Well, yes, Waterloo does prove this, yes

Two hundred years on, Waterloo shows why we must remain in Europe
Almost two hundred years after the defeat of Napoleon, the Battle of Waterloo holds important lessons of how Britain can gain from European alliances


That’s not an argument for being in the European Union though, is it? Alliances being separate entities that decide to cooperate on certain subjects. Rather than the assimilation into the Borg of those separate entities.

42 thoughts on “Well, yes, Waterloo does prove this, yes”

  1. Waterloo was the culmination of a centuries long strategic doctrine of always supporting either France or Germany against the other to prevent a Europe wide hegemony by either and to keep open the trade routes to Empire.

    That was why we had to fight the first world war as well, by the way.

    It worked pretty well as well since as long we followed it we were top nation.

    Now there is a europe wide hegemony, our trade routes to Empire are fucked, and we are struggling.

    That is the real lesson of Waterloo.

    Bring on 2015!

  2. The Lesson from Waterloo, and Blenheim, and the D-Day landings, and countless other European battles, is that Britain has been the rallying point for preserving the lights of Freedom and Democracy against the tendency of the Europeans to slide into serfdom at the least opportunity, generally making a pretty penny as we’ve done so. Thats why we are hated in certain quarters, and that’s why we, and Europe, are better off out of the EU.

  3. BiI: a centuries long strategic doctrine of always supporting either France or Germany against the other

    gamma double minus

  4. exactly the opposite. We are a part of Europe but with a continuing existence as the UK. The current EU project seeks to do exactly what Napoleon, and a few since have tried to do. We should resist. Waterloo tells us that the resistance is worth the sacrifice.

  5. Oh that assimilation. It went too far for me when Brussels switched miles for kilometres, pints for demilitres, forced Britain to drive on the right, abolished the 90 minute passport queues at Heathrow, made Britain join the Euro, forced millions of illiterate members of the religion of peace to move to Britain, ruled we have to give benefits to jobless migrants, banned ladies from shaving their legs, and made our traditional Halal butchers serve horsemeat.

    That was the last straw for me. The EUSSR has truly assimilated Britain and made it uniform and identical with the rest of Europe (which was, being Forrin, obviously uniform and identical anyway).

  6. Bloke in Germany

    I am not a Ukipper, so you can feel safe responding to me without sarcasm.

    Let’s turn this question around for a moment; rather than pointing to all the crazy things the EU hasn’t done (by which you mean our concerns are all fantasy), why don’t you make the case FOR greater integration. Give us the positive reasons for ceding our national powers to the EU. Beacuse the onus is surely on those who would change things to make their case rather than the other way around.

  7. “The most puzzling development in politics during the last decade is the apparent determination of Western European leaders to re-create the Soviet Union in Western Europe.”
    ~ Mikhail Gorbachev

  8. The positive case for further integration is assumed, a single-state being the desired outcome.

    It is this mind-set that led to the (illegal) introduction of the Euro, and the inevitable misery caused.

    You can argue about whether the concept of the Euro is a good idea or not – I’m not sufficiently well-informed, so can’t – but you don’t need to know much to know that it shouldn’t have been introduced when it was, and in the way it was. Somewhere, the law broke down and that’s pretty scary.

  9. @Ironman,

    I have to dash but in a nutshell it’s that some things are best decided by the individual, some things are best decided on a really local level, some things on a less local level, some on a national level, and some on a supranational level.

    The challenge is to get those decision-making competencies assigned to the best level. With (to me, being a classical liberal) the individual level being the default.

    Where that leaves us is with a debate over what the EU’s competencies should be. The chances of achieving unanimomus agreement on that are zero, so it becomes a least worst worlds question. What degree of over- (or in fewer cases under-) reach are we prepared to tolerate by way of compromise with those who disagree with us, as part of the package deal?

    Leaving is sold as a panacea by the kipper tendency. Actually it isn’t an option. Even if you leave you can’t really leave. Were it a tyrannical suppressor of invidivual liberty I would be taking up arms as the only way to deal with it. It is not and I’m not.

  10. I thought if Waterloo proved anything it would be ‘Don’t launch cavalary attacks at trained infantry in square formation’.

    There were plenty of alliance armies that Napoleon gave a right, good kicking to. Waterloo was different in that it he who received the kicking.

  11. BiI

    That ‘us’ implies that you think others also think that Germany was a significant European power going back centuries whereas its first serious outing as a significant power (and then only as Prussia ‘plus’) was giving the French a pasting in 1870-1.

  12. K.R. Lohse said: “Thats why we are hated in certain quarters, and that’s why we, and Europe, are better off out of the EU.”

    Those same concerns are given as reasons for staying in. Our betters are keen to have the public convinced that without the UK in the EU it would slide into untolerable despotism and the elimination of free markets. That it is our duty to defend those ideals from within and for the benefit of the entire continent rather than cut our loses and leave.

    And I’m guessing that message is repeated in France, Germany and Italy too to stop their people wanting to leave.

  13. B in G

    Let us rewind: we have nation states. Ours is a particularly good nation state. So, I will repeat, the onus is on anyone suggesting my nation state and its people should cede its powers to go and make his case.

    “some things are best decided…on a supranational level ”

    You think so? Fair enough, make your case, it isn’t automatic to the citizens of a really good nation state I’m afraid. Because we already had national laws that protected individuals and their free speech. And as a trading nation of some repute we also had an extensive network of treaties through which we interacted extremely sucessfully with the world.

    “The challenge is to get those decision-making competencies assigned to the best level.”
    Not exactly. In our nation state we spent centuries answering those questions, very sucessfully. We didn’t and don’t need to ask again where those competencies should lie; it was for anyone suggesting a change to make their case, to show us, really show us that these should be at a supranational level.

    “Where that leaves us is with a debate over what the EU’s competencies should be”

    No. Where that leaves us is with the onus being on you to show us that national competencies should be ceded to a supranational body. There is no “debate” unless you convince us there should be.

    “The chances of achieving unanimous agreement on that are zero, so it becomes a least worst worlds question”

    Actually, my country and its people enjoying its own sovereignty is not a ‘least worst worlds’ outsome; it is a bloody good outcome. You’re not making a good job of making your case here.

    “Leaving is sold as a panacea by the kipper tendency”

    I’m not a Ukipper and I’m not interested in any panacea. I am a patriot who is asking you to explain why my country should cede what is its own sovereignty (the default position).

    “Actually it isn’t an option. Even if you leave you can’t really leave”

    Not true. We have existed as a sovereign trading nation for centuries. We will continue to do so. We are leaving nothing.

    In summary, my challenge to any pro-intergrationist is to stop banging on about the terrible dangers of “leaving” and to make a positive case for intergration, to show that we should cede a competency, ANY competency. You are actually as good an advocate as I could hope to find – no sarcasm intended at all. And yet your case so far is limited to setting out an abstract notion of some theoretical competencies being best held at a supranational level and then offering debate on what those competencies might be. And for good measure you then ask me to compromise my nation’s sovereignty to this abstract notion. I say no. I say my nation is fantastic and has shown it is very capable of managing its own internal affairs and negotiating with the world to make it one of the world’s foremost trading nations.

  14. I’m fully in accord with Ironman on this. I’d perhaps go a small step further and invite speculation on how the EU would fare after British exit, or how well the supranational structure would hold up without the UK.

    My guess is that it would crumble in fairly short order, taking the benighted Euro with it.

  15. All governments are scum and are composed of scum whose urge is to steal from and lord it over others. We need to be shot of the EU and also really the UK as well. Most of the increasing oppressive power that the UK state has assembled ready to wield (even if it is not yet being used full on) is the creation of our home-grown shite.

  16. What is noteworthy about Andrew Critchlow’s piece is that he doesn’t say “EU” once. He just keeps referring to Europe. They’re not the same thing.

    Pro-EU people always regard this as nitpicking. But the difference between Europe and the EU is the same as the difference between the British Isles and the UK, and try using those terms interchangeably and see how far you get.

    Should Ireland remain a part of the British Isles? It’s difficult to see how they couldn’t. Should Ireland maintain political and trade links with the rest of the British Isles? Yes, that sounds like a good idea. OK, so Ireland should obviously be part of the UK, then, and anyone who says otherwise is an ignorant xenophobe. That is right, yes?

  17. Ironman > BiG

    x 10^42

    “competencies at the appropriate level”

    BiG.. Let’s assume for a second that you can make Ironman’s case satisfactorily; and I am not trying to by-pass that in any way – it is crucial.

    But after you have made a supranationalist case: Then why the EU? If not a world order (UN – ha ha!), then maybe a world order of liberty seeking democracies, or the Commonwealth, or the Anglosphere, or something else that culturally and more we might have slightly more in common with specifically for that purpose. Why the EU.

  18. S2

    Europe / EU

    Irritates the hell out of me too.

    And the difference is everything: one is simply geography (and we don’t even always agree where the eastern boundaries are) – the other political, and the whole nationhood thing that goes with it…

  19. @Ironman,

    The argument for ceding responsibilities from a nation to a supranational body is exactly the same as that for ceding responsibilities from the individual to the nation, or the individual to the city corporation. There is nothing magical about the nation as the defining entity. If you look at things from the individualistic perspective, nothing at a higher level makes automatic sense.

  20. Also, the EU has made a terrible job of deciding what should be decided at what level.

    The Euro debacle exposes this pretty dramatically: there is a currency union, but because much relevant decision-making remains at national level, it can’t function properly.

    So we have part full integration, and part the opposite to avoid offending the various electorates. In short, total muddle.

    I’m struggling to think of anything that is run better BECAUSE it’s at EU rather than UK level.

    (I’m not UKIP either, btw)

  21. Bin G

    I think you’ve missed a crucial couple of wrods out here. If I may take your indulgence:

    “The argument for ceding responsibilities from a nation to a supranational body is exactly the same IN THEORY (my insertion) as that for ceding responsibilities from the individual to the nation…”

    And indeed it might be…in theory. The thing is though, we’ve had that debate, that interaction between this nation’s subject and then its citizens. And plenty didn’t like it and plenty left these shores and started new countries for this express reason. We now have our nation state and we’ve accepted the deal with that nation state. And we like it!!!!

    My challenge to you and every EU integrationist (which i do not for one moment believe you have missed my friend!) is not to speak of ceding unspecified powers in the abstract to make the case, today, not in the abstract, for ceding our national sovereignty and particular competences to the a supranational body, the EU in this case.

    That means making a case – yes, that old chestnut – for transferring specified powers away from our nation and to the EU.

    BTW; the individual ceding his powers (which in a society cannot be absolute anyway) to the society in which he finds himself IS NOT the same as a nation ceding powers (which it does hold absolutely) to a supranational body.

  22. I can’t start a new country now, we don’t have dark continents left to explore.

    I am an old-fashioned liberal – an individualist. The nation state is a regrettably necessary convenience, a legal fiction that demands some compromise of all its citizens for better outcomes. Same with my city council, and the neighbouring countries that might declare war on us. Not being a nationalist I simply don’t accept a priori that the nation is the default level on which to organise stuff or that it holds any kind of absolute power. Why would it do that? The individual holds the only absolute power in my ideal society.

  23. I agree that different things are best done at different levels. If the EU were democratic, I honestly might not have a problem with it. The main problem with the EU is not that it’s supranational or that it’s too big or that it’s foreign; it is that Commissioners are unelected — and decades of attempts at reform show us that they’re going to stay that way.

  24. @PF, indeed in practice a lot of stuff is done at an even higher level than the EU. This is normal. Clearly as it is difficult to leave the planet for any length of time, any global “government” layer should be purely advisory as the risk of tyranny is quite high.

  25. @SQ2,

    The lords are unelected. The British civil service is unelected. The real decision-makers, the ministers’ aides and so on are unelected.

    The commissioners are at least appointed by elected governments, and the appointment confirmed or otherwise by the elected European parliament. Which is arguably far more democratic control than we have over the national mandarins.

  26. BiG

    “@PF, indeed in practice a lot of stuff is done at an even higher level than the EU.”

    Didn’t answer the question!

    “This is normal.”

    Don’t get me started…

  27. B in G

    As the Germans showed when they unified their country, as the Italians showed when they did likewise, the nation is not an arbitrary alternative grouping of individuals on a par with, say, the EU. The nation exists, came into existence for a number of very good reasons. Not least of these was the notion of the demos, the people of the nation grouping into a natural society.

    Yes, I am a social and economic liberal too. Yes, I beleive the State should stay out of peoples’ lives unless absolutely necessary not to. How on Earth though can that lead us to propose the supranational over the national? Surely that sentiment leads us to another opposite conclusion.

    I am now officially a cracked record. I will point again to the direct question:

    I am not asking for a theoretical discussion on the level(s) that might best own various unspecified competences. I am asking you to MAKE THE CASE for the EU over my nation state (indeed over the German nation state). I am asking you to do this for specified comptences.

    I will repeat, in my experience the outstanding feature of any integrationist’s argument is the almost complete absence of positive argument FOR the EU.

  28. The “single market” is tripe. The people of Europe have been trading with each other since the stone age. Sleazy political/bureaucratic vermin were and still are the chief obstacle to that trade. All the single market means is that a group of gangs got together to decide uniform arrangements for control and thievery for the convenience of said gangs. Also if they removed some of the obstacles there would be more trade for them to steal a nice slice from. To hear praise for “the single market” is like listening to hoods boasting about their new streamlined protection racket.

  29. Until the 1970s, Britain sought alliances to prevent any central power gaining hegemonic control of the Continent as it was believed this would mean a large, envious predator right next door with economic and military might enough to swallow Britain because Emperors can never have too much territory and always wish to grow their Empire. (See Ukraine present goings-on.)

    And so it has come to pass, Britain is a vassal State run by Satraps.

  30. Jack C

    ratifying and enforcing Single Market rules and regulations

    Isn’t that a bit of a circular argument? The single market is of itself a construct of the supranational entity.

  31. Jack C

    We don’t need a huge supranational structure to enable us to trade with the world. We have been doing it for centuries.

    Take tax: we have a network of bilateral treaties by which we abide. They are based upon an international model. We contribute fully – and then some – to the OECD. The absence of an EU rule making body does nothing to prevent us trading fully with our treaty partners. Indeed the absence of such a body, continually inventing new rules and hurdles has probably helped.

  32. This was just a vague suggestion … as BiG hadn’t provided one.

    To be more specific:

    a) Having created a single market area, we
    b) Need a supranational body policing it (to avoid unfair competition and subsidy etc)

    I’m not sure this needs a flag and an anthem though

  33. I see what you’re saying. To be fair, if – if -a bilateral treaty network is replaced by a unified multilateral treaty, then it might well be best served by some multilateral body examining it’s application. As you say though, no need for flags or for a sham democracy.

  34. So Much for Subtlety

    Bloke In Italy – “Waterloo was the culmination of a centuries long strategic doctrine of always supporting either France or Germany against the other to prevent a Europe wide hegemony by either and to keep open the trade routes to Empire.”

    Actually we always supported Germans against France. That worked well for us. It was when we flipped sides that started supporting the French against the Germans that everything went down hill.

    “That was why we had to fight the first world war as well, by the way.”

    I thought it was because our fat little Royal liked getting his knob blown in Paris. We should have stayed out. Sold weapons to the Russians.

    “Bring on 2015!”

    Too right.

  35. Ironman

    I don’t think one needs a multilateral body to examine the application of a multilateral treaty. One needs, instead, a mechanism whereby breaches of a treaty can be reviewed and redress provided as appropriate.

    Your multilateral body would have its tentacles everywhere in no time as experience has, alas, already shown.

  36. Meissen Bison

    Agreed. I thought about this as and after I wrote the last comment. Bilateral treaties include typically an arbitration process – often simply an agreed negotiation process. A multilateral treaty will require a more formal arbitration process, with independence built into it and a binding element. This does not amount, however, to a full-blown multinational governing body.

  37. Ironman

    Absolutely and it’s no coincidence that London and UK law are often the basis for arbitration in contracts between parties who are not domiciled in the UK.

    As a footnote and reverting to an earlier BiG intervention, the EU (EC at the time) went through a phase in the 1980’s of making much of ‘subsidiarity’, whereby the member states would be left to determine how they should address activities which were not better performed in common from the Berlaymont.

    Nowadays not many fish manage to slip through this mesh and back to Europe’s capitals.

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