Today I would like to share a couple of videos with you and a few of my thoughts.
How did we come to this place? It lies beyond the scope of this post to perform a complete in-depth analysis, but I would like to offer a couple of factors for consideration.
Support for Britain remaining in the customs union comes from a variety of quarters, but a significant source is the twenty to thirty-somethings, amongst whom there is widespread favour towards Momentum. People in this age-bracket have never known an independent Britain: they grew up in a Britain that was part of the European Union. It is almost a truism that people fear the unknown; for this age group, striking out on our own to abolish tariffs or form new trade agreements represents a frightening unknown. It is understandable that they might fear Britain will never recover economically from such a step.
The debate, however, needs to be placed in a wider context. “Britain will perform badly outside of a customs union” is a synthetic proposition. In other words, it is not analytic, it is not true by definition. The fact is, Britain’s performance is contingent on a whole host of factors, not simply membership of the customs union. We can make projections based on past performance, but a true understanding of rationalism and empiricism should tell us that the past cannot give us knowledge about the future. In fact, some sources of data suggest that Britain currently trades more with countries outside the customs union than with those inside. If this is true, then the reasoning of the customs union supporters should tell them to abandon their position. But fear and inertia are powerful motivators.
In the current hysteria and assault on freedom of speech, one factor in particular seems to be driving the debate – fear of being likened to Hitler and the fascists. At the moment, we see the Labour party mired in accusations of anti-Semitism, while the infamous YouTuber, Count Dankula, has been fined for posting a video showing his dog giving a Nazi salute. Count Dankula is not a Nazi, however: he is not promoting fascist ideology. Nor is he seeking to deny the Holocaust or to make light of the suffering of Jews. On the contrary, he is making an argument that we should condemn fascism, that it is worthy of being held in derision. Those who campaign against him seem to fear that even talking about fascism in more than hushed tones will invoke a fascist spirit that will rise up to destroy us all. Such behaviour seems more like the wizards frightened of saying “Voldemort” than like the bravery of civilians and soldiers who resisted Nazism in the 30s and 40s.
Again, public debate needs to think about the broader context and real depth in the arguments. Which groups today are really behaving like Hitler and the SS? Cynical YouTubers or the likes of Hamas, ISIS, and Hezbollah? What is the real face of anti-Semitism today? Which groups are really advocating for totalitarian rule and suppression of free thinking and free speech?
Everything comes at a cost
Lastly, I submit for your consideration von Mises doctrines of praxeology. Humans are defined by action: deeds committed for a purpose. If there is no purpose, it is not properly the subject of praxeological analysis. All action comes at a cost: time, energy, and other resources (which are really just complex combinations thereof). Action involves choice: being limited by time and space, for a human to do one thing means choosing not to do another. Everything comes at a cost. When we choose to do something, we do so because of our value system (which can change over time).
There are many things as a nation we should be doing right now. For some people, they do not want to do them, because they do not value them ab initio. For others, it is because they are unwilling to pay the cost of such policies. But here is the problem: it is often the case that the longer one puts off making hard decisions of the kind before the UK right now, the harder the choice will be in the end. It will take pressure to make us overcome the inertia and fear that holds us back. But God can use hardship to bring about glorious results, and the Cross is His supreme example.