Yesterday out of the blue I received from you a timeline message on Facebook saying that you were confused by all the conflicting messages and didn’t know how to vote in tomorrow’s EU referendum. Could I provide guidance?
Our brief public exchange quickly looked like turning into a slanging match between various factions that joined in. I eventually pointed out to everyone that they were trespassing on a conversation I was having with my stepdaughter, and could they please calm down? You deleted your post. Today I shall spend eight hours travelling, with a two-hour meeting in the middle. What better way to spend all that time on trains, writing you a slightly fuller reply? I shall keep it as short as I reasonably can, though that may well make it a little simplistic. Bouncing around in a train isn’t the best environment for checking data details. This is broad-brush time.
I’m not surprised you are confused. The past weeks have seen a tsunami of prejudices, claiming to be facts, pouring over us from all sides: arguments over economy, sovereignty, security, immigration, free trade deals, and so on. It may surprise you to learn that I intend to address essentially none of those.
Throughout history there has been a remarkably consistent pattern to the way empires, even the biggest and strongest, eventually crumble and fall. Very ancient civilisations like the Sumerian were phenomenally rich and powerful but collapsed. Similar fates befell empires throughout history in both the west and east up to and including the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The mistake they all appear to have made was that their ruling elites became too detached and alienated from their societies – the people. Those elites, be they princes or politicians, lost sight of a hugely valuable truth, namely that the powerhouse of a society is in the combined ingenuity and industry of the ordinary people. As soon as the toffs forget that fact they are on a slippery slope, because that’s when they begin trying to run things through central planning; and central planning has always been disastrous.
You can be the cleverest person the world has ever seen, but just a handful of ordinary people with the right experience will wield greater wisdom than you. That is why central planning is a disaster: it always kills societies. The EU loves central planning almost as much as Stalin did.
But where is evidence of this ‘slippery slope”? All societies beginning to fail go through a similar process:
- they start practising all manner of fiscal irresponsibilities like printing cash, introducing capital controls, borrowing far too heavily etc. Seem familiar?
- they get more and more control of the news media, not overtly but covertly. They buy lots of advertising, they dole out honours, they cosy up to them in all sorts of ways. Seem familiar?
- They move in on education, making sure that all the ‘right’ things are told the children. Seem familiar?
- They invent ‘beneficial crises’, synthetic scares that cause the populace to be suddenly more inclined to do as they’re told. Seem familiar?
- They find ways and excuses to undermine democracy, treating their electorate with barely concealed contempt. Seem familiar?
- They hollow out, infiltrate and neutralise any and all organisations (the UK parliament for instance) that could challenge them. Seem familiar?
- They make sure, either by bribes or threats, that key members of society are on their side. Seem familiar?
- Politicians, who are elected to be representatives, start calling themselves ‘leaders’. Seem familiar?
Need I go on? Do we see a pattern emerging?
We live in interesting times. All sots of potential dark clouds are hovering over the international horizon. There is no such thing as the status quo – anywhere. When disasters threaten we will need to be nimble; we will need to be able to make key decisions quickly. Being shackled to a lumbering, crumbling hulk which is already threatening to collapse will only get in our way.
You may have noticed that there is one empire I haven’t mentioned – the British Empire. That one didn’t crumble away, but got turned into the Commonwealth. The process was admittedly resisted in some quarters but it all went off successfully, and now is a huge source of pride. There is a historic detail that might have had something to do with our rare achievement in doffing our empire relatively peacefully. We have a history of putting despots in their place. Think of Magna Carta in 1215, the English Civil War in the middle of the 17th century, the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Even the American Revolution was in a very real sense a case of Englishmen holding steadfastly to their rights – which is why Magna Carta is every bit as important to Americans as it is to the British. Think of the two world wars, when we rescued Europe from despots. Democracy has been bitterly fought for across the centuries by our forbears, and is part of our heritage. Could we really be on the verge of binning in it in one last democratic act?
Vote Remain and you vote away your vote.
As far as I am concerned there is simply no choice tomorrow. We must leave.