Brexit or Bremain: ‘The EU is sheer madness’
Today is B-Day in Great Britain. Will the British people vote for Brexit or for Bremain, will they decide to leave or to remain part of the EU? Six months ago, Univers interviewed Roger Scruton, the most prominent and most outspoken conservative philosopher of his country. If it was up to Roger Scruton not only Great Britain would step out of the EU, but the Netherlands as well. Scruton is thoroughly against state intervention, so it comes as no surprise that he is also a staunch opponent of anything that comes out of Brussels.
When your country joined the EEC, the predecessor of the EU, the British leaders must have had idealistic motives for doing so. Were they wrong?
“It was introduced by people who did not know what idealism was. I do not believe those leaders knew what they were doing. No one was ever told that this would be the result. We were told that it was only a commercial deal, a free market treaty that would increase the level of trade.”
‘The freedom of movement clause has saturated our country with immigrants’
You believe a Brexit is the best and probably the only way to go for your country. What are your grievances about the British membership of the EU?
“My biggest grievance is with the freedom of movement clause, which has saturated our country with immigrants. The whole domestic non-discrimination nonsense is another of my grievances. A third grievance is that we are living under a Napoleonic system of law that is not compatible with our common law system. And then there is the intention to detach us from the Anglosphere and make us part of Europe, while we have never really been a part of Europe. That is also really difficult for people to live with.
Other countries will come to the same conclusion in due course. Because there is a dynamic process here lead by a political class that is largely insulated from popular opinion. They do not have to stand for elections, all those commissioners and so on. They will go on with their agenda, regardless, until something will say: that’s it, we are withdrawing.”
You are worried about the British identity. Some would say that you can also conserve your own identity while being member of bigger entity, because this entity would provide a stronger harness for each of its members.
“Some will say exactly this, that being part of a larger entity one would be able to absorb immigrants more easily. But that does not reckon with the important fact that all of those immigrants only want to live in either Germany, Holland or England. That is why a larger institute does not really matter.”
For that reason Germany and Holland want a fair distribution of immigrants among the EU-states. If everyone would abide by the rules, that system should work…
“Yes, it could work if indeed everyone would abide by those rules. But this is not the case. The French have never done so, especially the rules that they themselves make. The only thing that makes people abide by the rules is a national identity and loyalty to the country, not the rules that are made by someone else.”
Would you perhaps endorse a smaller EU, or a European Union with a smaller mandate?
“Yes. If it was smaller and if it had not expanded in that crazy way to absorb all the eastern European countries. If it had gone slowly and if it had revised itself, revised the treaty – especially the freedom of movement and the freedom of capital transfers, then it would look very different.
‘Why should one be bound by a treaty that is like a dead hand?’
But let’s face it, the treaty was conceived and signed 60 years ago in circumstances that have vanished and by people who are dead. Why should one be bound by a treaty that is like a dead hand? This is the problem: treaties, unlike democratic parliaments, cannot be changed. That is what we have all experienced. You have to get 29 signatures of sovereign states, not all of which are very democratic and most of which have different interests. It is sheer madness to be governed by such a thing.”
It sounds as if you truly believe a Brexit will happen…
“It could. I don’t know, I am not a prophet. We will have to see. Our situation is not so different from that in Holland. We are both old monarchies, both of us have lost parts of a former empire. People will say that an exit from the EU would harm the trading position of that country. But the regulatory regime, the massive legislation that is passed by the European Commission is making all those European states less competitive. Once we have left the EU and have shown that we can do it by reconnecting with our old imperial provinces, you Dutch people will think: why can’t we do that as well. Why can’t we be like we were in Rembrandt’s day?”
Why would you, as a true conservative, want to promote chaos and radical change by supporting a Brexit?
“I do not believe Brexit would create chaos. Why should it? Yes, other countries might follow. That might be better. As long as we maintain proper alliances, the military ones most important of all, and recognize our common interests. It won’t be the chaos mister Putin will create when he marches into Latvia for instance, or such as the one that Merkel is causing by inviting the entire Middle East into Germany.
I think it would wake up people to what really matters. Which is not economics and all that nonsense but defense and protection of your homeland from the predator. In the end you have to make decisions in the national interest. One must not be afraid of chaos. I mean: the world is chaos. It is universal entropy in the face of which one carves out small pools of order. Which is what our country has been and what your country has been: a pool of order. But we are being dragged into the universal entropy by the EU.”
But surely the people in Brussels are working with the best intentions when it comes to the member states and the European people?
“Are you sure? You may be right, but I have never discovered a bureaucrat with best intentions before. There are very large salaries involved and early and vast pensions. For bureaucrats the motives for staying in the EU are huge.”
Across Europe, parties and politicians with more extreme points of view are popular. Anti-immigrant parties won in Poland and Switzerland, Geert Wilders is leading in the Dutch polls, Syriza in Greece is a political outlier and the same can be said about your new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Does that worry you or do you welcome this development?
“You have to accept the way the public opinion is going. You just have to do your best to influence that opinion and make sure it moves into a peaceful and conciliatory direction. You do it by discussing the issues and coming to a compromise. You may be right about Wilders and others probably not wanting a discussion or a compromise. It is difficult. But that is what politics is. I just do not think that the solution to everything is to let laws be made in Brussels. By bureaucrats who have nothing to do with the countries on which they are imposing those laws. It is better to accept what people are saying.”
That can be quite dangerous…
“People are dangerous. There is no easy solution to this other, than promoting rational discussion and proper legal process. The answer is certainly not to control them from above by bureaucracy.”
.This article was first published on 25 November 2015 in Univers Magazine.