Power Dynamics

Is Another Europe Possible?

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The Democratic Delusion

Only a few days ago opinion polls showed a lead for the Leave side in the upcoming referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union. A growing cross-section of public opinion has been swung on key arguments on sovereignty and democracy so that the elected British parliament can regain control. From the outset the Remain side has had an inbuilt advantage as supporters of the status quo. They have practically the whole global establishment on their side. Everyone from Christine Lagarde at the IMF to President Obama as well as the most prominent economic research institutes supports the UK's continued membership of the EU. The leaderships of all the main parties represented in the British Parliament have also thrown their weight behind the Remain campaign. Even Labour's new leader Jeremy Corbyn, a longstanding opponent of EU expansionism and disciple of Tony Benn, came out in favour of the EU alongside the Greens, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and Scottish Nationalists. In the last general election only one major party, UKIP, stood clearly against EU membership. They may have gained 3.9 million votes, but only won one parliamentary seat. The referendum, it seemed, was a battle between the Tory Right, UKIP and a motley crew of mavericks from other parties versus everyone else, a clearcut fight between our interconnected global future and our insular past or between cosmopolitan universalism and reactionary nationalism. Yet to the astonishment of orthodox opinion leaders ordinary people no longer trust establishment experts or really care about nebulous concepts like economic growth (which just means a bigger GDP). People actually care about their country and social cohesion. Globalisation has largely benefited big corporations and the upwardly mobile professional classes to the detriment of the traditional native working classes.

The StrongerIn campaign has always emphasised Europe, something people associate with good cuisine, wine, beer, sunny holidays, fine art, literature, scientific excellence and a wonderful diversity of traditional cultural identities. How can we leave our European friends? Amazingly millions of ordinary working class voters are fully aware of the distinction between Europe and a superstate imposed on 28 of its countries. To confuse Europe with the EU is like mistaking Russia for the Soviet Union (although if you want to be pedantic at least the USSR comprised the whole of Russia, while the EU excludes European Russia).

Away from university campuses, corporate boardrooms and trendy international development agencies, most people still identify with their community, their home town, their region and their country much more than with hazy concepts such as Europe, increasingly indistinguishable from a broader universalism inspired by the American dream.

Real issue is not Europe at all, but unbalanced migratory flows

While the Remain crowd may have persuasive arguments on economics, the advantages of a common market and cooperation on environmental and security issues, they have always had one weakness in the eyes of many ordinary voters in England, Scotland and Wales, unbalanced migratory flows. To put things into perspective, in the 1970s approximately 100,000 moved to Britain every year, while a similar number left. Indeed in some years more left and entered. Net migration picked up in the 1980s, subsided slightly before growing gradually in the1990s along with global trends for greater labour mobility especially towards more prosperous countries. However, since 1998 net migration climbed steadily and has fluctuated between 200,000 and 330,000 since. The raw figures for 2015 show 630,000 moved to the UK for long term residence (counted as more than 12 months) and 297,000 went the other way. That's a phenomenal rate of demographic change if it continues over the next 15 years. See A summary history of immigration to Britain and Net Migration Statistics.

These crude statistics do not reflect the socio-cultural reality people experience in their everyday lives. If the quality of life keeps improving and communities retain some degree of continuity, immigration can, for want of a better word, enrich society. However, the sustainability of high levels of net migration over a long period of time depends not only on the quantity of newcomers, but also on their quality in terms of age, skills an cultural compatibility as well naturally as the host country's carrying capacity. Thus a large country like Australia can assimilate a greater number of immigrants every year than smaller and more densely populated European or Asian countries. What people perceive is how their community evolves, most important will their children have good opportunities to prosper or will they have to leave their community or fall into a trap of welfare dependence and/or job insecurity? Where you stand on Britain's great immigration debate is likely to depend on your sense of social and economic security as well as your regional identity. This explains why the greatest opposition to mass migration tends to come from outlying suburban areas of indigenous white working classes, although it is not uncommon among second or third generation descendants of Caribbean immigrants who have had to compete with newcomers from Eastern Europe at the lower end of labour market.

The biggest tragedy is a political class increasingly out of touch with ordinary people and only concerned with special interest groups who serve other agendas. If you inhabit a metropolitan elite bubble, you may believe corporate globalisation (a hackneyed term, but what else should we call it?) has benefited everyone except perhaps a few losers who keep moaning about immigrants taking their jobs. The truth is usually much more complex, mainly because of rapid technological change and ensuing job insecurity. The millions of manufacturing jobs that provided a livelihood for the working classes before the 1970s will not return. They have already been outsourced and/or automated. If young workers cannot adapt to the demands of a forever more dynamic service sector or a rapidly metamorphosing tech sector, they are likely to be condemned to a life of unrewarding temporary jobs and long periods of unemployment falling victim to all the scourges of modern society, such as depression, social anxiety and drug addiction. Youth unemployment in the UK is masked by the growth in further education, zero-hour contracts and part-time jobs. In Southern Europe youth unemployment now stands well above 40%. Many countries experience a kind of piggyback migration with waves of migrants from North Africa and Middle East arriving just as locals move to Northern Europe or, if they're lucky, Australia or Canada. The demographic and migratory trends that have seen dramatic changes in the ethnic composition of many urban districts have reverberations across Europe. We see people move literally in all directions. British entrepreneurs and pensioners may move to Spanish, Portuguese or Bulgarian tourist resorts, while millions of Eastern and Southern Europeans have escaped high unemployment to compete in the Northern Europe's booming service sector, but now find themselves displaced by new migratory waves from further afield. Likewise the indigenous middle classes have tended to move away from cities to suburban retreats and this occurs as much in Sweden or Belgium as it does in England and parts of Scotland.

The real irony in this whole Brexit debate is that other Europeans want to thwart the Brussels behemoth just as much as we do. Everywhere grassroots movements from Beppe Grillo's Movimento 5 Stelle (5 Star Movement) in Italy, Podemos in Spain, AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) in Germany and most notoriously Marie Le Pen's Front National want to wrest power from a centralising superstate. While millions of Eastern Europeans took advantage of job opportunities in wealthier European countries, they have not been so keen to accept their share of recent non-European migrants and refugees. Most Europeans would be happy with a looser community of nation states with separate currencies, protected labour markets, but largely tariff-free trade. We need to cooperate on common environmental and security concerns, scientific research, cultural and educational exchanges. We just do not need an all-powerful superstate that suppresses traditional national and regional identities and exacerbates economic divides between rich and poorer regions by imposing one-size fits all monetary policies on everyone. Europeans are not North Americans. We value our national identities and let's unite to build a different kind of European Community with a fraction of the budget of the former EU. We do not want to see the return of yesteryear's national rivalries or national despotisms, but a mosaic of peace-loving independent countries each doing things in slightly different ways. Brexit is probably the quickest way to achieve this as it would prompt renegotiations and embolden EU-sceptic organisations across Europe to challenge Brussels' hegemony. However, even a narrow Remain win would send a clear signal people want the levers of power to be much closer to home. Sadly in the wake of the murder of Jo Cox MP, I doubt the leave side can win, except by the narrowest margins. A more probably outcome will be 55% for Remain on a lower turnout as many reluctant Brexiters will be burdened by guilt for the crazy actions of one mentally deranged loner.

However, even with a comfortable victory for the Remain side, the fundamental weaknesses of the EU project will not go away. The Euro is unlikely to survive the bankruptcy of the Italian state or ten more years of mass migrations from North Africa and Middle East. The question is whether we could build a pan-European movement to dismantle the EU project peacefully and democratically or if it's too late and we let Europe descend into civil war between rival native and migrant communities when the next global banking crisis comes?

Power Dynamics

Rebutted: Top trendy arguments against balanced migration

  1. Immigration control is racist

    Unless you share your property with others less fortunate than yourself, you're racist too. Immigration controls ensure we can plan services and look after those already in our country. Besides our country has a limited carrying capacity and with an uncertain global economy it would be unwise to rely too much on imported food and raw materials to sustain our growing population.

    You're exaggerating, we have plenty of empty houses and green fields

    Only 13% of the world's land is arable at all. Most is very inhospitable, but we need countryside not only for farming, but for clean water, air and the replenishment of an ecosystem that took 3 billion years to evolve. England is already the most densely populated country in Europe and its population is growing at the fastest rate since 1800. There may be many empty houses, but they tend to be not fit for human habitation (a terraced house bought for £700,000 recently collapsed during renovation), are too upmarket (e.g. luxury flats for property investors) or are simply in the wrong place (e.g. in ghost towns, dangerous high-crime areas, in busy high-traffic zones not suitable for young children etc.). However, it's true around Europe there are around 11 million empty houses, most of which are naturally in Eastern and Southern Europe in areas of high unemployment and emigration.

  2. Our population is ageing.

    We need more nurses and carers to look after our parents and grandparents. You refer only to our native population. The UK now has one of the highest birth rates in Europe and this is much higher among recent migrants than the autochthonous community. Besides migrants age too, so unless we train our own young people we'll just end up importing forever more cheap carers and relying on imported goods and resources to sustain our growing population. The idea that net migration boosts the economy is a kind of Ponzi scheme.

  3. Migrants pay lots of tax

    Partly true. However, migrants also consume services and require more infrastructure. Most reports claiming migrants have made large net contributions to the Exchequer fail to take into account services that they use. An oft-quoted figure is that between 2001 and 2011 EU migrants paid £20 billion in tax. However, that works out at 2 billion year for approximately 2 million people leaving just £1000 per head to cover the cost of additional services required. An average worker has to earn over 32K a year to cover services consumed. Yet despite this extra tax revenue, our governments is still running a massive budget deficit.

  4. Our country was too boring before the year 2000

    Actually many urban areas were already culturally diverse in 2000, but migration began to run out of control in the late 1990s. Before then we could manage and assimilate people from many countries into our home-bred communities, now we create parallel societes. Besides what do you have against native Britons?

  5. We have a skills gap

    Mainly because successive governments have failed to invest in key science and engineering education or provide young people with enough apprenticeships. Indeed despite record levels of immigration, the skills gap is growing rather than shrinking as we have a vast oversupply of unskilled and semi-skilled workers, but rising demand.

All in the Mind Power Dynamics

Does the Trendy Left trust you to do anything?

Teletubbies for Remain

If you listen to the debate on Britain's membership of the European Union you could be forgiven for believing that it's a clash between progressive philanthropists and selfish Little Englanders determined to restore Britain to Victorian values. To the likes of Caroline Lucas the EU represents green fields with solar panels and wind turbines interspersed with cycle lanes, eco-friendly houses and intelligent talented European citizens sharing ideas on how to make the world a better place. This idyllic vision of a new Europe might resemble a cross between a university campus and the Teletubbies, where EU bureaucrats act as benevolent teachers and playground assistants moulding a new generation to break with their forebears' old divisive ways. For all the talk of multiculturalism, pan-Europeanism has always been about suppressing national identities that emerged over centuries of gradual cultural evolution in favour of an artificial social construct.

Just as primary school teachers fear their children will revert to bullying and infighting without their progressive oversight, left-branded EU fanatics would have you believe Britain would revert to a pre-1973 squalor controlled by rightwing Tories intent on undoing all the good things the EU has purportedly done. In reality most environmentally friendly EU legislation just helps big business deal with the adverse affects of higher consumer demand. We may have more energy-efficient fridges and hair-dryers, but not only are these goods imported from afar, they are replaced more frequently offsetting any marginal gains in yield.

Yet it's when the debate turns to the UK's unbalanced net migration statistics that the faux left reveal their true colours. Free movement of labour has become a core value. It's doesn't seem to matter how unbalanced migratory flows are or how many social problems are caused by our inability to accommodate so many new residents, the infantile globalist left has only two answers:

  • Shout racism at native workers
  • Blame greedy capitalists for not building enough affordable houses, schools, hospitals and roads to accommodate newcomers.

By this logic 19th century Bengali textile workers should have welcomed cheap imports from Manchester in solidarity with their English counterparts toiling away in mechanised sweatshops. Surely any attempt to defend your community and way of life must be motivated by either insular nationalism or Luddism.

Yet the same arrogance that Victorian imperialists showed towards the native peoples of their colonies has now re-emerged as a the globalist revulsion against autochthonous working class opposition to their plans. Just as Victorian industrialists used child labour in English, Welsh and Scottish textile mills, factories and coal mines to displace local cottage industries in the colonies, they use migrant labour today to displace native working classes everywhere.

More disturbing is the pseudo left's emotional propaganda for perceived victims groups. They will have us believe that our health service would crumble without the hard work of immigrants from the rest of the EU. Besides the obvious point that a higher population boosts demand, a disproportionate percentage of NHS staff are indeed not UK-born. This is because the NHS has failed to invest sufficiently in training medical staff and relies increasingly on agency workers, who can be hired and fired at the drop of a hat. NHS managers seek to cut costs by importing ready-trained personnel, thereby reducing training costs and gaining more malleable staff.

No doubt, longer life spans, higher survival rates of disabled people and greater awareness of medical conditions and treatments have increased demand for healthcare in most technologically advanced countries. The NHS employs a staggering 1.7 million people, of whom around 140,000 are medical doctors. However, other European countries have similar needs and need staff too. Why should we pilfer the best and brightest from low-wage regions whether they happen to be in the EU or not? Why are young Britons not pursing medical careers in sufficient numbers or being given chances to train? These are naturally complex questions, but even those British nurses who try to do the right thing find themselves sidelined by agencies NHS spends huge sums on foreign nurses, yet two thirds of local applicants are rejected. The NHS is clearly run by people who do not have the beat interests of their local communities at heart. The locals are seen as customers or, as we used to call them, patients.

The faux left loves to complain about government cutbacks in welfare provision and mental healthcare. Yet has it occurred to them that alternative to both might be better training and job security. Why do so many native Britons need mental healthcare? Why do so many lack any sense of purpose in their lives? Traditionally one lived to provide one's family with comfortable standard of living and a future for the next generation. The kind of neoliberal policies we have seen since the Thatcher era have both destroyed communities and split families. Just as the information revolution enabled greater automation, Western elites decided mothers should organise their lives around wage slavery rather than seeking new ways to enable both women and men to work less and have more time to raise their children. So rather than reorganising our economy so people only have to work 20 hours a week, can retire early and take off a few years for sabbaticals, we opted to condemn millions to joblessness and welfare dependence while others were forced to hand over their young children to third-party carers so they could earn a living in boring office jobs. No wonder so many children lack any clear sense of identity or purpose life. Their parents either depend on welfare handouts or they're away most of the day serving someone else's needs. As men are no longer needed as breadwinners during a child's early years, many women have effectively married the state. However, these developments have not affected the chattering professional classes anywhere near as much. The highly skilled can usually negotiate much better work conditions. An affluent professional couple can easily team up to provide both themselves and their offspring with the right work/life balance. If you earn £100,000 a year each working 40 hours a week you can easily agree to halve your salaries while you take it turns to look after your children, though mothers naturally have a stronger biological bond with their babies in their tender first few months. By contrast if you're on the breadline struggling to pay exorbitant rents or mortgages, you have no such choice. A couple earning 30,000 a year each would both have to work full-time in most of the UK to maintain a vaguely normal standard of living without being a drain on the welfare system. Indeed as discussed elsewhere, anyone earning less than 32K per annum receives more in services than they pay in tax once we take into account childcare, schooling, healthcare, transport infrastructure, policing and other essential public services.

A new reality is dawning on the affluent world. Big business no longer needs most workers, except as marketing, surveillance and support staff whose job it is to control the behaviour of social deviants. The only mission-critical workers of the future will be those essential to the development of new technologies and new ways to manage the great unwashed masses, basically between 1 and 5% of the current workforce, a privileged intellectual elite able to grasp complex organisational concepts. Everyone else's job will be expendable.

The trendy left's simplistic rhetoric may reassure some that they care about the underprivileged, but increasingly it seems they have become extreme advocates of interdependence. Every faux-left cause célèbre seems to lead in the same direction, greater dependence on external agencies and greater reliance on high-tech solutions to cope with the demands of increasingly interconnected lives. If we grow our economies and fill skills gaps by allowing our population to rise, we'll have to import more resources, build more houses and find innovative ways to boost energy efficiency. If we expand mental healthcare, we are effectively policing people's minds rather than enabling them to fend for themselves. If we ban hydraulic fracturing, something I'd certainly welcome, we either cut consumption or need alternatives means of energy generation to cope with demand.

The last people the faux left trust to run their lives are ordinary workers, because sooner or later workers start to think for themselves and may not agree with the universalist vision of infantile globalists. Hence social media has to be proactively monitored for nationalist opinions. Social workers can pry into the lives of every parent or carer. Surveillance has moved way beyond the primitive CCTV of the 1990s. Labour-controlled Glasgow City Council partnered with an Israeli Intelligence firm to introduce a state-of-the-art surveillance system with advanced facial recognition (Big Brother is watching: Glasgow City Council partners with Israeli surveillance company to monitor ‘unusual behaviour' among citizens). If you think the Scottish National Party are any better, just consider their infamous Named Person bill that assigns an inspector to every child empowered to intervene in family matters.

The pro-EU left do not trust common folk to run their lives. They see us as mere voting fodder. If you think they care more about new immigrants or refugees, just consider the plight of Britons of Caribbean descent who arrived here in 1950s and 60s. Labour seemed quite happy to let agencies overlook hundreds of thousands of unemployed Londoners of Afro-Caribbean heritage, and hire directly from Eastern Europe. If the left really cared about immigrants, it would make sure we can assimilate the last wave of newcomers before we import another. If it really cared about sustainable development in Africa or India, it would also make sure they can keep their most talented sons and daughters rather than rely on aid and remittances.

The Teletubbies series started in 1997 and have deservedly been criticised as an exercise in social engineering.