My Journey To Brexit

I voted to leave the European Union in 2016. But if you would have told me that just two years before I would have rolled over laughing at you. Until really quite recently I was a staunch defender of the EU- in fact, if you asked me in 2014, I would have told you that we should head full steam into a United States of Europe. So what changed?

The reason I am posting this article now is that, over the past few years, it seems like the debate about Brexit has gone nowhere. This weekend one hundred thousand people marched in London to demand a vote on the final Brexit deal. There is a serious discussion to be had about the public voting on such a crucial issue. But there should be little doubt in our minds that many of the people marching on Saturday had every intention of scuppering Brexit completely, by any means necessary. Having a final vote gives the hardcore remain camp a golden opportunity to do just that.

When people discuss leaving the EU they get bogged down in minor details and end up making ridiculous predictions about the future. If I listen to a row about the EU on the radio, it often feels like a competition to figure out who possesses the most accurate crystal ball. The reason I and many others like me voted Brexit is the sordid state of the European Union. More fundamentally, many people on both sides do not have a good understanding of what the EU is or how it works. For some Remainers, the EU is the pillar that holds up our economy, without it the whole framework of Britain beings to fall apart. This is a hopelessly misguided view. Yet, on the other hand, many Breixteers assume that life outside the EU will be a blessed, voyage to a prosperous garden of Eden. This is also wrong.

When Britain voted in 2016, it passed its verdict on the European Union. I believe that the reason why so many people voted to remain part of the EU is that they had an incorrect perception of what the EU is. Here I will detail why my view on the EU changed. In my pro-EU days, my positive perception of that amalgam of institutions was based on three crucial axioms that turned out not to be true:

  • The EU would help Europe deal with a crisis.
  • The EU keeps Britain prosperous
  • The EU is fair

These were the assumptions that kept me supporting the EU. But in the years leading up to the referendum, one by one these perceptions were revealed as nothing more than empty myths.

The first and probably most significant reason for my support of the EU was the perception that is would help small European countries deal with a crisis. Indeed, if you look at the placards and banners that were being gleefully thrust into the air this weekend you will see lots of references to ‘brotherhood’ and ‘togetherness’. There is a palpable sense amongst Remainers that the EU helps bring humanity together. Having spent my formative years watching Newsnight and reading copies of The Economist I assumed that the EU was great because it allowed otherwise small nations to club together and punch above their weight. But then the refugees came…

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not in favour of stopping desperate people from seeking a new life in a stable and prosperous country. In fact, on paper, if you have a mass influx of refugees the EU is exactly the sort of organisation you would hope could address that issue. The EU should have acted as a bastion of hospitality that stood firm and addressed this challenge as brothers arm in arm with a shared love of humankind. So it was a big shock for me when this didn’t happen. Part of the logic of the EU is that it allows small European countries to club together to deal with big challenges but the EU crumbled under the pressure of this crisis. Far from being able to address the issue effectively, we saw some truly horrific scenes emerging from the frontiers of this supposedly ‘civilised’ institution.

Instead of showing a spirit of togetherness we saw children washing up dead on the shores of EU countries. We saw families charging through border towns with angry police platoons chasing them like cattle. We saw EU leaders close their borders rather than accommodate starving families. Hardly the progressive bastion of international love that many in the Remain camp associate with the EU. Furthermore, the handling of the refugee crisis has had devastating long-term consequences for Europe. By mismanaging the large-scale migration so spectacularly the EU has contributed to the rise of extremist far-right movements in almost every single EU member state. Three years on from the migrant crisis, the EU is no closer to solving this problem; just ask anybody in Sicily, Malta or Calais. In my view, the people that assume that the EU is a defender of Human Rights and an organisation that brings the world together are just wrong. Rather than acting in unison, the small countries of the EU were left on their own to deal with this enormous challenge. I understand their opinion because I used to hold it myself. But our opinions must change when new evidence proves us flat out wrong. 

The next myth that I held sacred about the EU was that it keeps Britain a prosperous country. I used to adhere to the platitudes that ‘without the EU Britain will not survive.’ The Remain argument is on it’s best footing here. It is undeniable that Britain does a lot of business with the EU and Brexit will incur some serious economic challenges for the UK, that much is undeniable. Since the Brexit vote, several big companies have signalled that they wish to move their businesses overseas to countries within the single market. I believe in free trade. Obviously losing access to the single market will be bad for Britain. But does Brexit spell doom for the British economy? The answer must be an unequivocal no.

40% of Britain’s external trade is with the EU, this is an impressive figure. Enough to convince me that Britain was much better off in the EU. But there are other important things to consider. Firstly, only around 6% or British businesses export anything (never mind the proportion that export to the EU). Furthermore, although, exports are important, they are not the linchpin of the British economy as some Remainers suggest. We are a much greater importing country than an exporting one, the value of our business to the EU is plain for all to see. Not being part of the single market is not ideal, but not fatal for Britain. It is a delusion to assume that the Germans, Dutch, French et al really don’t care about whether we are part of their trading block or not. But like many other Remainers, I fell for the argument that without the benevolent hand of Brussels our entire economy would grind to a halt.

One of the most pervasive myths about the EU is that it is in a strong economic position. One of the great unspoken aspects of the Brexit debate is the scale of the European debt crisis. This is a sword of Damocles looming over some of the most important countries in the EU. So far, by fiscal bullying and outright manipulation, the EU has avoided total collapse due to this issue. Yet, there is no doubt that is the EU is going to avoid total financial collapse it will have to undergo a process of economic integration that will rival the introduction of the single currency in terms of its scope. A key moment in my journey to voting for Brexit rather than Remain was the realisation that voting to stay in the EU was not a vote for the status quo. It is a barely hidden secret that those in the upper echelons of the EU see their organisation as a federalist project rather than an alliance of countries. During the Brexit debate, we were constantly being told that a vote for Remain was a vote for stability. But nothing could be further from the truth. Over the next decade, the EU will probably take further strides towards being a single political unit or begin the process of dissolving. Not by design of its member states but out of sheer necessity. My brother had a copy of Yanis Varofakis’ book And The Weak Suffer What They Must. I have a bad habit of picking up a book and reading the last page. In it, the influential Greek statesman argues, very forcefully that to survive the EU must integrate much further and much fatser and I have to say that I agree with him. It didn’t mean much to me at the time but that realisation had big consequences for my referendum during the EU referendum.

The final and last reason that persuaded me to change my vote from Remain to Brexit was the realisation that the EU is not a fair institution. If you read into the anti-Brexit march on Saturday one of the things that comes across is that the EU is seen as a bastion of democracy by some in the Remain camp. Indeed, back when I used to be a cheerleader for the EU one of my implicit assumptions was that it was a profoundly democratic body that was a vehicle for spreading enlightened views across the world. But like many of my other assumption about the EU, during the years leading up to the referendum, this view was proven completely false.

Fundamentally the way the EU works is as a club. Just because you are in the unions it does not mean that you will derive any benefit from being a member. To really benefit from being an EU member means that you need to ‘play the game.’ Countries like France and Italy are excellent at gaining benefits from the EU whilst minimising their commitments. Whereas Britain, Denmark, Sweden are much less good at playing the European game. Britain has never been good at ‘playing the EU game.’ The EU is not a fair institution, while some nations benefit greatly from being an EU member, others get pushed around strong-armed into accepting policies that are not in their best interests. Another important demonstration of how the EU uses its power to bully members was the Greek bailout referendum in 2015. Led by the left-wing Syriza party Greece was asked to accept a bailout package from the EU to help with its chronic debt problem. Yet, one the stipulations of the bailout would mean that Greece would have to implement harsh austerity measures, despite the fact that the Greeks had just elected a left-wing party to do the exact opposite of that.

The solution to Greece’s debt problem should have been rather simple. Devalue currency to increase exports, reduce public spending commitments and renegotiate debt repayment arrangements. But because it was an EU member state it was virtually prohibited from doing any of these things. The EU made quite a fuss over the Greek decision to vote oxi (no) and reject the EU’s bailout deal. This issue quite an eye-opening moment for me. The apparent democratic credentials of the EU I knew and loved were being stripped away. The EU leant very heavily on the Greeks to make the ‘right’ decision. And after the whole incident was over, and the Greeks indeed voted to reject the EU’s financial demands they were essentially imposed on Greece over the course of the next few years. The Greek bailout referendum was a watershed for me and my view of the European Union.

The final straw for my love of the EU was during the buildup to the referendum. We all remember David Cameron waxing lyrical about how he could get a deal with Angela Merkel and reform the EU. At this stage, I was on a knife-edge. If David Cameron could reach an agreement with the German chancellor and come to some kind of arrangement to give Britain greater autonomy within the EU then I would quite probably have voted to remain. AT least in the EU would have proven itself open to, and capable of making necessary reforms and adjustments when the circumstances called for it. But it wasn’t to be. The Prime Minister’s requests were met with a flat and definite no from the de facto head of the European Union. This was the last straw for me, all of the events that had caused me to change my once fervently pro-EU opinion began to make sense. Despite the fact that Britain has been a net contributor to Europe and one of it’s most valuable assets we were unable to get any concessions fro Europe. The EU is a fundamentally unfair institution.

Obviously, it is dead wrong of me to state that the EU is incapable of reform. It goes through transformations and changes all the time. Yet, these changes are always towards one direction- ever closer union. One of the strangest facets of the Brexit aftermath has been the way people interpret the EU’s leverage over the UK. It is an open secret that Michel Barnier cannot give too many concessions to the Brexit team because many of the EU’s member states will then want to leave the EU. It boggles my mind that people then think the EU is negotiating from a position of strength. This truly sounds like some sort of abusive relationship; ‘If I am nice to you then all my other friends will want to leave me.’ It is pure folly to suggest that a vote to Remain was a vote for stability, quite the opposite. If our recent past is anything to go by the EU is heading into uncharted territory where the lines between the EU and it’s member states are becoming more blurred. There was never really an option to vote for the status-quo. There were only ever two choices, to live out the fantasies of Jean Claude Junker, or to go our separate ways

In this article, I have outlined that I voted to leave the EU not because I am a racist or a moron, but because I looked at the current state of EU and drew my own conclusion from there. I don’t believe Breixt will lead to a new golden age, I never did. My choice was pragmatic. Like many people who voted Brexit, I simply observed what the EU was doing and decided that wanted no part in it. I sincerely wish that many in the Remain camp would do us the courtesy of acknowledging that rather than smearing us as jingoistic reprobates. But just like the dreams of a ‘two speed Europe’ that might be too much to ask.

The Windrush Scandal: Twisting the Knife for a Hopeless Government

I am not very often lost for words but the events that have transpired this week in the Windrush controversy have left me speechless. For the sake of a lost piece of paper many people who have lived in Britain since the 1940s and 1950s have lost their jobs and had their whole lives thrown into question.

As a libertarian, I rarely get the opportunity to jump on any sort of bandwagon. So you will forgive me for enthusiastically hopping aboard this one.  Obviously, this scandal is an utter disgrace. But the claim that Theresa May has created a ‘hostile environment’ for these long naturalised British citizens requires further analysis.

Radio 4 recently caused a stir because they decided to air Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech in full. I always knew about the speech but was never really aware of the enormous public support that Powell received after he was dismissed (in what must be one of the biggest acts of career suicide in modern British history).

People such as myself, who are in favour of more liberal border controls are in a tricky position here. The vast majority of the British public do not support this policy direction, and yet every year more migrants come to the UK. Year after year politicians promise to radically reduce migration but they fail. The reason they fail is that reducing immigration is for all practical purposes impossible.

Immigration makes economic and political sense. Not only does it bring valuable workers to Britain but it sends a positive message to the rest of the world. Furthermore, if Theresa May tried to limit the number of migrants to the ‘tens of thousands’ as she has said, chaos would ensue. The political benefit of actually sticking to her promise would be outweighed by images of families being turned away at airports and the imposition of some arbitrary selection process for foreign migrants.  The Windrush scandal is a clear signal of a system that is doomed to failure.

Time and time again the state has shown itself to be totally inept when it comes to immigration. Ultimately, it is not Theresa May’s fault that there is a hostile atmosphere to migration.  In this instance, that state has promised to do something that it is literally not able to do. This compounds the woes of a government with no real agenda. Theresa May’s premiership highlights one of the main problems with the conservative party, that it has no real ideology, no guiding principals. So in times like these when some kind of unifying principle would be useful, the government is left floundering.

The Windrush scandal is not over yet. There is more pain to come for the Conservatives.

 

LPUK Conference 2018

It is a freezing cold January afternoon. The setting is a brightly lit subterranean hall, the ridiculously baroque design of the room makes the place look like an upmarket nightclub. But people are not here to dance they are here to the UK Libertarian Party Conference.

The LPUK has had an unexpected burst of energy in the past year despite suffering for a while with a reputation as a ‘do nothing’ party. As I am not an LPUK member I attended the conference out of pure curiosity, to see if the party has what it takes to build on its success.

The first half of the day was taken up by speeches from LPUK activists. By far the best speakers were Will Taylor and Dan Liddicott; both finishing their speeches with thunderous applause. It was immediately apparent that putting forward a positive, thoroughly modern case for liberty resonated with almost everybody in the room.

The second half of the day was taken up by an eclectic mix of different speakers. Historian Ruth Dudley Edwards, Fathers for Justice leader Matt O’Connor, Firearms UK organiser David Ewing and finally the Liberland founder Vit Jedlicka.

There were three significant messages that the LPUK conference has taught us. This first being that there is a real appetite in our society for an enthusiastic party that truly represents the future of modern Britain and puts forward a positive case for liberty.The talking points that got the best response from the audience were reaching out to people’s hearts, promoting genuine diversity, new technologies like cryptocurrency and the importance of the private initiative.

Liberalism is a radical doctrine, we do not have to play the progressive versus reactionary game. The likes of Momentum and Rhodes Must Fall represent only one image of the future. There is an alternative outlook for the UK. It is innovative, open-minded and free.

The next message we learned is that people want to be part of the Libertarian movement. Over the course of the day, there were talks about Northern Ireland to firearms law to creating a new country. Libertarianism is exciting and people want to be part of it.

Finally, and on a less positive note, we must look at the condition of the LPUK itself. You may be wondering why little attention has been given to the LPUK leader Adam Brown. This is because there is really not much to write about.

Given that Brown has received criticism for being an extremely low key leader you would imagine that he would make use of this opportunity to stamp his authority on the LPUK. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. Brown made a rather clumsy introduction which was around two minutes in length. He then remained silent for the entirety of the conference.

At the end of the day, Brown had his chance to speak and finish the conference on a high note. Instead of doing this the party leader stuttered through a five-minute address which he admitted that he didn’t write himself. All of the chances for Brown to demonstrate some ownership over the day’s proceedings were taken by the party’s previous leader Andrew Withers. To add insult to injury the party top brass (in full view of the audience) were playing around on their phones rather than listening to the speakers for the duration of the day.  

The LPUK conference was a positive and energetic affair. At the end of the day one of the speakers, Ruth Dudley Ewards said she was “impressed” by the noticeably young and engaged nature of the audience. There is indeed a great amount of potential in the LPUK at the moment. But for it to gain more momentum it needs to sort out its chronic leadership problem. It is incredibly unclear who is actually in charge of the party. It would be a tragedy to see this new vitality wasted by an apathetic leadership.

The Real Meaning of Guy Fawkes Night

Though freedom is not a state of nature but an artefact of civilisation, it did not arise from design. The institutions of freedom, like everything freedom has created, were not established because people foresaw the benefits they would bring. But, once its advantages were recognized, men began to perfect and extend the reign of freedom and, for that purpose, to inquire how a  free society worked. Friedrich Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty.

 

Tolerance is one of the most important virtues within the liberal tradition.  Being in a tolerant society is not always comfortable. In 1605 a band of angry Catholics tried to blow up the houses of parliament. Although this action was in no way justified, it was the product of a long and bitter conflict over religion in Britain.

Until at least the middle of the eighteenth century, British society was tearing itself apart. The role of the monarch, the power of the state and the changing nature of Britain’s economy and society were all issues that could potentially boil over into civil war (again).

Liberalism has roots far beyond the enlightenment. Yet, it was not until the late eighteenth century that the values of liberalism became influential. Furthermore, liberalism emerged not by design (in what Hayek refers to as the French rationalist tradition) but because it was practical.

This was not lost on the people of the eighteenth century. Without liberalism, the bear pit of British society could turn once again to bloodshed. It was not a coincidence that after liberalism rose to prominence Catholicism ceased to be a matter of life and death in British society.

Liberal values are perhaps the best tool at a nation’s disposal to balance competing ideologies, ethnicities and religions. Marx was proven utterly wrong when he proclaimed that it was in the liberal bourgeois countries where class war would begin. On the contrary, it was the countries were the liberal tradition was strongest that avoided such conflict.

Without liberalism and tolerance, we are left with an all or nothing struggle for supremacy. Our society is vastly more diverse, complex and fluctuating then it was the eighteenth century. However, under this pressure, many supposed stalwarts of liberty proclaim that the essential liberal value of tolerance should be dispensed with.

I have heard many express the view that tolerance must be abandoned to defend our way of life. They say that by abandoning our most important principles we somehow preserve them.

This is obviously ridiculous. Liberalism is not a doctrine of dominance, it cannot be enforced through the barrel of a gun. To turn it into such a doctrine would be to make the mistake that the rationalists made.

Liberalism does not promise heaven on earth, it is not utopian. It merely acknowledges the truth of human existence. Life is not always comfortable. To demand that all in our world adhere to the same values as we do is to abandon liberalism.

We should reflect on the lessons of 1605 as the sky fills with glowing lights and the smell of gunpowder. By claiming that those that do not share our views are ‘enemies’ and ‘others’ then we shut down channels for meaningful conversation.

Tolerance is important even if it makes us uncomfortable. If we stick to our principles, we stand a better chance of convincing those that do not already share our views that we are right.

 

Come All Ye Faithful: The age of the endless campaign is here.

What did we do to deserve this ordeal? This is the question that I have been asking myself over and over again for the past couple of weeks.

The Labour and Conservative party conferences have been a depressing conveyor belt of scandal, intrigue and ill thought out policy. However, if these conferences are a litmus test of the state of British politics. We can conclude that the nature of our politics is changing.

The Labour party conference was remarkable for its abundance of activism. Whereas the Tories’ dismal affair was noteworthy because it lacked enthusiasm for anything. Cough sweets being the big exception here.

So what should we conclude in the aftermath of this fortnight of political mayhem? It is clear that we are entering an age where the election campaign never really stops. There is a shrinking window where politicians can ‘get on with their job’. Soon it may be the case that our politics becomes an endless drive for popular favour.

It is not difficult to work out why his transition is taking place. If we turn the clock back a couple of decades, we can see a clear metropolitan elite that has a stranglehold on our democratic institutions. When election time rolls around they can wheel out a list of policies that appeal to most normal people. They then accumulate a marginal amount of lukewarm support and waltz into power.

Returning to the present day we have social media, the twenty-four-hour news cycle, televised PMQs and large reserves of disgruntled young people. Our politicians have struggled to cope with these new pressures. The fight to appear competent and popular never really subsides. The lifespan of a politician involved in some sort of scandal used to be measured in months. Now it is measured in minutes.

To survive in this new environment politicians have had to adapt. Perpetual activism is one way of doing this. The Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn has in many ways been an immense success. Writing for this website a few years ago I warned the political mainstream that they should not underestimate this ageing Marxist allotment enthusiast. The fervent enthusiasm he commands from an initially small number of devotees trumped the bland congeniality of his opponents in the Labour leadership contests. This way of doing things has served him well. In an age where the camera is always on you and people have the capacity to express their thoughts and feelings instantly, Mr Corbyn has tapped into something powerful.

The chanting and flag-waving of the Labour conference could not have been more different from its Conservative counterpart. The Tories had fought the past few elections on the old ‘better of two evils’ model. While this may work in terms of votes, it has been a disaster for the party’s image. The Conservative front bench is dominated by unexciting technocrats who seem allergic to popular appeal. Perennial low morale in the party has wreaked havoc in its upper echelons. A political entity can only exist for so long without popular enthusiasm. Even when Theresa May wanted to showcase her party’s strength and unity last week, Machiavellian forces were never far from the surface.

Surely the fact that politicians are finally listening to people is a good thing?

That depends on where things go from here. I can think of three different scenarios. The first one involves different organisations within the major parties becoming much more powerful. So much so that it becomes necessary for there to be a pre-election election. For example, Progress versus Momentum will have to decide which wing of the Labour party will take go forward to fight the general election.

In the second (much uglier) scenario, politicians abandon the middle ground and coalesce around their core vote. Instead of trying to appeal to different groups, the current trend into identity politics becomes more developed. Utilitarianism is abandoned in favour of political ‘clans’ that drown out moderating voices.

Finally, there is the possibility that the current middle ground politics remains dominant; but only just. The task of political leaders becomes to cling on to power by managing the competing tribes within their respective parties.

Notice that in none of these scenarios does the actual will of the ordinary working people become more important to the Westminster bubble.

 

 

Why The Left are Getting it Wrong on History.

The events that transpired in the wake of the Charlottesville atrocities have sparked a wave of hyperbole across the USA. Public statues have been the focus of this upheaval. Several monuments have been defaced across the United States by radical activists. America and indeed the western world’s relationship with our past in under considerable strain. But why is tearing down monuments and rewriting history books only the preserve of the radical few?

Rather than getting upset or producing a long social media tirade against these actions. I set myself the mission of trying to understand why some individuals are so determined to remould our relationship with history.

My first stop was the Black Lives Matter movement’s website. On their principles list, I found many things that I agree with; celebrating differences between communities, helping Black American’s stay out of prison, encouraging empathy between communities etc. Yet there were other areas that I thought were out of place.

This case was indicative of what I found throughout my journey. What the ‘left’ currently stands for is generally quite difficult to ascertain. Of the campaign groups I looked at, very few had straight forward goals. I found it hard to believe that the membership of these social movements was fully on board with the lofty ideals of their organisers. I struggle to imagine that most Black Americans think that ‘cis-gender privilege’ is an issue of the utmost concern to them.

This highlighted to me the reason why the left is getting it wrong on history. The rhetoric coming from groups like Black Lives Matter alienate most people they claim to represent. The positive things left-wing intellectuals promote get lost in an ocean of unintelligible waffle.

We only need to look at academia to understand where this issue originates.

It is no secret that many academics are left-wing. This is true in Britain as well as America. While the shopping revolution has been busy transforming the west since the 1980s. Left-wing academics have been busy in their offices. Scribbling away next to their first editions of Dialectic of Enlightenment and The Affluent Society.

Historically we occupy interesting times. Never before has such a large proportion of the population received higher education (around 20% apparently).  While the numbers of graduates have increased, the role of ‘the academic’ has changed considerably. It is hard to imagine a fledgeling university graduate today producing a weighty tome of thought-provoking polemic in the way that Joseph Schumpeter or Bertrand Russel used to. Young PhD students these days are consigned to producing ‘micro-histories’. The Role of Bone China in Revolutionising Working Class Houses in 1820s Newcastle for example. More ambitious enterprises are given over to senior academics.

It is not surprising that as areas of research become obscure. The general population pay less attention to what these left-wing academics are talking about.

As new ideas spring up, they are usually promoted by an enthusiastic vanguard before being absorbed by the public at large. When one thinks about the 1960s. It is hard not to imagine Hippies taking psychoactive drugs at Woodstock and dancing in a circle. This image ignores the many millions of people who lived through the 60s without abandoning their shoes or resorting to polygamy. What millions of people did, however, was incorporate the aspects of Hippie culture they found acceptable into their lives. Perhaps donning a tie dyed headband or buying a Bob Dylan record.

Similarly, during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, there were the extremists who waved their little red books and spied on their family members. Yet, even with the backing of a brutal dictator millions of Chinese did not abandon Confucian culture lock stock and barrel.

I believe the people defacing statues are a small but determined band of radicals. While their actions may attract support online. The impact of their revolutionary edge will be dulled by the demands of popular approval. While many on the left revel in the militancy of their comrades. They forget that many people do not share or comprehend their beliefs.

The way that many left-wing radicals have framed their positions in this debate misjudges what most disadvantaged Americans actually want.  My search for understanding took me to a discussion about structural white supremacy in Baltimore. It became clear to me that the panel did not mirror the desires of the people they claimed to represent.

The regular African Americans appeared to want a fair deal from the government. I absolutely agree that current levels of public spending are way too high. However, it is not unreasonable that under the existing system people get equal treatment from the state.

While the participants on the video waxed lyrical about ‘dismantling structural oppression and building a redistributionist society’. What the individuals on the ground seemed to desire was the same capacity to consume and go shopping that their fellow Americans possess. It is easy for the left to make discontent with the current state of affairs look like the precursor to the October Revolution. What I found was that people simply wanted a more equitable slice from the same pie. Not a bigger pie.

The left-wing activists I came across combined the desires of ordinary Americans with untoward Marxist drivel.

In the aftermath of the Charlottesville riot. It became clear to me that having a debate about whether known Confederate generals who fought for slavery on display in public parks might be worthwhile. Perhaps they belong in a civil-war museum instead? As one African-American man suggested.

Some on the left see history as an exercise in cultural flagellation that needs to happen in order embrace multiculturalism. They ignore that multiculturalism is already happening. It can and does exists without rewriting our past. I agree that history should not be a celebration of the past as much I believe it should not be a universal condemnation.

By telling ‘white people’ that history should be an act of collective repentance while Black History Month should be celebrated is insulting and alienating. People are not cosmic pawns of historical forces. The past needs to be something we can all access, not just Marxist university PhD students.

Left-wing intellectuals have a strong academic tradition. I believe that the left as it stands is retreating into an ivory tower, and that is why millions of people are scratching their heads every time they open their mouths.

 

4th July: Freedom Is Worth Fighting For

As the 18th century was drawing to a close it became clear that the values of the radical enlightenment had changed the way people think about the relationship between themselves and their rulers.

It is out of this climate that a wave of protest against British rule spread through Britain’s American colonies and gave birth to the USA.

As America celebrates its independence from Britain today. It might be worthwhile to reflect on the values that led to the Declaration of Independence. One of the most important of these was the idea of freedom.

History should not be a simple celebration of the past, but a meaningful inquiry. The freedom that the American colonists won probably didn’t mean much to the black slaves in the Southern states. Moreover since its beginning, the USA has done much to attack individual liberty both inside and outside of its borders.

Yet, as we observe current events it may seem that freedom has been largely left out of our national conversation. In the argument over public sector pay, the never-ending fallout from the Grenfell fire and a ruinous general election which sparked enormous protests in London this weekend. It may be tempting to conclude that arguing for individual liberty is pointless.

This does not have to be the case if people can make a positive case for freedom.

What the word freedom meant in the 1700s is very different from today given the changing historical context. That gives those who wish to defend freedom the task of making the ideals of autonomy fit for the modern world.

The narrative of ‘we should go back to the good old days’ is sadly doomed to failure.

A positive case for freedom can be popular if it addresses the concerns of people in contemporary Britain. This country is plagued with inadequate housing, low pay, an increasing household debt crisis, under-resourced services etc.

These are all issues that the freedom movement has answers for but the voice of independence is certainly lacking in our national conversation.

If it takes a foreign holiday whereby people celebrate their own independence from this country to help us realise that we can and should engage confidently with the modern world then so be it. Even now freedom is worth fighting for.