Has Nick Cohen’s sobriety meant he forgets history?

Self-interest should make the right compromise. Before 2016, Nigel Farage, Daniel Hannan and the rest of the Brexit gang were happy to accept that, in the words of Russia’s favourite British oligarch, Arron Banks, “the Norway option looks the best for the UK”. Now the chance of a complete break with the continent leaves them giddy. They want everything: no customs union, no single market, no role for the European court of justice, no co-operation with any institution with the satanic mark of Europe upon it. They are terrified that, if they moderate their demands, “the establishment” will snatch away their one chance to live the fantasy of recreating the glorious isolation of Victorian Britain in the 21st century.

Isolation? I give you JM Keynes:

What an extraordinary episode in the economic progress of man that age was which came to an end in August, 1914! The greater part of the population, it is true, worked hard and lived at a low standard of comfort, yet were, to all appearances, reasonably contented with this lot. But escape was possible, for any man of capacity or character at all exceeding the average, into the middle and upper classes, for whom life offered, at a low cost and with the least trouble, conveniences, comforts, and amenities beyond the compass of the richest and most powerful monarchs of other ages. The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, in such quantity as he might see fit, and reasonably expect their early delivery upon his doorstep; he could at the same moment and by the same means adventure his wealth in the natural resources and new enterprises of any quarter of the world, and share, without exertion or even trouble, in their prospective fruits and advantages; or be could decide to couple the security of his fortunes with the good faith of the townspeople of any substantial municipality in any continent that fancy or information might recommend. He could secure forthwith, if he wished it, cheap and comfortable means of transit to any country or climate without passport or other formality, could despatch his servant to the neighboring office of a bank for such supply of the precious metals as might seem convenient, and could then proceed abroad to foreign quarters, without knowledge of their religion, language, or customs, bearing coined wealth upon his person, and would consider himself greatly aggrieved and much surprised at the least interference. But, most important of all, he regarded this state of affairs as normal, certain, and permanent, except in the direction of further improvement, and any deviation from it as aberrant, scandalous, and avoidable. The projects and politics of militarism and imperialism, of racial and cultural rivalries, of monopolies, restrictions, and exclusion, which were to play the serpent to this paradise, were little more than the amusements of his daily newspaper, and appeared to exercise almost no influence at all on the ordinary course of social and economic life, the internationalization of which was nearly complete in practice.

Isolation isn’t quite the right description of that, is it?

24 thoughts on “Whut?”

  1. Nick Cohen has never been one to let understanding of the other guys’ case to interfere with the prejudice of his own. One might almost think that drinking or not he has always been a gobshite, if one were to take his own logical practices as one’s own.

  2. The abolition of Slavery meant millions of people were thrown into the ‘isolation’ of not being owned by other people

  3. “Britain was terrible having the largest empire ever seen spanning a quarter of the globe. Also isolationist.”

    what is wrong with these people?

  4. …recreating the glorious isolation of Victorian Britain in the 21st century.

    Britain wasn’t in the EEC/EC/EU for almost three quarters of the 20th century during which time it was comprehensively un-isolated from Europe during two memorable episodes. Cohen should not need reminding…

  5. Why is it that the left, previously great fans of Russia, now think that a purported link with Russia makes the linkee automatically wrong. Even when the evidence for such a link is thin to non-existent..

  6. Bloke no Longer in Austria

    Beef from Argentina, grain from Canada, fruit from the West Indies, tea from India etc etc
    Bloody hell, the whole economy pre-1914 was as globalised as tofday’s. Just look at the adverts in any contemporary newspaper. Sodding U-Boats made Britain isolationist !

    There was a docu on yesterday on one of the Ch5 channels – it stated that the British Empire Exhibitioon of 1924 showcased Britain’s dwindling empire. It bloody wasn’t, the dominion policy meant that the largest colonies were independent, but at that stage,thanks to the League of Nations mandates, the BE was at its zenith. sigh. Having switched off in disgust at this nonsense I missed the next programme which would have been interetsting.

  7. Bnlia

    Good examples.

    But “the whole economy pre-1914 was as globalised as today’s” – don’t think so if you look at most countries and calculate imports/GDP. Which isn’t to say it wasn’t globalised then, you very eloquently explained how wide-ranging the links were, just to say things have got even more interlinked today.

  8. Humpty Dumpty on words comes to mind.

    “Isolationist” is also one of Nick Cohen’s go-to insults for people who don’t want to fight Nick Cohen’s fellow tribesmen’s enemies, such as the legitimate and secular governments of Syria and Russia:


    (He’s written loads more in this vein – Google it)

    What’s in it for us gentiles if we turn another of Israel’s neighbours into a failed state, ratchet up tensions with nuclear-armed Russia, and accept millions more “refugees” is unclear, but I’m pretty sure we’re racists if we oppose any of the above.

    Is the Jewish hostility towards Jeremy Corbyn starting to make sense yet? It was never about “anti-Semitism”, unless we use the Dumptyite definition of that word.

  9. @steve – Cohen is not Jewish – he’s made a point about antisemites labelling him Jewish rather than engaging his arguments. So that’s your whole and only argument blown out of the water you antisemite.I don’t agree at all with cohen’s argument here – and he’s arguing this way because he’s a london based liberal luvvie – not a jew. Continue believing Corbyn is not an antisemite – it’s just unlucky that half his friends are and the other half terrorists. And before you ask i’m not jewish either.

  10. moqifen – Cohen is not Jewish

    Are you having a larf? Being an atheist doesn’t mean you’re not ethnically Jewish. The guy’s a bog-standard Israel Firster.

    So that’s your whole and only argument blown out of the water you antisemite

    In your mind, obviously. Go back and read what I wrote, then try harder.

    If it’s “anti-Semitic” to critique the relentless agitation for wars and mass immigration – and the orchestrated hate campaign calling Jeremy Corbyn an “existential threat to Jewish life” (!) – what should we call people who support the slaughter of Iraqis, Libyans and Syrians?

  11. Steve – you disgust me – antisemite to the core. The reasons for the syrian catastrophe have nothing to do with israel. It’s to do with the fact that because in islam there is no birth control. As a result the population expanded past the point that their agriculture could cope. You might have noticed that syria is pretty arid and in fact Israel offered to help as they are experts in agriculture with limited water supplies. Their help was rejected because they were jewish. As the agriculture began to fail there was a large scale move to the cities of unemployed agricultural workers and failing food supplies.This led to rising tensions with the regime and the rest is history.

    Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemite – it ties in with his world view of bankers and the elite controlling the world. If he’s not an antisemite why does he hang round with so many died in the wool antisemites such as hamas, hezbollah, iranian press tv. ?

  12. Moqifen – Steve – you disgust me – antisemite to the core

    Lol. Am I a thick.racist.prick, too? Hope this helps:


    The reasons for the syrian catastrophe have nothing to do with israel

    Imagine being so fucking stupid that you actually believe this.

    Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemite

    Nah. It’s absolute bullshit. Jez has done nothing to suggest he hates Jews. Jews, on the other hand, have made it clear they hate him. I don’t like or support Corbyn, and personally I prefer Israel to the Palestinians.

    But I’ll be damned if I go along with this vile, coordinated smear campaign designed to crucify the guy and replace him with yet another Blairite stooge. It’s absolutely shameless and everyone pushing it is either a liar or an idiot.

  13. “The people’s vote movement believes, with ample reason, that the Leave campaign was a confederacy of charlatans that sold the public a pack of lies”

    Does anyone else get the line “winners go home and fuck the prom queen” when they read this whining from remainers.

    Remain lied plenty. Roaming charges, back of the bus, emergency budget. All they’re whining about is that they lost, and we’re fucking the prom queen.

  14. @steve

    You’re position is “Jeremy Corbyn is not an antisemite, he hates Jews and wants Israel abolished for other reasons” ?

    Hmm, what are you smoking?

  15. Corbyn is very likely an anti-Semite as it goes with the package of far left cockrot. Even if he isn’t he is still a very evil and dangerous man and ANYTHING that damages and helps defeat and destroy him and his gang of scum is OK with me. Cos he will destroy us if the fucker gets the chance.

    As for Israel–I don’t know the truth about what is going on over there but I still like the cut of the Israelis jib a lot more than our dear RoP buddies. That doesn’t mean we should be involved in the internal politics of what goes on in the fucking Middle East. I see the Israelis problem of being surrounded by hate but that does not mean we should be helping to destroy her neighbours . It has nothing to do with us.

    And as for the laughable anti-Russia malarkey–it is a bad joke. We should stay out of matters not our concern. The Israelis are well able to look after themselves and if they have some grand plan it is a dumb one if it involves setting everybody against each other.

  16. The idiocy that led to the entente cordiale was a significant factor in the start and prolonging of WW I. Far better for Britain that the Germans had crushed the French in 1914.

    And gained control of the Channel ports?

  17. The Germans had no beef with us in 1914. And if the Kaiser had won the small skirmish in the Low Countries and France in 1914, the jumped up little Corporal Hitler would have remained a nobody.

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