Tuesday 17 September 2019

Brexiteers are fighting against the thereapeutic caliphate for liberty and the people’s will

American Christopher Caldwell is the best political analyst writing today. His latest article on Brexit is very good. 

These quotations are from an article about that articleby Greg Sheridan in the Australian, headlined 'Brexiteers fighting for liberty and the people’s will'.

The clash is between two conflicting world views. One is a postmodern, undemocratic, technocrat state in the service of what a German author calls the Therapeutic Caliphate, or what we might less exaltedly call the left-liberal crack-up, a la the EU, which has as its purpose the eradication of national identity and the transformation of human nature. The other is a civic vision that recognises the universal quality of humanity but puts the nation-state at the heart of democratic and civic loyalty, and which honours traditional sources of wisdom and authority, and traditional forms of democracy....
I couldn't agree more him or with Mr Caldwell, who gets to the heart of why it is important for the world that Britain brexits successfully. 
Cald­well argues that Remainers faithfully represent the modern European constitutional tradition. This is a tradition that empowers a technocratic elite, built on documents with plenty of abstract nouns that inevitably give great legislative power to judges. The pincer movement of bureaucracy, ruling-class ideological uniformity and judicial activism restricts the space for normal democratic decision-making.
He writes:
“These shift power from electorates and parliaments to managers of information, inside government and out. From thousand-year-old constitutional ideas to five-year-old ones, from habeas corpus to gender identity. Because it was Britain that did most to construct the ideal of liberty which is now being challenged, Brexit clarifies the constitutional stakes for the world as nothing else.”
Caldwell lays a brilliant sociological insight across his political analysis. In the old British constitutional system, which Brexiteers want to uphold and restore, courts had very little role in reviewing British legislation. In the EU system everything is ultimately decided by courts. All EU member nations must submit to European law and the European human rights court. But judicial and technocratic activism combined mean the courts can determine almost anything. A written right to home privacy and security, provided for in one of the European charters, for example, can enable a court to disallow more or less any measure at all it doesn’t like. As Caldwell shrewdly observes, once politics is “judicialised” all politicians become “mere talkers”.

However, he also makes the devastating observation that judicialising politics actually represents an enormous transfer of power from the poor to the rich. The judiciary is drawn from an extremely narrow band of society, typically from successful lawyers who are generally by birth and education, and then professionally, among the tiniest sliver of the wealthiest people in the society, and generally hold all the approved opinions. Parliaments, on the other hand, represent all kinds of people and have all kinds of people in them — rich and poor, smart and dumb, traditional and iconoclastic, conservative and radical.
Similarly, as Caldwell shows, removing the hereditary peers from the House of Lords but keeping it undemocratic has made it arguably less representative than when it was just composed of hereditary lords. These always contained among their number eccentrics and cranks, the relatively impoverished as well as the relatively rich. The Lords, he argues, is now less diverse and more class-bound than in its old incarnation. Now it is appointed. And it comprises “activist foundation heads, rights barristers, think-tank directors, in-the-tank journalists, and political henchmen”. Caldwell doesn’t make this point but it might have more diverse racial backgrounds than before but it has narrower ideological constraints and, as he says, a possibly narrower class range.
I especially agree about how much more democratic Britain was when all the hereditary peers (as opposed to 92 selected by the Tory party) sat in Parliament. The hereditary peers are very sorely missed indeed. In their place are quangocrats and the dreary regiment of retired party hacks and mealy-mouthed, politically correct placemen and women.

Christopher Caldwell's book Reflections on the Revolution in Europe is the best book on the way immigration from the Third World is rapidly transforming Europe. It's not the first draft of history but real history. I lent my copy to an ambassador who did not return it or I'd reread it over and over again. I urge you to buy it.


  1. I put the article here for you:


    To access CRB from Romania you need to use a VPN.

  2. The main legacy of the European Union in the past three decades has been the suppression of democracy and sovereignty in the countries that belong to it. We can argue about whether this is the main purpose of the federation, but suppression of self-rule certainly counts as one of its purposes. Extinguishing national sovereignty was E.U. technocrats’ way of assuring that what Germany, Italy, and Spain set in motion in the 20th century would not repeat itself in the 21st. The architects of the Brussels order proclaimed this intention loudly until they discovered it cost them elections and support. The E.U.’s suspicion of nationalism is understandable. But its hostility to democracy is real.

    Brexit was not an “outburst” or a cry of despair or a message to the European Commission. It was an eviction notice. It was an explicit withdrawal of the legal sanction under which Brussels had governed Europe’s most important country. If it is really Britain’s wish to see its old constitutional arrangements restored, then this notice is open to emendation and reconsideration. But as things stand now, the Leave vote made E.U. rule over the U.K. illegitimate. Not illegitimate only when Brussels has been given one last chance to talk Britain out of it, but illegitimate now. What Britons voted for in 2016 was to leave the European Union—not to ask permission to leave the European Union. It is hard to see how Britain’s remaining in the E.U. would benefit either side.

    And yet, given that Britain is the first country to issue such an ultimatum, given that pro-E.U. elites in other European countries have reason to fear its replication, given the moral ambitions of the E.U. project, given that the British who support Remain have transferred their sentiments and their allegiances across the channel, given the social disparity between those who rule the E.U. and most of those who want to leave it, how could the reaction of Britain’s establishment be anything but all-out administrative, judicial, economic, media, political, and parliamentary war? The battle against Brexit is being fought, Europe-wide, with all the weaponry a cornered elite has at its disposal.

    Christopher Caldwell

  3. I agree with most of the criticisms levelled at the EU.

    My problem is that I fear that Brexit will lead to an even worse future. It won't mean a return to traditional Britain or traditional British values. No politician has more contempt for traditional Britain than Boris Johnson. Brexit is more likely to lead to globalist Thatcherism on steroids. It could be a future that is a whole lot nastier than the EU.

    It's possible that Brexit has in fact been an extraordinary effective con. That the people who voted Leave will end up getting more of the very things that they believed were destroying the nation they loved.

    I don't see this as a clash between good and evil. I see it as a clash between two competing systems of evil. It's a bit like arguing whether Russians would have been better off had Trotsky won the power struggle against Stalin. It's quite likely that Trotskyism would have been a worse disaster than Stalinism.

    By the way I agree with you very strongly on the House of Lords issue.

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