you have a much better chance at ending the travesties of the modern soft-socialist state. Brexit has caused the remove of a layer of fog”

    Good comment. Although we are, alas, very far in any modern state from the level of clarity such that we can trace consequences of regulation within seconds, with the EU gone from the UK clarity and accountability will increase. This factor will help the business environment.

  • Mr Ecks

    NickM-There are lots more shocking things than Brexit coming down the pike.

    The economic BS about the wonderfulness of EU guaranteed prosperity will be taking quite a few heavy blows soon as an Italian banks crisis looms.

    And more to follow.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Broadly speaking i agree with the mild rebukes from Perry, TMLutas, Natalie, etc.
    More specifically, i tend to agree that the main current problems for UK residents come from Whitehall and local government, not from Brussels. (Amongst such problems, the housing situation deserves special mention.)

    The problem is that the Illuminatus does not look ahead: one must look also at what future problems the EU might bring. Perry should perhaps have emphasized that “increasingly” in his comment. Consultants in the City might like the EU as it is now, but what if the EU tries to impose further financial regulations?

    As for the PC fascism mentioned in the OP: indeed, that has little to do with the EU, in the UK or any other EU country; but just the fact that the Leave side won, is a solid punch in the collective face of the PC fascists, and that is a fringe benefit of the vote.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Americans are used to a continent-wide market. But their governments are all democracies, not a Mandarinate!

    True up to a point: what happens in reality is that the US Congress gets to vote on a document that runs to thousands of pages, before they have had the time to read it; then the bureaucrats decide what that document actually means.
    Still better than Brussels bureaucrats telling national parliaments which laws to write, i guess!

  • John B

    And yet this American firm is doing business easily enough in the UK without the USA being part of the EU… or the British Empire.

    Since banks and financial firms, most of which are not from any EU Country, have branches in other EU Countries, they will still be able to do business in those Countries via them… which is the way they do it anyway.

    And as for the ‘ease’ of doing business in the EU – as an airline based in an EU Country found out when operating in another EU Country they were not allowed to employ staff on contracts from their EU Country of domicile but had to have ones according to the employment laws in the EU Country of employment.

    The history of the World did not start in 1992 when the EU was established by the Maastrict Treaty, and everyone had been managing do do business for hundreds of years prior.

    The so-called Single Market is a fantasy; even national product standards still apply. The EU is largely a protectionist institution for big business and the national interests of France and Germany, pretending it is something it is not.

  • John B

    Has the author no history – particularly of his own Country?

    The 13 Colonies had unrestricted trade and freedom of movement with Britain and empire; peace stability, Common Law, common language, quasi-autonomous government, common currency, protection by Crown Forces on land and the Royal Navy at sea – did they not throw the baby out with the bathwater in 1776?

    Liberty and freedom is an absolute for Americans but selfish for the British particularly when it messes up the cosy life of some of the former Colonists in modern times.

  • staghounds

    There won’t be a Brexit.

  • There won’t be a Brexit.

    Yet strangely the EU sure seems to think there will.

  • RRS

    AND- what has been the “Price” for access to all that self-gratification of talents?

    Who has been bearing the impositions of that price?

    Has that price not been steadily increasing?

    How heavy can – and will – that price ultimately become?

  • RRS

    @John B.

    Disengagement of their nation from compulsory compliance with the terms for membership in a union by people who accept the Sovereignty (unlimited ultimate authority)of a Parliament as their constitution for order, is not comparable to the severance sought in North America as individual liberty from that Parliamentary authority (personalized as George III, King in Parliament).

  • Resident Alien

    The EU has provided real, tangible freedoms to travel, work, study and trade in other countries. I’m not sure that the benefits of Brexit for national sovereignty, economic freedom, reduced regulation are big enough or realistically achievable enough to be worth the temporary economic dislocation, promotion of ethno-centric world views and perceived loss of Western unity. It’s all well and good to complacently assume that it is no country’s interests to undermine free trade but trusting that politicians in all EU states will see things that way is unrealistic. At this point, the best option is the total and quick collapse of the EU and its replacement by something better. The United States have kept going because its constitution is small enough to fit in a shirt pocket. An EU replacement must have a similarly clear ethos.

  • Snide

    The EU has provided real, tangible freedoms to travel, work, study and trade in other countries

    The same can be said of any empire. I known several central Europeans whose parents went to university in the Soviet Union when they were part of that empire too, but you also had to follow their rules as well.

  • Paul Marks

    “So little reason”.

    The E.U. Commission can impose whatever regulations it feels like – and it can not be removed by the people.

    It is the dream of Plato, Francis “The New Atlantis” Bacon and Jeremy “13 Departments of State” Bentham.

    I do not care that the author is from the United States – I write about American politics a lot.

    The author could be from Mars for all I care.

    What does anger me is simple.

    The author writes with a mixture of ignorance and arrogance.

    His post is deliberately designed to provoke anger.

    Congratulations Sir – you succeeded.

  • Peter

    As someone from Australia who has had the dubious pleasure of being on the receiving end of the mass immigration of cultures which don’t want to assimilate, all I can do is wish for the author to try it out sometime. From where I sit, Brexit happened because of Rotherham, Cologne and Bataclan to name the top three in recent years amongst many, many others.
    The author likes his cosmopolitan life to be homogenised – but the plebs don’t.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Perry de Havilland
    > increasingly the laws governing my life in the UK cannot be repealed, no matter who get voted into or out of 10 Downing Street by virtue of a majority in Parliament.

    Question for you about this. In my view one of the great things about the American constitution is that it has exactly the feature you are mentioning above, namely that some principles of law (such as the right to free speech, or in Europe laws on human rights) should not be subject to the vote of the majority, because the majority is often fickle and reacts in bad ways to short term situations, and frankly just because the majority wants something doesn’t mean they should be able to force it on the rest of the people of the country who don’t want it unless the overwhelming view of the country favors it.

    So some laws are set above the majority rule irrespective of who occupies the White House or Congress, or Number 10. They can be changed but it is a hell of a difficult thing to do, as it probably should be.

    What do you think of that principle? Is the problem with Europe that in principle you believe in unfettered democracy, or that you agree with the above idea of fettered democracy, and simply think it is badly executed in the EU.

    In some respects I’d say what you are describing is a feature not a bug, albeit a very ugly and badly executed feature.

  • In some respects I’d say what you are describing is a feature not a bug

    It is only a feature rather than a bug if the values locked in and placed beyond politics are core individual NEGATIVE (i.e. prohibitive) rights… i.e. The State Shall Make No Law Regarding…

    This is why the US Constitution is, at least in theory, a good thing. But if what is being locked in and placed outside politics are the on-going impositional creation of laws that regulate life in a POSITIVE way, then it is very much a bug (indeed it negates rather than restrains democracy).

    In practice, the US system has largely broken down over time (such as civil forfeiture, making the 4th Amendment a dead letter), but in principle I am all for the approach of putting fundamental rights beyond democratic politics.

    What the EU does is effectively put ongoing regulation beyond democratic politics. And that is catastrophic.

  • The author likes his cosmopolitan life to be homogenised – but the plebs don’t.

    Actually I am pretty sure that is not really what the author likes, and neither do I, because cosmopolitanism is not the same as homogenisation. It just means more choices than dismal fish and chips.

    And moreover, I supported LEAVE and I do not really give a fuck what the plebs like. But I would note that a survey a few years back discovered that curry was in fact the most popular food in the UK (it might well be kebabs now), suggesting the plebs might be a bit more cosmopolitan than you think.

  • shlomo maistre

    Actually I am pretty sure that is not really what the author likes, and neither do I, because cosmopolitanism is not the same as homogenisation. It just means more choices than dismal fish and chips.

    In any action/social phenomenon there is always a trade-off between what I like to call order and worth.

    Generally: action on behalf of order advances the long-term and the collective, while action on behalf of worth advances the short-term and the individual.

    It’s a WORTHwhile thing to have a variety of food to eat. But diversity of food choices emerged over centuries of societies living in relative isolation; merging these cultures augments short-term enjoyment at the expense of long-term benefit (part of the collective that loses out is future generations) by:
    1. reducing the isolation of these cultures that produced such divergent food choices in the first place thereby reducing potential innovation of new foods in the future
    2. desensitizing people to diverse food choices, raising the bar for what in the future will be considered new/interesting/different
    3. increasing the risk of losing authentic culinary traditions to the gray, bleak blending of cultures (or in this case culinary traditions) that tends to occur in the mishmash of multicultural cosmopolitan cities

    Time inherently degrades order. This is yet another example.

  • shlomo maistre

    Just to add to my comment above:

    I disagree with you, Perry: I do think that cosmopolitanism really does produce homogenization – over the long run.

    Is modern English food not the gray, bleak result of a mishmash of culinary traditions added at various times in history? Angles, Saxons, Normans, Celts, Romans, and Britons all had their own culinary tastes and traditions and now we have… homogenized English food as a result of them all living together.

    In any case, with modern technology it’s probably less important than ever for ethnically diverse people to actually live in the same city in order for diverse and authentic styles of food to be available. There’s this thing called Maersk, for example.

  • Alisa

    If a stray Martian happened upon all these current Brexit discussions here, he might think that the vote was all about food.

  • Alisa

    Come to think of it, I just might go and see if there is anything cosmopolitan in the fridge…

  • the last toryboy

    And how does all this help the oppressed Grimsby fisherman?

    That’s really what it boils down to. That a cosmopolitan international elite have done well out of the EU is pretty self evident. That it’s caused the wholesale repression of everybody else is also self evident.

  • I do think that cosmopolitanism really does produce homogenization – over the long run

    Nah, because I doubt everywhere will become cosmopolitan. Moreover, more choice is not homogenization, it is… more choice.

    There’s this thing called Maersk, for example.

    I find the food gets cold by the time it arrives from Shenzhen 😛

  • The difference between popping between NYC and LA for business and London-Frankford for business is this — America is one nation in all the senses of the word. Americans share a common language, common culture, common values (from a global perspective) and most importantly, a common heritage.

    Europe shares none of that.

    Europe is not a nation. Trying to impose a union without a nation to underlie it will always result in failure. The EU has been a Prisoner’s Dilemma from the start, and the UK was wise to defect first.

  • JohnW

    It is only a feature rather than a bug if the values locked in and placed beyond politics are core individual NEGATIVE (i.e. prohibitive) rights… i.e. The State Shall Make No Law Regarding…

    This is why the US Constitution is, at least in theory, a good thing. But if what is being locked in and placed outside politics are the on-going impositional creation of laws that regulate life in a POSITIVE way, then it is very much a bug (indeed it negates rather than restrains democracy).

    In practice, the US system has largely broken down over time (such as civil forfeiture, making the 4th Amendment a dead letter), but in principle I am all for the approach of putting fundamental rights beyond democratic politics.

    What the EU does is effectively put ongoing regulation beyond democratic politics. And that is catastrophic.

    Exactly.

  • Sam

    Huh?
    Surely democratic politics is a fundamental right.

  • JohnW

    Not if rights are negative as Perry suggests.
    The right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness [ Lilburne, Overton, Walwyn, Locke, Sidney, Coke and even Blackstone] are all negative and not up for grabs in the UK and the USA.
    This is NOT the case in egalitarian France or dutiful Germany. There the Perfect Society is the collective goal – not the individual pursuit of happiness.
    How do you achieve the perfect society? By allowing “the pursuit self-interest – the common trait of all living things” to quote Adam Smith and the abolitionists?
    No, self-interest is immoral, says Kant, Europe’s greatest and most influential philosopher.
    No, by helping humanity not the self, says Comte his greatest French successor.
    We must all conform to the command of the Supreme Legislator, says Kant.
    We must all adhere to the dictates of a secular clerisy modeled on the Roman Catholic Church, says Comte.
    Progress is your God and your life will be legislated and directed by positive laws, by envious Patricia Hewitt who says she prefers European law to Common Law.
    The state demands not English anarchy of the markets but ORDER AND PROGRESS! – so put that slogan on your flag Brazil.
    What then, of individual rights?

    There are no such things.
    The state breeds us, feeds us, educates us, and buries us – the state is all.

    Believe me, we are well out of all that.

  • shlomo maistre

    but in principle I am all for the approach of putting fundamental rights beyond democratic politics.

    Aww. This is cute.

  • shlomo maistre

    but in principle I am all for the approach of putting fundamental rights beyond democratic politics.

    Aww. This is cute.

    Sorry. Uncalled for and rude of me. (bad mood)

  • JohnW

    Schlomo – why be upset – I am on cloud nine! 😉