Saturday, 26 September 2015
The Europe Delusion
If you read this piece and this piece, you will have an idea as to the extent and scope of international conventions, standards and regulations. I'm taking my lead from Philip Alston who is as close to an authority on the subject as you can possibly get. He writes from the perspective of Australia's struggle to balance sovereignty with globalisation. Even twenty years ago, Australia was making all the same arguments eurosceptics make about sovereignty and laws being made elsewhere.
What is noteworthy is that Australians don't complain about the EU making 75% of their laws. They're not members of the EU. So who makes Australia's laws? The same people who make ours. As we have noted sovereignty outside the EU is something of a red herring since the primacy of global conventions and accords govern what nations and blocs alike convert into law.
It is only because of the narrow framing of our national politics, aided and abetted by a juvenile and inept media that the process of globalisation is obscured from view. It's arcane at the best of times but in the UK, we have the EU obscuring it from view completely. I have actually lost count of the number of times I've used the expression "the EU is just a redundant middleman", but it is only in the last few weeks have I realised just how profound and true those words are.
Europhiles often claim we would be an isolated "rogue nation" outside the EU but Alston demonstrates in his book that Australia outside of the EU struggles to withstand the tides of globalised regulation and couldn't be a rogue state even if it wanted to be one. Far from being isolated, it has a Mutual Recognition Agreement with the EU for recognition of quality standards and regulations. That wasn't all that difficult to achieve in many sectors because the rules and regulations come from the same international law making shops.
This dynamic kinda knackers both sides of the Brexit debate. On the one hand we have Ukip and the likes making grand pronouncements about sovereignty, which is not even halfway realisable - and on the other hand we have europhiles saying that we wouldn't have all these protections, rights and conveniences were it not for the EU. The fact is, if the EU didn't exist today, as things stand in terms of the global trading rules, nobody would bother to invent it. The ground is covered.
That actually makes it all the more important to finally resolve the EU question and get out of the EU, because the debate has moved on from the ideas of the last century. In many respects, Australia is twenty years ahead of us in that it at least understands where the real threats and opportunities are. We are still in a state of collective myopia, barely aware of where our laws come from and barking up the wrong tree. As it happens, the EU debate doesn't even begin to address the issues and so long as we remain inside it, we will continue to fumble under a blanket of ignorance.
If at this point you're not hooked on this tantilising subject I would actually say that you're not really that interested in politics. When you look at the giants in the global playground, and contrast it with whatever utterances of Jeremy Corbyn make it as far as the local SW1 "news" papers, you realise just how insignificant Westminster village hall really is and how little comparative impact it has on our lives. By that measure, even the European Parliament looks like an adult crèche.
And if our politics is all but irrelevant, then so is our media. I've always had a visceral contempt for British media, but now such contempt is misplaced. Our news media is in fact another branch of the entertainment industry and the news columns of the press are no less irrelevant than the celeb gossip sidebar. They are one and the same. I've learned to ignore it in the same way I would the celebrity gossip - and I'm no worse off for it. They are not in the business of reporting news. If anything they exist only to prop up the illusion that any of our elected officials are in control.