Friday, 20 May 2016

The Leaving of Europe and Democracy

The one problem with democracy is that for it to work we have to enjoy equity in both wealth and education. This means that all of the people of an age to vote must have access to all relevant information on a given subject and be able to understand what they have read and then from the data collected make an informed judgement.  No decision can be made without having first considered all the alternatives. To do this we need to read all the salient points. Read them and then understand them. This applies to the forthcoming referendum. To come to a conclusion of staying or leaving has to be based on knowing all the facts and not coming to such a momentous choice based on intuition. It has to be gleaned from balanced information. With the advent of the internet, that information is freely available. There can be no excuses. Unfortunately, too many people react as their bellies guide them.

Democracy makes demands on us, on the general public. It is no good believing what anyone says just because we like what we hear. Our responsibility is to research and challenge all that is told to us, to seek out facts from as many diverse opinions as possible before coming to our own conclusions. This is not easy when faced with political parties all determined to persuade you their way is the right way. Yet the onus is on us. 

As the day approaches where we in the UK will vote one way or another to either stay or exit Europe so the fanatics from both sides, the stay-ins and the Brexit's, increase their over-the-top proclamations. David Cameron's ludicrous statement that if we leave we face a third world war is nothing but alarmist crap. Yes, we know from the NATO generals that we cannot expect immediate help from our former allies; this worries me but what concerns me more is the fact should the Falklands War happen again we haven't the military forces to send to defend the islands let alone defend ourselves. Our being part of Europe confers on us a collective defence, one that would be sorely missed should we leave.

Former Head of MI6, Sir John Sawers whose independent opinion, owing no allegiance to any political point of view, has suggested leaving Europe would undermine the UK's ability to share security data with the EU. This would leave us dependent on the USA. We already are the 51st state so perhaps this would mean our formal consummation of that unwritten fact. That gentleman is not alone. Eliza Manningham-Buller, who was formerly head of MI5 from 2002 to 2007, along with her successor, Sir Jonathan Evans, suggested, contrary to opinions being espoused by Brexit campaigners, that any claims made of the UK being better off out of Europe to be "spurious and nonsensical." Whether this is true or not it is a valid point of view and should receive serious attention. Sadly, the British public appears unable to take such an approach to their freedom of choice. 

Boris Johnson's equally vacuous statements may seem as bonkers as Cameron's - Europe as an authoritarian Federalist state, one comparable to Hitler's Fascist Germany - they are in fact no different from the views as held by Tony Benn, Michael Foot, Jeremy Corbyn or George Osbourne. Socialism has ever mistrusted a Federal Europe. Socialism has always cried 'watch out for the empire builders.' "hang on," I hear you cry, Mister Corbyn is backing the 'remain's.' Yes, he is. His party is. But he hasn't always held that view.

In 1992, Corbyn said this of the EU - " [Europe] takes away from national parliaments the power to set economic policy and hands it over to an unelected set of bankers who will impose the economic policies of price stability, deflation, and high unemployment throughout the European Community". He was/is right.

In 2008, on his website he wrote - "The project has always been to create a huge free-market Europe, with ever-limiting powers for national parliaments and an increasingly powerful common foreign and security policy."

So is this a U-turn? I don't see it that way. Corbyn is doing what any true democrat would do under the circumstance - towing his parties line. Either that or he has changed his mind. There should be no shame or scorn poured on anyone changing their mind. I'm rather glad he has.

I fear the TTIP and the TTP. I fear it gaining control of Europe, of the form of democracy we have and tightening the screws of the slave to wage concept our lives are governed by. But make no mistake, Britain on its own, if Britain remains as Britain that is, bearing in mind that Scotland, Wales, and Ireland desire greater devolution, would be even more suspect to the whims of the TTIP. David Cameron, having requested a full and independent report on the TTIP which reported negatively on that subject saying it was not in Britains best interests to sign-up to the TTIP. Mister Cameron went against common sense and threw the report in the bin declaring Britain must do the reverse and sign-up to the project. Why?

I trust David Cameron's opinion less than I do Nigel Farage's.

And what of UKIP?  It's party membership declare themselves Libertarian. Have you ever heard such an outrageous claim? Libertarian? Do they even know what the word means? I think not. The label was invented in 1858. It had nothing to do with the right but everything to do with the extreme left. In the 1970's neo-Liberals or neo-conservatives, stole the name for their own purposes. 

"As is well known, anarchists use the terms “libertarian”, “libertarian socialist” and “libertarian communist” as equivalent to“anarchist” and, similarly, “libertarian socialism” or “libertarian communism” as an alternative for “anarchism.” This is perfectly understandable, as the anarchist goal is freedom, liberty, and the ending of all hierarchical and authoritarian institutions and social relations.

Unfortunately, in the United States, the term “libertarian” has become, since the 1970s, associated with the right-wing, i.e., supporters of “free-market” capitalism. That defenders 
of the hierarchy associated with private property seek to associate the term “libertarian” for their authoritarian system is both unfortunate and somewhat unbelievable to any genuine libertarian. Equally unfortunately, thanks to the power of money and the relatively small size of the anarchist movement in America, this appropriation of the term has become, to a large extent, the default meaning there. Somewhat ironically, this results in some right-wing “libertarians” complaining that we genuine libertarians have “stolen” their name in order to associate our socialist ideas with it."

UKIP are not Libertarian. They are, much like New-Labour, The Conservative's or The Liberal Democrat's, Neo-Liberals or, perhaps in UKIP's case, Neo-Conservatives.

UKIP, or so it seems to me, speak equal amounts of rubbish as they do sense. They appear to be attempting the removal of a political elite, something I applaud, yet seem intent on the replacement being a new political elite - themselves. 

Nigel Farage has charm and personality. His off the wall, man-of-the-people persona could convince many, as Tony Blair's did before him, how sincere and genuine a man he is. He really does fulfil the need the working man has for a leader but who needs strong leaders? Not the well informed for they are strong within themselves. They don't need a 'brave apollo' to rule them. They read the facts laid out in front of them before making an informed choice.
Nigel Farage wants to be your leader.

"The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness.... This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector."  Plato

UKIP's desire for nationalism should not suggest patriotism. Nationalism is an inclusive concept filled with fear and xenophobia that excludes an internationalist view in favour of a closed castle. I don't want to live in a castle. I do not want to pull up the drawbridge. This in no way deals with the issues of immigration. Rather than be proactive it is a reaction to a problem but does not supply a solution.

The causes of the problem, by which we can ascertain a solution, are complex. Certainly, a sense of responsibility has to fall on the West whose escalating wars within the Middle East have destabilised the region. Bush and Blair's wars in Iraq, bearing in mind how George Bush senior held Saddam Hussein as a beloved ally prior to the first war, have fractured long established accords. Harmonious neighbourhoods containing both Sunni and Shia where inter-faith marriages flourished were brought into sharp conflict following the West 's senseless intervention. The cause and effect of which gave birth to Daesh.

Syria is an utter mess. It's people subjugated by an authoritarian regime. The country went through the Arab Spring, an uprising of its people against their dictatorship. It then escalated into civil war. Held under the thumb of Assad whose government turned on the rebels. Assad is supported by Russian military action. Daesh run rampant. The West attack the terrorists whilst the Russian's target those they believe are disrupting a legitimate administration. It is nothing short of horrendous. Despicable in every sense. The rebels have been targeted by Russia yet they strike me as being a slightly better option than either Daesh or Assad's regime. Still people are dying.

Something like 13 million people has fled their nation state for fear of death. Understandable under the circumstance. It is these same migrants, those fleeing a savage war, who are presenting headaches to Europe which are being used in shameless political fashion to rouse a sense of righteous nationalism. The problem remains as do those who assisted its presence in the first place. And Europe is crumbling underneath the weight of migrants entering the region but also by dissent from its member nations. I confess I have no answer to that problem less it is to implore ALL nations to take in some refugees. Spread the load as it were but no, we'd sooner leave the party the sooner to reclaim our borders which have no need of reclaiming as we have never signed up to Schengen.

Europe or rather the EU, a state in danger of breaking up. If it does then this will impact on us all. It will have a destabilising effect on the USA on China and on Brazil. This bubbling cauldron has given substance to those who have long disliked the Eurozone. 

Boris Johnson...always good for a laugh, a highly entertaining individual, a remarkably intelligent man too, a man much like Donald Trump even if I like Boris better. Same meat different gravy. The proud exponent of Brexit. But a future Prime Minister? Well, judging by the intuitive manner in which the British electorate select their ministers then perhaps Boris Johnson is a candidate. 

Then we have those who would have the Governor of the Bank of England publicly flogged for having given his boards independent report on how they perceive the possible financial dangers if Britain elects to leave the EU. Remembering that this report was prepared by a board and not one man and that during its preparation the board was only doing what is morally right by pointing out possible dangers and not suggesting for a minute the UK couldn't survive leaving the EU. Had the Bank not released its report the British public would have wanted to know why they hadn't. At least this way no one can accuse the Bank of England of withholding pertinent information. 

Which brings me back to the purpose, the point behind this blog. Democracy can only ever work if those members of the public upon whose heads it falls to elect our politicians have not only total access to all the facts but the desire to read them, absorb them and then make a rational decision. Only if all those criteria are met can democracy be seen to be functioning, anything else is merely the shuffling off of responsibility in the hope that the person next to whom your X has been placed is qualified to do the job. 

Democracy is a system by which we, the common people can hold accountable those we elect. Tony Benn said it best...


Democracy is not a battle won but a war constantly being waged. The troops on the front line are those who most desire its success - the common people. The trouble is that they are too fond of having strong leaders, of being told what to do.

Democracy gives us freedom of choice. It also demands us taking responsibility for our actions. Far too many Brit's are either ill-informed of all the facts or are content to leave it in the hands of those who they elected. 

The electorate should read independent, impartial reports on the issues surrounding the EU stay or leave referendum. It is very easy to get copies yet it must be said very dull reading - Britain’s Decision, Facts and Impartial Analysis for the EU referendum on 23 June 2016. Is one. There are others.

This from the above publication....

"It is for each of us to draw our own conclusions, however what is clear from the analysis is that neither of the two campaigns can rely on facts to make their case. On the 'Remain' side we have only quasi-certainty of what will happen if we stay in - the reality is that the EU has changed and will continue to change in response to the needs of its newer members and the demands of those states which would like to become members. David Cameron may have secured a British opt-out from 'ever closer union,' but the process will inevitably change the EU.
On the other an exit from the EU will undoubtedly lead to protracted and complex negotiations on multiple levels about the future relationship with the EU and the rest of the world. The 'Leave' campaign can offer no certainty on that." 

If, like me, you despise the lack of democracy within the EU; if like me you are tired of feeling voiceless, of never having you whispers heard; if like me you want to tear down the structures of what is fast becoming a dictatorial regime then get angry, get very angry but do not let your rage blind you to the need to change the EU and not to rip it apart. Its demise would damage us all.

Democracy has another battle on its hands. World democracy would be far better served if the EU was reformed to serve us. Check out Yanis Varoufakis's site - Democracy in Europe Movement 2025. Also, read his superb book "And the Weak Suffer What They Must?"

"Varoufakis convincingly argues that two seminal events have, together, doomed European monetary policy to perpetual failure: the collapse of the Bretton Woods agreement in 1971 and the foundation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in the 1950s. Bretton Woods had, until 1971, functioned in effect as a globalisation of America’s New Deal economics. The USA's balance of payments surplus was 'politically recycled' to Europe by guaranteeing a gold-backed dollar peg for Europe currencies - thus providing a basis for Europe's post-war redevelopment and, by extension, a willing market for America's exports. The 1971 'Nixon Shock', in which the USA unilaterally abandoned the gold standard, left a gaping hole in European monetary policy, which Europe's central bankers have been trying to plug ever since, by using the Deutschemark & Bundesbank as a surrogate for the Dollar and the Fed."

You would think Varoufakis would advise Britain to join the Brexit team. He doesn't. He fears as I do, that should we leave the EU then the loss of democracy, of the world already on the precipice of another depression, could see us all plunged into the mire. The options are for the member states to leave which would set the sovereign European nations back into the thirties. As the monetary union collapsed so would the French, Italian, Portuguese and the German economies. This would have a catastrophic cause and effect on not only the West but all the world. Poverty unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes could engulf us. 

"On the other an exit from the EU will undoubtedly lead to protracted and complex negotiations on multiple levels about the future relationship with the EU and the rest of the world. The 'Leave' campaign can offer no certainty on that." 

No Certainty? You mean take a gamble? Risk all for the sake of what? Sovereignty? Sure, I'm for that - individual sovereignty within a collective society that is.

If anyone dares to accuse me of being yet another alarmist then please think before you comment. Clearly, you haven't read the impartial reports available or, as I said earlier, can't be arsed. Perhaps Plato was right, people aren't ready for democracy. That, however, is the one thing lacking in Europe and that is the only reason why we should stay to facilitate its overdue inception. 

You see, as much as I dislike the way the EU operates, I am not afraid to stay and fight for a thing I believe in. Not so much believe, there is no question of faith here, but desire. I want freedom of choice. I do not want to live in a world with walls. I want democracy spread on a global scale. We Brits have a history of digging in when the odds are against us and coming out winners. We broke the back of the Nazi war machine in the forties - some would say our finest hour - and I want to do the same thing with Europe - democratise it. Running in fear from a thing you dislike, loathe even, is cowardice. The one thing the British are not is cowards. Remain in the EU to fight for the only weapon we have in the war against austerity, elitism and corporate globalisation - democracy.

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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A Utility Fish Shed Blog