Brexit, Nationalism, National Sovereignty, Protectionism and other forms of insanity

Brexit won.  Nationalism won.  And why should anyone be worried that something that a fascist like Trump, a racist like Farage, and a tyrant like Putin passed?  I’m sure it will all work out in the end. 

nationalism

In light of Brexit, Trump, Sanders, and other forms of societal suicide words and phrases like nationalism and national sovereignty and other such tripe are coming as things that are good.  And with that the boogeymanish specter of globalism is being portrayed as a thread as dire as the Illuminati, not that dimwits like Obama actually defending terms like globalism is a good thing.  It’s not.  But it struck me today as Trump was decrying free trade between individuals under the name of national sovereignty and Obama was attacking individualism under the name of globalism is what I was actually watching.  In Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead there is a speech by the villain, Ellsworth Toohey, about what his goals were: the destruction of the individual, and one of the chief weapons of his and people like him was to offer two different options. 

Look at Europe, you fool. Can’t you see past the guff and recognize the essence ? One country is dedicated to the proposition that man has no rights, that the collective is all. The individual held as evil, the mass – as God. No motive and no virtue permitted – except that of service to the proletariat.  That’s one version. Here’s another. A country dedicated to the proposition that man has no rights, that the State is all. The individual held as evil, the race – as God. No motive and no virtue permitted – except that of service to the race. Am I raving or is this the harsh reality of two continents already ? If you’re sick of one version, we push you in the other. We’ve fixed the coin. Heads – collectivism. Tails – collectivism. Give up your soul to a council – or give it up to a leader. But give it up, give it up, give it up. Offer poison as food and poison as antidote. Go fancy on the trimmings, but hang on to the main objective. Give the fools a chance, let them have their fun – but don’t forget the only purpose you have to accomplish. Kill the individual. Kill man’s soul. The rest will follow automatically.” —Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

Rand was referring to the option of Communist Russia or Nazi Germany, but while the names have changed and we’re still early enough in the process that the body count hasn’t reached horrific levels (give it time if we let these evils run their course), but it’s the same choice, socialism or fascism with nothing but the destruction of the individual as the goal of both camps. Now as I assume the readers of this page already are more familiar with the evils of Progressivism and modern liberalism so I’ll be focusing more on the current problems of the alt-Right, but don’t forget for a second that both are evil that need to opposed. 

So let’s take their seemingly nice statements and dissect them before we get to the particulars of issues like Brexit or Trade.   

Nationalism versus Patriotism

“Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.” —George Orwell

Right now the word nationalism is coming back in vogue with the more vile aspect of society.  And they’re to sell it to the rather clueless masses as a good thing because; they say nationalism is just loving your country.  Except that it isn’t just that.  It’s saying that your country isn’t just good; it’s better.  And it’s not just better because of ideals and practices—ideals and practices that any nation could adopt and be as great—no it’s because of the land, or the culture, or the heritage, or of course the word that they mean but always avoid saying in polite company—because of the race.  Nationalism is nothing but racism dressed up to try and look respectable, but that’s all it is.  It’s saying that we are better because we’re this race or that.  And it gets psychotically detailed as currently being seen in Britain where we are not only seeing anti-Muslim or anti-Arab hatred but the anti-Polish hatred, and of course that age old gem of the England which I think we had all moved past, anti-Irish bigotry.  To every sane person the idea that we’re going to start breaking up Caucasian ethnicity again into so many detailed little subgroups is preposterous.  But that’s the nature of nationalism.  Because it’s not enough to be just white and against those non-white people because low and behold being against non-white will not solve your problem, so some other minority must be to blame, so next comes the Poles and the Irish, but strangely enough that more specific bigotry still isn’t going to solve anything…in a couple years we can expect to see hatred between Londoners and those in the north of England.  And from there maybe the bigotry of neighborhoods.  Because bigotry always has to have someone else to blame for its problems, and since it never wants to address the real causes of those problems it always has to become more and more specific in it’s hatred. 

And then you may turn Catholic against Protestant, and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the mind of man. If you can do one, you can do the other. Because fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding. And soon, your Honor, with banners flying and with drums beating we’ll be marching backward, BACKWARD, through the glorious ages of that Sixteenth Century when bigots burned the man who dared bring enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind! —Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, Henry Drummond in Inherit the Wind

Whenever there is nationalism in history there is racism, there is hatred, there are pogroms and genocide.  The examples of Nationalism without violence in history are examples of where the weed was pulled out before it had a chance to ruin the soil. 

Nationalism is not patriotism.  Because patriotism requires you to love what you nation stands for, and to stand against that nation (be it the government or the whole of the public) when those ideals are violated.  Nationalism tolerates no dissension from the herd.  If you are not for the nation at all times in all places whether it is right or wrong you are against nationalism.  If you are right to stand against your nation when it is wrong you are a patriot, but not a nationalist.

“Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.”

— Charles de Gaulle

There is no such thing as nationalism separated from racism. 

There is no justification for nationalism.  Just as there is no justification for the Progressive tendency to hate one’s nation.  Most nations in the West have done some truly wonderful things (in amongst a lot of bad); those moments of our noblest virtues should be cherished and honored.  The Progressives would have you forget what makes a nation great, the Nationalists would have you forget that those nations are not perfect.  Both extremes are wrong and both must be opposed. 

And we’ll get to this in more detail when we get to free trade, but you should also notice that their praise of “heritage” and “culture” as something that should be preserved for its inherent virtue rings hollow like all things racist. Why?  Because they don’t really believe in it.  If they believed that their culture was truly superior, as any American patriot does, they would be willing to have it be challenged by other beliefs, confronted, attacked because if it was truly superior it would arise victorious.  But no, no what you hear is that this or that group can’t be brought around to democratic-republican government or liberty as if these ideas that are just ideas and things that go with White people.  They act as if civic virtue is something that comes natural to anyone…despite all history and knowledge of the subject being that a society that is fit for a government of law and liberty is one that has to be taught how to be good citizens.  From de Tocqueville to modern scholarship it is known that good citizens that will defend the institutions that protect liberty of the individual are ones that have to be taught and raised.  It comes naturally for no one and no society.  It takes time, effort and will.  And it is a right and ability inborn to all.  But Nationalists claim that it can only be brought to some people and thus their ideas must be defended from those that don’t have it naturally by closing contact rather than making the case that our side is better—and by making the case learning how to make our side better.

And you’ll notice in neither view does the individual come into play.  For a nationalist if someone does something great from a nation or ethnicity other than their own it is an achievement that must be torn down or ignored, the same attitude for all achievement is taken by the progressives.  A patriot can recognize the virtue of someone from another nation, a nationalist can only say that the achievement was stolen from their great nation in some way.   The individual is harmful to the groupthink of nationalism and progressivism and for them the individual must be torn down and made part of a collective that can be either praised or hated, but always controlled. 

Of course people are beginning to remember what nationalism is, so the little fascists had to switch to another term to try and dress up their ideas.  So then we come to the idea of national sovereignty.

National sovereignty versus the individual and rights and the actual ends of Government

Calls for national sovereignty aren’t new.  They were made by the Anti-Federalist against the Constitution.  They were made by the Confederacy to justify slavery.  They were made by certain regimes in Germany as to why they shouldn’t have to obey the League of Nations.  And while a call for national sovereignty shouldn’t be rejected just because they’re the first port of call for any tyrant or scoundrel, they should be put under the microscope. 

The concept of national sovereignty runs thus: This is our land we have the right to rule it and not be subject to the whims of some foreign power.  In the most recent case the UK should be run by the UK and not by bureaucrats in Brussels.  Of course the problem with this is that the UK itself is a conglomeration of various different nations, and it’s pretty clear that within the decade that Scotland and Northern Ireland will leave the UK (possibly even Wales).  But they should have national sovereignty to do as they wish.  Of course London is also looking like it doesn’t like the UK’s recent choice, so they might leave too, and why shouldn’t they, why should London have to deal with the laws dictated by other parts of England (after all England was just a bunch of kingdoms William the Conqueror put together after the Battle of Hastings, why should those various kingdoms have to listen to other kingdoms when they don’t agree with it).  So London should have sovereignty to go its own way.  But I’m sure that one of the districts of London, for sake of argument let’s say Westminster, won’t want to go along with that, so they’ll break away from London, which should be their right, after all it violates their sovereignty to have to follow the will of other people who are all the way across town.  I’m sure you can see where this is all going and let’s just take national sovereignty to its logical conclusion of the individual.  And that is the logical conclusion because if there is nothing about a nation like the UK that is inherently more special than a country or city like London.  If national sovereignty has a valid basis then it can go down to any subdivision until you can divide further—and that smaller unit is the individual. 

But there are two rational problems with this.  The first is that as Aristotle pointed out, “man is by nature a political animal, and that a man that does not need the polis is either something below an animal or a god.”  People need people. They cannot gain all they need to survive, let alone flourish by themselves, and thus they need a society to help them provide these things.  And let me hold off for just a second on what kind of society that needs to be.  The second problem with the sovereignty of the individual is that if everyone else is also sovereign you might be able to get a small commune of people who are all willing to cooperate without law or force…but the minute some asshole who wants to be tyrant shows up it’s not just dangerous to individual rights, the fear and short sightedness such issues create can turn everyone into a Hobsian nightmare of war of all against all.  But rather than simply revert to a Leviathan strong man there is one other way to get around this nightmare of the state of nature. 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.

Because man cannot do everything by himself nor guarantee all his rights with any certainty, governments are instituted to protect his right and set up the system necessary to ensure as many obstacles to the pursuit of Happiness are removed (preferably through free enterprise as it is the system that violates the least amount of rights while at the same time providing the most prosperity for the most people).  Thus it is never a question of who has power, be it local government or an authority a thousand miles away, but a question if rights are maintained and the pursuit of Happiness is aided or hampered. This is the only question that matters.  The logic of national sovereignty makes it seem that government that is close and purely democratic is somehow better by nature…but anyone who has ever dealt with local government knows They’re just as stupid, corrupt, unaccountable and incompetent.  It’s just their screw ups don’t affect as many people so you don’t know about them.  But any elected local school board or water board is just as spectacularly idiotic as any appointed federal regulation board…in some cases more so.  What keeps government accountable is not the proximity it is the rule of law and a healthy dose of internal affairs reviews (which we currently lack at all levels).  And democracy that votes against your rights is in no way superior to even the most bureaucratic regime that defends your rights.  Now it may be that being closer to government and being more democratic have in many cases provided the needed checks against government from infringing on rights and the pursuit of Happiness, but the question should first be are rights being defended and is the pursuit of Happiness being helped or hindered?  That is the goal.  The questions of national sovereignty, local government, and democratic principles are the means to the ends of protection of rights, they are not ends in themselves.  And those that make the case for national sovereignty are saying that they are an end in and of themselves.  They are wrong.  They could not be more wrong.  Because when you treat national sovereignty as an end in itself you start down a path of the most virulent nationalism that will destroy any and all rights to ensure national sovereignty. 

Problems with the EU and the UK

So the question then becomes two fold.

1.  Is the EU defending natural rights and aiding in the pursuit of Happiness?

2.  Could Britain do a better job at this on its own.

Regrettably the answer to both questions is an unqualified NO, HELL NO.

The EU is a goddamn mess of socialism, bureaucratic nightmares and inefficiency.  It might be better than Venezuela or Russia, but it’s still a joke.  It should never have let Greece into the EU, and it most certainly should have thrown them out years ago.  It should never regulate as heavily as it does.  It shouldn’t have such an incredibly stupid monetary policy.  Nothing in Eastern Europe should have been brought into the EU as it is just bringing about Chaos.  Any intelligent free enterprise oriented look at the EU will see nothing but problems that need to be resolved immediately if the EU is not only going to survive but thrive. 

So the fact the EU is screwed up is a given.

But just because the EU sucks doesn’t mean that Britain or any other nation should leave. Sometimes a not so great situation is better than a terrible situation.  Now if the UK were oriented toward economic liberalization, breaking down barriers, brining in the best and brightest to achieve a new economic boom that would make the lives of its citizens better that would be great!  If that were the case they should have said to hell with the EU.  Of course that’s not the case. Even for all its problems, and even with crap like Greece in the mix, the EU has actually made Europe more economically free. 

economic freedom

(Source Heritage Foundation)

 And in that same time the UK has become less economically free…especially in the last 10 years when all the problems that we all hate the EU for, EU is more free, UK less free.  Some idiots claim that Brexit is like the American Revolution… I would like to remind you that while EU has slowly but surely been making Europe more economically free…the UK has become less economically free, a trend not likely to stop given the nationalism and isolationism currently in British politics.  This is not the American Revolution, it’s closer to the French Revolution where you trade bad for worse (much worse).  The EU for all of its mountain of problems is sputtering in the right direction, while now the UK will free fall away from economic liberty.  That is in no way like the American Revolution which did seek to increase not limit liberty.

Oh but you say the immigration crisis is the real problem.  Breaking away from the EU will allow the UK to stop those terrible Muslim immigrants from coming in.  First let’s remember the anti-immigrant hatred is extending not just to Muslims but to the Poles and other Eastern Europeans.  Yeah because racism like that is going to bring in the best and brightest that a thriving economy needs.  Second, I would point out that China can’t keep refugees coming in from North Korea…if a nation that will execute you as soon as look at you can’t keep out refugees, seriously, what do you think the odds that the UK will be able to? Or are you suggesting they become more Draconian than communist China?  Third, Europe’s problem isn’t that it has refugees coming in from Syria its problem is that for all the claims of Western superiority they don’t actually want to make the case and teach people the virtues of Western society (rather just like the racists they are treating them as children who will never understand), they don’t want to deal with the real and serious issues in Syria which do need to be addressed by a NATO/EU effort to oust Assad, ISIS, and probably Erdogan from that area (and tell Putin he has no business meddling there or frankly anywhere—including Russia).  And then there is a rising problem of attacks on innocent people and especially women, but anyone who followed what happens in Europe before the Syrian refugee crisis knows that while the immigrants are exacerbating the problem the problem existed long before the immigrants got there…probably because Europe is a place where self-defense is not treated as a right.  Give the women of Europe guns and you’ll see an end to rapes and assaults.  Give the general populace of Europe guns and you’ll see an end to mass shootings by terrorists and atheists (yeah you forgot that’s where the mass shootings in Europe were coming from before this didn’t you) or any crazy person.  Armed people shoot back. That’s the solution to that particular problem.  Do you think that the UK which regulates your ability to buy a steak knife is going to make it easier for its citizens to defend themselves?

All this will do is create a different set of socialist rules in Britain and the EU.  One set of bad rules is bad, but for businesses and entrepreneurs (to say nothing of normal people) one set of bad rules is better than 2, 10 or 50 sets of bad rules.  That’ the great thing about free trade agreements, they standardize the rules and so you don’t have to spend money to make sure you’re in compliance for all those regulations (I’m sure we all know how much regulations cost here in America…just think if you’re a European business trying to be in compliance with that 20 times over, it wouldn’t be worth doing business).  So while the EU is bad it has the simple advantage of going in the right direction and still providing the stability and uniformity that aids in free enterprise, which in turn aids in personal liberty. 

But of course the nationalists then come back and bring up their terrible word “Globalism.”

Free Trade and Free Enterprise versus Protectionism and Globalism

MiltonFreeTrade

Globalism is terrible because, say the nationalist, because it hurts our businesses here.  It takes jobs.  It is bad for our economy.

Of course when praised by unspeakable idiots like Obama Globalism means giving up not just local authority but all rights to one central Soviet style government which runs every aspect of your life. 

The problem with both of these sides is that they’re ramblings of idiots. 

To call these outright lies is being polite.  These are statements that are the exact opposite of anything to do with reality.

There is not a Globalism movement in any serious sense. There is no work to centralize authority and take away economic liberty.  What there is, is free trade, free enterprise, and capitalism.

As one study after another, after another shows that free trade works.

This is getting a little long so I’m just going to put the rest of the links at the bottom. But it should be clear to anyone who has ever looked at the subject that free trade is an absolute good that is always beneficial for human beings in the long run.  It may get rid of an industry here or there but it replaces them with something new and better.  You only have to be willing to grasp better to have it.  Change always brings with it some hardship but it is the long term results that are important.  The government is not there to protect your job from the reality of change and economic advancement, it is there to allow people to advance, if you choose not to advance with the times I suggest you go get a copy of “Who moved my Cheese?” and adapt or die. 

Nationalists claim that free trade under the name of globalism hurts the economy, nothing could be further from the truth.  What they hate is the fact that their isolationist and racist views will be proven wrong.  Cronyism like Trump’s hate it because it forces them to compete and makes their fleecing of fools so much harder.  Those seeking a controled economy like Obama who actually want Globalism hate free trade and attack it under petty names just like the nationalist do because it hurts their goals as well.

All reason, history, and evidence shows that free trade is good.  We knew this even 200 years ago when we complained about George III “For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world.”  Any move that works to further cut off trade, as Brexit did, is not in the vein of liberty, it is in the vein of idiocy.  And if you think that Britain, a nation that lost an entire world-wide empire that it could have kept if it had been dedicated to economic liberty is suddenly going to be something other than what it is and become more economically free because they voted against economic freedom you’re not even being delusional, you’re being intentionally stupid.

So what should they have done?

I know out there there’s a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, “Why me? And why us? And why America?”  And the only answer is, “Because destiny put you in this place in history, in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do.”—Prime Minister Tony Blair address to US Congress

The above quote was made by British PM Blair in regards to the burden America had to endure in defending liberty around the world. “And the task is yours to do.”

Well Britain also had a task, and it failed.  Should it have dealt with the EU’s encroachment on rights and liberties?  Yes.  But just leaving like a two year old who doesn’t want to share his toys was not the option. Britain–the nation that gave us the Magna Carta, English Common Law, Blackstone, Shakespeare, The English Bill of Rights, Churchill, Thatcher–as the first nation in Europe to always champion the rights of the individual had the responsibility to stand for the rights of the individual.

They should have pushed for a conditional withdraw, a statement of “These changes will be made or we leave.”  Among such changes standing against Assad and ISIS, throwing Greece, Turkey and probably a few other nations out of the EU, stricter monetary policy, austerity spending and growth based tax and regulation policies.  And even getting some of it would have been a boon to not just the EU but the whole world.  And they should have not shrugged their responsibility to act as a leader “And if we leave we are starting up a new free trade zone and anyone who wants to join can come.  Our restrictions will be less, our currency more stable, our laws fewer, our transparency greater, our defense of liberty more dedicated.”  That was the option they should have taken; that was the ethical way to deal with problems of the EU.  Much as the colonies didn’t just run at the first sign of trouble but offered focused protest, Olive Branch Petitions, sent emissaries and offered warnings on what should be done, Britain should have done the same.  The task was theirs to do.  And they failed.

They failed because for all the good they have done, since they booted out Churchill (with a brief flirtation with virtue during Thatcher and Blair) the country has been on a downward spiral of isolation, socialism, and the lack of all that is good in the British tradition. 

Britain had a responsibility to be the adult in the room and push for a real solution.  It failed.

Will America?

More Free Trade Reading:

Imports and trade deficits do not ‘hinder’ economic growth and are not a ‘setback’ for the US economy

The trade deficit does not cost us jobs

Think of ‘trade deficits’ as ‘job-generating, capital-creating foreign investment surpluses for a better America’

Trade Deficit Doesn’t Matter – Trade Freedom Does

Attention, Reporters: A Trade Deficit Is Not Bad

Don’t Be Fooled – Trade Deficits Are Just Fine

The Trade-Balance Creed: Debunking the Belief that Imports and Trade Deficits Are a “Drag on Growth”

America’s Maligned and Misunderstood Trade Deficit

In Defense of Globalization by Jagdish Bhagwati

Why America Needs to Support Free Trade

The Benefits of Free Trade: Addressing Key Myths 

Why trade is good for you–The Economist

The Case for Free Trade by Milton and Rose Friedman

The Better Angels of Our Nature

TPP Trade Pact Would Give Wall Street a Trump Card to Block Regulations

TPP, TPA, Free Trade and lies about them….

Free Trade Doesn’t Have to Devastate Workers

You and Donald Trump Might Not Like Free Trade, but It’s Been Good to You Both

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