If you want to understand almost everything that is wrong with the world right now a good place to start is the underground car park beneath the European Parliament building in Brussels.
There you will find rank on rank of shiny black limousines — Mercedes and Volvos, mostly hybrids because “climate change” — waiting with their polite, smartly dressed and no doubt well remunerated staff drivers to ferry the 751 Members of the European Parliament [MEPs] wheresoever they please at a moment’s notice, free of charge.
“Nice job if you can get it!”, you’ll think to yourself. Add up the basic pay and the daily allowance you get for just turning up, and your salary approaches £140,000. On top of that you’ve got your lavish expenses and the even more generous budget you get for your office staff. Oh, and the huge, ring-fenced pension on top of that.
You can totally see why people might go native in this environment. Even if you came as an ardent Eurosceptic, rightly cognisant of the appalling wastefulness, corruption, and meddling pointlessness which are the very essence of the EU, I reckon it would be hugely tempting after a few months of all this free stuff to persuade yourself that actually what MEPs do is really important and that the taxpayers of Europe are much better off forking out billions of Euros for the privilege of being members of this vital institution.
Reality check: No, they aren’t.
What John Bolton once said of the United Nations Secretariat building — “if it lost 10 storeys it wouldn’t make a bit of difference” — applies in spades to the European Union. Though, frankly, why stop at 10 storeys?
The EU is the steel and glass embodiment of a decadent mindset, a discredited ideology, a crumbling imperium more attuned to the Soviet era than the present.
EU Chief Jean-Claude Juncker Defies Protests to Deliver Heartfelt Defence of Karl Marx https://t.co/LXTrmbYpGX
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 5, 2018
This idea that the people don’t know what’s good for them, that every last detail of their private lives, their business practices, their expenditure, their leisure time, even what they say and think must be micromanaged by “expert” bureaucrats and technocrats: it has been tested to destruction. The EU — like the Soviet Union, like Venezuela, like Cuba, like so many idealistic political experiments gone wrong — is on the losing side of history.
So why is the British Establishment so determined to remain shackled to this rotting corpse?
Well, I’ve mentioned before the Ancien Regime mindset of Britain’s political class — aka the “Westminster bubble” — and their determination to cling on at all costs to their power base.
But another way of looking at it is the divide outlined recently in a brilliant piece in the Telegraph by Allister Heath.
The world, he argues, is now split into two bitterly opposed camps: the New Conservatives and the New Radicals.
If you’re reading this you are almost certainly, like me, a New Radical.
Here is Heath, capturing our concerns pretty accurately:
There is hardly a day that passes without the news agenda triggering the New Radicals, and convincing them that we are decaying at an ever-faster rate. Their essential critique is that Britain’s establishment – in politics, in culture, in the public sector, in some big businesses – is decadent: that it continues to party while Rome burns; that it is pathologically self-absorbed; that it behaves as if the world owes it a favour, as if it deserves all of its privileges, as if the current order will go on forever even though it is clear that it is fast unravelling.
(Hmm. Sounds like Allister has experienced the EU at first hand too.)
Our opponents are the New Conservatives, people who are:
“…wedded to the status quo, who don’t really believe that there is much that is wrong with our society that a few tweaks cannot address. Until the Brexit referendum, such people generally thought we were moving in the right direction; today, they drift in a state of shock, stunned that progress, as they define it, isn’t inevitable, and that many want to upset the applecart.”
These New Conservatives (which I think is where the name falls down slightly) still cleave to the Whiggish narrative of history as a process of continual improvement known as “progress”.
This is very much the EU’s vision: that if only we can keep fine-tuning the world with ever more detailed regulations we can eventually achieve nirvana.
Problem is, as we’re seeing, many if not most people think that the EU’s version of nirvana — the kind of PC paradise once satirised by South Park in its ‘Death Camp of Tolerance’ episode as “People of all colours and creeds holding hands beneath a rainbow!” — stinks.
Hence the march of the New Radicals across the world: Trump; Bolsonaro; Orban; Salvini; etc. — plus, of course, the Brexit vote in the EU referendum.
As Robyn once so eloquently put it in this song, we really don’t like being told what to do. Especially when we have zero respect for the pampered bureaucrats imposing the rules.
Hungarian PM: ‘The Spirit of Marx, Lenin, and the Re-Education Camps’ Lives on in the EU https://t.co/nOmkbrK055
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 22, 2018
But anyway, back to my intro and all those black limousines below the EU Parliament building. I bet if you’d gone to Moscow, even as late as the 1980s, you would have found in the Kremlin’s underground carpark a similarly spectacular fleet of black Zils waiting to transport the Party’s senior apparatchiks wherever they wished.
And I expect if you’d seen all those Zils you would have been fooled by that display of opulence and power and organised uniformity into imagining that the Soviet Union was there to stay for a very, very long time into the future.
Perhaps all those MEPs and Commissioners and assistants and attaches and drivers and security guards and presidents I glimpsed in Brussels last week nurture similar delusions.
If they do, though, I’d say they are living in a fool’s paradise.
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