Bryan Ward-Perkins’ The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization (2005) makes the point that constant invasions led to rebellions, as a measure of self-help to deal with the situation. This further depleted Imperial resources. The Empire in its latter days had a tendency to break up in to smaller blocks. Well, in this vein we have had the Brexit rebellion. Fed up with uncontrolled migration, 17.4 million people voted to leave. When the U.K. does eventually leave, this will further deplete E.U. resources. Allied to this Britain rode out the 2008 financial crisis better than most. This was because it was not tied to the disaster area of the Euro single currency.
It also highlights the issue of a lack of a pan-European identity. There never has been one, and as we saw from the example of Blaenau Gwent, the E.U. has also failed to achieve one. Much like Rome, people had a tendency to stick with tribe over a Supranational organisation encompassing many nations. When the pressure of a crisis hits, tribes or in the modern-day case nations look after their own first and foremost. They don’t feel a strong connection to the E.U., and we are seeing more rebellions as time goes on.
Some remoaners claimed to feel ‘European’ first and not British. They paraded around with their faces painted with the E.U. flag, etc. They tell us the U.K. is doomed economically, etc. Under free movement rules they could all move to the ‘booming’ E.U. How many have left? I don’t know any. In contrast U.K. passport applications from E.U. citizens have soared. As usual those doing well out of a system don’t want it to change. Others believe the regime propaganda that all is well. It is those who are poorest who are hit hardest, and those on the under-pressure edges that feel the greatest effects. Hence the less well-off voted leave. And countries like Greece suffer the most.
How does the Emperor keep order? Why, he punishes and makes an example of the rebels. In ancient Rome, this took the form of crucifixions, slavery, confiscation of property, etc. Today, Juncker and his toadies have to be seen to punish Britain for the imagined ‘crime’ of voting to leave. The E.U. will cut off its nose to spite its face. This will only firm up the leave vote support, and hasten the inevitable E.U. decline by worsening its economic problems, as we shall see below.
Ward-Perkins mentioned resources being depleted. The tax base shrank as Rome faced invasions. Provinces breaking away had the same effect. Heather writes of Rome stripping the Western provinces to pay to sort problems in the East. As a result, less was spent on infrastructure, public buildings. Local elites shifted their interest from their localities to the central bureaucracies. Waves of invasions had left provinces weak economically.
As for the E.U., we have had Western Europe paying in large contributions for decades. Germany, Britain, France and others have been paying to finance the Eastern European countries. This, along with the Eurozone disaster, has left the Western E.U. much weakened economically. High unemployment and youth unemployment abound. At the time of writing France has unemployment of 9.5%, and youth unemployment of 21.4%. Italy is 11.1% and 35.4%. Spain is 17.22% and 39.2%. Belgium is 7.6% and 21.4%. Sweden is 6.6% and 19.3%. Greece is at 21.7% and 44.4% (Figures courtesy of tradingeconomics.com). You get the picture. Waves of migration from inside and outside of the E.U. have left wages low, and jobs harder to come by.
A bank of England study in 2015 said immigration lowered wages by at least 2%. The biggest impact is on the semi/unskilled sectors. Migrants on low/minimum wages have left large swathes of Europe’s youth unable to work. They cannot get the basic first jobs on the employment ladder. One E.U. country continues to do well, and that is Germany. Make of that what you will. Put all these factors together and the E.U. is stagnating economically. Britain on the outside continues to do well, #DespiteBrexit (4.4% and 12.1%).
The Greek financial crisis continues to rumble on unabated. Britain is leaving. Just like the Romans, the E.U. will find itself short of cash, due to loss of territory and stripping the west to pay for the east. Add to this the new plans revealed in Juncker’s speech for EU centralised taxation, and one finance minister. Countries will lose control of finances, and their economies will suffer. This will cause further rebellion.
Using information from: Fall of Rome. (2017, March 25). New World Encyclopedia, Retrieved 13:10, August 29, 2017 from here
© Jonathon Davies 2017
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