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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

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steepholm steepholm
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Bullshit Diary - 3
Not for the first time, I find myself agreeing with Jeremy Corbyn.

On the one hand...

... I don't like or trust the EU, especially in terms of its lack of democracy and its willingness to negotiate free trade deals involving assymetrical arrangements for US corporations to sue EU governments should they put their citizens' interests ahead of those of said corporations. (And if that's not what's in TTIP, they're doing a very poor job of advertising what is in TTIP.)

On the other hand...

... the Brexiters are a such a motley bunch of capitalist ideologues, racists and chancers that I find it hard to imagine delivering the country into their hands either. Corbyn talked about the consequent "bonfire of workers' rights", but to that we might add the bonfire of environmental and social protections.

As for the economics - I don't know, and I'm not convinced anyone does. On balance, I'm inclined to hold my nose with Corbyn, or abstain for the first time in my life, or perhaps donate my vote to my daughter, who'll be a few weeks short of her majority on 23 June, and is after all likely to be affected by the outcome for longer than I am.

Meanwhile, I have largely stopped logging things under "bullshit arguments" because life is too short, but I was struck by Stephen Kinnock's response to Boris Johnson's pointing out (correctly) that the US would never dream of pooling its sovereignty in the way that membership of the EU entails, to the effect that it already does so by being a member of NATO and the WTO, as if those were in any way comparable. I despise Johnson, but I also don't like having my intelligence insulted by Kinnock. There are far more effective ways he might have answered (for example by pointing out that the USA's size and wealth allow it to do things that the UK never could) than with this childish misdirection.

That was topped today, however, by Angela Eagle, who apparently said:

“There are no countries that trade with the European Union that don’t have to accept free movement, that don’t end up paying virtually the same that we pay into the European budget."

China? Japan? The USA? They have to accept free movement and pay into the EU budget in order to trade with the EU? Please.

So far this debate has sucked harder than a vacuum pump.

Your final tangential paragraph is entirely incorrect. The "treaty, purchase, war, invasion, etc." refers to how the land was acquired and has nothing to do with the constitutional union; it is also just as true of the original 13 states as of any of their successors. There is zero distinction between the originals and the successors in this regard.

What happened to the previous inhabitants is a complex matter involving continuing treaty rights (some abided, some broken) that last to this day; but the cases of numerous established European settlers - particularly the Dutch in New York, the French in Louisiana, and the Spanish in New Mexico, and also the native Hawaiians - became active parts of the new polity, with just as much say in the subsequent process of joining the Constitutional union as any of the settlers from the old Union or immigrants. They weren't dragged in by conquest (as Wales), threat (as Scotland), or arbitrary decree (as Ireland) [and as with the US, I'm referring to their becoming part of the UK polity, not to their originally coming under English political control].

Admission of a state to the Union has always been a complex treaty-like process involving getting full consent from the political voice of both the nascent state and the existing union. It is entirely foreign to the US system to treat some admitted states as subordinate to others; the UK's history is entirely different.

Furthermore, I specified that I was distinguishing how the US's union was formed vs. how the UK's was formed. Subsequent disputes aren't part of that point. As far as they go, if a state may only join the union by mutual consent of the state and the existing union, it follows that one may only depart equally by mutual consent, and these departures did not have the existing union's consent. The attempts to leave were therefore illegal unilateral acts of force, as arbitrary as the decrees placing Scotland and Ireland in a United Kingdom. They were also the culmination of a decades-long chain of specious reasoning claiming that the states had no obligation to abide by the rules of the union they'd voluntarily joined, although they didn't extend this regard when federal laws they'd sponsored were objected to by other states, so they were hypocrites anyway.

Well, I'm certainly not qualified to argue with you about the formation of the USA. I will just suggest (under correction) that the distinction between acquiring land and deciding the manner in which that land will be governed may be a slightly factitious one, at least in some cases. If I discovered that my homeland had become a possession of the United States, by whatever means, and were then offered the chance to join the USA as a full citizen or else live in a dependency, colony, or whatever, then of course it's a no-brainer. That doesn't seem like an entirely free choice from my perspective.

If the distinction is factitious, then it applies to the entire US, not just to the post-constitutional additions. If the US fought a war with Mexico to acquire California in the 1840s, then England, its constitutional predecessor, fought a war with the Dutch to acquire New York in the 1660s. It's the same thing. (And if gaining control of the territory is the dividing line, then almost all the US east of the Mississippi was under US control at the time of independence, all of it designated as part of existing individual states and later ceded by them.)

But I maintain that it is not factitious. Look at the equivalents in the UK. The 1800 Act of Union made the most enormous difference to the subsequent struggle for Irish independence, because it had been passed specifically to tie Ireland constitutionally to England in a way it had not been before, even though it had already been under English control for centuries.

As for Scotland, what exactly was the relationship between it and England between 1603 and 1707? "Personal union of the crowns" yes, but what does that mean? Unlike Ireland, nobody conquered anybody. That part was hardly the "hostile takeover" that I specified that all three unions were; indeed, if you'd asked people like Dr. Johnson, he'd have grumbled that the Scots were taking over England. But if the personal union hadn't happened, then England wouldn't have been able to hold a knife to the Scottish Parliament in 1707 and force it to dissolve itself. That was a constitutional change, and that was the hostile takeover to which I referred.

Turning back to the US, no: it is not a no-brainer to decide whether to join the Union. Some potential states, notably Kansas, balked at accepting the terms that Congress wanted to admit them under, and there have been such fusses in other cases. Then there's West Virginia, which came into existence as a loyalist counter-revolution against the rebellion in Virginia.

Lastly, may I mention Puerto Rico? Whether the Congress would admit it as a state I don't know, but it hasn't been asked to. Potential states have to apply, and every time Puerto Rico has been asked if it wants statehood, independence, or to continue as whatever it is now, the plurality, at least, of the vote has gone to the last option.