Ayn Rand would have backed David Cameron's stand against the EU's "second handers"

Former British Ambassador Charles Crawford applauds David Cameron's willingness to see Britain "isolated"

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Charles Crawford
On 16 December 2011 08:07

Most countries on Earth are not in the European Union. Almost all of them take part in many legally binding international processes, using their sovereign rights as independent states and whatever negotiating guile and muscle they can muster to promote and defend their interests.

But they are wary of joining any regional or other international bodies which might start to suck away at their sovereignty. In other words, the vast majority of states are not only “isolated”. They jealously guard their isolation – and proudly call it independence.

However, it turns out that for EU member states things are different. The very act of one state in objecting to the wishes of the other 26 member states is denounced as contemptible, even when (as in our case) the UK has made a greater contribution to the cost of the very table at which it finds itself denounced than all but a handful of the countries doing the denouncing.

Unable to get their hands on even more money from us by looting (the UK has a veto this time), the EU’s second-handers resort to mooching, bribing and cajoling. Frustrated too when David Cameron finally says “No”, they emit a banshee hoot and hope to unnerve certain media and political forces in the UK, thereby undermining the elected government’s position.

So far so obvious. What is (for me) the most disturbing aspect of this brazen display of second-handedness is the fact that in railing against the Prime Minister for creating this “isolation” the collectivist BBC/LibDems/Blairistas reveal that they put no value at all on our taking our own decisions as a country. Jobs and trade are being jeopardised by Tory selfishness! QED!

Even if their predictions look credible, this argument deliberately leaps over two vital points.

First, that it might be better in other non-material ways to sacrifice some wealth for the sake of retaining freedom of action. Is it better in itself to be Canada – or Illinois? To be a rich slave - or a poor freeman? Both statuses have advantages and disadvantages. But at least let’s talk about it calmly.

And second, that if (say) we do start to lose some market share in Europe (by mechanisms which are never explained) perhaps we will work harder and compensate by building market share elsewhere. The whole situation is presented in a trite, static, zero-sum sort of way, whereas in fact all sorts of dynamic effects are at work. Some effects may be positive, some negative. What is indeed negative in the short-term may turn out to be positive down the road. And vice versa.

But if one thing is 100 percent clear, it is that the balance of advantage from this new-found “isolation” is not easily calculable – and not obviously detrimental.

In short, by standing firm at that summit, David Cameron struck an all too rare blow against second-hander (and second-rate) thinking in general.

As the Eurozone grapples despairingly with its own internal battles between Looters and Moochers, this British decision is hugely significant. And hugely beneficial.

Charles Crawford was British Ambassador in Sarajevo, Belgrade and Warsaw. He is now a private consultant and writer: www.charlescrawford.biz. He tweets @charlescrawford

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