The Company We Keep

greece_3402538bMy son asked me a question the other day that still cuts very deep.

“How are you comfortable being in league with racists, xenophobes and reactionaries?” he asked.

What prompted the question was my support for Brexit.

I’ll admit it is true that the likes of Boris Johnson, the idiotic and racist former London mayor, and Nigel Farage who leads the UK Independence Party (UKIP), a right-wing political party, stoked anti-immigrant fervor to sell their successful campaign to get Britain out of the European Union.

And, let’s not forget our own resident bigot, one Donald Trump, the next president of the United States, was ecstatic at the outcome. Just yesterday, Marine Le Pen of the French racist National Front political party wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Times praising the Brits’ courage for their Brexit vote.

The reactions to Brexit, especially in the media, have been hyperbolic. In a highly emotional editorial yesterday, the Times castigated Brexit proponents for “backing away from the false claims and dubious promises that they made in the run-up to the referendum to take Britain out of the European Union.”

I know the financial markets have been tantrumy since the vote but everything is going to be all right. The world on Friday and since has been no different than it was on Wednesday, the day before the Brexit vote. Despite corporations and the markets behaving the way they are, nothing is really being lost.

Let me rephrase that.

BrexitThe middle class and the working class will probably lose a lot, as they almost always do in events like this. Some governments, including America’s, will probably bail out some banks and sectors. But the people who are complaining the loudest will not lose very much, if at all. These are the type of people who bet on both sides of the equation so that they get paid no matter the outcome.

So, however many points the markets fall, these people are getting paid.

Also, while it may hurt in the short run, Britain will be much stronger in the long run for getting out of the European Union. (Incidentally, I am also in support of Greece getting out of the European Union as well as any country currently in the union that wants to get out. Get out while the getting is good. And, while we’re at it, I support Scotland separating from Britain and, if the people want, Ireland reuniting with Northern Ireland.)

So, why am I in league with racists, xenophobes and reactionaries? I am certainly not supporting Brexit for the same reasons that they are.

It is too rich for Boris Johnson to now be complaining about territorial integrity considering England’s crimes against humanity all throughout history. I am mindful that England has been invaded for much of its history-by Vikings, Romans, Germans, etc., etc.-but, if any country needs immigration even from the most wretched parts of the world, it is certainly England. Even as immigrants benefit from residing in Western nations, these nations also reap untold rewards from the influx of energy and creativity that immigrants bring.

I am not against Britain being in the union because I want to keep immigrants out. England-Great Britain-United Kingdom, in their parts and together as a unit, need more immigration, not less. Again, to repeat, it is the least they owe history and humanity. And it is to their enormous advantage to have immigration.

I am for Brexit and against the European Union because it is a union commanded by business interests and corporations.

It has been said that young people supported remaining in the EU overwhelmingly but the EU precepts are aimed at driving down these young people’s wages by supplying cheap labor across the union.

The EU is not aimed at jobs that go to the upper middle class. For the most part, your doctors and lawyers and other professional class will generally live and work in their own countries. But, for those jobs that are portable, especially manufacturing, because of the EU, the workers are blackmailed into accepting lower wages in order to keep them.

What the EU has done is that instead of manufacturing corporations fleeing their native countries in search of lower wages, those jobs stay (saving business owners the cost of moving their manufacturing bases) and workers willing to work for those lower wages come in search of the jobs.

It the same reason nations write these trade deals-NAFTA, CAFTA did their damage and now come the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)-that are no longer about what international trade deals used to be about, lowering tariffs. These “trade” deals are done because multinational corporations demand them. Now, lowering wages and doing away with any type of employment benefits are all the rage. Corporations across the world want them so they get their governments to negotiate these boondoggles that ruin lives across the world.

TTIP was meant to, once and for all, integrate the “one-market” 28-nation EU with the American market. Whatever their reasons, a majority of the people who voted last week in Great Britain begged to differ. Will their government do their will?

As much as young Europeans have come to cherish a “European” identity, it is also true that Europeans don’t much like each other and they fervently cherish their individual national identities. Italians love Italians and hate Germans and Spaniards the same way that Spaniards hate Germans and Italians and who can tell who the Germans hate.

The EU has blunted some of the tribal instincts but only at a very superficial level. Events like the UEFA Euro 2016 going on now in France inflate the very same tribal instincts. English fans have fought Russians in the streets of Marseille and Croatians nearly set the stands on fire, among other outbursts at the tournament. Some of you might say oh, that’s just soccer. I can tell you Greeks don’t like Germans or the Dutch (the Netherlands) very much.

Even if this EU model has served to contain some of the uglier tendencies of Germany, it can only keep the lid down on tribalism for so long. Germany insisted on sentencing Greece to poverty over its outsized debts and refused to consider any other measures proposed by the international community, for instance.

In the bad, good old days, Greece would have just negotiated with the IMF and whoever else in the international community wanted to aid them. This time, Germany was insistent and soon the dominoes, including the government of Greece, began falling. In order to get the bailout last year, Germany, Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Spain, Finland, and France all got to vote before Greece could get a bailout that sentences its populace to many, many years of poverty. This kind of loss of sovereignty is dangerous and could spark the very tragedy that some of the people proposing this union say they want to contain.

Instead of trying to coax Britain back to the EU, they should dismantle the EU bureaucracies that they’ve installed in Brussels and make the concept informal. Stop Germany from running roughshod over poorer countries under the guise of the EU.

End the Super Corporate State.