Brexiteers fighting for liberty and the people’s will

Brexiteers fighting for liberty and the people’s will, by Greg Sheridan.

Brexit is first about national sovereignty, but it is also about a profound clash of philosophies of society. It embodies a deep, instinctual, irreconcilable opposition about how societies should run, what is the source of democratic legitimacy and what are the ends of civic purpose.

Technocrats and their courts, versus the people:

The clash is between two conflicting world views. One is a postmodern, undemocratic, technocrat state in the service of what a German author calls the Therapeutic Caliphate, or what we might less exaltedly call the left-liberal crack-up, a la the EU, which has as its purpose the eradication of national identity and the transformation of human nature. The other is a civic vision that recognises the universal quality of humanity but puts the nation-state at the heart of democratic and civic loyalty, and which honours traditional sources of wisdom and authority, and traditional forms of democracy. …

Marie Antionette: Let them eat cake! They’re back in charge, making democracy ever weaker.

[Christopher Caldwell] argues that Remainers faithfully represent the modern European constitutional tradition. This is a tradition that empowers a technocratic elite, built on documents with plenty of abstract nouns that inevitably give great legislative power to judges. The pincer movement of bureaucracy, ruling-class ideological uniformity and judicial activism restricts the space for normal democratic decision-making.

He writes: “These shift power from electorates and parliaments to managers of information, inside government and out. From thousand-year-old constitutional ideas to five-year-old ones, from habeas corpus to gender identity. Because it was Britain that did most to construct the ideal of liberty which is now being challenged, Brexit clarifies the constitutional stakes for the world as nothing else.”

Caldwell lays a brilliant sociological insight across his political analysis. In the old British constitutional system, which Brexiteers want to uphold and restore, courts had very little role in reviewing British legislation. In the EU system everything is ultimately decided by courts. All EU member nations must submit to European law and the European human rights court. But judicial and technocratic activism combined mean the courts can determine almost anything. A written right to home privacy and security, provided for in one of the European charters, for example, can enable a court to disallow more or less any measure at all it doesn’t like. As Caldwell shrewdly observes, once politics is “judicialised” all politicians become “mere talkers”.

However, he also makes the devastating observation that judicialising politics actually represents an enormous transfer of power from the poor to the rich. The judiciary is drawn from an extremely narrow band of society, typically from successful lawyers who are generally by birth and education, and then professionally, among the tiniest sliver of the wealthiest people in the society, and generally hold all the approved opinions. Parliaments, on the other hand, represent all kinds of people and have all kinds of people in them — rich and poor, smart and dumb, traditional and iconoclastic, conservative and radical. …

An asymmetric struggle:

Remain is essentially synonymous with ruling class and that Brexit represented an assault on the prerogatives of this ruling class. This class has infinitely more weapons, and almost infinitely more skilled information managers and bureaucratic insiders, to mount its battles than the amiable but unfocused democratic majority that voted for Brexit. …

The fact so many working-class and poorer areas voted for Brexit is used by Remainers, with fabulous class condescension, to show what an ill-judged, foolish decision it was, for the great unwashed could not possibly know what is actually in their best interests. …

The type and model of governance the EU promotes pervasively diminishes all the traditional and real measures of democratic input and accountability. It privileges the affluent technocratic elite with all its neurotic virtue signalling and tells the common man his life embodies no wisdom and not much value.