I’ve been reading some interesting history about the causes of the American Civil war recently, with more in depth contemporary sources from both sides of the Atlantic. Civil war Bill? Isn’t this post title about the UK leaving the EU? Okay, bear with me. All will become crystal in due course.
Now the US Civil War was fought over slavery, right? That’s what we’re taught in school. Erm… wrong! It began because of taxation. Ever hear of a thing called the Morrill Tariff? Those guys in Fort Sumter that got fired upon, kicking the whole thing off? Tax collectors, there to ensure the collection of said Washington imposed Tariff, which hiked internal Federal import duties for the Southern states from 20 to 47%. Yikes! Much to the annoyance of the Southern states and also the British, who were a major trading partner at the time.
Journalist and anti-slavery campaigner Charles Dickens (Yes, that Charles Dickens) wrote a number of scathing articles criticising the imposition of this tariff increase by the US Federal Government. Which of course went down like a lead balloon with our cousins in the north-eastern USA after they’d feted him in a grand tour. Myth, is it? Don’t think so.
As an aside, I’d never really realised what a nasty piece of work old Abraham Lincoln was. He actually gave orders to instigate the war. Other secret orders followed; orders for executions of civilians. A bizarre mass execution of 38 Minnesota Indians. Carte blanche for rampaging troops to burn and pillage. He wasn’t a lover of non-whites either, preferring to ship them back to Africa and suchlike after the war. Slaves might be freed by the Civil War, but they were definitely unwanted by the North.
As a history buff, I’m often amused by the way people keep on trying the same old games with highly similar results. History never exactly repeats itself, but you don’t have to be a towering intellect to understand that applying the same old answers to the same old questions always ends in tears. So, I’m given to think, will be the results of the breakup of the EU.
Now here’s a scenario. Say the ‘leave’ contingent of the electorate get their way and there is a massive vote to ditch the bureaucratic monstrosity that the EU has become. The UK begins the process of leaving, to which the EU’s response is a demand for a massive ‘penalty’ payment. To which the UK, quite rightly and like the Southern states did in 1861, says “F**k *ff”. The EU then imposes punitive tariffs on exports to the UK, and for a couple of months the Brits can’t get parts for their Fiats, Peugeots, Mercedes or BMW’s for love nor money, and they have to import their wine from Chile and Argentina. Amongst other things. Until said tariffs are circumvented by the simple expedient of shifting the paper trail of European imports via Norway. Norway’s economy booms with this new trade route, much to the chagrin of the Brussels bureaucrats.
Unless of course Brexit is the first step in other major contributing countries deciding that the EU is more trouble than it’s worth. France for one. Some of the old Warsaw pact states and of course bankrupt Greece. The whole project could fold if Germany decides it’s not going to keep the whole shebang going on its own. Which would present challenges, but also many opportunities. As well as being one in the eye for those who think that Government always knows best (It doesn’t). Who will not like it, not one little bit, and will take measures of all sorts to make life difficult for countries who want out. Up to and including bullets and bombs. A close study of history teaches us that this is so.
As for slavery? In the mid 1850’s it was an institution that was on its way out, at least in the West. Allegedly.
Now I’m fully behind the idea of the UK leaving the EU, which was sold as a free trade area, but has turned into a massive greedy bureaucratic leech. One that is bloated, well past it’s sell-by date and needs a good rinse and spin to shrink it down to size. Unfortunately, too many useless mouths have got, in the words of my forbears “Too damn cosy with other people’s money.” But they will fight tooth and nail to maintain their lives of privilege and air conditioned offices. In their eyes ‘Brexit’ is a major threat which may require force. Rather like the US Civil War.
My final word on the topic (for a given value of ‘final’) Leave, but be prepared for a fight. Just in case.