Friday 16 September 2016

Brexit is only half the job

The "alt right" is just another iteration of libertarianism popularised after the 2008 crash. It morphed into the Tea Party and has now become an amalgam of right wing nationalist themes. It's remarkably tedious.

What is interesting though is that talk among the "alt right" in Canada and the US is picking up on the globalist theme. I've just sat through an interminably dull video blog of some Septic banging on about global government. Imagine that. Americans complaining that they don't make their own laws anymore and their sovereignty is under attack. Does this sound at all familiar?

And that's what I've been drilling into Brexiteers all these months. You can grunt "invoke Article 50 now" until the cows come home but it's not actually going to do you any good. Once we're out of the EU we are just a parallel node under the same umbrella. If there was a European demos (which there isn't), like the septics, they would be moaning that the EU doesn't make its own laws.

It may actually be that the principal benefit of leaving the EU is that Brits do actually wake up to what is going on and realise Brexit makes no difference. We've had a horribly stultifying EU debate around the thin gruel notion of sovereignty when it turns out that nations very much famed for not being in the EU are having similar complaints. Just about every Western nation is now spawning its own Ukippy movement. With good reason.

In most cases, the EU adopts international rules and regulations on our behalf and tells us how to vote, but now we are leaving the EU we will have our own vote. But leaving the EU while keeping the same establishment in place means they are more than likely going to vote along with the EU at the top tables with or without a diktat from the European Commission.

And then of course we have our own version of the Executive Order known as statutory instruments - which means we still end up with laws on our books that go nowhere near parliament for any kind of meaningful scrutiny. That is where we need serious domestic reform to make sure they can't do to us what they did when they took us into the EU.

And while folks have been getting their knickers in a twist over TTIP, TTP and CETA, these are the decoys. In most respects they deal with convergence of legacy regulation - which will never be fully aligned - and so they have set about a process of gradual equivalence based on recommendations from Transnational Private Regulators and International Organisations. They may fail for now, but they will find a way.

In respect of all new regulation and lawmaking though, they are already signed up to a global harmonisation agreement. So that then gives all of these private regulators serious power. They claim in public that they are not governmental organisations with the power to dictate but through unrelated treaties the "guidelines" they produce become articles of soft law. Nations then become harmonised by way "guidelines" being implemented by national parliaments. And nobody bats an eyelid.

While something may look superficially like it is homegrown law, if it is anything remotely technical, you can bet your ass it isn't. From food safety to internet governance, it did not come from a domestic source. By contrast, the EU is fairly straightforward and transparent.

As far as I can work out, apart from instruments like the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade agreement, there are no hard and fast treaties to bring this global governance into being - and it has no real name. Unlike the EU it has no headquarters and no flag and no expansionist agenda. It's just a morass of bland, seemingly innocuous items of legalese and technical minutiae which is so tedious that nobody in their right mind who isn't directly involved in it would give it a second look. This is the domain of Transnational Private Regulators - and there are more popping up all the time.

A reader yesterday pointed me in the direction of ICANN. I have no real idea what it does. Wikipedia says it the "Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a nonprofit organization that is responsible for coordinating the maintenance and procedures of several databases related to the namespaces of the Internet - thereby ensuring the network's stable and secure operation. ICANN performs the actual technical maintenance work of the central Internet address pools and DNS Root registries pursuant to the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) function contract".

As I understand it, it resides in the US operating under US laws. There is a huge push from Facebook, Twitter and other big internet players to drag ICANN out of US control in order to make it a multilateral system. There is presently a huge row as to whether such a move is legal. America has very strict laws on the transfer of powers. No nation on earth more keenly guards its sovereignty. (This though is as much a mode of trade protectionism as it is anything else).

Should ICANN become one of the many Transnational Private Regulatosr (TPR), the corporates themselves author their own codes of governance which then become codified into law independent of any scrutiny. This has prompted concern over internet privacy, freedom of speech and net neutrality. Some are in favour of this move in that they don't like the idea of the USA being in control of the internet. Some however, prefer China having a hand in it. "The capitalists will sell us the rope we hang them with". We've had the same debates about GPS and Galileo.

Chances are, ICANN will become a TPR - and unlike things like ITU and Codex, they will not involve governments. Dispute resolution will be on a pay to play basis where corporates have the same rights as governments. The richest wins. This is where we might want the ITU to intercede. But then the USA feels pressured to go along with this move in that if they do not cede control of ICANN then a corporate competitor will spring up. It's unstoppable.

If at this point your eyes are glazing over, then you now know how they get away with it. Like I say, it doesn't have a flag or borders or a headquaters. It's not even hidden. It just exists. In many respects the EUs mistake was to ever have a public face. If they could have resisted the urge to form European superstate and instead simply built the treaties without a parliament and all the fluff that goes with it, nobody would be any the wiser and nobody would have campaigned to leave the EU, (same as hardly anybody is making any noises about global governance).

Now that we have left the EU, Brexiteers think that means we have carte blanche to "take back control" and that post-Brexit we are moving into a free trade world of unicorns and rainbows. We're not. We are moving out of a sub domain and into the parent domain. And that's where things get tricky. We could start feeding all the EU laws into the shredder but would soon find them replaced with practically the same thing only from the original source.

So if you voted to leave the EU to be free of technocracy we're not even started yet. This is a global problem where governance is becoming so complex and so technical that governments cannot keep up, they cannot control it, and increasingly find it hard to even influence it - even if you are a giant like the EU. To stop something happening you first have to know that it is happening, and there are now many creative ways for corporates to back door the legislative procedure. The EU is slowly realising this and has an agenda of its own.

In a recent report on global governance the Commission states that "The EU is committed to a global order based on international law, which ensures human rights, sustainable development and lasting access to the global commons. This commitment translates into an aspiration to transform rather than to simply preserve the existing system. The EU will strive for a strong UN as the bedrock of the multilateral rules-based order, and develop globally coordinated responses with international and regional organisations, states and non-state actors."

This is EU-speak for turning global govern-ance into a global govern-ment. A top-down EU on steroids. A horrifying thought when you look past the rhetoric. That is why it is necessary to leave the EU and this is why I'm hoping Brexit will kill it. The monster of global governance we have created cannot be destroyed but it can be tamed. Governance is no bad thing in that it can improve our lives, but only if the people have supreme authority and veto. If however, we have that same establishment who sees no evil then that veto is useless. It must be a people's veto.

But this is why the post Brexit debate lacks any coherence. I see Brexiteers putting on meetings all over the shop, debating what Brexit means for Britain, assuming that we are now free to enact compulsory serving of asparagus at breakfast, free corsets for the under fives and the abolition of slavery. We're not. There is no rowing back on the technocracy and there is no way we are going to simplify the inherently complex. I did not vote to leave the EU so we can nationalise railways or abolish health and safety laws. The point is that the EU is a useless line of defence against global governance and it revokes our only safeguards.

What we need to do is re-establish our system of safeguards and put more power of veto in the hands of the people. We also need some constitutional constraints on the government to stop them handing powers away, and to stop laws getting in by the back door.

We need to modernise our constitution so that we have better protections against laws we did not make. We are always going to be the recipient of laws and as a matter of fact there is no way we can scrutinise all of them. We can however have a system of opt outs and exemptions and a means by which we can make the implementation fairer. What we need is a system of politics that serves as a goalkeeper rather than a striker for the other team. It is that which makes Brexit necessary, but Brexit alone does not achieve that. The enemy, as ever, resides in Westminster, not Brussels.

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