by Sean Gabb
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Before deleting it all, I have just skimmed the contents of my junk folder. One of the messages is from the Bruges Group, and is New Year greetings from the 2nd January. The message from Barry Legg, a former Conservative Member of Parliament begins:
Well, we are still waiting to get Brexit done.
I should have deleted it all unread. The only effect this has had is to move me to another polemic when I have more productive and nowadays more enjoyable uses of my time. But I did read Mr Legg’s message. Here is my response to it.
The premise of the message is that our departure from the European Union was meant by those who managed it to be the beginning of a process. First, we were to regain our national independence. After this, we were to regain our personal freedom and general prosperity and status in the world. The complaint is that the Government we supported in 2019 has spent the past two years making “serious error[s] of political judgment.” The conclusion is that the Ministers should remember that they are Conservatives and start to govern as such.
This sort of thing may cheer up a few pensioners who look back to the 1980s as a golden age. I purged it from my e-mail software without so much as a bored sniff. What our rulers want of England is a big financial casino with shops and grouse moors and a few pretty things to look at. What we want is of no importance to them. We ourselves are of no importance to them, except as cooks, cleaners, drivers, jesters and providers of associated services.
There is, I admit, an important division between our rulers. There are those whose most visible representatives are in or clustered about the Royal Family, and who want us kept cold and in rags, given a culinary choice of veganism or processed bug pulp. There are those less delusional or stupid, who realise that someone needs to buy the things or pay the taxes that enrich them, and that there should be a broadly market order. But, stupid or greedy, they all agree that we are to have no say is how our country is run—and indeed are to be stripped of anything approximating the country we used to think we had.
Though not essential, membership of the European Union was useful to this project. Sovereignty was always in London, but could be veiled behind a set of institutional diagrams that led to an opaque Spaghetti Junction of agencies in Brussels. This meant we could splutter every so often with rage, but had no one to point at and hold accountable. Otherwise, it gave unlimited supplies of semi-skilled labour to keep wages low and thereby finance the growth of a parasitic bourgeoisie wholly supportive of the ruling class. But, if these ends could be achieved by other means, the 2016 Referendum was a shock to the ruling class. It threatened a revolution in which we might insist on something like the share in power that we sometimes had or approached in the twentieth century. The first response was an obvious and therefore an ill-thought betrayal. Theresa May was allowed to manage a purely notional departure. When this was noticed, and the reaction was a further threat of revolution, a more complete departure than expected had to be arranged.
But there was no ghost of desire at the top for leaving the European Union to bring any overall change of direction. To be sure, the conjuring trick with sovereignty had to be given up. We all knew now who was in charge and therefore accountable. At the same time, if the lines of accountability were clear again, the dissolution of those to whom power might be accountable was already under way, and would now be accelerated. That nothing has been done about mass-immigration since 2019, except enable it from other parts of the world, is not an oversight. It is not because the Ministers are too weak to take charge of their departments. It is because diversity is the settled policy. It is the ideal solvent. The cause of all those troubles that began with the Referendum was that there were still too many unashamed English people. If there had been two or three fewer percentage points of voting strength in 2016, that unwelcome result could have been avoided. Now, let our rulers find an excuse to swell the population by another ten million or so, and it hardly matters if sovereignty is visible again. It will be no more accountable than before.
This also explains the sudden encouragement of iconoclastic mobs and the new official culture of apology. The obvious and gloomy truth is that everyone alive is descended from rapists and slave-owners and murderers. These are the people who, for the past ten thousand years, have been filling up the gene pool. At any moment in that time, we can show a class of masters and a class of slaves. But the slaves have always been the less lucky descendants of earlier masters, and the masters the ancestors of future slaves. The best answer to this truth is to shrug and try not to rape and enslave and murder each other now. Instead, we have the official and semi-official promotion of a narrative in which the English are the only villains. It is as if a single still were extracted from a mile of cinema film. This is welcome to those foreigners who have some ancestral grudge against us, but has not been arranged for their chief benefit. The chief beneficiaries are those who rule us. It really is nothing for them if a few statues are pulled down, or if some streets or institutions are renamed. They can apologise themselves hoarse. They still keep their money and power. Better still, the louder they apologise, the safer they are from the only group likely to dispossess them. We are the ones depressed. We are the ones encouraged to think our history a catalogue of shame, and any complaints we have not fit for articulation.
Where does the Bruges Group fit into this analysis? The answer at best is nowhere. Its directors might as well still be denouncing Arthur Scargill or the Soviet Menace. This does not, I grant, make them bad people—only useless. When it comes to organisations like the Institute of Economic Affairs or the Adam Smith Institute, or the other supposedly conservative or libertarian policy institutes, I am less merciful. But that is for another article. I will leave Barry Legg to his ineffectual pining for the good old days of Margaret Thatcher. I have a video lecture to prepare on Greek relative clauses.
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