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European UnionTeasers

brexit-triggering

Article 50 has been triggered in the UK, after many merry months of triggerings of… another sort.

There has been a lot of wishful thinking in British liberal circles that some way would be found to circumvent Brexit. But calls for “the elites” to “rise up against the ignorant masses” were never realistic*, for all the childish tantrums on social media and the MSM. The Conservative Party has no good reason to torpedo itself by going against the democratically expressed wishes of its core electorate, the Middle Englanders who overwhelmingly voted Leave, and so the button was pushed as soon as all the judicial delaying procedures were exhausted.

I have been consistent that the adverse economic effects of Brexit have been greatly exaggerated by a Brexit-averse Establishment. As Bryan MacDonald pointed out last year, the apocalyptic rhetoric has consistently failed to translate into reality, and there is no reason to expect that to change.

To be sure, some global banks and companies will redirect more of their staff to Frankfurt, but London remains the world center of the financial industry – more so even than New York – and the concentration of human capital that props it up isn’t going to evaporate over a single year, or ten.

In the meantime, growth rates remain solid (the figures sync with my own impressions when I was in London), the devaluation is making British exports more competitive, and there will be a fiscal upside once the UK no longer needs to subsidize East European welfare leeches (currently, the average Briton paid a net 500 Euros to the EU in 2010-14).

brexit-2017

I also believe that the renewed worries about Scottish independence are exaggerated, the hystrionics of J.K. Rowling and Dawkins regardless. The Scots don’t want to hold a second independence referendum, and “No” consistently leads by at least 5 percentage points, just like in 2014, when they rejected it by a 10 percentage point margin.

Obviously the Scots are not very happy about Brexit, having voted against it 3-to-2, but it is still not something they want to break the Union over. The most likely avenue by which support of independence could grow is if the UK were to experience severe economic hardship as Brexit gets underway, but as I noted above, that is unlikely to happen.

* I gave a 90% chance of Article 50 getting invoked this year in my predictions for 2017, so I am not making this up as I go along.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Brexit, European Union, United Kingdom 

based-erdogan

I might just turn my blog into the Internet’s number 1 Erdogan fansite.

Seriously, I don’t got what all the fuss is about.

Western politicians love pushing their snouts where they don’t belong – observe the flurry of European and American dignitaries sulking the streets in the runup to Euromaidan (immortalized in the Nuland Cookies meme), or during the 2012 protests against Putin in Moscow.

On those occasions when Russia bars their entry, they go and complain to the media about it.

So the Turks didn’t do nothing wrong.

Good on high energy Erdogan for making a stand. And good on his local fans for chimping out… I mean, campaigning so energetically for Geert Wilders on the streets of Rotterdam. This is so considerate and patriotic of them. /ourguys/!

Obviously I don’t actually care about the Netherlands banning Turkish politicians. If I had to insert a reaction.gif here, it would be the one of Michael Jackson eating popcorn.

Besides, its the sovereign right of the Dutch to decide who come in to politick in their country, and besides, this serves to accelerate the fissure between Turkey and the EU.

Turkey itself has been most cooperative. They have suspended high-level diplomatic relations with the EU. They have called half of North Europe “Nazis” (in the bad sense of the word: Erdogan does like the Nazi political system). They have also said they are reneging on the migrants deal with Europe. The Wall, when?

All of this helps objectively helps Eurosceptic forces, both in the Netherlands itself (which is having a most propitiously timed general election tomorrow) and in Europe generally. Anything bad for the EU is good for Europeans, their cultural and demographic prospects, and frankly for most everyone else on this planet.

It also helps Erdogan paint himself as a victim and increases support for the upcoming Turkish referendum on massively expanding his powers as President. If it passes, Turkey will essentially become a soft dictatorship (as Erdogan himself once said, democracy is like a train; you get off at your destination).

This will further accentuate the rift between the EU, at least so long as its functionaries continue to pay at least lip service to democracy. And eventually, it cannot help but reverberate to some extent on NATO, with which Turkey also has mounting problems in the form of tensions with the US in Syria, and with Greece.

So, my advice to Erdogan: Carry on, my dude! ЖГИ ИСЧО! Russia has your back!

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: European Union, Turkey 

brexit-vote-prediction Unless there is a truly stunning reversal soon, a victory for Remain is increasingly looking to be mathematically impossible.

England outside London is voting 60% Leave. The two biggest Remain hotspots, London and Scotland, do not have the numbers to make up for it.

Meanwhile, Wales and Northern Ireland are too evenly divided and too low in numbers to make a big difference anyway.

As of the time of me writing this sentence, Leave is on 53% and that is despite the fact that thrice as big a share of the votes have been counted from Scotland as from England.

The Independent has a list of regions (see full map right) to watch as bellweathers of the referendum result which are predicted to get 50/50 in the event of a split vote. In the event, these bellweathers seem to be consistently voting around 55% in favor of Leave.

(1) This looks like it is turning out to be yet another disaster for British polling.

Whereas it was predicted that in the last days British voters tend to shift to the status quo, drawing on the experience of the Scottish referendum, it appears that the true underweighing was with regards to conservative positions. This was demonstrated during the UK 2015 general elections, which pollsters predicted would be a close run thing but in reality saw a decisive Conservative win. In other words, their tendency to underweigh conservative voters – the “Shy Tory” factor first identified in 1992 – remains as prevalent as ever.

Also contrary to conventional wisdom prior to this referendum, online polls have turned out to be more accurate (or rather less wrong) than telephone polls.

(2) It appears that Thomas Mair’s murder of Jo Cox did not impact on the Leave campaign as many people – myself included – anticipated it would.

eu-doesnt-take-no-for-answer(3) What comes next? Well, again assuming no stunning reversals, this is going to be a long, drawn out process.

First, as many referendums and dank memes attest, the EU doesn’t like to take no for an answer. This will be a long and drawn out process. The Guardian, the voice of the British neoliberal Left, is already beginning a discussion on whether the EU referendum is legally binding.

Alexander Mercouris argues the effects either way won’t be big because he no longer sees the UK as an influential Power. There is merit to that interpretation but I think he overdoes it. The EU is a fragile construction and once a big member leaves there might well be a tipping point, especially since the remaining rich members will have to foot more of the bill for Eastern Europe’s “convergence” funds and bailing out Greece every other year.

I think the effect on the British economy will be modest. All the economists forecasting doom belong predominantly to a London/Brussels/Frankfurt centered class that tends to have overly inflated ideas of the importance of the finance sector and free trade to economic growth (which Brexit is going to impact far more modestly and gradually than they project anyway). This is not to say I agree with Eamonn Fingleton that protectionism is some sort of panacea either (that particular honor belongs to human capital). But being outside the EU is not some kind of economic death sentence. It’s not like Switzerland is a byword for poverty and isolation.

 

zyklon-ben-abandon-eu-ship

Source: Ben Garrison – Abandon Ship

In recent days the Brexit debate has suddenly gone from boring to interesting, with opinion polls swinging from a comfortable lead for Remain to a neck and neck race between staying in and leaving the EU. One of the most recent polls has even seen Leave take a ten percentage point lead over Remain, though it remains an outlier.

wikipedia-polls-brexit-2016The major financial institutions now rate the chances of Brexit at 30%-40%, which is in sync with the odds given by prediction markets. (Quite the change from the start of this year, when it wasn’t even clear that the Brexit referendum would be held in the current year and I gave it a 10% total chance of happening).

What must be especially worrying for Bremain supporters is that polls have historically tended to have an anti-conservative bias in the UK, the most famous example being the 1992 elections (which saw the coining of the famous “Shy Tory” term) and continuing through to today in both the 2015 elections (Conservatives did much better than expected) and the Scottish referendum (rejection of independence, a primarily younger and more liberal position, by a much larger margin than the polls predicted).

There are two big reasons for the turn around in the past few weeks.

First, there are problems specific to the Remain campaign, whose strategy basically boils down to: (1) Threatening Britons with negative economic consequences for Brexit; (2) Trundling out a bevy of Very Respectable People such as Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, Tony Blair, Tony Blair’s spinmaster Alastair Campbell, Peter Sutherland, George Soros, etc., etc., to make the case for Remain; (3) Displaying a “compendium of tabloid poltergeists” such as Trump, Putin, Le Pen, and ISIS who are alleged to support Brexit. Unfortunately, fewer people are impressed by such hamfisted tactics than were presumably hoped for.

pew-2016-eu-favorability-historical The second reason for the Leave surge is that it is part and parcel of the general disatisfaction with The Establishment sweeping the Western world, which has manifested itself in the good electoral performance of the Front National in France, the general swing towards nationalist parties throughout Europe, Corbyn’s successful takeover of the Labour Party in the UK, and the twin challenges of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump to the old order in the US.

This sense of disillusionment extends to the EU. Although the EU enjoyed a small bump in support in 2015 once the effects of the 2012 double-dip recession faded away, anger has since returned with a vengeance in the wake of the recent European immigration crisis and the widespread perception that it was disastrously mishandled by a dangerously out of touch globalist elite. There are also broader concerns with the EU’s lack of democratic legitimacy, opposition to national sovereignty, straitjacket monetary policies, and unsolicited geopolitical adventurism in Ukraine and beyond.

pew-2016-eu-favorability Indeed, one of the most stunning findings of a recent PEW poll is that Britain, once the central bastion of Euroskepticism, may have actually been superceded in its dislike of the EU not just by a Greece understandably upset with Frankfurt’s diktats (so hardline that even the IMF balked) but by a France where a majority now want a Frexit referendum of their own.

The only places where the EU remains unambigiously favorable is amongst its newer eastern members, their contrarian yapping in opposition to mass immigration regardless (which is ultimately for show, since to be quite frank no refugee is going to be staying in Bucharest when he can move on to Budapest and then Berlin).

The reason for that essentially reduces to money:

eu-transfers-per-capita

SourceReddit, OP’s per capita calculations based on EU data.

Basically, the Eastern Europeans get huge amounts of gibs from the West Europeans, especially the Germans and Scandis. Poland alone got €57bn in 2010-2014. These numbers are rarely mentioned but they are quite huge – in fact, in per capita terms, they are comparable to what the Russian budget gets from the entirety of its oil and gas sectors. Those much vaunted economies (“Polish economic miracle,” “Baltic tigers,” etc) would look much different without the huge capital transfers implicit in EU structural funds.

The EU has also been good for the northern countries who, unlike the Mediterranean states, have the discipline to keep labor costs down without resorting to devaluations: The Netherlands, Sweden, and of course Germany. In contrast to the stagnation in the peripheries, their economies have generally done well since 2010 and they have become labor magnets stripping the south and east of their human capital.

But for most of the rest of the EU these arrangements haven’t been working out, with the result that support for the EU there has generally plummeted.

These internal economics explain much of the panic behind Brexit, which from a certain perspective is admittedly altogether irrational. The exit of the UK alone would remove 10% of total EU contributions and 15% of net contributions (based on 2007-2013 figures). This would increase the funding strain on the other rich members. If more of the core countries then started to withdraw, it would conceivably lead a cascading collapse in which the last man out has to pay the utilities bills. No longer accruing benefits from its competitiveness advantage, Germany is the last major net funder to throw in the towel, and thus only the husk of the EU is left, stretching all the way from Lodz to Lemberg.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Elections, European Union, United Kingdom 

Long live the European court, the most humane court in the world! /s

hague-double-standards

That is why seven times as many Croat and more than ten times as many Albanian war crimes suspects, in percentage terms relative to Serbs, were acquitted by the Hague Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, with Radovan Karadzic being just its latest victim. (Source via this recent infographic from Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda).

No matter that well before Srebrenica you had Sisak, where 595 Serb civilians of which 120 were women were disappeared by Croatian paramilitaries in 1991-1992. Everyone has heard of Srebrenica; almost nobody has heard heard of Sisak. The largest ethnic cleansing action of the entire war occurred in the wake of Operation Storm, when 200,000 Serbs were removed from the territories of Serbian Krajina to create the homogenous Croatia we have today. Croatia’s wartime leader Tudjman died peacefully and was buried with full honors and with no protests from the West.

It’s hard to think of an ethnic group, barring the Jews and possibly the Armenians, that has had a more traumatic 20th century. 25% of Serbians died in World War I. Another 25% died again in WW2 at the hands of the Nazis’ rabid hounds, the Ustaše. They were then incorporated into a federal state headed by an ethnic Croat whose internal divisions stranded many Serbs outside of Serbia’s borders. When in the wake of Yugoslavia’s collapse those stranded Serbs took up arms to defend themselves against revived nationalisms in Croatia and Bosnia – and ultimately, in their own country, against the metastasized Molenbeek that was Kosovo – they were steadily pushed back to their bombed out heartlands, unable to mount a sustained resistance against the Clinton clique’s sponsorship of the Croats and the Kosovars, cowardly betrayals from the Yeltsin regime in Russia, and the vaccilating Milosevic himself, always seeking to make deals with the “Western partners” (he only wised up to the fact that you can never trust the West by the time he was on the dock).

To round it all off, it was Serbia that had to send all its wartime leaders and generals off to the absolutely fair and impartial judgments of the Hague Tribunal – so fair and impartial that three times as many Serbs received prison sentences than all the other combatant parties combined – to be sacrificed on the altar of promised Euro-Atlantic integration.

A promise that now rings as almost completely hollow, the only result since then being the accession of Croatia to the EU, while Serbia has continued falling apart with the loss of Montenegro. And as of today, it is increasingly clear that the only additional peoples the EU is interested in integrating – or trying to, anyway – are young male Muslim refugees.

But not all hope is yet lost.

Perhaps Karadzic will eventually be seen not as the last knight of a dying order, but as one of the first heralds of a new dawn. It was NATO’s attack on Serbia more than anything else that lifted Russia from its blind-drunk 1990s pro-Western stupor, and it has become more and more active at countering further Western designs on its territories – in Crimea and Novorossiya, and in the sovereign state of Syria. The pushback against the globalist cabal will continue and this time Serbia will no longer be alone should it rejoin the struggle.

It is not beyond the realm of possibility that Karadzic, despite his advanced age, will live long enough to see the wrongs done unto his people this past century avenged and to set foot one last time on a liberated Serbia.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: European Union, Serbia, Western Hypocrisy 
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.


PastClassics
The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?
Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.