by Dr. Monroe Mann, PhD, Esq, MBA, LLM, ME, EMT
In 1997, two years before EMU (European Monetary Union), I was a Washington semester student at American University, in DC.
I was on the verge of transferring from Furman University in Greenville, SC to Franklin College, in Lugano, Switzerland (what is now Franklin University, a joint Swiss/American University). I was an international economics major.
For my research paper during this Washington semester program, I decided to research the European Monetary Union on Maastricht’s terms and timetable. For my research, and with the assistance of the various embassies I contacted, I met–in person–with the economic or political attachés of over ten European countries. I recorded each 60+ minute interview and transcribed every word. The primary question: what do you think of the EU, the EMU, and will it all work?
My survey results? It ain’t gonna work.
And tomorrow, we have one of the most historical events in the history of the modern world: A UK referendum to determine if the entire UK will forever leave the EU.
Note that there’s a difference between the EU and the EMU. The UK is part of the EU, but not the EMU. What does this mean? It means that the UK (and some other countries within Europe) are part of the POLITICAL union (the EU), but are not part of the MONETARY union (the EMU, i.e. the Eurozone). The UK is not part of the eurozone. If you’ve ever been to England, or read the news, you know that the British Pound is still very much a transactional currency. You can also find the Swiss Franc (and note that Switzerland isn’t even part of the EU, but it’s citizens can work elsewhere in Europe–see, it’s so damn complicated).
Well, tomorrow, the UK is gonna let its people decide in a UK-wide vote: DO WE LEAVE THE EU ENTIRELY, AND TOTALLY BREAK FREE FROM ANY CONNECTION WHATSOEVER WITH CONTINENTAL EUROPE.
I am so excited for tomorrow!!!!!!
Have you heard of Boris Johnson? Probably not. He’s the leading dude pushing for the UK’s exit from the EU–the European Union. He has an interesting way of framing the issue, using history as an example:
“Napoleon, Hitler, various other people tried this out, and it ends tragically. The EU is an attempt to do this [unify Europe] by different methods. But fundamentally what is lacking is the eternal problem, which is that there is no underlying loyalty to the idea of Europe. There is no single authority that anybody respects or understands. That is causing this massive democratic void.”
I agree with Boris Johnson, and I knew this was the case back in 1997!
Europe is not the United States. I remember so many people back in 1997 arguing that the reason for the EU was to follow the example of the United States.
But (and it’s a huge “but”), the individual countries of Europe are the exact opposite of the individual states here in the USA. You see, the big issues that I knew Europe would NEVER overcome are fourfold:
a) the differing languages (over 20)–the USA had one, and maybe a few second languages
b) the differing cultures (and each FAR more different than we have here in the different states)
c) the differing histories (while some may argue our states have different histories, their histories are in no way as colorful as the varied histories of the different European states)
d) the lack of unity (unlike Europe, we have forever been unified by our hatred for the Crown and that’s what we find in our declaration and in our constitution; Europe is unified by… nothing. Atheism maybe, haha).
While I was a student at Franklin College in Switzerland, I often debated these issues with my professors and fellow students. Most of the Europeans argued that none of this mattered. And yet, then, as now, whenever I meet a European tourist in New York City, and ask, “Where are you from?”, what is the first answer?
Is it Europe? Nope.
Their first answer, with a huge smile on their face, and a twinkle in their eyes, is–ta da–THEIR COUNTRY.
Never (not once in over 17 years, and note too that I’m a licensed NYC tour guide) has even one of these tourists said, “I’m European” or “I’m from Europe”.
Because “Europe” doesn’t exist. It’s a geographical descriptor: there is no unifying language, culture, history, or beliefs. To this very day, Germans are Germans, Italians are Italians, Norwegians are Norwegians, and French are French. And none of them would consider themselves “Europeans” first. Never. Never. I’ll say it again: Never.
Because each of these country’s citizens is proud (and rightly so) of their language, culture, heritage, history, and beliefs. Let’s leave the holocaust and the Nazis out of this for a moment. Actually, let’s not: many Germans like the EU. Why? It’s a check and balance on what happened under Hitler and the 3rd Reich. But hey, it’s been more than 70 years since then, and Germans too (just like the Japanese in Asia) are itching to regain control of their countries. I don’t blame them.
Here’s the bottom line: Yes, my belief is that tomorrow, the UK will no longer be a part of the EU. I believe that that tomorrow will mark the beginning of the further disintegration of the EU, with a return to individual sovereignty. Heck, it’s already begun with the near disintegration of the Schengen zone: the passport free zone created by the EU. Well, since the Syrian and Iraqi crisis of refugee overrun, those borders have gone BACK UP. The Europe today looks in so many ways like the Europe of not only 17 years ago, but 700 years ago. It’s a mess.
Back in 1997, I knew (as did most of the embassy attachés with whom I spoke) that only if the Europeans were willing to unify under one true federal banner (like the United States did) would there ever be a lasting success in Europe. That was never the case because Europeans were and are (and rightly so) too proud of their national heritage. So there exists a strange quasi political banner waving in Brussels (the head of the EU) that really has no power whatsoever over the different countries. It’s like another United Nations, where everyone assembles to complain and protest, but nothing ever gets done.
However–and this is the key: by refusing to unifying under one military; by refusing to unify under one president; and ultimately, by the sheer variety of languages, cultures, and histories… true European unity is likely to never ever happen.
But what about China?
China’s a whole different story. Many say, “But look at China: they have over 100 different Chinese languages and so many varied cultural traditions, and yet, they have come together successfully!” Wrong: China has one ‘president’. China teaches all students in school one language (Mandarin). China has one solitary and unified foreign policy. And one single military. And one set of laws. And therein lies the big difference.
So yeah, I think tomorrow is the day continental Europe bids farewell to the EU. If I’m wrong (and it’s possible, because the polls have been fluctuating around 50 % for / 50% against for weeks), it doesn’t mean I’m wrong: the very fact that this referendum has come this far shows that the EU is in biiiiig trouble.
Do you realize how absolutely wild tomorrow’s referendum is? Consider an American simile: it would sort of be like if the citizens of my state of New York joined together to vote on whether to leave the United States and return to their colonial state, albeit without British rule. Granted, it’s not an exact match, but I’m just trying to help you understand the seriousness of what is about to happen tomorrow. IT IS HUGE. The UK may soon be totally and completely separate from the EU! Her Majesty’s Navy may soon be simply that! HER MAJESTY’S!
Mark my words: if the UK leaves, I guarantee before the year is over, there will be other referendums in the works. And if the UK stays, it will be by the slimmest of margins, and I guarantee it won’t be the last country to vote whether the EU is worth the hassle.
Up above, I quoted Boris Johnson, and his comparison of what is happening to Napoleon and Hitler. Don’t misunderstand: he’s not talking about world domination. He’s simply noting that both Napolean and Hitler tried to unite Europe and great a European superstate. They both failed. The EU is round three. Maybe round four, since the Roman Empire tried to do the same thing.
But what happens when an empire grows too big? It collapses, because it can’t control the outskirt towns and villages. It just becomes too unwieldy.
Many argue that the USA is on the brink of following in the footsteps of the Roman Empire. I agree it’s possible: the reach of the federal government has grown so much farther than the founders ever intended thanks to the damn interstate commerce clause: I blame the commerce clause for the downfall of states’ rights and the rise of the federal superstate that we now have in America. Yeah, you heard me commerce clause: SCREW YOU!
In fact, if the UK leaves the EU, I wouldn’t be surprised if it rekindles the states’ right movement here in the US. If the UK can kick out their big brother EU, then so can we back here in the US. We can learn a lot from our former colonizers, just as it seems they have learned from the 1776 lesson we gave them: FIGHT BACK AND DECLARE YOUR INDEPENDENCE.
So on Thursday, June 23, 2016, WATCH THE NEWS. It’s one of the world’s most exciting events in a really long time, and the result will shape the political face of the planet for years to come.
And don’t listen to the naysayers. The UK’s leaving the EU will not destroy the British economy, or the world economy. It might shake it up a bit for a while, but the world will stabilize once it realizes that a strong and independent UK is perhaps exactly what this world needs right now. We need a strong and independent ally to help us destroy radical islamic terrorism. Right now, it’s the wild west, and no one is willing to do anything about it.
And don’t worry: the EU was forever doomed to fail. It may not happen today, or tomorrow, but I believe its zenith has come and gone. Truly, I look SO forward to the return of independent countries in Europe. The euro destroyed so much of Europe’s charm: traveling around with money from six different countries in your pocket. Many called it cumbersome; I called it… adventure.
Oh, since we’re on the subject of independence, on the 24th (Friday) go check out Independence Day 2 in theaters! I’m so excited! (though I’m not looking forward to the Hillary Clinton doppelganger who looks and sounds just like her as president. Clearly, the director and producer are making a statement that Hillary can take on aliens. Let’s be honest: she can’t even take on terrorists; there’s no way I’d trust her trying to take on aliens. As usual, she’d try the failed diplomatic approach and we’d all end up dead. Just like with terrorists, Hillary thinks they are here to be our friend. THEY ARE NOT HILLARY! THEY ARE EVIL ALIENS AND THEY WANT TO KILL US! DIDN’T YOU WATCH THE FIRST INDEPENDENCE DAY! ALIENS ARE NOT OUR FRIEND!
How did we go from the economics of Brexit to talking about Hillary Clinton taking on aliens? I have no idea. I think I’m going to stop typing now.
4 thoughts on ““Brexit” is just the beginning, and I predicted this over 15 years ago.”
A reader wrote to me, “The EU will never go away.” I never said it would. My point here is that the EU will never become what its founders intended it to be, and it is already fraying at the edges. Regardless of what happens today, I believe that this event is a significant indictment of the state of Europe and a harbinger of things to come.
Europe is not an amusement park for Americans. Its nice that you find different currencies charming, but for those of us who live and work here, freedom of travel and a single currency have too many advantages to just ditch because “dfferent coins are so cute”.
Actually, I have indeed lived and worked there. A number of times in the last 15 years. And I prefer the different currencies. (I actually hate the coins).
Bottom line, Europe is a collection of different countries. Until Europeans abandon their languages, cultures, and histories (which they never will), the EU will never work as the politicians hope it will.
If Europe is to function as a strong unified state, it needs to give the EU president and EU governing bodies the same power that the US president and congress has. And agree on one strong military.
But, alas, no European country wants to relinquish its sovereign power. And I don’t blame them.
However, Michael, this issue is far beyond a solitary issue of convenience (single currency and freedom of movement) and that’s the shortsightedness that has and will continue to cause problems (such as this Brexit Referendum) for the EU for years to come.
The EU cannot just be a monetary union and that’s it. And therein lies the problem. Europe simply can’t have it both ways. It needs to decide: are we united, or not? Until we see, “The United States of Europe”, problems such as Brexit will continue to arise.