Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

EU and Maui: Burning Issues


Everything is proof we should have not left the EU and that climate change will kill us all. If the UK has an economic boom and Arctic weather, those are sure signs that a bust will follow and our trees will burst into flame.

We are in a time like the periodic madnesses that seized Europe in the Middle Ages - Norman Cohn's 'The Pursuit Of The Millennium' is one of the few books I re-read. His 1957 thesis is that economic stress - and we certainly have that - triggers mass irrational behaviour. The craziness crystallises around the dominant philosophy, which in those cases was the battle between angels and demons and the hope for salvation when the Apocalypse arrived.

Today's theology is secular but no more reasonable. Great struggle and bloodshed must happen first - of course - but then we shall have universal peace and brotherhood; or at least, the victorious survivors will. All we have to do is kill or cast out the Evil Ones, or at least de-platform and de-bank them.

For example, the EU is an Ode to Joy because 'all men shall be brothers' and woe betide him who treads on our dreams. Irritatingly rational objectors - say Germany's AfD; or Hungary; or Poland - must be shouted down, even suppressed with weaponised international law, if they look like getting popular momentum. Remember that the Devil can quote Scripture. Do not listen!

Yet the EU is not in fact a flowering of brotherly love. Jean Monnet may have wished to end the deadly rivalry between France and Germany, but after WWII and the new atomic age that aim was achieved and the German homeland broken and split in two.

For a clearer-eyed understanding of the geopolitical issues that necessitated the birth of a western European union we should look at George Kennan's 1948 memorandum PPS23. This said that America needed a federated European bulwark against expansionist Russian communism; that Germany should not be allowed either to align with Russia or to dominate her other neighbours; and that Britain should be shoehorned into the arrangement to strengthen it. Even then there would be a local insufficiency of food and raw materials that could be supplied only by closer association with the USA/Canada, or alternatively Africa.

Nor did Kennan's analysis spring from a starry-eyed desire to benefit all mankind:

We have about 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction.

Kennan was not a neocon hawk; he aimed to contain the Soviets, not destroy them, least of all when they had finally thrown off communism. He warned of the dangers of eastward NATO expansion and see where we are now, risking the realisation of Robert Oppenheimer's worst fears.

But let us not be under any illusion of what drives the EU Project (or what happens when you give a select few arbitrary power to ride their hobby-horses 'no matter what my German voters think.') All that prating about democracy; voting is merely temporary validation for the self-willed - as we see here in Britain too, of course.

Now to another delusion - or menu of delusions: the conflagration in Maui.

For the eco-activists it is another proof - if proof were needed - of climate change. We know from Ray Bradbury that dry paper ignites at Fahrenheit 451, but surely 27C today in Lahaina town has got to be close? The conspiracists retort that it was probably started by activists with matches.

The paranoiacs on Twitter theorise the use of space lasers aka Directed Energy Weapons, maybe a Guernica-like practice run for the Big Sort-Out elsewhere. They offer images (presumably photoshopped) of beams striking dwellings.

Hobby-revolutionaries see the apparently untouched beachfront properties owned by the likes of Oprah Winfrey and imply that neighbouring burnouts clear the way conveniently for further acquisitions by the rich. The focus on Oprah introduces a pleasantly enraging racialist motif (and anyway, didn't she play along with Harry and Megs?) And she's a billionaire!

But what if the truth were dull?

Yes, the fire spread fast, as grass fires do, especially when driven by hurricane winds. But David Haggith of the Daily Doom, who used to live in Hawaii, says Lahaina has always been hot and he's never seen the grass green. The local electric power company is Helco, who 'always struck me as a backwater utility, miserly milking its infrastructure for every penny they could get out of it with as little investment or creativity back into it as possible.' Haggith says locals are already preparing a class-action lawsuit against the company; he goes on to recall an occasion when VIPs were visiting and the local station was run at full pelt, causing cyclic power surges in his domestic air conditioners.

So I thought, aha, possibly over-powered equipment failing in a number of private houses, sparks etc. And maybe the rich folks have on-site generators rather than use the substandard island grid (I would.) In any case, the strong wind will have blown straight, so it's not surprising that we should see a burn-path that left surrounding areas unscathed.

When the lawsuit is heard, maybe we'll find out the start was even simpler. Bloomberg relays a report from the WSJ that 'suspicion is rapidly focusing on Hawaiian Electric's power lines, which are suspended from telephone poles, many of which were downed in the wind, and some of which were seen sparking in the hours before the wildfire spread.' We've been here before - Pacific Gas & Electric had to pay many billions in compensation to victims of the 2018 Californian forest fires initiated by their downed lines.

There may be some merits in the EU, some cause to investigate and be concerned about climate changes, some scope for judicious accommodation and preparation; but can reason keep standing and unscorched in hurricane winds of inflammatory idiocy?

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