Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Politics of Disobedience

Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces.

Guess who this is, regarding the upcoming Brexit vote:

In a passionate plea to Europe’s top conservatives, he accused the EU elites of living in a fool’s paradise and provoking the eurosceptic revolt now erupting in a string of countries.

“It is us who today are responsible,” he said, speaking at a conclave of Christian-Democrat and centre-right leaders in Luxembourg. “Obsessed with the idea of instant and total integration, we failed to notice that ordinary people, the citizens of Europe, do not share our Euro-enthusiasm.”

No, this is not Nigel Farage; it is European Council president Donald Tusk (from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard).  It seems he and others of his ilk are finally catching on that there is a revolution – for now (fortunately for them) one only of the ballot box.  (They better hope the French don’t get inspired by their ancestors.)

For the first time in a poll, the Brexit camp is leading the stay camp.  Despite all of the fearmongering (or perhaps because of it), the Brexit camp has been gaining support as time passes – very Trumpian!

Mr Tusk, alert to the patriotic revival in his native Poland, lambasted the EU establishment for pushing “a utopia of Europe without nation states” that goes against the grain of European history and has produced a deep cultural backlash that cannot be dismissed as illegitimate far-right populism.

And they call libertarians “utopian.”  From Murray Rothbard, For a New Liberty:

The true utopian is one who advocates a system that is contrary to the natural law of human beings and of the real world. A utopian system is one that could not work even if everyone were persuaded to try to put it into practice.  The utopian system could not work, i.e., could not sustain itself in operation.

I guess culture and tribe matters.  Who knew?  Obviously the elite who want to destroy culture and replace it with the state know this, but they are finding that destroying it is far more difficult than they expected.

To ignore culture and tribe is rather “contrary to the natural law of human beings and of the real world.”  In other words, to build any political system without respecting culture and tribe is rather “utopian.”  This is something that some libertarians would do well to keep in mind. 

Rothbard does not just apply this to communists and socialists of all stripes.  In contrast to (unfortunately not all) libertarians…

…it is the seemingly far more realistic conservative believer in “limited government” who is the truly impractical utopian…. The idea of a strictly limited constitutional State was a noble experiment that failed, even under the most favorable and propitious circumstances.  If it failed then, why should a similar experiment fare any better now?  No, it is the conservative laissez-fairist, the man who puts all the guns and all the decision-making power into the hands of the central government and then says, “Limit yourself”; it is he who is truly the impractical utopian.

While I am not a fan of nation states (but fully accept the concept and necessity of nation), I greatly prefer smaller to larger – even if it means continued nation states.  It seems when pushed far enough, culture and tribe matters to the people of Europe. 

Returning to Ambrose:

There are mounting signs that the Dutch, Scandinavians, and many Eastern European states may not be willing to back any push by Brussels for a ‘Plan B’ of deeper political union – with an ‘EU army’, and joint foreign, security, and border policies - once the British are out of the way.

Do they think France and Germany have so much in common that all it will take is to get Britain out of the way? 

“There would undoubtedly be a Franco-German declaration the day after Brexit, but the truth is that the differences between France and Germany over the way forward for the eurozone have never been greater,” said Charles Grant from the Centre for European Reform.


They don’t even want to put any new EU initiatives or treaty changes in front of the voters – anywhere in Europe:

“The Dutch say they never want another EU treaty ever again because that would require a referendum and they know they would lose it. The French don’t want any treaty changes either,” he said.

We know with certainty that central planning cannot sustainably work.  This applies to politics just as well as to economics (not that politics and economics are two distinct spheres).  We know that the plans of empire always come to an end.  Every page of history shows us a cycle of decentralizing and centralizing.

The promises cannot be kept in Europe – they aren’t being kept today.  Unemployment remains high, immigration is a disaster, war with Russia is threatened daily.  The people are wondering why they should continue to serve when they get so little in return – in fact, they find they are receiving the exact opposite in return of what they have been promised.

The people throughout the west are concluding there is little reason to support the pedestal under the great Colossus.  He may not fall today or tomorrow, but he cannot withstand the weight of an ever more disgruntled population due to ever-increasing failure to deliver.  This is certain. 

What comes once Colossus falls?  I wish was as certain.  I say put Gorbachev in charge, he has a track record of peacefully dismantling empire. 


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world

-        The Second Coming, W.B Yeats

Unlike Yeats’ mood in his poem, I do not lament that this center cannot hold; decentralization is libertarian theory applied in the real world.  I cheer on every attempt and hope for every success – even if the smaller entity shows no better libertarian tendencies than did the larger.  Every successful act of decentralization increases choice.

The people are withdrawing their consent.  The center cannot hold.  Let the decentralizing continue until we have a few thousand (maybe 1.5 billion) centers.  With enough choice, even a Rothbardian anarchist can find someplace to call home!


  1. Hello BM,

    I was working on a response to a post by Unhappy Conservative from the last Hornberger thread, but it went a little long. It was a tougher nut to crack than I thought; but, as it is a point that I often try to make, I thought that I would link the post here with your permission.

    The comments here have really heated up to a nice simmer. Thanks for the forum.

    1. You may post a link anytime. Perhaps you want to make this comment in the appropriate thread?

    2. Yes, that would have made a bit more sense...

    3. Just saw this post Alaska.

      I am reading your piece now. It looks like you have a comment system on your page. Should I just comment on there?