Don’t Blame the British — Blame Europe

Source: Patrick Lawrence, Salon, June 29

…At the risk of telescoping, there is a straight, if dotted, line between the Marshall Plan’s economic orthodoxy and Europe’s wholesale, I would say craven, adherence to the neoliberal model since Reagan and Thatcher reigned in the Anglo–American universe. At times one could scarcely believe one’s eyes, given the Continent’s distinct intellectual tradition and the place customarily awarded the state. By the time financial and economic crises hit in 2010, the technocrats running Europe were like new religious converts – truer believers than the believers. Their faith in neoliberal austerity was strong enough to overcome any amount of open-and-shut evidence that it was the wrong prescription – this for the simple reason it is a faith exclusive of all serious thought.

This is the Europe to which Britons have just said, “No, thank you.” It is not ruled by reason and has no ideals: ideology substitutes for both, as it does among us Americans. Market value is its only principle, and democratic process is fine so long as it does not intrude upon this principle, as any Greek will tell you. Britons may have made a short-term, tactical mistake, but one can in no way blame them for it. The true error is Europe’s….

Good roads in exchange for democratic process, to put the point only a little too simply. Wal-Mart prices instead of public space.

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2 responses to “Don’t Blame the British — Blame Europe

  1. mike holliday

    Thank you for these thoughts. While no longer a resident of Britain, I suspected that there had to be some reason for the brexit vote other than cut-your-nose-off spite and racism.
    You have identified it – the slavish following of cruel financial policies that put process first and people a very poor second.
    It’s a shame that worthwhile organisations have to be rocked by dissent, but let’s not gloss this over as a protest vote. It is a legitimate kick-back to cold, robotic neo-con control.
    Please let that kick-back extend as far as Australia, which votes tomorrow in a federal election.

  2. Henry Lotin

    Patrick Lawrence view is truly an outlier. Many Brexit Conservatives view EU too collective/socialist/redistributive; EU over regulates business. UKIP was clear about cutting welfare to immigrants. Cynical labour voters, with a leadership vacuum, fell for the immigrants stealing their job line. You can argue that EU was too rigid and arbitrary on Euro debt rules, but Britain was never in the Euro. You can argue that EU doesn’t redistribute enough and is too business friendly for real socialists. However, from all BBC, FT, Guardian, Sun and Economist coverage I saw, this was not factor in vote. Most Brexit voters thought Leave vote would save $10 Billion py for UK Treasury, stop immigration (some believing “unwanteds” could be deported), but keep trading preferentially with EU.