From Robert Menasse’s acid satire of the European Union, The Capital:
“… the general loss of faith in European institutions was a consequence of poor growth, the menacing threat of right-wing populism – clearly if there were more growth there would be no growth in right-wing populism. And how could we generate more growth? Through greater liberalisation, of course. Instead of the Union stipulating common rules, each Member State ought to axe as many rules as possible for itself. Although there would never be a real union, there would be growth, and this would be best for the Union.”
Street food stall, Singapore
For those who wish to see, critics warn about Boris Johnson’s hard-Brexit plans for free ports and mimicking the so-called “Singapore Model.” Angela Merkel warned of the danger to EU of Singapore-style UK on its border today. She said,
“But the fact remains that after the withdrawal of Britain, we have an economic competitor at our door, even if we want to keep close economic, foreign and security cooperation and friendly relations.”
Addressing the Singapore Model, an Oxfam report from last year notes that Singapore
“has no equal pay or non-discrimination laws for women; its laws on both rape and sexual harassment are inadequate; and there is no minimum wage, except for cleaners and security guard.”
Unless perhaps you are a cleaner or a security guard, I’m guessing that’s not exactly among the outcomes rank-and-file Brexiteers expect from a hard Brexit.
My due diligence for a trip to southeast Asia has taken me down an obscure path. Exploring French efforts to regain their Indochinese colony after WWII has led me to Theodore White’s Fire in the Ashes: Europe in Mid Century. Teddy White went on to write the Making of the President series of books starting with the 1960 Kennedy election, books that made his career.
He started his book with a lengthy description of intercontinental air travel because then, few people had had that experience. He wrote, “in our years almost as many men cross the great ocean by wings as travel it by boat,” revealing not only a no longer acceptable sexism (“men” cross the ocean) but also that when the book came out in 1953, more people still traveled across the Atlantic by ship.
But the quote I mean to highlight comes a few pages later:
“It is obvious that new leadership in both America and Russia is now wrenching the whole course of world affairs into new patterns and perspectives. What is less obvious is that in this wrenching process Europe, forgotten through the postwar years as a factor in power, must contribute as greatly as either of the two new titans.”
The Americans have urged the Europeans to take more responsibility for their own defense for as long as I’ve been grown up. Here is an exhortation to Europe to rise up and carry its weight in world affairs that is sixty-six years old.