I should like to take it upon myself to explode some of the more ridiculous notions now in circulation in the mainstream press on the subject of Europe and provide for readers a clearer picture of the continent and a sober analysis of its plight. Beyond the simple utility of establishing a realistic political optic on European affairs, I hope for this essay to be a general preface to future reflections which will be more particular in nature. The problem of European political union is a serious one and I have often lamented the deplorable nature of the emerging partisan division dominating the continent between “Euro-enthuisasts” and “Eurosceptics” as politically of equal use as Hamlet’s rumination “to be or not to be?” I find Hamlet’s question philosophically naive, and any political body which seriously makes of that question the center around which its ideas orbit is bound for folly. I hope in the process of these reflections to find for Europe a more perfect center around which its political philosophy might be conducted and thereby shed light on possible venues for the preservation of the cradle of Western civilization.
It should not come as a surprise that I, being a Subject of the British Crown, take as my first topic the matter of Great Britain and her relation to the continent and the European Union. The British departure from the European Union is the greatest blow to befall the Union in its short history, and a failure to understand the nature and significance of the event will inhibit good political action in Europe in the foreseeable future.
Sadly, the mainstream press in all Western countries has made a habit of painting for us a picture of a Great Britain which has turned inward, a Great Britain which has rejected internationalism, a Great Britain full of primitive country bumpkins with no global outlook. This media image is meant of course to satisfy the vanity of the self-designated cosmopolitan elites in Europe who are incapable of understanding that whether in a small village or on the forum of a great International body, political disagreement will exist that cannot and ought not be explained away as resulting from one side being stupidly provincial and the other side worldly-wise.
For if there is any view that can rightly be supposed stupidly provincial it is the notion that Great Britain, having exited the European Union, has dissolved its bonds with the wider world. If we but for a moment consider the extent of the Commonwealth of Nations (often refered to as the British Commonwealth), we find that this political body consists of fifty-three nation states as opposed to the mere twenty-seven nation states remaining in the European Union.
If we take a further moment to gaze upon the identities of the nation states composing the British Commonwealth we find they are: Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Darussalam, India, Malaysia, Maldives, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Antigua and Barbuda Bahamas, The Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and The Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Cyprus, Malta, the United Kingdom, Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Insofar as I am aware, no insidious racist popular movement exists on the British isles which commands fifty-two percent of the vote in favor of exiting the Commonwealth of Nations. In point of fact, if indeed the mainstream media were correct in assessing that the British have gone mad with racial hatred and nationalism of the German variety, it would be logical to expect a mass revolt against British membership in the Commonwealth of Nations, composed as it is of over two billion citizens most of whom are Hindu, negro, and a host of races quite distant from Europeans. And yet here we have the nominally cosmopolitan mainstream media in a hissy fit, the same media which would normally remind us not to be “Eurocentric.” The ire of the mainstream Western press is strangely aimed at a Great Britain which chose to depart from a political association with roughly 500 million predominantly white Europeans but remains cheerfully anchored in political association with two billion black, brown and yellow peoples. Only an ignoramus of capital proportions would venture the opinion that racism and isolationism are gaining popular support in Great Britain. Perhaps the British departure from the European Union had nothing after all to do with racism and nationalism and everything to do with two different ideas for international oder, the British idea rooted in sovereignty and self-government, as opposed to the Franco-German idea rooted in administration and the Naploeonic code?
The fact is that while Great Britain immediately opened its borders and markets to Europe at the beginning of this century, it was the core of the “cosmopolitan European Union” which enacted extremely long waiting or transitional periods for admitting other EU citizens into the labor force. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the European Union but the Schengen Agreement which provides for the open passage of goods and peoples throughout Europe. There exist European countries which are not in the Union but are signatories of Schengen. Great Britain was until very recently firmly in the Union but never a signatory of Schengen. This may be explained by the fact that a Kingdom which gave birth to the liberal idea of free trade felt it unnecessary to enter into complex international agreements to do a simple thing: open its markets.
Thus the first years of this century saw a curiosity develop: Great Britain did not enter into a number of complex political arrangements meant to open borders and labor markets while simultaneously opening its borders and labor markets by a simple decision of parliament. Meanwhile, a year did not go by when Germany and France did not sign yet another complex agreement announced to the world as the beginning of a common market, only to in fact provide for yet another multi-year waiting period until French and German markets would really be open to outside competition. Hence our current predicament: Eastern European labor has predominantly migrated to Great Britain which has voted to be outside of the European Union rather than to Germany and France which are at the core of the Union because Great Britain unilaterally opened its markets while Germany and France proclaimed their intention to do so in a vague future. Yet Britain is provincial while the European Union is cosmopolitan? Rubbish.
Great Britain was the second largest economy in the European Union next to Germany. The departure of Great Britain from the Union is not a crisis. It is the de facto termination of the present European Union. If all of the United States save the original thirteen left the Union, there would indeed still be a United States—but in name only. Thankfully for Europe, there are economic, historical, and cultural ties that transcend the mounds of paperwork generated along the thin strip of road just outside Schuman station in Brussels.
Belgium, itself a rather precarious union of Francophon Wallons and the Flemish, has a very unique relationship with Great Britain. Aside from the Belgian Royal family and their ties to Her Majesty, the Flemish have always been anglophile in proportion to the Wallonian Francophilia. The Prime Minister of the Flemish autonomy in Belgium has floated the idea of a Flemish-British free trade and association agreement that would allow for the continuation of good relations between Great Britain and the Flemish autonomy. That this autonomy happens to be an integral part of Belgium, which is both a member of the European Union and home to its capital, would naturally suggest that British-Flemish trade would become British-Belgian trade and ergo British-European trade. In practice it needn’t “become” anything more than what it already is: good and long-standing economic and cultural relations.
And this gets us to the point of the British vote to leave the EU: It has nothing to do with racism or a newfound passion for going it alone in the world. It was an expression of the British practicality and appreciation for efficient necessity. The Germans have spent the better part of the last decade proclaiming their openness and tolerance while refusing Polish citizens the right to live and work in Germany and refusing to legally recognize the Polish minority in Germany—this despite Poland and Germany being in the European Union. Poles, always law-abiding, obliged. They went where they were welcomed: to England. Germany, meanwhile, having built legal barriers to keep out a law-abiding European Polish people has been flooded by a law-breaking Islamic people who now blow up German citizens and behead women on the streets.
To its credit, Germany has created an admirable political and economic union with France to which the Benelux countries have been attached. This is the so-called core of the European Union or Eurozone. The latter name is a misleading one given that exotic instances exist such as Lithuania which uses the Euro as its currency, but the Baltic states were always targets of German eastern policy and today delight in standing with Germany in order to leverage German clout against Poland and Russia.
If this all seems to be getting a bit thick and complex, it is all the more reason why—if Europe is to be truly at peace and united—the bonds which hold the continent together must be simple and universal enough to override the particular complexities that array European nations and peoples against one another. No more universal and simple bond can possibly exist among human beings of European origin than a universal God whose Son (born in ancient Palestine no less) died for the sins of the entire world. Somehow I believe that level of cosmopolitanism (often called Catholicism) is beyond the horizon of mainstream thinking. Barring Divine Intervention, we had best seek realistic steps given present conditions.
The first step towards a realistic reorganization of European affairs following the British withdrawal from the Union is a recognition of the fact that a people whose Monarch is the Sovereign over a multiracial Commonwealth of fifty-three nations from all corners of the world, a Commonwealth that has existed much longer than the European Union, are perhaps a people well suited to advise and instruct the nations of Europe on the subject of how to build a lasting community of nations.
Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.