William K. Black, July 5, 2016 Bloomington, MN
Jim Yardley wrote a column entitled “Populist Anger Upends Politics on Both Sides of the Atlantic.” Yes, anyone in the UK who supported BREXIT is just like an American supporter of Donald Trump because they are angry. Indeed, it’s “the same” as every non-establishment politician and political supporter throughout Europe and the U.S.
The same yawning gap between the elite and mass opinion is fueling a populist backlash in Austria, France, Germany and elsewhere on the Continent — as well as in the United States.
As Tony Blair’s column correctly noted, however, the leadership of the pro-BREXIT movement was ultra-elite. Elite opinion was fractured in the UK along multiple fault lines. EU “elites” have, of course, brought the EU over a decade of massive bubbles, widespread fraud by financial elites, financial crises, a Great Recession, an economically illiterate response to the Great Recession that forced much of the eurozone into Great Depression level unemployment. Oh, and those elites have been exposed in far too many cases as tax frauds and cheats. Oh, and the head of EU Commission is the guy who turned Luxembourg into a “let’s make a secret deal” cesspool for large corporations seeking to evade paying taxes. The dominant EU elites are colossal failures in terms of competence and ethics. Any rational, adult citizenry would reject the dominant EU elite “opinion.” Yardley admits at one point that the rejection is rational.
Globalization and economic liberalization have produced winners and losers — and the big “Leave” vote in economically stagnant regions of Britain suggests that many of those who have lost out are fed up.
What Yardley misses, of course, is that the three “de’s” (deregulation, desupervision, and de facto decriminalization) created vastly more losers than winners – and the biggest winners are the elite bankers that grew so wealthy because they rigged the system to produce the massive number of losers. Instead, in the remainder of the article Yardley conclusively presumes that if you disagree with the failed elites that won because they cheated there is something very wrong with you, not them.
Yardley then, unknowingly, ventures into a passage that reveals Trump’s multiple inabilities to understand BREXIT.
The symbolism of trans-Atlantic insurrection was rich on Friday: Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and embodiment of American fury, happened to be visiting Britain.
“Basically, they took back their country,” Mr. Trump said Friday morning from Scotland, where he was promoting his golf courses. “That’s a good thing.”
Scotland, of course, voted strongly against BREXIT. So, if “they took back their country” the obvious question is who “they” are. If he means the Scots, when he says “they” then he is doubly wrong. First, the Scots voted against a measure that Trump now says he supports. Second, Scotland did not get its country back because BREXIT did not offer Scotland independence. The irony is that it is the combination of the English vote for BREXIT and the Scots’ strong votes against it that has produced a good chance that the Scots will be able to “t[ake] back their country” in a new referendum on independence for Scotland.
If Trump meant the English when he said “they,” then his comment was strange. He would have been rubbing it in to the Scots that while the English had “took back their country” the Scots had failed to take back their country and had been, against their will, removed from the EU. If Trump thinks that the Scots see themselves as “Britains” who “took back their country” by losing the overall UK vote on BREXIT then he is showcasing his ignorance and logical incoherence. None of us is surprised that Trump is clueless, but Yardley misses all of these substantive points and focuses solely on the “symbolism” of the “insurrection.
Yardley admits the historically anti-democratic nature of the EU, but greatly understates it through selective omissions.
From its outset, the European Union was a project of elites, one that, at times, moved forward without a clear popular mandate from the masses. Adopting the common currency was deeply controversial in some places, including Germany. The issue of democratic legitimacy has always hung over the unification project, since many significant steps were achieved through treaties that stirred considerable resistance in some countries.
The EU project has typically been hostile to democracy. Where national votes have been held the EU project has often been rejected. Germany held no vote on adopting the euro because everyone knew that the Germans would have strongly rejected the proposal. When the Italians and the Greeks wanted to hold a referendum on EU austerity demands the EU reacted with rage.
There is a “tell” in his article that reveals how deeply Yardley is captured by the disastrous myths of the EU elites.
And permeating everything is the weak Continental economy and the crippling debt burden across Southern Europe.
No. “Southern Europe” does not have a “crippling debt burden.” The “Continental economy” has not been “weak” – it has been pathetic for nearly a decade. It has been pathetic because of the self-inflicted wounds of EU austerity and the euro. The obdurate refusal of the EU elites to change their self-destructive policies even when it was clear that they were harmful and their indifference to the suffering of the peoples of Southern Europe should be obvious to any reporter covering the EU. Yardley, however, still buys the EU elite’s economic myths hook, line, and sinker.