Friday, June 24, 2016

E pluribus multum

I'm literally grieving. This should not have happened. If the European Union isn't democratic enough, the point ought to be to democratize it, not to retire into your island fastness.

Western pond turtle, via Aquarium Tidings.

I had a big quarrel with the Helpmeet, who is freaked out by globalization, and sees the EU as a force for cultural homogenizing, turning the world into a single market for the cheapest and blandest version of everything and its population into one big nursery of helpless, incapable consumers, taking from the poor the last thing they have, their identities, etc. I told her the EU doesn't do that! Its job is to regulate the forces of international capital to prevent that, and it's surprising how far, within the borders of the Schengen zone, they have succeeded.

Compared with my own suffering union, the Somewhat United States of America, where we are so deeply affected by these factors, at least in part because the individual state capitals have so much corruptible power compared with the federal government.

She's just back from a visit to her native Singapore, a real case study in the horrors of the neoliberal order, where an extraordinary mosaic of different cultures has been blending in that way over the decades into a kind of Disney version of Asia—it's a small world after all!—and the multinationals have been taking control of consumption with their MacDonalds and their Forever 21 and Uber, and massive privatization of government services has made it stop working as well as it used to do, and massive importation of cheap labor from China has really taken the livelihood from a lot of people (while at the same time immigration is indeed necessary to keep the country going at all, since the population has pretty much stopped reproducing).

Ironically, this all happened because of what you might call a Chexit in 1965 when the 220-square-mile island with the overwhelmingly ethnic-Chinese population dropped out of the Malaysian Federation, after Lee Kuan Yew and his cadres in the People's Action Party had understood that they would never be able to rule the big country and decided they'd rather be top turtle in a Chinese frogpond than competitors in a multicultural ocean. It was its tininess that made it so utterly defenseless against the power of international capital. She knows this, too; she's the one who taught me.

Smaller units have less ability to fight the negative side of globalization. We see this constantly in the US, where, as power continues to devolve from the federal government to the states, energy companies and manufacturers have an easier time suborning it and bending it to their evil ends. Conservatives keep telling you that you're being governed by a "remote elite" because they don't want you to know that you're hardly covered by a government at all.

I'm really sick of the self-denominated leftists who object to international arrangements like TPP with appeals to "national sovereignty". "What if a trade agreement can override our laws?" What laws? Our laws that allow unchecked pollution, union busting, and political influence buying? I hope they get overridden! TPP contains provisions that could help. "But they might not work!" That's a great reason for not trying.

"National sovereignty" was the cry of the Leave campaign too, left and fascist alike (Boris Johnson sounds like Donald Trump, if Trump had a Lower Second from Oxford). Fuck it! You think national sovereignty is about the will of the people within a given border, but it's an excuse for the ruling class within the border—not the government, but the money—to ignore the people. I think Britain's younger people understood this very well, which is why they overwhelmingly supported Remain. It certainly wasn't out of any love for that stupid shit David Cameron (you'll recall this all came about because of a campaign promise he made during the 2015 2013 election, not because he thought it was a good idea, but in the hope of getting some of that fascist Ukip vote).

It was a conspiracy to evade regulation, of workers' and consumers' rights, environmental protection, immigrants and refugees, the poor whose welfare protections are constantly being cheapened and attenuated, the young whose educational opportunities are constantly being shrunk, by rich local tax evaders. That's why Scotland is thinking about leaving the Somewhat United Kingdom, seeing their chances in Europe as better. I hope they succeed in this. I wish London could do the same. The Little England of the Home Counties really deserves to be left alone, since nobody else is quite good enough for it.

Countries are an optical illusion, an invented community, and a pretext for oppression. People have more power, and corruption has less, within the higher-level unit if you can get one. E pluribus multum!

That's what they'll be saying when Trump wins in November, a horror that suddenly seems possible.

I want to say nothing here should be interpreted as supporting the single currency and the European Monetary System's terrible mismanagement of the indebted countries of southern Europe and especially Greece. Except if Britain had belonged to the Euro zone it could have contributed to preventing German bankers from running it as their personal fiefdom. If that's what it wanted to do.

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