Plainly, all empires collapse. The much more interesting and difficult questions are “Why?” and “When?”
As to the why, there is a fair bit be said for the explanation of Joseph Tainter, who in 1988 published The Collapse of Complex Societies. In short, he tested various popular explanations about why civilisations collapse against numerous case studies. The usual explanations of moral decay, disease, innovation et cetera do not stack up very well. Instead, it is when the ER0EI – as applied to social complexity – falls off that an empire is ruined. In large measure, this social complexity manifests itself in the expansion of a class of information producers and analysts who are not involved in primary resource production. Bureaucrats, in other words.
There is a thing called the Vanguard Myth. At the early stages of the development of an empire, there are benefits to be derived from increased levels of complex bureaucracy. But after a while, those benefits tail off, and then become negative. The bureaucrats, of course, do not see that; they see themselves as in the vanguard of development, and forge ahead doing more of what they have previously been doing. Eventually, a tipping point is reached. It is in this zone that the risk – which eventually becomes a certainty – arises of collapse.
What is the topicality of all of this? Well, it is to do with the “When” part of the question. Adapting an old syllogism:
- All empires collapse,
- The EU is an empire,
- The EU will collapse.
But when? There is a detailed and interesting analysis of this by Gwythian Prins, which is to be found on the Briefings for Brexit website. Gwythian Prins is a bright chap. He taught history and politics at Cambridge for over 20 years, is Emeritus Research Professor at the LSE and since 2016 has been senior academic visiting fellow at the École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr. For various detailed reasons, which he spells out, he thinks that the collapse of the EU might be coming sooner rather than later. He starts with the Tainter Continue reading
Although his website site does have a somewhat deranged feel to it, Piers Corbyn (brother of the more famous Jeremy) seems to have been correct in his long-range forecasts of the present cold and snowy weather in the UK and elsewhere.
Piers is not only much cleverer than his brother, but is free to say what he really thinks. And to indulge his propensity to crow a bit about the fact that his forecasts are consistently more accurate than those of the Met Office. It is all a bit counter-intuitive. The Met Office looks all solid and dependable, but in fact is ridden with barking-mad climate change group-think nonsense. Conversely, Piers looks as mad as a March hare, but time after time events, as they have unfolded, have vindicated his forecasts. Which is, after all, the gold standard of real science. This reversal of the norm is rare, but then again, we live in strange times.
Here are a few of Piers’ observations about weather, climate and others things at his website/twitter feed Continue reading
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and so I spent a few moments this weekend searching the Internet to see whether, when the UK first joined the Common Market (as then was) back in 1973, did our continental friends say:
Non, non, non, mes amis! No need for you to put your hand in your pocket just yet. Absolutement pas! We would not expect you to pay for any of the projects that we planned before you joined, nor ever to have to pay for the pensions of our existing bureaucrats.
My research of the 1975 referendum suggests that the answer is emphatically “no”, but I have been unable to find the figures. Perhaps one of my Europhile friends could oblige?
Why is this the least bit interesting? For this reason: we already know that the UK has no obligation to pay anything to the EU following its departure from the club. But unsurprisingly, the avaricious wastrels who now run the EU are telling the UK that there is some sort of implicit or moral obligation on an outgoing member of the club to fully pay out any existing projected expenditure anyway. The basis of this argument seems to be a suggestion that the burden of paying for any EU expenditure falls on whoever were the members at the time that expenditure was planned.
But if, as appears to be the case, there was no such suggestion when the UK joined, it is hard to see that there is any implicit or moral justification for that suggestion now.
And as far as the morals go, nobody with a set of decent bones in their body would seriously suggest that it is morally right to Continue reading
It is now over a year since Francis Hoar’s careful analysis that the UK is not prohibited by European law from now negotiating trade deals with non-EU countries which will take effect in March ’19. But it is an analysis that is becoming more compelling now.
Jean-Claude Juncker has suggested that the UK cannot negotiate these trade deals during the 2 years period under Article 50 (Frans Timmermans is more realistic), but it seems clear that Juncker is wrong about this.
It is true that in the Blue Skies Case (Commission v United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Germany), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) declared illegal an agreement entered into by various EU countries with the USA for co-operation in the area of aviation. But note the summary of that case Continue reading
What on earth is the UK Government doing? Binding itself to pay tribute to the EU for years after Brexit is barking mad. The worst of all worlds.
Perhaps they have just been worn down by endless remoaning. But this is a road that leads to never-ending servitude to the EU. Logic would say that the EU should be paying for access to the UK market, since it sells more to the UK then it buys, not the other way around. But there is no more logic here than that which drives a battered wife into continuing submission to her abusive husband.
The UK’s best hope is that the EU is so utterly intransigent in its demands for even more Danegeld as to eventually scupper the negotiations entirely. Then the UK can just leave, as mandated by the referendum, without paying anything, and without any Continue reading
Unhappily, I am going to have to admit that I was wrong about Brexit.
I and many others well informed about UK and European affairs, took the view that effect of Brexit on the UK would be relatively marginal. The EU is a relatively small proportion of the world market, and the UK is going to continue to trade with the EU in any event. Happily, the UK never joined the Euro, and so the problems that being yoked into that currency has caused countries like Greece were not going to affect the UK anyway.
We expected, of course, some whingeing from whichever side lost the referendum. If the country had voted to stay in the EU, there would have been some predictable moaning in the pub from the Brexiteers. And the lovies were hardly going to be happy with a vote to leave.
But what we wholly underestimated was the sheer volume and persistence of the moaning from the Europhiles. It is at a level that is causing real damage to Continue reading
Speculation reigns as to whether the UK will do a Brexit deal with the EU.
- There will be an early deal (or perhaps just a de facto stand-off) allowing EU citizens to remain in the UK and vice versa;
- There will not be any deal over the terms of Brexit; the UK will leave the EU in March 2019 without a deal. There are too many countries and interests wanting a slice of this or a slice of that, all with a veto;
- There will however be a trade deal between the UK and the EU either by March 2019 or shortly thereafter, with tariffs set at nil or near nil.
If this be right (time will tell) the Government stategy looks about right: the Mayflower stressing Continue reading
So. The Poison Pixie is upset.
She wants a second attempt at an independence referendum. The UK Government says, “No”. She complains that the UK Government is not treating her with the respect she thinks she deserves. So she could perhaps use some Scottish taxpayers’ money (there is precious little of that) for a non-binding “wildcat” ballot. But those in Scotland who disagree with her desire to bring financial ruin to Scotland would probably not participate. So such a wildcat ballot would be a farce, and then she would complain that the people of Scotland are not treating her with the respect she thinks she deserves. She could appeal to the EU, but the EU mave made clear that they are not interested in talking to her, so she would complain that the EU is not treating her with the respect she thinks she deserves. Continue reading
According to the United Nations, Norway is the happiest country in the world, edging out previous winner Denmark and third placed Iceland. The UK was 19th happiest out of 155 countries. Not bad. Of places with decent weather, Australia led the way at 9th.
But here is the thing. The top three all have quite high suicide rates. Much higher than the UK. Which stands to reason, in a macabre sort of a way: if the most miserable people in any population commit suicide in substantial numbers, then those who are left will be, on average, less miserable. Continue reading
Tony Blair freely admitted (but only after leaving office) that his faith was “hugely important” to the decisions he made.
This week, he has made a speech telling us that the Brexit referendum result was wrong, and that the people should now change their minds.
I wonder if he was told this by a messenger from his God? And if so, was it the same angel Continue reading