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England's Turn to Socialism

Boris Johnson's Brexit-driven victory has only one lesson for us.

By Petrarch  |  December 16, 2019

In a stunning upset, infuriating the elites, commentariat, and intelligentsia of Europe and America alike, the voters of the United Kingdom last week delivered a historically crushing victory to a party which promises a resurgence of socialism throughout the country - vastly increased government spending, renewed dedication to single-payer healthcare, massive "investment" in government education, and so on.

Wait a minute - are we living in an alternate world?  Wasn't Jeremy Corybn's Labour party crushed, losing seats that have never before voted for a Tory?  Aren't the usual globalist suspects crying and bloviating about the election of racist, nationalist, xenophobic, starve-the poor Conservative Boris Johnson?

Well, yes, all that is true.  Mr. Corbyn lost badly, to the understandable grief of his fellow-travelling chattering classes: he was literally a card-carrying Communist red diaper baby, friend of terrorists and murderers, and defender of vile anti-Semitism, much like his counterparts in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes' "Squad" here in America. The conservative punditocracy on both sides of the Atlantic is rejoicing, drawing comparisons between Prime Minister Johnson and President Donald Trump in between dancing victory jigs.

These aren't wholly without merit - there is a certain similarity of (lack of) style between the hairdos of both Mr. Johnson and Mr. Trump, and they do specialize in reaching out to their respective countries' equivalent of flyover country "deplorables," all of whom have become accustomed to being held in contempt by their elite rulers.  If we were a Brit, we would unquestionably have gladly voted for Boris without a moment's hesitation, as being immeasurably the lesser of two evils.

The signature policy which indisputably brought about his triumph was his dogged promise to "Get Brexit Done!"  Being fond of merrie olde England and not so keen on the stagnant grey Eurocracy that's working overtime to convert historic Europe into an undistinguished burkha-clad, rape-prone morass, we think anything that enhances the manly independence of Queen Liz' domains is a Good Thing.

Government Big Enough To Give

But the specific reason put forward by Boris as to why Brexit was needed, and which persuaded the voters, was for England to have the liberty to spend more on bigger government.  The argument was that England contributes billions to EU projects; if it Brexited, all that money could instead be dumped into the equally-black hole of the National Health Service.

Corbyn's Left and its media sycophants found this stealing of their customary political clothing to be infuriating: Mr. Johnson's Tories were constantly assaulted as lying about this issue, using lawfare tactics pioneered over here.  In one of the more hilarious episodes of a surreal political era, Labour accused Boris of wanting to sell the NHS to Donald Trump, who clarified the situation in his customary blunt fashion:

If you handed [the NHS] to us on a silver platter, we wouldn’t want it.

to which we say a hearty "Amen!"

The sad truth is, the voters of Britain do want the NHS - they are totally convinced that government should provide free healthcare and many other essentials of life to all Englishmen.  In an American context, Boris Johnson would be roughly equivalent to someone like "Mayor Pete" Buttigieg - a big-government socialist, but not a full-bearded Leninist, quite.  Only in the tattered remains of what once was the "cradle of liberties" could someone with policies like those of Mr. Johnson's Tory party be considered "conservative."

What makes this election interesting is its blatant illustration of a principle taught by that great conservative Milton Friedman:

It's just obvious you can't have free immigration and a welfare state.

The people of England like, want, and demand a cradle-to-grave welfare state, and have demanded it ever since at least the end of WWII.  What they object to is having to pay for a welfare state for whomever happens to swim ashore in their country - in a word, they resent paying for Londonistan.  This, of course, makes them racist bigots, to listen to the BBC which they are also forced at gunpoint to pay for.

Lord, Who Is My Neighbor?

To hear leftists talk, big-government welfare-statism is rooted in Christian charity and love for humankind.  When election time rolls 'round, otherwise-atheist Democrats roll out their puppet clergymen to cite Christ about giving your spare cloak to your neighbor, totally ignoring the fact that the Bible commands, "If any will not work, neither shall he eat."

This hoary tactic goes back well over a century, and for good reason: most normal human beings do actually care about their neighbor and would just as soon he not starve.  But just as with the Pharisees of old, the question of who counts as a neighbor is what really matters.

For many decades in the last half of the 20th century, Scandinavia was held up as the stellar example of how it was possible to have effective egalitarian socialism with most people living happily and contentedly under a giant nanny state without the secret police or Gestapo tactics predicted by George Orwell.  People like Bernie Sanders brought those principles over here, and as we've discussed previously, with some success in Vermont.

This worked for exactly one reason: during those years, both Scandinavia and Vermont were entirely filled with citizens of similar backgrounds who mostly thought and looked alike - in a word, white.  People were able to look at their neighbor and see someone much like themselves, and therefore regarded them as people who were worth caring about.  Racist?  Maybe - but, equally, human.

Then, in both Scandinavia and the rest of the Western world, our elites decided to start importing people as wildly different as they could find.  Indeed, in England the Labour party explicitly stated their goal as "rub[bing] the Right's nose in diversity."

And guess what?  Over time, the erosion of cultural solidarity has been accompanied with cutbacks to the welfare state, to the extent that Forbes wrote," Sorry Bernie Bros But Nordic Countries Are Not Socialist."

Today, all over what once was the Western world, we look around and see alien people, at best different, but all too often overtly hostile to everything we hold dear.  Islam is, of course, the chiefest, most visible, and most deadly offender, but all up and down the gamut of importance we see massive, unsettling, disturbing demographic change for no good reason.

It's a fact of human nature that most people try to avoid change, or to limit it to small doses.  They don't want their entire world changed overnight, and particularly not their home.  They certainly don't want to find themselves in a foreign country without having moved there on purpose.

And when they do, positively the last thing they want is for their money to be stolen at gunpoint and given to the invaders.  The Brexit fight is not at all about cutting the welfare state, quite the opposite.  Instead, it should be viewed in specifically nationalist and cultural-imperialists terms: the British liked their nation and their culture the way it was, occupied by themselves and their neighbors only, and want it back.

The voters of England were sick of, if not enraged by, governments that stole their money and gave it to foreigners all across the EU.  They were even more infuriated when those governments allowed foreigners from far beyond Europe into England to subsist on British taxpayers' largesse.  Giving money to unseen African natives is bad enough, but importing them to live next door at your expense is intolerable - so John Bull chose not to tolerate it anymore.

The interesting thing is that this wasn't a tax revolt.  British voters weren't angry at their government taking too much of the pounds they earn; if anything, they appear to want higher taxes.  No, they simply want that money to be spent at home, on Englishmen - in other words, to recreate the postwar all-British welfare state that takes care of its own but nobody else.

To put it mildly, this is not what American conservatives seek.  It's not really what any taxpayer in America wants at all.

For those who think that American money should be spent on helping people, they take the universalist worldview of our supposed obligation to help anybody with a pulse that can make it here with a hand out.

For those who believe that Americans have the right to keep what they earn, they're nearly as angered by force-"helping" of fellow Americans as they are with foreign interlopers.  The tax itself is the crime, not so much the recipient.

It Takes A Village, Not A World

We find it deeply ironic that the most powerful argument against the current Big Project of global elites, namely open-borders globalism as represented by the European Union - was scuppered by the all-pervasive success of the last Big Project of those same elites, namely big-government nanny-statism.  The reason the British voters were so unhappy was because their beloved big government was overwhelmed and unable to cope with the services demanded by welcome-all-comers immigration.

On this side of the pond, our government is equally unable to cope with the services demanded by welcome-all-comers immigration, and at the same time - unlike in England - is obsessed with doing things that we mostly don't want it doing in the first place!

Yes, Boris Johnson's victory does bear a lesson for conservatives: it is possible to defeat the combined might of global big-money elites, lying media propagandists, and the educational establishment, if you're bold and self-confident enough to try.

Beyond that, though, the nature and meaning of Boris' win has nothing to teach us in America.  Indeed, if someone like him were to win in the same way, it would only mean that we'd permanently lost - just in a marginally different way from what Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have in mind for us.