And Looking Across the Ditch

Yesterday we took a look at the status of Brexit, since that post the worst candidate for Tory leader has dropped out, which seems like a good thing. But let’s take a look at Europe.

The European Parliament elections have put an end to the “far right.” From now on, the EU’s ministers and bureaucrats will have a new nationalist right complicating their machinations. The attempt to identify elite preferences with majority rule under the false rubric of centrism has failed. For the first time, the center-left Socialists & Democrats and the center-right European People’s Party have failed to win a majority. Instead, an anti-EU bloc has emerged in the European Parliament, the very institution intended to fix the famous democratic deficit of the EU while sanctioning “centrism” continent-wide.

This immoderate centrism will no longer be able to label populists as undemocratic. These so-called populists in several countries now control the government. They achieved this by democratic decision in free and fair elections: think here of Poland, Hungary, and Italy. Populism is a popular choice for the European Parliament: England, France, and Italy bear this out. Unless elites propose to elect another people, as Bertold Brecht joked, they’ll just have to stop calling it “far right.” […]

We are experiencing a politics of maneuvering between elites that still hold the highest offices in the EU and counter-elites hoping to replace them, change the structure of the EU, and even destroy some EU powers. The command of the high EU offices is still powerful enough to exclude the nationalists from EU coalitions, since there are alternatives on the center and left, but that will expose the center as its own faction or what Pierre Manent has referred to as the “immoderate middle.” Expect the nationalists to make this conflict worse by undermining the legitimacy of the European Parliament. They will work to subvert the European institutional consensus—to expose entrenched corruption and to expose the technocratic consensus as partisan, and to defend each other from Article VII sanctions (loss of voting rights) which the European Parliament threatened against Hungary in 2018.

This is a good moment for the nationalists to size up their adversaries’ ideas about the situation Europe now faces, adrift somewhere between America and China. Europe has neither the economic growth nor the technology to compete with either of the two, but EU officials keep saying they want to be independent of NATO on security and foreign policy even as China is buying its way into the EU and introducing new technologies over which it has a near-monopoly, such as 5G infrastructure. Before the 2008 financial crisis, the EU was not only the future of Europe, but political alternatives were inconceivable—they had no expression. EU politicians and their compliant press applied the epithet Eurosceptic to such views. But the failure to deal with the financial crisis, among other crises, has mainstreamed opposition to the EU on a number of levels in Europe—and it’s now storming into the European Parliament itself.

What champion of the EU consensus will fight it? The self-appointed leader of Europe is French President Emmanuel Macron. His presidency has not exactly been met with great success. The French people in many ways have given him their own vote of no-confidence, from months of street protests (“yellow vests” movement) to the victory of Marine Le Pen in the European Parliament elections, his own party coming in a close second, with only 22% of the votes. His great unpopularity, which plagued both his single-term predecessors, portends problems for the Fifth Republic. But Macron is still an elected president with very considerable powers.

There is quite a lot more, read it all at The European Union and the Fate of Nations.

I think that is true, once again (albeit by quite different means) Great Britain is moving to prevent a single power from dominating Europe. This time, not the government, but the people. It’s a wise move, even though continental Europe is becoming irrelevant, as both China and the United States move well beyond it. It needs Britain far more than it thinks. That I suspect is part of the trouble with Germany and France. Remainers often chide Brexiteer as ‘Little Englanders’. But like so much with the left, it is projection. What I see is little Europe and global Britain.

Britain isn’t the largest power in Europe, nor has it ever been. But, like, and perhaps even more than, the United States, it has a cachet for the rest of the world. It is the foremost font of ‘soft power’ because of who and what it has been in the modern world. I commented last weekend at the Hong Kong demonstrations and the number of the old colonial flag, Union Jack in the canton, and royal arms in the field, 20 years after the colony was ceded back to China. That’s no accident.

Nor is it an accident that all the countries that promote freedom share the Union Jack. Britain, of course, and Australia, and New Zealand, But the old flag of Singapore also does, as does Canada’s Red Ensign. The US also has a historic flag featuring the Union Flag in the canton. In fact, that was the flag raised in Philadelphia on 4 July 1776.

That’s a lot of places that remember the heritage of the British, show me the comparable heritage of the French, or the Germans.

Titus Techera ends his article with this:

As soon as he won the vote in Italy, Salvini moved to talk to other populist victors, having already formed a new European party for nationalists. Is it even possible for nationalists to have an alliance across borders? On what principle of justice? They will invariably have competing, contradictory claims and no institutional arrangements where leaders can pledge their loyalties and arrange to defend each other from the institutional claims of the EU, much less from the enormous influence of the German economy. Whether national politics or the continent-wide arrangement of institutions and economic interests wins will go a long way to deciding the future of Europe.

I’m inclined to say, of course, they can, if they are mature enough to do it. Like the US, Britain, and Canada will give way on minor gripes to each other, so can these countries. Whether they will is a different question.

To conclude, what the nationalists can do is shake the confidence of the centrists and mount a minority assault on decisions in the various EU institutions, since they cannot control EU offices. We will find out whether the various EU institutions are weaker or stronger than they have hitherto seemed. But we will also learn how aggressive the shift from the political center to the Greens and Liberals will make the majority. There is no tranquility or common purpose in sight.

And it is even possible, although unlikely on their own, that they shake the whole edifice down and allow Europe once again to be a group of independent nations trying to look out for their people.

A Brexpanation of the Mess in Westminster

This is, I think, a very good view of Britain as it prepares for what may thankfully be the last phase of Brexit.  It’s from Helen Dale writing in London for Law & Liberty. Let’s take a look.

At time of writing, Boris Johnson has opened a commanding lead in the race to be Conservative Party leader and thus Prime Minister, confirming one of my father’s bits of life advice: “always bet on self-interest, Helen; it’s the only horse that’s trying”. Whether Boris will have a country to govern come July 22 is, however, something of a moot point.

Let me tell you about Brexit Britain, which is in the process of breaking the Big Electric Trainset in the Palace of Westminster.

Since the 23rd of June 2016, when the UK voted to “leave” the European Union, colossal fissures — hitherto obscured from view — have opened in the body politic. More Conservatives voted Leave than Labourites, but Labour represents the most passionately pro-Remain constituencies in the country and the most passionately pro-Leave ones. This means both parties have taken to destroying themselves internally rather than dealing with the vote’s implications.

The Tories are more culpable because they formed government during this period. They stuck with Theresa May, a leader who lacks every leadership quality apart from perseverance and who managed to lose a 20 per cent poll lead against an antediluvian Marxist after calling a completely unnecessary general election. This election produced a hung parliament and forced May’s Tories into a confidence and supply arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a Northern Irish outfit that is, to put it mildly, full of strange characters.

Thanks in part to the immense distraction of said unnecessary election, May and her Cabinet Office hangers-on made a complete hash of negotiating Brexit. They failed to appreciate — while slow and ponderous and beset with terrible problems of its own (Italy, Greece, Hungary, people in France attempting to re-run 1789, etc.) — the EU must defend itself on Brexit or risk being torn asunder.

There’s a lot in that. Because Mrs. May fiddled around while the Conservative party burned around her, the EU itself is backed into a corner. Back when the referendum passed, it might have been possible to let the UK go without too many repercussions in the EU itself, at least obviously, and like HMG, the people running the EU give no indication of being deep thinkers. But now, they have something of a continent-wide revolt on their hands, caused not least by Brexit, and so now everybody thinks they are fighting in the last ditch.

They may well be correct in that belief. It’s hard to see Britain surviving as a sovereign country if they take May’s Withdrawal Agreement, which to me (and to most of my British friends) looks slightly more harsh than Versailles agreement that ended the Great War did to Germany. It’s also increasingly hard to see the EU surviving the loss of its second largest contributor.

It is not Project Fear to point out that tariffs will make our goods unappealing to buyers in the EU; that is their point. A large number of British businesses will be affected and many of them will go bust. Industries that cannot relocate, such as Welsh lamb farmers — who depend overwhelmingly on exports — will go to the wall and they will not go quietly (nor should they).

On the other hand, shoppers will be free of EU tariffs on imports and will be able to buy generally superior Commonwealth (Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Canada) agricultural produce at a lower price. This is an undoubted benefit of leaving the EU properly but is also a reminder that neither EU nor UK agriculture is remotely competitive with Australian or Canadian agriculture.

That’s very true, and unlike 2016, the United States has a president that believes in Brexit and is willing to do a very good trade agreement, and our agriculture would make for overwhelming pressure on UK farmers, that’s one of the reasons that the EU’s agriculture tariffs are so high. But agriculture isn’t merely another business, aside from the fact that being able to feed yourself (or come close) is a strategic matter, for all of us agriculture is our base, it is how we grew our countries. That’s true for Britain, and France, and Germany, but also Canada and the United States, and Australia. It’s much more important to all of us than business, it’s very deep in our personalities.

One of the reasons the 2016 EU Referendum was so destructive of civil society is because Westminster is a system of representative democracy. We elect MPs to make law, and it is their role to deliberate in Parliament and make decisions on behalf of those they represent, but not at their behest. Over its long development, anything even vaguely populist was drained out of the UK’s constitutional architecture. Politicians are not supposed to keep picking at some electoral scab or another using direct democracy. 2016 was thus a horrible disruption of the constitutional order precisely because referendums are not how one does things.

A referendum became necessary, though, as the UK outsourced so many legislative competencies — most importantly trade and immigration — to the EU. Constitutionally, the electorate entrusts MPs with legislative power, but Parliament had no authority to give that power away; it required a popular mandate. Britain’s greatest constitutional lawyer, Professor Vernon Bogdanor, pointed out that a referendum should have been held in 1993 (before signing the Maastricht Treaty). His advice was ignored. Instead, former Prime Minister David Cameron, Bognanor’s most famous student, was forced by circumstances to lance the national boil in 2016.

UK politicians have legislated and governed within such a constrained field for so long they are now literally out of practice. Westminster is no more than a Big Electric Trainset. The concomitant loss of capacity among civil servants is notable. It is difficult, for example, to imagine the Home Office replicating Australia’s points-based immigration system, even if it wanted to.

And that is the baseline, I think. I can remember a very good friend telling me that the reason that every governmental function in Britain is Londoncentric is because there are no competent people in local government. I suspect he is correct. The problem now (that neither of us suspected then) is that there are none in Westminster, either.

Maybe Boris Johnson can find some, or Nigel Garage, or somebody. Because it is important that some develop from somewhere, or the whole thing is gonna fail.

Do read the whole article at Brexplaining the UK’s Future. It’s excellent.

Why Are the Western Middle Classes So Angry?

On American Greatness, Victor Davis Hanson asks this question. It’s a good one, I think. Because almost all of us of the middling sort are pretty angry about things. So let’s have a look.

What is going on with the unending Brexit drama, the aftershocks of Donald Trump’s election and the “yellow vests” protests in France? What drives the growing estrangement of southern and eastern Europe from the European Union establishment? What fuels the anti-EU themes of recent European elections and the stunning recent Australian re-election of conservatives?

Put simply, the middle classes are revolting against Western managerial elites. The latter group includes professional politicians, entrenched bureaucrats, condescending academics, corporate phonies and propagandistic journalists.

What are the popular gripes against them?

One, illegal immigration and open borders have led to chaos. Lax immigration policies have taxed social services and fueled multicultural identity politics, often to the benefit of boutique leftist political agendas.

Two, globalization enriched the cosmopolitan elites who found worldwide markets for their various services. […]

He gives us six, in all. All are, as one would expect, cogent and accurate. So go and read them.

One common gripe framed all these diverse issues: The wealthy had the means and influence not to be bothered by higher taxes and fees or to avoid them altogether. Not so much the middle classes, who lacked the clout of the virtue-signaling rich and the romance of the distant poor.

In other words, elites never suffered the firsthand consequences of their own ideological fiats.

That’s a huge part of it in my estimation. It’s one thing if all these things are good for us, or necessary for the world to survive, or something. It’s an entirely different kettle of fish if you’re telling me how important this trash is, but it doesn’t apply to you and your friends. “Do as I say not as I do” doesn’t work any better leading a company, group, country, civilization, or anything else than it does trying to raise a kid. Never has, never will.

What it does is bring rebels. It did when my high school said we couldn’t wear blue jeans. Suddenly my entire class showed up in them. What are you going to do now, Mr. Principal? Give a quarter of the school detention? Makes you look sort of bad, doesn’t it, that your leadership is so bad?

The same principle applies when you and a few hundred of your closest friends fly their private jets into Davos for a party disguised (badly) as a conference.

Elites masked their hypocrisy by virtue-signaling their disdain for the supposedly xenophobic, racist or nativist middle classes. Yet the non-elite have experienced firsthand the impact on social programs, schools and safety from sudden, massive and often illegal immigration from Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia into their communities.

As for trade, few still believe in “free” trade when it remains so unfair. Why didn’t elites extend to China their same tough-love lectures about global warming, or about breaking the rules of trade, copyrights and patents?

Do you know anybody who believes any of this tosh, unless, perhaps, their livelihood depends on it, or the indoctrination they received in school hasn’t been rubbed off yet? I can’t think of one that I do. I know a few trolls who say they do, but I’d bet they’re paid to say that. I do know one person who believes in Global Warming, but he also believes it is beyond the tipping point, so we may as well ‘Rock on’.

If Western nations were really so bad, and so flawed at their founding, why were millions of non-Westerners risking their lives to reach Western soil?

How was it that elites themselves had made so much money, had gained so much influence, and had enjoyed such material bounty and leisure from such a supposedly toxic system—benefits that they were unwilling to give up despite their tired moralizing about selfishness and privilege?

So where does it end?

Because elites have no answers to popular furor, the anger directed at them will only increase until they give up—or finally succeed in their grand agenda of a non-democratic, all-powerful Orwellian state.

Or in an armed revolt, which I discount less each month. The people are not going to go quietly into the night.

 

“Bois de la Brigade de Marine”

Neptune/Overlord captures our imagination because of its scale and its mission of liberation, but the 6th of June is one of those days fraught with history.

Only twenty-six years before the Normandy landing one of the most remarkable actions in American arms happened.

The British made an attack early that year that was thrown back, and the French made one that nearly broke their army, and finally, as the Germans counterattacked the 3d US Infantry division was thrown in. Here is where it won its sobriquet “Rock of the Marne”, as Paris only a few miles away was saved.

Then it was time to counterattack, This fell to the 2d US infantry, and its 4th (Marine) brigade was tasked to attack into the Belleau Wood. It is interesting that the 2d Infantry Division would come ashore 26 years later on Omaha Beach on D+1, and would be the first unit dispatched to Korea from the US in 1950. The Indianhead hasn’t missed much in the last century.

As they formed up, the French told them it was impossible, to retreat, and got the reply from Marine Capt. Lloyd Williams who replied, “Retreat, Hell, we just got here.” This is the only Army formation to have ever been commanded by a Marine officer, Major General John A. Lejeune later the Commandant, and for whom Camp Lejeune is named.

One of the NCOs leading the charge was two time Medal of Honor winner (there are only 19 in history) Sgt. Major Daniel Joseph “Dan” Daly. One in the defense of the American consulate in Peking in 1900, and one in Haiti in 1915. He would be cited for a third here but would receive the Navy Cross. This was the man who called to his people, “Come on you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?” Now carved in stone at the Marine Corps museum near Quantico, VA.

It took them three weeks to clear the woods, and 9000 casualties, more casualties than the Marines had taken in their entire history. The battle foreshadowed if anything the battles they would fight such as Peleliu in the Pacific a few years later.

This is where the Marines won one of their favorite descriptors, allegedly from the German Kaiser himself as Teufel Hunden (Devil Dogs). The German commanders rated them as a Stormtroop, they had nothing higher.

That offensive would go on for six months, ending on 11 November 1918, when the Germans surrendered.

In a failure of censorship, they were mentioned by name in the States thus leading to almost all heroic exploits being credited to them. A bit unfair but one can see how it happened. But it rather soured relations between the Army and the Marines for a generation, MacArthur always seemed to suffer from it, as did a young Artillery captain in the 2d Infantry Division himself, named Harry Truman. Eventually, they got over it, mostly.

On the other hand, General Pershing said this, “The deadliest weapon in the world is a United States Marine and his rifle.”

Belleau Wood no longer exists, it is the “Bois de la Brigade de Marine”, the Wood of the Marine Brigade.

The 5th and 6th Regiments won the French Croix de Guerre in the fight. They would win it twice more before the end of the war. And so the current members of the units and its organizational parts (including Marines and by special order their naval medical personnel) are authorized to wear the fourragère.

If you were to visit Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, you would find that it is laid out in a T shape, with a lane leading to the chapel. The chapel is built on the 4th Brigades trenches.

Not something we should be forgetting, in fact, a centenary we should be celebrating, as American arms took on the best in the world, for nearly the first time, and won.

Freedom: Lost and Delivered

Today is a day of anniversaries, one overshadowed even as it happened, and another that lies shamefully dormant.

Today is the day that 75 years ago, US 5th Army and the British 8th Army liberated Rome. You will, of course, remember that Fascist Italy had surrendered sometime earlier but the Germans occupying Italy and the terrain itself made this anything but the soft underbelly.

This was the culmination of Operation Diadem launched on 11 May 1944. While this was the first of the Axis capitals to fall, it had essentially no impact on the war, other than perhaps reducing the stress marginally, of Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France which would happen on 15 August 1944. A great victory, but overshadowed by other events.

Freedom: Delivered


30 years ago today, on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, the People’s Liberation Army crushed the student’s quest for freedom, not to mention their Goddess of Democracy under the treads of their tanks. Somewhere between several hundred and ten thousand were deliberately killed by the government. It continues its bloodthirsty ways to this day, imprisoning over a million Uigher Moslems and Falun Gong in concentration camps, as well as persecuting Christians and other believers.

Tank man, as we have come to call him, a very brave Chinese, indeed, was, of course, killed by the Chinese government. But the Goddess of Democracy, whose resemblance to The Statue of Liberty moved Americans deeply, while also destroyed, lives on, I warrant, in the hearts of many Chinese and she does in a fair number of Americans as well.

(AP Photo/Jeff Widener, File)

Freedom Lost, for now.

Deplorable, Contemptible, and Winning

Caroline Glick has written an excellent article in Frontpage Magazine. She postulates that the two common thread running through the election cycles in the western world today is the contempt of the globalists for the people, and the reciprocal determination of the common people to retain their local characteristics.

The triumph of Nigel Farage and his Brexit party in Britain’s European parliamentary elections tells us two stories at the same time.

The first story is a local British story. The Brexit Party’s victory effectively ends the Conservative party’s monopoly on Britain’s political right for the first time in two hundred years. The Conservatives will respond to the trouncing in one of two ways. They can disintegrate completely by doubling down on outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May’s soft Brexit – with or without a second referendum — or they can start listening to their voters.

The second story encapsulated in Brexit’s victory — and that of Marine Le Pen’s triumph in France and Matteo Salvini’s in Italy — is the now familiar tale of the rise of the populist/nationalist/ideological right throughout the Western world against the conventional wisdom of the traditional progressive and center-right elitist establishment, and more often than not, in defiance of the polls.

In Britain itself, the rise of Brexit is a fitting bookend to Prime Minister Theresa May’s stunning betrayal of her voters. May came to power after her predecessor David Cameron resigned office in response to the Brexit vote. As she entered office, May pledged to embrace the will of the voters and shepherd Britain out of the European Union.

Indeed, one can make the case that this is the worst defeat that the Tories have taken since the 1620s, about 400 years and before the Civil War – The English Civil War. That’s what  I call a historic defeat!! And a deserved one.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s victory earlier this month over his challenger, Labor Party leader Bill Shorten, has largely been attributed to Shorten’s radical economic agenda. […]

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won a fifth term in office last month by running on a record of diplomatic and economic success that the leftist parties were unable to discredit.

Trump’s victory is widely attributed to Hillary Clinton’s failure to rally the Democratic base in the Rust Belt and to counter Trump’s message of industrial renewal.

But one underlying issue is common in all of the elections. And until the progressive left and the establishment center right reconcile themselves to it, and find a respectful means to contend with it, they will continue to see populist forces grow stronger and win elections.

That issue is contempt. Throughout the Western world, beyond the economic issues and even beyond specific social issues like gay marriage or abortion rights, voters are motivated to vote for the populist, nationalist right in part due to their anger at the left and center-right’s undisguised contempt for them.

In the United States, the left’s snobbery reached its height with Hillary Clinton’s castigation of Trump’s supporters as “deplorables.” But her assertion wasn’t made in isolation. It was made in the midst of a general atmosphere in which Democratic politicians from Barack Obama to Nancy Pelosi and establishment Republicans felt comfortable putting down Americans who aren’t part of their club. Obama infamouslyreferred to Clinton’s “deplorables” as “bitter” people in small towns who “cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

And now, I often see Englishmen and women refer to themselves as a “Deplorable”, it has become a badge of honor. The mark of the person who believes in his homeland, that is the one characteristic that joins us all.

I would probably add Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India to the list. There too we see the outlines of a nationalistic party lining up against the corrupt ruling class. Always there are differences, between the countries, that is as it should be, it’s the globalists that are the ‘Anywheres‘ that David Goodhart wrote about. The Somewheres are always going to have local issues. That’s why we’re ”Somewheres’.

The most potent message that crosses the world each day and empowers populists and nationalist conservatives is one of exasperation and anger at the transnational elites’ solidarity in their contempt for their people. From Jerusalem to Budapest to Birmingham to Cincinnati, the spurned citizens have understood that the only way to force their contemptuous elites to heel is to vote them out of power.

For European Unionists and British Remainers, for the Israeli elite and the American establishment, the globalization of their values and agendas has brought them to believe that democracy means fixing the rules of the game. Through judicial activism and bureaucratic regulations, through intellectual terror and public shaming, these elites seek to render election results inconsequential. Ballot boxes, in their view, are no match for the combined forces of the elite media and academia and the bureaucracy. They determine norms. They determine policies – in the name of Democracy.

But throughout the West, the “deplorables” are listening to one another and rediscovering their power and voices at the ballot boxes. They realize that democracy is a means for the people to determine their course in the world. The elite may control the discourse, but the people decide who will run their countries.

And that is one reason that it is up to American conservatives to maintain freedom of speech, not only for us but for our compatriots around the world. This is the time-honored American mission, as recognized by Edmund Burke in 1775.

In this character of the Americans, a love of freedom is the predominating feature which marks and distinguishes the whole: and as an ardent is always a jealous affection, your colonies become suspicious, restive, and untractable, whenever they see the least attempt to wrest from them by force, or shuffle from them by chicane, what they think the only advantage worth living for. This fierce spirit of liberty is stronger in the English colonies probably than in any other people of the earth; and this from a great variety of powerful causes; which, to understand the true temper of their minds, and the direction which this spirit takes, it will not be amiss to lay open somewhat more largely.

First, the people of the colonies are descendants of Englishmen. England, Sir, is a nation, which still I hope respects, and formerly adored, her freedom. The colonists emigrated from you when this part of your character was most predominant; and they took this bias and direction the moment they parted from your hands. They are therefore not only devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English ideas, and on English principles. Abstract liberty, like other mere abstractions, is not to be found. Liberty inheres in some sensible object; and every nation has formed to itself some favourite point, which by way of eminence becomes the criterion of their happiness.

Some things change very little.

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