The Benighted Remains of the Day
Ilana Mercer notes that it takes brains to understand liberty
During the Bretton Woods Conference, in 1944, Lord Halifax is said to have “whispered to Lord Keynes: ‘It’s true: they have the money bags but we have all the brains.’” By “they,” Halifax meant the Americans.
His frustration with the American mind—often prosaic and anti-intellectual—during the critical Bretton-Woods negotiations seems as valid today. As odious as Britain’s elites are, boy, are they cleverer than ours. Take the impromptu interview, on June 28, which Richard Quest, CNN’s imported British broadcast journalist, conducted with Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party.
Farage had emerged exhilarated from the coven that is the European Parliament, where he had shared some home truths with the ponces leeching off Britain.
Other than to mouth formulaically about “small government, big military, balanced budgets and the penny plan”—America’s chattering class and ruling elites seem incapable of expressing the principles undergirding freedom. And members of this political Idiocracy dissolve into a puddle if their cue cards disappear.
Farage, however, spoke to some difficult ideas with ease, and without notes.
The act of secession, the quests for sovereignty, decentralization and regional autonomy from a second tier of tyrants—the first being the national, British government—involve comprehending complicated ideas.
About this, Milton Friedman forewarned in the introduction to F.A. Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom.” Whereas “the argument for collectivism is simple if false; it is an immediate emotional argument.” “The argument for individualism” and freedom, on the other hand, “is subtle and sophisticated; it is an indirect rational argument.”
Put differently: it’s difficult for dummies to understand liberty, let alone defend it, a problem the scintillating, cerebral Mr. Farage doesn’t have.
“You as a political project are in denial,” he told the grumbling laggards in the EU chamber. The EU had, “by stealth by deception, and without ever telling the truth to the British and European people, imposed political union upon them.”
Heckling Eurocrats were reminded by Farage that when, in 2005, the people of the Netherlands and France said adieu to an enforced political union—the Eurocrats had “ignored them and brought in the Lisbon Treaty through the backdoor.”
Indeed, the last refuge of a Brussels scoundrel is the bureaucracy. When voters scuttled the EU Constitution in that referenda, the rogues being upbraided by Farage simply dissolved one illegitimate political structure and constituted another.
“What the little people did,” continued Farage; “what the ordinary people did, what the people who’ve been oppressed have done is to reject the multinationals, reject the merchant banks, reject Big Politics, and demand their country back, their fishing waters back, their borders back. We want to be an independent self-governing nation.”
A series of similar watersheds would follow, predicted Farage.
Fleetingly, at least, Farage’s fluency with the ideas of freedom took effect. The blank faces flanking UKIP’s leader looked somewhat animated. Fewer jeered; some even clapped and cheered as Farage went on to submit that no stalling would be tolerated. The will of the British people would be heeded forthwith. Called for was “a grown-up and sensible attitude” toward executing popular—in this case, naturally licit—wishes.
Mr. Farage was not done, going on to impress upon EU parliamentarians—none of whom had “held a proper job” in their lives, “or worked in business or worked in trade, or indeed ever created a job in [their] lives”—that unlike a coerced political union, trade in goods was mutually beneficial and voluntary and would continue.
Here the booing resumed.
If, in sensing an opportunity to exert unauthorized political power, this unelected mob intended to reject trade between Europe and England, reinstate tariffs and quotas—Mr. Farage was pleased to inform them the consequences to Europe would be worse.
No doubt: as statist and regulated as the once great merchant and maritime nation of Britain has become—Europe under the Brussels machinery is practically paralyzed.
Few in the US media appreciate that language that effectively conveys clear ideas has got to be strong. Weasel words won’t do. Thus Ashley Banfield was flabbergasted by Farage’s verbal whips. CNN’s verbose host was appalled, you guessed, at the “tone” taken by Farage in his pointed remarks to the EU.
Days prior, two lunatic American women, dressed in matching Mao-like tunics, had stormed a stage together, where they had a petit mal fit over Donald Trump. Yet the two—Hillary Clinton and “Pocahontas,” aka Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts—made reporters like Banfield giddy with Girl Power.
Never was Warren depicted as angry or out-of-control. Instead, she was a “towering” liberal Democrat, who delivered not ad hominem but “energy, folksy appeal and a populist roar …”
By contrast, Quest, Banfield’s British-born colleague, was able to settle down to a blind panic by the time he conducted his exhilarating interview with Mr. Farage.
No longer in a post-Brexit frothy, Quest even accepted Farage’s forceful instruction to “stop this nonsense about the markets. The pound has been in a bear market since July 2014. Fact!” Jittery markets had begun to self-correct, the Dow was bouncing back.
Unlike their hysterical colleagues in the US, British liberal journalists have even begun to pull back slightly in embarrassment. Were they really going to persist in lamenting losses suffered by global puppet-master George Soros and the financial sector, all just to take aim at the Little People? In so doing, was not the Left showing it loved the lumpenproletariat only as long as they got with The Left’s program?
Moreover, Quest’s professional counterparts in Britain (indubitably the smarter cohort) seem to have backed off of accusing 17.5 million “Leave” voters of being old, uneducated, racist, and generally obsolete right-wing extremists. In other words, Trump voters. The liberal brain trust stateside has yet to grant this courtesy to Tea Party pioneers, much less to Trump voters.
For his part, Quest showed the same intellectual agility as his opponent: “So, how on earth do you have the effrontery to criticize Wall Street, the banks, you criticize a big business when you were part of those markets?”
Imagine a American politician attempting to respond to such a question with a First-Principles answer!
Farage did. He stumped Quest by explaining that markets aren’t the creatures of big business. “Good markets have small and medium size competitors trading in them too.” He then pivoted to the crony actions of the free-market flouting Goldman Sachs. “In cahoots with this European commission,” such bad-faith actors did much mischief: usher “Greece into the Euro,” for example.
Ordinary people are slowly coming to realize that adding a second tier of tyrants—EU, NAFTA, UN, NATO, WTO—to their own tyrannical national governments has benefited them as a second hangman enhances the health of a condemned man.
So when Quest resumed his nervy narrative about the “terrible message” being sent “about what’s happening in Britain,” their representative shot back:
Taking back our country, our laws, our courts, our borders, our pride and self-respect is a great message. Our political class has let us down like a cheap pair of braces and what we did last week in that referendum was say, ‘Get thee gone.’
Nigel Farage’s repartee is in a class of its own. Observing its brilliance accentuates the absence of a similar facility among our own mainstream clodhopper commentariat. The verbal swordplay initiated by Farage, leader of the UKIP, often gets lost in translation stateside.
The dumbed-down transcript, provided by CNN, had turned Farage’s “get thee gone” into “get the gun.”
ILANA Mercer is the author of “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed” (June, 2016), and “Into The Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa” (2011). She has been writing a popular, weekly, paleolibertarian column—begun in Canada—since 1999. Ilana’s online homes are www.IlanaMercer.com & www.BarelyABlog.com. Follow her on https://twitter.com/IlanaMercer
Follow these links to Ilana’s new book “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed”