The First Free Fire Zone of 2021

We can’t find any creationism news, but there’s an ark-load of other news you may want to discuss. One possible subject, which may not have occurred to you, is that there will soon be a new President in the United States. You may have some thoughts to share on that topic.

It often seems that your Curmudgeon is one of the few remaining Republicans on the sane side of the creationism debates, but you already know our view of things. We unloaded on you ten years ago — see Creationism or Socialism: Which is Dumber? This is your chance to unload your opinions. Hey — it may surprise some of you, but aside from US politics there are other things to talk about.

Please use the comments as an Intellectual Free Fire Zone for the discussion of pretty much anything — science, politics, economics, whatever — as long as it’s tasteful and interesting. Banter, babble, bicker, bluster, blubber, blather, blab, blurt, burble, boast — say what you will. But avoid flame-wars and beware of the profanity filters.

We now throw open the comments to you, dear reader. Have at it!

Copyright © 2021. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

58 responses to “The First Free Fire Zone of 2021

  1. Thanks for that link, dear SC. It was what I thinking about when I wrote that according to you JoeB is a socialist. So now I can repeat that the mob that stormed the Capitol did so to protect the USA against socialism (ie measures that are nothing compared to that hellhole called Iceland). They were freedom fighters. Or not, because that analysis of yours is at the insane side of the GOP too. See, it would mean that President Eisenhower was a socialist too.
    This does not mean that all socialism is on the sane side. Several months ago I criticized marxism. This does not mean either that all conservatism is on the insane side. Actually I think sane conservatism more needed than ever. You could begin with revising that silly analysis and accept that the USA does very badly on social indices than almost all other rich countries and than many not so rich ones. Because Enlightenment means accepting inconvenient facts amongst others.
    So let me remind you what conservatism used to mean: maintaining what works well and gradually changing what doesn’t.

    Of course, to please our Australian Imperial nostalgicist would continue discussing Brexit too. Also I’d like to discuss the incompetence of the Dutch government (aka “klunskabinet”) regarding the pandemy (it just prolonged the lockdown) Or perhaps Thierry Baudet, who calls himself a conservative too and proposes to deport Syrian refugees who already received a permit to stay.
    But I’ve a hunch that the Americans and Australians here are not that interested.

  2. Kent Hovind says Trump still has some cards he might play in order to stay in office for another 4 years, but he is cognizant of the prospects that Trump is on his way out and so is calling upon his minions to get on the ball and write to Trump in order to affect that Presidential Pardon for Kent Hovind.

    It could happen!

    See:
    https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=3234115943361737&set=pcb.1760796034089518
    .

  3. Has anyone heard about the possibility that there is no Dark Matter?

  4. Dave Luckett

    You’ve already said that your hobby is trying to annoy people, FrankB. By all means practice it to your heart’s content. No doubt you often meet with success.

    FWIW. it is my nostalgic imperialist opinion that once any person has received permission to stay, that person cannot be deported UNLESS they are convicted of a serious crime. Their initial acceptance is, however, a matter of the policy approved by the people’s representatives in Parliament.

    I have no opinion on the competence of the Dutch government, and I am glad to observe that your complaint would imply that you actually have a government at the moment. This, I am told, is not always the case.

    As I remarked earlier, if Biden is to be called a socialist, the term has no meaning. I understand a socialist to be one who advocates the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange throughout an entire national community, and for this ownership to be inalienable. I don’t think Biden advocates that. I don’t even think you advocate that, although I’m not sure what exactly you do advocate.

    You seem to be commending Iceland, by sarcastic implication. I would call that a social democracy, with a capitalist economy and a large welfare sector. Nostalgic as I am, I have no in-principle objection to such a model, only noting that it requires a strongly disciplined population that is prepared to pay the taxes necessary to support it; and that it is probably far easier to manage such a system with a population under 400,000 and a defence budget of a quarter of a percentage point of GDP. It seems to be doing well, at present, but there’s a certain fragility about it – a recession or a decline in the terms of trade would cut deeply into the tax base, which would make the welfare system unsustainable.

    Europhiles inform us that nations are no longer viable in a world dominated by huge power blocs. That’s when they’re blowing hot. When commending Iceland, they’re blowing cold. Very appropriate. Aesop would have chuckled. So do I.

  5. Whether this comment gets through moderation will determine if I ever read this blog again.
    Anyone who claims to be “Conserving the Enlightenment values of reason, liberty, science, and free enterprise” but who supports Trump is a hypocrite.

  6. @Dave Luckett
    I have read several interviews with voters for Trump in which they explain
    that the alternative, Biden, is a socialist.
    I think that they have a very different concept of socialism.

  7. TomS: I can only reply that for rational debate, words have meanings. It would appear that for the people you mention, a socialist is anyone who advocates even very moderate policies meant to reduce hardship and inequality of opportunity, such as progressive taxation to finance public services, universal health care, and incentives to acquire education and training, and the like. If that’s what they mean by “socialist”, then I am a socialist.

    But you might as well say that for them the word has no actual meaning at all. If they call Biden a socialist, may they never meet an average European “social democrat”, for verily it would blow their minds.

  8. @DaveL: ” would call that a social democracy”
    As I already showed quite a while ago, ao on historical grounds that’s also a form of socialism, but let’s leave that for now. The sarcastic remark regarding Iceland was not meant for you – you see, I actually try to understand how my opponents think. It was meant for your fellow conservative, our host SC, who thinks social democracy a version of socialism too. So take it up with him, not with me.

    “I’m not sure what exactly you do advocate.”
    I wrote that several times before too. But I accept that you need more repeats. State socialism doesn’t work (whether social-democrat or not – see the UK pre-Thatcher), direct control of the means of production, distribution and exchange is a utopy *). For the time being (ie more than the rest of my life) direct control is a utopy, so I pick the second best choice: indirect control of means of etc via government. Like in Iceland. This combined with local initiatives in the form of cooperations. You seem to call that Free Market; our dear SC doesn’t.
    You might try to remember this next time, when I write about socialism – my version is just not your or our dear SC’s version of socialism. Or don’t try – I’ve gotten used to conservatives beginning their criticism of socialism in the same way creacrappers criticize evolution: by giving it a meaning that makes it easy to create strawmen. Predictably conservatives can’t agree on a proper definition either.

    *) btw I don’t strive for control “throughout an entire national community”, ao because I’m not a nationalist. Also direct control does not mean via government. So I guess according to you I’m not a socialist. Well, I don’t care too much about semantics. So I suggest you to invent another label for me, something that summarizes both my preference for direct control of “means ….” via corporations and my halfhearted support of social democracy.

  9. @TomS: “I think that they have a very different concept of socialism.”
    They don’t really have one anymore than creacrappers have a concept of evolution. It’s just “I don’t care to understand what socialism actually is, but I do know it’s evil.” That said DaveL deserves a compliment for providing a pretty good definition himself in terms of consistency and coherence. It’s lack of historical accuracy and the fact that it doesn’t match with what many socialists themselves mean is the cause of many misunderstandings. I’ll be the first to admit that socialists are guilty of this themselves – flinging around “fascism” to insult anyone who deviates a little from the party line reminds me of Kclunckerdunkcer way too much.
    It’s nice that DaveL confirms this with “I’m not sure what you do advocate”. Still his comment is a big step forward towards a rational discussion.

  10. @DaveL: “But you might as well say that for them the word has no actual meaning at all.”
    Non-sequitur. Even according to the definition you gave – which I don’t accept either – neither Donald the Clown nor our dear SC nor the Dutch Prime Minister is a socialist.

    “may they never meet an average European “social democrat”, for verily it would blow their minds.”
    Eeehhh, I’m pretty sure even they have heard about Bernie Sanders, who has lots in common with the average European social-democrat of 2020.

    “Europhiles inform us that nations are no longer viable in a world dominated by huge power blocs.”
    Thanks, them I’m not a Europhile either. Even better, you’ll have a hard time to find any on the Continent. Because all supporters of the EU I’ve met – including the ones active in Brussel and Strassbourg – recognize that nations still are viable. Try to tell Merkel and Macron, both strong supporters of the EU, that nations are no longer viable and enjoy their funny faces.

  11. @DaveL: Also thanks for making me properly understand “you actually have a government at the moment. This, I am told, is not always the case”. Whoever told you this is either dishonest, ignorant or both. The Netherlands have continuously had a government since 25 June 1945; the first one approved by an elected parliament was installed on 3 July 1946.
    Sometimes Dutch governments are demissionary (meaning they can’t propse new laws); perhaps this week parliament will fire the Rutte administration. And this allows me to offend many members of my own party, GL. It’s leader, Jesse Klaver is a hypocrite. He calls for the resignation of Rutte and co. Reason: a scandal involving social welfare. The scandal resulted from a law from 2012 – and GL, under leadership of Klaver, voted for it. No way he will resign himself, as he should …..
    Something similar happened regarding his support for the abolishment of basal scholarship (pardon me for my Dunglish), making it near-impossible for young Dutch with poor parents to study at a university. Sometimes I think I should vote for SP (Socialist Party – according to DaveL’s definition the only Dutch socialists in parliament), but they are state-socialists.

  12. Finally I’d like to congratulate DaveL with the first glorious post-Brexit victory of the Royal Navy. Brittannia rules the waves again!

    https://www.rte.ie/news/brexit/2021/0105/1187865-rockall-fishing/

  13. Dave Luckett

    FrankB tells us, first what he thinks socialism isn’t, then provides this specification of what he thinks it is: “indirect control of means of etc via government”. The “etc” in that means, I think, “production, distribution and exchange”. That is, as opposed to direct control of those processes.

    It would appear that he thinks that using the word “indirect” makes all the difference Of course it makes no difference at all. Control is government control. It assumes that a government is competent to control production, distribution and exchange, and moreover should control them, beyond what the people agree by consensus among themselves. But while most would agree that, say, reasonable safety regulations or control of by-products or pollutants are reasonable, the control of everything that can be produced and traded and the terms under which all commodities can be exchanged requires a reach that no government ever had.

    No government has ever proven remotely competent to control general production, that is, all or most of the actual products and services produced, how they are to be distributed and by what means. Nor can it control the terms of exchange. No value that it puts on anything will be accepted if it is different to the market’s – that is, what people will actually trade it for. Governments can issue currency, but that currency is worth what the market reckons, not what the government says. Government can make regulations over the processes, but only with consensus, and that does not go far. It can prohibit, but in the face of mere indifference, let alone opposition, all it will do is to create a black market. It can control what it buys itself, but not its price. It can tax, provided again that the taxes are accepted by consensus. If not, they will be evaded. The rest is up to the market, which is to say, the people in the marketplace.

    It doesn’t matter whether the attempt at control is made directly or indirectly. Whether it is consensual or not is up to the people, and that consensus can change. But the consensus must be wide and general and fairly close to unanimous. If the controls would fail without coercive enforcement, they will only fail more catastrophically with it. Alas, some governments locked themselves into that spiral of control and coercion, and the results have been lamentable beyond those of any other human crime.

    Now, FrankB appears to think that Iceland is an example of what he calls “socialism”: indirect control by government over the means of production, distribution and exchange. I don’t think so. The Icelandic economy is a demand economy of capitalist traders in an open market who are collectively prepared to consent to a high level of taxation in return for a comprehensive system of social services.. That’s not socialism in my book. FrankB may call it what he likes, but he should know that Trumpistas do call it socialism. Odd if he finds himself agreeing with them.

  14. Dave Luckett

    FrankB, we appear to again be the prisoners of words when it comes to “government”. I am not used to the idea of a government that can’t legislate. I would have said that legislation is what governments do, and that if it can’t legislate, it isn’t a government.

    Perhaps that is also the reason why I assume that “control” of a whole economy, whether direct or indirect, could only be undertaken by an actual government. Perhaps you believe that it could be done by some other agency. But who, or what, else could do that?

    Possibly my misunderstanding of what “government” means affects also my understanding of what Parliament means in Europe. See, in my anglocentric mindset, I always thought that Parliaments considered legislation that their members proposed, and that after debate they passed, amended or rejected it according to their will. That doesn’t appear to be what the European Parliament does.

    But thank you for the news of the British enforcing their claims to their fishing waters – or what they claim to be their fishing waters. It was a patrol vessel of the Scottish Marine (a service with which I am not familiar) that boarded an Irish boat within the twelve-mile limit of Rockall. Personally, I think this is a little over the top. Rockall is an uninhabited and uninhabitable pointed rock, a volcanic outcrop of 700 sq meters or so, without a possible landing place and of use only to seabirds. Claiming it as British sovereign territory is coming it a trifle high, if you ask me, and it is not recognised by other nations.

    So it isn’t a Royal Navy action at all, far less a victory. Let us both hope that there will be no occasion to claim one.

  15. @Dave Luckett
    I don’t think that they have any economic policy in mind when they object to Biden’s socialism.

  16. Dave Luckett

    TomS: what do they have in mind, then?

  17. @DaveL predictably has quickly given up to understand socialism again after his one and only laudable attempt: “Control is government control.”
    No, it isn’t. There are other forms. When I’m member of a sports club I control, together with the other members, the board of the club. That’s simply the right of every member. Government stays out of it. This is called direct democracy.
    Note that I did tell what I do favour regarding economics:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooperative

    I used the Dunglish word cooperation though, my bad.
    As I can’t expect him to, you know, actually read this I quote directly:

    “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned enterprise. Cooperatives are democratically owned by their members, with each member having one vote in electing the board of directors.”
    Please take note of the words “economic”, “enterprise” and “elected”. Also note that “government is not part of this description.
    Of course it’s typical for the authoritarian that DaveL is deep in his heart that he cannot imagine any form of control beyond “government”. This is totally in line with his fact free take on the Brexit – either Bojo the Clown is in control or some unnamed character in Brussel. His conclusions remain as [bleep!] as almost always.
    At this point already I stopped reading; from experience I expect that it’s only going to be downhill. I won’t ask him to read the Wikipedia lemma on Market Socialism, because …. well, no explanation necessary, I suppose. So much for his call for a reasonable discussion.

  18. In the site fivethirtyeight.com there are recent essays to be read.

  19. Actually I intended to drop off from this thread once again, first of all because I already posted too much and second because Sisiphos had an easier job rolling his boulder than anyone trying to explain DaveL anything beyond his predetermined conclusions. However for future reference it might be handy to explain my views on the EU. It might even be interesting, because it shows that I can be inconsistent too. And thus far nobody has pointed it out as far as I’m aware.
    Overall I prefer direct control of the people over their lives than indirect control. At the other hand I do accept unpleasant facts and one of them is that direct control of the people over international politics, economy and some more won’t happen in the foreseeable future. Still there are some issues I don’t want to close my eyes for. One example is “flitskapitaal”, ie large sums used for short term international transactions; according to Dutch Wikipedia no less than 98% is used for pure speculation and not for non-financial products and services. Another one is of course climate change. A third one are huge companies with budgets large enough to buy governments; the Koch brothers are an American example and Shell a Dutch-British one (also Unilever).
    Free Market Superstion won’t be a solution. Neither will national governments provide one, not even of relatively big countries like Germany and France. There is only one option left – indeed the EU. If that makes me a Europhile, so be it. The EU is flawed, slow and ineffective, but liquidating it will be disastrous. It also has one important advantage as I’ve pointed out before. The EU gives individuals some extra tools to protect themselves against governmental abuse. The European Court already has done some, but not much good work in this respect for Dutch citizens. Separation of powers also works in this respect. The EU is the only realistic hope that the Netherlands will cease to be a tax haven for all kinds of enterprises, including the band U2.
    So despite my preference for small scale organizations I support the EU for pragmatic reasons.
    Ah well, at least I managed to write some comments without anything about American politics.

  20. FrankB notes

    Actually I think sane conservatism more needed than ever.

    So do I. I sorely miss the Republican Party, which Trump has been happy to sacrifice to his own vanity. The sooner the GOP returns to promoting policies rather than a toxic personality the better for everyone.

    @ Dave Luckett: I’d likely alarm you if I revealed the large extent to which I agree with much of your commentary above. So I’ll spare you that shock.

    Instead, I’ll generously direct you to the very first reference I have ever encountered from a Brexiteer to your notion of an ‘Anglosphere’, though the speaker in question–MP Andrew Bridgen–doesn’t use that term. It’s on a video interview at this link: How do Brexiteers feel about the UK’s trade deal with the EU?, and Bridgen’s piece starts at the 1:08 mark, where he goes on to say

    I’m hoping in the next 12 months, possibly, we’re gonna have a comprehensive free-trade, free-movement, the ability to live, work, start a new business in either Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the UK

    When asked why that would be better than the arrangement we had with France, Germany &c via the EU, his answer is very revealing: there will be no net migration!

    Shall we add Bridgen’s aspiration to the growing list of broken Brexit promises? See Brexit trade deal: Nine claims by Boris Johnson or his ministers that are untrue

    And let’s not overlook the positive side! Despite all those silly assurances that, with full Purity of Sovereignty restored, post-Brexit Britain would not embark on a race to the bottom on standards and rights, here’s arch-Brexiteer Daniel Hannon’s wish list: Scrap EU consumer and worker protections now Brexit is completed, leading Tory says:

    Under the trade agreement he signed, Brussels has the power to inflict wide-ranging tariffs or other sanctions on the UK if it breaches the so-called ‘level playing field’. Nevertheless, Mr Hannon, in a website article, called for the scrapping of:

    * the Temporary Workers’ Directive – which guarantees agency staff receive equal pay and conditions with employees in the same business.

    * the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – that gives individuals control over their personal data and limits its transfer to other countries.

    * the ban on products made from genetically modified (GM) crops – potentially allowing US food derived that way into the UK, as part of a future trade deal.

    * the REACH Directive – to outlaw chemicals linked to health problems including cancer, thyroid disease, hormone disruption and slow development.

    * the End of Life Vehicles Directive – to achieve environmentally-friendly dismantling and recycling, with targets for the reuse of vehicles and their components.

    * the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD) – introduced to regulate hedge funds and private equity following the 2008 financial crash.

    * the ‘Droit de suite’ rules – that pay artists a fee on the resale of their works of art, instead of the American ‘first-sale doctrine’ that removes rights from subsequent sales.

    * “chunks of” the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) – the legal framework to harmonise regulation of securities markets and trading venues.

    Mr Hannan is widely seen as an intellectual driving force from the 1990s for what became as Brexit, pushing for a clean break from the EU as a campaigner and then a Euro-MP.

    O brave new world!

  21. Dave Luckett

    i did ask FrankB to tell me who would exert this “indirect control” he thinks would be the best expression of what he calls “socialism”. I have a sort of answer. It’s very vague and consists mostly of handwaving, but he apparently believes that co-operatives, operating like clubs and exercising a direct democracy over their own operations, can somehow extend this control to an entire economy by – what? – consulting one another as to their interactions, with everybody having one vote each to decide everything?

    I suppose one might ask where that has been tried, and what the outcome was. Or if FrankB lives in such a co-operative now – for there’s nothing to stop him from joining his like-minded comrades and forming one, But what’s the point? It’s not going to happen.

    FrankB, I wish you joy of your fantasies, and also that you never see any attempt to realise them. I would not wish such a thing on my worst enemy, which you are not.

  22. Megalonyx says: ” I sorely miss the Republican Party, which Trump has been happy to sacrifice to his own vanity.”

    Same here.

  23. The most frustrating thing about discussing politics with a deeply convinced person is heat; but after that, it is how soon we reach the point where that person sticks his fingers in his ears and starts going lalala.

    FrankB doesn’t read anything when he thinks he knows what it will be; but insists that I understand his ideas from his code of vague hints and mystic gestures. Megalonyx thinks that if I support Brexit, I must support everything any Brexiteer says, and he can’t be bothered to find out different.

    Hannan is clearly an extreme “dry”, read free marketeer non-interventionist laissez-faireite who thinks that the financial and labour markets are over-regulated. I vehemently disagree with him about the former, and strongly disagree about the latter. I would be against removing most of the measures he wants to remove, and consider them mostly wholesome and judicious, EU or no. (The exception is the ban on GM products, which I consider unwarranted and superstitious.) Of course it is possible to go too far in any direction. Of course a constant watch has to be kept on actual outcomes. Things change. Never mind liberty, the price of economic and social well-being is constant vigilance.

    (There is irony in the reflection that I am thus applying one of the principles of no less a political leader than Jesus of Nazareth. “By their fruits you shall know them”, said He – but there it is.)

    Megalonyx finds himself in the uncomfortable position of actually decrying closer relations between nations – the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand – on the grounds that he prefers closer relations with European nations because (at present) there’s more money in it, and the latter won’t allow the former. I would rather both were possible, but it isn’t. Driven to choose, I would choose a partnership that doesn’t exclude others, and is controlled by each nations’ own sovereign Parliament, rather than by some other institution foreign to them all.

    Megalonyx thinks different, as he is entitled to do. What he is not entitled to do is to attempt to tie me or anyone to some other person’s politics without my consent.

  24. Egad! More unexpected agreement between myself and Dave Luckett, viz.:

    The most frustrating thing about discussing politics with a deeply convinced person is heat

    Indeed! The thermometer previously reached some dizzying heights from such emotive rhetoric as an “expansionist Empire” possessed of “an army” and “controlling all aspects of life” &c &c. Glad you’ve dropped that nonsense.

    Megalonyx thinks that if I support Brexit, I must support everything any Brexiteer says, and he can’t be bothered to find out different.

    Au contraire, mon ami! I have taken many pains, over many threads on this forum, to find out just what it is that you support “different[ly]”.

    But I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you are neither the Architect nor the Implementor of Brexit, only one of the legions of cheerleading Enablers of a political programme so contradictory and ill-defined that no one actually knew what it was until days before it was implemented. Foolish to endorse such a thing, of course, leave alone vociferously advocate it, but that was your choice.

    So what is now not your choice is play a round of “no true Scotsman” with the meaning of Brexit. Britain’s previous status quo as a member of the EU, you argued, was so intolerable that to leave it was imperative, never mind consequences foreseeable or no; at one point, you even advocated ‘walking away’ with no trade deal, which was indeed an option (mercifully avoided, in the event). That such a position put you in the company of such selfless champions of Britain’s best interests as Putin, Xi, Trump, Orban, Salvini, Bolsonaro, Salvini &c &c seems not to have troubled you—but never mind.

    Hannan, however, is a different matter, a man who has form. He truly is one of the original architects of Brexit, right back to his days as an Oxford undergraduate: his entire political career has been as a leading “laissez-faireite” (thank you for that coining, btw, I like it!) among the fringe Tory Eurosceptics. And please recall that, in the decades prior to the 2016 Referendum, Euroscepticism was a tiny fringe of the British political spectrum, of which only Hannan and the small rump of Tory malcontents ever won seats in Parliament—alongside a sprinkling of unreconstructed far Left Labour MP’s who advocated a full Clause 4 (“common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange”) socialist programme for Britain. The rest of the Eurosceptic grouping was comprised of fringe neo-fascist political parties like the BNP (British National Party) and, most notably, Nigel Farage’s UKIP (which became so openly racist that Farage himself had to set up a new grouping instead, the Brexit Party).

    And what progress was made over the years by this rogues gallery prior to the 2016 Referendum? How many times was Farage a candidate for Parliament? Seven. And how many times did he win a seat? Zero. How many political parties included ‘leaving the EU’ in their election manifestos? That would also be zero. IOW: by the normal democratic processes of this country, Brexit was unachievable.

    But the Parliamentary arithmetic of the 2010-15 Tory/Lib Dem coalition enabled the Eurosceptic fringe to lever PM Cameron into calling a Referendum. Never mind that referenda have no standing in law and are only advisory, this was their chance!

    And did the Eurosceptics campaign on a platform of the “laissez-faireite” wet dreams they harboured? Of course not—they wanted to win! And so we found Danial Hannan himself declaring during that campaign, “”absolutely nobody is talking about threatening our place in the single market.” A flat-out lie, of course, and precisely what Brexit has indeed turned out to mean—but this was only one of the tsunami of falsehoods and impossible promises the Brexiteers dished up.

    And you are one of the many they suckered in by their lies and emotive rhetoric. On the strength of your posts on other topics, you really should have known better. So: shame on you!

    In fairness, the Brexiteers really had no choice: they would never have won the Referendum, leave alone the slim majority by which they did win, had they been honest. Nothing like a majority would have voted for the hyper-deregulation that only benefits a very few. But—and what genius they displayed!—one could indeed sucker enough folks to vote for stopping 78 million Turks from migrating to Britain, saving £350 million per week to spend instead on the NHS, &c &c; all egregious lies, of course, but certainly appealing to the baser instincts of part of the population.

    Megalonyx finds himself in the uncomfortable position of actually decrying closer relations between nations – the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand – on the grounds that he prefers closer relations with European nations because (at present) there’s more money in it, and the latter won’t allow the former. I would rather both were possible, but it isn’t.

    Utter nonsense on multiple counts—and who is attempting to “tie” whom to a view never expressed?

    Closer co-operations between nations is at the heart of the European project, and the principle applies generally, of course. The uncomfortable position is the one held by Brexiteers like Andrew Bridgen (quoted above) who won the referendum with a nakedly xenophobic pledge to “take back control of our borders” and who now wants the restoration of “free movement”—but only to English-speaking nations with predominately white populations.

    Fancy that!

    So what have we gained from Brexit so far? The cost and friction of red tape when trading with our single biggest trading partner. The loss of our freedom of movement. Serious tensions on the Union of the United Kingdom. And financial services provided in London are rapidly migrating to Frankfurt and Paris.

    And on the plus side? We have full Purity of Sovereignty Essence! We do not have to continue abiding by previously-agreed rules on fair competition! But of course, the minute we do change some of those laws, we’re back to tariffs, quotas, or outright blocking–just like the good ole days of the 19th century!

    Take pride! You are one of that band of Keyboard Warriors who helped bring this all about!

  25. If anyone needs a quick analogy to explain the relevance of the tragedy that is Brexit to the Evo/Crevo issues at the heart of this forum:

    The Discovery Institute has so far failed in its reactionary theocratic Wedge strategy to (in its own words) “to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.” And the reasons for their failure are clear: they have no science!

    So what do they do instead? They style themselves as the champions of Free Speech and Academic Freedom! And who is against those things? Why not ‘teach the controversy’ &c &c

    When the truth is against you, tell lies! Just ask a Brexiteer!

  26. And when your html tag thingies go wrong, humbly kowtow to the Great and Benevolent Hand of Correction and beseech Him, in His infinite mercy, to purify and make whole my sinful omissions!

    [Voice from above:] The Cosmic Aardvark is benevolent, even to one such as you.

  27. If I have advocated and helped to achieve closer relations between my country and the UK, I do indeed take pride in it. The rest of Megalonyx’s last is empty rhetoric, in which he shows himself as great a master of the quote mine as any creationist.

    For he does indeed behave exactly as I predicted in the words he carefully left out when quoting me. He “sticks his fingers in his ears and starts going lalala.”

    The EU will not allow its members to transact treaties of trade with any other country. That’s simple fact. Megalonyx prefers to accept that situation. That also is simple fact. But Megalonyx can’t hear that. His fingers are in his ears and he’s going lalala.

    Continued free movement with the EU necessarily means that any person with an EU passport may reside and work in Britain. Some EU countries have markedly lower standards of living than Britain. That necessarily implies that there will be uncontrolled immigration from those countries. That is not in Britain’s interests, particularly of its working class and those who rely on State services. That, too, is simple fact, but again Megalonyx has his fingers in his ears, although his chant changes to “racistracistracist”.

    The CANZUK countries, on the other hand, all have much the same standards of living. Migration between them will not be driven by that factor, therefore, but mutual recognition of trade and professional qualifications will allow greater flexibility, which is the good side of free movement.

    Megalonyx was cheerfully predicting that the EU would never agree to free trade without absolute adherence to EU regulation. But there you are. He was proven wrong. Britain will have to be careful about any divergence, but at least calculations on a rational cost-benefit basis can be made. It means that Britain will be able to take advantage of improvements in technology, for example, without having to wait for the EU. Even FrankB admits that the EU is “flawed, slow and ineffective”. One of the chief causes for that is how much more susceptible it is to big-industry lobbying. Big industry has an interest in maintaining the status quo.

    I have agreed not to mention Empire or army. Not because I don’t think they’re important and real, but because I can’t say they’re settled fact. Yet. Still, I wonder what Megalonyx thinks “ever closer union” means, and where it will end?

    A “no true Scotsman” is the logical error in which a trait claimed to be the distinctive property of an entire named group is shown not to be, but the trait is claimed anyway. Thus:
    “No Scotsman would murder his wife.” “This Scotsman did murder his wife.” “No true Scotsman would murder his wife.”

    Nobody claimed that no Brexit supporter was a “laissez-faireite”. Some are, but most are for reasonable levels of regulation, and most would approve most of the things Hannan wants to remove, although no doubt there would be differences in detail between individuals. Megalonyx comes far closer to a “no true Scotsman” when he claims that Hannan is “one of the original architects of Brexit”, which is to say that Hannan is a true Brexiteer, and those who don’t share his views aren’t true Brexiteers.

    I am not an implementer nor architect of Brexit. I am not even an enabler of it, nor did I vote for it. But seventeen million British voters did, and then they elected a party to government that promised to carry it out, and did so. That is also a fact, but Megalonyx still has his fingers in his ears. Ah well.

  28. Dave Luckett lays it out:

    The EU will not allow its members to transact treaties of trade with any other country. That’s simple fact.

    Jeepers!

    But why stop there? The United States ‘will not allow’ Rhode Island to negotiate separate trade treaties ’with any other country’! That’s outrageous! Rhode Island must secede from the Union immediately…

    …or could it just possibly be the case that Rhode Island, a voluntary member of the democratic union of the USA, has full representation in that union’s trade negotiations with external nations — and derives thereby far better treaties than it could were it a fully autonomous entity with Purity of Sovereign Essence? What would be in the best interest of Rhode Island with respect to, say, trade with China? Cutting its own deal with that superpower, or participating in a deal negotiated by the union to which it belongs?

    And if you (perversely) think the former, then why not go the whole hog and dissolve the USA entirely into 50 states fully possessed of Purity of Sovereign Essence to do 50 separate trade deals with China — and each state to undertake 49 additional deals with one another! I expect California could get better terms with New York than South Carolina could — what fun! And what a boon for bureaucracy! Think of all the extra clerical staff companies will have to employ to cope with such a flood of additional red tape! Imagine the lift to employment when hundreds of thousands of new border guards and customs officials have to be hired!

    Alas, I’m not at all familiar with the Australian constitution, so I hope you’ll enlighten me. Is New South Wales, say, under the tyrannical jackboot of the Canberra Cabal that ‘will not allow’ it to transact its own and separate treaties of trade with any other country?

    Well, I’ll agree with you on this: there certainly is a lot of tedious ‘la-la-la’ refrain in the air. I hear it, with unblocked ears, every time you repeat your weird delusion that the EU is an alien empire holding the constituent states in thrall. The EU is its members, it is simply the framework whereby those members can, within sharply prescribed areas, work together collectively for mutual advantage, as they did in forming the world’s largest single market and customs union.

    So what you have served up as ‘a simple fact’ is, once again, nonsense that simply reflects your rather disagreeable prejudices. But let’s carry on, fingers out of ears, and find the source of that irritating ‘la-la-la’ refrain:

    Continued free movement with the EU necessarily means that any person with an EU passport may reside and work in Britain.

    –and vice versa. Free Movement means that anyone with an EU passport may reside and work anywhere within the EU — as 1.3 million Brits on the continent have done. And as anyone born in New South Wales can live and work anywhere in Australia.

    Some EU countries have markedly lower standards of living than Britain. That necessarily implies that there will be uncontrolled immigration from those countries. That is not in Britain’s interests, particularly of its working class and those who rely on State services. That, too, is simple fact

    But there is no need to contemplate mere ’implications’ when one can look at actual data: Oxford University Report: The Fiscal Impact of Immigration in the UK.
    The facts are not ‘simple’, and they do not support the simple-minded prejudice you have again ‘la-la-la’d’ here: there was a net benefit to the UK from migration.

    But you are right to flag immigration as a major issue in Brexit: there were, lamentably, enough xenophobes here to tip the balance in the Referendum.

    The CANZUK countries, on the other hand, all have much the same standards of living.

    I’m assuming here you mean GDP calculated per capita (purchasing power parity) rather than absolute? In which case, I think I understand your point, though I don’t find it compelling. Most recent figures I can find offhand are for 2017: GDP per Capita

    [RANK – COUNTRY – $GDP/PPP]
    3 Luxembourg $107,641
    6 Ireland $76,745
    15 Netherlands $54,422
    16 Denmark $54,356
    19 Germany $52,556
    20 Sweden $51,405
    21 Australia $49,378
    22 Belgium $49,367
    24 Canada $46,510
    25 Finland $46,344
    26 UK $44,920
    27 France $44,033
    30 Italy $40,924
    31 Malta $40,797
    32 New Zealand $40,748

    But in terms of overall GDP (in effect, strength of economies and growth potential), it’s a different story: GDP by Country

    [RANK – COUNTRY – $GDP]
    4 Germany $3.693 trillion
    6 UK $2.638 trillion
    7 France $2.583 trillion
    9 Italy $1.944 trillion
    10 Canada $1.647 trillion
    13 Australia $1.323 trillion
    14 Spain $1.314 trillion
    18 Netherlands $831 billion
    22 Sweden $536 billion
    23 Poland $526 billion
    24 Belgium $495 billion
    27 Austria $417 billion
    34 Ireland $331 billion
    35 Denmark $330 billion
    42 Finland $252 billion
    46 Portugal $219 billion
    47 Czech Republic $216 billion
    48 Romania $212 billion
    50 New Zealand $204 billion

    So I’m not convinced by your claims here. The combined GDP’s of CANZUK cannot begin to provide the market opportunities of the EU. Ultimately, the southern Confederacy, had it been permitted to secede, would never have matched the economic growth its states would achieve within the Union.

    Migration between them will not be driven by that factor, therefore, but mutual recognition of trade and professional qualifications will allow greater flexibility, which is the good side of free movement.

    I would have said that migration would be driven by opportunity — that is, market forces — with an impact from accessibility (including geographical proximity, level of civil liberties and security, etc.). But I certainly do agree in the benefits from mutual recognition (because mutually agreed, btw) trade and professional qualifications — something the UK has now lost in a number of areas.

    Megalonyx was cheerfully predicting that the EU would never agree to free trade without absolute adherence to EU regulation. But there you are. He was proven wrong.

    Your ‘la-la-la’ing from your Alice-in-Wonderland world is now deafening! By what perverse and solipsistic definition can the thin deal signed at the 11th hour, covering only goods but not services, constitutes ‘free trade’? Only in the sense that it has avoided, pro tem, the imposition of tariffs or quotas — but with the unwelcome addition of red tape costing tens of billions annually to trade in goods which was previously entirely frictionless. That additional cost has already led to a number of SME’s here to cease trading with the EU — and in some cases, between the UK mainland and Northern Ireland. And similarly, a number of EU SME’s are no longer exporting to the EU UK because of the cost of the red tape. And those costs, for companies endeavouring to maintain UK/EU trade as before, will ultimately be passed on the consumer.

    In other words, the ‘deal’ has slapped costs and delays on the trade in goods, not to mention creating two internal borders within the UK (one down the Irish Sea, the other around the county of Kent). This is free trade? No, but it is an historic first: never before has a frictionless trade deal been replaced by an inferior one.

    At least, to your credit, you note the main limitation, though you don’t appear to acknowledge its full significance:

    Britain will have to be careful about any divergence, but at least calculations on a rational cost-benefit basis can be made.

    The point of Brexit, we were assured by Brexiteers, was to ‘take back control’ and, with our new found Purity of Sovereign Essence, diverge from the stifling rules imposed by the Brussels Illuminati. At the moment, no tariffs or quotas are applied because the UK is still in compliance with EU regulations over which it has no control because it has abandoned its seats in the EU government. The minute we significantly diverge — as folks like Daniel Hannan advocate — is the minute those tariffs and quotas are applied. And the EU is far and away the UK’s biggest trading partner. See The Brexit deal is done but the damage to the UK economy is just getting started

    It means that Britain will be able to take advantage of improvements in technology, for example, without having to wait for the EU.

    An example of such ‘improvements in technology’ which the Brussels Illuminati have withheld from the UK would help make your point here. On the other hand, the deleterious impact of the loss of free movement on R&D is easy to illustrate.

    I have agreed not to mention Empire or army. Not because I don’t think they’re important and real, but because I can’t say they’re settled fact.

    In other words, you’re confining your ‘la-la-la’ing to within your own head. Well, that’s still a kind of progress. Those claims made you sound very foolish, something you generally are not.

    I wonder what Megalonyx thinks “ever closer union” means, and where it will end?

    Easy. I’ll refer you to the EU’s own account: Explaining the EU deal: an “ever closer union”

    Megalonyx comes far closer to a “no true Scotsman” when he claims that Hannan is “one of the original architects of Brexit”, which is to say that Hannan is a true Brexiteer, and those who don’t share his views aren’t true Brexiteers.

    You misunderstood my point, but I do not think willfully so let me restate: for decades prior to the 2016 Referendum, Eurosceptics were a small fringe derived almost exclusively from the far right of the Tory party (like Daniel Hannan) and extreme right parties like the BNP (the latter having no parliamentary seats). In the 1970’s, there were also a few far left Eurosceptics (the Bennites of the Labour party), but their support evaporated after the 1975 Referendum: from that time, Euroscepticism has almost exclusively been confined to the far right (for calibration: to the right of Thatcher, who supported membership in the EU and played a major role in shaping the single market as we now know it — but no longer have, alas).

    And the proposed programme of the Eurosceptics? Leave the EU at any cost, including defaulting to WTO terms. And that programme proved undeliverable by normal parliamentary means. It would also have been undeliverable via the referendum had it been stated instead of the deluge of outright lies that the campaign offered up instead. I have itemised those lies previously and do not need to repeat them. It is a pity that you persist in believing some of those falsehoods.

    I am not an implementer nor architect of Brexit. I am not even an enabler of it, nor did I vote for it.

    You are too modest! Granted, your contribution was rather small, but take pride anyway — along with a smidgeon of ownership. Just like every keyboard warrior who retweeted Sidney Powell’s twisted conspiracy theory about a ‘stolen’ election gets to own a bit of responsibility for last week’s fatalities in the US Capitol building.

    Megalonyx still has his fingers in his ears.

    I certainly hope I do not. But if I do, better that than my head shoved up my own backside…

  29. Alas! A posting awaiting moderation has a html tag thingie missing in action!
    And I was trying so hard to get them all right!

    So again, on bended knee, I humbly beseech the Great Hand of Correction to yet again save me from myself!

    Amen

    [Voice from above:] Our simple-minded elf found the task somewhat invigorating.

  30. There’s another error in the post above, but I don’t want to trouble the simple-minded elf whom I already overwork.

    For “EU SME’s are no longer exporting to the EU”, read “EU SME’s are no longer exporting to the UK”

    [Voice from above:] Our simple-minded elf says he feels an intellectual kinship with you.

  31. Fear not, I’m not going to make a habit of this, ‘twould be too tedious.

    But just a small clutch of links illustrating just how “wrong” I have been about the Brexit deal:

    Brexit trade agreement ‘unworkable’ for UK supermarkets, MPs told
    Brexit: MP says teething problem remark is an ‘insult’
    For Some Scottish Seafood Businesses, Brexit Could Be a Death Knell
    Brexit leaves Spain’s Costa Brits facing dilemmas

    The list could be multiplied many times over as time goes by–but I’ll refrain. You can lead a horse to water…

  32. Dave Luckett

    Did you see what just happened?

    Megalonyx just tried to equate the UK with a state of Australia, with the same right to negotiate international trade treaties – ie, none at all, because Australian states are not nations. That is, Megalonyx thinks that the UK isn’t a nation, or shouldn’t be one.

    That’s it. It’s over. You’re done. Finished.

  33. Feigned stupidity is never a good look on anyone, and in Dave Luckett’s it is particularly unconvincing.

    But if a simple reductio ad absurdum really does go over his head, then I have been giving him too much credit.

    And that’s a pity.

  34. A big chunk of the state of Florida has been off the internet for at least a couple of hours. AT&T is reporting a “widespread” internet outage. As a result, your Curmudgeon may not be able to make a post today — although we seem to be back on line, at least for the moment. So if you’re wondering why there’s no new post today, blame it on AT&T.

  35. Megalonyx, having driven a cart and horse through his own position, switches to a tank.

    Had he stuck with the line that Britain was ceding only a little sovereignty to the EU, he’d have been merely wrong, and it requires detailed and intricate argument to show it. But once he asks “Is New South Wales, say, under the tyrannical jackboot of the Canberra Cabal that ‘will not allow’ it to transact its own and separate treaties of trade with any other country?”, there is no longer any argument. That is no reductio ad absurdum. There is no absurdity in it. The simple answer, stripped of meaningless rhetorical flourishes, is “Yes, because NSW is not a nation.” Megalonyx is saying that he can’t see why Britain should not be treated the same. He’s not arguing for some diution of sovereignty. He’s arguing for abolition of nationhood.

    It is no longer necessary for me to bother. The trade figures no longer matter. What the EU says it is – which is plainly different to what it really is – need not be engaged, nor need I further point out its authoritarian and antidemocratic bent. All I need do is to look on as Megalonyx destroys himself.

  36. Applause! A spectacularly bravura performance from Dave Luckett indeed!

    For now that Brexit has been finally implemented and can at last be evaluated empirically, he instead catalogues some popular tactics from the Creationist’s toolbox of evasion and casuistry and then provides a few worked examples of them! In lieu of sourced evidence he produces another Gish Gallop of ungrounded assertions. This is evasion on a par with an Egnor who rejects scientific analysis in favour of the word play of Aquinas!

    So, for the record, let’s see what he’s dished up now. Digits firmly lodged in his lugholes, he in effect proclaims (in translation):

    La-la-la, I can’t hear you!

    IOW: not a syllable in response to the series of points and data I raised above. But wait, there’s more!

    Having previously decried the dishonest practise of attempting “to tie me or anyone to some other person’s politics without my consent”, he goes on to illustrate the very practise with a splendid strawman of his own making:

    Had he [Megalonyx] stuck with the line that Britain was ceding only a little sovereignty to the EU, he’d have been merely wrong, and it requires detailed and intricate argument to show it. …[snip] … He’s not arguing for some diution [sic.] of sovereignty. He’s arguing for abolition of nationhood.

    Is it remotely possible that anyone could miss the reductio ad absurdum in a passage marked by such unsubtle flags as “Jeepers!… But why stop there? … That’s outrageous! Rhode Island must secede from the Union immediately… And if you (perversely) think the former, then why not go the whole hog… ? That strains credibility, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. All the same, in addition to the false attribution of arguments never made for opinions never held, the above passage exhibits DI-worthy sophistry that’s quite fun to examine: Orwellian abuse of language. And the lynchpin here is of course that word “sovereignty”, deployed with all the fluidity of a Klinghoffer quacking on about “academic freedom.”

    Again—for the record—it bears examination. On past form, DL previously seemed to hold that sovereignty is indivisible: it is, it would seem in his view, either absolute or it is absent. And although he appeared several threads ago to relent somewhat from that absolutist view, it now seems that he is still struggling with the notion of pooled sovereignty—the basis not only of the EU but other forms of federation—which he now reverts to rhetorically mislabelling as ceded sovereignty—that is, the loss of sovereignty when it is taken, by force or coercion, by another sovereign power—and that was the basis of the British Empire, among many others.

    Is it really necessary to spell out the distinction? Apparently so—for the record:

    So: sovereign states—whether the newly-independent states of America that had previously been British colonies, or a collection of sovereign European nations—may choose to pool a portion of their sovereignty into one of the many possible forms of federal union in order to thereby derive benefits from collective power increased thereby, which is greater than any one member could wield individually and is exerted for the benefit of all. There are no absolutes here: the combining members choose how many or how few areas in which to pool how much or how little of their individual power. The union may be loose or brittle, permanent or subject to periodic renewal &c &c.

    All that is an interesting topic—but it is lost in the emotive rhetoric of the Brexiteers. To insist on the claim that EU members have ceded rather than pooled aspects of their sovereignty is an intentionally misleading distortion. Analogy: my darling Olivia (swoon!) and I have jointly purchased a home neither of us could have afforded alone—does this mean I have ceded my money to Olivia, or she hers to me? And we have a joint bank account earning interest (pathetically low rates at the moment!): does that mean we have ceded our money to the Bank?

    But hang on! What would CANZUK, a proposal some Brexiteers happily embrace, entail if not pooled rather than ceded sovereignty? How would CANZUK differ from the EU except for the great geographical distances (and thereby logistics) of its members?

    And an even bigger question: if the commonality of the old British Empire is some sort of magic elixir that would somehow hold CANZUK together differently than the EU, why is it not usually proposed to include India (5th in world GDP ranking; UK is 6th) or South Africa (32nd GDP ranking; New Zealand is 50th)?

    I’d hate to think that skin complexion had anything to do with that…

    So it’s all very puzzling. In principle, CANZUK appears virtually indistinguishable from the EU (apart from the practicalities of geography) so how do so many Brexiteers manage the double-think of ‘CANZUK good, EU bad’?

    In a discussion of ideology, this would be the place to contrast the blood-and-soil nationalism of the Brexiteers with the founding principles of the European Union (spoiler alert, the former gave us the two millennia of war and imperialism which the EU has replaced with peace, liberty, and prosperity).
    But as I said at the outset, Brexit is no longer an abstract principle but an unfolding reality: we can measure its effects as they become manifest. It’s very early days, of course: Fisheries minister didn’t read Brexit deal ‘because it was Christmas Eve’. And although some of the damage is already very real and getting worse, there may yet be benefits that are not yet apparent. But the only benefit I can identify so far is noted by a leading Brexiteer speaking in the HoC: Jacob Rees-Mogg says fish are ‘happier’ now they’re in British waters — but even then, as the Speaker noted, “obviously there’s no overwhelming evidence for that”.

    If the so far entirely elusive benefits promised by the Brexiteers do actually materialise, and significantly outweigh the already manifest damages and costs, I will feel no shame in admitting that I was wrong: as Mark Twain famously said, to admit a belief was mistaken is only to say ‘I know more today than I did yesterday.’ But so far, what I knew yesterday is reconfirmed daily by those who voted for Brexit but are now the ones finding new knowledge: Brexiteer says he’d never have voted for Brexit ‘if we knew we’d lose our jobs’. But I can find no pleasure in saying to that growing number of folks “I told you so,” for the self-inflicted harm that Brexit has done—the loss of freedom, the blighting of opportunities for my children, the stoking of social division, the re-igniting of sectarianism, the diminished standing of my country in the world, &c &c—all that damage is too great and enduring to permit of any satisfaction of ‘winning an argument.’

    And in any event, people don’t actually ‘win’ arguments: reality does.

    So it is no surprise that, now that Brexit is a reality, so many of its advocates now wish to run away and hide in their fantasy bubble comprised of nothing more substantial than onanistic semantic twaddle. Farage, ever the malcontent, has already moved on to a new conspiracy theory, the “hoax” that is COVID-19.

    And Putin, Xi, Wilders, Orbán, Salvini, Bolsonaro and the other populist rogues (we’ll omit Trump, he’s too self-preoccupied at the moment) give ‘job done’ thumbs-up and move on to new pastures of misinformation to further the Age of Endarkenment.

    But in a world facing global challenges of pandemics, climate change, and crippling poverty, which is the better model for the future: enhanced co-operation between democratic states, or 19th century nationalistic conflict?

  37. I see I must explain to Megalonyx what a reductio ad absurdum (henceforth RAA) is and how it works. I shouldn’t be surprised. I had to do the same with the No True Scotsman.

    A RAA is an attempt to rebut a proposition by transferring its terms to a situation where applying that proposition would be absurd or disastrous, with the implication that the proposition therefore cannot be accepted in principle. For example:

    “All life is sacred, therefore destroying it is morally wrong.”

    “You’d better have a word with your own immune system about that.”

    That’s a valid RAA. Bacteria are living things, but if the human immune system did not recognise and destroy harmful ones, human life would be impossible. The principle therefore cannot be accepted as is, because that would be disastrous. It must be at least modified. (The image of talking to your own immune system is also ridiculous and impossible, but that’s by-the-by.)

    Now try it with the proposition Megalonyx was trying to attack by RAA:

    “The EU does not allow its members (which are nations) to negotiate treaties of trade with other nations, and (by implication) this is objectionable.”

    “New South Wales, an Australian state, cannot negotiate treaties of trade wih other nations, and you don’t object to that.”

    See how that doesn’t work? Bacteria, in the first example, are living things and therefore included in the class “all life”. But NSW is not a nation, and is therefore not like an “EU member”. The only way this can work is if Britain were in the same class as NSW, that is, not a nation. Megalonyx is implying that Britain should not be treated as a nation, but as a subordinate structure, a non-nation state, a province, like NSW.

    At that moment, it simply becomes unnecessary to engage further. Megalonyx has comprehensively destroyed himself. Put that proposition to
    the British, and see what happens. But hey-ho, what else has he got?

    Much later, we come to a more reasonable idea: sovereignty can be pooled or granted away. So it can. He writes: “the combining members choose how many or how few areas in which to pool how much or how little of their individual power.”

    Excellent! He and I agree – with one minor quibble. I think he means, “The people of the combining members”, et seq.. The people of Britain chose in 1975 to pool some of their individual power with the EEC as it was then, but in 2016 chose to repudiate the situation as it had developed since – into the EU. They confirmed that decision at the general election in 2019. That is in perfect accord with the principle Megalonyx expresses. He is, of course, entitled to disapprove of the decision itself, but he is bound by his own stated principle to allow the right to make it. So in fact, the debate is over. There’s no further point to this.

    I have already several times explained to Megalonyx what the difference between the EU and CANZUK is, and it has nothing to do with skin colour, but apparently he’s still got his fingers in his ears, so I’m not inclined to repeat.

  38. [For the record (on a lapsed thread to not clog this blog to spare other readers)– and because Olivia and I hope to have grandchildren someday whom we’ll need to show something when they ask how Britain came to inflict such harm on itself and begin its rapid decline in global influence. ]

    On this thread Dave Luckett yet again steadfastly refuses to engage with copious evidence proffered above while clinging to his a priori assumptions, repetitions of his idées fixes, question-begging definitions, and his persistent belief that reality can be altered by word-lawyering. Yet somehow, it’s all perversely endearing.

    So, despite the futility of doing so, let’s attempt again to bring the discussion back to realities—though we first need to try and clear some of clutter from DL’s previous posts. And the chief difficulty is understanding his objection to the notion of Single Markets: that is, areas within which the freedom of movements of goods, capital, labour, and service providers are assured without friction. These conditions are nothing more than what normally, in modern times, apply within nation states (this was not always the case historically); the benefits are manifest and enable optimal working of fair competition within an efficient market, and I don’t think he would dispute them, particularly as size and lack of friction are major parameters in determining the overall strength of a market and hence of overall prosperity.

    But DL also appears to believe that a Single Market can only exist within a nation state rather than be created, as in the case of EU, among a collection of co-operating nation states—and I can make no sense of his objections. As best as I can understand him, the reasoning appears to be something like: no nation state can properly be so called if it is not also a Single Market (such as the UK prior to 1707, Italy prior to the Risorgimento, or Germany prior to 1871), and with that I would agree: to partake in a Single Market appears to be a necessary condition of modern nationhood.

    But it does not at all follow, as DL appears to believe, that a necessary condition of a Single Market is that it must be uniquely confined to a single nation state. The political apparatus to administer a Single Market is vastly more limited than that required by a nation state, and the scope and powers of that apparatus sharply circumscribed: this is demonstrated in ways, viz., the entire bureaucracy of the EU, previously comprising 28 nations, was the size of a middle-ranking English local county. And federations, such as the USA, further demonstrate that a Single Market can indeed be comprised of individual polities which retain, in other areas, individual sovereignty and identity—but that notion of ‘national identity’ seems to be the sore spot for the Brexiteer conspiracy theorists: a paranoid and xenophobic fear that good ole blood-and-soil national identity is under attack.

    Which is ironic: the concept of an international Single Market union for Europe directly arose out of the ashes of WWII, an event which was itself the culmination of over two millennia of conflict, shifting borders, and attempts by various nations to exercise hegemony over the continent. A return to the status quo ante, as advocated by the Brexiteers, is precisely a return to the trade wars, reduced freedoms, and potential for warfare of the past. Just as FTA’s are a great improvement on default WTO terms, the Single Market is an evolutionary advance—but the Brexiteers want to return to dwelling in the trees.

    DL accurately defines reductio ad absurdum but fails to correctly parse the example I gave—but the fault is partly mine, for I overlooked that (1) he remains unable or unwilling to understand the difference between a free trade deal and a Single Market, (2) and he is wedded to question-begging definitions that are artful distorted in order to confirm his ‘conclusions’ formed a priori.

    To illustrate: compare and contrast DL’s claim:

    The EU will not allow its members to transact treaties of trade with any other country. That’s simple fact.

    with the sort of claim routinely made by the Discoveroids:

    Scientific journals will not allow articles advocating ID Creationism. That’s simple fact.

    And the clear implications of these statements are even more simple-minded: mainstream academics are tyrannical oppressors of free speech and academic freedom, and the EU tyrannically restricts the ability of its members to trade.

    But into this “when did you stop beating your wife?” question begging, DL smuggles in (parenthetically) his own a priori assumption when he recasts my RAA using various polities in various federations:

    “The EU does not allow its members (which are nations) to negotiate treaties of trade with other nations, and (by implication) this is objectionable.”

    No one joins a Single Market in order to ‘not be allowed’ to do trade treaties anymore than anyone gets married in order to ‘not be allowed’ to have children by someone other than ones spouse; Single Markets facilitate the creation of more and better trade deals for all parties, it is grotesque to claim otherwise.

    And with his dishonest insertion of “nations” DL believes he has refuted my point–which he has, but only in precisely the same way and degree that dear ole Luskin routinely ‘refutes’ Judge Jones in the Dover/Kitzmiller case. Instead, he’s letting his fundamental blood-‘n-soil nationalism leech through, which is a pity.

    He has form in this sort of thing. For example: James Byrd Jr. was dragged to his death by a chain around his ankles instead of a rope around his neck, and by a mere three murderers, which is not quorate for a mob and public spectacle, there have been no lynchings in the USA since the 1950’s, ergo, and on the authority of Merriam-Webster no less, race relations in the USA have vastly improved!

    The problem—apart from the failure to engage with the reality, of course—is that such word play is open to no end of gaming, all sound and fury signifying nothing. In this example, one could with equal accuracy say: the appalling murder of James Byrd Jr. was so clearly racially-motivated that the USA thereafter passed new legislation, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (18 U.S.C. § 249); ergo, and on the authority of US Federal law, no Hate Crime existed prior to 2009, so race relations in the USA have deteriorated!

    All of this is perfect twaddle, of course. Reality is not altered by word games.

    I have already several times explained to Megalonyx what the difference between the EU and CANZUK is, and it has nothing to do with skin colour

    I’ve checked the previous relevant threads here on this particular topic. It is very clear, from the total absence of detail about its proposed structure and administration, that CANZUK is an empty vessel into which fantasies of perfection may be poured. The only concrete claim I could find was one that it would be a ‘free trade treaty’—in other words, an FTA such as the UK has now signed with the EU. Nary a word on how an FTA is superior to a Single Market, or how that could be superior, given the much smaller volume?

    Or even: if only one of these options were available (in fact they are not mutually exclusive), which would be of greater value and importance to the Australian economy: an FTA with the large EU market (for which negotiations are currently in progress) or an FTA with the UK?

    And because DL persists with another of his favourite strawman: I need to state yet again that no one here disputes the results of the vote in the Referendum nor the ensuing general elections: this isn’t the USA. And it is pointless alerting DL to subtle political realities, e.g. Pollster reveals ‘pivotal’ moment UK appeared to start showing Brexit regret; that’s academic now.

    DL is indeed correct that, by democratic means, the UK electorate made a choice. But that choice was that of someone in a gastro pub presented with only two options for lunch:

    [1] Traditional Sunday Roast, or

    [2] Chef’s Surprise Special!

    and we had a flutter on that unspecified special! The Chef’s Surprise Special has turned out pretty vile so far, but we can’t send it back to the kitchen, we are obliged to force it down somehow.

    So indeed, as DL says, “the debate is over” –but the consequences of the Brexit only now have begun—and that is of far greater moment. And although it is likely a futile plea: can DL actually discuss the realities of Brexit, now that it has been delivered? He ignored a number of items on that topic I offered above (but somehow he thinks I am the one with my fingers in my ears?).

    We have paid a high price, in loss of freedom and prosperity—but surely, there must be some benefits of Brexit to justify that price? Brexit has already cost the UK the same as it paid over the course of 47 years of membership.
    How many of the benefits promised by the Brexiteers have actually been delivered? (Spoiler alert: they were always undeliverable)

    How is the FTA between the UK and the EU which has introduced a welter of costs and red tape, torn up efficient supply chains that had developed over nearly half a century, and has already forced a number of businesses here and abroad to cease trading—how is any of that a better arrangement than membership of the Single Market?

    What benefit accrues from a border and checks down the Irish Sea, or a border around Kent?

    How does my daughters’ generation benefit from losing employment opportunities in Europe?

    Why, when getting a better deal for the UK fishing industry (0.2% of GDP) was proclaimed an essential goal of Brexit, do we see Fishing firms hold London protest over disruption
    –and many, many more questions, growing daily.

    Any real answers, or just more “La-la-la, I can’t hear you!”

    If I have advocated and helped to achieve closer relations between my country and the UK, I do indeed take pride in it.

    If your role in that abstract achievement fills you with pride, then you can’t deny your own small contribution to the very real and concrete reality that is now Brexit—and all the continuing costs, pains, and political discord resulting therefrom.

  39. A Brexit lesson: EU’s benefits, largely invisible, hurt to lose

    The post-Brexit trade deal struck by London just before Christmas allows tariff-free trade across the North and Irish seas. Britain insisted, however, on abandoning the intricate machinery of EU laws that allows barrier-free trade across internal EU borders (and also with Norway and Switzerland). As a result, goods entering and leaving the U.K. — from lobsters to airplane parts, cars and fresh sandwiches — suddenly faced new demands for paperwork, health checks and tariffs on components or ingredients from outside the EU.

    As a result, British exporters are predicted to face €28 billion in losses this year alone as a result of reduced EU demand and increased frictions and barriers at the EU border.

    “There is so much complexity,” Adam Marshall, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, told Bloomberg. “It’s like an onion — the more you peel, the more you cry.”

    It’s hardly surprising, in hindsight, that the benefits of the EU’s single market set-up have been so misunderstood. Although the single market was largely a British creation — pushed in the late 1980s by Margaret Thatcher and conceived in detail by a British EU commissioner, Lord Arthur Cockfield — the British public was never really taught to understand what it was all about.

  40. oops, omitted paragraph following on in above extract from article:

    British tabloids and right-wing media, including a young correspondent in Brussels called Boris Johnson, mocked the EU laws harmonizing widgets or appealed to xenophobic fears about EU rules on the free movement of people.

    And the above article is no one off–as anyone Googling ‘Brexit’ can find for themselves….

    Welcome to reality!

  41. @Mega: give it to DaveL – the Brits exactly know again where their national borders are (according to him not knowing is a bug). As a bonus they also can learn where the Dutch borders are.

  42. Dave Luckett

    All that Megalonyx writes about a single market (significantly, he capitalises the expression) is true enough. It certainly does reduce friction to negligible levels and does away with trade barriers completely. The trouble is, it also does away with the ability of its member states to regulate or make trade policies for themselves, that is, for their peoples.

    But more. Because a single market is held – by the EU – to require absolute uniformity of regulation, it also requires its member states to give up their ability to regulate production of all commodities, including the associated labour and environmental standards. That is, not only trade, but also industrial, agricultural, financial, labour and environmental policy must be resigned to an external authority. This cuts very deeply into sovereignty – that is, into the ability and the right of a national community to govern itself. I and many others – I think probably a majority of British people – hold that this is too great a price to pay for absolutely free trade, no matter what its benefits.

    An ordinary free trade treaty cannot, admittedly, achieve the frictionless trade that a single market can – always providing that the latter is well-managed and not corrupt. But it can and does achieve much without so great a sacrifice, and without creating a superior authority.

    I would be against CANZUK, as I would be against the CPTPP, if either required the same degree of regulatory uniformity as the EU, or if either set up an authority to regulate its members without the express consent or oversight of their sovereign institutions, as the EU does. I have looked into both. I see no such intention or provision. If such a thing should emerge, Megalonyx may depend on my protesting it to my own government and doing my poor best to oppose it in public.

    A single market is also held to require free movement of people – that is, the right of all citizens of all member states to live and work anywhere in the free market on the same basis. That can be very beneficial. But it also necessarily removes the right of nations to control their own borders. This is another diminution of sovereignty. Megalonyx appears to dismiss that as trivial or at most as an egg that must be broken to make an omelette. I am not so sure.

    I think it can work for such an association as CANZUK, where the members have a common language, shared concepts and large commonalities of law, very similar institutions, very largely interchangeable trade and professional qualitications and practices and very comparable standards of living. That isn’t the case with the EU. Megalonyx quotes Oxford Economics to argue that large-scale EU immigraton is an unalloyed good. The truth is far more balanced and nuanced. See https://fullfact.org/immigration/costs-and-benefits/.

    Note, please, that I’m not denying that immigration can be very beneficial. I could hardly do that, coming from Australia. But uncontrolled immigration, having no consideration for the actual needs of the economy or the interests of the people already there? On scales and at rates that are historically very high, and unpredictable? I think not.

    Megalonyx believes that a single market can exist between and among several, or many, nations. Perhaps it could, but not if that single market is the EU. If a single market is held to require uniform and binding regulation written by an external authority over all production of all traded commodities AND loss of control of borders, the nations comprising such a single market have resigned essential aspects of their national policy. Megalonyx would, I suppose, deny that, or perhaps he would hold it a small price to pay for the benefits. I differ.

    I have never denied that there are economic benefits to EU membership. I don’t doubt that the UK’s European trade will suffer somewhat. I would urge countervailing considerations, such as CANZUK and other treaties giving free or freer trade with the larger world outside Europe. I would also argue that the EU is authoritarian and undemocratic, prone to elitism and corruption, unresponsive and far too susceptible to lobbying by insiders. I point to its remoteness from the actual people. All true, and all apposite. But ultimately, for me it comes down to responsible self-government by a people of themselves, not of others, and not by others over them. If that’s objectionable in this new world, it’s not so very brave, after all.

  43. Short form: Dave Luckett knows next to nothing about the EU except that it has non-British Europeans in them, and he’s not terribly keen on them. They are especially egregious to him when they enter the UK.

    His ‘arguments’ against the EU are unevidenced assertions that have repeatedly. been demonstrated to be falsehoods. And yet he trots out his ill-informed prejudice again here. The notion that the member states which voluntarily formed the EU are somehow now the powerless victims of their co-operative framework is as silly as any whack-a-doodle conspiracy theory.

    But let that go: his unwillingness to look at the unfolding deleterious consequences of Brexit while still spouting the absurd fantasy that something like CANZUK could ever come close to replacing what we have lost in the EU is astounding. And it’s nothing more than a pathetic wet-dream, mostly confined to a small number of imperial nostalgists. So let that go as well.

    What’s left? Reactionary jingoism, archaic nationalism, and a worrying dollop of xenophobia—or, in some cases, something even worse than that.
    In history, there are many instances in which Big Lies have won the day, and Brexit is another entry in that melancholy catalogue.

    But reality has a way of ultimately exposing the Big Lies—and that is the slow process now beginning in this senselessly wounded nation.

  44. Megalonyx knows absolutely nothing of me, and his statements are simply untrue and defamatory. His discourse has been marked by increasingly extreme and inflammatory rhetoric, peppered by personal insult. His last continues the trend. I will not reciprocate.

    There is nothing reactionary, jingoistic, or xenophobic in the idea that a people, a nation, should rule itself, neither ruling over others, nor being ruled over. There is nothing archaic about nations. or about nationalism – it is simply a fact that most people live, and want to live, as citizens of nations. (If the Scots determine that they should become a separate nation again, I would support their ruling themselves.)

    There is no conspiracy theory in the statement that the EU has for forty years been increasing its regulatory authority and hence its power. That is simple fact, as measured by the increasing volume of its regulations, directives and determinations. It is no lie that its version of a single market requires that it have control over not only the terms of trade of the nations that comprise it, but also over the production of every commodity they trade in – which means, over their industrial, agricultural, financial, labour and environmental policies. It is simple and obvious fact that this is no small abrogation of sovereignty. It is also simple fact that free movement of people also removes the ability of the member states to control their own borders, and that this, too, is a diminution of sovereignty, which may be nonetheless acceptable.

    It is no lie that the EU is far more than a “co-operative framework”. It has the power to impose its rules on its member states without consultation or the consent of their legislatures. That is not “co-operative”. That is coercive.

    It is also a fact that its elected Parliament can neither propose nor finally reject legislation. That is not democracy. It is, in fact, antidemocratic.

    As to all the terrible consequences Megalonyx predicts for Britain, we shall see. The same for the future course of the EU.

  45. DL misses the point, as usual.There is nothing accurate in his claim that the EU is an imperial cabal denying those member states–who chose to join, and can choose to leave–the right to full self government. International co-operation on standards is in no meaningful sense an infringement of sovereignty.

    The Brexiteers have indeed presented a Conspiracy Theory with their claims that 75 million Turks were about to migrate to the UK, or that the EU was building an army &c &c

    The bill for Boris Johnson’s Brexit is coming in and it’s punishingly steep

    You will recall that it was one of the Brexiters’ signature promises that departure from the EU would be a liberating moment. A buccaneering free trade Britain would flourish as wealth creators were unshackled from the stifling regulatory chains of Brussels. What Brexit has actually done is impose a vast amount of cumbersome and costly new bureaucracy on exporters and importers. British companies have been put in a chokehold of regulations, customs declarations, conformity assessments, health and rules-of-origin certifications, VAT demands and inflated shipping charges. While some ministers talk about reducing worker protections in the name of “cutting red tape”, a move for which there is little demand even from employers, Brexit is ensnaring British businesses in writhing snakes of the stuff. I guess Jacob Rees-Mogg, he who thinks that fish unable to reach EU markets are “happier” knowing they are British, will claim that struggling British exporters should be patriotically proud to be throttled by red, white and blue tape.

  46. Megalonyx refers to EU “member states–who chose to join, and can choose to leave”. He states this as relevant to “the right to full self government”. In an odd, back-handed sort of way, this is actually correct. Britain demonstrated its right to full self government by leaving.

    International co-operation on standards is in every way a meaningful infringement on sovereignty. Infringements on sovereignty may be acceptable, as I indicated above. The larger, the less, however. The EU’s infringements had increased and were increasing. The British electorate decided that they were too great.

    And, to put the cherry on the cake, an op-ed from The Guardian.

  47. The only interesting question in this discussion is: who will accept evidence first, Ol’Hambo for evolution theory or DaveL against Brexit. Allow me to remind that many months ago DaveL replied to my question: “what’s your evidence?” with arguments he thought himself well-considered.

  48. Let me correct myself: there is one interesting aspect in DaveL’s last comment.

    “Infringements on sovereignty may be acceptable, as I indicated above. The larger, the less, however.”
    Let’s not hold our breath waiting for the moment DaveL will apply this principle to Scottish sovereignty.

  49. Britain demonstrated its right to full self government by leaving

    Which demonstrates Britain had never given up full self-government as a member of the EU in the first place.

    Have I surrendered my personal freedom because I am married to the divine Olivia? Marriage has brought us both mutual benefits, but maybe I have to divorce her just to prove that I am a totally independent man?

    International co-operation on standards is in every way a meaningful infringement on sovereignty. International co-operation on standards is in every way a meaningful infringement on sovereignty. Infringements on sovereignty may be acceptable–

    Please illustrate, with real-world examples. And not with unevidenced claims about what the EU does or does not do: cite specific EU legislation to illustrate (1) ‘acceptable’ and (2) ‘unacceptable’. You further need to demonstrate why such cited legislation falls into one or other of these categories which you have defined, and the significance and impact of that cited legislation.

    That would be arguing from evidence instead of prejudice—and yes, it is more demanding than trotting out your emotional assertions.

    Conider: Governments make all sorts of regulations, I doubt anyone approves of or agrees with 100% of the statutes of their individual nation—we live in the real world, not the fantasy land of Brexiteers. In the EU or out of the EU, the UK government sets regulations on masses of things like, e.g., agricultural standards: licencing some pesticides and banning others, hygiene standards in abattoirs, limits on levels of fertilizer per hectare of arable land, &c &c &c. The work of subcommittees taking advice from experts, referring to Parliamentary committees to determine if existing legislation needs amendment or new legislation required &c &c – in short, rather boring but necessary bureaucracy. And not under minute item-by-item democratic accountability; that is deemed sufficient at Parliamentary level. And anything else would be unworkable and unnecessary.

    There were concrete benefits, as a member of the EU, in creating and agreeing common regulations of such matters with the other members: this enabled the elimination of the previous wasteful red tape, bureaucracy, and costs that had applied before the creation of the single market—and which are now reapplied, at the UK’s choice, by leaving that single market.

    In exchange for those benefits, we now have the enormously important ‘freedom’ of altering, say, the permitted density of pig manure that can be sprayed on arable land. Hooray!

    Of course, if we alter it too much, we will lose the FTA on exporting arable produce to our single biggest customer. IOW: all we have gained is the freedom to undertake further senseless self-harm.

    If there are concrete benefits I have missed, or specific EU legislation we can jettison that was an intolerable restriction on genuine freedom, this would be the place to cite it.

    But please, there is no need for a further iteration of your prejudices, you have amply demonstrated them too many times already.

  50. Thinking further on it, this really should be an extremely easy exercise.

    If the EU is indeed an overarching tyrannical empire, wholly undemocratic and brutally dictating all the minutiae of life to 450 million enslaved Europeans but from which the UK has wisely escaped, it should be very simple indeed to undertake the following exercise.

    NB: Prior to formal withdraw from the EU, the UK, of its own accord, adopted into UK law the whole body of EU legislated regulatiionsl; otherwise, there would have been no regulations in important areas of product standards &c. The UK is now free to unilaterally change that legislation on its own law books, of course.

    [1] provide a list of legislation originally drafted by the UK in conjunction with the other members of the EU for the EU statute book, which meet the following conditions:

    (a) were opposed by the UK, but adopted following a majority vote by other EU members

    (b) are currently under review for removal without replacement in UK law

    This is a data exercise, no need for dictionary definitions, emotive rhetoric, and the like.

    I’m sure some examples can be found. When they are, then we can go to the next round of analysis…

  51. Megalonyx says: “… I am married to the divine Olivia”

    Oh?

  52. @ Our Curmudgeon: Yes indeed, the lucky woman!

  53. Knowing that FrankB would jump in, clogs and all, on Scotland, I had already specified my attitude to Scottish independence. Of course he hadn’t read it.

    I said: “Britain demonstrated its right to full self government by leaving.”

    Megalonyx replied: “Which demonstrates Britain had never given up full self-government as a member of the EU in the first place.”

    He is actually arguing that the very act that demonstrated self-government would also have demonstrated self-government if it didn’t happen. “Heads I win, tails you lose”. Words fail me.

    He demands:

    “Please illustrate, with real-world examples. And not with unevidenced claims about what the EU does or does not do: cite specific EU legislation to illustrate (1) ‘acceptable’ and (2) ‘unacceptable’”. .

    There are now well over 100 000 pages of EU regulations, directives and determinations, plus a large number of ECJ decisions which also have force of law. Let us consider one area. We could consider tomatoes, or table wine, or chocolate, or packaging regulations for household detergents, but let us consider a basic industrial material: steel.

    Britain no longer makes much steel, and what it does make is usually hi-tech specialised steels for specific uses. It imports nearly all its basic structural and industrial, commercial and domestic steel, usually semi-finished or finished.

    (I don’t want to go into the reasons for the effective demise of British steelmaking. They are very complex and historical, and I find them depressing. In any case, it’s no use assigning blame. The situation is as it is.)

    Now, if steel is to be imported, the cheapest source is China, ocean transport and all. But the EU accused China of dumping steel, because it was undercutting EU steel by quite some. Probably Chinese steelmakers – which means China itself – were accepting thinner margins than European producers were, and of course they were paying their labour less, and there were all manner of hidden subsidies operating, (the Chinese are not the only exponents of that) but dumping at below cost was dubious. Nevertheless, in 2002 the EU proposed tariffs on steel imports. (There was already an import quota.)

    Britain, which would thereby have to pay more for its imports, attempted a veto, and was voted down. A tariff of 25% on imported steel was imposed. This incidentally also affected steel from other producers, including the US, which imposed retaliatory tariffs on its EU imports, also afflicting Britain. The EU responded with further tit-for-tat quotas and tariffs. In 2019, with the EC expressing satisfaction with this situation, the tariffs on specifically Chinese steels were increased to between 50% and 65%.

    Everybody uses steel products every day, all the time. I’m doing it now. Steel is thus made more expensive in the EU. The implications are enormous. Everybody has to pay more, for practically everything.

    Now, as to “acceptable” or “not acceptable”. Megalonyx betrays his own antidemocratic mindset in demanding that I say what is or is not acceptable. It is not for him or for me to say what encroachment on sovereignty or what degree of regulatory onerousness or monetary cost is acceptable or unacceptable. As he has pointed out, and as I have agreed, any international treaty whatsoever requires some inroad on sovereignty. The question of how much is acceptable is not decided on principle or by academic argument. It is decided by the British people, from what they think and feel. That’s it. That’s all of it. “Of the people, by the people, for the people” really does mean that.

    Megalonyx appears incapable of comprehension of that principle. He apparently believes that some other criterion must operate, or that he, or his coterie, or someone specific, can specify what criterion it will be. He is simply, catastrophically, wrong.

    I’m glad that he linked that Guardian piece. Its writer clearly lives in a self-congratulatory little bubble, and has no clue what will be the real effect on most British people of watching a gloating Dutch border official gleefully confiscating someone’s lunch because he can, now. No better demonstration of European grassroots goodwill could be imagined, except possibly a FrankB post on the subject. My only wish is that as many Britons as possible see it, and certainly more than the shrinking readership of the Mancunian Marxist. But, as I have remarked in other contexts, now we have the internet. It is by no means all good, but for spreading memes, nothing else is in it.

  54. t gets better!

    …Megalonyx…[snip]… is actually arguing that the very act that demonstrated self-government would also have demonstrated self-government if it didn’t happen. “Heads I win, tails you lose”. Words fail me.

    No, it’s your own prejudice that has failed you here—unless, I suppose, you think it a logical argument to say that a man standing at the very edge of the Grand Canyon exercises free will only if he jumps into the abyss but not by stepping back. You’re the one who keeps absurdly mischaracterising the EU as an “expansionist Empire” that deprives its ‘captive members’ of their Precious Sovereignty Essence yada yada—all of which is demonstrably rubbish. It is your own bigoted rhetoric that painted you into a lose/lose corner, not me—

    –but that’s only a matter of point scoring in a debate, and I am interested in reality rather than a debate. Or rather, as far as a ‘debate’ is concerned: if it were subject to my choosing, my choice would ardently be to lose the debate, for that would mean that Brexit had proved to be a wise and beneficent outcome for my country, my family, and my friends instead of the train wreck now unfolding. But it is not my choice, the outcome is not determined by the prejudices of Brexiteers, nor by Merriam-Webster, but by measurable reality.

    There are now well over 100 000 pages of EU regulations, directives and determinations, plus a large number of ECJ decisions which also have force of law.

    –and according to the Creationists, the odds against DNA arising by natural means is [insert here an enormous number with a big string of zeros, raised exponentially] to 1 against. So you win 1 point for using yet another rhetorical device from the Creationist Tool Kit!

    But you lose [insert here an enormous number with a big string of zeros, raised exponentially] points for using a meaningless number. How many pages of UK laws and regulations are there? No one has calculated, though if you want some meaningless numbers, there is this little gem on the Rolls of Parliament:

    The longest Act of Parliament in the form of a scroll is an act regarding taxation passed in 1821. It is nearly a quarter of a mile (348 metres) long, and used to take two men a whole day to rewind.

    How about the USA? See How Many Federal Laws Are There? No One Knows.

    So a piddling 100k pages of regulations with which the Brussels Illuminati manage to keep an entire continent enslaved is a marvel of economy!

    Or would be, if your ungrounded assumptions were true. And chief among them here is that, having left the EU, the UK has unburdened itself of zillions of regulations! But that’s nonsense: those self-same regulations, previously collectively agreed among the EU members, have been formally taken into UK law as I explained before: because they are necessary—and most of them existed, largely in their current form, before the UK joined the EEC as was. But that doesn’t fit your narrative an alien imperial power crippling Brave Little Blighty with petty bureaucracy.

    And, particularly as you acknowledge the ‘complex and historical’ reasons for ‘the demise of British steelmaking’, do you really want to go there in this discussion? You do realise—I hope—that in the period you describe, the USA was applying far higher tariffs on Chinese steel, and for the same reason: China was selling at below-cost for the sake of accumulating hard currency. And, unlike the USA, the EU has rules limiting tariffs to compensate for calculable damage to domestic producers in such cases. The rule is there to enable fair competition, in the USA it is expressly protectionist—but that’s sovereignty for you, and I don’t suppose you would complain about that?

    So I strongly suggest you find a better example. Out of those 100k pages, there must be some uncomplicated examples, I do not doubt. It will be a far harder task, once you’ve winkled them out, to make the case that they are so egregious that the UK is better off out of the EU—but that’s the case, if it can indeed be made, that would be grounded in reality.

    Now, as to “acceptable” or “not acceptable”. Megalonyx betrays his own antidemocratic mindset in demanding that I say what is or is not acceptable.

    Bollox. It’s a clear request for you to specify what you find objectionable for the purposes of this discussion. I know full well, from many discussions with my countrymen who voted Leave, the range of reasons they offer for having done so—and also the regrets over a third (and counting) of them now have for doing so. To make the decision was indeed a matter for the people; to establish whether that decision has yielded the results they intended by that decision, however, is not subject to a vote, creationist-style logic, or dictionary definitions. It is determined by reality.

    But I’m delighted you claim to have insight into

    the real effect on most British people of watching a gloating Dutch border official gleefully confiscating someone’s lunch because he can, now.

    as this again clearly reveals your deeply unpleasant bigotry. Brexit has not only damaged the UK economy, but those economies of the EU member states, most notably France and the Netherlands. The EU members are now also facing additional costs and red tape in trading with the UK, entirely because of the UK’s unilateral decision.

    So who should I believe about European attitudes to the UK? My own experience of nearly half a century of living and working in Europe, or the bigoted rants from an antipodean keyboard warrior?

    And as for a shining exemplar of a Brexiteer fostering good relations with our European trading partners and allies, check out one of the many clips of Nigel Farage in the European Parliament, surely a man after your own heart: here he is in 2010: Nigel Farage insults Herman van Rompuy, calls EU President a “DAMP RAG”. But Google can give you many, many more such charming exchanges.

    Makes you proud to be British!…

    (do I really need to add the NOT?)

    So, if you can, set aside your irrational anti-European prejudice aside and show me, in concrete terms, how my country is better off under Brexit? Because I really, really wish that was the case–but you haven’t begun to make it.

  55. “a gloating Dutch border official gleefully confiscating someone’s lunch because he can, now.”
    Isn’t our Aussie Imperial nostalgicist predictable? He wants the benefits of the Brexit and the borders he thinks so important, but not the downsides. When he realizes them he starts whining. Of course he doesn’t ask the obvious question who again brought that official in the position that he can – and what’s more, has to. ‘Cuz Brexit agreement.
    Not the Dutch, that’s for sure. Last time I checked they didn’t vote at the referendum. And the vast majority, like me, would prefer to have borders unrecognizable.
    But I’ll admit that we are mean enough to enjoy Schadenfreude. The English asked for it, now they get it. The Latest British Empire is off to a fine start!

  56. The Latest British Empire taking back control of their fishing grounds:

    https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/18/business/scotland-fishermen-downing-street-brexit/index.html

    Ah, the benefits of having recognizable borders are infinite.

  57. I shall make any response to these last on later FFZ threads.