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Brexit and the Work-to-rule of the Managerial Class

2017 November 13
by Mandos

(YES THIS IS A MANDOS POST; MANDOS ALERT MANDOS ALERT MANDOS ALERT)

I mostly concur with Yves Smith’s assessment of the on-going, cruel tragicomedy that is Brexit. However, she points out a Twitter thread that has been making the rounds, and it is interesting. It concurs with everything I have read about grassroots Brexitism:

However, Prof. Finlayson analyzes this in terms of Utopianism, which is not entirely wrong:

And while it’s not entirely wrong, I think it’s incomplete. I’ve written before about the Brexit phenomenon here before (and pretty much everything I said there has been borne out, not to toot my own horn too much), and one of the factors here is the role of the managerial/technocratic class. I interpret the hostility towards the details that Brexiters seem to exhibit (“Don’t talk down Brexit!!!”) partly in terms of something else. What grassroots Brexiters want is to force the managerial class, the people with the technical skills in government administration, to implement something (whatever it is) that the managerial class visibly doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with, and to do it enthusiastically as a duty to the Brexit-voting public. In any discussion, people arguing for the Remain side are therefore seen as proxies or stand-ins for that class, even if they themselves aren’t necessarily responsible for the implementation. Therefore, the Remainers demand for detail is seen as shirking, i.e. a threatened refusal to accept the legitimacy of the Brexit vote, because it is the Remainers’/managerial class’ job to come up with the details for whatever policy course is chosen especially via referendum.

The problem is that the managerial classes/technocrats in question do not believe that they can deliver a good Brexit and do not want to, and even if they go to work every day to produce the policy and administration required to do it, they are only going to do it on a work-to-rule basis. Work-to-rule is an effective labour disruption strategy—and the managerial classes are expected to do labour on someone else’s behalf in this instance, obviously—because it turns out that a lot of jobs really require the worker not only to be there and do the work in the job description, but to give an additional surplus of energy and attention for the enterprise to produce a good outcome.

Now in all probability, in particular due to the conditions under which Brexit has been unleashed, it is impossible to deliver a “good” Brexit even with the most enthusiastic of technocratic staff. But that is not the real demand—rather, the demand is that the technocratic class visibly demonstrate that it shares the identity markers and self-image of certain large sectors of British society, instead of appearing wholly alienated. However, if the technocrats genuinely don’t believe that there can be a good Brexit, that puts everyone in an impossible position: If technocrats impertinently ask the pro-Brexit public what they really expect is to signal that they are shirking their duty to come up with those ideas and that they really aren’t “of the people” (keeping in mind that enthusiastic pro-Remain positions also represent a wide grassroots in British society!). The reality of the situation is that there simply are no good ways to go about doing this, under the schedule of Article 50 and particularly under the political dysfunction of the British Tories and pro-Brexit vested interests.

36 Responses leave one →
  1. Holden Pattern permalink
    November 13, 2017

    I will say that when I am expected to do something stupid and infeasible, I usually slow-walk it until it implodes under it’s own weight or until I can talk the relevant requester out of it.

    And in this case, there’s no good Brexit. Great Britain already had a GREAT deal with the EU, where they got the benefits of the unified EU market and got to keep their sovereign currency. And they got a lot of other carveouts even while getting the benefit of operating under EU-wide negotiated deals.

    Do the English think that by pounding the table after showing two fingers up to the EU, they’ll get access to the unified EU market and be able to operate under only the pro-England bits of the various EU-wide negotiated deals without complying with the rest of the regulations of that market? That’s insane.

  2. November 13, 2017

    There’s a whole lot of English people who think they can have magic “deals” in the “Trumpian” sense unfortunately, or that they have leverage over the EU that they don’t. Yes, German industry is worried. No, German industry is not worried enough that they’re willing to blow up the common regulatory framework.

  3. thed permalink
    November 13, 2017

    The most viable plan (possibly equally impossible) is too actually Remain but to put forward a hard left economic plan that benefits those who voted Leave and the expense of the City Managerial class. A position only one politician in the UK is capable of. If the technocrats think they are doing themselves any favor they aren’t. Shortly after a disaster hard Brexit most of them get purged in a massive move towards reactionary politics under the best case scenarios.

    Timing of course remains the key. Corbyn cannot move before the Tories implode. He must plausibly come to the table free from a charge of causing the total breakdown in the UK position. Labour has to let the EU be the bad guys and let the Tories be incompetent in order to make it work. Both the neo-liberal management class (that Corbyn has insolated from power within Labour) and the Leave grassroots (which include much of the working class he is trying to represent) must be standing at the brink before a real change in ideas can be presented and win.

  4. peonista permalink
    November 13, 2017

    Not being able to work out the details and long-term consequences to “regime change” and “humanitarian war” never seems to make the technocratic class hesitate to jump in feet first.

  5. ejf permalink
    November 13, 2017

    @theod has it.: “put forward a hard left economic plan that benefits those who voted Leave [at] the expense of the City Managerial class.”
    I wish somebody could that here in the US with NAFTA. If a hard Left position was visible, Obama would never have thought of TPP with the Pacific or whatever it was with his trade configuration with Europe.
    That ultimately brings the case back to the people. WE gotta make the Managerial class extremely uncomfortable before – and even after – change occurs.

  6. Peter permalink
    November 13, 2017

    I thought the EU technocrats were the people who were demanding a hard Exit to punish the UK for not submitting to their authorita. The UK technocrats might do their assigned job if they could.

    The idea that the UK Left would or could co-opt the nationalism and populism of the Leave movement is ludicrous. They are commie globalists who worship at the seat of power of the NWO the EU represents.

  7. bruce wilder permalink
    November 13, 2017

    The other side of “cannot be done” is the denial that the EU actually is dysfunctional. From the pov of the technocratic class the EU works well and only gets better. They believe that, most of them — full of stories of how the Greeks deserve it, etc.

    It must be Russian Facebook bots and racism behind all the unhappiness.

  8. November 14, 2017

    Not being able to work out the details and long-term consequences to “regime change” and “humanitarian war” never seems to make the technocratic class hesitate to jump in feet first.

    That’s because they actually want to do those things, obviously. In Brexit you have the confluence of don’t want to and can’t. In regime change, you just have can’t/shouldn’t. In ending austerity you just have don’t want to — so I have higher hopes for the ending of austerity than I do of having a “good” Brexit.

  9. November 14, 2017

    That ultimately brings the case back to the people. WE gotta make the Managerial class extremely uncomfortable before – and even after – change occurs.

    The issue is how do you even get a managerial class in the first place. You can make the managerial class “uncomfortable” — it means that they won’t do stuff, won’t recruit new members, etc. You need a managerial class that shares your vision in a positive sense. Perhaps Corbyn-style phenomena are creating that, after all, everyone has been surprised by the effectiveness of Momentum.

  10. Blissex permalink
    November 14, 2017

    «Work-to-rule is an effective labour disruption strategy [ … ] a lot of jobs really require the worker not only to be there and do the work in the job description, but to give an additional surplus of energy and attention for the enterprise to produce a good outcome.»

    As a side note, outsourcing/offshoring means switching to an entirely work-to-rule relationship with the outsourced/offshored workforce, because the managers of the outsourcer/offshorer company will make really sure that is the case, that is that only the narrowest possible implementation of the outsourcing/offshoring contract they agreed to is implemented.

    But in the case of Brexit that does not apply: there are enough “Leave” oriented, or entirely mercenary, members of the managerial/technocratic class to work zealously, not work-to-rule, on Brexit.

    The fundamental issue is that many “Leave” voters and leaders are asking the managerial/technocratic class to make unilateral “deals” with the uncouth government of the EU27 or to sanction their insolence if they think that they can delay the inevitable. Just like their ancestors did the same first with the New England colonies and thereafter with those in the sub-Himalayan region. But the managerial/technocratic class cannot just send some gunboats and redjackets to “talk sense” into the EU27.

  11. November 14, 2017

    The other side of “cannot be done” is the denial that the EU actually is dysfunctional. From the pov of the technocratic class the EU works well and only gets better. They believe that, most of them — full of stories of how the Greeks deserve it, etc.

    The EU is dysfunctional but not in the ways that appear to be driving the Brexit phenomenon.

  12. November 14, 2017

    I thought the EU technocrats were the people who were demanding a hard Exit to punish the UK for not submitting to their authorita. The UK technocrats might do their assigned job if they could.

    So, the EU technocrats are naturally miffed at the fact that someone is trying to break up their transgenerational project. They are also (in this case, rightly) annoyed at being scapegoated for things that aren’t their fault — most of the UK’s social problems are self-made, the UK is not in the Eurozone. As for punishment, the EU technocrats are not demanding a “hard exit”, they’re willing to go along with a very soft exit indeed. What they aren’t willing to go along with, and rightly so, is Britain retaining access while being able to perform regulatory arbitrage at the expense of the remaining members. Whoever tries to do so should rightly be punished for it.

    The idea that the UK Left would or could co-opt the nationalism and populism of the Leave movement is ludicrous. They are commie globalists who worship at the seat of power of the NWO the EU represents.

    As a happy left-wing globalist, I do not believe that the left should adopt nationalism or other reactionary attempts to turn back clocks. Always calculate your horizon on the basis of what is. If you find yourself unable to stop something, look for new opportunities. Make lemons from lemonade.

  13. November 14, 2017

    But in the case of Brexit that does not apply: there are enough “Leave” oriented, or entirely mercenary, members of the managerial/technocratic class to work zealously, not work-to-rule, on Brexit.

    Mmm, yes and no. You have to drastically increase public sector salaries and be willing to put a lot of non-Brits in sensitive positions in order to make this work. Or have a *very* long lead time to train “Brexit engineers”.

    But as I said the problem is in the confluence of “don’t want to” and “can’t”. Yes, eventually “don’t want to” can be overcome with money. “Can’t” can be overcome if the UK is willing to accept a disorderly Brexit — and has the people there to manage the outcome. “Don’t want to” and “can’t” together is a catastrophic combination.

  14. bruce wilder permalink
    November 14, 2017

    As for punishment, the EU technocrats are . . . willing to go along with a very soft exit indeed. What they aren’t willing to go along with, and rightly so, is Britain retaining access while being able to perform regulatory arbitrage at the expense of the remaining members. Whoever tries to do so should rightly be punished for it.

    Ah, there is the Mandos we all love so much, contradicting sentence 1 in sentence 3.

    The evidence for the EU offering “a very soft exit” lacks a factual basis, so your not seeing punishment for “trying” as “hard” is not surprising.

  15. Ché Pasa permalink
    November 14, 2017

    I’m so old, I remember this version of Revolution (Lies)

    https://youtu.be/O8-WzgSDvZQ

    Such a magnificent failure.

  16. November 15, 2017

    Bruce Wilder: There is no “contradiction”. The EU is offering a soft exit, and even offering to delay the Article 50 schedule to make it possible. That soft exit is to remain in the common market and accept the four freedoms. There are multiple ways to achieve this. The UK rejects that soft exit, the one that doesn’t undermine the foundations of the EU. The proposal of “soft exit” where the UK pays no bills and cherrypicks is an act of UK aggression against the EU. To my mind, that behaviour actually deserves punishment — and yet the EU is still trying to accommodate the UK to minimize disruption.

  17. November 15, 2017

    I mean it astonishes me that people think that being able to cherry pick EU institutions and freedoms is somehow a “right”, and not being allowed to do so is “punishment”. If you’re hell-bent on being a financial services center for the Eurozone without even being in the Eurozone, you’ve got to accept the Polish plumbers, sorry.

  18. November 15, 2017

    You’re not entirely wrong this time Mandos. The lack of detail frustrates me too, and leaves us open to the rather desperate criticism of uncertainty.

    You’ll find plenty of detail on my website at jepoynton.com. We are guilty of assuming that the arguments on the economy, immigration and sovereignty are so obvious as to be self evident, but clearly they are not to those whose commitment to the EU is more emotional than intellectual. As with marriage, if you let the heart rule the head you will end up divorced!

  19. Will permalink
    November 15, 2017

    ~snort~

    No offense but are you folks really going to the trouble of trying to convince someone committed to globalism that they and those like them are entirely responsible for the political reaction that we see around us? That, no, they do not deserve yet another try at getting the good stuff they want without screwing those who they lied to previously?

    These people destroyed the institutions and laws that had produced the middle class and had taken decades of intense effort, bathtubs of blood, and a complete economic catastrophe in order to construct. Even in the most generous reading of history they did so without the slightest worry that their understanding of the world could be fatally flawed. A more honest reading would be that they knew what they were doing and just didn’t give a damn.

    This type of callous disregard, generational conceit, and obstinate, child like naivety cannot be convinced. It must simply be destroyed and defeated. Don’t waste your time.

    Will

  20. November 15, 2017

    The ends, Will, justify the means.

  21. Peter permalink
    November 15, 2017

    It’s good that Mandos came out as a happy left-wing globalist or as my Newspeak translator printed a gibbering EUcrat commie. This explains his use of the old tactics of role reversal and victimhood when democracy rears its stubborn head and rejected the authoritarian fist the commies depend on to rule.

    We’re supposed to believe that the EU is not responsible for the Leave movement, are a scapegoat and that the Beefeaters are scheming to arbitrage the Germans and the rest of the defenseless and meek Euros.

    I never expected the article 50 to be filed but that and most everything else seems to be delaying tactics by all the PTB involved. The supposed soft exit EU offer is only soft if the UK doesn’t exit which makes it sound more like a threat than a peace offer.

  22. November 15, 2017

    I admit to knowing little, but it appears to me that the British government is doing much the same thing that ours does. Mandated by the voters to do something it doesn’t want to do, it argues about how to do it for so long that the voters eventually forget that they mandated the government to do it. The alternative “fuck you” is to pass a bill that carries the name of the mandate but has the opposite effect; something like the “Blue Skies Initiative” which said that the EPA would no longer monitor CO2.

  23. November 15, 2017

    I didn’t “come out” as anything. I’ve always been punctiliously anti-nationalist. The EU is not responsible for the Leave movement — that is almost entirely the result of British domestic politics. You can see this by precisely who is driving the Leave movement — exactly the same right-wing neoliberal pied-pipers who privatized everything. That does not mean that the EU does not have problems, particularly the Eurozone is a disaster in the making. But the grassroots Leavers are being used by the elite Leavers who have no less contempt for the them than the apocryphal Eurocrat.

  24. Ian Welsh permalink*
    November 15, 2017

    What you do is find a different managerial class. FDR used the social gospel people, academics and union leadership. Two of those three were used to running large organizations.

  25. November 15, 2017

    Yes, that is what Corbyn and Momentum have been doing to some extent, it appears. Peculiarly, for all the right-wing thinktankery and money, they somehow haven’t managed to produce a Leaver managerial class.

  26. Synoia permalink
    November 15, 2017

    When the first step in negotiation is

    “Agree to pay is 60 billion, or 100 billion euros, before we agree on anything else”

    is a little bit of a show stopper. It does somewhat set the tone for the whole negotiation.

    “I’d like to buy that Car”
    “Pay me $30,000 and I’ll discuss it”
    “How many miles on the car”
    “Nope, you have to pay me first”
    “What am I getting for my payment?”
    “Pay me and find out”

  27. bruce wilder permalink
    November 15, 2017

    “That soft exit is to remain in the common market and accept the four freedoms.”

    In other words, No Exit.

    The four freedoms are the problem. You cannot have the four freedoms and a nation-state with residual control of the political economy. The four freedoms disable the nation-state fundamentally.

    You acknowledge as much when you recognize the Euro has been a policy disaster for several countries. Britain is not in the Eurozone and has policy options that Italy does not.

    Immigration has been a exacerbation for England with many poor cities, which is now the most densely populated major country in Europe (“major” excludes islands and city-states) with the possible exception of Switzerland (hard to know how to adjust density measures for mountains). Switzerland is another country where a bare majority voted for immigration control, but cannot get it because of the four freedoms — and Switzerland is not a member of the EU, but still they are offered no exit.

    It is not crazy to think a state should have control of its currency and its borders and its courts and discretion to pursue an industrial policy or nationalize industry, without being lectured on the “need” for neoliberal “structural reforms”.

  28. November 15, 2017

    In other words, No Exit.

    The four freedoms are the problem. You cannot have the four freedoms and a nation-state with residual control of the political economy. The four freedoms disable the nation-state fundamentally.

    Well then they can depart it — the “hard” Brexit. No one, including the EU, said they can’t. They just can’t make use of EU institutions. How is that punishment, to not hold up the bargain that is the basis of participation in those institutions? They can keep their nation-state, they just don’t get frictionless trade (requires regulatory harmonization to be fair), participation in institutions governed by EU treaties, or the ability to play banker for the Eurozone. That’s not “punishment” — that’s what it means to be a sovereign nation-state sitting physically next to a large transnational treaty organization with membership responsibilities.

    You acknowledge as much when you recognize the Euro has been a policy disaster for several countries. Britain is not in the Eurozone and has policy options that Italy does not.

    I do not “acknowledge” anything of the kind. The Euro is not part of the four freedoms, it is an add-on experiment with a small but crucial set of flaws and should not have been introduced in its present form — that I would agree with. This does not mean it necessarily makes sense for individual countries to exit it unilaterally, although, you know, they certainly can. It’s precisely the same with the EU — Article 50 isn’t even needed to leave, you can simply stop participating by putting up customs inspections and cancelling dues payments.

    Immigration has been a exacerbation for England with many poor cities, which is now the most densely populated major country in Europe (“major” excludes islands and city-states) with the possible exception of Switzerland (hard to know how to adjust density measures for mountains).

    The UK has gained in places and lost in places from immigration, but the distribution of the gains and losses continue to be mostly within its control. Nobody told it to privatize its railways to begin with, and the even the veracity of the assertion that railway privatization is irreversible under the EU is itself unclear. Nobody told it to deliberately pursue a strategy of becoming a service economy, nobody told it to turn its welfare system into a labyrinth of cruelty. It itself was the very cradle of the ideas that brought that about, and to blame this situation on Polish plumbers is frankly contemptible.

    Switzerland is another country where a bare majority voted for immigration control, but cannot get it because of the four freedoms — and Switzerland is not a member of the EU, but still they are offered no exit.

    They’re offered an exit: they can back out of the treaties, put up border guards and customs inspections and immigration permits for French people forthwith. There’s nothing stopping them. Their treaty partners need not, however, hold up their ends of the treaties if Switzerland or the UK won’t hold up their own.

    You are making “being offered a soft exit” as being synonymous with the other countries having to give the same access while getting less in return. So the Czech Republic is expected to treat British banking as equivalent to its own while not being able to send Czech workers to the UK? What then is the UK supposed to offer the Czech Republic that it wants.

    It is not crazy to think a state should have control of its currency and its borders and its courts and discretion to pursue an industrial policy or nationalize industry, without being lectured on the “need” for neoliberal “structural reforms”.

    And they can have all that, if they themselves are willing to put in the groundwork to return to the status quo ante of pre-EU borders, pre-EU mobility rights, pre-EU trade conditions, etc. And more power to them!

    The problem is that they are not willing to do this, and they call the unwillingness of others to accommodate them by giving them free access and disregarding their own national interests “punishment”.

    The real problem is that it is very hard to unscramble eggs and instead try to poach them, and the attempt to do so does not lead to happy outcomes, but instead dovetails with very reactionary agendas.

  29. November 15, 2017

    I mean, the whole argument is very strange. Of course when you’re not part of a treaty organization, you have more policy options. The point of joining treaty organizations is to limit domestic policy options by agreement, for a negotiated quid pro quo. Britain can formally depart the EU and have a “soft exit”, but it can’t get the quo without the quid. Neither can Switzerland. And in the latter case, I’m even less sympathetic — the anti-immigration referendum was horrible and a further argument for putting the stake in the vampire of nation-state identity politics.

  30. November 16, 2017

    Mandos, fascinated to know why you are so anti-nationalist? Dictatorships on both Left and Right have been nationalist, and others have been expansionist to the detriment of those they have conquered. It is difficult to see how democracy could function with out a geographically defined constituency, so there is no contradiction between nationalism and democracy. No two democracies have ever declared war on each other.

    Just as the family is the core cell in a healthy stable society, so the nation state is the core cell in a healthy stable global community. That way if democracy is snuffed out in one part of the world it continues to shine like a beacon elsewhere. Boundaries are like the bulkheads in an ocean-going oil tanker – if you removed them the first big wave will sink the ship. Balanced trade and balanced migration cannot be achieved without them, and both are necessary for stability both economic and social.

  31. bruce wilder permalink
    November 16, 2017

    “. . . the anti-immigration referendum was horrible and a further argument for putting the stake in the vampire of nation-state identity politics.”

    You have been demonstrating the rhetoric that fronts the popular propaganda in defense of the neoliberal EU. Full of scorn for the concerns of people who feel they are adversely affected, insistent that there can be no alternative to the neoliberal idealism (cum constitution of liberty) which is the four freedoms.

    It is a heady mix of narrative tropes for casting blame and moral justifications, sprinkled liberally with minimization, distraction and denial concerning details of the constraints of institutional means and ends.

    I, personally, do not have a stake. I am only an on-looker. I will say that for politics to work toward policy progress, opposing sides have to have some basic respect for one another’s experience and some willingness to construct a shared, “objective” reality. I do not see those prerequisites in Mandos rhetoric Nov 15. Not an attack on Mandos personally — I see him enacting themes widely distributed — but offered as the observation of an on-looker from a distance. This rhetoric is designed to paralyze and delegitimize democratic politics at the nation-state level on several levels at once. Mobilization en masse is racist and a vampire. A fog is created concerning what practical levels of policy control exist — Britain cannot control immigration from EU countries, but “the distribution of the gains and losses continue to be mostly within its control.” The Euro — a core means of facilitating the four freedoms, particularly the free movement of capital, mandated for every member — is in Mandos’ narrative an “experiment” with “small” albeit crucial flaws.

    High-flown rhetoric about the ideal of the four freedoms — as if the unregulated movement of capital is of a piece with freedom of conscience or the Rights of Man in the pantheon of European political progress — serves to obstruct discussion of how the EU could devolve authority to levels of government where people might actually be able to organize for public purposes.

    The case of privileged Britain is certainly different from suffering Greece. It is interesting to me that Britain would be the country to challenge Brussels by choosing exit. Greece did not choose to exit the Eurozone, despite all that has been done it.

    That the quality of the organizing for exit should be the primary issue is almost inevitable — certainly it is overdetermined.

    One aspect is that the EU has become entangled with what Americans call “realignment” — those moments in American history when the partisan coalitions are reshuffled and money is re-invented. (Fascinating that partisan reshuffling and changing the money basis should coincide, eh?) The centre-left “socialist” parties collapsed c 2012 .

    Britain’s politics of Brexit revolves around the profound splits in the two main Parties.

    Another is that there is as yet no idea of a European Community with a post-neoliberal order to coordinate change or action across countries.

  32. November 16, 2017

    It is precisely the organic society theory you propose to which I object most.

  33. Lewis Collard permalink
    November 16, 2017

    > The reality of the situation is that there simply are no good ways to go about doing this, under the schedule of Article 50 and particularly under the political dysfunction of the British Tories and pro-Brexit vested interests.

    The article you linked at the end there has the headline “British Lawmaker Advises Investors To Take Their Money Out Of The UK”. IMO: Good. Fuck ’em. I am not sure that proves your point whatever you were getting at by “pro-Brexit vested interests”. Especially when nearly the entire political class and nearly as much entirely of the capitalist class (insofar as there is a distinction) were against Brexit.

    This morning I read an article about how the CEO of Goldman Sachs wants another Brexit vote, and has hinted that they might consider leaving the UK if Brexit continues. When someone from Goldman Sachs and Tony Blair agree on anything, my default position is to believe the exact opposite.

    You are right about the ruling classes digging their heels in; I do not doubt that they will try to sabotage Brexit. They will. This will not work out well for anyone, least of all the ruling class. “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible…”

  34. November 16, 2017

    That lawmaker is seeking to personally profit from Brexit. The money going out of the UK is not going to charity, it is going to play harmful arbitrage games against the ordinary British citizens.

    The level of myopia on this issue is appalling. There’s a section of the ruling class that really wants Brexit and there’s a section that doesn’t. They seem to have mesmerized the lot of you into playing the very identity politics games you mock when it is done by people who actually represent subordinated identities — Goldman Sachs may leave the UK on Brexit but it’s power over the UK will not, it will merely be exerted elsewhere and over a UK that is even less able to do anything about it. And the “managerial class” is not the “ruling class”. We’re talking about 10%ers vs. 0.01%ers.

  35. November 17, 2017

    Should be clear that my “organic society” comment was directed at John Poynton, not Bruce Wilder. Bruce’s post was lifted from moderation after I wrote it so interposes itself.

  36. November 17, 2017

    Bruce Wilder: your post involves a conceptualization of the issue that I’m not entirely sure how to connect to the matter at hand. What you seem to be suggesting is that the EU should offer the UK a deal in which the UK gets certain things that don’t disrupt the existing UK economy, but improves UK local control. This comes at costs to countries at citizens of the EU and if the UK were to articulate what they would give of equivalent value in exchange for this, the negotiation would be much easier, and the kind of “soft” exit I think you’re thinking of might be possible. Then there is the thorny issue of what remains of the EU project once the UK has been able to contravene its “constitution of liberty” while retaining the functional benefits of membership as you put it…

    There’s much, much more about your post that I think is simply wrong, absurd, or immoral, and I can happily and easily give you an explanation of why this is happening in the case of Britain but not Greece, except that it wouldn’t fit at all in the way that you seem to conceptualize the issue. However, those details are simply re-litigations of other questions. The main issue here is what Brexit supporters are negotiating for, and as far as I can tell, it’s to allow Britain to take advantage of free capital flows while preventing free human flows, and that is deeply unfair and not even really in the interests of British citizens — it’s the soul of neoliberalism, practically.

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