|15A038 Liberating Europe by Jim Davies, 6/13/2015
There's talk of an EU breakup, with Greece and some others leaving the Union for want of fiscal responsibility, and more recently of Britain going too because a rising number there are tired of being bullied from Brussels. In a recent edition of Forbes, Paul Johnson goes so far as to predict that PM David Cameron will try to renegotiate membership terms and fail, then hold the promised referendum which will show a large majority favoring withdrawal. Johnson is a fine historian, and historians seldom risk predicting the future, so his opinion is weighty.
An interesting light on the latter is that a political party, UKIP, which certainly wants the country out, has a sizable libertarian membership. It won 4 million votes last month, more than the Scottish National Party. However whereas the SNP won a healthy 56 seats in parliament, UKIP got only 1. This is because the SNP is popular in a specific geographic area while UKIP has an ideology gaining ground well but spread more or less evenly, hence almost everywhere in a minority. The system favors districts, not ideas.
The referendum is to be held by 2017 and one of the key issues will be how to untangle the country from the continent, given the huge complexity of laws erected by the bureaucrats. That set me wondering what Europe could be like, given its rich cultural variety and history, when government vanishes altogether, a few years after it does in America.
1. Trade will of course be free. Anyone who wants to buy and sell anything anywhere will be free to do so. This will be the first time such freedom prevailed, for at most other times in history the several governments in Europe imposed tariffs on goods crossing borders.
2. Money, too, will take whatever form users find convenient; silver, gold, bitcoin are good choices. This however is not new; universally accepted money was the norm in Europe prior to 1913. A British gold sovereign was acceptable everywhere, as was a French gold napoleon or a Spanish gold doubloon. Value properly went by weight, not markings. So this will restore the kind of freedom that prevailed before governments printed fiat paper.
3. Travel will be unimpeded by controls on passports, which were likewise rarely needed to cross any border, before the Russian Tsar mandated them around 1900. Other governments caught on fast during and after WW-I. So this again will restore a freedom to the status it had prior to the last century.
4. Work will be offered and accepted or rejected in complete freedom, at the discretion of the hirer and the hiree, regardless of any "national" origin. I expect a clear preference by employers for workers fluent in the local language and demonstrating skills that fit the job being offered, but there will be no quotas or obligations based on ethnicity or gender. This too was the norm before 1900, apart from local restrictions.
5. Health will be cared for on the same basis as any other kind of trade; physicians and hospitals will be available as they are now, but the patient will pay for services directly. He may have bought health insurance and so be able to reclaim the expense, but there will be none of the present nightmare by which care is provided at zero or low marginal cost only if the patient's passport is from a country in the racket. Charges will, of course, be far less expensive because the price charged will be the real one, not an artificial one that hides 90% of it; market pressures will do the rest.
6. Migration will be unimpeded of course, but will also have no artificial stimulation. So if someone wants to move to Free Europe, he will not be able to count on any "entitlement" to welfare; he will need to earn a living and compete for work with natives whose language and other skills give them a substantial advantage. Additionally, as well as the absence of a carrot, there will be no stick to push people out of their homelands; the US FedGov will no longer exist, to intervene in Muslim countries for example, so making life in them vastly less tolerable. So some will migrate from outside the former Europe, but not many.
7. Religion may remain a problem for a while. Conflicts have happened historically because large groups of residents have not mixed with others with different beliefs and values, nor have they understood them. This has been true even within the Christian one, with wars even between Protestant and Roman Catholic groups - between which the differences were, at least, quite well understood. True, all those wars - even the recent, guerrilla conflict in Ulster - involved territorial and political motives as well as mere religious ones, but beliefs are what fired up the folk on the streets. Now, to expect peace and harmony to prevail between those two and Muslims is quite a stretch, for neither has much understanding of the other; yet forces of artificially stimulated migration have pushed them together.
I see no fix for #7, except the fix that will lead to the dissolution of all government anyway; so fortunately, when the main problem disappears, so will this religious one. In learning that government is irrational (a key element in TOLFA) students must also recognize that religion is irrational. This will at least loosen adherence to all of them, and happily the Muslim prohibition on "apostasy" is enforcable only when the religious leaders can rely on the political ones. When it becomes clear the former are powerless without the latter, there will be a long-awaited shedding of burkas and shaving of beards and, far more important, opening of minds.
8. Language differences have long been a difficulty, since the Roman Empire dissolved and indigenous ones were restored to use; Latin served well for many centuries in scholarly and legal works, but ordinary folk seldom learned it; hence the patchwork of tongues that make it tricky to travel and trade. The only benefit of WW-II and its aftermath that I can think of is that the dominance of the US and UK has made English the lingua franca of all with an education; pretty well everywhere one travels, English is understood by all but the oldest and most provincial generation. In a free Europe there will be no need or mechanism to suppress local languages like Welsh and Greek and Hungarian, so I'm guessing that the prevalent choice in school will be to learn two languages at least, one being English.
Altogether life in the post-government Free Europe will be like the American case portrayed in A Vision of Liberty, but it will take a little longer to achieve because of the barriers of language and custom; Europeans are less eager than Americans to explore new ideas that might replace the custom of several centuries. So any TOLFA graduate who has friends in one of the Old Countries is especially encouraged to invite him or her to join.