I identify as you. Now try arguing with me.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

What football says about the nation-state

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The ‘beautiful game’ teaches us the positive aspects of nationalism. To play it you have:

  • A defined playing area.
  • Qualifications as to players. Only these, plus the referee, are allowed on the pitch.
  • A clearly expressed objective.
  • Rules that set down how the game is played and influence its style.
  • Impartial judges to enforce the rules.

Similarly, with a well-run country you have:

  • Territory with clear, well-defended boundaries.

  • Laws defining who is permitted to be there.

  • An agreed understanding of what the country ‘is about’ and whom it serves.

  • Legal and economic systems to achieve those goals.

  • Impartial judges to enforce the rules.

The European Union does not work because it has:

  • A vast domain with highly porous boundaries. Penetrate anywhere and you can go everywhere inside it.

  • Rules for who should be allowed to reside, but which are overriden by international conventions on refugees that are easily abused by bogus claimants, at huge expense to the host country.

  • A lack of mission. The EU had its origins in the desire to stop the awful military rivalry of Germany and France; then it became a useful protectionist cartel that maintained the prosperity of advanced European nations in the face of growing competition from much lower-paid foreign workforces; then an expansionist empire drunk with aggrandisement even if it meant acquiring countries that were at a different stage of development and so would cause economic strains; then a cat’s-paw for US/NATO aggression by creeping ever closer to the borders of Russia and ultimately destabilising Ukraine to provoke war and devastate Europe.

  • A hobbling centralised bureaucracy unrestrained by democratic power.

  • A legal system to enforce the arbitrary edicts of autocrats.

You would think that once free of all that we would be ‘full steam ahead.’ What do we have?


  1. Clearly defined and potentially very defensible territory. We kept out the mighty German war machine in my father’s time.
  2. Rules for who should be allowed to reside, but which are overriden by international conventions on refugees that are easily abused by bogus claimants, at huge expense to our country.

Foreign countries are happy to point them in our direction, in particular France (because it is closest) - remember the Sangatte camp, by the mouth of the Channel Tunnel? And now the rubber boats that French authorities seem unable to stop from launching into the Channel.

On top of that there are our Government’s policies on (much larger) legal immigration, partly to do with the right of families to be united, partly to fill gaps in the labour market that are allegedly unfillable otherwise.

Then there is the political Right that likes to import cheap labour (externalising the costs of unemployment, ill-health etc associated with the underclass it displaces, plus costs of the health, education, housing and welfare needs of the imported people.)

Meantime the Left has an insane abstract notion of the desirability of ‘diversity’ and how uncontrolled immigration will teach its nasty racist opponents a lesson - and somehow reconciles the idea of diversity with the fantasy that all people everywhere are basically the same underneath. The more this impacts on the working class, the more the latter grumble and protest and can then be dismissed as what Hillary Clinton called ‘a basket of deplorables.’

3. A lack of agreed mission.

It has taken centuries for Britain to restrain the arbitrary power of its monarchs. Our most precious possession is not the material comfort most of us now enjoy, but a Parliament that has the ability to call the Executive to account and so - we hope - limit the harm it can do.

But whom does the system serve?

Until relatively recently, the rich, profiting immensely from e.g. colonies in the Caribbean and Pacific, and the murderous greed of the East India Company. The ordinary person had no representative in Parliament. At the height of the British Empire’s prosperity people in the East End of London were working all the hours possible for a pittance, eating rubbish off the roads and facing the workhouse when they weakened.

Those who decry socialism as if it were Stalin’s Red Menace should read Jack London’s 1903 book to see exactly why we need regulations for housing, pay and working conditions, education, healthcare and welfare. The historian Correlli Barnett has argued that the paternalistic wartime regime of 1940-45 and the peacetime Welfare State that followed were unaffordable, sentimental. Well, we didn’t have it when we could afford it - Lloyd George had to break the House of Lords’ veto with the 1911 Parliament Act, just to get a modest provision for the underprivileged, and by 1945 the people had endured thirty years of wars and economic depressions and were in no mood for ‘jam tomorrow.’

Yet since then the British Labour Party has lost its way.

To some extent it was always conflicted, unable to decide whether it existed to serve the poorer element of this country or to promote international socialism, even at the expense of the British worker. Sixty years ago Labour’s leader Hugh Gaitskell warned the Party’s conference against membership of the ‘Common Market’, laying his finger on the tension in the socialist movement between international brotherhood and promoting the interests of working people at home.

More recently Labour seems to have been caught up in abstract thinking. It wants to buy the world a Coke but doesn’t realise that the world may have little intention of buying us one in return. It was enthusiastic about EU membership, under some Johnny-Head-In-Air delusion that we would all be jolly pals together (an illusion shared by many idealistic foreign Euro-MPs.) The consequence of EU mini-globalism and GATT maxi-globalism, as the late Sir James Goldsmith warned back in 1994, was socio-economic strain on ordinary families as the balance between labour and capital tilted sharply in favour of the latter.

We have to decide whether this country is to serve its people - an implication of the extension of the vote to all adults in the twentieth century, but not yet an express national commitment. Absent that mission plus control of immigration and renegotiation of trade terms, the country’s books will never balance and eventually the Welfare State must shrink and collapse.

If we go on as we are, then as I have said before, only disaster will save us. The wokeist flimflam from the Right is a cover for their old globalist agenda; if it and the Left don’t wake up in the proper sense, both will need to be replaced, as Nigel Farage is already advocating for the Tories. They must become nationalist and pragmatic if the nation is to survive and prosper.

4 & 5. … If that last is to be the plan, we need to structure our law and economics accordingly. This means revising our relationship with international and supranational bodies and agreements. We are now in a multipolar world and our team has to play for its own side.

____

That doesn’t mean hostility to other countries - in fact, we might have been spared the prospect of nuclear war if we had withdrawn from NATO as well as from complete absorption into the Euro-monolith, as de Gaulle suggested to us in 1969:

General de Gaulle made clear to our Ambassador that he wanted to see a Europe completely independent of the United States, which would result in the disappearance of N.A.T.O. as we know it; and that he would like to see the European Communities changed into a looser form of free trade area with arrangements by each country to exchange agricultural produce, and a small inner council of a European political association consisting of France, Britain, Germany and Italy.

What a shame that the then Labour Government sniffily rejected both proposals, as that link goes on to show.


What a shame, too, that we have forgotten the wisdom of Lord Palmerston:

We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.

We need to launder our kit, get onto the world’s field and play our hearts out.

1 comment:

Paddington said...

One of my latest comments on Facebook addresses some of this.