Ahhh, the Royals… I have successfully avoided reading a single story on the current Meghan Markle / Ginger Prince scandal, but I think I have gotten the gist from twitter. Putting Markle in the thumbnail was obviously a desperate bid for clicks, but it’s also got a tangential relation to the topic of today’s video, beyond the fact that the Royals are briefly discussed at the end of it. As I understand it, Ginger Prince was allowed to marry an American actress because it was seen as good for the institution, modernizing and a helpful way to appeal to new markets. Now the institution is shocked that the changes they hoped were cosmetic might yield more significant changes.
This story is obviously a very specialized thing, but I have a hunch that it’s emblematic of an emerging theme for the United Kingdom over the next half century or so. From free trade agreements, to military commitments and positions on international incidents, the British will continue to make changes that look small and clever in the short run, but end up changing things more than they’d like in the medium to long term. Like the Queen of England this week, the British people will find themselves grumbling as they acquiesce to new arrangements they did not foresee, and would not have chosen had they known they were coming.
Video Transcript after the jump…
Hey There. I’m not 100 percent on this one, but I have a hunch that Brexit is pretty good for the US Empire. The United Kingdom is not a big country. And there’s a distinct chance that it’s about to get smaller. Northern Ireland and Scotland could leave. The anti-immigrant hysteria that has taken over England’s politics also means that its population is likely to start shrinking before too long. 21st century politics is not going to be kind to small countries that think they are great powers.
Since the 1950s at the latest, it’s been clear that the British no longer had an independent foreign policy. Any British Prime Minister who wanted to play at being a big power had to do so in the US’s slipstream. But if you think folks like Tony Blair were slavish yes-men for the US empire, just you wait. Boris Johnson is going to take US ass-kissing into whole new realms.
As I talked about last time, in the late 20th century the British had successfully built itself a new informal empire, with its financial leadership of the European Union. This gave Britain’s unique approach to the world a shield from the United States. Sure, it’s foreign policy was completely owned by Washington, DC, but it’s domestic politics, and finance, Britain’s main industry, were shielded from full colonization by the colonials. With Brexit that shield is being discarded.
In the EU, Britain was a big fish in a big pond. In volunteering to become a US satellite, the UK is giving up almost all say in its future. Post Brexit they are basically South Korea without the manufacturing or high technology skills. I am still not sure I believe believe that the Tories will seriously consider bargaining away the National Health Service for a free trade agreement with the United States, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. You can be sure that less politically important aspects of the British economy and legal framework are being bargained away as we speak.
This may surprise a lot of viewers of this series, but I love the United Kingdom. I just spent the past two years of my life learning the history of its rise and fall. I really do consider this Brexit-driven fall into weakness and obscurity to be a tragedy. But I am a citizen of the United States, and I suppose I should try to see this as the gift it is.
It seems silly now, but 20 years ago, folks really thought the European Union would eventually be a real competitor to the United States. To be clear, that was never my view, I always thought of them as an ally we should support. Regardless this Brexit thing kind of takes them off the board. Instead of a great power across the Atlantic, they are now a disintegrating basket case, without the confidence to expand, and with a much diminished budget. With the British in there was a nice balance between welfare state and pro-business policies. Without the British, the socialists are becoming dominant in the EU, just as the resources they have to redistribute diminish. It’s not a great prospect. Europe will once again be reduced to an ideological and financial battleground for rival superpowers.
Thanks to Brexit, the US will have a real leg up on China in that competition. Britain should remain a top 5 European economy, and as the years wear on, it will become a more and more American outpost over there. Who knows, if they get rid of the royal family, maybe we’ll even let England become a state. To be honest I think the world would have been a better place with a united, independent Europe. But we’ve got to look honestly at the cards Brexit has dealt, and try to make the best of it.
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