Irexit: the new attempt of the pseudo-intellectuals to create anarchy, promote ethnic-nationalism, and enact reactionary revisionism. Despite the fact that Ireland remains one of the most pro-European states within the Union, there is no doubt that the Irexit conference which took place in the RDS on the 3rd February 2018 sought to be divisive and shake up political discourse within our nation. It has achieved the desired effect, and Irexit is now dominating political discussion across the country. The Irish border has become one of the focal points of the Brexit negotiations and has been used as a pawn, tool and weapon by both sides, having no doubt intensified the desire of many nationalists to opt out of the European Union. In the belief that they can restore Ireland to some mythical post-independence romanticized & idealized conception of what Ireland used to be, but in reality never was.
The organisers of the Irexit event used a Facebook video to promote their conference and it addresses what they believe are several profound reasons for abandoning our European brothers and sisters. However, what is crucial to note when discussing this idea is the fact that we are not the United Kingdom. We do not possess a large population, navy, army, overseas territories or nuclear capabilities. For all intents and purposes, despite the profound influence the Irish people have had upon the world, we are a non-entity in the geo-political sense. A small island on the periphery of Europe who has been given the chance to prosper and rise as part of a greater nation. We are a generation that has known nothing but Europe. Ireland is our present and past; Europe is the future. People fail to see the true benefits that the European Union provides to us, its people, even in its current form. It gives a voice to the small and powerless, it enables us to effect change upon the world, it provides prosperity and economic co-operation, and it bequeaths us the opportunity to be part of a global superpower.
The promotional video talked of how, if Ireland were to leave the European Union. We would have newfound opportunities to trade with America and Great Britain, though no doubt the British would welcome our trade. The Americans would be less interested, and would be a much tougher market to break, with the new America First economic policies being implemented by President Trump. It is doubtful the Americans will look favourably upon the tax haven where so much of their industry hides its wealth. Nor will they be eager to irritate the world’s largest trading bloc for the sake of 4 million Gaels. Even in the unlikely event that we managed to secure free trade agreements with both America and the United Kingdom, why would the Europeans allow us to negotiate fantastic terms with the bloc with no obligations? The Union wants to prevent further secession, not enable it. To let us leave and keep the free market while shunning our responsibilities and duties, would do nothing other than encourage the collapse of the Union. Policy makers in Brussels will reluctantly hash out reasonable terms for the British, and this gives euro-sceptics hope, but do not be fooled, the EU will not be as kind to us in the event of secession. The nation of Ireland is a valuable composite part of the union, but it does not have the population, military or nuclear resources to dictate terms to the European leviathan as an equal, and to believe we can is foolhardy.
The video does of course raise two valid points, mentioning the unfair saddling of private debt onto the Irish taxpayer, which was an in itself an unforgivable act; and secondly the migrant crisis which has seen floods of refugees and migrants poor across our shared borders. These are legitimate criticisms and this is not to say I disagree with them on these particular points, but ones fail to see how leaving the Union is the appropriate response to these injustices. The system itself is in need of revamping, but to leave does nothing productive. It does not change our debt, it will not stop the tidal wave of migrants. They proclaimed that the EU is no longer a cash cow, that now we have to pay more into the European coffers than we shall receive out. Despite this fact, the figures fail to take into account the numerous non-monetary benefits we receive in being a member of the union and the huge economic potential it gives our citizens.
In response to these criticisms, I would use the metaphor of a loving relationship. Both sides need to give and take in order to prosper and grow in unity. If one party within the relationship is to continuously take as much as they can get, without adequately giving and catering to their partner’s needs, the relationship will turn sour. Where love once was, hate will manifest. Where peace and harmony once resided, resentment and anger will dominate. Happiness to be replaced by hatred. To finally give more than one receives, after receiving so much, and growing so exponentially, is not unfair but part of the cyclical nature of European inspired growth. The organisers of this rally want the “freedom to prosper”, but we already have it, and they are just too blind to see.
While in its current state it is far from perfect, the dissolution of the Union would be a disaster. The fools who believe that the disintegration of this magnificent project would not affect the relations between the various countries and create instability, are quite simply delusional. The dissolution of the Union would set our progress back decades and return us to the age of protectionism, tariff wars and armed conflicts. This is why the impingement upon the sovereignty of nations, to a certain degree, is needed; so as to ensure the well-being of all, rather than just one’s own native land. Dissolution would utterly destroy the smaller nations in Europe such as Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands etc, who need access to the markets to create jobs and revenue. And indeed it would be equally as disastrous for the larger export focused nations such as France and Germany, who would subsequently lose access to their primary markets. It is hard to see anyone who really benefits from such a dissolution other than the Euro-sceptic brigade of Le Pen, Geert Wilders and Nigel Farage.
The debates will be neither kind nor pretty, and the buzz phrases of millennials will no doubt do nothing other than turn the disenfranchised over to the comforting and simplistic embrace of ethnic nationalism. The imperative here is that Irish pro-Europeans must learn from the mistakes of our British counterparts. The most difficult thing for a pro-European Union enthusiast such as myself, is to come to the conclusion that the only way to avoid a repetition of these mistakes is to concede ground to the opposing ideology. That is to admit that the idea of Brexit and Irexit, rather than the act itself, is to an extent morally justifiable.
The European Union is undemocratic to its very core, so many of its policies are flawed and infringe upon the sovereignty of individual nations in ways that, at this time cannot be considered just. The people of Europe, at present, have no ability to shape the very polices which determine their futures. Our elected politicians present nothing other than a façade of democracy, and no real power rests with them. How can we, the people, hope to change and shape the Union, when the people we elect have no power to do so? How can one who disagrees with the mass migration that welcomes a plethora of sorts from all over the world under the guise of a “refugee crisis” hope to stop it? The answer is, we cannot. It is in the shadowy back doors of Brussels and Strasbourg that European policy is made. The den of thieves that falsely proclaims to be a people’s parliament is nothing other than a grand lie concocted to deceive us. It has no ability to legislate and instead simply signs whatever it is told to, by the unelected, unofficial, unaccountable and quite frankly insidious commission of faceless Eurocrats.
This being said, I still firmly believe that it was a mistake for the United Kingdom to secede from the Union. They have left a strong position built upon the rocks, for a house built upon the sand. Remaining within Europe would have enabled Britain to shape Europe in a way that was congenial to its own personal aims and hinder any developments it disagrees with. Leaving means they have left the strongest economy in the world, and while they will survive, it will not be easy. Though they may survive, the nation will be poorer, weaker and geo-politically insignificant. If that is what they wish, then of course as a sovereign European people it is their right and as long as they remain within NATO it is unlikely they will be missed in the Union.
It is important to note the structural problems that make the idea of secession acceptable. The prime example is the Commission. The Commission is the entity which makes the decisions that circumnavigate our parliaments. While a depressing picture of the current state of affairs, only by staying within the Union can we improve upon the institutions in a way that ensures that all European peoples can prosper. Radical change and reform needs to be implemented, otherwise the Union will meet both stagnation and death. It is our moral duty, the people, to implement this change, to ensure a better tomorrow for our people, to ensure that our prosperity continues, and to ensure that our way of life continues in the face of such adversity
For centuries conservatism and Europe were inextricably linked. Now they remain in juxtaposition, in an ever increasing paradox, both unsure of themselves and grasping at anything in a desperate attempt to hold them fast. The auld alliance will need to reform once more if Europe wishes to continue on the path to superpower status, for if it does not, nothing but death, calamity and disintegration awaits both. Europe has reached a critical impasse in its life span. The limit of its vile bureaucracy has been reached and change must be made if it is ever to succeed and ascend to its rightful position as a major world power. A European ideal will need to be created, fine-tuned and implemented in order to secure the project’s success.
To make this work, we will need men and women who are dedicated to the cause. There needs to be a genuine personal commitment to Europe, a love, a belief and utter dedication to the system and the concept of one people. This is not to say that we should impose some form of cultural war of erosion upon the various peoples to create one singular homogenous European race. I do not for a second believe that we should try and eradicate our differences, for the various different cultures, ideals and work ethics are what make us so great and able to handle the various challenges presented to us. After the French Revolution, the consulate and empire, in an amazingly short time, turned the regional peasant into a loyal French citizen; it is the job of the new administration to turn the regional millennial into a trans-national citizen of the multi-ethnic state it seeks to create. For the parliament not to make a conscious effort to cultivate a new type of citizen, will mean the Union will not last more than a decade. The fear is that something akin to the violent collapse of Yugoslavia will occur. As Paul Lendvai aptly stated in 1991, the root of which could be found in the fact that “Yugoslavia is without Yugoslavs”. When the only thing holding a people together is a strong central administration and a powerful army, the state will not last, for if a state never has popular legitimacy then it can never survive economic and political turmoil. Within the constraints of this piece it is simply important to note that we cannot continue as we have if the project is succeed.
To conclude, Brexit was a cowardly solution to a large and difficult problem. Brexit simply ran away from the issues rather than attempt to address them in full. Rather than seek to find compromise with their fellow Europeans they simply left the discussion with all the fanfare and diplomatic grace one would expect from a once global superpower. By leaving, Europe has the power to develop in a way that Britain could and would never have allowed. Instead, it is far better that a truly Euro-sceptic nation should remain within the Union and seek to improve it for the benefit of all. Irexit, would be nothing other than a continuation and repetition of Britain’s mistakes. This begs the question, why leave the certainty of continued European growth for the uncertainty of a life outside the Union? Regardless of what the ethnic-nationalists think, the seeds of a new tomorrow have been planted, the seeds of a new Europe. If we act right, these seeds shall grow tall and strong into a mighty European superpower, for it is Europe’s manifest destiny. It is the duty of all true and loyal citizens to water, protect, and ensure that these seeds can grow tall and strong so that they may survive the storms and cold winters which they will no doubt face. It is the solemn duty of all true Europeans to vocalise, debate and preach the ideals of the Union.
Long live Europe, may she grow ever stronger in the sight of such cowardice.
Editorial Note: A response to this article has been published in the Burkean Journal entitled “The European Neo-Empire: Why Louis Hoffman’s Analysis of the EU Falls Short” written by Peter Caddle.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Burkean Journal.