What does the European Union have in common with Hotel California? The answer is that you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. Take, for instance, the ongoing Brexit saga. Over and again, in one democratic vote after another, the British people have made it abundantly clear that they have had enough of the tyrannical and quasi-totalitarian European Union. They have done so in a European Election in which the UK Independence Party (UKIP) swept to victory in 2014. They did so again, two years later and in resounding fashion, when they voted to “leave” the EU in a national referendum. They did so again this year when the newly-founded Brexit Party gained the largest share of the national vote in the European Parliament Election.
How many times do the British people need to “check out” of the European Union before they are allowed to leave? When will the political establishment practice the democratic principles that it claims to advocate?
The answers to these questions appear to lie (in both senses of the word) in a surreal reliance on Orwellian doublethink and newspeak. Thus, for instance, the pro-EU lobby claims that Boris Johnson is betraying democracy and being undemocratic in trying to expedite the will of the people. At the same time, the pro-EU lobby supports the egregiously undemocratic shenanigans of the political establishments of both London and Brussels to thwart the people’s will. This is made manifest in the Machiavellian meddling of British politicians and the refusal of the draconian EU to accept any “deal,” however conciliatory. And then, when all deals are stonewalled by the Brussels monolith, Boris Johnson is condemned as an extremist for pursuing a “no deal” Brexit.
In similar Orwellian fashion, the popular will of the people is treated with contempt and condemned for being “populist.” Take, for instance, the contempt expressed by spokesmen for the Liberal Democrats, the most pro-EU of the UK’s mainstream parties, who argue that it was a mistake to have offered the British people a vote on whether they wished to remain in the European Union (clearly, according to the Liberal Democrats, the people should be made to stay in the EU whether they like it or not); or take the lament of David Cameron, the former Prime Minister, confessing that he had agonized about his role in allowing the referendum, regretting his decision and feeling that it was a mistake. What Mr. Cameron seems to have forgotten is that he and his party only offered a referendum because it was the only way that the Conservatives could steal back the necessary votes from those who had voted for UKIP, without which he and his party could not have won the election. It was, therefore, a cynical move on his part, made necessary by the realpolitik which is the only ethical principle that career politicians follow. It was presumed by Cameron and the Conservatives that the overwhelming one-sided pro-EU propaganda during the referendum campaign, peddled by the unholy alliance of mainstream media and mainstream politicians, would ensure that the British people would vote “politically correctly,” i.e. that they could be frightened and bullied into accepting the chains of their slavery in fear of something worse.
Continuing the theme of Orwellianism, it should also be remembered, though almost everyone seems to have forgotten, that the people of the United Kingdom never voted to join the European Union in the first place. They never even checked into the nightmarish “hotel” from which they are now being refused permission to “check out.”
Wait a minute, one might respond, what about the referendum in 1975 which rubber-stamped Edward Heath’s decision to drag Britain into what was then called the Common Market?
It is true that the British people voted to stay in the Common Market, having been presented with Mr. Heath’s fait accompli, for which he had no electoral mandate, but they were only voting to remain members of a free trade zone, a “common market,” not to remain members of the European Union, which never existed at the time and which would never have received electoral support. As with the more recent referendum, the one-sided propaganda barrage during the 1975 referendum was unrelenting, which meant that only one side of the argument was heard. Based upon such a warped, manipulated, and “massaged” understanding of the issues, the British people were happy for the UK to join a free trade agreement with the other sovereign nations who had joined the Common Market. They were warned at the time by Eurosceptics that the Common Market was more than it seemed and that it would morph into a United States of Europe. Such prophetic voices were dismissed as alarmist but have since been vindicated. The Common Market morphed into the European Economic Community (EEC) and then became the European Community (EC), indicative of its metamorphosis from a merely economic to an overtly political “community.” Finally, as the EC continued to usurp more and more power from its member states, without the consent of any popular mandate or vote, it became the juggernaut known as the European Union, to which every member state must bow the knee. In this way, while they slept, the nations of Europe were reduced to being mere colonies of the European Empire.
All of the foregoing should be obvious to anyone who has eyes to see, which means, of course, that it is not obvious at all to those enamoured of the Empire and its imperialism. One example of such singular blindness was made manifest in a headline in the New York Times on October 2, which reads “Boris Johnson: ‘I Love Europe’ and Here is My Plan to Leave It.” One can imagine the headline writers smirking with supercilious self-satisfaction as they exposed the British Prime Minster’s hypocrisy. And yet, of course, they had missed the whole point of what Boris Johnson was saying. He is opposed to the European Empire precisely because he loves Europe. Like all good Europeans, he loves the Europe of a Hundred Flags, the Europe in which the multifarious and beautiful national and regional cultures represent different flowers in a culturally diverse garden. Like all good Europeans, he opposes the European Union, or European Empire, because it seeks to plough down all the unique and flowering characteristics of each nation so that each is forced to conform to the same drab and bureaucratic one-size-fits-all monoculture, subject to the same laws and obeying the same orders. Like all good Europeans (and all genuine lovers of democracy), he believes that local government is closer to the people than one imperial government in Brussels; he believes that the French people should govern France, and the Polish people should govern Poland, and yes indeed, that the British people should govern Britain.
The New York Times headline completely misses the point. Worse, it reeks of fascism. It works on the assumption that Europe, with its two millennia of history and culture is synonymous with a particular political structure and ideology. To say that one must adhere to the ideology in order to love the country (or continent) is to subject good things, like love of one’s home and family, to bad things, such as ideology. Imagine a German dissident during the time of the Nazis saying that “I love Germany and here is my plan to leave it.” Would anyone suggest that he was betraying Germany because he planned to leave the Third Reich?
In the final analysis, it’s a question of Brexit or leave it, which is to say that we either fight the Empire or we leave it as it is. Those who know a tyranny when they see it are not content to leave it as it is. The best way of fighting the Empire, the best way of not leaving it as it is, is to leave it altogether. This is why Brexit is so necessary and this is also why those who want to leave the Empire as it is will not permit Britain to leave. Too much is at stake, not least of which is the stake to the heart which Brexit might prove to the Empire itself.
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Editor’s Note: The featured image is a photograph of Boris Johnson, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, U.K., courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. The original is found on the EU2017EE Estonian Presidency Flickr account and is licensed under CC BY 2.0. This photo has been slightly modified for color.