Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Brief Thoughts on the Brexit

I don't know much about the British vote to leave the European Union, so I haven't said much about it.  Staying was apparently supported by young, upscale, highly educated Britons, or ones who were not white.  Leaving was supported by the older less educated white working class, the same type of people who vote for Donald Trump over here.  So everyone on my side has been dead-set against the Brexit and attributed "Leave" votes to bigotry.  And, of course, they are outraged that Donald Trump's reaction to a plunging pound is to say that it will mean more business at his golf courses.

Speaking for me, I am not so sure.  I never thought I would defend Donald Trump, but in this case he is essentially right.  When a country's economy becomes stressed and causes its currency to fall, the result really is an exports boom and an upsurge in foreign tourism that help it to recovery.  Our side understood that perfectly well with the Grexit. Matthew Yglesias, for instance, assuring readers that if Greece returned to the drachma and it fell, there is no need to be ashamed to go to Greece and spend like a drunken sailor; quite the contrary, the country will benefit from it. Well guess what?  The same goes for a falling pound after the Brexit.  Granted, it will also make imports more expensive and in that way be painful, but in the end all that means is that everyone will be pinched but no one will be impoverished.

And as for the merits of leaving the EU -- well, it seems pretty clear to me that the EU has become essentially a vehicle of German hegemony, or perhaps more accurately, a tyranny of creditors over debtors.  Look at how savagely the EU has made an example of Greece.  Look at their eagerness to do exactly the same to Britain.  And consider that that actually deposed a duly elected Italian premier who would not do their bidding (granted, a bad one, but duly elected nonetheless), and is it any wonder the Brits wanted out?

Another awkward fact.  We hear a lot about the British Conservative Party being split between is political class and its populist class, rather like the US Republican Party in the Age of Trump.  But apparently there is a similar split in the Labour Party.  There, too, its political class favors Remain and many of the rank-and-file favor Leave and its anti-EU leader Jeremy Corbyn.  Kevin Drum calls Corbyn "sort of a lefty British version of Donald Trump."  Or, more likely, sort of a British Bernie Sanders.

And what about the nativist hostility toward immigrants?  And by no means only Muslim immigrants, either, much of it toward Eastern Europeans?  I guess all I can say is that I duly deplore British nativism.  But given the EU's record, I can see plenty of other reasons for wanting out.

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