Argumente pro Brexit

Posted on Juni 22, 2016


The Case for Brexit

by Professor Alan Sked

Professor of International History at the London School of Economics


Most commentators, backed by international elite opinion, write as if leaving the EU would constitute a momentous, historical step for the UK. They’re wrong. Britain’s postwar abandonment of empire, after centuries of colonialism and imperialism, was hardly traumatic, leading to no disruption of its economy or political system or even to any nostalgia. Today, there is scant evidence to suggest that withdrawal from the EU after a much shorter experience of membership would lead to political or economic disruption either, far less any nostalgia for rule from Brussels. Normal self-government would simply be resumed—and it is normal for nations to run their own affairs.

The experiment of trying to fit all the nations of Europe into one polity and one economy, on the other hand, has been distinctly abnormal and historically misconceived. Europe is a state system, not a state. It overtook the rest of the world economically and politically centuries ago precisely on account of its disunity. Elsewhere, the Ottoman and Chinese Empires unified themselves under centralized bureaucracies and suffered decline.

Europe, on the other hand, as a result of its division into a system of separate states with different Christian allegiances, experienced competition and progress. Long before the Enlightenment, commentators and thinkers in individual states examined advances in rival ones before campaigning for their adoption at home. Particularly after the French Revolution and Napoleon, this led to peaceful progress—the abolition of torture and religious disabilities, the spread of constitutions, the extension of the franchise, the legalization of trades unions and the establishment of state welfare systems. Very occasionally, rivalry led to war, but the long period from 1815 to 1914 was overwhelmingly one of peace in Europe. Before 1914 you did not even need passports or visas to travel or study abroad. Then came the First World War, produced by the clash of supranational empires—Habsburg, Russian, German and Ottoman—while the Second World War centered around a clash of supranational ideologies—Nazi racism and Soviet Communism. Democratic nation-states were never a cause of war in Europe. Resistance to their emergence by supranational empires was.

Today the EU constitutes an up-to-date model of a supranational empire. Size again seems to be all-important. The EU is supposed to act as a continental counterweight to the United States, China and Russia. Predictably, this has proved to be a delusion. However, it is vital to note that, just as was the case in the golden age of imperialism before 1914, when Norway and Switzerland enjoyed the highest standard of living in Europe but did not possess empires, today, the two European states with the highest standard of living in Europe are again Norway and Switzerland—both independent and outside the EU.


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