Categories
Computing Power Dynamics

Would a sane Commander in Chief ever deploy Nuclear Weapons?

nuclear bomb

The British Parliament is about to vote on the renewal of the country's US-built and US-controlled nuclear missile shield. In case you didn't know, these nuclear warheads are launched from submarines based in Faslane on the Firth of Clyde, just 20 miles from Glasgow, Scotland.

I've long realised pacifism, while an ideal we should all aspire to, is not a viable option in a dangerous and grotesquely unequal world. Pacifism makes as much sense as open borders without any police surveillance. It might work once we have overcome the dark sides of human nature and established a truly egalitarian and peace loving society in which not only do we all care for each other, but we all trust each other. If you can justify self-defence and accept the need for public institutions to protect us, you have to recognise we need some form of defence, especially in the wake of recent terrorist attacks and attempted coups d'état.

The biggest threats to the security of the British people do not come rival superpowers intent on destroying our infrastructure and killing millions of people, but from unstable militias and unhinged local despots who retaliate against UK involvement in military operations in their neck of the woods. Britain is a prime target of foreign aggressors not because we have failed to destroy their power bases, but because our government's actions in supporting US and NATO interventions has greatly destabilised much of the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. A major military power such as Russia, with vast territory of its own, would have little reason to attack the British Isles, unless we became directly involved in a future conflagration with Russia over Ukraine. In such a scenario, were Russia to deploy nuclear warheads against a densely populated country, without the military and economic might for total world domination, the fallout would permanently shatter its international reputation and almost certainly invite disastrous military and/or economic retaliation. In a globally connected world destroying your customers' countries doesn't make much sense unless it&rrsquo;s the only way to gain control of mission-critical resources only available there in abundance.

A quick look at military spending figures for 2015 reveals a changing world. With the notable exception of the United States, which account for over 40% of the global military spending, the countries with the most successful economies have rather modest defence budgets. Even Russia, with around 145 million, only spends 10 billion more than the UK. Most of its military budget is invested in land forces and a large personnel of 771 thousand. Russia is also surrounded by US bases in Eastern Europe, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Mongolia and Japan. Of greater concern should be Saudi Arabia's massive $88 billion defence budget.

Rank Country $ Billion
1 United States 597.5
2 China 145.8
3 Saudi Arabia 81.8
4 Russia 66.5
5 United Kingdom 56.2
6 India 48.0
7 France 46.8
8 Japan 41.0
9 Germany 36.7
10 South Korea 33.5
11 Brazil 24.3
12 Australia 22.8
13 Italy 21.6
14 Iraq 21.1
15 Israel 18.6

Source: Wikipedia: List of Countries By Military Expenditures

What would happen if some madman launched a nuclear attack against us

While NATO's military planners may be fixated with Russia, the real threat comes from an unstable Middle East, especially in the event of a popular uprising in Saudi Arabia and the ascension to power of an anti-Western regime allied with countries such as Pakistan and possibly Iran. They might, at least until the development of viable alternatives, hold the world to ransom through their control of cheap oil, and fight regional wars of conquest just as Saudi Arabia is currently engaged in bombing campaigns in Yemen. However, any nuclear strikes against European cities would kill hundreds of thousands of Muslims too. Nuclear weapons are useless against strategic military targets, unless such targets are conveniently located in remote sparsely populated regions. Indeed to be effective a nuclear attack would have to annihilate enemy territory. A large superpower, like the USA, could wipe out a geographically constrained enemy, albeit with cataclysmic human consequences, but a small militias linked to an ad-hoc state such as Daesh would only succeed in killing people before inviting immediate retaliation against an ill-defined target. A nuclear strike would be the ultimate act of extreme terrorism that no sane commander in chief of a stable country would contemplate even in the event of nuclear attack on their territory, by which time the damage would have been done. The only logical defence would be an advanced anti-nuclear defence shield that could intercept and destroy nuclear warheads before they reach major population centres. Our priority would be to minimise human deaths and neutralise the enemy. Oddly the huge projected £100 and 200 billion budget for the new Trident system over 30 years would be much better spent on more intelligent satellite reconnaissance and surface to air missiles launched from existing submarines but without nuclear warheads. Mail On Sunday columnist Peter Hitchins supported Trident in the cold war days when most of us on the left opposed it, but he rightly says now "To spend all your money of a nuclear weapon for a war that won't happen is like spending all your money on insurance against alien abduction and then neglecting to insure your self against fire and theft."

Deterrence theory relies on convincing your potential enemy that you'd actually deploy your warheads, which would have no tactical advantage. Nuclear weapons are good at two things: mass destruction and complete humiliation. It's what the US did to the Japanese towards the end of Second World War. They could only get away with it because of their massive technological and economic superiority. That's no longer the case. Nuclear war would lead to mutually assured destruction. Keeping nuclear weapons only encourages rogue states from following suit.

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All in the Mind Power Dynamics

Expertocracy: the political Elites don’t trust you

Unless you believe their experts

Today people power, or democracy if your prefer a more Hellenic term, means little more than mood management. You may express your feelings on a range of options that other presumed experts and high-profile opinion leaders offer you. However, you are not supposed to have any original thoughts or seek alternative sources of information that have not been given an official seal of approval or at any rate deemed authoritative. In debates on scientific issues orthodox pundits love to reference peer-reviewed research, because obviously any findings that challenge agendas essential to vested corporate interests can be easily weeded out or toned down in the peer review stage.

Expertocracy, the power of establishment experts, affects all controversies, whether on scientific, environmental, historical or geopolitical matters. The establishment bias pervades not only news media, but entertainment, drama and above all educational programmes. Popular soaps regularly push agendas and reinforce our preconceptions on a whole range of issues so that highly disputable contentions become generally accepted truisms. I've tried to highlight some of these in previous blog posts. Some questions are loaded, i.e. they only make sense if we internalise a mainstream assumption, such as we need economic growth and therefore any policy that might hinder economic growth must be bad. If we realise we don't actually need economic growth and merely better, more rewarding and less stressful lives, we might reach radically different conclusions on many topical issues.

Two recent events in British media circus have highlighted the public's growing distrust with the establishment media and their preferred experts. First the EU Referendum showed much of public opinion shunned the overwhelming pro-EU bias of the liberal intelligentsia and academia. The BBC and Guardian reminded us every day that leading economists believed continued membership of the EU is essential for job security and extreme labour mobility is just part of our wonderfully dynamic 21st century globalised economy. Their message was clear: Stop asking silly ill-informed questions and leave big questions such as economic management and migration control to the experts. The subtext was even clearer: If you question the rationale behind unbalanced mass migration you must be racist.

Then on Wednesday 6th July another shock unsettled the Westminster establishment. Sir John Chilcot's long-awaited report admitted major failures in the intelligence, justification and planning of the 2003 US/UK-led occupation of Iraq, but naturally fell short of identifying the real reasons for war or accusing any politician of intentional mendacity. I use the word occupation because in the event Iraqi forces loyal to the Baathist regime offered only token resistance. The US-led military coalition easily conquered Iraq and effortlessly overthrew Saddam Hussein's hated regime. Yet three trillion US dollars and over 1 million dead Iraqis later, they have clearly lost the peace. Iraq descended fast into civil war and now much of the Sunni-dominated and oil-rich Western region is under ISiS control. In the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war most establishment experts, at least those favoured by the BBC and UK government, agreed that Saddam Hussein posed a real threat to world peace and failure to overthrow his despotic regime would not only lead to more deaths in Iraq, but would allow an unhinged Saddam Hussein, always referred to by first name in the Western media, to destabilise the region. Of course, if Iraq really did have functioning weapons of mass destruction it would have deployed them in self-defence. Alas in the invent of the US invasion the Iraqi military could barely muster a couple tank divisions. While it was never hard to find Iraqis who welcomed the deposition of their former dictator and Western sanctions had already made most Iraqis poorer, attempts to rebuild Iraq as a vibrant peace-loving democracy along the lines of West Germany in the aftermath of WW2 failed dismally. The rest is history. By any account the region is much more unstable now than it was before the ill-conceived occupation. Other interventions in Afghanistan and Libya have had equally disastrous results. They have made nobody safer and have unleashed a tsunami of refugees on neighbouring countries and Europe.

Yet had we listened to the warnings of specialists that that our mainstream media either ignored or dismissed as mavericks or wild conspiracy theorists, we could have foreseen the likely outcome of these military operations. The UN's official inspector in the run-up to the occupation, Hans Blix, failed to find any evidence of new WMDs, except for remnants of chemical weapons labs from the 1980s when Britain and US exported arms to Iraq. There is nothing the public learned in the Chilcot Report that had not been predicted in Scott Ritter's 1999 book Endgame, in which he suggests a way out of the Iraqi quagmire but warns of the danger of outright invasion. However bad Saddam Hussein might have been, he was far from alone in the long list of tyrants and mass murderers that the US once supported. Iraq is largely a creation of Anglo-American imperialism in the aftermath of the First World War. Lines in the sand were drawn with little consideration given to a territory's viability as a country. The US and UK were happy to support a dictator like Saddam Hussein to suppress Islamic fundamentalism and as a bulwark against Iran. Just as Western governments tolerated Saudi Arabia's human rights' abuses and Turkey's suppression of its large Kurdish population, they turned a blind eye to the Baathist regime's crimes until Saddam Hussein authorised Iraq's 1990 occupation of oil-soaked Kuwait. Those with a long enough memory and an inquisitive mind will recall Saddam Hussein felt it safe to occupy what most Iraqis of the era regarded as their 19th province after former US Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie said “We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America†.

In a complex society nobody can reach logical conclusions on most subjects without deferring to the experience and technical competence of others. The challenge we all face is to judge whether or not to trust experts that appear regularly in the mainstream media or to seek alternative views. Dissident experts are not necessarily right just because the establishment shuns them. They may be pursuing another agenda, possibly funded by dark forces that do not have our best interests at heart, have deep religious convictions at odds with modern scientific theories or may simply retain faith in outdated beliefs that have lost favour with our new internationalist elite. However, all these charges are equally applicable to the status quo, except we might replace religious zeal with an unswerving belief in technological progress. The establishment does regularly change its mind, which is partly why some apparent dissident experts cling to the old consensus, but has to manage public perception in such a way as to not discredit its authority. When irrefutable evidence proves a product, once favoured by powerful lobbies, such as cigarettes to be harmful, many reputations are tarnished. Yet the marketing of tobacco products played a major role in the promotion of consumer hedonism. Cigarettes have arguably lost their usefulness as effective means of mood management. Modern technology has better alternatives.

Should we let our government build more nuclear power stations? Should we allow hydraulic fracturing in our neighbourhood? Are mercury amalgam fillings safe? Should all girls be vaccinated against human papilloma virus? These are all reasonable questions that affect the lives of millions. Yet which experts should we trust on these matters? Fortunately on all these bones of contention you can still find a diversity of well-researched expert opinion. The mainstream media bias, at least in the UK, is still broadly supportive of nuclear power with all the usual caveats about safety and security. The NHS still defends the use of mercury amalgams and will readily point you to copious peer-reviewed abstracts dismissing the concerns of anti-mercury campaigners. However, opponents of mass vaccination are often dismissed as little more than uninformed quacks likely to believe the scare stories of a few renegade clinicians. Just consider the vast sums invested in the vilification of Dr Andrew Wakefield, apparently personally responsible for each outbreak of measles. In truth Dr Wakefield has only ever advocated safe vaccination and only questioned the safety of the triple vaccine option. I don't want to revisit the MMR controversy here, but it surely highlights the problem with expertocracy. Once we silence dissident experts in the name of public safety, we then effectively only have a narrow set of sanitised policy options.

One of the most dangerous political currents is universal progressivism. Its adherents believe that despite many transient hurdles and occasional setbacks, we are on a one-way journey to a global utopia. In the words of D:Ream's 1994 hit that accompanied Tony Blair's upbeat 1997 election campaign “Things Can Only Get Betterâ€. For this illusion to appear true we have to keep rewriting the past and often the very recent past. Moreover, we have to keep discovering new perceived problems that require some form of proactive intervention. We no longer accept our natural limitations. Consider the sad fact that some women cannot bear children. In the recent past if a woman learned she could not procreate successfully for medical reasons, she would have probably felt some temporary despair. But surprisingly most women took such news in their stride, glad to be alive and able to contribute to their family and community in other ways. Now infertility is considered a tragedy, not just an unfortunate fact of life, because the fertility treatment industry have transformed people's perceptions of personal injustice and contributed to a growing culture of entitlement. This attitude emotionalises political discourse. The media present major issues in emotional terms. Thus if you oppose the European Union, you must hate European people. If are concerned about high levels of net migration, you must hate individual immigrants who may be good people. It's very easy to conflate the personal with the social. However, on a personal level we regularly express the most extreme forms of real discrimination. If a young woman rejects the sexual advances of a young man, she is not only discriminating, but may also hurt his feelings. This behaviour seems only natural and healthy until you internalise the crazy logic of social justice warriors in which every perceived personal misfortune is a crime against humanity. Thus if a fat person is entitled to expensive surgery to tackle their obesity and not expected to control their weight naturally through a healthy diet and exercise, there's no reason why a relatively ugly heterosexual male should not be entitled to expensive cosmetic surgery and generous welfare handouts to boost his attractiveness in the sexual marketplace. Employers often discriminate against incompetent or unqualified workers. I don't think many of us would like to be operated by incompetent surgeon or fly in a plane commandeered by an unqualified pilot. None of this means we should not give everyone a chance to learn new skills or provide healthcare for treatable conditions. We just need to balance personal and social responsibilities, understand our limitations and limit our expectations.

A culture of entitlement leads to extreme interdependence. As we are not all equally gifted or equally able to pursue intellectually challenging jobs, it makes us more, rather than less, reliant on experts. These armies of official advisors are now responsible for every aspect of our lives from eating to shopping and leisure, lovemaking to procreation and child-rearing, communication to transportation, education to work as well as healthcare. Our freedom has largely been reduced to a choice of consumer goods and regulated leisure pursuits. Psychologists now view our opinions mere expressions of our psyche. If we stray too far from the narrow range of permissible dissent, sociologists may regard our views as dysfunctional or delusional or somehow incompatible with the kind of new society they wish to build. In their mindset if you believe, for instance, that fluoride in the water supply is a form of mind control, you are a victim of delusional thinking and the hypothesis that fluoride ingested in excessive quantities can cross the blood-brain barrier and inflict permanent brain damage is barely worth investigating. If you only ever rely on official reports from mainstream media outlets and respected scientific publications, you will probably only ever find out about any adverse effects of our current policies when it's too late. If you believe mass migration is the best way to achieve social harmony, you may have seen all manner of alternative explanations for events that may on the surface not fit your thesis. Could the rise in terrorist incidents in France and elsewhere be related to a growing Muslim population and record youth unemployment ? If you previously believed in something we rather misleadingly call multiculturalism, then you may only accept the latter part of that hypothesis. We know mass unemployment alone does not necessarily lead to terrorism, though it can naturally lead people to support political agendas that would otherwise be unpopular. However, a combination of extreme ideologies within a marginalised ethnoreligious group and neoliberal economics with limited job security could well destabilise delicate social cohesion when rival communities no longer share the same core values. As the universalist neoliberal dream, the idea that global big business can work in tandem with supranational organisations to bring about a better world, crumbles, we had better start listening to more subversive experts and learning, once again. to sort the wheat from the chaff.

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Power Dynamics

Shifting Alliances

For a long time Britain's political parties have failed to represent the views and aspirations of ordinary people. Politicians have become mere implementors of policies devised elsewhere by a maze of global organisations. Labour, Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and even the SNP have all converged on a variant of Blairism, broadly speaking a form of managed corporate globalisation with a blurring of traditional national boundaries, a merger between large corporations and public sector services, greater surveillance and above all greater interdependence. They only differ in their presentation to their target audience and can even pretend to disagree on issues over which they have little control or are not mission-critical. The real changes we see in our lives are driven by large corporations and rapid technological innovation with environmental and human consequences few of us can fully comprehend.

The Brexit vote is likely to change the British political landscape in some quite unexpected ways. The EU referendum revealed a divide not so much on traditional party-political allegiances, as on socio-economic classes and tribal identity. In England and Wales people on lower incomes voted overwhelming to leave the EU. Even in Scotland, despite tribal loyalty behind the SNP and its calls for a second Independence Referendum ( #indyref2 ), many working class voters rebelled against their political elites.

In the aftermath of the shock Brexit vote, the British Labour Party is in meltdown. The English and Welsh working classes failed to heed its warnings about the dire economic consequences of leaving its beloved European Union. They sent a clear signal. “Enough is enough. We're fed up of condescending lectures on the benefits of globalisation. We think it's out of control and not in our interests. We want you to put local people first.†One thing is clear few leave voters have villas in France or Eastern European nannies. Many live on the breadline, the very people who would once have voted Labour. While some protest votes went to UKIP in the last General Election, many more simply did not vote at all. A few Labour MPs and activists supported the Labour Leave campaign. I donated to help produce #Lexit the movie, presenting the leftwing case against the EU superstate. However, the mainstream media ignored these voices in the wilderness. Only Kate Hoey, Gisela Stuart and Frank Field really took part in the public debate. The party machinery and the bulk of its parliamentarians supported staying in the EU, something which had become an act of faith. Not surprisingly the party's staunchly pro-EU Blairite wing did not blame the handful of mavericks for openly opposing their line, but the new infantile left-leaning leader for failing to present a positive case for staying in the EU. The SNP proudly boasted that they had delivered a pro-EU vote, probably because many of their supporters instinctively distrust remote superstates. Why complain about Westminster being too remote, only to transfer control of your economic and migration policies to Brussels. However, the defining issue was not the finer details of free trade deals or international cooperation, but unsustainable unbalanced mass migration, a phenomenon felt much more in England and Wales than in Scotland. Amazingly on this subject both the Blairite and Corbynite wings are in wholehearted agreement. They may disagree on recent military interventions in the Middle East and Central Asia, on the renewal of Trident or the renationalisation of the railways, but both the infantile universalist left and Blairite corporate globalists adore mass migration, albeit for different reasons. Neither faction really cares about Britain, which they view merely as a social experiment, a kind of extended international university campus. While Corbynites imagine that people from different backgrounds will come together in their struggle against corporate oppressors, Blairites long recognised they had to work with multinational corporations and not against them. They could pretend to care about the environment, community cohesion, international solidarity and human rights just to bring the gullible aspirational left on board. Very often these concerns help drive their longer term agenda for greater corporate control. Human rights provide the ideal pretext for military intervention. Community cohesion can justify greater surveillance and restrictions on free speech. Calls for international solidarity can give grounds for the erosion of national sovereignty and environmental concerns can win public support for a transfer of power to global institutions, often working in cahoots with the same multinationals responsible for much of our industrial pollution. Blairites are pragmatists who usurp progressive rhetoric to empower their corporate masters. By contrast Corbynites can only offer the electorate abstract ideals. In power they could only follow a radical form of Neo-Keynsianism but would soon find themselves constrained by international markets and global institutions just as Greece's Syriza had to bow to the will of the European Central Bank. They may preach universal love for all, including the disadvantaged native English communities, but they have few plans for managing social conflicts when their economic plans go awry. Ironically, outside the European Union, Britain would be freer to pursue independent economic policies, though global banks would be unlikely to let a potential Corbyn government overspend. For all the talk of investing in the re-birth of British manufacturing, I suspect a Corbyn / McDonnell government would be too busy trying to eke taxes out of multibillion dollar tech giants than to stimulate the kind of technological innovation we need to address our environmental challenges.

The biggest surprise in the wake of the EU referendum is that the Conservative Party is still largely intact, though maybe not for long. I suspect a fair number of MPs, like many voters, were reluctant or rather pragmatic remainers. The establishment know all too well the odds were stacked against the Leave campaign. In the end more people voted with their brain than with their heart. Apart from a hardcore of EU fanatics such as Kenneth Clarke, Michael Heseltine, Nicholas Soames and Anna Soubry, most Conservatives have accepted the result. They merely differ on the finer details of the UK's negotiated exit. For the first time in living memory, the Conservative Party seem more in touch with the aspirations of ordinary working people than Labour or the Liberal Democrats. Tory Brexiteers can now argue that all deals with the EU must exempt us from accepting free movement of people with the full support of a majority of public opinion. Most voters support balanced migration, i.e. where a similar number of workers enter and leave the country every year letting us still attract foreign talent, but reducing competition at the lower end of labour market. Most would also rather pay more for goods and services than see cheap agency staff undercut local workers. However, I would not trust the Tories to stand up for the interests of ordinary working people. If the Eurosceptic wing of the Conservative Party gain the upper hand in the coming leadership election and secure a favourable free trade deal with the EU that gives us full control over migration policy, UKIP will have lost its raison d'être. If they can genuinely bring down net migration to the tens of thousands, it will cease to be a bone of contention. UKIP's other policies such as their hatred of wind farms and support for hydraulic fracturing and cheaper motoring basically just appeal to the Jeremy Clarkson mindset. They may have made a few interesting points on the merits of grammar schools and squandering of foreign aid, but few of their policies stand up to much scrutiny in the real world. Education will have to keep pace with rapidly evolving technology and greater automation. Rather than reintroduce outdated grammar schools, we should be setting up specialised schools to further science, technology, engineering and mathematics and let children develop at different rates. Most important we should aim for smaller class sizes. This will mean training more teachers and limiting population growth. Unlike UKIP, I would spend more, not less, on international aid. I would rather help other countries develop sustainably than poach their best and brightest doctors and engineers. I'd rather see poorer countries give their people a better future than tidal waves of migrants crossing the Mediterranean on makeshift boats. The trouble with international aid has always been corrupt local elites and empire-building NGOs who acts as mere fronts for the same global corporations that want to exploit the resources of much of the developing world. We cannot begin to address grotesque global inequalities until we reduce our dependence on resources only available in poor countries. I'm fairly certain the Middle East would be a much more peaceful place were it not for our dependence on plentiful cheap oil and the vast concentration of wealth in a handful of nabobs.

I cannot see any easy way to reconcile the divisions between the Blairite and Corbynite wings of the Labour Party. The Corbynite Momentum movement will retain its strengths among students, trendy cosmopolitan city dwellers and virtue-signalling click activists. If the Parliamentary Labour Party fails to win a likely leadership election with Corbyn on the ballot paper, they will have little choice but to form a new party, which could potentially attract some renegade Tories or even merge with the Liberal Democrats to become effectively the voice of the arrogant upwardly mobile professional classes. A nightmare scenario for British politics would be the growing likelihood of a narrow victory for Andrea Leadsom in the Tory leadership election, not because her team's policies are all that radical or dangerously rightwing, but because her commitment to an immediate invocation of article 50 and to negotiate a deal that would exempt the UK from freedom of movement. If Jeremy Corbyn wins a likely Labour leadership contest, we could see a seismic shift in UK parliamentary politics. It would only take 20 Tory MPs or so to join forces with the mainstream Blairite wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party to rid the government of its majority and trigger a general election with unpredictable results. Faced with a choice between warmongering Blairites and idealist Corbynites, many traditional Labour voters would run a mile.

I suspect neither grouping would carry a majority of the traditional Labour vote. The party has come to rely too much on the volatile support of ethnic minorities who see the organisation as a vehicle to further their ethno-religous interests. I really do not see Britain's growing Muslim community forming an alliance with Blairites committed to more wars in the Middle East or with the infantile left pursing a fanciful rainbow coalition of gays, ecologists, vegans and pacifists. That leaves a huge vacuum for working class labour, the kind of people who believe in a pragmatic mix of social conservatism, patriotism, a non-interventionist foreign policy, international solidarity, environmental sustainability, steady-state economics (i.e. a focus on the quality of life rather than GDP growth) and technological innovation.

Following Nigel Farage's resignation, I'm unsure whether UKIP will ever win over a substantial proportion of the tradition Labour vote. They may just ensure a complete exit from the European Union without any compromise on the globalist left's treasured Freedom of Movement. They may urge tighter immigration controls, but really have little to offer that differentiates them from the Eurosceptic wing of the Tory Party. There has been some talk about Red UKIP, but apart from a few populist commitments on the NHS, the party has little to offer disenfranchised Labour voters in a post-Brexit Britain.

Real Labour Manifesto

  • We want an independent, democratic and federal United Kingdom, defending the interests of our citizens while cooperating with our European neighbours and other countries further afield in an intersecting network of international communities. We support strong nation states and international solidarity. Democracy can only thrive in viable nation states able to respond to the will of their electorates.
  • Balanced migration. Only when we can manage migratory flows in a very unequal world can we safeguard the most vulnerable in our society and ensure community cohesion. Immigration policy should focus on social stability, environmental sustainability and international solidarity first and only then take into account economic factors. We should invest in the future of our young citizens by providing the right training opportunities for tomorrow's world of high skill employment.
  • International aid: In a fast changing world richer countries have a moral duty to help poorer countries develop the infrastructure and skills base they need to take full advantage of modern technology, sop we can live in peace together. While we support international exchanges in science and engineering, we should not deprive poorer countries of their best and brightest.
  • Steady-state economics. For too long we have had a narrow focus on economic growth. In practice this just means a greater volume of financial transactions, higher corporate profits and more consumption. Economic growth cannot continue forever. We need to focus instead on improving people's quality of life through greater stability and a more diversified but high-skill economy.
  • Stakeholder economy: Artificial intelligence and robotics will transform the world of work. However, we must ensure everyone is involved in shaping our future rather than consigning a growing proportion of our working age population to a life of welfare dependence. We must invest in lifelong training and education, facilitate remote and part-time working and explore ways to ensure that everyone, except the most severely disabled, can contribute in some way. We would rather have full employment with average working hours of just 10 or 15 hours a week, than a growing divide between a technocratic elite of wealthy professionals on high incomes and millions dependent on corporate benevolence.
  • Self-defence: Britain should become a normal post-imperial country. Our armed forces should exist for the sole purpose of national defence. We will continue to participate in international military alliances to avert potential threats from foreign imperial powers, but we will not intervene unilaterally in disputes that do not affect our national territorial integrity. We will scrap all nuclear warheads and reinvest in essential naval defences.
Categories
All in the Mind Power Dynamics

Forget Europe, Brexit was really a peasants revolt against smug elitists

Oddly this referendum has restored my faith in humanity

Just over a week ago the global establishment and their cheerleaders in the liberal intelligentsia got the fright of their lives. They had failed to persuade the British electorate to vote remain in the referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union. When Labour lost in 2010 and again in 2015, the metropolitan elite did not seem all that bothered as the resulting coalition led by David Cameron and Nick Clegg offered more or less the same neoliberal politics, albeit with a little window dressing and hype about tackling the country's deficit through minor cutbacks in welfare and public services, which the left insisted on calling slash and burn austerity. Yet when the British public voted against their beloved European Union, hell had truly descended on earth. It hardly mattered that this supranational organisation had imposed real austerity on Southern Europeans, brought about mass youth unemployment through a one-size-fits-all currency and led millions to migrate across the continent in search of work destroying close-knit communities and widening the gap between rich and poor. Rapid globalisation may have benefited the upwardly mobile professional classes, keen to exploit new business opportunities and enjoy a wider selection of restaurants and more malleable foreign workers, but it has left behind vast swathes of the traditional working classes unable to adapt to our post-industrial present. Their voice has been largely ignored. Mainstream parties have merely pitied the remnants of the British working classes, talking glibly about new business investments in industrial wastelands, while defending welfare dependence and social interventionism. Whenever the topic of unlimited immigration of unskilled and semi-skilled labour from Eastern and Southern Europe cropped up, the pseudo-liberal elites would downplay its extent, misrepresent its economic benefits and, ever so subtly, suggest the native underclasses were too lazy and inept to fill vacancies in the country's booming service sector. To add insult to injury, over the last 6 years of Tory-led government, the phoney left has not only championed welfarism, but via myriad charities, has condescendingly treated growing sections of our communities as sufferers of mental illness. Rather than viewing the working classes as the true creators of the nation's wealth, the postmodern left now regards the underclasses as just another victim group alongside other underprivileged groups such as low-paid migrant workers, single mothers and ethnic minorities. In the new world of virtue-signalling, victimhood status matters more than hard work. If you're mentally ill, obese, gay, Muslim or a recent Bulgarian migrant, the bien-pensant left will pretend to champion your rights, but if you're just a low-paid or jobless native worker concerned about unfair labour market competition they will write you off as ignorant and potentially racist. Indeed many actually regard angry nativism as a form of mental illness, i.e. a phenomenon that must be managed and tackled, but not expressed in the ballot box. If working class white British males could rebrand themselves as a victim group, the trendy left may just listen. Indeed in many urban areas this ethnosocial category is already a disadvantaged minority.

The big Surprise

As the polling stations closed and the last opinion polls indicated a marginal lead for the remain side. I was braced for a big anticlimax. If the leave side could muster 45%, then maybe in five or ten years time, when the whole EU project goes pear-shaped, we might get another chance. In all comparable referenda, the public voted for the status quo, better the devil you know. I'm sure many remain voters were concerned about the EU's lack of democracy and unsustainable migratory flows. They just believed that the consequences of leaving the EU were much worse than any potential gains of greater national self-determination just as many proud Scots voted to stay in the UK just under 2 years earlier. The Remain side appealed to emotions, international solidarity, our love for our European neighbours and, above all, economic expediency. Indeed a common theme in the closing stages of the referendum, and one repeated endlessly by the bad losers now, is that simply leaving the EU will have little effect on migration. If the British economy continues to prosper, it will, according to free marketeers, attract more migrants than it exports. I think all this talk about trade deals and regulations bored most voters, partly because it's so hard to gauge how economic growth translates into a better quality of life for ordinary people, e.g. property speculation may drive GDP growth, but it also makes houses unaffordable for workers on typical salaries.

As the results piled in, we saw two clear patterns emerge. The United Kingdom was divided primarily along class lines, but also by ethnocultural identity. Outside a handful of cosmopolitan urban areas, in England and Wales the more affluent tended to vote remain. Much of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and the posher parts of Hampshire and Hertfordshire had remain majorities, while less affluent areas, especially those with more elderly demographic profiles, voted more heavily to leave the EU. The biggest leave majorities came not from the Tory-voting Southeast of England, but from Labour's traditional working class heartlands in the Midlands and North of England as well as Wales. In Northern Ireland the protestant community followed their English and Welsh cousins, while the Republican catholic community voted overwhelmingly for Remain, following orders from the Sinn Fein and SDLP leaderships. In Scotland the result was more mixed. If the UK had had a referendum on EU membership 15 years ago, I would have expected a healthy, but not crushing, majority for staying in the EU across the UK. That was before the Lisbon Treaty and before the EU's eastward expansion. Two factors swayed the vote for remain in Scotland. First all main parties, especially the ruling SNP, favour continued EU membership. Second, Scotland has seen much lower net immigration and only very limited population increase. For most Scots unfair Labour market competition is a side issue, but Scots compete with new migrants in the UK-wide labour market and are thus not immune from wage compression. Even in the areas with relatively homogenous populations like Fife, migrant labour is common in many sectors. The leave campaign here was very low key. I've seen more Stronger for Scotland stickers and posters, with their distinctive SNP branding, than VoteLeave signs. UKIP enjoy only limited support, but some cracks in the united front did appear when veteran Scottish independence campaigner, Jim Sillars, supported Brexit. After all if little Iceland, with a population of just 300,000, can manage outside the EU with its own currency, then so surely can Scotland. 62% of Scots supported the status quo, but a fair number not out of any love for Byzantine EU institutions, but simply to spite the English and trigger another referendum on Scottish independence. Alas 38% rebelled against their political elite and opted to protest against globalisation and gain greater control over fishing and agriculture.

People did not vote along party lines. Polls suggest only majority of conservative and UKIP voters supported leave, while most Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green and SNP voters supported remain (Nonetheless 25% of Green voters and 30% of LibDem voters rebelled against their staunchly EU-phile party leaderships). A closer look reveals a different picture. Turnout was highest in many deprived areas that often see lower turnouts in general elections, the kind of backwaters where Labour or Conservatives take their voters for granted. Just consider Scunthorpe in North Lincolnshire. In the 2015 general election only 57.7% could be bothered to vote, but in the 2016 EU Referendum a whopping 72% turned out. In London and Scotland we saw almost the opposite scenario with lower turnouts than in general elections. Remain supporters clearly lacked enthusiasm despite all the scare stories about a post-Brexit abyss of economic stagnation and rampant xenophobia. The brutal murder of pro-EU campaigner and Labour MP, Jo Cox, just a week before polling day had enabled the globalist media to appeal to the public's emotions, especially by associating the mentally ill murderer with far-right grouplets. #VoteRemain thus became the ultimate virtue signal akin to the #refugeeswelcome hashtag just a year earlier.

Back in 1975, it was mainly the left who opposed membership of the then EEC (European Economic Community). Leading Labour politicians such as Tony Benn, Barbara Castle and Peter Shaw as well as the bulk of the era's trade union movement all opposed the EEC just two years after Britain joined in the midst of an economic downturn. The key arguments were over democracy and trade. Immigration hardly figured in the debate because most viewed it as an issue only with people from Commonwealth countries. Apart from a few language students the UK did not see a massive influx of migrants from France, Germany, the Low Countries or Italy. There were few overriding economic advantages and citizens of other EEC countries did not enjoy the same acquired citizenship and welfare rights as British citizens until the 1992 Maastricht Treaty. Indeed in the early years more Britons may have taken advantage of work opportunities in the rest of Europe than vice-versa. EU migration only really became a bone of contention with the superstate's eastward expansion.

The result has sent shockwaves across the world as ruling elites become aware of the strength of opposition to global governance. In hindsight we may view such a reversal as a necessary adjustment to technological developments, which will soon allow a much smarter and more humane form of international cooperation to supplement viable compact nation states. Outsourcing production made sense when markets could take advantage of cheap and more malleable labour in other parts of the world. It makes little sense with the emergence of artificial intelligence, robotics and 3D-printing, which do away with the need for cheap semi-skilled labour or gargantuan manufacturing facilities. We will need more highly skilled software developers, engineers, designers and scientific researchers and fewer machine operatives, cleaners and hauliers. More important we can share expertise and cooperate closely without having to physically move to another country. Mass migration is driven primarily by economic insecurity and environmental instability, not by demand for low-skilled labour or a need to boost retail sales.

The referendum also shows growing conformism among the affluent chattering classes, all too willing to recycle orthodoxy. However, truly intelligent people do not blindly accept official advice from powerful institutions who may not have their best interests at heart. Everyday we are deluged with messages from advertisers and lobbyists, often masquerading as charities. Our high streets are teaming with professional awareness raisers, subtly pushing various hidden agendas that may not seem immediately obvious. This referendum has shown that ordinary people have lost their trust in condescending experts and pundits. There cannot be a soul in the whole wide land who has not heard the neoliberal elite's view on the benefits of the European Union and mass migration. Love of global institutions and multiculturalism are mandatory parts of today's school curriculum. The main TV channels have long subtly injected their universalist themes into popular sitcoms and soaps. Eastenders, the UK's most popular soap opera, portrays a fictional community where people from the most diverse backgrounds all get along fabulously in stark contrast to the reality of parallel communities that barely talk and transient agency workers replacing the previous bunch of underpaid labourers.

As a result opposition to the European Union was until recently a fringe concern. Affordable holidays in Southern Europe have given millions of working class Britons a taste of Europe's delights, although most tend to gravitate to tourist resorts and mingle more with their countryfolk than with the locals. I always make a point of venturing away from the madding crowd of British holiday makers. True diversity can only thrive when native cultures retain their homelands. Otherwise they become a mere flavour that blends into an indistinct melting pot.

Gradual change may be good, but rapid change is nearly always disruptive

Currently popular discontent with rapid globalisation and cultural change is filtered through a handful of tabloid newspapers with their sensationalist stories about benefits-cheating migrants and fake refugees. However much the wishful-thinking left may find these stories distasteful, they do seem to reflect the everyday experiences of ordinary Britons struggling to cope with rapid change more accurately than the sop stories one reads in the Guardian or sees in BBC documentaries. I have personally visited London housing estates where most residents are not only recent immigrants, but are also clearly in receipt of substantial welfare handouts. Otherwise they could not pay their rent and most do not pay enough taxes to compensate for the true cost of additional public services. Reassuring official reports attempt to contradict such anecdotal evidence, but often do so through selective data sets. However, midway through the referendum campaign not only did official statistics show another rise in net migration, but evidence also emerged of massive undercounting of temporary EU migrants owing to a large discrepancy between official immigration figures and new national insurance numbers. We thus have two contrasting narratives. One presents a progressive community of gradually converging European regions and view migratory imbalances as mere temporary and easily manageable phenomena that can only create minor inconveniences for local inhabitants. The other presents a failed superstate project that drives millions to seek work in high wage regions displacing local workers. The elites see these people movements as way of forging a new pan-European identity. While this international camaraderie may work in university campuses and affluent neighbourhoods, it has created new conflicts between natives and newcomers elsewhere.

The challenge ahead

In any case mass migration is a much more complex issue and certainly not confined to the European Union. Indeed the biggest challenge over the next decade will be to deal with growing migratory pressures from Africa and Middle East, two regions with high birth rates. I have long argued the best way to address these challenges is through sustainable development. That means helping these countries acquire the skills and technology they need to feed their people while transitioning to a more sustainable birth rate. China has already transitioned and India is well on its way to an ideal fertility rate of 2 children per woman (currently 2.45, but just 2.0 in Kerala). Greater migration to Europe or North America will do little to alleviate the environmental impacts of rapid population growth. Besides the real challenge will be to develop smarter and greener technology to reduce massive waste and inefficiencies.

Could the Native English have halted Cultural Convergence?

The Brexit saga reveals another irony. Today's globalisation is largely built on British and later North American imperialism. The English language has become one of the primary vehicles of cultural convergence. As a rule the more globally connected a place is, the more its people are likely to be fluent in English. Ironically as the European Union has morphed from a Western European free trade area to a pan-European superstate, the dominance of international English has grown. While paying lip service to French and other major European languages, Eurocrats have an unnerving habit of speaking a kind of Euro-English that alienates not only millions of continental Europeans who still prefer their mother tongues, but native English speakers too. Their diction, replete with neologisms, bears an an uncanny semblance to George Orwell's NewSpeak, namely it serves more to preclude unwanted thoughts than to expand mutual understanding. If the UK leaves the European Union, Ireland may be the only country where English spoken as the primary vernacular. (see English language could be dropped from European Union after Brexit) I'm beginning to feel the tide is turning on globalisation as people become more aware of what they are losing. We can actually harness modern technology to break language barriers without jettisoning our traditions and cultural identity. Will machine translation kill English as Lingua Franca?