By Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog
It’s hard to get the Western mainstream media to discuss Brexit properly: Wikipedia’s timeline doesn’t start until 2016, for some reason, and I’m sure that’s where many journalists’ research starts and ends on serious subjects of global importance.
What’s certain is that the last thing the Western mainstream media wants to talk about regarding Brexit is the single most important reason for its historical importance: a successful Brexit will show Eurosceptic nations that leaving is actually not fatal, and thus Brexit could be the start of the end of the pan-European movement.
The reality is that a Brexit success is likely the only, best chance to save the pan-European project: Brussels will only be pushed for more democratic accountability, transparency and progressive reforms if pushed to do so by an outside force, if ever.
While Europe has been forced to watch Brexit with baited breath for nearly three years – justice delayed is justice denied… but when was the EU ever concerned about democratic justice? Let’s not pretend that prior to their historic vote we weren’t also discussing “Grexit”, “Frexit”, “Quitaly”, and others (I most preferred “Nullgaria”, “Czech-Out” and “Malternative”).
And yet Brexit is portrayed as a catastrophe which unexpectedly descended from heaven, as opposed to a long-building reaction like as any other major historical process? It is as if the whole European debacle from 2009-16 was swept under the rug, and not just by Wikipedia.
The Brexit process won’t be accurately judged for 3-5 years, but if the UK is economically humming and culturally dynamic by 2022 it’s sure that a wave of “–exits” will be demanded. What we can honestly foresee is a 1989 Berlin Wall moment: mass demonstrations to abolish the EU in the near future. “Ms. Lagarde… tear down this wall of taxpayer Quantitative Easing!” (Bankers run the West, so she’s basically top on the totem pole.)
How did we get to do discussing an EU “Berlin Wall” moment? I can say what one wrong answer is: refugee migration, which is what the bulk of Brexit coverage has been since 2016.
Don’t believe the revisionist history of capitalist Western media – the primary root of Brexit was the UK’s rightful abhorrence for the economic and democratic deficiencies of the Eurozone. From 2009 onward it grew worse and worse and more obvious to all, even to allegedly “stupid” Brexiteers.
As Britain goes back to the polls on December 12, it’s crucial to accurately remember the timeline of what led up to Brexit and what really caused it.
Demand an honest timeline – Brexit’s true beginnings
Let’s go back to 2012: the Great Recession was clearly not going anywhere – the proposed solution of QE and ZIRP (zero percent interest rates) was not producing results for the real economy. The Occupy Movement had just begun the previous fall, and anti-1% and anti-banker sentiment was peaking. The European Sovereign Debt Crisis also peaked that year, causing the largest macro-economic bloc to be on the verge of total chaos. The victory of an anti-austerity candidate in France provoked the same reaction as it did in 1981 with Francois Mitterrand: attacks on the national bond market by high finance. 2012 was chaotic in Europe, to say the least.
I bring up 2012 because this is when the European Sovereign Debt crisis threw into stark relief the fundamentally unjust, unaccountable, unequal nature of the pan-European project… and this was not at all missed by the average person in the UK.
The Eurozone scrambled to come up with ways to coordinate budgets, debt and banks. The answer was “more Europe, not less Europe” remember? Germany rejected all these ideas so they never got off the ground, but anybody can see how this slogan is often anathema to a Britain which has for decades emphatically shown with actions that they are dedicated Eurosceptics. Unsurprisingly, the government of David Cameron also wanted no part of the proposed compact for “more Europe”.
As 2012-13 rolled on the pan-European project did nothing to cover themselves in glory: Francois Hollande proved all the worst British stereotypes of the cowardly Frenchman, the European Central Bank promised “whatever it takes” via as QE (the Brits have always publicly opposed QE and easy money, like the Germans) which was obviously viewed in the UK as what it really was – more foreign bank bailouts via the ballooning of national debts. Brussels had definitively proved how punitive and stupid it could be as the Greek bailout gutted the country for the benefit of German and French bankers. The Eurozone averted total chaos but also had horrible economic performance, which continues today.
All of these things are forgotten by the Mainstream Media, which says, “Pro-Brexit Brits are racists who hate foreigners!”
Wikipedia’s late timeline doesn’t include this, but Brexit was first proposed by then-Prime Minister David Cameron in a January 2013 speech: he said what everybody was thinking back then – that the Eurozone is structurally flawed, that the EU is democratically unaccountable, and that public disillusionment with the bloc was at an “all-time high”. He thus promised a Brexit vote if the Conservatives won the 2015 election.
Forgetting this “all-time high” is the number one strategy of the fundamentally insulting, provoking and inadequate “Brexit Vote 2” campaign. Cameron has seemingly earned his daily bread by giving speeches which are a mea culpa, but he fails to remind listeners how the problem in 2012 was not just the pan-European project’s crisis but the realization that it is impossible to remedy given the current structure, which is organized and modeled on American neoliberal and bourgeois (aristocratic) ideology.
Clearly, Brexit did not – and obviously could not – start with the vote in 2016. Nor did it start with the Global Refugee Crisis in 2015. The reality is that the pan-European project lost the UK far earlier due to mismanagement, worrying performance, and a lack of democracy.
What came first: Euroscepticism or the ineffective, undemocratic pan-European project?
That doesn’t really matter. My primary point is that Brexit sentiment reached a point where mainstream politicians had to respond/capitalize on it way back in 2013. This was long before the far-right UKIP won seats in 2014, the Global Refugee Crisis and when Wikipedia finally took note.
Does anyone honesty believe that if – all things being equal, economically – that migration alone would have produced such a pro-Brexit vote? Preposterous – there is no way that 51% of the UK is xenophobic to the point where that is the one issue they make their votes on. Of course, the capitalist-dominated private Western media is 100% pro-globalization so they have to make it seem as if xenophobia was the only motivation. They absolutely never want to talk about the undemocratic nature of the EU, nor the massive opposition to banker bailouts and their compound interest which is ruining the present and the future.
In late 2015 Cameron was using, correctly, the pan-European project’s continued failure to argue that the UK would be distanced from their continued bailouts, QE, economic stagnation and totally unchanged-and-still-at-risk structure: by early 2016 he got it written down that Europe’s “ever closer union” doesn’t include the UK, which concisely describes the nature of the concessions. The Brexit vote was in June 2016.
Brexiteers, seeing that the Eurozone was only worsening, knew this was their chance to get free. Euroscepticism had been proven correct and democratic, even though fake-leftists and Europhiles will say that in 2015 the Global Refugee Crisis hit and that is what scared voters into Brexit.
Predicted on that idea is the assumption that British voters don’t have the capacity to recall long-term memories, and that they are easily manipulated by whatever is the latest headline. We journalists would like to believe this is true, but that is only our arrogance, stupidity and absurd belief that people believe every single thing we say. Why should we ignore, or why should the Brits turn a blind eye to, the Eurozone’s long-running crisis?
The Brits didn’t and, combined with their initial lack of faith in the pan-European project it is historically logical that they are the first out.
If there is one thing which a journalist must do it is to honor the man on the street. Literally, that is what a journalist does often – stick their microphone into the face of someone on their way to work and ask their opinion. I guarantee that if you do this it is IMPOSSIBLE to not realize that such answers are repeatedly off-the-charts intelligent and astute. However, this experience and knowledge is fundamentally at odds with Western capitalist decision-making, which foolishly values technocratic skills at the expense of morality and practical experience.
If the status quo is bad, why not change it when you can?
Because of the December 12th election I decided to publish this part of my 10-part series on the current state of the Western QE economy out of order. It was supposed the the 9th part, but is now the 6th, for those of you keeping score at home.
This 10-part series uses as its jumping-off point the 2018 book Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World by Nomi Prins, a former Wall Street executive who saw the light and is now informing on the crimes of Western imperialism-capitalism. Prins gives a thorough and chronological account of central banker doings in key areas – Mexico, China, Brazil, Japan and Europe – ever since US banker crimes set off the Great Recession in 2007. The essence of her thesis is that the US orchestrated collusion among the central bankers of many of the G20 economies and the Eurozone in order to primarily save busted US banks, and then also to maintain the 1%-enriching policies of QE, ZIRP and no-strings attached bailouts.
Even though Prins’ book is chronological she fails to note these events I listed. However, she at least gets the start date of Brexit a bit better than Wikipedia, and she understands better the economic and pro-democracy foundation of the Brexit movement. She recounts the “ever closer union” discussions back in November 2015:
“Two weeks later, speaking at the Federation of German Industries (BDI) lobby in Berlin, British chancellor (of the Exchequer) George Osborne said Britain would only support a treaty to save the euro from collapse if its own renegotiation demands were accepted. The project to strengthen the Eurozone through a French fiscal arrangement was aimed at avoiding a repeat of crises. It was supported by Germany, France and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. The idea was to prevent crises from attacking the common currency.
The chancellor said the price to be paid for Britain’s support would be the guarantee that it would never have to participate in Eurozone bailouts and that a new voting mechanism would prevent coalitions against the United Kingdom’s interests. It was the beginning of a potentially irrevocable fracture between the United Kingdom and the European Union. A similar project of Eurozone strengthening had already been vetoed by prime minster David Cameron in 2011, but this one seemed to have more legs.”
This one had “more legs” because the EU has never addressed its horrific, endemic issues with its lack of democracy, its endless 1%-er bailouts and its constant teetering on the edge of collapse. Banker bailouts and usurpation of national sovereignties – this is the cause of Brexit, not racism and identity politics.
What Prins gets perfectly right is that QE, austerity and central banker collusion may not be able to survive the loss of the UK. Who really knows what will happen when a load-bearing support is pulled out of the QE house of cards? Collusion is a tricky business.
Brexit will certainly lead to a lower pound, a lower euro and a stronger yen. This will have major effects on corporations, banks and borrowing, which is really the only parts of the economy the shareholder 1% cares about. Brexit will thus put pressure on “safe haven” currencies and force them to rise – this means they will increase QE in order to devalue their currencies. This QE war will only raise more anger domestically and throw more clearly into relief the inequality which is the moral (non-) heart of the “QE with no strings attached because otherwise its socialist central planning” Western neoliberal system.
It’s surprising how very wrong so many people get the history of Brexit considering just how much the West has been talking about it. Hopefully this article remedied that, and debunked the dominant idea that Brexiteers are a “basket of deplorables” and racists, and somehow less intelligent and less democratic than Remainers; certainly, the least democratic faction in this fight is the EU.
The Eurozone has had mostly bad times since its inception – how many generations of adults could possibly be expected to support it? How much abuse can one continent take? The EU and Eurozone have created boom times for the 1% but not for their average citizen.
Given the undeniable failure of the pan-European project into 2019, Brexit may lead to either vital democratic reforms or the abandonment of that project – even the latter would be hugely positive for Europeans because “ending loss is a profit”, as the saying goes. Brexit could also upend the status quo of the Western economic neoliberal & neo-imperial system – this would be hugely positive for non-Europeans.
After reporting from Paris for a decade may I pass on my opinion, which I arrived at thanks to my job requiring the solicitation of a huge cross section of society and not just alleged “experts”: not this union.
The lack of democracy, accountability and morality is baked into this bitter European pie. It has clearly failed on all these counts – isn’t that crystal clear? British voters don’t have to be against every pan-European project, but this current one cannot be supported for the reasons that it is so very neoliberal and so fundamentally undemocratic.
The EU, it is correctly said, is a “neoliberal empire” – most everyone has had a negative experience with empires: the UK would do well to leave.
Sure, history shows that the developing world has much to fear from neo-imperialist Europeans, but perhaps a “new” European project will be far more positive?
But if you don’t think you can change it – I suggest voting to leave it when you can.
Come back again later… maybe.
Back to the series as planned with the next part, ‘The new ‘beggar thy neighbor’: wars to devalue labor, not currencies’. Considering that France has just begun its biggest general strike since 1995 because of a new effort to devalue labor, that part is rather timely as well.
Here is the list of articles slated to be published soon, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!
Part 1 – Western central bankers: they’re God, they trust – a 10-part series on the QE economy
Part 2 – How QE has radically changed the nature of the West’s financial system
Part 3 – QE paid for a foreign buying spree: developing countries hurt the most
Part 4 – Iran vs Mexico: ‘economic inflows’ versus ‘economic independence’
Part 5 – Understanding the West’s obsession with inflation
Part 6 – The new ‘beggar thy neighbor’: wars to devalue labor, not currencies
Part 7 – Blaming China for the Great Recession… to avoid emulating China’s (socialist-inspired) success
Part 8 – 1941, 1981, 2017 or today – Europe’s mess is still Germany’s fault
Part 9 – Don’t forget the real root of Brexit: fear of Eurozone economic contagion
Part 10 – Bankocracies: the real Western governance model
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China and the upcoming Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television.