Bremain

Why I am going to vote to remain a member of the EU.

I was born in the UK, but received my secondary and university education in Eire.  I gained a view of British history from an Irish perspective.  I don’t know that I ever felt any patriotism towards Britain.  Primarily, I feel appalled by its former imperial dominance.  How could the exploitation of people, land and natural resources be anything to be proud of?   In addition to other imperial powers, Britain paved the way for capitalism, the concept of the right to private property, the destruction of valuable cultural practices and natural resources.

Britain’s former imperialism has given rise to the myth of its ‘greatness’.  It is the 5th largest economy in the world, but the importance of a good economy is only relative to the ideological perspective within which it was assigned importance.   This thing called ‘economy’ is fiction.  It’s an artificial creation and, therefore, it can and NEEDS to be destroyed.  The only beneficiaries of  a good economy are those who control it.

When I was at school, I learned that the identities of many mainland Europeans was ‘European’, but us islanders retained a more nationalistic perspective.  I’m sure that was a gross over-generalisation, but it did have an impact on my confused cultural identity.  I chose then to be ‘European’.

On the basis of identity, I choose to now remain a member of Europe.

‘Great’ Britain?

Besides France and Germany, two rival economies, Britain commands a strong presence in Europe.  Due to this, it also pays a significant contribution to the EU.   While this might seem that other countries within the EU gain at Britain’s expense, this isn’t necessarily the case.  Britain commands a strong bargaining position and does benefit from European funding.

Firstly, Britain has a population of 63 million which is a large percentage given that the estimated population of the EU is approximately 500 million.  This is effectively more votes in the European Parliament and in the Council of Ministers.   Britain exists in a global community within which it and the EU play a vital role.  It will still continue to be affected by global and European forces, but will lose its voice in determining the course of those processes.

As citizens, the European voice is stronger than a whispering British one.  Already the European voice is gaining ground in the prevention of insidious economic interests from impacting the community – for example, the campaign to restrict Monsanto’s sphere of influence.  Britain will become open to pressures that its people will have little power to resist.

Remember? The invasion of Iraq was NOT in my name.

Secondly, there is a large gap between Britain’s richest and poorest.  This stratification is somewhat regional.  So whilst the financial centre may not be reaping the rewards, less empowered citizens are gaining some regional development benefits from membership.

This benefit extends to the rights of British citizens also.  Employment law, equality issues and basic human rights are profoundly more protected as members of the EU than they will be as an autonomous country.  Discussion over the nature of the looming Bill of Rights act to replace the Human Rights Act could mean that citizens would again only have recourse in the Strasbourg court.  The EU, in effect, provides citizens with protection from an abuse of power by their own government.  Without it, this protection is lost.  Commentators have been concerned about a democratic deficit within the EU, but fail to acknowledge the lack of it internally.

Moreover, Britain’s role within the global economy has already created uncertainty.  The pound has devalued and a Brexit could trigger an already unstable global market into collapse.  The issue of Syrian refugees is  volatile and with lack of resolution, the very reason why the union was created could be under threat – peace.

Trust?

Those who vote to remain in the EU demonstrate a great deal of trust in their government. However, it is far from representative of Britain’s social structure.  Although there have been some changes in the social composition of parliament, it remains highly privileged group, with little, if no understanding of the experience of the majority of its citizens.  This can be readily witnessed in a session of Prime Minister’s Question time.  It is a glorious display of private school boy one upmanship chicanery rather than a logical consideration of the welfare of the citizens it purports to represent.

Furthermore, the government fails to trust its people.  There is surveillance camera for every 32 people according to the Guardian, and for every 11 according to the Telegraph.  Its people need to be controlled through a culture of fear, necessitating the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act with the subsequent erosion of civil liberty.  Folk devils and moral panics come to mind.

Immigration

In any Brexit vs Bremain debate, the issue of immigration needs to be addressed.

Primarily, I have an issue with the concept of a bordered nation-state.  Land and its resources belong to no person.   When people only used the resources they needed, the human population remained proportionate to that which the planet could support.  When land was claimed in order to produce a surplus, the population rose exponentially and competition for resources ensued.  As competition for land (territory) became bloody, governments were held to be needed to protect the ownership of property.  And now we are where we are – albeit a simplification.

However, the concerns about remaining in the EU aren’t explicitly territorial.  The arguments revolve around pressure on the NHS, accessing state benefits and social housing, for which British people pay.

According to the iAS, there are many overlooked benefits to immigration.  The NHS relies on immigrants for staffing, particularly in nursing.  Immigrants fill skills shortages that would otherwise require costly education to fill.  Most come to work and not access benefits, being 47% less likely to make use of them.  One estimate suggests that immigrants have contributed £20 bn to the UK economy over a ten year period.  As to social housing – whatever happened to that?

Additionally, migrants from the UK to the EU have stimulated local economies and also bring wanted skills – there is a mutual benefit.  If my partner and I relocate on the mainland, we would bring two first degrees, a masters degree, a post-graduate qualification, half a PhD, several other academic and skills certificates as well as over 50 years employment experience between us.  We hope to stimulate a local economy rather than deprive it  (yes, there is some self-interest in how I will vote).  I have no doubt that this is a two-way exchange.  My extraordinarily clever and multi-talented German daughter-in-law, is a case in point.

This brings the argument of a ‘brain drain’, where the most talented leave the UK.  However, university subsidies from the tax vault have significantly reduced, so less of a financial investment is lost than previously.  Secondly, why isn’t the UK able to suitably employ its wealth of unemployed graduates?

Alternatives to the EU

If the UK began a discussion about the problem of the centralisation of power and to consider the value of local economies, local and fully participatory democracies, then I might consider a Brexit vote.  The vote doesn’t bring a choice of a real alternative to how the UK could be.  For me it would be a stamped imprint of the status quo with reduced means for doing anything about it.

A final word

How long will it take the UK to renegotiate trade, business, labour, visa, intelligence and information exchanges with each of its neighbours?  In short, how long will it take to renegotiate what it’s already got?  And to what cost? Will the Kingdom become less United?  How friendly will Britain’s neighbours feel?

I think Britain will start to realise that it is not so great anymore and that it is a vulnerable island and 6 counties, in the middle of a very large pond with an elite shiver of sharks waiting to swallow it whole.

Featured image:  Christopher Furlong

 

 

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24 thoughts on “Bremain

  1. Hi Safar seems we ran out of space above. Thanks for your kind words. In answer to your question, not athletics (haha), back then I was a trainee hotel manager.

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  2. C’mon Safar, you know that the Jewish community invented banking and capitalism a couple of thousand years ago. I also think it’s fair to say that the Roman Empire came up with the concept of property ownership. You Irish can’t keep blaming the Brits for everything!

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    1. Brit actually!

      True, banks and loan operations did operate from temples long before there was any territory known as Britain. But still don’t think any former imperial power should deny its former role. I like the German model which has open discussion about and acceptance of its prior history.

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      1. Are you kidding? Have you any idea how many decades it took for Germany to even begin to think about reflection of past events? I lived and worked in West Berlin during the 1980’s. Do you know that it was illegal to even utter the word “Nazi” in a public place? What Germany did is that they waited for the generation that was involved in all these atrocities to die off and then they slowly started to open up the Nazi archives and chat about it.

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          1. I remember asking my Berliner friends about this – all my friends were Berliners actually.
            I shared a flat with a guy (we are both “straight”, honest!) who as a 2 year old, was being looked after by his grand-parents whilst his own parents went off on holiday. By the time they’d come back, the East had built the Berlin barricades and started construction of the wall. This all happened almost overnight. So what happened was he was in the Western sector and his parents over in the Eastern. He was subsequently raised by his grandparents. His own parents went on to have 3 more children. My friend hardly knew them or his parents as he had only met them 3 times on day trips into the Eastern sector.
            Anyway, as they explained to me – the West German government didn’t want to dwell on the past, therefore, that’s why it was regarded as an “off-topic”. They had to promote a new social plus positive mentality that was obviously successful given the speed in which Germany re-built itself.

            It was really only around 1990, post-Berlin Wall, that the Nazi archives were opened up for general discussion.
            Previous to then, although there were vast stores of Nazi documents available for study by those interested, official applications had to be made in order to gain access to them. Reason being, the government had to veto these persons in case they were right-wing Nazi supporters etc. They had to do anything they could to diminish any chance of disruptive influences upsetting the new society.

            Whereas in what was East Germany (DDR), their government had no such policy and quite openly tolerated the hard-core right-wing. Unfortunately this is what we see today in Germany. But this wasn’t a natural progression in West German society (OK, there were a few, but nothing to worry about) and what exists today all stems from the integrated former Eastern sector. Many progressive Germans are quite rightly extremely upset about this and feel that these right-wing thugs (several million of them) are dragging Germany back to the mindset of 1934.

            What doesn’t help either is Merkel’s admission just a few days ago that she “should have done things better”!
            Your average educated and socially aware German today, to say the least, is not entirely happy that over 1 million immigrant Muslims are currently sitting in detention camps awaiting “programming” to be let loose into German society at the soonest opportunity. They are quite rightly furious with Merkel that she and her government had made this decision without the consent of the public at large. They believe that Merkel is carrying some kind of guilt trip for former German misdemeanors and that she herself, has no personal investment in Germany. True, given that she is a spinster.
            The right-wing are biding their time, planning and waiting for the right moment for counter-action. Unbelievably, the Polish right-wing contingent have offered their services in assistance with this. 20 years ago the very idea of Polish people offering to help German people in any matter would have been laughed out the room.
            I’m no Nostradamus, but it really doesn’t take much imagination to conclude what may very well happen in Germany in the not too distant future.

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            1. What was it that brought you to Berlin in the first place? It sounds like an interesting time to have lived there. There’s nothing like first-hand stories. Strangely, it was in Scotland that I heard a similar family separation story – we spent some time there with a couple of friends from Hamburg. I’m also aware of how militant, organised and armed the right-wing is in Poland. Where I’ve come from with my assertion that Germany’s education has paved the way for dealing with its past does come from a younger generation. My connection with Germany is through my daughter-in-law.

              I’m not sure that being a spinster precludes anyone from having an personal investment in their country any more than being a bachelor does. And I’m sure that there are married couples with children who are not personally invested either. I found it interesting that you had to qualify yourself with a statement of sexual orientation. In my world, I guess we just don’t care – people are people. Which brings me to Syrian refugees, who are first and foremost people who have undergone incredible trauma and strife. They are displaced, have lost their homes, livelihoods, loved ones and with little hope for the future, or for their children’s future. In a similar situation, I would hope that someone would value me enough as a person to help and see that I have a contribution to make, even though my (and my community’s) lack of adherence to any religious doctrine means I’m a perceived threat to the establishment that hosts me. The fact that the scale of the problem is so huge does not mean that the European response should be any less humane. It is one million individual persons with a very painful story to tell, who had the same hopes and dreams that we have had, and are now rendered shattered.

              That said, there are difficult times ahead and some ugly tensions and movements that make the world a very uncertain place and I have felt that that the refugee crisis could create a trigger point for something more insidious to unleash. The undercurrent of the extreme right wing has been simmering for a long time.

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              1. Work purposes – cross-training. My first choice had been Monte Carlo, but I’d have had to wait another 4 months for a place there, so settled for option 2, and thankful I did so. Back then West Berlin was the showpiece of the Western world. I would go out for the night at 2am and it would only be warming up. Rents were state controlled, very low to keep people there. I even qualified for their “zulag”, which put 20% extra in my pay packet, which Germans living elsewhere did not receive.

                My comment about Merkel isn’t about or has anything to do with sexual orientation. The fact is she herself has no children. That aspect of life is not on her personal agenda, therefore, by process of elimination, she indeed has no personal investment in this respect. Neither is this something I came up with, but commentary that you will find within the German press.

                Looks like you’ve fallen into the emotional trap set for you by the White Helmet Brigade – those that are responsible for the dispersal of people from north Africa.
                UN figures of those flooding into Europe: 72% men, 13% women, 15% children. With 90% supposedly from Syria unable to prove they are Syrian. These figures do not bode well, no matter how you look at it. It is also understood that many are simply economic migrant opportunists riding the tails of those genuine refugees in need for help and shelter.
                There’s the problem and common sense should tell that it would be totally impossible for one million Syrians to float over the Mediterranean in inflatable crafts. Secondly, it’s not the people as such that Germans object to, but their religion, their life style and the preconception of their failures in the past with the Turkish Muslims, whom did not integrate whatsoever. Once bitten, twice shy. I can understand their point of view here.
                On top of that, then there’s all the recent behavioral issues – the en-mass sexual assaults, rapes, knifings, robbery, shoplifting, a whole list of anti-social crimes, even using swimming pools as a toilet – again en mass (excuse the pun).
                It’s not a particularly good start is it? I can see why many Germans have raised objections.

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                1. Haha, I’ve stepped into an emotional trap – not sure I want to come out of it to be honest. Although I did have a negative experience with a Moroccan who claimed asylum here as an Algerian, so I have no doubt as to the difficulty in amassing a true statistical picture. Do you have a blog Andrew?

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                  1. Hi. Let me explain myself. I’m not some smarmy, know-all, feck-`em all, bull dog geezer git. But I most probably at first view appear to be as such. I’m well aware of that.
                    I just spend my life (now, these days) reading stuff from all sorts of sources and I add it all up and make my own conclusions. And over time and study, I’ve got quite good at it and tend to be pretty much accurate.
                    There is SO much contrived, inaccurate, misleading, downright spurious etc, bullsh*t pouring out from established news agencies of all kinds, that I can only conclude that there’s something much darker and insidious going down for whatever reason. Truth being, I’m very concerned about this.
                    No, Safar, I don’t have my own blog. I’m just like some others – riding the tail under false pretenses of someone like yourself who’s made a genuine effort to create their own blog. I’d probably go one step too far for the “watching us all thought police” and get myself carted off for treason or something!

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                    1. Well, pleased to meet you Andrew. Pity you don’t blog. You’re articulate have something to say of substance and I’d like to have read more. Hear what you’re saying though about the ‘thought police’, in another time I’m sure I’d have languished in an ‘asylum’ or been burned at the stake.
                      Sounds like you got quite a good deal in Berlin. Nicely done. Monte Carlo would have been a very different and no doubt, more expensive experience. Were you training competitive athletes? (Or training?)

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  3. Very interesting. Let me tell you, if the ignorant people in this country (the US) knew half as much about their government as the folks I’ve heard talking about this subject in their blogs do, we’d be a heck of a lot better off!

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    1. I’ve always been thankful that sufficient 16-18 year olds have been interested enough to subscribe to Government & Politics courses to keep them funded and running. But there is disengagement and ignorance too. Turnouts for elections have been low and lowest in the lower age range. I’m interested in what the turnout for the referendum will be. I have to admit that I feel the world will be a heck of a lot better off if there was a little more political criticality in the US. There are some good American commentators though. I watched a three part documentary called “Zeitgeist” that is revealing, and there is the odd enlightened comedian on the circuit (or has been).

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  4. What a thoughtful provoking and well thought of argument for staying on in the EU. As a person from a former British empire I agree that Britain became great only because of its exploitative policies

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  5. Wow, Safar, a very passioned and well articulated post. Thank you . What you say has a lot of resonance.
    yes ‘great’ britain became so on the back of the singular most imperialist expansion – that in going to war with china over the right to be the world’s largest drug pusher. Britains became addicted to tea, didnt have enough silver to pay for it, hey, buy opium from india and sell it, force it upon, the Chinese. China knew abotu opium for thousands of years and used it for medicinal purposes, it wasnt until britain came along and sold it as a ‘recreational drug’ that the number of addicts soared. But I digress. Very interesting post, thank you. 🙂

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    1. Not entirely true. The Chinese had been smoking Opium since the eons of time, hence why there exist the relics of Opium bowls in museums from thousands of years ago. The Chinese had also been trading with Opium throughout Asia long before the British Empire came along. However, what the British Empire were guilty of was bringing it west into Europe. (he say between puffs)

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