Sunday, June 05, 2005

The beginning of the end?

Important news. According to the Daily Telegraph, Blair “has given up Europe as an issue worth fighting for", or so say "senior allies of the prime minister".

In the discussion on the EC budget, he doesn’t want to question the rebate Britain gets since Thatcher negiotated this in 1984.

Blair doesn’t want that the other memberstates, who still doesn’t understand that the citizens of Europe have buried the centralisation project, force him to organise a referendum in the UK, as a referendum can only make Blair ridiculous.

The euro, 3 years ago seen by Blair as the future for Britain, is coming under fire. In the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and France, voices are heard in favour of returning to the old national currencies. Even in Belgium, the newspaper “Het Nieuwsblad” reports that one on three Belgians want to return to the Belgian franc. Not surprising, as one can not have a unified currency without unified government (otherwise the Greek government can for example make huge deficits, with shifting part of the damage they cause to the other memberstates). Because the citizens of Europe stopped the European project of unified government, a unified currency won’t be possible anymore. It would be a wise thing for the European governments to be aware of that.

Blair has discovered he can only lose respect, authority and votes in Europe. Not surprisingly, as the European project is an undermining of development in Europa. Europe needs competition, not centralisation.

It is hard to underestimate the consequences of the no-votes in France and the Netherlands. The exit of Britain out of the Union might be the most important consequence, which would be an important precedent. This monday, Jack Straw might hold an important declaration in the British parliament.

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Steel Monkey said...

In this particular case (European Union versus Great Britain) I support "succession."

But, with respect to 1860-1861 and the succession of Southern states from the United States of America, I support the position taken by President Abraham Lincoln.

I realize that this places me in disagreement with Lew Rockwell, however.

Pieter Cleppe said...

It seems to me that there was little to say against the motto of the South: "All we want is to be left alone".

The only moral argument for the war was the liberation of slaves, but that wasn't the real purpose of "King" Lincoln. Lincoln wanted power, centralism and war:

Steel Monkey said...

But there are several problems with the "All we want is to be left alone" argument.

Many Southerners who were not slaves wanted to remain citizens of the United States of America. A minister who lived in Eastern Tennessee said, "We will fight the secessionists until hell freezes over and then we will fight them on the ice." So, if Alabama could secede from the Union, conceivably towns, cities and counties could secede from Alabama and agree to join (rejoin) the United States of America. Conceivably any single individual could disobey any law passed by any government by announcing that he was forming a one man society.

Also, which of the two "nations" would have possession of the Western Territories? In fact, Abraham Lincoln's campaign platform did not call for an end to slavery where it already existed.

Lincoln simply said that slavery should not be allowed to expand any further. This is why, prior to the American Civil War, in the 1850s, Kansas became a battleground for pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces. Kansas ended up submitting two constitutions (the pro-slavery one at Lecompton; the anti-slavery one at Topeka).

Steel Monkey said... continue....

Lincoln's declaration that slavery would not be permitted to expand into the Western Territories was important. It meant that slave states would end up being a minority in the US Senate as more free states entered the Union and no more slave states.

The election of 1860 proved that Lincoln could be elected president without winning a single slave state. (Lincoln won every free state except for New Jersey.) And the elections of previous years proved that the free states were dominating the US House of Representatives.

There was also the question of whether the state really did exist prior to the establishment of the union.

Some states existed previously as British colonies. But the state of Louisiana, for example, was a result of the Louisiana purchase. This means that the citizens of Wisconsin and Vermont paid taxes so that the state of Louisiana would be part of the United States of American instead of a French possession.

One can doubt as to whether President Thomas Jefferson would have been willing to pay for property that could not be claimed as part of the United States if only a temporary majority of its citizens voted to secede.

Pieter Cleppe said...

As Louisiana was a colony, morally speaken, the French didnt have to competence to sell it, as colonial rule means per se the absent of self determination by the people.

And it is all about self determination. Fundamentally, every citizen has a moral right to govern himself. As this is rather unrealistic, nevertheless, it should be a purpose to be reached.

Therefore communities and peoples have the right to self determination. This brings some contradictions, which should be solved by means as peacefull as possible.

Lincoln didnt do that. He was eager to go to war. And apart from the exceptions you mention, there was a broad feeling in the south that they shouldnt undergo the protectionist economic policy that was only desired by the North. The South didnt get what it wanted.

I admit that slavery was a trickier case, and there can be some justification of the civil war to legitimise that. But the real purposes were different.

Steel Monkey said...

Lew Rockwell and others (including DiLorenzo, author of "The Real Lincoln") diminish the significance of slavery as a cause for the American Civil War.

Yes, Lincoln did not campaign for an abolition of slavery. But he did say repeatedly, "We think slavery is wrong and should be restricted. They think slavery is right and should be extended."

Lincoln muted his opposition to slavery in his letter to Horace Greeley in which is wrote that if he could save the union by not freeing a single slave, he would do it. But all that really proves is that Lincoln was interested in maintaining support for the war among all pro-union people, not just anti-slavery/pro-union people.

I think that there are circumstances where secession can be morally justified. But I don't believe the Southern states in 1860 qualifies.

Steel Monkey said...

For example....

If the United States were to become a Marxist-totalitarian state and freedom loving people in Colorado (my home state) tried to secede from the Union, the secessionists would be morally correct.

But if the reverse were true, if the United States was a relatively free nation (as it is) and the Governor of Colorado announced that Colorado was leaving the Union and going to become a Marxist nation, the United States would be morally correct in defeating the secessionists in Colorado.

Michael said...

Mark, Pieter sounds like he can't hear that anything the Republicans do, whether it be in 1864 or 2004, can have partly humanitarian causes.

Pieter, you disappoint me. So in the case of Lincoln you would say "It's all about power". Just like you, too, probably say about Bush's efforts in the ME: "It's all about oil."

The causes for intervention are manifold. Goddammit, I married not only out of love but also partly for selfish reasons. But I stand by my wife. Is it so hard to accept, Pieter, that the motivations for Lincoln pursuing war were not only about ending slavery?

When the British intervened in 1914, they did so not only because our neutrality was violated, but also because the German conquest of Belgium would give them some excellent North Sea harbors for the Hochseeflotte.

Do you think, Pieter, that for that I feel less grateful towards the British who died on our soil?

Sheesh, the cynicism!

Pieter Cleppe said...

@Mark: I'd doubt of the freedom of the US wasn't in danger at the age of Lincoln. The degree of freedom of the US seriously diminished, afther the North conquered the South. For example the federal reserve system was partly installed (fully since 1913).

@Michael: I think that the purpose of freeing slaves was a good purpose, but as history made clear, and you both agree on, it wasn't the main concern for Lincoln. So I really conclude that the Republicans then didn't have a lot of humanitarian causes.

In general, I think it's risky to attribute too much faith to one particular political party. Even if the Republicans have done good, and they also did, they should still be seen as a political party, which is an institution that is prepared to give up any idea for power. The important thing is defending ideas, not institutions.

Steel Monkey said...


I remain unconvinced of your arguments. But I doubt I have convinced you of my point of view either.

My suggestion for your blog is that you post something explaining this concept of free banking. Does this mean that the state does not issue currency and that private businesses and people issue their own currency? How does this work? What is the economic theory behind this?

This could be a long post, I realize.

Pieter Cleppe said...

In a free banking system, every bank issues its own money. The countervalue is anything you choose, so certain arguments that it should be gold and that there isn't enough gold for that in the world, aren't a problem.

The interesting thing is that the emerging tendancy of electronic money brings this system closer, as it is of course not possible for central banks to print extra of this money.

You'll find a lot of literature on this on, but also on

I think also the following link can be helpful in explaining free banking: