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The Realpolitik of Britain’s Interest in a LePen Victory

2017 February 24

Marine LePen continues to close the margins on a final round run-off. She’s still likely to lose, but it’s getting closer.

The odd thing here is that if Britain intends to Brexit, which it does, it would be very helpful to Britain if LePen won, because right now Brussels is determined to punish Britain severely for Brexit, so as to dissuade other possible rebels.

But LePen has said she wants Frexit, and if both France and England are leaving, it becomes quite hard to “punish” them, so long as they work together even slightly. That’s just too much of Europe, and especially Europe’s economy.

As I said in the past, I’d favor Brexit under a left-wing government, even minus the Euro, the binding agreements that are part of the EU make running a real left-wing government impossible, but under the Conservatives, it’s likely be a fiasco.

However the case for France is a lot stronger, because France isn’t winning under the Euro and hasn’t been for some time. France would be better out of the Euro. Again, it would be better that it be done by someone other than LePen, but the left has emasculated itself in these debates by refusing to be for nationalism, and thus ceding the anti-EU argument mostly to the right. (There are some exceptions.)

Frankly, the entire south of Europe should leave the Euro (though not necessarily the EU), and so should France. It just is not in their interest to stay, at least not if “interest” means “the interests of most of the population.”

It is a pity that people like LaPen and Farrage are the people filled with passionate conviction, while most of the left swings in the wind pathetically, and the only major left-wing leader of conviction, Corbyn, has polls leaving him far, far behind the Conservative party. (Though I consider that more an indictment of Britons than Corbyn.)

If the good people won’t do the right thing, it falls to the bad people to do the right thing in so much the wrong way that it may turn out to be the wrong thing.

This, by the way, is true as much of the EU as of leaving the EU. The EU and the Euro in particular were set up to force people into neoliberal policy. This was a betrayal of the spirit of the EU, which was about preventing war, not about impoverishing people. The technocrats are so convinced they are right that no amount of real world evidence of failure can convince them otherwise.

And so the right-wing rises. And Europeans are embracing them more and more.

Create an intolerable present with a clearly intolerable future and people will take a winger on very unpleasant people for even a slight chance to change things.

So it is, and so it shall be–if our elites don’t start changing, or we don’t change our elites.


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21 Responses
  1. February 24, 2017

    “The technocrats are so convinced they are right that no amount of real world evidence of failure can convince them otherwise.”-Ian

    Of course,

    Evidence means nothing to technocrats with no “downside risk” (no skin in the game).

    Evidence only matters if it can compel the public to impose “downside risk” (skin in the game) on technocrats.

  2. realitychecker permalink
    February 24, 2017

    Ian,

    “Frankly, the entire south of Europe should leave the Euro (though not necessarily the Euro), . . )

    Frankly, an edit is indicated. 🙂

  3. Ian Welsh permalink*
    February 24, 2017

    Woopsy, thank RC.

  4. sid_finster permalink
    February 24, 2017

    Who is “Francine LePen”?

    I think you wanted to write “Marine LePen”.

  5. February 24, 2017

    Yeah, it’s “Marine Le Pen”. With a space between “Le” and “Pen”. Or just MLP.

    In any case, I think you underestimate the leverage that the Eurozone has over France. It’s not merely size, it’s interconnectedness of various sorts. My guess is that France would be able to get some concessions under a leader tougher than Hollande, but after a certain point their counterparties (mainly Germany) would consider the cost of concessions higher than the cost of instability from a public fight with France. Then a putative Le Pen government would also fail to have the technocracy on its side to implement less painful Frexits, and may even fail to come up with a more painful one. Britain is lucky also in this sense not to have joined the single currency, it’s much easier to separate from the EU alone.

    English-speaking commentators underestimate how much thought has gone into European systems — the people who set these things up know their history and are pretty clear on what they are trying to do and what challenges it would face. They’re disastrously wrong about some things, but they do know how to set up resilient systems. The EU and single currency are set up to be a sort of hall of mirrors of catch-22s, to mix references. Or a Chinese finger trap, maybe? Resist on one side and you become more dependent on the other.

  6. Peter permalink
    February 24, 2017

    The Exit vote was 9 months ago and there has been no article 50 filed. Every time I read UK news on the subject something is claimed to be happening in about 6 months but never materializes. I have the feeling that 6 month from now there will still be no article 50 filing and probably no filing 6 months later. It seems the subjects of the UK are being slow-walked to the realization that their experiment in direct democracy is not going to be respected by their PTB.

  7. Dan Lynch permalink
    February 24, 2017

    Ian, this is one of your better essays, not just with regards to the EU but concerning the left in general.

    Nationalism is not a 4 letter word. The Swiss have some nationalist spirit, and they haven’t started any wars lately, or committed any genocides. Meanwhile how is the lack of nationalism working out in Somalia, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan?

    You don’t have to hate immigrants to oppose open borders. Immigrants competing for jobs and resources are no different than scabs crossing a picket line to take a union worker’s job. I’m sure that scabs are decent human beings who are just trying to support their family, just as the immigrants are decent human beings just trying to support their family, but it doesn’t change the fact that scabs and immigrants undermine labor. Why can’t the left accept that? If you want to help immigrants, stop creating them.

    The left has bought into the “there’s no such thing as an illegal human being” framing. Oh really, so if someone breaks into a leftists’ house in the middle of the night, would the leftist say “it’s OK for a burglar to be in my house because there’s no such thing as an illegal human being?”

    Mandos, yes the people who set up the Euro gave it a lot of thought and know what they are trying to do — they are trying to roll back the post WWII social contract. Leave the Euro. Yes, there will be problems, and the exiters will be punished, but there is light at the end of the Exit tunnel. There is no light at the end of the Euro.

  8. jo6pac permalink
    February 24, 2017

    Dan Lynch

    February 24, 2017

    Thanks for adding the link most people have now idea about this man and I do believe he is the creator of Ronnie-ray-guns trickle down.

    The eu is dead it’s just trying extract the last bit of blood from the citizens. Think Greece.

  9. Hugh permalink
    February 24, 2017

    Time to trot out my list of the reasons why the Euro/EZ doesn’t and can’t work, most of which also apply to the EU as well:

    1. The lack of a fair and democratic fiscal and debt union
    2. A weak, and capricious, central bank interested only in defending an unsustainable status quo
    3. An insolvent and predatory banking sector
    4. Europe internal mercantilist trading patterns
    5. Thoroughly corrupt political classes
    6. A ruling kleptocratic class of the rich

    Europe has been dead meat since the Greek crisis erupted back in 2010. It showed the complete, utter, and abject failure of “Europe”. When push came to shove, when conditions were less than optimal, Europe reverted back to its individual states. Greece suddenly became, not a European problem, but a Greek problem. It was sold as both necessary and virtuous that Greeks be made an example of even as French and German banks were being bailed out at the expense of and over the ruins of that country. Much as in the US, Europe’s rich and ruling classes are in a very much closed eyes, hands over ears denial of the disintegration of Europe which is transpiring around them. This is unsurprising. Kleptocrats will try to cheat the tumbril driver on their way to the guillotine. It’s what they do. It’s who they are. Consider that after Greece, there was Cyprus. And largely unnoticed most of Eastern Europe swung to the right a while ago. Then there was the Brexit referendum which was an earthquake because it involved one of Europe’s core economies. Meanwhile the Italian banking system is on really flimsy and failing life support. And the political rumbling continue with Le Pen in France and Wilders in the Netherlands. These too are core economies. I wonder at what point some “insightful” pundit is going to look around and notice the obvious that the only one left in the European room is Germany. And Germany does not equal Europe. It’s not that Europe isn’t working. It’s that it no longer exists, hasn’t existed for a while, and at some point people are going to start to notice.

    What attracts many French to Le Pen is that outside the Île de France, Europe has not been especially beneficial to the French. France’s North remains de-industrialized and pretty much everywhere else French agriculture is under threat. And if you think the myth of the family farm is strong in America, you should see French go on about their “paysan” heritage. In the past, the Socialists and better economic times provided the counter-balance to the “tendance Le Pen” but economic times aren’t good in France and the Socialists have become a pack of Establishment weasels. That we are even talking about the possibility of a Le Pen win shows how far we have come. And win or lose, the conditions that have given rise to the most recent incarnation of Le Pen are not going away. Ditto for the Netherlands.

    So yes, I agree. I think the best strategy for the British is simply to allow the situation in the rest of Europe to ripen. Europeans like the idea of Europe, but the EU and EZ, Europe’s rich and elites,have betrayed them.

  10. Synoia permalink
    February 24, 2017

    It requires and enormous amount of tested banking software to break from the Euro.

    Let’s look at some numbers:

    Average Expense spent on software 2-5%
    Number of years spending this in Banks: 50.
    Current “expense” invested in software: 100% to 250% of one years total annual expenses.
    lets estimate that number of changes in this software legacy is: 10%
    Actual cost of leaving Euro: 10% to 25% of annual expense.
    Equivalent to 5x to 25x current “programming” expense.
    All to be done in a short time.

    Please remember the rules of engineering:
    Fast (quick delivery), Cheap and Good (works well) – Chose two.

    Management always chooses Cheap.

    I predict a faulty, lengthy and very expensive exit, if any.

    So betweeb Goood and Fast

  11. February 24, 2017

    Let the current euro collapse.

  12. Tom permalink
    February 24, 2017

    I prefer the term Frackout. Le Pen will cause a religious war with her country’s Muslims for no point than to force Women to adhere to her sexist model of what a woman should be instead of respecting their choice to wear what they please without harassment.

    For all its talk about secularism and freedom, France doesn’t know what the fuck those terms mean.

    Well as you said, the Left imploded and there is few who are willing to duke it out and bitchslap the nominally leftist parties back in line and put a stop to Political Correctness bullshit and focus on the core issues of healthcare, freedom of religion, free press, end to corporate welfare, end to financial based economies, end the wars, stop supporting corrupt states, and dialing down the surveillance states.

    Also the Left needs to get the moderates and conservatives to vote for it as well, by dropping abortion rights from its platform which disenfranchises fathers from the children they sired and pisses them off, and stop courting the radical feminists who don’t vote anyway and have Darwined themselves from the gene pool by not having kids. Instead focus on the High School kids and energize them to vote, liberal politicians need to make more school visits and explain their platform and help those kids register to vote and get them involved in their party and start promoting and grooming the ones who show promise for political office as well.

  13. Lisa permalink
    February 25, 2017

    It was predicted ages ago. The introduction of the Euro, with the German mark being very undervalued, meant that massive trad imbalances would build up. With no monetary transfer mechanisms (tax, etc) then the only way the circle could be squared was by private and public debt.

    When it inevitably all started to unravel the EU central bank insisted on protecting banks instead of writing off the debt. This increased public debt even more as Govts took on that private debt. To square that circle they insisted on frugality, cutting Govt spending.

    Totally artificial crisis, created by not one but a series of terrible decisions (most of which benefited Germany) . The options are to change it or leave the Euro. Naturally neither the EU bureaucrats or the Germans or the banks want that.

    This was warned about when the Euro was introduced, by the designers of it no less, as the intention had been to introduce transfer mechanisms as well. Surprised it has lasted so long.

  14. Some Guy permalink
    February 25, 2017

    Generally, I agree Ian, but it is past time to drop the ‘left’ and ‘right’ framing as it increasingly irrelevant, nonsensical and exposed as the means by which ‘centrists’ aka globalists, keep nationalists divided into warring camps and out of power.

  15. Some Guy permalink
    February 25, 2017

    “Also the Left needs to get the moderates and conservatives to vote for it as well, by dropping abortion rights from its platform which disenfranchises fathers from the children ”

    Abortion rights are part of the FN platform as well. See what I mean about ‘left’ and ‘right’ – just let it go.

  16. V. Arnold permalink
    February 25, 2017

    Too little understanding; way too many words; your societies are dying; your cultures are dying; whether you’re EUsians, Usians, it doesn’t matter.
    STFU and pay attention to the world as it exists; ignore anything from the west; they are the drivers of the disaster in progress…

  17. Peter permalink
    February 25, 2017

    @SG

    This branding themselves as of the left is an old liberal tool to help cover their slime trail heading right and it’s long been used as a cover for their hawkish positions and outright warmongering. For about the last decade Progressive was the brand many hid behind and it still is, hollowing out any real meaning that term once represented.

    The liberal’s true feelings about the real Left are rarely expressed but Rahm did express the liberal class view of leftists as fucking retards.

  18. February 25, 2017

    Steve Bannon at CPAC:
    “The center core of what we believe, that we’re a nation with an economy. Not an economy just in some global marketplace with open borders, but we are a nation with a culture and a reason for being.”
    Steve Bannon at the Vatican on “nationalism and racism”:
    “[T]here is a global tea party movement. We’ve seen that. We were the first group to get in and start reporting on things like UKIP and Front National and other center right. With all the baggage that those groups bring — and trust me, a lot of them bring a lot of baggage, both ethnically and racially — but we think that will all be worked through with time….But there’s always elements who turn up at these things, whether it’s militia guys or whatever. Some that are fringe organizations. My point is that over time it all gets kind of washed out, right? People understand what pulls them together, and the people on the margins I think get marginalized more and more.”
    https://stream.org/steve-bannon-vatican-defending-persecuted-christians-free-markets-little-guy/

  19. Hugh permalink
    February 25, 2017

    Spectator sport report:

    Tom Perez got elected to head the DNC ensuring that the Democratic party’s march into irrelevancy will continue. It’s funny that the Democrats response to each new defeat is to double down and dish out even bigger helpings of more of the same. Some might say that this is because they don’t get it. I think they do get it. They just don’t care.

    I forget the commenter, my apologies, but he said recently that we are going down because we can’t get it together anymore to do obvious things. The result, I suppose, is the general crapification of everything we see. Universal single payer for healthcare is a no-brainer but even in the current push to repeal Obamacare, it does not rate a mention by anyone involved. We have a terminal problem with wealth inequality, but the only “solutions” offered actually increase that inequality. You want better education? Fund it. What do we get? Selling it off. Newspapers have been going downhill for a long time. Do they improve their product, engage in hard hitting journalism, speak truth to power? Of course not. They cut staff and raise their rates. Oh yes, and blame the internet. The Democrats could stand for something, (i.e. something voters would vote for) but they choose not to. In the current protests, they encourage others to leave their blood on the floor, but they would not dream of leaving any of their own there. And so it goes.

  20. EverthingsJake permalink
    February 25, 2017

    @ Dan Lynch

    By and large the Swiss have survived by being enablers of abuse. They keep quiet, they don’t stir trouble, they often sympathize (hardly the cleanest hands in WWII). They hide criminal money, they steal art, they drown their cowardice in chocolate.

  21. Lisa permalink
    February 26, 2017

    Tom “.. by dropping abortion rights from its platform which disenfranchises fathers from the children they sired and pisses them off, and stop courting the radical feminists who don’t vote anyway and have Darwined themselves from the gene pool by not having kids.”

    Right, there speaks a man …. anything else you want like no contraception for women, watering down rape and domestic violence laws, ending discrimination laws and getting women back to their ‘rightful place’ of being barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen?

    It might have escaped you but women vote, are 50% of the population and the vast majority want control over their own bodies and fertility. But we can’t have those men being ‘pissed off’ can we, poor little precious (to use the current term) ‘snowflakes’ having their feelings all hurt.

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