Europe’s history is one written in blood. One could say that other civilisations had violent histories as well, but the divided political makeup of Europe has made war a constant way of life. From the Seven Days War, to the French Revolution, to the Franco-Prussian War, to the World Wars, one could say that European culture is the most warlike.
So it was quite a shock when I finally visited Europe for the first time. The ability to travel between countries seamlessly, and the common currency, are testaments to a Europe that has finally set aside its differences after centuries of strife, or so the pro-EU people say.
To the apolitical middle class American, life is far better in the European Union for most citizens. Italy has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, Sweden and Germany consistently score high on the Human Development Index. My former classmates in high school have constantly praised the governments or Europe for committing more funds to improving the way of life, from public transport, to keeping costs down on rent. The EU is Bernie Sander’s dream come true.
So why, as I write now, do I view the European Union with utter and complete contempt, and commit the rest of this piece to endorsing Britain leaving it?
Simple, I lived there, and got a closer glance at how both work.
The United Kingdom is where American democracy was born. The idea of transferring power without violent, rule of law, and civilised debate. The notion life, liberty, and the right to property was the idea of John Locke, an idea that was hardwired into the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as ‘Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.’
So it’s really no surprise that the United Kingdom has a democratic system of its own, where people vote once every five years for their representative, who in turn contribute to a majority whereby the largest party’s leader becomes Prime Minister.
The rest of Europe also has a democratic tradition. After all, Greece and Rome, the progenitors of Western civilisation, were also the inventors of democracy and republicanism. Yet, I still have not figured out how the European Union’s leaders are elected.
Sure, once every four years, each country participates in an election separate from their national elections to elect Members of the European Parliament. But how does the President of the European Commission, the chief executive of the EU, get his job?
From my understanding, limited as it may be, most bureaucrats who actually run the European Union are not elected by the people. Instead, they are nominated by other unelected bureaucrats. This would all be well and fine were it not for the fact that many of the UK’s laws are not approved by the British government, but by the European Union.
There’s also the fact that EU laws are not even drafted or reviewed by the European Parliament. The European Commission drafts the laws, then sends them off to the European Parliament to have them approved. Not voted through and signed. Not voted down. Not voted through and vetoed. Approved. You know where they also do this? Pyongyang and Moscow.
It is incredibly ironic that the UK, the birthplace of Anglo-Saxon democracy, is now subject to laws from an undemocratic, unaccountable institution that makes up 59% of its laws, from 2010-2013. That figure, from ‘Paxman in Brussels,’ also accounts for regulations for olive oil and growing tobacco, regulations that do not apply to Britain.
Nevertheless, how would it feel if you were to vote for a government only to have laws that went contrary to the government you voted for, getting imposed on the country whether you like it or not?
Businesses in the country have to abide by regulations passed down from a faraway authority that probably does not understand the country’s issue as well as the country itself. The British fishing industry took a huge hit after the EU brought its regulations, forcing British fishermen to cordon off areas of the sea for other countries to partake, the Common Fisheries law stating the North Sea is a ‘common European resource’.
There’s also the fact that the United Kingdom is prevented from doing business with China, and members of the Commonwealth such as India and Australia, simply because the European Union has erected trade barriers to prevent imports and exports to those countries because the EU prioritises businesses in its own countries. Mandatory quotas and regulations have killed competition and has stifled creativity.
There is little incentive for a failing French business to clean up its act against a superior Japanese counterpart if it receives corporate welfare and regulations that prevent the latter from doing business in Europe.
Immigration has also been a hot topic since the 2010 election. To date, the United Kingdom is the only country in the English speaking world that has an open border. Sure, there are border guards that stamp passports and make sure that the people who come to the country have the right to be there.
But EU citizens have the right to stay and work in the country. No paperwork, no documentation. Nothing. I understand the need for the UK to look after its down and employ their citizens over the citizens of other countries. I do not understand why, after that, they prioritise employing French, Germans, Italians, Polish, or Spanish citizens over American, Canadian, Indian, or Chinese citizens. They’re all equally non-British to me!
What also tipped me in the direction of supporting Brexit is the rhetoric. To date, there has been absolutely no positive case for Britain staying in the EU. Its president is fiercely devoted to further integration and it is now compelling more countries to adopt the Euro, a currency that Britain was wise to avoid adopting in the 2000s.
But there is no positive case being put forward by the Remain camp. Much of the reasoning is that if Britain votes to leave, the sun will no longer rise and the dead will walk the earth. Christine Lagarde of the IMF, and other big wigs such as George Osborne and the big business leaders that have signed a letter to the Times have said that economic disaster awaits a post-Brexit EU.
Yet, one has to look at the context. These people represent big business and the government. In other words, the establishment. These people are comfortably resting on their laurels in a fat cat fashion while people are unemployed and starving.
Conversely, the Leave camp has a few ideas of where Britain can go if it votes to leave. It is also comprised of politicians from both sides of the political spectrum and members from smaller businesses. There has been so much talk that the Leave camp is racist, yet there is no racism or partisanship to be seen here.
Then again, I’m not British, nor am I European, so what do I ultimately know? Nevertheless, it is my hope that the United Kingdom embrace its democratic tradition and votes to leave the European Union and into prosperity. Times will undoubtedly be uncertain, but when has uncertainty ever stopped great Britons like Sir Isaac Newton, Winston Churchill, and John Smith?