Friday, June 24, 2016

Who Are EU?

One of my friends has compared the results of this week’s Brexit vote, where the UK took the unprecedented step of electing to leave the European Union, to voting for Donald Trump. This makes sense, considering the almost entirely white, rural, post-industrial breakdown of the results. Another friend compared it to Anschluss. I dread Nazi comparisons, which reduce discussions to name-calling competitions, but sadly, based on Europe’s larger context right now, the comparison is justified.

As an American, I try to remain aloof from international politics. We Yankee Doodles have an unfortunate history of weighing into discussions we don’t truly understand. While I’m no isolationist, I appreciate FDR’s preference to keep America outside World War II until circumstances were clearly defined, and America’s interests were inarguable. But events of recent years have me significantly concerned about European, and world, politics, because I can read, and we’ve seen these situations before.

The popularity of nativist groups, like German PEGIDA, the French Front National, and the UK Independence Party. American cluelessness, embodied in a Presidential candidate lacking policies, but brimming with charisma and paranoia. Governments pushing austerity on citizens already facing stagnant wages and soaring commodity prices. And citizens desperate for someone to blame, even if the creepy foreigners and vaguely brown-skinned people they choose had little influence on their situation. Tragically, we’ve seen all this before.

Let’s be clear. I’m no EU fan, or specifically the Eurozone. The concentration of European monetary policy under the Maastricht Treaty has damaged member states’ ability to control domestic economies. Recent upheavals in Greece, Spain, and Ireland have reflected the international export of monetary policy: pre-2008 paper millionaires flooded spongy economies with cheap money, buoyed by Eurozone guarantees, then fled when things got rough. Greg Palast and Matt Taibbi have explained this volatile situation perfectly.

But as a non-Maastricht state, Britain didn’t really face such concerns. One could levy charges of economic blackmail. What Britain did last week is literally no better than screaming “It’s my ball, I’ll make the rules.” As Earth’s fifth-largest economy, and Europe’s second-largest (after Germany), besides being home to Earth’s largest single Stock Exchange, Britain has significant power in Europe. Taking that power outside the EU throws the European economy, already drifting, into uncharted waters.

The Brexit arguably could’ve happened anyway. The name gained traction because we already faced the “Grexit,” Greece threatening the same maneuver, and other countries throughout the Eurozone have threatened to pull a runner. None so far have done it, because they need Germany’s influence, as the dominant Maastricht power, to stabilize their economies. Having delegated their economies to the EU Central Bank, based in Frankfurt, would-be European leavers have too little domestic standing to leave.

But just because nobody’s done it yet, doesn’t mean nobody will. Britain, one of Europe’s largest trading destinations, is leaving the EU, with no alternative policies prepared. This means countries which trade with Britain, from French goods to Spanish tourist resorts to Slovakian white slavers, literally have no idea where their money’s headed; Weimar-era trade tariffs may appear next Thursday. Sending anything to Britain right now would be foolish. Money’s about to become very scarce.

Sadly, this makes international paranoia worse, not better. Britain already has a government pushing exactly the same austerity measures the Rothschilds pushed on France between the World Wars. France didn’t surrender to Germany because it was cowardly; it surrendered because it was broke from trying to shrink the economy enough to go back on the Gold Standard. A standard which, don’t forget, is being heavily pushed by economic reactionaries in Europe and America right now.

We’re witnessing the reconstruction of conditions which existed in Europe before weakened central nations began electing Fascist governments. Fortunately right now, even states with reactionary governments, like Germany and Austria, are committed to not repeating these mistakes. It’s states that fought against fascism that currently support its modern successors. Farage in Britain and Le Pen in France lack Hitler’s snarling charisma, but seem committed to pushing a photogenic successor to his policies on naïve Europeans.

Fortunately, we have the perspective of history now. If pre-WWII conditions exist again, we can recall the past, and warn against them. The EU was created to shackle nationalist tendencies and privilege broader commitments to human rights, and if British voters regret their hasty exit—which they will—we have perspective enough to prevent regression. But it will require international actors, including America, to resist playing tit-for-tat. With Trump’s candidacy running, I dread the possibilities.

See Also: Those Who Don't Learn From History

1 comment:

  1. The EU has been a strange mixture of control and the lack of it. While member states could not fully control their own economies, the central authorities cannot manage Europe's overall economy since the individual states control their own budgets and spending.