Sunday, May 15, 2016

Brexit: The Movie

Why Britain, and indeed other EU nations, ought to reject the EU, leave it, and dismantle it, or least why it should do so on democratic grounds.

Now admittedly this documentary has a nationalist neoliberal or quasi-libertarian slant and some stupid nonsense here and there (I will discuss that below), but nevertheless it gets some crucial things right and is worth watching.

Despite the confusion, the viciously anti-democratic nature of the EU is quite easy to explain:
(1) the European Commission, despite being unelected, is the executive of the EU and has the sole right to propose legislation. This European Commission proposes and formulates legislation largely in secret with committees filled with big businesses and corporate interests.

(2) even though the European Commission members are proposed by member EU governments, once the Commission members are appointed they become independent and not accountable to the people or capable of being removed by democratic election.

(3) the European Parliament cannot even propose legislation.

(4) once something becomes a European law, only the unelected European Commission has the sole right to repeal or change that legislation.

(5) even though, technically, the EU parliament has the power to dismiss the Commission by a two thirds majority vote, the parliament still has no power at all to force a new Commission to change or adopt different policies.

(6) the EU Fiscal Compact (otherwise known as the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union) of 2012 effectively imposed a ban on effective stimulative Keynesian economic policy in many Eurozone countries.
How does that sound to you?

Now let’s turn to the neoliberal B.S. in this documentary.

The documentary goes badly wrong from about 22.00 onwards when it launches into a rant about regulation and protectionism, and to public investment and even some limited nationalisation, but a left-wing person can dispense with the libertarian idiocy to see that the democratic argument against the EU is very strong.

They also fall for the neoliberal myth of Ludwig Erhard.

Nor is there anything necessarily wrong with a national technical class of bureaucrats, provided that they are democratically accountable and their activities are informed by a sensible economic theory (for how sensible Keynesianism used to work within the bureaucracy of the British Treasury, see here).

Things improve when the documentary turns to the naked and massive corporate lobbying in the EU, which gives powerful corporations a degree of regulatory capture.

But then it plunges back to anti-protectionist rubbish. Yes, inefficient industries are a problem, but the solution to that is some kind of industrial policy, not smash up your domestic industry by allowing in a flood of cheap imports. A laughable point of omission on trade is that China is engaged in an aggressive mercantilism and dumping of certain goods like steel, which might as well be a form of economic warfare against us. National governments should absolutely have the right to protectionism in cases like this, and any competent left-wing social democratic government or sensible conservative government that cares about its people would be vehemently opposed to treasonous multinational corporations and free trade delusions.

And, no, protectionism need not lead to stagnation or inefficiencies with national industrial policies.

We also get a section on the poor economic growth in Europe which totally ignores the pro-austerity and dysfunctional Eurozone system.

Matters improve somewhat from 50.00 onwards when the documentary turns to more sensible criticism of the EU, on nationalist economic grounds.

A massive hole in the documentary is the unwillingness to talk about the disaster of open borders and mass immigration.


  1. Thanks for this excellent post - I particularly like the succinct 6-point description of the central problems of the EU and its thoroughly undemocratic nature.

    May I draw your attention to a typo — there may be efforts at "SIMULATIVE Keynesian economic policy" in the EU, but you are right, there certainly is "an effective ban on effective STIMULATIVE Keynesian economic policy in many countries of the Eurozone.

    Feel free not to publish this reminder, or cut out the part pointing to the typo.

  2. Good, I had pretty much the same Critique about the Brexit movie in my mind.

    there is one more thing about the EU that is more unvisible. Since there are strong federalist forces in every member state parliament, the local politicians feel that they are in a comfort zone, they don't have to answer to their people and they don't have to solve the problems, E will do all that. A good example was when first messages about the refugees arrived. The talk was not about if we wanted to help the people but it was: if we don├Át want to get the refugees, we have to leave the EU. It has been the same about austerity policies and mass unemployment, if we don't want to do it, then we have to leave the EU, that will be really bad for the economy, Russia might attack us etc. So not only are the EU politicians unaccountable, this set up makes the local politicians unaccountable in a certain way: we cannot do It. The ones who can are fear mongerers, isolationists, nationalists etc.

  3. Btw lk when you will finally start a section debunking neoclassical 101?

    After austrians and marxians i guess you should deal with the arch nemesis dont you think?

  4. Yep I thought the movie was pretty good on the whole.

    Best critique of the EU that exists is Larry Siedentop's Democracy in Europe. It got rave reviews when published 15 years ago. But it had no effect on the march of integrationism, and seems to have been forgotten now, even though the criticisms are more valid than ever.

  5. Martin Durkin, the producer and presenter of this film, previously made the right-wing trash propaganda documentaries 'The Great Global Warming Swindle' and 'Britain's Trillion Pound Horror Story'.

    1. So what? Jimi Hendrix started out as a paratrooper. Does that make everything he did worthless right wing propaganda?

  6. The EU at work.