A bad agreement is worse than no agreement.

by Harry on June 16, 2017

Why do people keep saying that a bad agreement is worse than no agreement? They—not just May and her friends, but reasonably serious journalists—say it as if it means something. Isn’t it just the truism that an agreement that is worse than no agreement is worse than no agreement? Why is that observation relevant to anything? Everyone knows it is true, including the EU negotiating team. So the EU negotiating team is not going to try for a worse-than-no-agreement agreement, because they know that if that is the best on offer the UK can just walk away into WTO rules. So the observation that a bad agreement is worse than no agreement has no bearing on anything that anyone should do.

I’m missing something, right? [1] What is it?

[1] Really. I’ve been puzzling about this a while. I suppose an email to Henry should clear things up, but its more fun to open it up on CT, even at the cost of exposing myself as obtuse, which I obviously am being.

{ 222 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Anonymous2 06.16.17 at 8:35 pm

It is difficult to see what agreement the EU could sensibly offer that would be worse than no agreement.

Of course if they insist that Britons all murder their first-born children we might find the UK refusing an agreement.

But in the real world I expect anything the EU offers will be better than nothing at all. The question is will the British Government be sufficiently in touch with reality to be able to accept what might be offered?

2

engels 06.16.17 at 9:19 pm

The implication is that they’re prepared realistically to walk away—which is not an empty statement.

3

Jon Weinberg 06.16.17 at 9:20 pm

It’s a truism. In any negotiation, each side has a BATNA — a “best alternative to a negotiated agreement” — and will walk away if it can’t get a negotiated deal at least as good as its BATNA. The nature of each side’s BATNA, and thus its willingness to walk away, will structure the negotiations. The message May and her friends are trying to send to the public with “a bad agreement is worse than no agreement” is “hey — our BATNA is pretty good. Don’t worry about the negotiations being tough, because we can always walk away and we’ll still be fine.” As if.

4

Ben 06.16.17 at 9:39 pm

BATNA — “best alternative to a negotiated solution” — is in fact something you need to teach students about in negotiation classes and such. It’s quite possible to get so wrapped up in wringing the most one can from the other side that one forgets to check if the deal is actually better than walking away. So, obvious, yes, but sometimes tautologies are good advice!

Likewise there’s nothing automatic about checking the other side’s interests against one’s offer. This is, after all, the very same EU that got Greece to agree to an arguably-worse-than-no-deal deal.

Another spin is to see “a bad deal” as standing for the EU opening position. Then “a bad deal is worse than no deal” is a way of saying “the EU’s offer is worse than hard Brexit,” except you don’t have to actually say that, and it sounds like you’re saying something obviously true.

5

Rob Chametzky 06.16.17 at 10:04 pm

OK: consider this (it IS relevant:

Chocolate cake is very good, if you don’t eat too much.

“Why do people keep saying that [X-ing is good if you don’t X too much] ? They [. . . ] say it as if it means something. Isn’t it just [a] truism that [too much] . . . is worse . . . ? Why is that observation relevant to anything? Everyone knows it is true. . . .”

So, why DO people constantly say “X is good if you don’t X too much” when ‘too much’ just means to the point when it becomes bad, and basically EVERYTHING can be done to that point (maybe not breathing, if hyperventilating isn’t breathing too much but too fast or too deep or something) and EVERYONE already knows this about everything? What could the (communicative) point of such utterances possibly be?

In this case, I propose the point is three fold. One, to remind and make salient to the interlocutor that there is this inflection point here, too. Second, to suggest that the user thinks/fears that interlocutor is (unusually?) likely to cross this point if, so to say, interlocutor’s face is not rubbed in the existence of said inflection point (hence fold one above). Finally, by being relatively indirect it is commensurately more polite, so interlocutor may not experience abrasive and aversive face rubbing.

How is this relevant to OP posed problem? Well, users may be reminding and making salient that there is an alternative to “bad agreement”, viz., “no agreement” which, due perhaps to it’s apparent nullity, may not appear to be an actual alternative and that (imagined?) interlocutors are, users fear, (dangerously?) liable to fall into this false nonbinarity. Some might suppose that this suggests users may not much respect their imagined interlocutors.

–RC

6

Michael 06.16.17 at 10:16 pm

I think the rhetorical force of the threat to walk away is roughly equivalent to a threat to take one’s ball and go home in a huff. So it sounds, to some, like powerful self-assertion. ‘I’m not going to play with you any more.’

But this is not the playground and that is not real autonomy, because you will wake up tomorrow and all the old, deep, and inescapable needs from the Continent will still be there, only much more expensive.

7

engels 06.16.17 at 10:19 pm

In any negotiation, each side has a BATNA — a “best alternative to a negotiated agreement” — and will walk away if it can’t get a negotiated deal at least as good as its BATNA

Right, but wouldn’t you also go in with some expectations about the range of likely outcomes and hence whether that’s one of them? Or perhaps it’s better not to…

8

P O'Neill 06.16.17 at 10:26 pm

The missing bit in the dubious logic is the 2 year deadline. No agreement means that time arrives with no extension. So she’s claiming she’s willing to let that happen. Which is astounding for many reasons, not least the waste of the first 3 months on the election.

9

J-D 06.16.17 at 11:00 pm

If one side has much more to lose than the other from a failure to agree, then that side has less negotiating leverage. Possibly saying ‘a bad agreement is worse than no agreement’ is a way to deny that (in this instance) the UK is the party in that situation? If so, it seems to me the more it’s denied the more likely it is to be true.

10

Layman 06.16.17 at 11:19 pm

It’s true only because ‘bad agreement’ is being defined as ‘that agreement which is worse than no agreement’. There is some possible agreement which is so bad an agreement that it is worse than no agreement at all. It’s a tautology, so of course it’s true. Which doesn’t explain why people (May?) keep saying it, since it is empty of information content.

11

Collin Street 06.16.17 at 11:27 pm

It is difficult to see what agreement the EU could sensibly offer that would be worse than no agreement.

That would depend on your priorities: it’s likely you value “ending freedom of movement” less than the people involved in the negotiations do, which would lead to different results.

12

Yankee 06.17.17 at 1:14 am

The alternative negotiating posture would be “we have to take whatever is offered”, which doesn’t play well. So the headline is equivalent to “please leave a little something on the table.” Obvs, I would have thought. Am I missing something?

13

Keith 06.17.17 at 2:09 am

Any agreement or non agreement will mean worse trade terms than being an EU member today. This follows from the logic of the EU’s political aims and interests. If Brexit is taken to mean the UK has irrevocably closed the door to federal integration ever then the other members can go ahead and move faster to that goal as well. So Brexit may even be seen by the continental europeans as an opportunity. Trade disruption will damage the EU economy, but as it is quite big and stable not enough to be a disastrous blow. A lot of officials and lawyers will be employed on drafting detailed legal measures and they will do nicely from the fees/overtime pay. No one else will notice any advantages. The pessimistic view that there are no real trade advantages from brexit is I think correct. No one really knows what May wants as a deal as she has avoided any commitments and tried to twist and turn to avoid any. To the extent of having an entirely unnecessary election that like Bexit is an exercise in wasting time and money.

14

nick s 06.17.17 at 2:29 am

This particular instance is up there with “national economies are like household economies so we can use all the same analogies”, but I’m interested whether MBA types and the kind of people who teach negotiation can spell out the difference between BATNA in situations where the relationship between parties is largely unaltered without a negotiated agreement and situations where the relationship changes at a specified time unless an agreement is reached.

(A simple example: an out-of-contract footballer negotiating terms to sign for a club is in a different position to a footballer with six months left on an existing contract before becoming a free agent.)

15

Cranky Observer 06.17.17 at 3:13 am

While I personally tend to agree with the general CT consensus that the UK had a pretty good deal with the grandfathered provisions of its original EEC membership and did even better by opting out of the euro whilst remaining in the EU, I guess I am one of the only ones who thinks there is a substantial chance that Brexit will be as or more damaging to the EU than to the UK. Just as with fiat currency a federation of that size and diversity is in large part an act of will and is sustained in part by an aura of inevitability/invincibility. The EU stomped hard on Greece to prevent that aura from being questioned; if the UK breaks off a chunk of it will the rest act like mild steel or tempered glass?

16

christian h. 06.17.17 at 4:06 am

Sometimes the range of negotiating agreements is constrained in such a way that it is literally impossible for any agreement to be worse than no agreement. For example in Australian union bargaining a contract must be tested against something called the national award and on balance be found better for the workers than it (yes, this test may flawed see e.g. the Coles contract but the principle obtains) in order to come into legal force; if no contract is reached award conditions apply.

The Brexit negotiations seem to me to be of this type only the U.K. has less leverage than an Australian union since there’s no industrial action to take. So the slogan “a bad agreement is worse than no agreement” is a lie the Tories put out for the election, functionally equivalent to the less pithy “look we didn’t just commit a blunder of world historic proportions just so some public school boys could exercise their egos”.

17

Niall McAuley 06.17.17 at 6:09 am

“Hold it! The next man makes a move, the n****r gets it!”

18

Moz of Yarramulla 06.17.17 at 6:12 am

I can imagine a lot of agreements worse than no agreement now that the DUP is involved.

Take one obvious example: the DUP insist on keeping freedom of movement between Eire and Northern Ireland, regardless of what it costs the rest of the UK. May has the choice: dump the DUP and ely on the goodwill of other parties, or give the EU whatever they want to keep that particular freedom of movement.

The alternative is actually ugly as well, because an actual hard border through the suburbs that straddle NI/Eire is going to go literally through people’s houses. Some kind of Berlin Wall scenario is pretty much inevitable if that border is to be hardened. The alternative, of a Canada/USA type “the border is somewhere about here, please don’t cross without going through the formalities” just seems unlikely.

19

Moz of Yarramulla 06.17.17 at 6:17 am

A different bad agreement: how many commonwealth citizens does the EU have access to? Imagine someone slips in an “any commonwealth citizen who has residence rights in the EU must be given them in the UK” type clause. I can see a lot of opportunities for subtle gaming of an agreement because the UK is putting a bunch of mismanaged numpties up against some of the best negotiators in the world.

It may easily end up that the best outcome possible is no agreement, because the numpties will screw up anything in ways that only become obvious after the fact.

20

Sandwichman 06.17.17 at 6:32 am

I was going to mention BATNA, but it has already been mentioned several times. I teach a collective bargaining course. Although BATNA is fundamental to negotiations, no agreement can be very bad indeed.

I assign a reading to my bargaining course that includes lists of behaviors that successful negotiators avoid and behaviors that they use. Based on her campaigning and subsequent performance, May appears to have read those lists backward.

21

Managing History 06.17.17 at 6:35 am

Compromise > No compromise.

22

MisterMr 06.17.17 at 7:21 am

No deal would inflict a lot of short term balance to the UK economy, but some of it will likely fade away with time as the UK signs deals with other countries.

So no deal (a lot of pain today) might be better than a bad deal (less pain today but a disadvantageous position in time), depending on how much meat the EU wants to chew away from the UK.

23

Dipper 06.17.17 at 9:14 am

This is the wrong question. “Agreement” doesn’t come into it. The time for an “Agreement” was when David Cameron renegotiated the agreement prior to the referendum. Now, the EU has offered terms, which the UK either accepts or doesn’t accept. The terms being EU membership as currently is, but without the rebate and without a vote. Failure to accept these terms and we are a third country with no ties or special access (unless there is a war, in which case as close and valued allies we will be called upon to send our troops to fight for them).

24

nastywoman 06.17.17 at 9:18 am

It begs the question: What is a ‘bad’ agreement? –
and as a reminder: The ‘four freedoms’ of the European Union are the freedom of movement of goods, people, services and capital over borders – and so for every British Citizen who thinks that ‘the freedom of movements of people’ is ‘bad’ an agreement about the ‘the freedom of movements of people’ will be ‘bad’ – while for a – perhaps young British Erasmus Student who hangs currently in France – ‘the freedom of movements of people’ represent everything what Europe is actually ALL about: A tremendous admirable ‘Friendship and Peace Project’ on a Continent where once a everlasting Peace between the major countries was unimaginable.

And why is that fact so often forgotten?
-(in the heat of divisive passion?)

25

Phil 06.17.17 at 9:41 am

I had a go at this on Twitter a bit back; here’s the thread. To reproduce what I said there: we all know that ‘no deal’ would be a very bad outcome for Britain – chaotically, unpredictably, open-endedly bad. So the argument is that a bad deal is worse than chaos. This is logically absurd, but it works emotively because it conveys that the government is determined to get what it wants, or rather (to borrow from Philip Larkin) not to get what it doesn’t want. Whatever happens, we won’t let Them impose on Us.

This is also how Tories can simultaneously argue that May is a strong leader because she’s accepting the possibility of leaving with no deal, and that letting Corbyn negotiate would be a disaster – logically, again, this makes no sense, as presumably the very worst Corbyn could achieve would be… leaving with no deal. What they’re really saying is that Corbyn and Starmer would be bad negotiators because they would negotiate, and May and Davis are good negotiators because they’re going to walk out. A good outcome is one where we get to stand up to the foreigners – and after that, well, who knows what the future holds? We’ll get through, we always have up to now…

The point was summed up in a Tweet from a Brexit supporter, in response to somebody else making a very similar point to the OP. From memory:
“You still don’t get it, do you. We don’t want a ‘deal’. We want to LEAVE.”

26

nastywoman 06.17.17 at 9:51 am

– and as another commenter mentioned Greece and brought up (the favorite?) Anglo-Saxon ‘money question’ – and that ‘the EU stomped hard on Greece to prevent the aura of inevitability/invincibility. from being questioned.

How much is it worth – and not in Pounds or Euros – to belong to the EU?!!

Or in other words: To be a part of such a tremendous cultural diverse group of countries -(the don’t even speak the same language!) – where it never seemed to be imaginable that they could come together? – and which came together anywhoo in a way – where for example they lifted the poorest countries in the group – like Greece – to nearly the same level as the richest countries – and then – when this ‘awesome’ and ‘amazing’ process perhaps was done a bit too quickly – there have been repercussion – but still – with always finding agreements – instead of ‘no agreement’.

What is it worth to belong to EUROPE and not to be alone -(like Puerto Rico) when it comes to the dough and much much more important – when it comes to be ‘just the member of one European country’ or a EUROPEAN.

Or the last time I asked a Greek – he told me – He can’t even think about NOT being a EUROPEAN anymore or having ‘the Euro’ – whatever the struggle with Mr. Schäuble or his own idiots!

tremendously admirable group of countries which finally had put all of their

27

Dipper 06.17.17 at 10:09 am

@nastwoman 24

Student exchange agreements exist between all sorts of countries irrespective of other arrangements. I wish to end FOM for the UK not because I don’t think there should be student exchanges, but because I think FOM has been disastrous for many working people in the UK who have seen their wages go down, housing costs go up, and public services come under pressure.

If the EU will not countenance student exchanges unless the UK agrees to maintain FOM that indicates they care about student exchanges a lot less than you do.

28

OldJim 06.17.17 at 11:02 am

Collin Street @ 11 and nastywoman @ 24 come closest to ‘getting it’

The purpose of May’s tautologies is to say something that is unimpeachable to everyone inside the tory coalition, whilst surreptitiously occupying, for those who have ears to hear it (those to whom it is addressed), the rhetorical standpoint of the ‘harder’ kind of leave voter.

“Brexit means brexit” is apparently just an affirmation that the government will honour the outcome of the referendum: it is unobjectionable to all but ‘hard’ remainers. But, upon closer scrutiny, ‘brexit means brexit’ actually speaks, sotto voce, to the concerns of the person who wants a ‘full fat’ end to our european entanglements: ‘there will be no backsliding’ it says, ‘no creative interpretations, or haggling. You voted for unmediated, undliuted parliamentary sovereignty and an end to freedom of movement, and I will not compromise those objectives in the name of delivering rival goods, however appealing to the country as a whole, to other constituencies.’

Likewise, ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’ appears to be an utterly contentless, and therefore unobjectionable formulation: BATNA, as other posters have put it. But its purpose is to allude to an implicit hierarchy of ‘goods’. ‘A compromise for the treasury, attractive in other respects, that fails to acknowledge what motivated your vote,’ it says, ‘will not do. You will get everything you voted for before I consider what I have left with which to try to minimise costs in other areas.’

29

chris y 06.17.17 at 1:01 pm

Moz @18. The question of the Irish border would be critical whether or not the DUP was involved. Some of us, in NI and, like myself, elsewhere, have been pointing this out since the referendum campaign. If you are suggesting that, had the DUP not been in a position to kick up a fuss about it, the British government would have ignored the issue in negotiations, I can only say, as I never thought I would, on this occasion thank god for the DUP.

Dipper @23. “unless there is a war, in which case as close and valued allies we will be called upon to send our troops to fight for them”. No. In that case arrangements will be made through NATO, which has nothing to do with the EU.

30

Dipper 06.17.17 at 1:15 pm

@ chris y

“In that case arrangements will be made through NATO, which has nothing to do with the EU.”

Like I didn’t know that. You may think that NATO and the EU have nothing to do with each other, but if it ever comes to UK troops being put in danger to protect countries busy trying to punish the UK for asserting its independence, they will have everything to do with each other.

31

Anonymous2 06.17.17 at 1:43 pm

‘The UK can just walk away into WTO terms’

What happens to air flights in this scenario?

32

nastywoman 06.17.17 at 3:17 pm

@27
My ‘Student’ example was just an example for a British Citizen who still believes in the probably most important freedom of the EU – ‘FOM’ – and I don’t think it was ‘FOM’ which has been disastrous for many working people in the UK who have seen their wages go down, housing costs go up, and public services come under pressure’.

It was failed policies of the UK government – who -(like the US) seemed to have cared very little for ‘their working people’ and instead used FOM to attract (not only) some of the richest Europeans to London.

And if a country on the one side profits such tremendously from nearly every rich Greek Oligarch -(supposedly there is a colony of 40 000 Greeks in London?) and we’re not even talking about the hundred of thousand French – and ‘Non European Richies’… you can’t seriously come to the conclusion that ‘Great Britain’ (London?) hasn’t profited much more than any other European country from POM?

And I completely agree with your point that Great Britains workers haven’t –
but instead of changing ‘policies’ and ‘politics’ in a way that also Great Britains workers would have profited – to say By, by to Europe how stupid is that?
-(as even the rich Greeks might have to return to Greece?)

33

Glen Tomkins 06.17.17 at 3:30 pm

If you’re a Tory who doesn’t actually want any change in the status quo, who wants to stay in the EU, but who has to pretend to try to negotiate the exit because Brexit won, of course you’re going to try to sell everybody on the idea that Britain needs an exit deal that’s better than the status quo that Britain remains in if no deal can be reached. At the end of the day, no such better deal will be available, so Britain will have no choice but go with no deal and stay in the EU.

Losing the recent election actually helps this strategy. Now the govt gets to claim that it would indeed have found that better deal had the voters not put them in the minority. Perhaps the loss was a result of the voters changing their minds on Brexit. We have to respect the will of the voters, and when they made it impossible for us to get that better deal, they were in effect rescinding the Brexit vote. We didn’t hold a redo referendum on Brexit, because we respect the will of the voters too much for that. The voters themselves took us at our word when our manifesto made the late election a referendum on getting that better Brexit deal, and they voted against giving us the means to make that better deal, therefore they rescinded the Brexit referendum, not us. Oh, we’ll still try our best to get that better deal, but with diminished negotiating strength after the voters spoke, well, if two years from now we haven’t got that better deal, then it’s no deal, and we stay in the EU, and that’s really another example of the wisdom of the crowds, isn’t it?

Of such passive aggressiveness is representative democracy in 2017 made. The Tory govt held the Brexit referendum in the first place, despite not believing Brexit to be a good idea, to escape responsibility for staying in the EU by fobbing it off on the voters, whom they imagined would of course vote to stay in. Most people who voted for it didn’t actually want Brexit, they just wanted to register a protest vote and thought it safe because of course Brexit was going to lose. Oh well. That’s all water under the bridge. Now it’s once more into the breach of faith between voters and representatives!

34

SusanC 06.17.17 at 3:44 pm

“No deal” might have been a possible option before the election, but not now, with the DUP’s votes critical to the government.

The implication of “no deal” for NI is presumably either a hard border between NI and the Republic, or Irish reunification. The DUP is apparently against a hard border, and I presume they’d be really unhappy if irish reunification was proposed as a solution. So some kind of deal, at least concerning the land border between the UK and the EU that runs through the island of Ireland, loks inevitable.

35

Layman 06.17.17 at 4:01 pm

Dipper: “You may think that NATO and the EU have nothing to do with each other, but if it ever comes to UK troops being put in danger to protect countries busy trying to punish the UK for asserting its independence, they will have everything to do with each other.”

More ‘punish’ nonsense. Dipper says he wants out, the EU says “fine, g’bye!”, Dipper whines that he’s being punished and suggests that the U.K. will abrogate the NATO treaty. Really, be serious.

36

tomtom50 06.17.17 at 4:05 pm

Conservatives tend to depict liberals as surrender monkies. May is signaling that the EU will know full well she is willing to walk away and will therefore give her the better deal than a liberal who can be pushed around. None of this is about logic, it is about posture and toughness and a lack of public understanding about how a negotiation is conducted between sophisticated parties.

Remember Cheney and “We don’t negotiate with evil; we defeat it.”? We didn’t negotiate with evil, the IAEA locks came off of the Yongbyon Nuclear Facility, and now N. Korea has the bomb. They certainly weren’t defeated. This failure of Bush 43 is not much discussed as we talk about how to deal with N. Korea. I have seen no reflection and reconsideration after this failure.

Sometimes it works politically to be obstreperous in a negotiation, even at the expense of the national interest.

This is a human problem, logical arguments work only with those of us who are willing to let logic temper passion. What we can do is teach our children well and hope persuasion over time does its slow work.

37

nastywoman 06.17.17 at 4:06 pm

So –
it might be time to look at the whole ‘deal’ from the perspective of somebody who finds it utmost absurd – that of all European Countries – THE country – which has with London –
THE utmost ‘European City’ -(with it’s mind boggling numbers of French, German, Greek and Polish and etc.etc.- ‘Colonies’) – that such an ‘Utmost European’ Country has to come to an ‘agreement with other European Countries which are not even halfway ‘that European’?

And about the ‘Revenge of the Forgotten Workers’?
Perhaps it’s time to explain to them that they were forgotten – not because of some ‘FOM’?
They were forgotten because their ‘leaders’ seemed to have liked the FOM of every Rich Dude who wanted to enter the country so much more than how the germans love – absolutely LOVE their workers!
-(and especially the auto-workers)

Or what?

38

bruce wilder 06.17.17 at 6:45 pm

Why do people keep saying that a bad agreement is worse than no agreement?

A lot of what people routinely say makes no logical or objective sense. If you only notice that on rare occasions, you are not paying much attention. It is only exceptionally that an argument is made that aims at what could be called logical or evidentiary proof. Mostly, what is said is emotive and in political domains, is aimed at motivating loyalty to the group or the state. I think it would be better to think of argument, political and otherwise, to be hypnotic in nature and one way to draw a person into a receptive state is to propose a statement that leaves their conscious attention paralyzed at the juncture of some impossible to resolve dichotomy or dilemma, while any number of emotive propositions can be loaded directly into the unconscious mind.

I do not have any helpful citations for you, I am sorry to say. I would expect a political anthropologist might have a lot of useful stuff to say about how the psychological mechanisms behind this kind of transactional slogan or shibboleth fits into the general formation of political culture, shared values, coordinated action and so on. (Think of classic work like that of Mary Douglas.)

The most obvious anxieties that this senseless statement — “a bad agreement is worse than no agreement” — function for the moment to allay, relate to the problem of conceiving of the Brexit negotiations. As far as I know, no prominent commentators or politicians have come up with a crisp formulation of what is to be negotiated that summarizes succinctly and with passable accuracy what is, in detail, inevitably very complex.

Many in Britain, and in the West in general, are living on the leeward side of elite betrayal cum incompetence. Structures in the EU framework were built up on slogans and promises that things would be better, and they have been better for some people, but for some other people the results have been unhappy. I think that experience, and the deep erosion of confidence and legitimacy it implies, has a lot to do with the emotive appeal of “a bad agreement is worse than no agreement”. The experience of people who feel aggrieved by the results of Britain’s membership in the EU is of complex agreements, where much good is promised on the level of slogan, and the consequences are more mixed, or perhaps we could say with understatement, unevenly distributed. And, when the bad consequences of elaborate agreements come, elite authority denies responsibility for or even the capacity to respond to the problems. “I am so sorry we cannot control immigration any longer — freedom! you know.”

So, to summarize, I think two sources of anxiety combine to make the formula “a bad agreement is worse than no agreement” soothing in a way. One is that there is, as yet, no very clear summary of what is being negotiated and with what aim, and the other is that a large part of the electorate that has favored Brexit does so out of dissatisfaction with the result of negotiating complex agreements in the past. Brexit is trying to undo complex agreements that have not lived up to their billing (at least for some people in their own judgment), and yet no one can explain what the new complex agreement will do or how it will be different, beyond the most diffuse handwaving (“soft Brexit” v “hard Brexit”).

Not understanding the nature of a complex agreement in prospect or trusting elite authority to negotiate one with responsibility to the electorate that asked them to break the old complex agreement, the possibility of “no agreement” is reassuring.

Obviously, it is not reassuring to people who recognize that “no agreement” is not a practical possibility. There is no null, no true vacuum in the realm of practical possibility that would not be chaos on steroids. It is possible to conjure alarm on the possibility of “no agreement” with the same hypnotic processes of rhetorical imagination. That doesn’t make such alarmist discourse any more or less sensible by the standards of logic or objective observation that the “no agreement is better than a bad agreement” slogan.

39

Layman 06.17.17 at 7:23 pm

The problem remains that there is no basis for an agreement which:

1) …is acceptable to the EU, in that it won’t fundamentally undermine the EU
2) …is acceptable to Brexit voters, in that it delivers UK control over immigration and law
3) …won’t wreck the UK economy, in that it permits free trade with the EU and EU trade partners

There is no common ground among these demands. In light of that, I’d say ‘no agreement’ is the most likely outcome, which is why I think May has worked so hard to talk up the idea that a complete break would be okay for Britains. The only thing that has mitigated the likelihood of a ‘no agreement’ outcome is May’s blunder in calling an election. That thumping could force the Tories to contemplate what would amount to a false Brexit, or even no Brexit, because ‘hard Brexit’ just got soundly beaten at the polls.

40

Chris Bertram 06.17.17 at 7:28 pm

Dipper, the source of hilarity as usual, “but if it ever comes to UK troops being put in danger to protect countries busy trying to punish the UK for asserting its independence”.

The trouble is that independence cuts both ways. Presumably, the “punishment” here happens when sovereign states refuse to trade with the UK on the terms that it would like, which they have a perfect right to do, particularly after the UK has unilaterally ditched the previous arrangement.

41

Robespierre 06.17.17 at 7:28 pm

Because no-one starts negotiations by saying “I’m desperate and will sign anything”? Maybe you ARE being obtuse

42

Cranky Observer 06.17.17 at 7:44 pm

= = = bruce wilder@6:45 pm: ‘Why do people keep saying that a bad agreement is worse than no agreement?’
A lot of what people routinely say makes no logical or objective sense. = = =

Hmmmm. Consider the Eastern Airlines example. A bad agreement would have been the Machinists accepting the very disadvantageous contract that Borman and Lorenzo offered. No agreement would be continuing the strike that ultimately destroyed the company putting 10s of thousands out of work.

It seems clear to me [1] that the Machinists, along with the Pilots and Flight Attendants who supported them, were perfectly well aware that continuing the strike would result in bankruptcy and/or dissolution of their employer, and that given the state of the industry at the time the majority of the machinists and flight attendants would never work for an airline again. It was worth it to them to pay that price [2] to drive Borman and Lorenzo out if the industry forever, which indeed happened.

So I’m afraid it is not so clear to me that the phrase under discussion is always and everywhere false or meaningless.

[1] classmates in my consensus/teamwork-oriented MBA program were horrified when I advanced this theory. I was the only one in the class of 80 with a labor union background
[2] the ground employees, reservation agents, etc had no say and paid the price as well

43

Z 06.17.17 at 8:32 pm

I would like to be fair to Dipper (for instance noting that many European states are apparently quite fine with a deal that would slightly negatively impact them in economic terms provided it would hurt the UK enough to dissuade over separatist velleities, a behavior that I think could at least arguably be accurately described as punitive) but “if it ever comes to UK troops being put in danger to protect countries busy trying to punish the UK for asserting its independence” begs for rhetorical fun. Assert away, man, assert away.

About the OP, here is a simple test: is there a single person with power who has articulated in at least one occasion even a single objective that the UK intends to achieve in the so-called negotiations? If not (as I suspect), then “a bad deal is worse than no deal” is just the least worse way May and Co have found to communicate the national audience a message that would roughly be “we have no idea what we should do and other people are unwilling to do our homework for us so buckle up guys ’cause there are turbulences ahead and don’t forget, it’s other peoples fault” in full and honest form.

That also works for “I have been elected to represent the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris”.

44

Neville Morley 06.17.17 at 8:33 pm

@Glen #33: I don’t know if I’m missing your point catastrophically, but no one, absolutely no one, thinks that ‘no deal’ means ‘not leaving the EU’; rather, it means ‘leaving the EU without any sort of new arrangement on terms of trade, tariffs, arrangements for U.K. citizens resident in Europe etc etc’. Which only pointy-headed loonies think would be anything other than a disaster. Hence, Harry’s bemusement.

45

Dipper 06.17.17 at 9:49 pm

@ Chris Bertram

Always happy to provide the entertainment. The EU is perfectly free to act independently, But I don’t see that being allies in one sphere and independent states in another has any long-term future.

@ nastywoman.

There are lots of goings on in London and oligarchs and plutocrats living here that many don’t like, including myself. But that hasn’t got anything to do with the reality of FOM.
Its all very well feeling European and singing the praises of being able to move, but the numbers are pretty awful. The EC predictions on future populations are pretty awful not just for the UK and Sweden where the population is going but also where the population is coming from. You are all welcome to crunch the numbers yourself, but to me it looks like Germany loses about 10M and we gain 16M. This leaves German with an infrastructure for 10M people that is standing idle, and us having to build an infrastructure for 16M in pretty small order. And whatever the cost of doing that was, after the fire it has just gone up by quite a lot.

I haven’t seen any sign of any serious politician or commentator look at these numbers and show any understanding of the enormity of what is in this report. To think that the Pied Piper of Islington and his bag of magic beans is going to deliver what is needed isn’t the politics of hope, it is the politics of complete delusion.

EC report in http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/european_economy/2014/pdf/ee8_en.pdf. (particularly table 1.1.8)

CIA world fact book for birth/death rates.

46

Layman 06.17.17 at 11:17 pm

Dipper: “But I don’t see that being allies in one sphere and independent states in another has any long-term future.”

This despite the fact that the UK and the US have been allies for about a hundred years while also being different states. Despite that UK and France have been allies for a hundred years despite being different states. Despite the fact that nearly every alliance in the world is made up of, well, different states. That’s why it’s called an ‘alliance’, rather than a ‘state’.

Also, too, the line about ‘past performance being no guarantee of future performance’ is apparently lost on you. If too many people move from Germany to the UK, and the UK becomes less attractive a destination, and Germany has room and infrastructure, some people will move from the UK to Germany. Unless some racist git puts an end to freedom of movement, that is.

47

OldJim 06.17.17 at 11:19 pm

To further elucidate my earlier comment: Some remainers, I think, still think that if they can just convince leavers that brexit really will have terrible economic implications, they will win converts. In truth, a substantial proportion of leavers know that there will be negative economic implications (even as they avoid allowing themselves to acknowledge their full severity): it is precisely this knowledge that generates, in some, a desire for a harder brexit.

The thinking runs: we cannot remain within the customs union, or the single market, or wholly remain within the EU without keeping the rebate, because any of these things would evidently leave us worse off than we are presently, without materially altering our fundamental circumstances. This is thinkable to a ‘remain’ voter, who is trying to mitigate the harm in which they are not complicit, but which they know is coming. But it is not thinkable to me, a leave voter, because I must be able to tell myself a story about what I did on the 23rd of June, and it cannot be that I caused my country economic harm, and EU citizens considerable distress, to no good effect. Instead, we must do the most crippling of all the possible things and sever ourselves wholly from our European commitments, because that is the only thing that opens enough ‘negative space’ to stand any chance at all, however slim, of vindicating the self-harm to which I have committed our polity.

This is the logic hiding behind ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ — other posters are right to say that the surface context in which this language was deployed was usually one in which the two major parties were contrasted, such that the tories were ‘tough enough negotiators’ to threaten to walk away, whilst labour were soppy co-operators. But I find this argument rather strained, and think that in truth its real purpose was to express solidarity with a particular kind of leave-voter through a latent subtext:

What we have done means that any deal will be worse than what we had. Better to tell ourselves that the parliamentary sovereignty and end to freedom of movement we said we wanted are goods so high that they are incommensurable with anything else; thereby avoiding any utilitarian weighing of preferences that might otherwise conclude that what we did was deeply foolish. If parliamentary sovereignty and an end to free movement are incommensurable with tariff-free access to the single market, etc. then any deal in which any amount of advantage for the latter is accrued by a compromise of the former is a ‘bad deal’. – Our opening position, then, is to assert terms that almost certainly preclude a deal. Part of what makes doing so palatable is the fantasy that only in so doing do we create the incredibly unlikely possibility that EU negotiators will be forced to acknowledge and allow us this, and nevertheless negotiate some access for us. “No deal is better than a bad deal” whilst appearing to say little to most here at CT, suddenly acquires content and weight to someone hearing it within this constellation of suppositions, I hope you agree.

I don’t know whether this rhetoric is compatible with the new parliamentary landscape, or whether it is now simply a garbled hangover from earlier times. I expect that the language being deployed will now begin to change.

48

Moz of Yarramulla 06.18.17 at 12:05 am

chris y @ 29:The question of the Irish border would be critical whether or not the DUP was involved. … If you are suggesting that, had the DUP not been in a position to kick up a fuss about it, the British government would have ignored the issue in negotiations

Not at all. I’m suggesting that with the DUP involved they might try to close off “bad deal is worse than no deal” by demanding the the border remain open regardless of cost. Especially since that cost may well be that the mess at Calais moves to the NI border once that becomes the soft entry point to the UK. The Conservatives apparentyly seem to think that the Australian gambit will work for them “refugees, don’t come to the UK, it’s sodding awful here if you’re not an oligarch and we’re actively making it worse”.

Like Neville@44, my understanding of “no deal” is that it’s a hard border at every point.

49

derrida derider 06.18.17 at 12:29 am

Yeah, this “no deal is better than a bad deal” shtick is pure political bullshit, and mostly internal Tory political bullshit at that.

Because “no deal” (ie the BATNA) is a very, very bad deal indeed for the UK, and the EU knows it. It’s not a good one for the EU either, though not nearly as disastrous as it would be for Britain. That it’s not a good one for the EU is the sole reason why there is some hope of a deal, but assuming rationality on each side the deal is still going to be bad for Britain. May is like the black sheriff in Blazing Saddles facing a lynch mob, pointing his gun to his own head and saying “nobody move or the nigger gets it!”.

Economics aside, I think lefty Brexiters are simply plumb crazy politically. The EU has been the ONLY restraint against unfettered rule by the UK plutocratic security state in a FPTP system.

50

Glen Tomkins 06.18.17 at 1:56 am

Neville Morley,

The idea is that as some miracle better deal cannot be negotiated with the EU, and the deadline draws near, the terms will be shifted. “Withdrawing with no deal would be bad. It’s not what the voters wanted when they voted for Brexit. They were told that Britain would leave, but could of course negotiate a better deal that would still get Britain all the advantages, no, a more advantageous trade deal because we’re Britain, they need us more than we need them, and we could demand so much better if only we had leaders with spine. Britain could get all that by leaving, without the undesirable parts of EU membership, like letting in all those foreigners. Well, maybe such a deal might have been possible for us to extort from Europe, had we been left with a strong hand by a victory in 2017, but clearly the voters had changed their minds about Brexit. Their failure to give us a majority, when we campaigned for a majority explicitly to get a strong negotiating position, means that we have no choice but to rethink things as negotiations develop.” Then when end-stage is reached and the best that Europe offers is a bad deal, then no deal in the sense of no change in the status quo, no actual exit, will be the best deal available. Maybe the govt will feel it can hold a redo referendum at that point. Or it will simply not go through with exit, stay in the EU on its own initiative. They pretend the referendum is binding now because they don’t want to take responsibility for just ignoring it, but as the end game nears that may become the less dangerous path than leading Britain into exit with no deal.

51

Moz of Yarramulla 06.18.17 at 3:44 am

Dipper: us having to build an infrastructure for 16M in pretty small order. And whatever the cost of doing that was, after the fire it has just gone up by quite a lot.

Do you mean the 5000 quid they saved by not use fire-proof cladding as part of a 10 million refit? To write that as a percentage I have to count the zeros.. I think it’s a 0.05% cost increase.

52

nastywoman 06.18.17 at 4:32 am

@45
‘But that hasn’t got anything to do with the reality of FOM.’

The reality of FOM is that you can’t have every rich European moving to the UK – sucking in her – or mainly ‘his dough’ – and when it comes to the poorer immigrants you say: NO!

And the reality is – that you can’t do everything to become the Banking Capital of Europe – go ‘ALL IN’ into ‘Finance’ – sell your whole auto industry -(mainly to Germany) – then find out that it is very, very bad for your workers – then blame immigration for your voluntarily economical insanity – and – or come up with EC predictions on future populations.

As the one million refugees to Germany -(and the many these refugees probably will produce) – have proven that EC prediction on future populations always get adjusted in reality – and the Brexit might prove that the UK might lose so many bankers to the continent – and all the ‘service workers’ -(with their many children) – they need – that we much rather should rely on the current reality.

And I have for too many ‘British’ friends that I enjoy it if they shoot themselves in their own foot – especially if in the future London would be the ‘European’ London anymore it is right now…

53

nastywoman 06.18.17 at 4:56 am

Wait a minute!

You can do everything what Great Britain did -(including selling your ‘Capital’ to the highest bidders) – BUT then – when you deal with the consequences it is very difficult to make ‘others’ who watched with eyes wide open what was going on – pay for it.

But they might? – as in reality the whole thing is so amazingly entangled – and Europe has proven to always find an agreement – that there will be some kind of agreement again.
-(and if it is: Europe pretends to have had a ‘Brexit’ – but in reality there is none)

54

Pavel A 06.18.17 at 5:21 am

This is a pretty good thread describing why taking a hard stance is a terrible approach to negotiating with the EU from someone who has actually represented the UK in negotiations with the EU in the past:
https://twitter.com/GuitarMoog/status/875807980041752577

Apparently, the UK’s opening moves have been amateur hour.

55

Pavel A 06.18.17 at 5:54 am

Same thing as above, but in blog form: https://thegreatbritishmoronathon.wordpress.com/2017/06/17/why-mays-bloody-difficult-approach-to-brexit-negotiations-is-so-wrong/

@45
It’s interesting how you frame the problem of demographics as a zero-sum game. Influx == infrastructure expenditure. Period. You seem to be missing the fact that as the working population ages across the EU (something the EC report makes quite clear), immigrants will become one of the few sources of younger replacement labor. They will work and pay taxes (as they currently do), which will also pay for infrastructure expenditures. One current example of where the EU/UK is headed (without significant level of immigration) is Japan. The country has a highly controlled and fairly xenophobic approach to immigration and is simultaneously experiencing severe labor shortages in the dairy industry and in pretty much any industry located outside of a major metropolitan area. Smaller surrounding cities are literally dying off and being swallowed up by nature in the same manner as parts of Detroit. http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-japan-population-snap-story.html

Also, Brexit representing “the true will of the people” is probably BS: https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/you-aren-t-allowed-to-know-who-paid-for-key-leave-campaign-adverts

56

MisterMr 06.18.17 at 7:09 am

@Z 43

I’m not sure why you think that “many european countries are willing to accept a deal that is bad for them”, I think that what Dipper calls “punishment” is just unenlightened self interest:

1) the EU can offer the UK a deal that is only marginally better than no deal (a shitburger whith fries vs a shitburger), the UK is likely to sign it anyway;
2) even in case of no deal, if the UK economy thanks this is a competitor less, in the modern protectionist world this is a plus;
3) the britons would likely nix any deal that wasn’t directly disadvantageous for other EU countries (this is unobvious to the britons but obvious to the others, one can’t see one’s own protectionism) since they just rejected an accord where they had slightly better conditions than the others;
4) other EU countries can wait more than the UK can, so the pain is likely to be temporary while the gain might be permanent.

The problem is that negotiations between nations often are this kind of nasty power driven stuff, but we inhabitants of the rich world usually are on the strong side of negotiations and don’t see it, it just happens that britons (or brexiters) are going to see thing from the weak side for once.

57

nastywoman 06.18.17 at 8:25 am

– and as so many ‘Mainland’ Europeans – who went ALL IN for Great Britains Real Estate – have lost already so much dough -(in Euros – through the devaluation of the Pound) – NON of them are interested to see a ‘little britain’ – and so there is a lot of reason to be kind of optimistic about an ‘agreement’ – and there is no reason for some ‘dippers’ to go all ‘confrontial’ – just remember from the past 70 years how it is done in Europe -(a contraire to the ‘No Compromise Land USA’)

There might be the Huff’s and Puff’s of some – who have to pretend for their own constituencies that they are mainly interested in their well being but then – they are actually so ‘European’ already – that somebody finds out -(like some Banker) – that for example Greece – which supposedly was treated very badly – in reality has one of lowest debt burdens in Europe – if all the loans with no interest payments who (perhaps) mature in fifty years are figured in – and so the other Europeans have found ways to create all kind of ‘creative’ agreements’- which on the outside let both sides keep their faces but in reality still make a really ‘bad’ agreement impossible?

And so – if most of the British retirees who live in Spain -(or other ‘EU’ countries) – stay in Spain – and get a EU passport as a present – or Germany gives every Brit – who lives in Germany – a honorary German passport -(as some German politicians already seriously suggested) – and there are additional programs for ‘British Guest Workers’ are put up (Haha?) – everything will be happily ever after…

58

Dipper 06.18.17 at 8:29 am

@Moz of Yarramulla it isn’t just the £5,000 here which clearly should have been spent. You don’t know where the next incident, and the next £5,000 is going to come from. so you have to spend a lot of £5,000’s, and do a lot of retrospective work on all buildings, all transport.

We should do this. I’m just pointing out that doing this isn’t going to be cheap. And doing this at the same time as building an entire nation’s worth of infrastructure looks pretty much impossible. Where are the people to do this? Where are the inspectors?

@ Nastywoman. Round my way the only adjustment to reality of widespread EU immigration going on is massive building projects. I see no practical mechanism for adjustment, no natural mechanism that stops this happening. And the one thing that will guarantee financial jobs leaving the city is John McDonnell’s Financial Transaction Tax.

@ PavelA – 55. Yes I understand all that. Lots of EU countries are going to have much bigger problems with ageing population than the UK. The UK has a high birth rate itself driven by immigration (in 2015 25% of all children born were born to immigrant mothers). So the problem for the UK is not towns being swallowed up by nature – that is happening elsewhere in Europe – it is working out where to put 16 million people in an already overcrowded country.

59

Dipper 06.18.17 at 8:37 am

@ PavelA – 54

I’m sick of all these people with experience of negotiating with the EU popping up offering advice. If they were any good at it, we wouldn’t be here.

60

J-D 06.18.17 at 8:56 am

Glen Tomkins
The UK can’t unilaterally decide not to proceed with withdrawal, because the text of the treaty provides no procedure for doing so. Notice under Article 50 has been given; according to the text of the treaty, that means that the UK ceases to be a member of the EU in two years from notice given. Article 50 does allow for the two-year deadline to be extended, but only by mutual agreement, not unilaterally. It might theoretically be possible for the UK to obtain the agreement of the EU to revoking the Article 50 notice, even though there’s no explicit provision for this, but it certainly won’t be possible to do it unilaterally. So what you’re suggesting amounts to this: that in two years time the UK might tell the EU ‘we’ve changed our mind, we don’t want to withdraw’, and hope that the EU will agree. The blog to which Pavel A has so helpfully linked has an article about how getting EU agreement would be overwhelmingly likely to have a hugely politically unwelcome cost imposed by the EU:
https://thegreatbritishmoronathon.wordpress.com/2016/08/27/27th-august-2016-the-red-herring-of-post-article-50-hope/
I would add to what’s argued there, with reference to your specific suggestion that the UK government cite the actions of the voters at the 2017 election as the reason for abandoning withdrawal. Politically speaking, that would be tantamount to the government saying to the voters: ‘It is your fault, not ours, that the UK has suffered this massive humiliation.’ No chance.

61

SusanC 06.18.17 at 9:52 am

At one level, it’s just one of the meaningless slogans that May has been offering instead if an actual plan (cf. ” Brexit means Brexit”).

Another interpretation is that she’ saying that “no deal” is the likely outcome, and is getting in her excuse in advance, that no deal will be better than any of the deals on offer. I.e. they’re going for the “crash the UK economy” option. There are plenty of Tories who are not happy with this. (maybe even so unhappy with it that – although they hate Corbyn – they’d rather have a labour win than see May crash the economy). This is possibly a contributing factor to the Conservative losses at the last general election.

62

engels 06.18.17 at 10:20 am

Another way of seeing ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ isn’t meaningless: compare it with ‘ no Brexit is better than a bad Brexit’…

63

Lee A. Arnold 06.18.17 at 10:55 am

I think that people should strengthen alliances, not break them down. Stop being afraid of thinking about where the money goes! The reason why jobs-to-make-money are disappearing is because, Jobs to Make Money are Disappearing. It is not because of globalization. For 40 years now, mechanization & automation have been causing low pay and unemployment at a faster rate than high pay and new employment are created.

At the same time, the whole system can now produce satiety: creature comforts have become satiated, indeed consumers are satiated beyond the limits of attention-span.

This should be celebrated as freedom from working-for-money. You should go out and build a garden, go out and coach the kid’s sports league. But the old system of money & property rights over production, prevents displaced labor from having the money to buy the satiety goods. It leaves us with a false alternative choice: that the only way out is the redistribution of taxes. It makes displaced labor feel psychologically inferior, insecure, fragile, put-upon. In turn, this causes much hatred, tribalism, racism. Globalization accelerates this impoverishment, makes it more acute, by hiding the cause (i.e. jobs are disappearing) in the geographic displacement of labor-saving production. So then we blame others. But globalism is NOT causing it.

The way forward is to join into LARGER alliances with the aim of breaking the money trust, of making the private printing-of-money obsolete for some things. It won’t work by retracting, May-Trumplike, into smaller fiefdoms of local political control. Because the financial system will automatically reassert its private rentiership in the smaller venues, or else flee to other shores where temporary a ROI is greater. How are you going to control capital flight without stronger, tighter alliances? How are you going to put the end to tax havens? Wake up, people!!

64

Layman 06.18.17 at 1:49 pm

Dipper: “…it is working out where to put 16 million people in an already overcrowded country.”

The UK isn’t in the top 50 most crowded countries in the world. The UK isn’t even the most crowded country in Europe; Belgium is. The UK is only just more crowded than is Germany or Italy. If you mean London, London isn’t even in the top 10 most crowded cities in Europe. Maybe you should explain what ‘overcrowded’ means to you, and give examples of places which are and are not, in your view, overcrowded.

65

Layman 06.18.17 at 1:52 pm

J-D: “It might theoretically be possible for the UK to obtain the agreement of the EU to revoking the Article 50 notice, even though there’s no explicit provision for this, but it certainly won’t be possible to do it unilaterally.”

If the UK woke up tomorrow and said “…about this Brexit, never mind, we aren’t doing it”, I find it hard to imagine that the EU wouldn’t breathe a collective sigh of relief and agree without delay to pretend it never happened.

66

Dipper 06.18.17 at 3:46 pm

@ Layman 64

from googling, population densities of Belgium = 337/sq km, Germany = 233, UK = 267, Netherlands = 393, but England = 413. With an extra 10 million it goes to 490 / sq km.

The growth is mainly in the SE of England up to the midlands. http://www.citymetric.com/business/britains-fastest-growing-cities-are-all-south-and-its-shrinking-ones-all-north-1323

Overcrowded means the population exceeds the ability of the available infrastructure to support it. In my area I see tremendous pressure on housing, services, roads, schools, and I don’t see any serious plan to do anything about it. In my area, government will build thousands more houses, and realises it should build another hospital, but that isn’t anywhere on the horizon, and provision is getting increasingly difficult. Note 1 in 4 babies born in the UK are from immigrant mothers, so over time, if that remains, 1 in four schools is for children of immigrants, and as we don’t carry a large stock of spare teachers, nurses, we have to bring all those in too. Whilst that has upsides and downsides, I don’t see any evidence that once we have done all that we are a better richer place, and quite a lot of evidence that when we have done that we are much worse off as simply I don’t believe that the work that is driving this inward rush is generating sufficient funds to pay for the associated infrastructure and costs.

67

Glen Tomkins 06.18.17 at 3:48 pm

In response to the points made by J-D and Layman, has Britain pulled its representatives to all of the EU government entities?

If it has, then, of course, Britain remaining in the EU gets complicated. There’s been an interruption in the status quo, and special measures would be needed to reintegrate and compensate for what was decided during the absence of British representatives. But if it hasn’t, why can’t the British govt just stop the withdrawal process, and the status quo continues uninterrupted? Does Article 50 have some provision that a referendum trumps an act of Parliament, that Britain has to hold another referendum and have Remain win, or Britain must be ejected?

68

Glen Tomkins 06.18.17 at 4:13 pm

Britain had two options:
A: remain
B: exit

Now that it chose B in referendum, the alternatives break down further along the lines of what sort of deal Britain can get negotiating exit:
A: remain
B: exit
1) with a good deal
2) with a bad deal
3) with no deal

My point is that a politician who favors A at this point would be happy that B2 and B3 are having an argument. An electorate that voted for B, largely based on the idea that B1 was possible, is being treated to a public argument that takes for granted that B1 is not possible, that the only choices now are B2 or B3, bad or worse. Let the electorate stew in that a bit, and have the impossibility of B1 further driven home repeatedly by the course of the negotiations with the EU, and A looks better and better. B2 and B3 beat each other up, B1 has been shown to have never been possible, and at the end of the day, only A is left standing.

Maybe you can’t be for A openly right now, especially if you’re a Tory and this whole mess is your fault because your party decided to deal with its Eurosceptic wing and the threat from UKIP with the cunning plan of holding a referendum which Remain was going to win easily. You can only spring A as the best solution after a season in which the referendum has receded in public memory, to be replaced by the daily spectacle of B2 and B3 beating each other up, and the negotiations with the EU making clear that B1 is not an option. At that point, whether you believe that no deal is better than a bad deal, or any deal, even a bad one, is better than no deal, the status quo, remaining in the EU with no need for any sort of exit deal, is going to look like the best deal.

69

Barry 06.18.17 at 4:55 pm

Dipper: “us having to build an infrastructure for 16M in pretty small order. And whatever the cost of doing that was, after the fire it has just gone up by quite a lot.”

Sounds like ‘jobs’ to me.

70

Barry 06.18.17 at 4:58 pm

MisterMr
“No deal would inflict a lot of short term balance to the UK economy, but some of it will likely fade away with time as the UK signs deals with other countries.”

Only a little. If there was a hard Brexit, then the UK joins the world negotiating ‘olympics’ as a smaller player. Given a choice between negotiating a deal with the US, EU or China, the UK comes in at fourth of lower. And these deals take several years to a decade for experienced groups to negotiate.

71

Barry 06.18.17 at 5:05 pm

Neville Morley”
“@Glen #33: I don’t know if I’m missing your point catastrophically, but no one, absolutely no one, thinks that ‘no deal’ means ‘not leaving the EU’; rather, it means ‘leaving the EU without any sort of new arrangement on terms of trade, tariffs, arrangements for U.K. citizens resident in Europe etc etc’. Which only pointy-headed loonies think would be anything other than a disaster. Hence, Harry’s bemusement.”

This bears emphasizing. Right now, the UK will be out of the EU in March, 2019, barring a unanimous decision by 27 countries.

72

Layman 06.18.17 at 5:45 pm

@Dipper, you can reasonably believe that ‘overcrowded p’ England needs an influx of teachers, nurses, builders, plumbers, etc; or you can reasonably believe that no one else should be allowed into ‘overcrowded’ England; but believing both at the same time strikes me as a problem. Also, too, now you’re talking about England rather than the UK? What’s next, Engexit?

73

Dipper 06.18.17 at 6:08 pm

@ Barry – jobs for who? We have full employment.

74

Glen Tomkins 06.18.17 at 6:10 pm

Barry,

And why would any of the 27 blackball the UK staying in the EU in March 2019? Don’t they all have trade and tariff arrangements, and citizens/corporations with business deals or residing in the UK for whom the UK leaving with no deal is going to be a disaster?

Isn’t Remain still a possible outcome? Has anything irrevocable already happened? Will anything irrevocable happen before March 2019?

75

Suzanne 06.18.17 at 6:47 pm

@49: ‘May is like the black sheriff in Blazing Saddles facing a lynch mob, pointing his gun to his own head and saying “nobody move or the nigger gets it!”.’

She’s not the first recent Tory PM to earn that comparison:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/jan/23/tony-blair-cameron-eu-gun

“Blair told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One: “It reminds me a bit of the Mel Brooks comedy Blazing Saddles where the sheriff says at one point as he holds a gun to his own head: ‘If you don’t do what I want I’ll blow my brains out.’ You want to watch out that one of the 26 [other EU member states] doesn’t just say: ‘OK, go ahead.'”

76

Layman 06.18.17 at 7:29 pm

@Dipper, if you’re at full employment, but have insufficient teachers, nurses, etc, then immigrants aren’t stealing any jobs, they’re boosting the economy by filling needed jobs. And if you’re at full employment while jobs go unfilled, then immigrants aren’t depressing wages; and if wages are depressed, they are being depressed by something other than immigration. I know it’s annoying, but you should make some effort at consistency.

77

hix 06.18.17 at 8:02 pm

The we dont have enough physical space for immigrants argument always makes me laugh or really sad………….

78

engels 06.18.17 at 11:03 pm

Thanks, Layman, for handling the troll fumigation

79

Faustusnotes 06.19.17 at 12:39 am

Dipper, I live in Tokyo. Hearing brits whine about overcrowding makes me laugh. Tokyo has more affordable housing than London, more effective transport, better infrastructure and less crime. The U.K. ‘S decision to fail in all of these areas (including health care obviously) is a political choice not to spend money on infrastructure. If you dump those extra 16 million people in London alone it would still have a smaller population than Tokyo. Everything wrong with the U.K.’s infrastructure reflects political choices by people like you whinging on the one hand about overcrowding while on the other hand saying we can’t afford to spend more on fireproof cladding.

You are the problem, dipper.

80

J-D 06.19.17 at 3:14 am

Layman

If the UK woke up tomorrow and said “…about this Brexit, never mind, we aren’t doing it”, I find it hard to imagine that the EU wouldn’t breathe a collective sigh of relief and agree without delay to pretend it never happened.

Perhaps so. But what do you think are the chances of the UK government doing that tomorrow, Tuesday 20 June? In any case, I was responding to Glen Tomkins, who was positing a different scenario, where the UK seeks to cancel its withdrawal as the deadline approaches, so presumably after nearly the full two years allowed by Article 50. The actual physical conduct of the negotiations will involve financial costs and consume people’s time; that’s only a small factor, but it is a factor, and there are bigger ones. The EU as an organisation, and government and non-government agencies across the EU, will also devote money and effort over the negotiating period drawing up budgets and generally making plans for an EU without the UK. There will be uncertainty; people will experience stress and make difficult psychological adjustments. When I imagine the scenario in 2019, towards the end of a period like that, I find it difficult to believe that the EU will accept without question a decision by the UK government to cancel the withdrawal, with two years work going down the drain. It seems to me overwhelmingly likely that, if they are willing to agree at all, they will impose a cost: the UK has to reimburse the EU for the full cost of conducting the negotiations? the UK has to pay for the cost of all the redrawing of plans that has to be done? the UK has to sacrifice all special exemptions previously conceded by the EU? the UK has to join the Euro? If the EU is prepared to agree at all (and I think the UK would be foolish to count on it as a certainty), there will almost certainly be a price to be paid, probably a humiliating one.

Glen Tomkins

… [W]hy can’t the British govt just stop the withdrawal process, and the status quo continues uninterrupted? Does Article 50 have some provision that a referendum trumps an act of Parliament, that Britain has to hold another referendum and have Remain win, or Britain must be ejected?

Have you read Article 50? If you haven’t, you really should: it’s not long. Here’s a specifically relevant portion of it:

3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

The UK government gave the notification referred to in paragraph 2 on 29 March 2017 (did you know that?), creating a deadline of 29 March 2019. There are three explicit procedural possibilities under paragraph 3.
A. The EU and the UK reach agreement (before or on the deadline) on terms of withdrawal, with the agreement itself defining when it comes into force, a date which could be before, on, or after 29 March 2019: but on that date, the UK ceases to be a member of the EU.
B. An agreement is reached, with the unanimous approval of the EU member countries, to extend the deadline past 29 March 2019.
C. No agreement is reached by the deadline on the terms of withdrawal (A) and no agreement is reached to extend the deadline (B), so the UK ceases to be a member of the EU from the deadline of 29 March 2019.

There is no explicitly defined procedure for the UK to revoke its notification of withdrawal, but I imagine that it could be done if there was unanimous agreement on the part of the (other) EU member countries. Why would you think that is likely? If the UK seeks to revoke its notification of withdrawal, but the EU refuses to accept the revocation, pointing to the explicit terms of the treaty as saying that the UK ceases to be an EU member from 29 March 2019, what do you expect would happen?

81

J-D 06.19.17 at 5:24 am

Dipper

You are not comparing like with like. The population density of England is significantly higher than the population density of the United Kingdom as a whole, and the population density of a selected portion of England — say, for example, southeastern England — can be significantly higher than the population density of England as a whole; but similarly the population density of a similarly selected portion of another European country will be higher than the population density of the country as a whole. For example, the population density of Nordrhein-Westfalen (North-Rhine-Westphalia) is 517 people per square kilometre, significantly higher than the figure for Germany as a whole. I don’t know which region of the UK it would be reasonable to use as a comparator, but that figure is both higher than the one for the UK as a whole and higher than the one for England.

and also

@ Barry – jobs for who? We have full employment.

I am not sure what definition of ‘full employment’ you are using, but the latest figure I can find shows an official UK unemployment rate of 4.6%, which seems to me like a substantial number of people looking for jobs.

and also

I’m sick of all these people with experience of negotiating with the EU popping up offering advice. If they were any good at it, we wouldn’t be here.

Does ‘here’ mean ‘withdrawing from the EU? I thought UK withdrawal from the EU was what you wanted, in which case it seems you ought to be grateful to whomever is responsible for that coming about.

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Continental 06.19.17 at 8:02 am

Notice that Dipper 06.17.17 at 9:49 pm has managed to turn the Grenfell Tower fire – a horrific mass killing caused by criminal neglect on the part of British authorities and businesses – into an argument against the EU and immigration. One really wonders what he wouldn’t stoop to – next he’ll blame the fire on “EU over-regulation”. He’s a hopeless troll. Layman 06.18.17 at 7:29 pm, good rebuttal but what for? “I know it’s annoying” but why do you continue trying to engage with trolls when experience shows it’s pointless.

83

Dipper 06.19.17 at 8:03 am

@ J-D

Well thanks for pointing out the bit about population density. The population of England is about 53 million making it by itself a leading EU nation, so even within what is a massive population there will be significant differences. And just to point out the obvious, The projection is for the population of North-Rhine-Westphalia is projected to fall, not increase.

The full employment bit. There is lots to be said about this, in that the government is subsidising employment of a lot of people at the moment, and there are lots of people on disability benefit who could still get gainful employment. Working tax credits create a marginal rate of taxation in excess of 90% discouraging many workers from getting additional skills or working longer hours. I still don’t see where the extra jobs are coming from apart from immigration, in which case we are basically moving entire fully formed communities – doctors, teachers, builders, casual workers, lock-stock and barrel from one corner of Europe to another.

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Dipper 06.19.17 at 8:08 am

@ Layman (and by association, engels)

“And if you’re at full employment while jobs go unfilled, then immigrants aren’t depressing wages; and if wages are depressed, they are being depressed by something other than immigration.”

Blissex has made a much better comment than I can make here: https://flipchartfairytales.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/brexit-are-we-facing-a-workforce-crunch/#comment-29167. To quote his closing paragraph: “… can be summarized accurately as “Nowadays it is hard to find cheaper help”, which has been and will always be what business and property owners say.”

To summarise your view, what happened to tradesmen in the UK was that something caused their labour rates to drop sharply, and then lots of skilled tradesmen from Eastern Europe spontaneously arrived to take advantage of the new lower rates. I think CT is jumping the shark here.

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Dipper 06.19.17 at 8:18 am

@ J-D on the EU negotiation.

“I thought UK withdrawal from the EU was what you wanted, in which case it seems you ought to be grateful to whomever is responsible for that coming about.”

Everyone has their own view on this, and personally I would have voted to Remain and we got a decent deal, but we didn’t.

What we have seen in the last few years is that the EU is not an association of free nations, it is a German empire, and Germany shows none of the sensitivity to local issues and concerns that are essential in running an empire. It is simply imposing its view on the rest of the EU. Back in the 1990’s it seemed obvious to me that with the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the incorporation of Eastern Europe into the EU would mean all the power would go to the centre, and that is exactly what has happened. The EUs insistence on harmonisation takes away from peripheral nations any opportunity to carve out a nicee that gives them an advantage, e.g. corporation tax and Ireland. Furthermore, most political unions work on the basis of fiscal transfers, e.g. in the UK Scotland gets a transfer from the SE of England. this is a gift, not a loan. Germany doesn’t seem to recognise the scale of the transfers required and is being very sniffy about extending them.

The treatment of Greece was a key factor in my decision and for a number of others. Greece was encouraged to join the Euro, had loans made available, and then when it all went wrong was dumped. This is simply not how valued parts of a union should be treated.

If the UK gets rough treatment on departure – i.e. a take it or leave it deal, then we end up in a place where resistance to German instruction is futile on any basis. Stay – Greece – get screwed. Leave – UK – get screwed. This is simply not a viable basis for any kind of union. And at the risk of being hyperbolic, all those people celebrating the way the EU has avoided war in Europe are simply celebrating arriving at the end point of wars, which is the loss of sovereignty to another nation, without having gone through the war.

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nastywoman 06.19.17 at 8:46 am

– and about the ‘overcrowding’ issue – and especially in certain ‘Metropolitan Centers’ –
(the Germans call them ‘Schwarmstädte’ = Swarming Cities)
It’s a problem without a doubt – but mainly because the ‘swarming’ mainly leads to exploding rents- and real estate prices and thus all kind of stress for the cities infrastructure and administrations. But then to blame this problem on immigrants -(or the poor) – who can’t afford to live in these ‘cool centers’ anymore – and sooner or later might be ‘totally banned’ – like the homeless from Time Square – is as self defeating as choosing an idiot who even can’t manage a high school – to solve the problem.

In reality you need experienced -(and very ‘bipartisan’ – to use a silly US expression) – City Planners who come up with all kind of constructive resolutions – from ‘redirecting the swarms’ to smaller cities -(with all kind of incentives) like in Germany.

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nastywoman 06.19.17 at 9:16 am

@85
‘What we have seen in the last few years is that the EU is not an association of free
nations, it is a German empire’

And this is always the funniest statement by citizens of ‘the British Empire’ – or to give you a perspective:
With the incredible wealth which is accumulated alone in London –
the estimated value of the cities Real Estate –
the value of the cities financial machine and THE banks and THE Crown – you probably could BUY the Whole of Germany – and about ‘The treatment of Greece’ where of all European Countries – YOUR countriy’s government very clearly expressed – that it wasn’t willing to spend ‘another pound to help the Greeks’- while all the other European nations joined in with more and more loans -(without interest) – is quite… ‘amazing’? – if at the same time pretending: The treatment of Greece was a key factor in my decision and for a number of others.’ (British Citizen?)

And then on top of it – sucking in every Euro of every Greek Oligarch – every Greek Oligarch transferred from his own country to tax haven London AND then to have the nerve to state that ‘Greece’ got screwed is about the most hilarious thing you might read from a member of THE British Empire.

And that’s not criticizing – that’s joking – as I love absolutely love Great Britain -(not as much as Italy – that’s true) but London –
I tell’ya LONDON – the most awesome ‘European Metropolis’ – and I’m all for keeping the city – where it actually IS – in Europe – while the rest of Great Britain perhaps should do it’s won thing – you know – the stuff you seem to like it to do.

So what’s about that?

was a key factor in my decision and for a number of others. Greece was encouraged to join the Euro, had loans made available, and then when it all went wrong was dumped. This is simply not how valued parts of a union should be treated.

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faustusnotes 06.19.17 at 9:26 am

Dipper, the UK will be screwed by leaving the EU because there is no way for the UK to leave the EU without suffering, because the EU is good for the UK. Literally the only way that the UK could be better off out of the EU than in is if the EU member states gave it all the privileges of EU membership without any of the costs. To do that would definitely not be “a viable basis for any kind of union.” No, the UK has three choices: stay in the EU; leave the EU but keep most of its benefits and drawbacks, but lose the ability to control the content of either; or leave the EU without its benefits and drawbacks, which would be a disaster because the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

It just so happens that the UK has failed to manage the drawbacks of EU membership in the way some other states have, because the UK is run by a clique of idiots who think burning people alive in their homes is good policy. But that’s not the EU’s fault – it’s the Tories’.

89

J-D 06.19.17 at 9:45 am

Dipper

1. Population density

If you’re telling us that the current population density of the UK is higher than population density anywhere else in the EU, that’s not true. If you’re telling us that the current population density of England is higher than population density anywhere else in the EU, that’s not true. If you’re telling us that projected population increase in England would result in a population density higher than anywhere else in the EU has had to cope with, that’s not true. If what you’re telling us is different from all of those, it’s not clear to me how.

2. Employment

You referred to the need to build more infrastructure that would result from increased population in the UK as a result of immigration. Barry suggested (or so it seemed to me; I may have misunderstood) that if there was a need to build more infrastructure it would create employment for a lot of people. You responded (or so it seemed to me; I may have misunderstood) that this would be no benefit for the people of the UK, because they have jobs and so don’t need jobs building new infrastructure. I observed that there seem to be a significant number of people in the UK who do not have jobs, and who therefore might possibly benefit if more jobs were created by the need to build more infrastructure.

Or at least that’s how the exchange appears to me. Does it appear differently to you? Because if that’s how the exchange is interpreted, I can’t figure out the intended relevance of your latest remarks (about the government subsidising employment, and about disability benefits, and about high effective marginal rates of income tax). I can’t see how any of those remarks are reason to doubt that there are people in the UK, in significant numbers, who would benefit from the creation of new jobs by the need to build infrastructure. There may be other reasons to doubt that conclusion. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the subject. The headline unemployment rate is not, I am aware, an absolutely conclusive demonstration. But it is a strong indicator on the face of it.

3. I am aware that this may not have been clear, but I am not trying to make a general case for the EU. Nor am I trying to make a general case against the EU; I don’t feel properly equipped to do either of those things.

I noticed that Pavel A. cited a blog by somebody who has extensive experience representing the UK in EU negotiations. Unless I have misunderstood you again, you feel that his record stands to his discredit, not to his credit. If I am understanding you correctly, your view is that the UK has done badly in EU negotiations, and perhaps also that this is one of the reasons the EU has turned out badly, so that people want to get out of it; therefore people who have represented the UK in EU negotiations should be regarded as largely having failed, and hence their views deserve little respect.

I found that blog made interesting reading, which does not mean that I endorse everything I read there. The blogger asserts, contrary to what I take to be your view, that the UK has done well in EU negotiations, usually getting most of what it wants. (He also asserts, and I think as somebody from the UK this is the sort of thing which might please you, that the UK has been effective in making EU policy in some areas of foreign policy, particularly international development, better than it would otherwise have been: not just better for the UK, but more beneficent in general than it would have been without UK influence.) Now, as I mentioned, I don’t endorse everything I read there. I am not just going to take the blogger’s word for it that the UK has generally done well in EU negotiations. But, by the same token, I am also not just going to take your word for it that the UK has generally done badly in EU negotiations.

90

Collin Street 06.19.17 at 11:03 am

If the UK seeks to revoke its notification of withdrawal, but the EU refuses to accept the revocation, pointing to the explicit terms of the treaty as saying that the UK ceases to be an EU member from 29 March 2019, what do you expect would happen?

Well, there’s a requirement that the country has to comply with its own constitutional processes; problems here would void the notice and thus the initiation of the exit process: since it’s the country that determines its own constitutional framework, you only have to “fool” your own judges and pretty much any pretext will suffice.

But this doesn’t work for the UK, because of the structure of the UK’s constitutional framework.

lol.

91

John Quiggin 06.19.17 at 11:20 am

No agreement is a lot worse than “just walk away into WTO rules” suggests. Air travel was mentioned, but that’s just one problem. Currently, goods flow between Britain and the rest of the EU without any customs checks. The default “no agreement” outcome would be for every truck going in either direction to stop for a check. That would bring trade to a halt within hours, costly for the EU27, but disastrous for Britain.

Presumably, that won’t be allowed to happen. Some kind of arrangement will be made to avoid disaster. But what that means is that “no agreement” isn’t an option at all. The alternative to a “bad” negotiated agreement is an emergency agreement in a situation where the British side has to accept any terms they are offered.

Quite a good source on this is eureferendum.com. The author, Richard North is a disgruntled Leaver who wanted a Norway-style soft Brexit.

Here’s the Port of Dover http://maritime-executive.com/article/port-of-dover-sounds-the-alarm-on-post-brexit-customs

and here’s a description of Operation Stack, which would be in place more or less permanently under a “no deal” outcome

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Stack

92

Layman 06.19.17 at 12:16 pm

Continental: “Layman 06.18.17 at 7:29 pm, good rebuttal but what for?”

Stupid ideas and lies need rebutting. The failure to rebut stupid ideas and lies – ignoring them, in effect – helps stupid ideas and lies to spread and prosper. It has always been so. I don’t really grasp the point of insisting that we ignore people who spout stupid ideas and lies, or why it’s better to just ignore the proponents of stupid ideas and lies as ‘trolls’. There doesn’t seem to be any limit to comments here, so no one is harmed by rebutting stupid ideas and lies, and perhaps someone is dissuaded from believing the stupid ideas and lies that would otherwise pass without comment. In any event, if rebutting stupid ideas and lies is a waste of time, complaining about those who rebut stupid and ideas and lies must be doubly so.

93

Dipper 06.19.17 at 12:39 pm

yes yes I get all this. We have been going round and round this stuff for well over a year. But I’m still left staring down the same old problem. Without control over our borders, something the EU insists we cannot have as long as we remain in it, there is literally nothing stopping millions of people coming here. If such influxes are a great idea, why is it that so much effort is spent by just about every other nation stopping that great benefit happening to them? Again, if the UK has “done well” in negotiations, how come we cannot stop this?

Anyway, this is apparently good for “the UK”. But when I look at what has happened, I see large numbers of people coming in, wages going down, a housing crisis, pressure on public services. Apparently these things are not connected. It takes quite a leap of faith to believe that, and most people don’t believe it. Apparently this problem is not a problem. No need to do any calculations on jobs, numbers, costs of anything. Instead we have economists who tell us this is all good. The same economists who tell us that Jeremy’s magic beans will work, as so clearly demonstrated by Jeremy’s favourite country, Venezuela. Honestly I don’t see how this doesn’t keep going until just about everyone in Rumania, Bulgaria, Poland, Portugal, the Baltic states is here, and I don’t see any mechanism for making that end a good one.

JQ and others point out that resisting this is going to be difficult and costly. Yes. But if the alternative is to see a country where millions of people have no voice, have no stake, nowhere to live, and are just forgotten about as some kind of unwanted baggage then I don’t see what choice I have.

@Nastywoman. the loans bailed out the German Banks, not the people of Greece. And I did realise that there used to be such a thing as a British Empire, but so what? Germany had an empire too, as did France. I don’t hear much criticism of them on the basis of their Imperial past. And you love London. As you should, because it is the world’s greatest city. But London, by a very long way, is not the UK. It is unwise to draw any conclusion about the UK if your only data points come from London.

There doesn’t seem to be any point in continuing this discussion. I’m not convincing any of you, you aren’t convincing me. If the talks “fail” that isn’t going to convince me that remaining was a better option. We just look at the same scenery and see very different things. And it isn’t as though there isn’t anything else to discuss. So thanks for the comments, its very kind of you all to spend your time replying, but I feel we would all spend our time more fruitfully on other things.

94

Pavel A 06.19.17 at 1:03 pm

@59

>Experts: International trade agreements are very difficult and complicated.
>Dipper: Let the imbeciles have a go at it then!

The experts who negotiated on behalf of the UK got the UK a large number of very special concessions (rivalling Norway). May will walk away with considerably less. As for why we’re “in this mess”, there are a few reasons: people didn’t know what the EU was (highest google search the day after the referendum), people were lied to by Johnson, Farage and the DUP about what the EU was and how it worked, xenophobia, Tory austerity policies that failed to redistribute the wealth generated by EU trade agreements. Seems like the problem wasn’t really the EU, was it?

On a side note, if you’re a capitalist, you should believe that “overpopulation” will solve itself via the same mechanisms of FoM. If the UK were truly unable to build accommodations for 16 million people (even though there is nothing to suggest that that is the case), accommodation prices would skyrocket. At the same time, the under-utilization of housing in Germany would drop housing costs there and immigrants will preferentially move to Germany via the same mechanism of FoM.

I guess it’s also worth noting that the Netherlands have the highest pop. density in Europe (413/km^2) and aren’t suffering significantly because of it. Frankly neither is Japan. Given the ability of human beings to build taller structures, higher pop densities are simply not an issue. As for where the money will come from… well, it could be the actual immigrants themselves, or it could be acquired by actually… you know… taxing the rich. Tory austerity policies are pretty much the prime mover behind why the UK-EU relationship failed.

95

Pavel A 06.19.17 at 1:05 pm

I guess I should say “Tory austerity and Blairite privatization policies”. Shitty Labour doesn’t get a pass here.

96

Glen Tomkins 06.19.17 at 1:39 pm

J-D,

Is there anything in Article 50 that says that a member can’t withdraw its notification? If it can submit the notification, why can’t it withdraw it? Even if the rule the EU decides to adopt for withdrawal of notification (because this possibility is not mentioned explicitly in Article 50, it has to come up with a procedure) is that all member nations must agree, why wouldn’t all members agree? Won’t they be hurt as well by UK withdrawal?

And if, at the end of the day, the fact that withdrawal of notification is not mentioned in Art 50 is taken as an irremediable bar on formally allowing notification to be withdrawn, why would the EU not settle on letting the UK effectively withdraw notification by this simple process: a formal withdrawal from the EU combined with a formal entry of the UK into the EU under exactly the same terms as the status quo? They both are embodied in the same document, with notional withdrawal and notional re-entry taking place in the same instant, so, effectively, no change in the status quo ante Brexit referendum.

This isn’t like that episode of Star Trek in which Captain Kirk got the computer to blow a fuse by telling it to divide some number by zero. That doesn’t even work with computers. Laws are designed to guide human actions along certain paths. Since no law can anticipate all future possibilities, of course all legal systems allow for flexible interpretations or changes in the law as situations arise. If both the UK and the EU end up wanting the UK to remain, they will find a way to do that, and finding a legal mechanism to accomplish that will not be a problem at all.

97

Continental 06.19.17 at 3:37 pm

Collin: “problems here would void the notice” Either I’m getting you wrong or you are getting Art. 50 wrong. The notice of withdrawal *has been given* and can’t be voided ex post.

98

nastywoman 06.19.17 at 3:46 pm

– and with all the conflicting and confusing scenarios – there still will be ‘an agreement’ – as 100 percent sure – as there WAS an agreement and a compromise – when a majority of all Anglo-American economists predicted NO agreement in Greece and an end of the Euro and ‘the European Sky Is Falling’.

These NON European Believers all got fooled by their disbelieve of the fact – that there ALWAYS is – was and has been ‘an agreement’ in the EU – as it is the (‘great’) nature of
this very ‘creative construct’ – the EU.

And from a non ‘European perspective it might be as difficult to understand as so called ‘coherent’ explanations of a incoherent world – but that’s the beauty of it…

Or not?

99

Continental 06.19.17 at 4:01 pm

Layman: “Stupid ideas and lies need rebutting. The failure to rebut stupid ideas and lies – ignoring them, in effect – helps stupid ideas and lies to spread and prosper.”

Let me explain my disagreement. First, rebutting stupid ideas – especially, rebutting the same stupid ideas repeatedly – also draws attention to them and may in fact help spread them more than if they had just been ignored. In the Trump age this should be obvious. Second, it really depends on the context. I don’t really think that in the grand scheme of things, CT has a big role in spreading the kind of stupid ideas and lies that people like Dipper are offering, because most readers here aren’t really susceptible to extreme right wing ideology and those who are likely get their ideology elsewhere. The problem with the quality of the CT forum in my perception isn’t the stupid mendacious right-wing comments per se but the fact that the permanent engagement with them degrades the debate and prevents more constructive exchanges from happening. I understand that rebutting transparent nonsense can provide a certain satisfaction but I suggest that in most cases, these exchanges are not terribly instructive. Third, I don’t know what’s wrong with the term “trolls”, Dipper follows the classical troll playbook in that he will continue to spew out variations of the same stupid ideas and lies regardless of how many times you rebutted them. In case you haven’t noticed, he dominates and derails every political thread on CT. Every single one, and he does it because other commenters allow him to do so. Ask yourself, have you ever learned anything useful from that exchange?

I’m aware I’m probably fighting a losing battle. Dipper and his conspecifics have already won because too many people on the other side refuse to reflect on the dynamics of the political discourse happening – even after the Trump experience, we collectively really haven’t learned anything.

100

Continental 06.19.17 at 4:41 pm

For the British government to withdraw Brexit would be perceived as a humiliating retreat and a considerable loss of face. It would be perceived as a big success for the EU and pro-EU leaders. So yes I agree that if Britain did ask, the 27 members would probably be happy to consent. They would be stupid not to. However the fact remains that legally a single member state could veto. Why would they? Well maybe some third rate leader would love to tell the British: “you said you wanted out, you called us all kinds of names, you did immense damage to our institutions in the process, now you are out and that’s it, or at least you have to pay some price (maybe symbolic, like a Walk to Canossa), before we let you come back”. It would be very ungenerous and certainly not an example of far-sighted statesmanship but then, where do you find these qualities nowadays (or at any time in the past)?

101

Glen Tomkins 06.19.17 at 5:59 pm

Continental,

But doesn’t the same reasoning apply to any exit deal the EU has to sign with the UK? Doesn’t such a deal need unanimous consent of all 27? Why wouldn’t your third rate leader, presumably a third rate leader of one of the 27 that would be minimally hurt by the UK being forced out with no deal, also veto any exit deal at all, so that the UK has to leave with no deal, and start out on the same international footing as North Korea?

If it is true that any of the 27 can veto the exit deal, then the debate between “bad deal” and “no deal” is actually largely moot. The UK will at best only be able to get a deal that is barely better than no deal, because the EU will not be able to offer anything more generous than its most UKphobic member is willing to allow. Bad deal and no deal will end up being the same deal.

Remain is looking better and better all the time.

102

Layman 06.19.17 at 6:00 pm

Continental @99

Let me make sure I understand. Rebutting stupid ideas draws attention to them, but complaints about rebutting stupid ideas doesn’t. Rebutting stupid ideas doesn’t eradicate those ideas, but (somehow) not rebutting them does. CT is a small forum, so it probably isn’t necessary to rebut those stupid ideas because few will see them; but rebutting them will cause them to spread. Responding to stupid ideas degrades the quality of the debate on CT because you are somehow forced to read the responses; apparently you’re able to ignore the stupid ideas themselves, but not the responses to them. Responding to stupid ideas derails the thread, but complaining about responses to stupid ideas does not derail the thread. Dipper is allowed to post his stupid ideas here because of those who respond to him – the moderators have nothing to do with it, even though they could stop him from derailing the conversation if they thought he was doing that.

Can I suggest that you ignore me as you successfully ignore Dipper? Or is it necessary that you work your will on me in order to correct this wrong state of affairs?

103

Pro Bono 06.19.17 at 6:24 pm

If the British government asked to abandon Brexit, diplomatic discussion would ensue. Quite a lot of the discussion would consist of Germany and other net payers telling the net recipients that if they veto unBrexit, the net payers will refuse to make up the resulting funding shortfall. And threats of veto would evaporate.

104

hix 06.19.17 at 7:09 pm

Wundering in particular how this will play out for financial service exports. As they are in large parts payments for nothing usefull in return, lowering them would be a huge net positive for the EU after Brexit.

105

Mario 06.19.17 at 7:18 pm

Without control over our borders, something the EU insists we cannot have as long as we remain in it, there is literally nothing stopping millions of people coming here.

I’d love to see a rebuttal or counterargument of that that doesn’t involve “that’s racist”. Basically, because “that’s racist” doesn’t seem to be working. Is there anything you can say against that that doesn’t boil down to “it is not allowed to think that”?

106

bruce wilder 06.19.17 at 7:22 pm

The neoliberal EU may not be a benign set of institutions.

That is the subtext of worrying over the negotiations: objectively, the EU has a much stronger negotiating position, is a more powerful entity, has the great advantage (in negotiations) of having an impossible formal internal decision-making process, and is deeply committed to its 4 freedoms as an unquestionable moral good.

Britain can meekly submit and not much changes, beyond the devastation wrought against the credibility of British political institutions (what credibility you may well ask).

I do not think you have to be deeply euroskeptic, though to question whether the EU is benign, and if you do question that then it is easy to imagine great peril in the possibility that there is no willingness on the EU side to see an agreement that does not punish Britain. People talk as if “soft Brexit” is a choice Britain can make unilaterally, and the EU won’t load up that submission with humiliations or delays that make it impossible to execute.

If I were inclined to polemics, I might suggest the neoliberal EU acts as if its aim is to destroy democratic political institutions on the nation-state level. They want Macron. Low voter turnout in a ceremonial vote, where there is no policy alternative, no socialism and no populism, just an authoritarian centrism. I do not think many deliberately intend to circumvent or destroy democracy as an overall strategy, it just works out that way as neoliberals march onward. I have some hope that exposing “what is really going on” might inhibit the EU, since democratic norms still have considerable ideological hold across Europe, but I think the only real hope for Britain is a catastrophic failure of the Eurozone that fatally undermines the EU and neoliberals. In that event, the narrative changes and Brexit looks lucky (even if still not smart). But, making Brexit into a catastrophic failure while the EU shuffles on down the road seems too much like a continuation of the neoliberal program by other means and therefore among the likely outcomes. Not because the stupid Tories bumble it, but because their EU counterparts have their own agenda and that agenda is not entirely nice even if no one admits it.

107

Dipper 06.19.17 at 7:26 pm

@ Continental – “lies that people like Dipper are offering” – can you point me to a lie I’ve put on here please?

108

nastywoman 06.19.17 at 8:14 pm

@99
‘even after the Trump experience, we collectively really haven’t learned anything.’

I don’t know who is ‘we’? – as not only in France – but in every European Country the Right-Wing finally got what it deserved –
They are ‘OUT’!

109

bruce wilder 06.19.17 at 8:26 pm

Cranky Observer @ 42

There was a time when I was more familiar with the Eastern Airlines case, but the half-life of that knowledge has passed several times. With the vague whispers of forgotten knowledge echoing in my brain, I wonder if any part of Eastern Airlines, other than the Eastern Shuttle, was really viable. Borman and Lorenzo were dicks enough to try to keep it going a while longer on the back of broken unions, but having run the airline into the ground, they were not very credible advocates of even that unpleasant prospect. So, I think it might be hard to discern whether a pure narrative of altruistic punishment administered by the righteous really applied. Usually, in the kind of collective political decision-making a union must undertake, several overlapping narrative interpretations convincing to different personalities and interests have to complement each other, to get a determined and coherent course of action. I can well believe a narrative justifying altruistic punishment of Eastern management had wide appeal, but I might also hypothesize that it didn’t suffer much in competition with other narratives, especially ones that proposed that the airline could survive long on the combination of bad management and cheap labor.

Brexit is much more complicated. Much of the electoral support for Brexit comes from lower on the class hierarchy and those in the lower classes are used to being trapped into choosing altruistic punishment. If you have a class system, it is a basic design principle to put the lower classes into precarity, where non-cooperation to punish the lords and management is very costly. That your MBA class was full of people who are blithely unaware of their roles in making the world work this way is, of course, also “by design”, don’t you think? I think you can see in the comments of Layman and J-D and some others, a sample of the argumentative processes by which such self-protective ignorance and class contempt is built up.

My own impulsive preferences or views are not far from those of Faustusnotes. Britain’s prosperity and economic growth is attracting immigrants who are accelerating that prosperity. Almost by definition that prosperity means the resources ought to be available to meet the needs of growth. Collect the damn taxes and spend money on the needed public goods. (And, no, don’t design public housing towers to be torches.) But, between the Tories and the Blairites that ceased to be a political option.

A good part of England cannot even strike — they are surplus population and they know it, but they were given a chance to vote to throw a monkey wrench into the system and they took it. I cannot say that that was a pure case of altruistic punishment, or bloody-mindedness, as an earlier generation might have called it. It is just normal chaotic democratic politics breaking out and demanding that politicians do something (without clear ideas about what), in a context in which an elaborate and subtle structure to prevent politicians from governing has long been grinding quietly down and given strong bourgeois justifications.

110

Collin Street 06.19.17 at 9:34 pm

Collin: “problems here would void the notice” Either I’m getting you wrong or you are getting Art. 50 wrong. The notice of withdrawal *has been given* and can’t be voided ex post.

Please never become a lawyer.

[if the purported art 50 notice didn’t comply with the art 50 notice requirements, then the process was never properly started — void ab initio — and the consequences of delivering an art 50 notice never happen, because the required art 50 notice was never delivered, only a document that falsely purported to be same. Once the falseness is discovered the whole process unravels. But this doesn’t help the UK, because the UK doesn’t have a constitutional court that can declare the notice invalid.]

111

hix 06.19.17 at 10:41 pm

The EU is full of evil neoliberals could make some sense if we were talking about any other nation leaving. Not when the one country where even the labour party is consistently more neoliberal than the right wing parties of the rest is leaving.

And the leave campaign, so full of anti neoliberal rethorik like “the EU has too many regulations, it forces us to uphold labour standards…”

112

Barry 06.19.17 at 11:10 pm

Dipper 06.19.17 at 7:26 pm
“@ Continental – “lies that people like Dipper are offering” – can you point me to a lie I’ve put on here please?”

‘Full employment’, unless wages are rising rapidly.

I remember the late 1990’s in the USA,where we were likely at full employment. I’ve heard zero from the UK which matches that.

113

faustusnotes 06.20.17 at 1:15 am

Well Dipper I don’t know if they qualify as lies but “the UK is overcrowded”, “tradesmen’s wages fell” and “wages have been falling” are all pretty unsubstantiated and dubious claims. The ONS certainly doesn’t back up the last one and given the state of the UK construction and renovation industry the middle one also seems dubious. You’ve obviously been pwned on the first one. And you clearly don’t like returning to any facts you’ve been held to account on.

David Davis just emerged from the first day of negotiations having conceded on all the UK’s demands. In 6 months May is going to front the British people to tell them “we’re giving the EU 100 billion pounds, we’re guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals in Britain and we’re giving Gibraltar back to Spain, but we haven’t got any promises on a trade deal yet.” Will you still be maintaining that this is all for the best?

114

J-D 06.20.17 at 2:47 am

Dipper
As I mentioned before, I am not trying to make a case that the EU is a good thing. I don’t feel equipped to make a judgement on that question. What I have been trying to do is explain why some of the arguments you have been making are not good arguments. There may be excellent arguments against the EU; they are not the ones you are making.

It is true that most or all countries currently attempt to maintain significant barriers against inflows of population from other countries. If everybody is doing something, it is possible that it is a good idea and they all have good reasons for their choice; but it is also possible that it is a bad idea and they all have bad reasons for their choice. (Similarly, if most people believe that the inflow of people from elsewhere in the EU has driven down wages in the UK, caused a housing crisis, and resulted in inadequate standards of public service, they may be right or they may be wrong; sometimes what everybody believes is true, and sometimes it isn’t.) In the late nineteenth century, or so I think I recall reading, most or all countries did not attempt to maintain significant barriers against inflows of population from other countries; right now, most or all countries do not attempt to maintain significant barriers against large flows of population from one part of the country to another; do you have some reason to suppose those were/are bad choices?

The reason that UK representatives in EU negotiations have not succeeded in arranging more barriers against the influx of people to the UK from other parts of the EU is because they were not attempting to do so, and that is because they were never instructed to do so, and that is because it would have been contrary to basic principles of the EU, well-known when the UK joined and since. If it’s a failure, it’s a failure implicit in the original decision to join the EU, and it’s not evidence of the inadequacy of UK negotiators. This does not mean — and I have made this point before — that the testimony of people with that experience must be accepted; only that the specific argument you made for rejecting it is not a good argument.

Apparently this problem is not a problem. No need to do any calculations on jobs, numbers, costs of anything. Instead we have economists who tell us this is all good.

I don’t know which economists you’re referring to, but I would be prepared to hazard a guess that they have done calculations, because that’s what economists typically do. Of course their calculations may be misleading — I know that happens sometimes, maybe even often — but it would be inconsistent to complain about the absence of calculations and then to refuse to consider the calculations that have been done. If you have specific reasons to doubt the reliability of specific calculations, that’s different.

115

F. Foundling 06.20.17 at 3:08 am

nastywoman@99
>…not only in France – but in every European Country the Right-Wing finally got what it deserved –
>They are ‘OUT’!

If by ‘right-wing’ you mean (also) the mainstream right-wing, which would be the usual interpretation, then I don’t see how they can be considered to be ‘out’, given the number of countries where they are currently the ruling parties. If by ‘right-wing’ you mean, idiosyncratically, only the populist-nationalist (far-)right, then they generally haven’t been ‘in’ in the first place, with a few exceptions, nor are they doing particularly badly at the moment (I wouldn’t consider the recent Finnish affair as some kind of apocalypse for them).

116

J-D 06.20.17 at 5:07 am

Glen Tomkins and also Pro Bono

The text of Article 50 is not the only thing that will influence how people behave, but it is one of the things that will influence how people behave. I am aware (and I think I have mentioned it before) that there is nothing in the text that explicitly forbids a revocation of a notice of withdrawal; but there is also nothing in the text that explicitly allows for it. If there was a specific procedure set out for revoking a notice of withdrawal, it could be invoked; since there isn’t, that makes it harder. The way I figure it, if the UK wants to revokes its notice of withdrawal, it will have to request the agreement of the EU, as an act of grace: do you figure it differently?

As I think I’ve also mentioned before, one of the other things that would influence how people would behave is how much time has passed, and how much energy has been consumed in negotiations (and also in preparations for the post-withdrawal situation). There is a difference between, on the one hand, a situation where one spouse says to another ‘I want a divorce!’ and then turns round the next day and says ‘Just kidding!’ and, on the other hand, a situation where one spouse says to another ‘I want a divorce’, initiates a process of months of back-and-forth lawyers’ letters, and then turns round and says ‘I don’t want a divorce after all’. Any sensible estimate of the likely behaviour of the spouse has to take into account this difference. It may not be rational for people to allow sunk costs to influence their decisions, but, rational or not, people do it.

It is possible that the EU would agree to a request now from the UK to cancel the notice of withdrawal, and it is even possible–although less likely–that the same agreement could be obtained in 2019. But it would be foolish to count on that option definitely being available, and it would be even more foolish to count on it being available without a heavy cost, or penalty. If you wake up in 2019 and find you’re the Prime Minister of the UK, by all means ask to cancel the withdrawal notice — what have you got to lose? But it would be a gambler’s last throw, and counting on it in advance would be a reckless gamble. If what you intend to suggest is that trying to cancel the notice of withdrawal could be the last desperate chance for the UK, I wouldn’t be arguing with you this way, but that doesn’t seem to be what you’re suggesting.

As well as asking whether the EU would agree to this kind of request, it seems reasonable to ask whether the UK government would make it. This government? For Theresa May to announce that particular change of mind, now or in 2019, would be to accept, for her and for the whole Conservative Party, a massive humiliation. How does that seem plausible? Or are we hypothesising a scenario where there’s a change of government between now and 2019 — but what scenario is that?

117

Val 06.20.17 at 5:36 am

Does make me laugh a bit to see people from the UK and the US condemning the EU as neoliberal.

118

nastywoman 06.20.17 at 5:46 am

@
‘can you point me to a lie I’ve put on here please?’

‘Without control over our borders, something the EU insists we cannot have as long as we remain in it, there is literally nothing stopping millions of people coming here.’

Yes there is – and you know there is.

All you have to do is give rich tax evaders from all over the world the same ‘treatment’ as for example France and Germany and much more of ‘the millions’ will – instead of moving to London – move to Paris or Berlin!

119

nastywoman 06.20.17 at 6:10 am

– and if I forgot –
as every European knows – with Brexit Great Britain has become a much lesser ‘cool place’ – as open minded Europeans don’t like it if one of their countries isn’t as ‘open minded’ as the rest of them – and so it’s usually all self correcting – where ‘the word’ get’s out:
Don’t go there anymore –
as on the being ‘cool scale’ London -(and thusly – Hello! Dipper – always ALL of Great Britain) – already might have lost – let’s say 30 percent? –
which for sure always transforms in less rich immigrants and as rich immigrants always HAVE to bring their ‘service personal’ the poorer immigrants – the wish of a ‘Dipper’ already might have come true – and much less of the millions he fears might have decided NOT to move to London but to Frankfurt instead – in order to serve some Bankers there – and if this doesn’t sound ironic -(or silly?)enough: With less rich immigrants going the Great Britain way – less dough will come the Great Britains way –
and for a country which has such a huge money producing base -(instead of a (once) industrial base) – that will be kind of… difficult in the future?

120

Tabasco 06.20.17 at 6:59 am

faustusnotes 113

“In 6 months May is going to front the British people to tell them …”

In 6 months May will be in the House of Lords bar, cursing Brexit and all its works over a warm gin and tonic.

121

nastywoman 06.20.17 at 7:06 am

@115
as P.T. (Pre Trump) it looked like that the Crazy Right Wing would take over relevant areas of Europe too – whole Europe currently is breathing a yuuuge breath of relief that the Right Wing is ‘out, out, out’! -(in a NOT COOL anymore way)

-(much more – than even the UK…)

122

Mario 06.20.17 at 7:22 am

J-D

I am aware (and I think I have mentioned it before) that there is nothing in the text that explicitly forbids a revocation of a notice of withdrawal; but there is also nothing in the text that explicitly allows for it.

This is the EU. If the UK wants to cancel brexit, the particulars of that text won’t matter. This really isn’t comparable to returning a plastic trash can bought by mistake to an online retailer.

Val, heh, yes, that’s indeed funny.

123

Continental 06.20.17 at 8:08 am

Glen 101 and Collin 110: I guess my point is that the UK government doesn’t own the process any more. They have let the genie out of the bottle and now they can’t put it back in on their own. The suggestion that they can find some lawyerly excuse to weasel out of the Notice, to unilaterally retract it or declare it void, seems farfetched to me.

Layman 102: Let’s assume that I really was very unclear (rather than you turning a strawman on me). What I propose is simply to deal with stupid ideas, lies and trolling behavior by pointing them out once, but refraining from repeating the rebuttal over and over and thereby allowing the troll to dominate and derail the thread. I also propose that repeated bad forum behavior should have consequences in the form of refusing to engage with repeated provocations. These principles would go a long way towards improving quality. Alas many people are resistant to them for whatever reason. I often wonder what people get out of these troll fights. Is it addictive?

124

Continental 06.20.17 at 8:15 am

P.S. I have no intention of continuing this subthread. If we disagree, so be it.

125

J-D 06.20.17 at 8:39 am

Continental

Ask yourself, have you ever learned anything useful from that exchange?

Yes. For example, it drew my attention to Steve Bullock’s blog, which was worth knowing about.

bruce wilder is obviously accusing me of something here

If you have a class system, it is a basic design principle to put the lower classes into precarity, where non-cooperation to punish the lords and management is very costly. That your MBA class was full of people who are blithely unaware of their roles in making the world work this way is, of course, also “by design”, don’t you think? I think you can see in the comments of Layman and J-D and some others, a sample of the argumentative processes by which such self-protective ignorance and class contempt is built up.

— but I am genuinely unsure about what. I would love some clarification, but have little hope of obtaining it.

126

nastywoman 06.20.17 at 9:44 am

and @117

‘Does make me laugh a bit to see people from the UK and the US condemning the EU as neoliberal.’

It’s hilarious – as a sometimes as ‘neoliberal’ condemned European Politician like Macron might be considered by US conservatives as a ‘Socialistic Extremist’ – and what did another commenter here write: If by ‘right-wing’ you mean (also) the mainstream right-wing, which would be the usual interpretation, then I don’t see how they can be considered to be ‘out’, given the number of countries where they are currently the ruling parties.’ – which makes one wonder which European countries we are talking about?

127

J-D 06.20.17 at 11:04 am

Mario
If you are suggesting that the UK can count on being able to cancel the notice of withdrawal if it wants to, I suggest that you’re wrong, for reason I’ve already given at length. If that’s not what you’re suggesting, I don’t know what you’re suggesting (yes, I understand that you wrote ‘This really isn’t comparable to returning a plastic trash can bought by mistake to an online retailer’, but I already knew that it wasn’t, nobody suggested that it was, this comparison seems to have been invented by you purely to give you something to deride, and telling us what it’s not like doesn’t tell us what you think it is like; and I understand that you wrote ‘This is the EU’, but that ranks with ‘Brexit means Brexit’).

128

J-D 06.20.17 at 11:06 am

Continental

Third, I don’t know what’s wrong with the term “trolls”

What’s right with it? What do you suppose is the effect on the discussion of your introducing that term into it?

129

Dipper 06.20.17 at 11:41 am

so.

@ nastywoman – 118. Taking action to get rid of the world’s rich from London will do nothing to prevent lots of other people coming here from other countries in the EU. Your statement is not a refutation.

faustusnotes:
“the UK is overcrowded”, “tradesmen’s wages fell” and “wages have been falling” are all pretty unsubstantiated and dubious claims. 

It all depends what you mean by overcrowded. I think not having the infrastructure to support an increase in population is a good definition and I see that all over. So does the EU. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/02/22/no-end-sight-britains-housing-crisis-warns-brussels/.

I haven’t been “owned” by J-D I just cannot see the point in arguing until we end up at the point that all the planet is either maximally occupied (someone is standing there) or else completely empty (no-one is standing there). Perhaps if we were to have this conversation sat in a car on the M25, or a motorway round Manchester, or sat in our local A&E, it might have some more significance.

“tradesmen’s wages fell”. This has proved harder to substantiate as there are as many articles talking about rises as there are talking about falls. But you cannot just compare rates. People are not born electricians or plumbers, they have to be trained to do so, and importing skilled workers from the EU reduces the incentives to train people and pushes their wages down, as they do not have the same skills.

“wages have been falling” . https://www.ft.com/content/83e7e87e-fe64-11e6-96f8-3700c5664d30.

@Barry – not sure what your point is. The UK has apparently no spare workers but businesses find lots of workers through immigration so whether we have full employment I guess depends on what your definition is.

130

Pro Bono 06.20.17 at 11:46 am

J-D: since both main parties say they will go ahead with Brexit, it’s hard to see how a UK government is going to change track.

If the polls turn against Brexit as the terms become clearer, and if there’s another general election, and if one of the parties decides to run against Brexit, and if that party wins, then the question will become relevant. That’s a lot of ifs.

131

Faustusnotes 06.20.17 at 11:54 am

I think the EU would love to let the U.K. back. Country tries to leave, realizes what a shitshow it will be, begs to return, gets readmitted without its past exemptions… that is definitely an encouragement for the others. Look, even the racist uncle who was willing to burn his house down to stop the immigrants has had second thoughts! It’s all the lessons of brexit without any of the pain, and a nice antidote to leftist fears after Greece that the eu was a monster.

Seconding Val that U.K. folks calling the eu neoliberal is hilarious. Have you heard of the great repeal bill? Do you think May wants to repeal all those laws outside of parliamentary scrutiny because they’re too neoliberal?

132

engels 06.20.17 at 11:57 am

“One essay in particular, “The Economic Conditions of Interstate Federalism,” offers a glimpse of what Hayek would have considered a desirable and successful economic federation. Written in 1939, this text is striking not only for the author’s optimism at a time of darkness, but also for the prescience of its observations. Notions familiar to anyone who is acquainted with today’s EU, such as the “free movement of men, goods and capital,” and the emergence of a “single market,” are dealt with extensively in the essay.

“In it, Hayek argues that political integration necessitates economic integration in the form of free internal trade, since protectionist barriers will tend to lead to frictions between regions and end up undermining political federation. He posits that economic integration will serve to promote peace among the constituent states and eliminate incentives for protection. He concludes that economic links through international institutions are not only desirable but a requisite development for true liberalism to be restored: “the abrogation of national sovereignties and the creation of an effective international order of law is a necessary complement and the logical consummation of the liberal programme.”

“Reading Hayek’s essay, one is left with little doubt that he would have found much to like in the European Union as we know it today. …”

https://iea.org.uk/blog/hayek-would-have-voted-to-remain

133

Layman 06.20.17 at 12:32 pm

@Continental

“I often wonder what people get out of these troll fights.”

Try introspection. Consider why you’re doing what you’re doing with this comment, and your prior ones.

134

Val 06.20.17 at 1:19 pm

Nastywoman
I think they possibly mean countries like Germany where the ‘right wing’ ‘neoliberal’ Angela Merkel and the CDU are in power – a country that has working conditions that Americans can only dream of!

CT is so funny sometimes, American ‘lefties’ in particular. I mean it’s actually sad, because if they stopped ‘making the perfect the enemy of the good’, they probably wouldn’t have got Donald Trump. Fortunately the rest of the world seems to think it’s all a bit funny now, but I feel sorry for the sensible Americans.

135

Collin Street 06.20.17 at 2:07 pm

If you are suggesting that the UK can count on being able to cancel the notice of withdrawal if it wants to, I suggest that you’re wrong, for reason I’ve already given at length.

If the Art 50 notice was improperly delivered then the Brexit process was void ab initio. That’s indisputable. But — and this is an important quibble — the Art 50 requirements are that the notice be delivered in accordance with the country’s internal constitutional requirements, and — because the EU is not a state — each country’s constitutional requirements are determined by that country. If the UK supreme court declares that all treaty-terminating documents have to be written in law french by marmosets, there’s no actual mechanism for the EU to say,
“no, you’re wrong about your own constitution”.

Absolutely it’s a bullshit stunt to pull, burns hideous amounts of goodwill and credibility. But if it’s better than the alternative then…

136

nastywoman 06.20.17 at 2:14 pm

@ 129
‘Taking action to get rid of the world’s rich from London will do nothing to prevent lots of other people coming here from other countries in the EU.’

Are you really sure?
And I didn’t suggest to get rid of ‘the rich from London’ – you need them – in order that ‘the lots of other people coming from other countries in the EU -(attention cynicism!) can ‘serve’ them.

And this is what you don’t seem to understand:
It’s kind of a ‘package deal’ -(like the EU)
And if you welcome the rich from all over Europe – you also might have to take millions of the not so rich – as they really come in ‘a package’ – as the one can’t do without the others -(as everybody knows) – but I understand that this fact is sometimes hard to understand and so probably – you didn’t ‘lie’ – you are just a bit confused like so many of Great Britains ‘Brexiters’?

137

nastywoman 06.20.17 at 2:23 pm

@134
‘I think they possibly mean countries like Germany where the ‘right wing’ ‘neoliberal’ Angela Merkel and the CDU are in power – a country that has working conditions that Americans can only dream of!’

I think so too – and if you tell a so called ‘Left’ American – if he once would study the program of the supposedly ‘neoliberal’ and ‘conservative’ Program of somebody like Merkel – there would be the big surprise that it makes (some) so called ‘Left’ or even ‘Progressive’ Americans look like ‘social reactionaries’.

138

nastywoman 06.20.17 at 2:35 pm

and @132
“Reading Hayek’s essay, one is left with little doubt that he would have found much to like in the European Union as we know it today. …”

Like – as a ‘vegetarian’ – the most infamous Monster of history could discredit contemporary vegetarians?

And just joking – but seriously – do you know – that for example – a lot of European Crazy and sometimes even fascistic right- wingers adopted a lot of the ‘social’ programs of the so called ‘Left European Parties’ but that didn’t make them less fascistic or less crazy – and for sure it didn’t turn the European Left into ‘Trumps’!

139

Neville Morley 06.20.17 at 3:02 pm

Re the EU as neoliberal; there was a lot of this sort of argument last year, based on a sort of “better the devil you don’t know” principle. That is to say, the EU was seen as responsible for pushing various bits of neoliberal agenda, most obviously TTIP; it was on the whole (but not invariably) acknowledged that it was doing this on behalf of, rather than in opposition to, national governments – but coupled with a belief in the likelihood of a future anti-neoliberal UK government that would be constrained from rolling back capitalism by EU membership, whereas a Lexited UK would be free to establish socialist utopia. The idea of the EU as a protector of its citizens’ rights was dismissed out of hand. No, me neither.

140

Katsue 06.20.17 at 3:15 pm

@126

Nobody in America regards Joe Lieberman as a socialist extremist. Why would they think that about Macron?

141

faustusnotes 06.20.17 at 3:28 pm

Engels, we know that hayek loved him some state support – he refused to move to America until they guaranteed his social insurance contributions. Why does it surprise you that he would support the EU? Are you confusing his later rhetorical positions with his actual beliefs?

142

Continental 06.20.17 at 3:30 pm

It would be interesting to see a side by side comparison of Macron’s platform with say Bernie Sanders’. Which is objectively more progressive? That the rather conventional social democrat Sanders counts as a “socialist” or even “revolutionary” in the US context simply reflects the backwardness of the US.

The term neoliberalism can nowadays be applied to almost any mainstream politician. I’m afraid that the habit of part of the left of using it as a swear word in order to signify one’s own purported radicalism has mostly had the effect of making illiberalism more respectable (think of figures like Zizek).

143

faustusnotes 06.20.17 at 3:31 pm

Also engels, in citing Hayek as a supporter of remain, are you suggesting that leave is the right policy? Are you looking at the economic devastation leave would wreak, and the loosening of the EU’s shackles that the Tories are relishing, and saying that leave is a left wing project? It’s easy to assume that you are, since you are citing “Hayek would have voted remain”, and we all know you hate Hayek. So fess up: Do you think leave is better for the UK? Because if you do fess to that, I’ll be remembering in two years time, when the UK plunges off the cliff and everyone who voted leave or advocated leave starts pretending they were somewhere else …

144

J-D 06.20.17 at 4:19 pm

Dipper

It all depends what you mean by overcrowded. I think not having the infrastructure to support an increase in population is a good definition and I see that all over. So does the EU. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/02/22/no-end-sight-britains-housing-crisis-warns-brussels/.

I haven’t been “owned” by J-D I just cannot see the point in arguing until we end up at the point that all the planet is either maximally occupied (someone is standing there) or else completely empty (no-one is standing there). Perhaps if we were to have this conversation sat in a car on the M25, or a motorway round Manchester, or sat in our local A&E, it might have some more significance.

The European Commission reports that there is a ‘housing crisis’ in the UK, but they seem to be suggesting that this should be thought of as a problem of not enough houses, not a problem of too many people; they are suggesting that what is needed is to increase the number of houses, not to decrease the number of people; I would be prepared to hazard a guess that they are suggesting (indirectly) that the UK is not lacking in the physical capacity to build more houses, but rather lacking in the political will, or perhaps the sense, to do what is needed to build more houses.

Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia) has a total area of about thirty-four thousand square kilometres. That is a significant fraction of the area of Germany and would be a significant fraction of the area of the UK. For the sake of comparison, the total area of South East England, Greater London, and the East of England (as officially defined for statistical purposes) is about forty thousand square kilometres; the total area of North East England, North West England, and Yorkshire and the Humber (as officially defined for statistical purposes) is about thirty-eight thousand square kilometres. If it is possible now for Nordrhein-Westfalen to cope with a population density of 517 people a square kilometre, it should be possible for a similarly sized area of the UK to cope with a similar population density (if it ever in fact rises that high) — given sufficient political will. If the political will is lacking, I don’t think that’s the fault of the EU. (I suppose somebody might argue that the UK needs to leave the EU because its political system and/or its politicians are not up to meeting the demands that membership requires, but I don’t think that’s your argument.)

The UK has apparently no spare workers …

I am not sure what the basis for that assertion is, given the reported unemployment rate of 4.6%.

145

J-D 06.20.17 at 4:25 pm

Pro Bono and faustusnotes

I suppose it is possible to conceive of scenarios in which the United Kingdom decides to attempt to cancel its notice of withdrawal and the European Union gives its consent. I don’t think there is any significant likelihood of any such scenario coming about; also, I think the least implausible scenarios would involve humiliating concessions on the part of the United Kingdom (which are part of what makes the scenarios implausible; although scenarios without them are even more implausible).

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Ogden Wernstrom 06.20.17 at 4:51 pm

Val said:

Does make me laugh a bit to see people from the UK and the US condemning the EU as neoliberal.

If being from the US makes the neoliberalism my fault, am I required to single-handedly put an end to it, or shall I emigrate to some land without it, or is some other option on offer?

The EU has some neoliberal principles built into its foundation which are not-so-fundamental in the US. The US neoliberals have not yet been able to treat, say,
Mississippi/Florida/Louisiana/Alabama/Tennessee the way the EU treated Portugual/Ireland/Italy/Greece/Spain. But they’re working on getting us there.

That said, the UK got one of the better deals in the EU – since they got to keep their sovereign Sovereigns and they have more border control than most. In my visits within the EU, crossing the UK border always involved inspection by Immigration and Customs officials. In my limited experience, I got the idea that the UK has more-self-controlled borders than the other EU member nations. Dipp Pom whinging is laughable.

147

engels 06.20.17 at 5:21 pm

UK and US have had more strongly neoliberal governments than France or Germany but the states themselves are not neoliberal in their basic form; the EU is.

148

steven t johnson 06.20.17 at 5:22 pm

“…while the Great Depression saw the consensus around monetary policy – the gold standard – and economic policy – laissez faire – challenged and then superseded by more interventionist approaches.” https://iea.org.uk/blog/hayek-would-have-voted-to-remain

Yes, the problem with the Great Depression was the inexplicable victory of evil ideas over sound economics and moral politics. The wrong thinking came out of nowhere, just like the Great War. I have little doubt that there’s every chance Hayek would have approved a European project that could have brought back something so closely resembling the British Empire before the People’s Budget. Those were good time. Even the common people weren’t so tall and fat!

Mae West told us a hard man was good to find, but hard money is even gooder.

149

engels 06.20.17 at 6:02 pm

…ironically that is in large part because of UK’s influence on it.

150

Orange Watch 06.20.17 at 7:05 pm

Fortunately the rest of the world seems to think it’s all a bit funny now, but I feel sorry for the sensible Americans.

There’s a great deal of light between “making the perfect the enemy of the good” and “NABA means good!”. It’s also rather telling that you adopt this sort of a “make do with what you can and don’t hope for more” stance in terms of economic politics, but in terms of cultural politics, you adopt uncompromising absolutism.

When you’re pleased with an outcome, suggesting that you’re settling for it is disingenuous, and criticizing others for not likewise “settling” for what you view as an entirely reasonable end state is even more so. Liberal centerism is a goal in and of itself, not merely a “pragmatic compromise” between extremes. You do your credibility no favors by feigning ignorance on this point, and you earn yourself no friends by treating people who do not share your project as amusingly deluded children. Ofc, I doubt you’re trying to win anyone over, as your contributions to this thread so far look entirely to be derailment into a virtue signalling subthread amongst your choirmates.

151

William Berry 06.20.17 at 8:22 pm

@Val: “ . . . I feel sorry for the sensible Americans.

Thnx, we appreciate it!

152

novakant 06.20.17 at 9:34 pm

If the EU is fundamentally neoliberal then you must reject it and prefer Brexit, engels, no?

153

bruce wilder 06.20.17 at 9:48 pm

From the IEA essay on Hayek’s likely affection for the EU’s neoliberalism, I found this sentence particularly amusing: His native Austria-Hungary, a multinational, polyglot, cosmopolitan and – by the late nineteenth century – liberal monarchy was long dissolved and replaced by nation states, many of them the product of human design at the various peace conferences.

The Hapsburg Empire, happy place of happy peoples, was apparently not the product of (heaven forfend!) human design and all the better for it.

154

bruce wilder 06.20.17 at 10:19 pm

J-D 06.20.17 at 8:39 am bruce wilder is obviously accusing me of something . . . I would love some clarification, but have little hope of obtaining it.

What I am saying is that you frequently act as if clarity is the last thing you want. Instead, you parse all the meaning out of someone else’s comment, miring the thread in useless verbiage.

On “Another Open Thread . . .”, beginning around here, you can see an example of your modus operandi — one in which I have no hand or stake. Someone offered you a famous example of how Hillary Clinton used identity politics rhetorically. The famous catchphrase from her 2016 stump speech has often been quoted, “If we broke up the big banks tomorrow — and I will, if they deserve it, if they pose a systemic risk, I will — would that end racism?” Like a lot of political rhetoric, including the “a bad agreement is worse than no agreement” phrase that has been the subject of this OP and thread, it manages to communicate something emotionally without making a coherent argument.

Rather than try in good faith to understand the point the commenter, who introduced it as an example of hypocritical use of identity politics to undermine the case for economic reform, you parsed away obsessively and relentlessly until you did not have to acknowledge anything that had been said. It was all sliced and diced and completely mysterious.

I cannot imagine that anyone wants to engage with that.

155

Ogden Wernstrom 06.20.17 at 11:05 pm

Continental 06.20.17 at 3:30 pm:

That the rather conventional social democrat Sanders counts as a “socialist” or even “revolutionary” in the US context simply reflects the backwardness of the US.

The right-wing noise machine in the US spent a lot of money over the past 40-ish years to move that Overton Window, and Make America Backward Again. I think Obama was tantamount to another Reagan, but the parallax view allowed him to be labeled the “most-socialist” President ever.

To whom shall I apologise for feeding the Continental?

156

Val 06.20.17 at 11:46 pm

Ogden Wernstrom and engels
You seem to think that the EU has more power than the states that compose it and yet it’s obviously an association or federation that’s pretty easy to get out of (cf Australia and I guess America let alone the ‘United Kingdom’).

I accept that pragmatically a group has more power than an individual, but if a federation of states has power derived from individual states that can effectively withdraw any time they like, how can you argue that its principles are more powerful than those of the individual states that compose it?

The so called left ‘We can’t support Remain because the EU is too neoliberal’ like the ‘We can’t support Hillary Clinton in the US election because she’s too neoliberal’ movement, are both truly weird. It’s like not just ignoring the elephant in the room, but knowing the elephant is there and inviting it to stomp on you.

157

engels 06.21.17 at 12:10 am

If the EU is fundamentally neoliberal then you must reject it and prefer Brexit, engels, no?

No, I was in favour of trying to change it from the inside (but without much optimism)

158

Faustusnotes 06.21.17 at 12:20 am

Yes Dipper it depends on your definition of overcrowded. You clearly define overcrowded as the U.K. – you said so yourself – but it has been pointed out to you that he U.K. Is way less overcrowded than many places with better infrastructure.

You suggest we discuss this on the m25. How about we discuss it in rush hour on a Tokyo subway train? Then you can see what overcrowded really is – and marvel simultaneously at how bubsome strange magic (what could it be!?) the trains have air conditioning, mobile phone reception and clean seats (not that you’ll get to sit on one). Why do you think overcrowded tube trains have none of these things? Is it maybe something other than the pressure of people? What could it be?

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J-D 06.21.17 at 12:46 am

bruce wilder
If somebody makes a statement where the emotion is clear but the factual or analytical content is not clear, then, by definition, the statement is not clear. Sometimes when a statement is not clear, I seek clarification. Parsing is a technique for seeking clarity; that is precisely what it is for.

Your emotional response to having your statements parsed (or, for that matter, observing other people’s statements being parsed, at least sometimes, at least when it’s done by me) is clear: you don’t like it. But your factual or analytical argument against parsing is not clear.

I have no objection to having my statements parsed; sometimes this reveals that I have not expressed myself clearly, and sometimes that’s because I haven’t thought my position through clearly. Sometimes that prompts me to think my position through more clearly and to express myself more clearly, which is good.

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J-D 06.21.17 at 1:02 am

Collin Street
It seems to me that the two statements ‘The only way for the Article 50 notice to be made void [as distinct from cancelled by agreement] is for a UK court to make such a ruling’ and ‘There is no way that a UK court is going to rule that the Article 50 notice is void’, if taken together, add up to the conclusion that ‘There is no way the Article 50 notice is going to be made void’. (Again, I am referring here solely to the narrower notion of the notice being declared void in a legal sense, not the broader notion of its somehow being cancelled or revoked.)

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engels 06.21.17 at 1:14 am

a belief in the likelihood of a future anti-neoliberal UK government that would be constrained from rolling back capitalism by EU membership

The one that stuck in my mind was reading (in an Adam Swift book iirc) that the ECHR makes it illegal to abolish private schools. I think there was also a question mark about re-nationalising the railways.
http://www.leftfutures.org/2015/09/eu-membership-means-no-renationalisation/

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nastywoman 06.21.17 at 4:55 am

@146
‘The US neoliberals have not yet been able to treat, say,
Mississippi/Florida/Louisiana/Alabama/Tennessee the way the EU treated Portugual/Ireland/Italy/Greece/Spain. But they’re working on getting us there.’

Not really – as the EU in just 8 years -(with the introduction of the Euro) lifted the poorest European States Greece and Portugal out of – what a lot in Greece and Portugal called ‘poverty’ – and the the fact that US gambling with housing put an end to this EU economical miracle in 2008 – and then the other European countries who haven’t grow that fast put a break on it don’t change the fact that the ZS neoliberal probably never will put Mississippi/Louisiana/ or Alabama on the standard of living Portugal and Greece still enjoys!

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nastywoman 06.21.17 at 5:09 am

@147
‘but the states themselves are not neoliberal in their basic form; the EU is.’

Quatsch!
The EU is everything the tremendously diverse EU nations are – from the most helpful and amazing Scandinavian ‘Welfare’ States -(‘Welfare’ in the EU meaning of something entirely ‘positive’) – to some really Crazy and reactionary right wingers.

And the clear majority in the EU – is for ‘policies’ and ‘politics’ which – as Val stated – provides ‘working conditions that Americans can only dream of’!

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Val 06.21.17 at 5:57 am

bruce wilder @ 103

Actually I interpret Clinton’s remarks differently than you. This could mean either:

– being a woman and a feminist like Clinton I am an easy target for “identity politics” and can’t see the objective truth that is blindingly obvious to the ‘reasonable man’ of enlightenment thought such as yourself

– you are interpreting her remarks in the way that suits your perspective but that may not be what she was trying to say.

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nastywoman 06.21.17 at 6:24 am

– or let’s blame the ‘funny’ views Anglo-Americans tend to have about the EU -(ironically) on so called ‘liberal’ or progressive US economists.

They build this very Anglo-American narrative -(based on the duo-play in US politics) – about some ‘austerity obsessed’ (‘still fascistic’) Germans who – how does Dean Baker still word it:
‘Imposing austerity on France and other euro zone countries.’
Which on the other hand had Americas Right Wing Reactionaries ranting about ‘the corruption of EU welfare states to the utmost degrees.
And as a lot of my fellow Americans -(like a lot of my fellow Germans) didn’t like it when they heard about the… let’s call it ‘very creative ways’ – Southern Europeans’ like to deal with their governments -(and ‘austerity’ and taxes) – the whole maneuver of such US economists backfired big time – as both – the so called US Left AND Right came to the conclusion that the EU is some kind of ‘neoliberal, socialistic, reactionary, communistic, asocial, corrupt organization’ –
and everything at the same time –
while in reality it’s just very, very difficult to ‘coordinate’ the ‘very creative ways’ Southern Europeans show in dealing with their governments -(and their taxes and their bookkeeping) to the very… let’s call it ‘by the books ways’- Northern Europeans prefer.

And like in many happy marriages between Italians and Germans – or Germans and Greeks it’s just a matter of time -(and patiences Americans seem NOT to have) – until these… let’s call them ‘adjustment’ have been successfully executed.

And until then – and compared to the US – Europe with it’s awesome and payable health care – it’s awesome social net – it’s great working conditions – and it’s long vacations is just – WOW!
-(if y’all know what’s I mean?)

166

Continental 06.21.17 at 7:55 am

“I think Obama was tantamount to another Reagan, but the parallax view allowed him to be labeled the “most-socialist” President ever.”

As long as gems like this count as political wisdom among US leftists, abandon all hope for sanity. (I suggest no more mutual feeding.)

167

MFB 06.21.17 at 8:06 am

The problem with people saying “Macron isn’t neoliberal, he’s just like Bernie Sanders” is that the United States and France are two different countries.

The United States crushed its unions a long time ago. France hasn’t crushed them yet. The United States never developed effective social security; France has had it for well over a century. So when you elect someone to crush the unions and roll back sociall security, you are electing a neoliberal, because that’s what neoliberal ideology is about.

Incidentally, Sanders can only be judged on his rhetoric, because that’s all there is — he’s a senator, and therefore has no responsibility for governance, and can get away with saying things which he doesn’t mean. Macron is President of France, and he’s going to actually implement stuff. I think you’ll find that what he implements will make France plutocratic in the worst way imaginable.

Of course, there are different degrees of neoliberalism. Britain is more neoliberal than Germany, say. Therefore Britain, in leaving the neoliberal EU, would become more neoliberal by doing so. But that doesn’t mean that the EU is not neoliberal in its orientation; it’s just that the EU’s neoliberalism has to accommodate historical factors (where it doesn’t just roll over them as it did with places like Greece and Portugal).

168

Chris Bertram 06.21.17 at 10:09 am

@J-D @Glen Tomkins. There is a lot of disagreement about whether unilateral withdrawal of A50 is possible. The Dutch government claim it isn’t and that everyone would need to agree, but the Germans think it might be and that the ECJ would have to rule. In the absence of express provision, I think the Germans are right, and that nobody can predict the outcome with any certainty.

169

engels 06.21.17 at 10:19 am

This is going to be a thread about Hillary Clinton isn’t it….

170

Faustusnotes 06.21.17 at 10:53 am

Engels lots of EU countries including Germany have nationalized businesses in the last 10 years.

171

Continental 06.21.17 at 11:23 am

MFB 06.21.17 at 8:06 am: “The problem with people saying “Macron isn’t neoliberal, he’s just like Bernie Sanders””

I’m the one who brought up the Sanders-Macron comparison and I didn’t say that, neither did anybody else on this thread. And I won’t repeat what I said because you can scroll up and find it yourself.

“I think you’ll find that what he implements will make France plutocratic in the worst way imaginable.” Really, that bad? Worse than what Trump is doing to the already very plutocratic US? And let me remind you that Trump is able to do what he’s doing because people like you claimed similar apocalyptic outcomes should Clinton be elected.

I’m not a Macron fan btw, but this drivel can’t be taken seriously.

172

nastywoman 06.21.17 at 11:36 am

@167
‘So when you elect someone to crush the unions and roll back sociall security, you are electing a neoliberal, because that’s what neoliberal ideology is about.’

But, but, but nobody -(that I know) – in France has elected anybody to ‘crush some unions’ or ‘to roll back social security’.

The French have NOT elected an idiot or a crazy or probably fascistic right winger -(like some voters in some other countries we perhaps should not name?)

And now Macron probably will try to do what somebody like Schröder did in Germany – still giving the workers a social net an American only can dream about –
Still giving the workers working conditions an American only can dream about –
Still making sure that the workers have payable health care -(without deductions)
Still making sure that every worker has five to seven weeks of payed vacations each year – BUT – perhaps ‘adjusting’ such truly ‘comfortable’ working conditions – to some a bit lesser ‘comfortable working conditions in competing in EU countries?

You know – in order that workers in Germany wouldn’t be able to complain: -(what they never would do!) – but, but, but those French workers – work so much less than we do – we want to move to France… and love Macron BE-cause he will be much, much nicer than Schröder – the ‘neoliberal’ a… hole ever was!

173

Layman 06.21.17 at 11:47 am

Lots of odd comments the last 24 hours or so. Ogden Wernstrom equates Obama’s politics to those of Reagan (!), a claim which can only be made by ignoring the politics of both men. Bruce Wilder offers a quote from Hillary Clinton – in which she indicates her willingness to break up the big banks – as evidence that she was unwilling to break up the big banks, and chides another (at the usual tedious, inscrutable length) for pointing out the obvious contradiction. If I read her right (?), Val suggests that it’s easy, or even possible, for a US state to leave the Union; though she’s wrong here, she’s exactly right about the folly of leftist voters rejecting leftist politicians for reasons of purity. MFB suggests Sanders doesn’t actually believe in the platform he offered, an absurd idea since Sanders is perhaps the worst actor politician of his era. The man is transparently sincere.

On the question of un-Brexit, it seems to me that the EU has a track record of doing what they would like to do, to achieve the end they would like to achieve, while finding in their framework a justification for doing it, even where none exists; and this is especially true when it comes to the U.K., which has always been given a special deal no one else gets in order to get them and keep them in the EU. I can’t think of any reason why this would not happen again, in the not-completely-impossible event that the U.K. should decide they want to withdraw their Article 50 declaration.

I should add that Continental @ 166 is entirely right.

174

Z 06.21.17 at 1:11 pm

Thank you so much MFB (currently @167) for the very welcome historical and social context your comment provides (with a small corrective, I don’t think it is accurate to claim that France has had an effective social security system for over a century; 70 years would seem more accurate).

Personally, I think one can believe without contradictions the following statements (and I even find most them quite obvious by now).
-The UK has adopted among the harshest neoliberal policies of the developed Western world. In particular, they are harsher than those of the EU as a whole, so leaving the EU is a move towards harsher neoliberal policies that endangers the political and social fabric of the UK.
-The EU was more neoliberal in the late 90s than it is now, partly because of the shift of the balance of power in favor of Germany, partly because of historical contingencies (like the small matter of the ongoing crisis).
-The EU, as administrative and judicial entity, has been and remains one of the most neoliberal institution in world history; much more so than the UK or the US as administrative and judicial entity.
-Even in terms of actual policies, the EU is quite extremely neoliberal compared to many European countries (this is arguably so for all of the original 6 members for instance). To the extent its policies are not (anymore) pure neoliberalism, what it is is far from being congenial to the political and social fabric of said countries and endangers their social and political orders.
-Soft neoliberal politicians (like Emmanuel Macron, or a putative Hillary Clinton) and institutions (like the currently existing EU) support policies which have repeatedly proved to favor affluent, educated, dynamic professionals at the expenses of the poor and the uneducated and which are arguably hardly compatible with acutely necessary mitigation of climate disruption and environmental destruction; so should be actively politically opposed by people with egalitarian and ecological dispositions.
-Even ranked solely according to this narrow metric, they are vastly preferable to nativist reactionary political forces like Trump, Brexit or a putative Marine Le Pen.

175

novakant 06.21.17 at 2:27 pm

Funny how all these countries that are way, way less neoliberal than the US/UK manage to do their thing within the EU :

Not only Germany and France, but also Denmark, Sweden and Finland!

176

Ogden Wernstrom 06.21.17 at 2:36 pm

Continental 06.21.17 at 7:55 am:

(I suggest no more mutual feeding.)

Success means getting in the last word?

177

bruce wilder 06.21.17 at 5:21 pm

Val @ 164

I don’t know that she was trying to say anything, in the positive, declarative sense of “objective truth”. I think she was targeting you, and she hit the target. I think both your positive regard for her and your expression of hostility to me was what she was trying to generate and she succeeded. So her rhetoric was the tactical expression of a strategic design and it worked, for reactionary purposes. At some point, given that you are a thoughtful person, I hope you will recover.

178

Val 06.21.17 at 6:27 pm

Layman @ 173
“If I read her right (?), Val suggests that it’s easy, or even possible, for a US state to leave the Union”

No you read me wrong, I was saying the opposite. I was saying it’s relatively easy for states to leave the EU, compared with eg Australia, the US and UK, where it’s very difficult. That was the point. Maybe you’re not familiar with “cf”? It means “compared with” in case you’re not.

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Val 06.21.17 at 6:39 pm

Z @ 174

“-The EU, as administrative and judicial entity, has been and remains one of the most neoliberal institution in world history; much more so than the UK or the US as administrative and judicial entity

What does this mean?

180

engels 06.21.17 at 6:41 pm

I think Z (#174) gets it just about right.

FaustusNotes, that’s why I said ‘question mark’.

181

nastywoman 06.21.17 at 6:48 pm

– and about this label ‘Neoliberalism’ one needs to check the definition to find out it the EU is indeed ‘neoliberal’?
So – please THE definition:
1. ‘Neoliberalism (neo-liberalism) refers primarily to the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism.’
That’s not the EU!
2. These include extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization,-
That’s not the EU either?
3. Fiscal austerity,-
Aaah – ‘austerity’ THE scariest word for every ‘liberal’ US economists – BUT the EU only sometimes get’s into ‘austerity’ and sometimes not at all -(if for example – it comes to agricultural stimulating the EU is as anti-austerity as can be)
4. deregulation, –
Wasn’t one of the reasons why the UK wanted to leave to much ‘regulation’?
5. free trade, –
Yes – but with lots and lots of regulation -(like no Hormon-Beef please)
6 and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society ‘
Hahaha! – as ‘government spending in the EU’ in order to increase the role of the (overregulating?) Brussel government is legendary’ –

PLEASE???! –
How can anybody -(who doesn’t live on some island a few thousand miles away) – THUNK that the EU is ‘neoliberal’?
-(or has the definition of neoliberal already changed again – since I looked last time?)

182

Orange Watch 06.21.17 at 6:51 pm

bruce wilder

This is a point that is frequently missed, and just as frequently willfully elided. The ostensible raison d’être of liberal centerism is to tack to a position defined as being between “purists” on the left and the right, so a great deal of centerist speech is by necessity and design used to express regret that while it may be possible to adopt “extreme” stances they do not advocate, and that they would in principle like to do so, it’s just not practical. If your entire ideological posture revolves around underscoring your willingness to pragmatically compromise your principles in the interest of consistently advancing your agenda, you will of course make a great many statements of desire and principle that have no bearing on how you govern.

And yet we’re expected to take this rhetoric at face value, while we are simultaneously expected to understandingly accept that their actual governance is not a reflection of what they want to do, even as they do it over and over and over, and deride anyone who threatens their power as childish and naive for actually wanting to do what they claim to want to do.

Honestly, there are times when I feel like this argument is fundamentally hopeless because the two sides operate according to incompatible metaethical systems, with virtue ethicists in the center and consequentialists on the left.

183

bruce wilder 06.21.17 at 7:22 pm

MFB @ 167

When I use the term, “neoliberal”, I am hoping to invoke references to at least some salient parts of the large literature analyzing the development of this ideology as well as the history of its political development. I am saying, this here now has important continuity with Thatcher & Reagan, Clinton & Blair; I am saying, this is what Philip Mirowski was talking about.

That neoliberalism, with its left and right branches talking only to each other, has come to such a place of dominance in the political discourse makes it hard sometimes to get other people to distinguish “neoliberalism” from “normal politics”, but because it is so dominant that just makes it more important to see its distinguishing features, so that it is possible to see that there could be alternatives. I think it is also important that “form” matters because neoliberalism is nothing if not small-c constitutional, aiming to change basic institutional structures even if it does so only opportunistically.

“Neoliberalism in form” — the political agendas that change the rules of the game in fundamental ways difficult to ever reverse — becomes important because it is what ideology aims to do: impose a constitutional order. Income distribution is only a by-product. And, neoliberalism — at least its left half — has a line on income redistribution: we should use taxes and transfers to “correct” the natural outcomes of market processes, blah, blah. Neoliberalism in form, as in the faulty design of the Euro or the Greek “bailout” or the TPP/TTIP investor-state dispute procedures, seems like something we ought to pay attention to.

One thing I would not want to do is identify neoliberalism with the current degree of income or wealth inequality in any particular country. Neoliberalism is not measurable by a gini coefficient, even if the current state of income distribution becomes an important context for the tactical politics of income distribution.

And, if novakant thinks Sweden has escaped neoliberalism, he’s been badly misinformed.

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novakant 06.21.17 at 11:17 pm

And, if novakant thinks Sweden has escaped neoliberalism, he’s been badly misinformed.

A good thing then that I didn’t say that and used a comparative – and yes, Sweden is much less neoliberal than the US, and Finland even less so. And they manage to exist within the overbearing, undemocratic, neoliberal EU alongside, for the time being, a country like the UK, which is much more neoliberal than they are. Which goes to show that even if the EU has a neoliberal bent at the moment, it does allow for a great variance within its borders.

Nobody has shown that the EU is necessarily a neoliberal entity – that’s just nonsense, indeed even in its current state it tends to protect the rights of individuals much more than and often against the fierce opposition of national governments who have a tendency to bow down to corporate interests and to curtail the rights of their citizens wherever they can.

185

J-D 06.21.17 at 11:55 pm

Orange Watch

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/weber/#EthConRes

Weber clearly understood the deep tension between consequentialism and deontology, but he still insisted that they should be forcefully brought together. The former recognition only lends urgency to the latter agenda. Resolving this analytical inconsistency in terms of certain “ethical decrees” did not interest Weber at all. Instead, he sought for a moral character that can produce this “combination” with a sheer force of will. He called such a character a “politician with a sense of vocation” (Berufspolitiker) who combines a passionate conviction in supra-mundane ideals that politics has to serve and a sober rational calculation of its realizability in this mundane world. Weber thus concluded: “the ethic of conviction and the ethic of responsibility are not absolute opposites. They are complementary to one another, and only in combination do they produce the true human being who is capable of having a ‘vocation for politics’”

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J-D 06.21.17 at 11:57 pm

bruce wilder

I am saying, this is what Philip Mirowski was talking about.

That should be enlightening to people familiar with the work of Philip Mirowski, but not to people who aren’t. If somebody is only interested in communicating with the former category, opacity to the latter category is predictable.

187

Peter T 06.22.17 at 12:43 am

bruce wilder upthread dated the EU’s “neoliberal” four freedoms to the 80s, but the earlier founding treaties of the EEC clearly had the four freedoms in view as a goal. Because these freedoms characterised the classic liberalism of pre 1914. A world largely without passports, where, as Keynes noted, the investor could “adventure his capital” with ease across the world.

But the word “neo” is important. While a neo-Gothic railway station resembles a Gothic cathedral only in its facade, neo-liberalism resembles that liberalism in form more than substance. Yet it is a conscious attempt to recreate an imagined more perfect world, slowly(sometimes quickly) discovering that the conditions underpinning that world have disappeared and then attempting to mimic those conditions – a world not of real markets but of state-mandated, state-shaped, state-run markets, of free labour movement without the safety valve of mass emigration and within the confines of state regulation, of free capital in an environmentally-constrained world.

To make sense of it, you need to appreciate the very real liberal beliefs that drive it and the equally real conditions that make those beliefs unrealistic.

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nastywoman 06.22.17 at 3:52 am

@183
‘When I use the term, “neoliberal”…’

Yeah – that’s the great thing about our century – everybody has a right to her or his own definition –
It’s why I define the EU as: ‘didiwadidi’!

189

nastywoman 06.22.17 at 4:27 am

and about @183 –
‘Neoliberalism in form, as in the faulty design of the Euro or the Greek “bailout” –

There is prove that ‘Neoliberalism’ had nothing to with the creation of the Euro – as when you google:
‘Why has the Euro been created’?
The true answer is:
‘The Euro is not just a currency, it’s an expression of a political ideal. Many of the chief architects of the Euro — such as the former EU commission presidents Jacque Delores and Jacques Santer; French presidents Francois Mitterrand and Jacque Chirac; and ex-German Chancellor Helmut Kohl — all either lived through or saw the aftermath of World War II in Europe. Never again would the continent come to blows like that, they said.’

And about the Greek ‘bailout’ – a few weeks ago one of this yuuuge vultures of the ‘money slosh’ -(who kind of rules teh world) – complained that Greece currently ‘operates with wrong data’ – as he – since 2012 when Greece got it’s debt halved – ‘invested’ in Greece ‘Bonds’ and now thinks he will make lots and lots of profit – as – while (some Americans?) might think that the EU treated Greece with ‘neoliberal brutality’ – in reality Greece currently is the EU country with one of the lowest debt levels – as the loans from the EU are interest free and mature that far in the future – that – comes 2018 or 2019 they are going to be forgotten anywhoo – which is NOT ‘neoliberal’ for sure…

190

john c. halasz 06.22.17 at 4:37 am

I just want to point out that “neo-liberalism” is not a single thing, but a multi-headed hydra with many contributing strands. So to say the Germany is somehow not neo-liberal, as if it were merely an anglo phenomenon, is seriously misguided. In fact, “Ordo-Liberalismus” from Euken and Erhard, early members of the Mont Pelerin Society, is one of the founding strand of the shape-shifting doctrine, and the infantile Kantianism of Merkel/Schaeuble is among the purist re-emergences of the original set of doctrines/tendencies.

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nastywoman 06.22.17 at 4:51 am

– and I need to excuse myself – as about the creation of the Euro – I quoted an article ‘For Dummies’ – and in no way I wanted to imply that it is ‘for dummies’ – but perhaps – and as this… idea that the creation of the Euro might be some kind of ‘neoliberal thingy’ seems to be so… ‘persisting’ – the final quote from the article -(and not only for dummies)

‘The big idea behind the EU (and ultimately the Euro) is a simple one. If you get nations to trade and share their institutions, then they are less likely to go to war. Cooperation rather than confrontation was the order of the day. It seems to be a valid principle, as Western Europe has been at peace for nearly seventy years and counting.

Throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, the EEC helped break down trade and cultural barriers between western European countries, including the big four (France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom). Generally, economies in Western Europe boomed and people got richer than they had ever been before. But with the collapse of Communism in the early 1990s, key political figures faced a choice. Either they carried on the EU as it was — merely a free trade zone — or they look ahead to a brighter European future of political and economic integration. They chose the latter by introducing a single currency; the Euro. Leaders of the majority of EU member states decided to go with the Euro and it was born in 1999.’

That’s it pure and simply: ‘Didiwadidi’!

192

Continental 06.22.17 at 8:20 am

bruce wilder 06.21.17 at 5:21 pm: “I think she was targeting you, and she hit the target. I think both your positive regard for her and your expression of hostility to me was what she was trying to generate and she succeeded.”

I just think it’s worth pointing out that Val – who this is addressed to – wasn’t expressing any hostility to Bruce when she said “you are interpreting her remarks in the way that suits your perspective but that may not be what she was trying to say”. That is a pretty polite objection. It seems that Bruce (who btw hasn’t responded in substance to any of the objections raised by other commenters regarding the Clinton quote) can’t handle that level of criticism without taking it personally.

Yeah maybe he’s right, maybe Hillary Clinton gave that speech expressly in order to generate hostility towards bruce wilder.

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Continental 06.22.17 at 8:21 am

bruce wilder 06.21.17 at 5:21 pm: “I think she was targeting you, and she hit the target. I think both your positive regard for her and your expression of hostility to me was what she was trying to generate and she succeeded.”

I just think it’s worth pointing out that Val – who this is addressed to – wasn’t expressing any hostility to Bruce when she said “you are interpreting her remarks in the way that suits your perspective but that may not be what she was trying to say”. That is a pretty polite objection. It seems that Bruce (who btw hasn’t responded in substance to any of the objections raised by other commenters regarding the Clinton quote) can’t handle that level of criticism without taking it personally.

Yeah maybe he’s right, maybe Hillary Clinton gave that speech expressly in order to generate hostility towards bruce wilder.

194

Z 06.22.17 at 8:22 am

novakant, I’m possibly making a fool of myself with this comment (I’m not exactly sure what you mean @175) but in the many years I have been reading your perceptive comments on CT, it seems to me the risk is well worth the try, even if I have only the slightest chance to communicate my position.

Funny how all these countries that are way, way less neoliberal than the US/UK manage to do their thing within the EU : Not only Germany and France, but also Denmark, Sweden and Finland!

First of all, I see no contradiction in believing that EU policies are less neoliberal than those of the US/UK and more neoliberal than those of Germany, France or Denmark, so that UK can do its own thing and be pushed by the EU to move towards less neoliberalism while France or Sweden can do they own thing but be pushed by the EU towards more neoliberalism. Note also that the EU is much less neoliberal than it was 20 years ago, and what it is now is quite compatible with German and Danish socio-economical systems (it is a lot less clear it is compatible with the French system, and Sweden and Finland are increasingly going their separate ways) but anyway the influence of the EU is not so much a question of neoliberal vs. not-neoliberal anymore.

But most importantly, to paraphrase MFB, the thing with Germany, France, Sweden and the UK is that they are, well, different countries. At the ideological height of the European construction (in the second half of the 70s and the 80s), the prevalent ideology was that of an ever converging system of states and people guided by an institutional framework, and in fairness there was some plausibility to it as regions, societies and peoples who had been bitterly divided since the Reformation at least were at the time indeed moving closer and becoming increasingly hard to distinguish. This converging interim proved however to be short-lived and European societies core indicators and correlated fundamental properties started to diverge again, sometimes to an extent that is hard to fully grasp. The power of such diverging core trends is incomparably stronger than the institutional mandate to converge (with an institutional framework than could and can only envision two modes: ever greater integration or brutal separation) so essentially all European societies find themselves in considerable stress; as has been clearly visible at least since 2008 for the periphery but is increasingly obvious for the German core, not only in terms of the political expression of its impatience at the periphery (why won’t they just converge already?).

So yes, within a de facto (if not de jure) less and less neoliberal EU, separate countries keep doing their own thing: the Rome treaty and its avatars have not remade Greeks, French, Englishmen, Swedes and Germans in an abstract (neoliberal) people. Doing one’s own thing within the EU is not, however, quite a possibility in the long term. At least 3 European societies have been destroyed and one severely disrupted by the contradiction already. Whether others will overcome it remains to be seen.

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Z 06.22.17 at 9:06 am

Val @179 (and to some extent nastywoman @181) . What does this mean?

The Constitution of the United States (for instance) and more generally the institutional framework within which US society operate describes a social organization of powers which is in theory quite socio-politically neutral and compatible with a wide range of systems, and in particular with quite pronounced form of democratic socialism, or central planning, or liberal rule (in the contemporary sense), or hard neoliberalism, or soft neoliberalism, not to mention white supremacy and extreme liberalism (in the original sense) (and indeed all these theoretical forms have been practiced on a wide scale at different times in the history of the country).

The Treaty on (the functioning of) the European Union (from its 1957 Rome version to its 2009 Lisbon version) describes a social organization of powers which is much more specifically suitable to a particular system: a system in which transfer of wealth between regions is severely regulated (if not forbidden), in which price stability and the independence of the Central Bank are deemed crucial values to enshrine, in which a moderate rate of inflation, the forbidding of a harmonized tax code, freedom of capital movement, the primacy of free competitive modes of economic organization, freedom of merchandise flow are considered legitimate constitutional dispositions etc. etc.

As I am personally all for being very sensitive to the peculiar cultural features of political and economical system, how you might want to precisely characterize the system implicit (and sometimes explicit) in the institutional structure of the EU is not that important to me (neoliberalism? euro-neoliberalism? ordoliberalism? euro-ordoliberalism?). That there is an implicit and very specific political system embedded in the institutional framework of the EU in a scale and manner totally incomparable with the way a specific political is built in the national institutional framework of the US, Australia or Japan does not seem to me up to serious discussion.

Ironically, I don’t believe it really matters anymore so much anyway, as the actual force of these institutional recommendations ebbed considerably in the last 60 years. From 1957 to circa. 1975, the idea that the specific provisions of the ToEU could take precedence over the politically expressed views of a European nation was considered a laughing matter (quite bluntly: people were treating the specifics of the treaty as a joke). From 1975 to circa. 1995, the treaty was taken increasingly seriously and for a brief period between 1995 and 2008, it was actually more or less literally interpreted (with a correlative extremely significant EU-mandated wave of privatization and deregulation; that the UK went there first and went further does not make it less true). Since then, and especially with Brexit driving the last nail, it is not much of an exaggeration to say that the politically specific dispositions of the ToEU are whatever Germany says they are (an improvement over the actual content of the treaty, IMO, but a quite unstable outcome): so France can get a pass on the Protocol 12 excessive deficit procedure if it gestures convincingly enough at 150 people machine-gunned in the streets of Paris (a transparent pretext) but Greece is forbidden to raise income taxes pace Article 114.

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Continental 06.22.17 at 11:09 am

That Clinton quote is clearly about priorities. Sanders put a lot of emphasis on reining in Wall Street and breaking up big banks. Clinton’s speech is an appeal to people who may agree with the intention but who feel that other issues are as or more important, including racism and sexism. That’s what happens in politics, voters support candidates who speak to their perceived priorities. To say that safeguarding reproductive rights for example has a higher priority for me than say fighting for single payer healthcare is totally legitimate and doesn’t imply that the speaker is against single payer.

The trick with the talk about “identity politics” is that the speaker assumes his set of priorities (usually economic) to take, well, priority over all others, denying legitimacy to those others. These supposedly left “anti-identitarians” turn reality on its head exactly like the right-wingers. They claim that “identity politics” marginalizes the “working class”, whereas in reality it is them who deny legitimacy to the concerns of women and minorities.

The bruce wilder brand of economic populism has helped Trump get elected because that leftist fraction decided that women’s and minority rights, racism and sexism were not high enough on their priority list to vote for a “neoliberal” against a fascist. They helped defeat liberalism so we could get illiberal capitalism instead of neoliberal capitalism. But it’s all the fault of “identity politics”.

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Layman 06.22.17 at 1:02 pm

Val: “No you read me wrong…”

Indeed I did. Sorry!

198

Katsue 06.22.17 at 1:48 pm

@173

If by 2016 Hillary Clinton hadn’t already come to the view that the big banks need to be broken up because they pose a systemic risk to the US and indeed the global economy, then what possible event could cause her to do so?

Note that the administration she was part of pursued policies that led to further consolidation of the banking industry and that one of the (presumably non-racist) effects of this was to dramatically reduce the number of black-owned banks. To the best of my knowledge, she has never criticised the Obama administration for those policies, as opposed to its insufficient zeal for overthrowing the Assad regime.

199

engels 06.22.17 at 3:22 pm

Nastywoman, have you ever heard of the stability and growth pact? Or the Euro? Or Greece?

200

Glen Tomkins 06.22.17 at 3:23 pm

@Chris Bertram, 168,

Is there much doubt that the ECJ wouldn’t let the British govt withdraw notification? Is it even certain that the ECJ would take the case, and not simply tell any plaintiff that this isn’t a justiciable matter? The European Council then, by consensus, gets to just let Brexit disappear by accepting withdrawal of notification.

The limit here, it seems to me, is the British govt. It has to withdraw notification. Europe isn’t going to bail the UK out of the mess it got itself into. Right now withdrawal is a poison chalice in UK politics, but after a year and a half of negotiations with Europe show that a bad deal or no deal are the only two options available, those two cups will look even more toxic, and the govt might choose to withdraw the notification.

201

Chris Bertram 06.22.17 at 4:35 pm

@Glen Tomkins “Is there much doubt …” Yes there is:

https://www.bundestag.de/blob/476094/8a92fa2437cd050eb74d57ef00b6c611/pe-6-112-16-pdf-data.pdf

Slightly tidied google translation of relevant bit:

The possibility for an EU Member State to withdraw the notification of the intention to withdraw (Article 50 (2) sentence 1 TEU) after its declaration and before the withdrawal becomes effective is not expressly regulated in Article 50 TEU and controversial in the scientific literature. The interpretation of Article 50 of the EU Treaty suggests that the main arguments are in favour the possibility of withdrawing the communication. However, given the fact that the assessment of the admissibility of a redemption is also dependent on the circumstances and considerations of the individual case and is potentially subject to a review by the ECJ, however, a final assessment of the admissibility of a withdrawal can not be made.

202

Stephen 06.22.17 at 4:50 pm

Nastywoman@183: before 1973 at the earliest, the Danes, Dutch, Belgians and French must have been terrified that the British, unconstrained by any European links, might have invaded their coasts whenever their Government wished.

Or are you underestimating the peace-imposing effect of common membership of NATO? At least up to the point when France pulled out …

203

engels 06.22.17 at 5:13 pm

The big idea behind the EU (and ultimately the Euro) is a simple one. If you get nations to trade and share their institutions, then they are less likely to go to war.

Or as the great leftwing thinker and trenchant critic of neoliberalism Thomas Friedman put it

No two countries that both had McDonald’s had fought a war against each other since each got its McDonald’s’

204

Layman 06.22.17 at 5:18 pm

Katsue: “If by 2016 Hillary Clinton hadn’t already come to the view that the big banks need to be broken up because they pose a systemic risk to the US and indeed the global economy, then what possible event could cause her to do so?”

Is that your way of saying ‘Gosh, you folks are right, that quote from Hillary doesn’t actually say what it claimed I said, and maybe she didn’t actually mean what I said she meant’? Because if so, I think you need to work on it a bit.

205

Orange Watch 06.22.17 at 5:56 pm

Continental@190

To be as concise as possible: re-read your first paragraph, then re-read your second. The principle you espouse in paragraph one completely strips paragraph two of any standing; only one of those paragraphs can be taken as written w/o cognitive dissonance occurring.

206

nastywoman 06.22.17 at 8:11 pm

@195
‘have you ever heard of the stability and growth pact? Or the Euro? Or Greece?’

Yes! –
I have family in Greece – spend a lot of vacations there and mostly pay with the Euro -(if I#m not in the US) – and I’m very well aware of ‘the stability and growth pact’ – as for years I had such a pact with my American grandfather.

But what does all of this have to do with the facts – that an agreement between the UK and the EU – like the many agreement the EU before agreed on would be a very good thing – and that there is a pretty precise definition of ‘neoliberalism’ even Z can’t change?

207

nastywoman 06.22.17 at 8:30 pm

– and as some of my -(probably too silly comments) – still are ‘in moderation’ – and supposedly I’m a ‘linguist’ -(at least that’s what I studied) who also couldn’t care less about Wikipedia Definitions – I only can repeat: If ‘official’ -(or mainstream?) – definitions don’t fit the subject defined – it’s always ‘better’ – or more fun – to just invent a new word for ‘the subject’
And in the case of the EU – as it might be in the mind of American -(or even British) minds
‘neoliberal’ – or ‘socialistic’ – or ‘just a combination of a lot of diverse and sometimes contradicting mainly ‘cultural’ and zo a lesser extend ‘political’… ‘believes’ – YES let’s call it believes – I believe that the definition ‘didiwadidi’ might be more ‘precise’ -(in the Dictionaries-Definition-Way) than ‘neoliberal’.

If you guys can forgive me?

208

Ogden Wernstrom 06.22.17 at 8:43 pm

@173 Layman 06.21.17 at 11:47 am:

Ogden Wernstrom equates Obama’s politics to those of Reagan (!), a claim which can only be made by ignoring the politics of both men.

Maybe “tantamount” didn’t convey my meaning well. Maybe I should spell out the constraints. On a one-dimensional left-right axis, only a small portion of that axis is visible in the US. The currently-visible portion would have Reagan’s image and Obama’s image far apart; in the bigger picture, they’re pretty close together. I give little attention to the rhetoric of both men – they were far apart in much of what they said…which is a big part “politics”…but I did not intend to equate their politics. I find their actions are close to each other on that imaginary axis.

As far as actions go, Obama was not-so-left as the right-wing noise machine makes him out to be. Over time, I hope that his rhetoric will have as much positive effect as Reagan’s has had negative effect.

I have to spell out so many constraints on my statement that I should not have expected anyone to get my meaning in the first place. The more-moderate Nixon might have been a better comparison, but “Nixon” carries almost as much baggage as “Hitler”.

Maybe my view of Obama was tainted by Obama’s very first Executive Order, 13489, in which he copied someone else’s work – that is, Reagan’s E.O., 12667. It is not quite word-for-word. When I recognized the homage to Reagan, I probably started noticing the similarities and ignoring the differences between these two Presidents.

Both authorized “legalization” of some class of undocumented immigrants, and both stepped-up immigration enforcement. (Don’t ask me to place these on the left-right axis. In the long run, I can’t tell if keeping foreign laborers away is left-wing solidarity with workers or right-wing nationalism. Maybe one’s stance on this issue is a signaling device that changes over time.)

Obama’s de-escalation of the War On Drugs consisted of supporting Congress’ bill to reduce crack sentences, and commuting the drug-related sentences of some fraction of a percent of those imprisoned by that “War” – notable exceptions to Obama’s other actions related to drug policy – for example, a $2 billions shot-in-the-arm for Byrne Grants, which were established by the Reagan-era Anti-Drug Abuse Act. The Ogden Memorandum (no relation) backed down enforcement against state-legal medical marijuana, but the Administration made a severe amendment to the policy about 20 months later. Obama spoke out against the federal prohibition on funding needle-exchange programs, and left that prohibition in his budget proposal. (I think later proposals dropped that provision.)

Reading what I just wrote, I need another disclaimer: I do not intend this to be a leftist-purity argument against Obama. I may be what-passes-as-left-in-the-US, but I am also a gradualist, and Obama was really good at making any progress gradual. A slightly-left-of-center movement is better than no movement.

@166 Continental 06.21.17 at 7:55 am:

As long as gems like this count as political wisdom among US leftists, abandon all hope for sanity.

At last night’s meeting of what-passes-for-the-left-in-the-USofA, it was agreed that Continental does not have the power to appoint me as our spokesperson. Plus, I would decline the nomination and hide behind a shrubbery. Also, many of us would prefer that lack-of-sanity be covered by single-payer, while others prefer that sanity not be put on a pedestal in the first place.

209

nastywoman 06.22.17 at 8:44 pm

and as I just read – that we already had the first -(and perhaps most important) – agreement:

”Theresa May tells EU leaders she will guarantee the rights of 3m EU migrants living in UK” –

Stay tuned for more ‘agreements’!

210

Glen Tomkins 06.22.17 at 9:25 pm

@Chris Bertram,

I have to say that the Germans have a better name for what I call withdrawal of notification. Ruecknahme sounds so much more adult than takesy-backsy, but more compact than the unwieldy “withdrawal of notification”, so the Germans have it.

But whatever you call it, this opinion prepared for the Bundestag seems to say that takesy-backsy is probably permitted by Art 50, in that the Treaty of Lisbon would not have to be renegotiated to permit it. But it isn’t mentioned as a specific right of a member country that put in a notification, so perhaps the Council or the ECJ could use that failure to explicitly grant the right of Ruecknahme as an excuse to not permit the UK a takesy-backsy.

My question is this. Does it seem likely that there a majority on the ECJ or the Council that would vote against UK Ruecknahme? Perhaps they could, this passage you quote suggests that maybe they could, but the passage doesn’t suggest that Art 50 says that they have to deny permission to withdraw the notification. If they don’t have to, why would they?

211

Continental 06.22.17 at 9:31 pm

Z: “a system in which transfer of wealth between regions is severely regulated (if not forbidden)”

Curious why you think so. Not only is there transfer between for example German states and regions without any interference from the EU, there is also some – albeit not enough – transfer mediated by the EU between countries, mostly benefiting peripheral regions (famously Cornwall received tons of EU money, still they voted for Brexit).

As to your wider point, I don’t disagree that “neoliberal” doctrine (I don’t much like the term, it’s too vague and too abused) is to some extent baked into the EU framework, but thhere is also for example a European Social Charter which is far more progressive than anything you’d see from the US, and most member states have constitutions that are far more progressive than the US constitution and those are not overridden by some evil neoliberal DNA in the EU framework.

The EU is in simple terms a mixed bag, as one would expect. Nobody would call it perfect but the claim that the EU is inherently rotten in ways that the US and other nation states are not inherently rotten is baseless nationalistic propaganda.

nastywoman, the criticism of the Euro currency union is precisely that it undermined the member states’ fiscal latitude without compensating with deeper political integration. Probably most progressive economists think it was a mistake.

212

Continental 06.22.17 at 9:52 pm

Orange Watch 06.22.17 at 5:56 pm: Have I been unclear? Par 1: Having different political priorities within the progressive movement is totally legitimate. Par 2: I criticize a fraction of the left that denies the legitimacy of those who don’t share their priorities.
No, I don’t find a dissonance between those paragraphs.

213

nastywoman 06.22.17 at 10:05 pm

@190
Very… interesting as suddenly also ‘Kantianism’ comes into play – and so -(the dummie I am) I googled ‘Kantianism’ and it is –

Tatata!!

‘the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher born in Königsberg, Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). The term “Kantianism” or “Kantian” is sometimes also used to describe contemporary positions in philosophy of mind, epistemology, and ethics.’
– and that’s absolutely and totally awesome – as I know some ‘stuff’ from Kant too – and one of my most favorite ‘Kantianism’ is:

‘Out of timber so crooked as that from which man is made nothing entirely straight can be carved.’

What a great… Kantianism for the EU?
-(and not ‘naive’ at all!)

214

Guy Harris 06.22.17 at 10:25 pm

nastywoman:

But what does all of this have to do with the facts … and that there is a pretty precise definition of ‘neoliberalism’ even Z can’t change?

Well, there’s the OED online definition, which is “Relating to or denoting a modified form of liberalism tending to favour free-market capitalism.” Or are you thinking of another definition?

And how does Z’s definition differ from the one you cite?

215

Val 06.22.17 at 10:47 pm

Layman @ 204

Katsue also claimed on the other thread that Hillary Clinton is opposed to healthcare for Americans.

My kindly explanation is that Katsue wasn’t born when HRC first started campaigning for healthcare.

My unkindly thought is that Katsue is an ant-Hillary troll who makes shit up.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinton_health_care_plan_of_1993

216

Val 06.22.17 at 10:57 pm

Continental (currently @ 192 and 193!)

Thanks for the support but I was kind of mocking bruce by calling him a reasonable man of the enlightenment who was in possession of the objective truth.

It wasn’t Hillary Clinton who made me do it though, it was reading bruce’s comments over a few years!

The adorable part is that he then responded by doing the same thing again, only this time expressing the hope that I too might eventually become a reasonable man who could see the objective truth also.

I have pretty much given up getting angry about this stuff, but as you suggest, it is not funny that some people think race and gender don’t matter – especially just after the guy who shot Philandro Castile six times got acquitted.

Anyway OT, so now back to the regular scheduled programming I suppose (sigh).

217

J-D 06.23.17 at 12:56 am

Katsue

If by 2016 Hillary Clinton hadn’t already come to the view that the big banks need to be broken up because they pose a systemic risk to the US and indeed the global economy, then what possible event could cause her to do so?

I get the impression (perhaps mistakenly) that this question is intended as a rhetorical one, intended to underline your conclusion that Hillary Clinton would never, in practice, support breaking up the big banks. If that’s your judgement, it may be right or it may be wrong; I don’t feel sufficiently well informed to express a view. Taking your question at face value, I would answer ‘I don’t know; maybe there’s some possible event that would bring Hillary Clinton to the view that the big banks should be broken up, or maybe there’s none’.

But the earlier discussion was not about (or not just about) this kind of broader evaluation of Hillary Clinton’s position, but about (or also about) the interpretation of a specific statement by Hillary Clinton. bruce wilder cited a discussion of it on another thread as an illustration (if I understood correctly) of how I refused to acknowledge the plain meaning of a statement, in what I think bruce wilder was suggesting was a characteristic (that is, to me; but perhaps also to other people) form of feigned obtuseness. The discussion since has shown that there are a number of people who don’t find the meaning of that particular statement by Hillary Clinton to be as plain as bruce wilder supposes (although I suppose bruce wilder might suggest that they too are also feigning).

So if you are suggesting that it is clear what Hillary Clinton means, you may perhaps be right (at least, I don’t know); but if you are suggesting that it is clear what the particular statement by Hillary Clinton means (which was the earlier topic), you haven’t made out your case. (Indeed, in the discussion on that other thread, you have made a comment about Hillary Clinton’s statement which is plainly false, as I have pointed out in a comment there.)

218

Z 06.23.17 at 10:14 am

nastywoman @209 Stay tuned for more ‘agreements’!

In that nice spirit of conciliation, I would like to ask you the following question: do you substantially agree with the following statement (a small variation of one I made upthread), with the emphasis on institutional framework absolutely crucial (so whether the actual executive policies of the EU reflect the political system in question is quite immaterial to the claim)?

“There is an implicit and very specific political and economical system embedded in the institutional framework of the EU in a scale and manner totally incomparable with the way a specific political system is built in the national institutional framework of (e.g) the US, Australia, Japan, the UK or France”

If you do, then we can move on to attempt a precise characterization of said specific political system, perhaps find a common term we can agree on, and discuss the historical articulation of this ideal system (in the philosophical sense) with the actual exercise of political power etc. If you don’t, then on that topic at least, there is as of now probably not enough common ground between us to interact fruitfully, which is of course perfectly fine. (But especially in that latter case, I should say that, with the caveat that my understanding of English is often quite limited, I understood your comment 206 as implying in a derogatory way I had attempted to change the definition of neoliberalism, something I don’t believe to have done myself-on the contrary I expressed my conviction that terms weren’t as important as cultural believes, a position you apparently share to some extent. If what I understood was indeed what you intended to convey, I would appreciate it greatly if you would agree to substantiate your claim or refrain from such insinuations on my opinions in the future.)

219

nastywoman 06.23.17 at 10:18 am

– and about these jokes from Stephen about
‘the Danes, Dutch, Belgians and French must have been terrified that the British, unconstrained by any European links, might have invaded their coasts whenever their Government wished.’
and Engels –
‘as the great leftwing thinker and trenchant critic of neoliberalism Thomas Friedman put it’.

I had a yuuuge laugh – as I’m the obvious infantile joker here – but ‘whassup’ with Engels? -(and Stephen?) weren’t they once serious ‘political -(and philosophical) commentators – who never ever would joke about something as serious as ‘war and peace’?

Or does this seriousness only apply to US politics and if it comes to ‘URP’ – URP is ‘chopped liver’?
-(and you got to absolutely love the expression: ‘Chopped Liver’ especially in connection with Great Britain!)

220

Z 06.23.17 at 10:20 am

Also, sorry for this belated answer but MisterMr @56

The problem is that negotiations between nations often are this kind of nasty power driven stuff, but we inhabitants of the rich world usually are on the strong side of negotiations and don’t see it, it just happens that britons (or brexiters) are going to see thing from the weak side for once.

I completely agree with your framing. It’s just that I find this power driven business quite detestably punitive, and as you say nasty, when it is targeted at developing countries (especially former colonies) and in truth, I can’t say I like it that much either even when a rich and powerful country (who essentially begged for it) is on the receiving end.

221

Faustusnotes 06.23.17 at 11:22 am

It’s pretty clear here that “neoliberalism ” has come to mean “anything I don’t like” in the mind of our local socialists. Truly, a many-headed hydra. A beast so subtle it can create economic conditions as varied as Sweden, France and the U.K., a political ideology that – though it continues to stand undefined – has managed to manipulate the economic development of economies and states as diverse as Australia, the USA and Poland. Indeed, McManus defines Japan – a country with state funded pensions, progressive taxation, much lower inequality than the west, a jobs-for-life cultural identity, and a constitution that prohibits war – as a neoliberal paradise. Just like the USA, which is Japan’s diametrical opposite in every way.

Indeed the only country that seems to escape the neoliberal tag is china, an ostensibly communist country with no social welfare system, a weak uhc package only recently introduced, very little environmental or industrial regulation, an unregulated banking sector and a rampant capitalist culture.

It’s as if you guys haven’t actually got a fucking clue what you’re talking about.

222

Katsue 06.23.17 at 1:43 pm

@196

As you say, priorities are important in politics, and Hillary Clinton clearly indicated in that comment that breaking up the big banks was not one of her priorities because it wouldn’t end sexism or racism. I’m glad we’re in agreement as to what she meant.

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