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More Brexit nonsense from the pro-European dreamers

What editorial control does the UK Guardian exercise on Op Ed pieces? Seemingly none if you read this article (December 24, 2018) – What Labour can learn about Brexit from California: think twice – written by some well-to-do American postgraduate working for DiEM25 in Athens. But when Thomas Fazi and I sought space to discuss our book – Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (Pluto Books, 2017) – or when I have sought space to provide some balance to the usual neoliberal, pro-Europe bias, the result has been no response (yay or nay). We never received a response to our solicitation. Even if we ignore the obvious imbalance in experience and qualifications (track record) of the respective ‘authors’, it seems that the UK Guardian only wants a particular view to be published even if the quality of that view would make the piece unpublishable in any respectable outlet. Go figure. Anyway, I now have read the worst article for 2018. And, I thought that the Remain debate had reached the depths of idiocy but there is obviously scope for more if this Guardian attempt at commentary is anything to go by. And I know the Guardian journalists read this blog – so why not allow Thomas and I to formally respond to all this Remain nonsense?

Just before the break (December 13, 2018), the anti-Brexit, pro-European, Blairite Labour politician (Lords) Andrew Adonis made the startling claim in his blog post – ‘Let Europe Arise’: Britain in Europe – that the:

… European Union is the greatest international venture for peace, prosperity and freedom in the history of civilization.

Quite an incredible statement given the organised and deliberate attack on prosperity that the European Commission has overseen over the last decade.

While the Eurozone is not the EU, there are now around 2 million more unemployed in the 19 Member States than there were in the year 2000.

Quite amazing when you consider the devastation of Greece.

We could go on.

With Labour Party politicians like him who needs Tories!

Adonis is among those who think the decision to vote for Brexit was a “populist and nationalist spasm” (Source) and had earlier compared “hard Brexit to appeasing the Nazis in the 1930s” (Source).

I loved the response from Iain Duncan Smith, who usually I don’t have any affinity with, to Adonis’ claim about populism (Source):

It’s a bit rich for him to pontificate on what he calls populism, but what most would refer to as democracy, when he himself has never been elected by a public vote. He has instead relied on preferment from others.

But the point of referring to this particular intervention from Adonis is that in trying to make the case for a ‘united’ Europe he actually provides the reasons why Europe can never be a ‘United States of Europe’.

The pro-European British love to quote Winston Churchill as if he was the font of wisdom.

They usually wheel out his notion of a “kind of United States of Europe”, which he proposed in a – Speech – Let Europe Arise – at the University of Zurich on September 19, 1946.

In that speech he was reflecting on the chaos in Europe as a result of the a “series of frightful nationalistic quarrels, originated by the Teutonic nations in their rise to power, which we have seen in this 20th century and in our own lifetime wreck the peace and mar the prospects of all mankind.”

He talked about the creation of the “United States of Europe” where France, Germany, the British and its Commonwealth, the US and Russia would “champion” a “new Europe”.

While many, including Adonis claim Churchill was clear that Britain would be part of this venture, the reality is different.

At Zurich, Churchill pronounced:

Great Britain, the British Commonwealth of Nations, mighty America, and I trust Soviet Russia, for then indeed all would be well, must be the friends and sponsors of the new Europe and must champion its right to live and shine.

Not a member of the European Union (or its previous incarnations) but a ‘friend’ and ‘sponsor’.

In the Cabinet Papers from November 1951 – CAB 128/23 Original Reference CC 1 (51)-22 (51), 1951 30 Oct-29 Dec – it is unequivocal that Churchill did not want the UK to ‘join’ Europe in any formal way.

On page 57 of the Minutes, we read, in relation to the French proposal to establish a European Coal and Steel Community, the forerunner to the EEC, that:

The Schuman Plan was viewed with suspicion by workers in the coal and steel industries in this country. Simultaneously with the proposed statement in the Council of Europe, the Government should make it clear to public opinion in this country that they had no intention of surrendering to any European authority the control of the coal and steel industries of the United Kingdom.

The Cabinet-

Authorised the Home Secretary to make the following state­ment at the forthcoming meeting of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe: “His Majesty’s Government recognise that the initiative taken by the French Government concerning the creation of a European coal and steel community and a European defence community is a major step towards European unity. They welcome the Schuman Plan as a means of strengthening the economy of Western Europe and look forward to its early realisation. They desire to establish the closest possible association with the European Continental Community at all stages in its development. If the Schuman Plan is ratified. His Majesty’s Government will set up a permanent delegation at the seat of the Authority to enter into relations and to transact business with it.”

Further, in – The memoirs of Lord Gladwyn (published by Weidenfeld and Nicolsen, 1972) – Gladwyn Jebb, who held many senior public roles including being the UK representative at the Brussels Treaty Permanent Commission, wrote that:

Churchill was himself clearly not a ‘European’ at all. If he had had his way, Britain would have been ‘associated’ with a Europe that would extend from Lisbon to Brest-Litovsk … but would never have formed part of it herself. Why the European federalists should have apparently thought at one time that he was thinking of British membership of a federal Europe I have never understood. He always made it quite clear that Britain, if he had anything to do with it, would stand aloof.

So the attempt to ground British membership in Europe in Churchill’s Tory Party is deeply flawed.

By way of aside, the best quote from Churchill, by the way, appeared in his 1929 book – The World Crisis: The Aftermath – where the conservative Churchill clearly understood the absurdity of the argument that a currency-issuing government could be short of money to advance public welfare.

On Page 33, Churchill wrote:

A requisition, for instance, for a half-million houses would not have seemed more difficult to comply with than those we were already in process of executing for 100,000 airplanes, or 20,000 guns, or 2,000,000 tons of projectiles. But a new set of conditions began to rule from 11 o’clock onwards. The money cost, which had never been considered by us to be a factor capable of limiting the supply of the armies, asserted a claim to priority from the moment the fighting stopped.

11 o’clock was on November 11, 1918, when the peace was declared after WWI.

But Adonis then reflects on why the British are not enthusiastically pro-European.

He considers that Americans do not dare challenge their past and consider criticism of their:

… founding fathers and their great deeds to be beyond the pale – despite the obvious violence – whereas with the EU it is the reverse, the only thing we do is to be hypercritical, although its record is in many ways superlative …

How about talking about the manifest destiny of the European Union, and its mission to lead a free Europe and inspire a free world? How about quoting the founding treaties in the way Americans so reverentially quote their founding fathers?

Building on that he writes:

It is an interesting question why, unlike Americans, we Europeans neither get emotional about the EU nor read emotion into the EU’s great achievements and declarations. Maybe it is because of the very fact that the EU is international, whereas the United States was founded as a nation.

Reflect on that for a moment.

It tells you that America is a nation, Europe is not.

America is bound by a shared culture within many cultures, a common language, within many languages, and a common identification.

Europe is none of those things.

This is why the American states are willing to rely on the federal government for transfers when calamity arises.

This is why Germany has overseen the destruction of Greece and refuses any ‘reforms’ that would allow permanent fiscal transfers from some ‘federal’ body to one Member State or another.

And the democratically-elected government in Greece behaves like a rabid neoliberal attack dog on its own people as it gains power under the banner of Socialism.

This is why, in the face of obvious evidence that nations such as Italy and France are plunging into states of social instability, the European Commission still enforces (unequally) rigid fiscal rules that prevent the democratically-elected Member States from advancing prosperity, and, rather, enforce a pernicious austerity that impinge disproportionately on the most disadvantaged and then seep up to undermine the middle classes.

This is why the Gilets jaunes have become a reality. They want their nation back from the technocrats who only see ratios, rules and conformity.

Which is why my award for the dumbest Op Ed article in 2018 goes to this UK Guardian article (December 24, 2018) – What Labour can learn about Brexit from California: think twice.

It has gained a lot of twitter attention.

Many have pointed out that this American author has been educated at Oxford following in a ‘silver spoon’ tradition. That he has worked for the Tony Blair Foundation and is now writing for DiEM25 while living in Athens.

While all of that clearly influences the view he has the more apposite attack is not on him personally but on the sheer idiocy of those views. It wouldn’t matter who he was or where he has been.

This is one of the worst articles written on the topic and it places the UK Guardian in a very poor light – as a publisher of ridiculous diatribes that push the anti-Brexit line.

The argument is that Britain is like California but “even as the US federal government veers towards the far right – the calls for California to exit the US remain quiet.”

If I did my street poll in downtown LA or San Francisco or even Bakersfield and asked people about their identification they would firmly state ‘American’.

I would get a similar response in Melbourne or Sydney except ‘Australian’ would be the answer with some qualifications about being borne in Victoria or wherever.

Similarly, in Britain.

But if I ask the same question in say Paris, I am ‘French’, or in Berlin, I am ‘German’. I would not get an initial response along the lines that I am ‘European’.

Geographically they are European but culturally they are not.

Which is why the mainstream Californians think through problems within the context of being a state of the US.

In terms of Churchill’s call for a “kind of United States of Europe” he was thinking along the lines of the structure of the US – a strong fiscal authority uniting the different Member States in a common cause.

What the EU has evolved into bears no similarity with this ‘vision’.

The UK Guardian article claims that the:

… real reason that California lacks a Lexit movement is solidarity.

The author considers that with California functioning in the union, the US would become military tyrants intent on pushing climate change denial “to inflict increasing pain on the world around it – and on generations to come.”

One wonders where the Californians have been for the last decades?

I also note that the Democrat House Speaker is a major advocate of the ridiculous PayGo fiscal rules that are pure neoliberalism. She is from California.

But all that is beside the point.

The author has two questions (both inane):

… the burden of proof lies with the Lexiteers … to explain why the task of democratising the EU is that much harder than the task of democratising the US … [and] … to explain how their exit plan does not amount to abandonment, and how being outside the EU will help them stem the tide of European fascism.

The answers are obvious:

First, the US radicals just have to influence one election. To achieve any significant reform in the EU, 29 Member States have to be convinced about the one change.

Think about what has been achieved by the European Commission in the aftermath of the greatest economic and social disaster since the common currency was introduced.

10 years have past.

Poverty rates have risen.

Unemployment is still at elevated levels.

What reforms have really reversed the neoliberalism?

None!

Which is why the Gilets are out in force in France. They have had enough. They are seeking action within their own nation. Which is where a ‘Demos’ (the common people) naturally embrace political activity.

For the man or woman on the street wanting to articulate political views, a Europe-voice is too abstract. They cannot really influence that except int he most abstract and slow-moving ways.

Better to don yellow worker safety vests and extract concessions from your own government – the one you elect and which is accountable to you!

Second, and we are moving into discussions about open borders and the like, which is a topic for another day.

My position is, in summary, that the Left cannot concede to the neoliberals who want to maintain the Single Market, which means both free labour and capital movements.

It is untenable for a nation to have free borders.

Take Australia, for example. The natural environment makes it impossible for this nation to expand its population beyond some fairly low limits.

However, our high material standard of living makes us a desirable location.

If we didn’t have a population policy then our land mass would soon become unviable in environmental terms.

I am not suggesting the specific way in which the Australian government pursues its population policy is valid. It is horrendous.

But even a progressive Left government would have to have controls and a system in place to maintain a viable population growth.

The reasons there are so many people within the world seeking to move to other locations are many but a response to harsh neoliberal austerity is one and the environmental constraints is another. We could add unnecessary military conflicts and more.

There are millions of environmental refugees now seeking relocation. It doesn’t make any sense to compromise the environmental viability of one place to ease the environmental problems of another.

That is lunacy not solidarity.

But rarely is there consistency in the Left’s arguments.

They want to hamper free capital movements although are never really sure how that works – so they propose insipid ideas like Robin Hood taxes – but then they want workers to flood into nations as a sort of ‘solidarity’ gesture.

We don’t achieve solidarity by making people poorer while making some others a bit better off.

Corporations love ‘free movement’ (of both capital and people) because in the latter case they can use the excess supply of labour to batter the existing workers and their organisations into accepting worse pay and conditions.

That doesn’t seem like a very sensible application of Leftist solidarity.

It is valid for British workers to be concerned about their own working conditions. It is not a sensible Leftist strategy for all workers to accept immiseration in ‘solidarity’ because other workers around the globe are forced into poverty conditions.

If that was the valid Leftist position then we should all accept wages commensurate with those offered in the poorest African peasant societies.

It might be that Californians feel some solidarity with the citizens of Ohio or Wisconsin because they are all Americans.

But trying to enforce that sense of solidarity across ‘national’ borders is another thing altogether.

By fighting for Brexit, the workers in Britain are not abandoning their respect and regard for workers in Greece. They are just defending their interests in the arena where they have influence.

They have not influence in the European Union, which has demonstrated clearly that it is an anti-democratic body.

And don’t for goodness sake wheel out the old furphy that the British workers rely on European law for the protections they enjoy now.

History tells us that most of the benefits that workers in the UK enjoy were in place before the UK entered the European Union.

This BBC fact check (June 2, 2016) – Reality Check: Does the EU protect workers’ rights? – is worth reading.

Further, Jeremy Corbyn will not be able to implement his manifesto for reform if Britain remains in the EU.

I read on a daily basis, pro-Europe progressives who quote this European law or that law, who wax lyrical about nationalised train services in Denmark etc – telling their readers that the EU does not stop a progressive agenda.

Well I am sorry to say that it does.

There is so much misinformation about all of this.

The Danish railways might be state owned. But had they been privatised they would not be able to return to State monopoly under European law, which is exactly what British Labour proposes.

And so it goes for state aid, and all the rest of the constraints that EU law places on the democratic freedom on the British government.

Fighting for Brexit does not mean British workers abandon their regard for workers elsewhere.

It is just that they can do little directly to influence the conditions of those workers. And the history of EU reform shows that little can be done to introduce progressive changes within the current structure.

The reason is that Treaty structure was not accidental. Jacques Delors deliberately set out to enshrine neoliberalism in the very structure of the Union. The Single Market is a manifestation of that.

The British voters can get rid of the austerity-bias in British fiscal policy relatively easily. But they cannot easily change EU policy.

That is the difference.

And by finalising the Brexit process and reestablishing full sovereignty, the progressive government to be elected will have more space to become a demonstration project for workers around the world, including across Europe.

One of the reasons the European Commission has kept Greece within the common currency is because it knows if it left and pursued policies that were freed from the pernicious austerity bias it would grow relatively quickly and material living conditions would rise substantially.

That would show the rest of Europe what can be done with policy autonomy back at the Member State level.

The Commission fears that ‘demonstration effect’. Similarly, if Italy was to leave, the reverberations would destroy the union because the game would be up.

The Commission is allowing Macron to defy the fiscal rules because the Gilets have exposed the fragility of the whole show.

Britain can become a similar ‘demonstration case’ for workers throughout Europe. That would be a far stronger way to show solidarity than staying within the EU and accepting the constraints that such membership brings.

Conclusion

Many readers have written to me asking me whether I would think it better to stay within the EU rather than go for a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

I obviously do not have the resources to undertake a full modelling exercise on what a ‘no deal’ Brexit would look like.

But my judgement – and I have done a lot of data analysis, reading of laws, trade arrangements, etc, and understand all the arguments – is that a no deal Brexit is nothing to fear and would be better than staying in the EU.

But as I indicated at the outset of this debate back in 2016, Brexit might be disastrous if the Tories retain office and continue their nasty policies.

However, given that Labour is likely to take office at the next general election, Brexit gives then space to implement a truly progressive reform agenda within Britain that will be a game changer into terms of ruling paradigms.

Opting for the ‘lets reform the EU’ approach is never going to be a viable strategy and really only serves to support the ‘dream’ that the Left has been holding out about Europe for decades.

Britain can ride the adjustments of a ‘no deal’ Brexit out if its fiscal policy is sound.

And it can become the demonstration case for other nations escaping both the neoliberal austerity bias and the restrictions of being part of neoliberal, corporatist intergovernmental arrangements.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2018 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

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    This Post Has 24 Comments
    1. This is why Germany has overseen the destruction of Greece and refuses any ‘reforms’ that would allow permanent fiscal transfers from some ‘federal’ body to one Member State or another. bill mitchell

      Why not then simultaneous and equal fiat distributions to all Eurozone citizens, ala Steve Keen’s “A Modern Jubilee”, so that German citizens would receive as much as Greek ones? Remembering that debt to banks is measured in nominal, not real terms?

      How to finance? Overt Monetary Finance is one possibility. Negative interest on account balances at the ECB except for an individual Eurozone citizen exemption* up to a reasonable account limit, of, say $250,000, is another possibility.

      *Presupposing that all Eurozone citizens were allowed debit/checking accounts of their own at the ECB so the exemption might be applied to them.

    2. The questions of demos/nationhood/national identity are interesting, particularly in the UK’s constituent countries – Scotland being increasingly very different to (‘British’) England or Wales, although even in the latter two there are sizable minorities who favour English or Welsh identity over a British one. (Northern Ireland being an odd case altogether.)

      And there is a minority – albeit a fairly small one, and one concentrated in the cities – that does identity as European ahead of British, Welsh, English or Scottish – this isn’t meant to undermine the wider point, but it does touch why some of us, foolishly maybe, cling to an EU that at least allows us freedom to live across our Europe and claims to be a manifestation of this identity (against everything that means it can’t really claim to represent it given its anti-democratic nature).

      Wales perhaps also tells us something about how it’s possible to fail, at length, to cultivate a ‘national’ engagement with a ‘national’ politics – that while a sense of abstraction might be essential, perhaps, to something like the EU, that it’s also possible to engender and worsen it by an absence of journalism and an administration in Westminster that simultaneously maintains a largely toothless devolution and tries to bury what significance is does hold.

      On a very different note: “Brexit might be disastrous if the Tories retain office and continue their nasty policies. However, given that Labour is likely to take office at the next general election,…” And when is that? In 2022? Will the Tories, and the EU and indeed pushes of neoliberalism the world over sit on their hands until then?

      I suppose beneath this is the biggest difficulty I have with “No deal will be fine” – the power relations simply don’t change by the UK leaving the EU, but the tools to hand for keeping a country in line with a neoliberal order do: a Tory government free to rush trade deals in a year or two (putting us at least in the same position as we were with the EU), the EU and its member states more easily able to impose tariffs and the like rather than pursuing us (at length) through the ECJ.

    3. Adam says:
      “… but it does touch why some of us, foolishly maybe, cling to an EU that at least allows us freedom to live across our Europe and claims to be a manifestation of this identity …”

      Why not simply face the fact that Britain’s joining the EU (“European Communities”, aka “the Common Market”, as it was then named) has been demonstrated beyond a peradventure to have been a catastrophic blunder? (I say that as one among the 67% who voted in the 1975 referendum in favour of our having joined).

      It need not have been – though personally I now believe that it was doomed from the first – but insofar as there was any definite turning-point after which the truth became inescapable it was – I suggest – Maastricht (coming on top of the Single European Act). Yes we got our opt-out from the currency-union and that was vital, but there was nevertheless no disguising the fact that from then on Britain and what the EU was manifestly in the process of turning-into were on a collision course.

      None of that is to imply that cordial relations can’t and shouldn’t exist between a sovereign Britain and the EU, or that various reciprocal arrangements which are of mutual benefit to the parties can’t and shouldn’t be maintained (and let’s not forget that a number of those pre-date membership of, and exist outside the confines of, the EU as such – eg a whole slew of double-taxation treaties, international civil aviation treaties, etc).

      “… I suppose beneath this is the biggest difficulty I have … the EU and its member states more easily able to impose tariffs and the like rather than pursuing us (at length) through the ECJ”.

      That is to ignore the elephant in the room: it accepts implicitly the indefinite presence in British law of the ECJ as final arbiter. It is the restoration of the sovereignty which we ceded when we joined which the majority in the Brexit referendum voted for. If it didn’t mean that it didn’t mean anything.

    4. ‘It is the restoration of the sovereignty which we ceded when we joined which the majority in the Brexit referendum voted for.’

      Except the REAL meaning of sovereignty was never discussed as the Brexit campaign was lead by shysters unlimited who focused on immigration and lies about the housing crisis being fueled by immigration rather than banks, plus of-the-top-of-your-head lies and bullshit from people like Rees-Mogg and Johnson. Ironically, all these people were linked to financilised interests and global capital flows. Lexit barely got a mention!

      This is partly the product of a political class that has no interest in being genuinely educative.

      I abstained in the end (in the vote) as the sea of ‘bollocks and blarney’ was totally engulfing. Bill’s blog was the go to place for clarity,

      Of course, Tony Benn predicted in 1975 that the EU would be a fraternity of financial interests.

      SO now, a lot of energy is still being wasted within the Labour Party on this issue instead of focusing on what the monetary sovereign can do with real resources.

    5. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – UK Guardian is garbage. They’re how the wealthy and the powerful place boundaries on thought. Take the left position on social issues and rigidly adhere to wealth and power positions on economics. They are a straw man created to confuse and disperse. I’m a nobody. I pointed out the lopsidedness in their opinions. I suggested they give a representation to MMT thinkers. Nothing. Their goal is subversion – to place a stream of neoliberal thinking within the general flow of progressive, truly liberal thought and sentiment.

    6. Hard Brexit – Not a problem. It’s all intimidation. Frighten people so they become insecure and afraid to act. All they have to do is act. Tell people this is how we are going to do things from now on. If you don’t like it, come to us and we’ll talk about it – we have our self interest first, but we also have our good will for you. There are very good reasons why nations exist: people recognize the uniqueness of their position in many things: geographical location, language, culture, religion, natural resources, so that the progression of humanities’ possession of this world will impose a unique burden or benefit on them and they rightly want to protect and hew to their own interests.

    7. Hugo Dixon, who after reading the article in yesterday’s online Guardian i now know is the deputy leader of the People’s Vote campaign, was attempting a minor show of contrition (hey! we’re listening poor people!)
      Acknowledging the Remain campaign also lied he said… ”it has to be admitted, the remain camp also spun the truth, though it did not descend to the depths of the leave camp”. So far, so reasonable…

      You would expect then, that in the same article he acknowledges the Remain camp also lied, and stressing the importance of truth telling on all sides (a noble sentiment) he wouldn’t launch into a medley of some Remain fibs Greatest Hits’… alas…

      His noble truth telling lasted less than a paragraph that he himself was writing.

      I won’t link to the article but we have the usual gems
      ”if we quit the EU, we will have less money to spend because the economy will be damaged”
      ”if we stay in the EU, MPs will be able to focus on healing our country rather than worrying about Brexit. There will also be a mega-dividend probably worth tens of billions of pounds a year that could be invested in doing just that, according to a report by CommonGround published earlier this month.”
      ”The report suggests three ideas for spending this dividend: a jumpstart fund for parts of the country that have been starved of investment; a cash infusion for the NHS, above and beyond what the prime minister has promised; and a migration and communities fund for areas that have been challenged by sudden or significant population changes.”

      In other words, taxes fund government spending, blah blah blah.

    8. “But when Thomas Fazi and I sought space to discuss our book – Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (Pluto Books, 2017)…the result has been no response (yay or nay).” The reason is because “Reclaiming the State” is the smartest, most informative, and most dangerous book, from the elite perspective, that has been published in recent memory. It is a must-read, if you really want to know what’s going on, and why the left should eagerly embrace and humanely transform both nationalism and patriotism. In no other way can the principles of MMT be applied to meet our social, economic, and environmental crises.

    9. The EU is not a federation. The EU budget is equal to a tiny 1 percent of the EU nations’ collective output.

      Compare that to Australia where the federal government’s total spending is equal to about a quarter of national output.

      Australia has a shared language and history and a very strong sense of national identity.

      People who are geographically European do not identify PRIMARILY as European in terms of culture or values or history.

      They identify chiefly with their nation. Not with Europe.

      That is why Germans don’t mind destroying the lives of Greeks.

      In Australia, there is sufficient solidarity and shared identity for people to accept significant fiscal transfers to the lower productivity regions of our country.

      That is not the case in the EU.

    10. One of Corbyns’ many problems in how to navigate the brexit debate
      is the opinions of the mass membership of the labour party he created.
      He is a lifelong supporter of more democracy inside the labour party
      both in deciding representatives, mp’s and pm, but also in deciding
      policy.There is no doubt labour conference would now support a
      second vote and to campaign to remain.
      Bill what is your opinion of WTO membership I have been led to believe that
      too would place major restraints on government interventions.
      I was always against the referendum my vote for brexit was my worse
      voting experience ever .I could not vote for the eu but was not voting for anything else.
      The fear of leaping from the neo liberal pan into the neo liberal fire is still there.
      We are bitterly divided here in the uk ,friendships and family under much stress
      and seemingly no majority in the commons for any or no deal.
      The forces of reaction are licking their lips at the chaos around the world i think
      their chance of capturing power in the uk will come.

    11. On the Guardian. Here are some comments today from BLT on the Southampton v West Ham football (soccer) game played last night. It’s from a completely different audience but quite prescient considering what is being said on this blog and their reluctance to discuss MMT.


      LindaD66
      Decent game and Southampton slightly unlucky but this is the only story open for comments oddly. Graun must be confident that their sports fans don’t include the banana skin lobbers that seem to frequent the stadiums. Guardian comments is becoming like dinner with the inlaws: don’t discuss politics, religion or money.

      Eisenhower LindaD66
      You are so right about that. Really boring. Any article that has interesting topics like politics, sex, wealth, anti-semitism, islamism, etc…is closed or comments.
      And any point of view that is slightly different is moderated if the comments are open. They’re not looking for debate or original thought. The conventional wisdom has to rule, on every subject matter.

      Hectormandarin Eisenhower
      I’m noticing more and more that discussions are being pre-moderated, so that people are not even getting the chance to put their point across unless it tallies with what the moderators think. Not exactly the way that healthy debate is encouraged…

      Richard J Smith Eisenhower
      You’re allowed to say what you want… as long as it’s what they want you to say

      [Source: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2018/dec/27/southampton-west-ham-united-premier-league-match-report%5D

    12. A contrarian view. Brexit seems akin to zugzwang in chess; there is no good move. Putting aside economic arguments (the Euro and free-trade) and the undemocratic European Commission, the intent of the European Union was to prevent yet another catastrophic war. You dismiss WW2 too lightly. England has not suffered invasion and occupation for ten centuries. (I am the son of a Norwegian who emigrated to Australia after an “unnecessary military conflict”). For at least three centuries English policy has been to prevent one power from dominating the continent: Malplaquet, Waterloo, Ypres, Dunkirk. The British Empire of Churchill and his contemporaries is long gone and England deserves no help from the Commonwealth beyond that due to self-interest. No one seems to be concerned that Brexit would be a disaster for the Irish Republic. These are reasons for England to remain in the EU and help to solve the EU’s problems from within.

    13. “Even if we ignore the obvious imbalance in experience and qualifications (track record) of the respective ‘authors’, it seems that the UK Guardian only wants a particular view to be published even if the quality of that view would make the piece unpublishable in any respectable outlet.”

      Yes, and that’s the umpteenth example of the opposition that the political left has to free speech nowadays. All of which is a pity, since the left clearly makes a number of good points.

    14. @ RobJ

      Sounds pretty reasonable – on the face of it.

      Just one little snag: the EU is for the present and the foreseeable future unreformable (and least of all would Britain’s proposals for reform be greeted with acclaim, even assuming Britain could make up its mind what reforms it wanted – an unlikely scenario at best).

      The EU has willfully chosen to build itself an economic prison, has locked itself in and then thrown away the key so as not to be open to the temptation of freeing itself. Enormous vested interests have a stake in keeping it that way

      “To help save the EU’s problems from within” is a pathetic delusion. Plain as a pikestaff

    15. I fear going back on Brexit will cause massive disruption in the UK and the winners will not be Labour which will be seen once again as Blairite elitists and working class Britons will dump Corbyn. A form of UKIP will evolve a d Labour will lose its historic opportunity to reform the UK economy.

    16. I agree with what you write on this and I share it both with Leavers and with Remainers. The problem is that when you have a frankly sneering tone using phrases such as “idiocy” etc it often just switches off the Remainers. So you just end up speaking to the converted. That’s a real shame IMO.

    17. “In a vacuum Brexit could work”.

      Brexit is *about* politics. How can politics take place in a vacuum?

      To paraphrase Keynes:- “In a vacuum we are all dead”.

    18. Dear Bill Mitchell,
      In my opinion: Regarding 1) UK does not fit into the EU – they have oponed for decades and claimed special solutions for the UK – and 2) they would never pull together with other countries at the same rope to negotiate measures against the overweight of Germany, which is indispensable for a reform of the EU, I hope that the UK will leave the EU in any case, and that this turns out good for both sides.
      But “good for the UK” is subject to the proviso: “If the Tories 1) stay in office and 2) continue their bad policies”. What do you see as an indication that this could change?

      Greets from Germany

    19. To John Giles and others, re: the Guardian these days:
       
      Another thing I’ve noticed about the Guardian is just how conformist it is. I thought it had prided itself on appealing to the intellectuals of the country – people who think for themselves, and question orthodoxy. Instead, time after time it seems to bolster orthodox opinion: not just on Brexit or neoliberal economics, but on a whole range of topics.
       
      One is, apparently, no longer allowed, or at least no longer encouraged, to question received wisdoms.
       
      Some of us know that there is at least one Guardian leader writer who supports MMT.
      I hope that Bill remains in regular contact with him.

    20. Prof. Mitchell writes here: “One of the reasons the European Commission has kept Greece within the common currency is because it knows if it left and pursued policies that were freed from the pernicious austerity bias it would grow relatively quickly and material living conditions would rise substantially.
      “That would show the rest of Europe what can be done with policy autonomy back at the Member State level.
      “The Commission fears that ‘demonstration effect’. Similarly, if Italy was to leave, the reverberations would destroy the union because the game would be up.”
      I might suggest that Puerto Rico might serve as a more dramatic and ripe-for-change demonstration project. If the government of Puerto Rico could be persuaded to issue its own currency (assuming it managed the process well, at least as doubtful as the decision even being made), the demonstration value could be enormous. The prospect of spending sovereign currency into circulation for a new solar-powered, underground-connected electricity grid, new roads, new education and health institutions, etc. is an exciting one. Opportunity is knocking on the door.

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