BREXIT – Part 4

By William K. Black
July 4, 2016     Bloomington, MN

This is the fourth column in my seven-part series discussing the seven-barrel shotgun blast of articles that the New York Times published attacking the vote by those who favored BREXIT.  This column addresses Paul Krugman column on BREXIT.

Paul Krugman [Part 4]

Paul Krugman also wrote an attack on “populist[s].”

It seems clear that the European project – the whole effort to promote peace and growing political union through economic integration – is in deep, deep trouble. Brexit is probably just the beginning, as populist/separatist/xenophobic movements gain influence across the continent.

Krugman, sadly, was born too late to provide his expert views on the American revolution.  Under his stated “logic” (actually, pure rhetoric) he would have denounced our “separatist” movement – our Declaration of Independence.  Krugman’s great concern is about the Celts (I’m part Irish and part Scot).  He thinks BREXIT will bring to power “the worst elements in British political life” and cause great “damage” by encouraging the Scots and the Irish in Northern Ireland to become independent, perhaps in the latter case by joining the Republic of Ireland.

I am of course not an expert here, but it looks all too likely that the vote will both empower the worst elements in British political life and lead to the breakup of the UK itself.

Krugman doesn’t explain why independence for the Scots and the Irish is terrible given the experience of the U.S., Canada, the Republic of Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.  None of those countries has a populace that considers independence a mistake.  But Krugman is so sure that independence for the Scots and the Northern Irish, both of which are more likely given the sharp differences among Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England on BREXIT, would be disastrous that he doesn’t feel any need to explain why it would be disastrous.  The typical reaction to independence from the UK among the nations I have listed is that it is a superb development that should be celebrated.  The 4th of July is our great national holiday.  Krugman appears to have forgotten that what the Brits called our “worst elements” declared their independence from the Brits.


4 responses to “BREXIT – Part 4

  1. Robert Lavergne

    The situation between Ireland and Scotland is much more complex. Scotland has been part of the UK since 1707. Wales, even longer. Ireland is clearly one nation, north and south. That successive British governments have managed to keep it divided is a tribute to the power of backwardness and bigotry, north and south.

    There are differences in Britain. Make Scotland separate – what about Cornwall, Yorkshire, or even London? All nations, naturally, have differences. Nation states may have been created by the growing capitalist classes of Europe centuries ago, but times have changed. National capitalists are now irrelevant. Transnational corporations have decided that nations must disappear so that there are no barriers to their domination: free movement of capital, goods and labour. Then they can divide and rule the world. Invest, disinvest, dump cheap goods when in surplus, rake in profits in shortages, and above all treat the whole world as a reservoir of unemployment to control workers and wage rates everywhere. Divide and rule: there’s a litany of historic instances of partition being used as a political device to quell developing national movements. The new twist is that in Britain today they are trying to give up sovereignty over Britain itself and hand it over to the EU.

    Of course, the new dictators in Brussels have no commitment to the regions, local government, or democracy in any form. For them, regional policy was and is just one more weapon to break down the power of the nation state so that all power may be centralized in their hands. Look at what happened with Yugoslavia. But, the EU is actually getting a bit wary of creating multiple new nations out of existing ones. Kosovo’s application to join the EU, for example, was blocked by among others Spain (worried, no doubt, about Catalonia, Andalucia and the Basque Country). And at the back of everyone’s minds is that Germany and Italy are only half as old as the United Kingdom, with strong regional differences.

  2. Howard Switzer

    Yes, the big TT trade agreements seem to be the nail in the coffin of nation states so I am enthusiastic about nations ignoring the press and claiming their sovereignty. It seems to me encouraging and building the monetary reform movements world-around is the thing to do. After all, the elite did not create this system, t hey inherited the system that is destroying the world, driving the 6th great extinction, which is not cool… and they want to be cool, don’t they? “Dictators to Sweet taters!”

  3. Robert Sadin

    Mr. Black seems to be very much in the thrall of conventional wisdom regarding the American revolution. Her writes, July 4th is “our great national holiday.”
    Gerald Horne’s “The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America” should be required reading.

    Horne points to the urgency of Independence after the Somerset decision of 1782 declared an American slave who had been brought to England to be a free man, since slavery had been abolished in England.

    This set off a panic in the New World. The prospect of losing slaves was unthinkable. Independence was an urgent necessity.

    These were bright men. They could hardly announce to the world that they were separating from England because their unshakeable commitment to human slavery.

    There were numerous tributary causes of the war to be sure.

    But to ignore the central importance of slavery in the creation and building of the United States is worse than giving the bankers a free pass.

    The wealth of this nation built on genocide and slavery on a massive scale.

    The heritage of this history may be seen on every Native American reservation, and in every African American community.

    Horne points out that the very concept of race, of “white people” was largely brought into being in America. England was very much more focused on the distinction between Englishmen, and the inferior Scottish, Irish, Welsh, etc.

    It was in America that they were all honored as “white men” and placed in a position of perpetual superiority to black and brown humans.

    • Robert Sadin

      Just to underscore…

      4th of July is when all those statesman from Virginia set out their determination to hold fellow humans in slavery and work them to the death.

      This is not some great day!

      Better to celebrate the surrender of Lee at Appomattox.

      or victory at Gettysburg.