closing tag is in template navbar
timefactors watches

TZ-UK Fundraiser
View RSS Feed

MarkR's Blog

EU-UK cultural incompatibilities

Rate this Entry
Quote Originally Posted by Deckard81 View Post
What is this incompatibility you speak of?
You'll find my reply to the question above in the blog post below.

The question above is in reply to my comment here, where I say the following. I have marked the key comment in bold:
Quote Originally Posted by Summers dad View Post
I'm sure I'm not the only one worrying, it seems crazy that we are all making a massive decision and nobody seems to have any idea what's going to happen.
Indeed, I agree. Bear in mind, however, that remaining in the EU is as uncertain as leaving, perhaps more so! We don't really know in detail what continued membership of the EU means for us (Cameron's asinine negotiations notwithstanding) and what we do know (in broad terms) seems very unlikely to be beneficial to the UK.

The EU seems culturally incompatible, at a number of levels (i.e. social, cultural and political culture and ethos), with the UK, to my mind.

Many people understandably fear voting for Leave because they prefer the status quo but, as above, I think they are mistaken or being misled by the Remain campaign: There is no status quo to vote for. Remaining a member of the EU is a vote for continual and uncertain change. In comparison, leaving the EU is a vote for change that will, at least, be carried out by people who hopefully value the UK and its cultures and who are directly democratically accountable to the people of the UK.
As per my message #19 in the thread containing the above messages, I am replying to the question by Deckard81 here.

I said that the EU seems culturally incompatible with the UK at a number of levels and two that come to mind right now are shared culture and general political/social/economic outlook. I'll address them both below.

(1) Culture. There is little or no recent shared culture between EU countries and the UK. We have no real recent cultural connections to France or Germany, the main EU players. As I say this, I am acutely aware of ancient historical connections between France, Germany and what is now the UK. But they are ancient; they are not recent or relevant to every day terms. The fact that the current royal family is essentially of German origin means nothing; they rejected their German heritage decisively about a hundred years ago (for important and sensible reasons!).

Ancient cultural connections have no meaning and no value in the modern world: We simply have no shared values that depend on them or grow from them. The native languages of the UK are either of Celtic descent or, in the case of English, vastly altered from its Latin/German/Danish/French combined ancient ancestors so there is no cultural link there, either.

In effect, we are not like them and they are not like us.

It is possible that other EU countries may have closer links with each other or they may not; it doesn't really matter. I am sure it varies. The key point here is that the UK definitely does not have such close or modern-day-relevant links to them.

In comparison, the UK is vastly closer culturally (here in modern reality) to the Anglosphere, for pretty obvious reasons. It is natural that we look west and (far) south. That is where our more recent, and thus more relevant and meaningful, cultural connections lie. Like it or not, that is who we are.

(2) Political/social/economic outlook. I group 'political' with 'social' because one's social outlook defines one's political preferences. I have grouped in 'economic' since economic preferences are also guided by social and political preferences and also for brevity. I have already taken far longer than I expected in writing this comment. It would be possible to far more deeply explore the varying ways that politics, social outlook, and economic preferences are both separate and affect one another but I don't have the time or energy to do it here.

In these terms, the UK as a whole seems to have a far more east-leaning political outlook then the EU as a whole. Please note, when I say "east-leaning" I am referring to east on the Political Compass, not geographical east[1]. Political Compass east-leaning is supportive of free trade and economic liberalism. In comparison, the EU has a fundamentally different outlook, plan and ethos. Its support of 'free trade' between participating nations is heavily bracketed by limits, controls, regulations, subsidies, and so on. This EU outlook seems to be a reflection of the long term political outlooks in major EU countries, which tend to be more socialist-oriented (in economic terms, i.e. west-leaning on the Political Compass) than the UK.

The depth of this difference in outlook is illustrated by complaints directed at the EU by people in various members states. In the UK, as described above, the EU is criticised for being too socialistic economically (west on the Political Compass), whereas geographically southern EU states often complain that it is an Anglo-Saxon capitalism and free trade club (i.e. they perceive it as extraordinarily far east on the Political Compass)![2] And yet both these viewpoints are referring to the same organisation and the same policies. The take away points, the net indications of these fundamental viewpoint differences, are that:
(a) The UK is simply not compatible with the political/social/economic ethos of the EU as a whole or with those of many member states; and
(b) The EU itself is an unhealthy and unsustainable combination of wildly incompatible political/social outlooks. Due to its inherent requirement for otherwise unnecessary compromise, the EU becomes a cause of strategic conflict.

The major EU nation which the UK perhaps shares the most in common is Germany[3] but, even with Germany, there are fundamental and massive differences in political/social/economic outlook.

In short, the politics and social outlooks of the EU are foreign to most of the UK. We, the UK, is involved in a foreign enterprise, whose goals and ethos are alien to the UK and often detrimental to the UK. We're nuts to stay in it.

I will just add under the heading of 'political/social/economic outlook' that the EU is also alien to the UK in terms of its behaviour in relation to things like democracy, corruption, and policy hypocrisy. This could really have a separate section to itself but I don't have time to do it justice. I'll summarise instead. I should say first that the UK is better than many countries or federations but leaves a lot of room for improvement in these contexts[4]. Nevertheless, the principles that we at least aspire to adhere to in the UK do seem to be fundamentally opposed to what the EU seems to stand for in practice (and even in design and intent to a great extent). The EU's adherence to democracy seems to me to be selective and self-serving; the facade of democracy where it is useful to the EU but otherwise it's a matter of "let's keep the gravy train and the grand plan running". This leads into policy hypocrisy, where the EU claims to govern by the principle of subsidiarity and yet member nations are still required to comply and compromise on issue that affect their national sovereignty, their national constitutions, and national cultures. This is incompatible with genuine subsidiarity; it means that the EU's claim of subsidiarity is a falsehood, a hypocritical claim made for show rather than for reality. As for corruption, I don't necessarily mean out and out power-for-money but the massive, hugely expensive gravy train of the EU and its incredibly wasteful and redundant transnational governmental bureaucracy is an almost archetypal of 'jobs for the boys' structure. In this respect the EU is corrupt by design. As I say, the UK is far from perfect but at least if the UK leaves the EU, we can hold British politicians and the British political system genuinely democratically accountable to the British people.

In brief summary, let's have free trade. But let's not kid ourselves that we have much in common with European EU countries. In relevant modern times, we are European by geography but British by culture and mind (in all of the levels and aspects I have touched on). The EU is an alien and foreign endeavour into which British culture cannot comfortably or healthily re-shape itself to fit.

I support genuinely free trade (i.e. not the TTIP) across Europe, the north Atlantic, and potentially further afield. But political/cultural union (and even deprecation or even elimination, as the EU increasingly requires, of certain aspects of national culture or identity) is not necessary for free trade and is not beneficial for the UK (nor is it beneficial to many other national cultures or interests, as the French in particular as now seeing). In fact, the EU's goal of ever closer political/cultural union is, as I observed above, a cause of conflict since it requires compromises where none would otherwise have been necessary. It requires compromise (and consequent loss of national sovereignty and national identity and culture) for the entirely abstract, artificial, unnecessary and idealogical goal of ever closer union. None of this is relevant for the one useful or beneficial thing that the EU can bring, which is a free trade zone (which is what the British people were led to believe they were voting for in 1975).

[ Please see my next blog post for footnotes: ]

Updated 19th June 2016 at 09:44 by markrlondon

MarkR's Blog , Miscellaneous


Do Not Sell My Personal Information