An Innocuous Case of Elite Power

Some key tenets that one must adjust themselves to when living in Europe is that rules and regulations apply only to some and not others; that rules apply universally, except when they don’t; and rules can be changed just as easily as they are made. The result fundamentally makes a mockery of the rule of law.

A perfect example of how European elites piss all over the rule of law is the recent call to change the International Monetary Fund bylaws to pick Kristalina Georgieva of Bulgaria as the new head. The example is rather innocuous. Who gives a fuck? – it’s just the head of the IMF. True, it’s a rather inconsequential example. But it’s a case that illustrates my point exactly.

For context, the situation is that the bylaws need to be changed so that Ms. Georgieva can be appointed because she will be 65 at the time of taking up the office where the current rules state the person must be 64 or below.

This is a classic example of how the European elite make rules, only to change them the next day. What is the point of making the rule if you are only going to change it? Do elites actually think for a second of why the rule was put there in the first place. Maybe it was to make sure that the person in charge can make it through the day without inadvertently pissing themselves. Maybe it’s so we don’t have someone with Alzheimer’s disease running the show.

The truth is that they never cared about the rule. They knew they would be able to change it as soon as it suited them. Rules and regulations serve two functions for the elite. First, laws create the illusion in the eyes of average citizen that the system is just. Second, it makes political systems complex and difficult to understand. The effect is that it excludes people who do not have the time or resources to understand the system better. Third, laws give justification for elites to exclude and reprimand those who do fundamentally challenge the system.

This situation where elites just change the rules on a whim to fit their agendas allows them to control the system for themselves whilst keeping the boot on the throat of the poor and downtrodden. A part of this is due to the elitist mindset that pervades European political circles inherited from their aristocratic ancestors. Power is, and should be, exclusively reserved for those of the right type i.e. those who look and sound the part. This is not a system based on bloodlines. In some ways it far more nefarious. It’s a system based on ideological and behavioural homogeneity.

“The peasants are to be kept apart from us.”

This elitist mindset cuts to the core of why some of the most powerful positions are not elected ones. The Presidents of the European Council, European Commission, European Parliament and European Central Bank[1] are all politically appointed by other elites. The average citizen has zero power on the outcome, and they enforce the status quo power structure.

Unfortunately, much of the elite are growing old, and so this case also shows how baby boomers can’t help themselves when it comes to entrenching their decades long power structures. This woman should be retiring along with the rest of these knuckleheads. Give the position to a younger, more vibrant, candidate who represents the vast majority of the world’s population.

Don’t give me the bullshit talking point that “we need someone with experience.” Fuck that. Experience doesn’t change anything. Trump is 73 going on 107 – the man is fucking idiot. Experience doesn’t equal to intelligence, nor does it equal performance. Most people in politically appointed positions have subpar intelligence because they were appointed by people with subpar intelligence.

Politics does not attract the demographic of society which we could describe as exceptionally gifted with intelligence (case in point: the current occupier of the White House). The best of our species are doctors, scientists, and engineers. Politics is the epicenter of mediocrity, neither cripplingly stupid, nor amazingly smart.

To be absolutely clear to those who read this, and also suffer from retardation. I am not critiquing or criticising Ms. Georgieva herself. I am pointing my finger at the power structure that is controlled by baby-boomer elites who control and manipulate power to their ends at the detriment of the rest of us.

This rather innocuous case of a political appointee to the IMF demonstrates how the European elite are willing to change rules and regulation whenever they are an inconvenience to their power. But they will insist to the ends of the earth that other rules need to be kept in place when it benefits them!

That’s why an ambitious and radical program to address climate change, for example, will never advance. It will always be ‘debated’, ‘discussed’, ‘deliberated’, ‘examined’, ‘resolved’, ‘argued’, and ‘considered’.

As Carl Schmidt describes in Political Theology “Christ or Barabbas, the liberal answers with a motion to adjourn the meeting or set up an investigative committee”.

Carl Schmitt, 1922, Political Theology, p. 78.

Governments rush to sign non-binding international agreements championing how great and magnanimous they are, but few actually follow through with tangible actions.

What is tangible is when the IMF give loans to countries on the condition that they deregulate their domestic markets, and change other public policies that ultimately entrenches economic austerity.

Elites control institutions such as the IMF. These institutions control our lives. Institutions are themselves governed formally by rules and regulations. But conveniently, elites take upon themselves to change the rules and regulations as they see fit, and for their exclusive benefit. An innocuous case of a bylaw change at the IMF is a perfect example of this thesis. For the elite rules and regulations apply only to some and not others; rules apply universally, except when they don’t; and rules can be changed just as easily as they are made. The rule of law does not apply to elite.

[1] I understand that the European Central Bank is apolitical. But who are we kidding, the choice has political implications.

[2] Carl Schmitt, 1922, Political Theology, p. 78.

Journey to the Centre of Life

When I started university, I picked up Karl Marx and read everything. You name it, I read it – except Capital II, I never got around to that one. I soon styled myself as a solidly left-wing kind of person. I hated the current government, I did not respect my boss at all, I voted for standard left-wing politicians. I demonstrated in the streets, the US was evil, and Lenin was just misunderstood. I didn’t go so far as to sign up for the communist party and I would not consider myself a radical, but I certainly had some sympathies.

What attracted me to this day to thinkers like Karl Marx was the answer he provides to the question of why injustice exists in the world. In an increasingly agnostic world, we can’t just use God to explain the way things are – which is a rather horrible place. Everywhere one looks there just seems to be endless suffering and injustice. Marx gives you the answer to this question – capitalism.

So, I progressed through university, reading everything I could get my hands on including a lot of books from all across the political spectrum, but I remained fairly left-wing. I saw injustices in the world and thought this was inherent to a corrupt system of exploitation and I dreamt of a world where things were just easier for myself and everyone around me.

It broke my heart once to see a group of men sleeping in the street, not because they had no job, but because they had to start work at 4.30 in the morning and this was the only way the could be on time because they had no car and public transport doesn’t run at that time. This to me was unjust, and an example of exploitative system. Now I see this as just a bunch of guys trying their best to do what they think is right.

Something that really stuck in my mind though was that things on the left just never seemed to add up. If a socialist system was superior, why were we not at least edging towards it? Surely, even the average person would be able to understand that socialism is far more attractive than exploitative capitalism? Most important of all was the question – why is the other side winning?

To answer these questions, I committed myself to read a lot more of thinkers on the right, but without my left-wing lens. In other words, I wasn’t going to read these texts any less critically, but I was going to approach them differently from what I had previously. Before they were the thinkers that justified capitalist enslavement of mankind through a corrupt political system, now I wanted to assess them for what they had originally intended their texts to be.

My first port of call was Rousseau and his Du Contrat Sociale – and boy was it an eye opener.

Rousseau’s famous line:“man is born free, yet everywhere I see him in chains”resonates with me to this day. Rousseau’s answer for the existence of justice said to me that more fundamentally that exploitation, we are held back by convention.

Then I moved onto the other heavyweights: Hobbes, Locke, Mill and Burke. The collective achievement of these writers showed me the enormous progress western philosophy has taken to lift off the shackles of superstition, deference, and servitude.

I threw in other important writers, especially those who I would describe as confused socialists, Orwell and Camus. It was important for me to understand their relationship with socialism and why they turned their backs on international communism. For me, the story of Camus particularly is the most poignant

when your ideology justifies violence against others it is broken.

I recognise now that left-wing ideology fundamentally does not work. That is not to say right-wing ideology is any better. So, I sit now in the centre. That all changed when I read Schmidt, and now I don’t sit anywhere, I’ve just left the party altogether. Basically, I’m floundering on the floor in crushing cynicism.

So, what are the lessons I have learned so far?

  1. Marx was wrong: capitalism is not coming to roaring conclusion. It’s just not going to happen.
  2. Always be sceptical: no one has the right answer, they have only an answer.
  3. I am free: my life and destiny are entirely my responsibility.
  4. Power should remain within the individual: Governments cannot be trusted – delegating power will invariably lead to worse outcomes for people.
  5. Suffering is a part of the human condition: it is what we do with it that counts.

And what I recommend for people? Two words: Marcus Aurelius.

Bring Back the Guillotine

France only got rid of the guillotine in 1989. That’s not even 30 years – so it’s not too late, we could still bring it back! And by god we need it. It’s not for you or I, it’s just for the politicians. Given the way things are evolving in politics these days, I reckon a Terror would go a long way to culling the ranks of asshole politicians and restoring a human element to politics. I mean if it’s one thing humans are good at, it’s killing each other. In fact, it’s probably one of the most human things we do. You look at the definition of human and I think you’ll find murderer in there somewhere.

We really need to get rid of these dicks. Have you noticed how they lord themselves above us as if they’re special, making rules that benefit themselves and fucking everyday people every chance they get. Beyond losing their ‘job’ (more on that later) they’re basically untouchable which seems unfair to me. The prospect of the guillotine would light the fire under their ass for them to do their ‘jobs’ properly. And by doing their ‘jobs’ I mean they actually implement the will of the people, instead of using that will to serve their own ends passing it off as that of society.

More practically we need term limits for politicians. Being a politician is not a vocation like being a doctor, a builder, or a butcher. They have the unique role of wielding the sovereign power of the people. No other ‘profession’ has this role, hence why it’s not a ‘job’ in the normal sense.

People who stay in power, get drunk on power – and they do anything to not give it up. Imagine Sméagol is a politician, and the one ring political power – this is what it’s like.

This leads politicians to lie, cheat and steal from the rest of us just like Sméagol. For the modern politician it’s: “thanks for the vote and taxes, now eat my shit and bask in my glory”.

What have politicians done to advance the prosperity of humanity? Did they invent some amazing medicine that cured millions? Have they constructed a road with the labour and toil of their own hands? Have they fed the needy and helped the poor? No, none of that. They claim they take decisions and set up programs to do these things, but it’s with your money. So really, it was the community that did those things, not politicians.

What’s also repugnant is the air of moral superiority politicians have when they take a decision that benefits people.

It’s like yeah, congratulations for being the bare minimum level of someone that is ethical.

But I’m no saint myself. Unlike politicians, the difference is that I don’t stand up pretending to be one. Murders, thieves, fraudsters, epithets that all describe politicians.

Now we want the best people to be going into politics, don’t we? Yes, and giving politicians money is not the way to get the best people. Not for politics. As I noted above, politics is not like a normal ‘job’, its unique because it has a unique role to play. If someone is going into politics for money they are exactly the wrong sort of people to be in that job. It’s like giving the keys of the vault to the thief. As Weber described almost a century ago, the state has the monopoly on the means of legitimate violence. The power to wield that power against the citizens is the terrifying prospect.

And this is why we need to bring back the guillotine. Politicians have had a free run for too long. We limit their terms, stop paying them so much with public (and private) money, we bring back the guillotine, and maybe then they’ll actually start to implement the will of the people. Until then, fuck politicians and their corrupt, good-for-nothing asses.

Same Old Politics

In June of last year I wrote on this blog that I think Trump would win the election. Talk about calling it! But since his election people have been parroting that same line that he is shaping up to be the worst president in US history. Many comparisons are made to presidents in recent history, most notably, George Bush Jr. The truth is that this line of thinking is erroneous and stupid.

I think we often wonder what it was like to live in the past. It gives us a nice sense of nostalgia, the same sort of childish nostalgia we feel when we think back to our childhoods. One of my favourite authors, Leon Trotsky, wrote in the opening pages of his autobiography that this kind of nostalgia was mostly bullshit – for most children, childhood is an oppressive impoverishing experience. We benefit in the West from high living standards and so we can feel complacent about the realities of the world around us. So, when we think of politics in the past we should be mindful that there has never been a time when politics was seemingly ‘better’ than it is today.

We face many problems in contemporary society. The list of problems is long, and the solutions to them complicated. People want to be involved and lament that things were never this bad. They are right in the sense that, for example, the environment is turning to shit and society is doing little to fix that. But let’s not kid ourselves thinking that the outcome would be any different if we lived in another era of human history – afterall it was our predecessors who put us in this predicament. Politics is messy, it has always been messy, and it always will be messy. If you think politicians are bad now, they were just as bad before – at least we are not stabbing our politicians to death in the forum.

It might seem like our politicians are lacking a certain moral compass. When did they ever have one? George Bush invaded a country, killing thousands or civilians based on faulty, if not false, evidence. This is grotesquely more disgusting than Trump sending an incomprehensible mean tweet. All this talk of better times only means that shit politicians of the past look better than they really were.

Everyone needs a large dose of cynicism washed down with a tall glass of reality. Politicians are shit, and they always have been – stop pretending they were ever in any way good.

Let’s put some things into perspective. Last week the glorious leader emperor Trump declared via Twitter that transgender people would no longer be able to serve in the US army. That is to say, he banned 0.03% of the population from working in an institution whose goal is to kill and murder people. Now, I don’t agree with the policy at all, transgender people should be able to bear arms and kill as indiscriminately as their cis-gendered counterparts. Since the beginning of the US-led war in Iraq an estimated 500,000 people have been killed. Not all of these deaths were by Americans, but even so, trans people should be able to get in on the fun.

Let me be clear, I’m being facetious to make a point. People, including Trump, are concerning themselves with such minute problems that no one is even stopping to question and address issues that will affect everyone. So yeah, fuck Trump and his shitty policy, but fuck you all for thinking that its even okay to work for an organisation that specialises in art of death.

Here, ladies and gentlemen. is where we come to the heart of the matter. Unlike many among the elite I actually think society, in general, is very political. People want to have a say. The problem is that we are told repeatedly that they things that matter to us are not negotiable. It’s a President’s decision (with Congress) to go to war, not the people’s – except that it’s the people who bear the greatest brunt of its consequences.

So stop thinking we are living in a time of politics unlike any other. It has always been shit, and in many cases a lot worse. Trump tweets pale in comparison to the actions of other American presidents like James Buchanen or Andrew Johnson who were pro-slavery. Even FDR, one of the greatest American presidents, set up internment camps for American citizens of Japanese birth. The list of horrible politicians is far longer than the list of ‘good’ ones, and even the good ones weren’t even that good. Trump is a piece of shit, but maybe he will be so incompetent that nothing catastrphic will happen under his watch. Time will tell I guess.

Ban Homeless People. Ah, Problem Fixed.

Can you believe that poor people actually exist. What’s more, we actually have to look at them! How dare they ask for money so they can eek out a bare existence sleeping on the streets of Auckland. Recently Larry Williams wrote an opinion piece in the New Zealand Herald, the right wing propaganda mouthpiece of middle class New Zealand. Apparently, homelessness has become a problem, nay, “scourge”, on the streets of Auckland and it’s high time the government do something about it.

I love how for people like Larry Williams and Bob Jones (whom Larry cites in his article), the solution to homelessness is to pass a law. Yeah, because laws just magically solve the problem. It’s not the system that puts these people on the street, no it’s simply their choice. To these people, being poor is a choice without actually thinking about the socio-economic reasons for poverty. If poverty was a choice then ostensibly no one would choose it, and we would all live in a utopia. Given the gross abundance of poverty in the world, I think it is safe to safe no one is choosing to be poor, the utopia doesn’t exist, and the right wing talking point of personal freedom is clearly shown to be baseless.

In regards to choice, however, people such as Williams will often point towards poor people’s bad spending habits. In this sense they claim people are poor because they are spending their disposable income on things they shouldn’t be. For this they rely on their own subjective anecdotal evidence, having seen ‘one of them’ in places such as McDonald’s. This leads to another common observation that they are also obese. Clearly they are eating well because is they were actually poor they wouldn’t be able to afford food and they would be skinny. Again, Larry and other right wing hacks fail to actually account for the psychological reasons underpinning people’s desire to eat unhealthily. Such phenomena are compounded by the low cost and mass production of this food.

Heaven forbid however the government actually attempts to tackle these underlying problems through means such as taxes on sugar and fat. So while its okay for Larry to patronise people he sees as beneath him, its not okay for the government to do so to him, even though theoretically the government is meant to be the manifestation of society’s will, which if anything is the only acceptable form of patronising. However I digress.

I think Larry Williams has a hard time thinking that other people actually exist. He mustn’t even think that other people might have the same, or similar, hopes, dreams, and desires as he does. He sees the poor, not as people he can relate to, but indeed, the Other. Someone to contrast and construct his own identity from. This process dehumanises and relegates the issue of homelessness and poverty to an issue that can be solved with positivist law.

The basic legality of any anti-homelessness law should also be brought into question. One fundemental human right recognised for hundreds, if not, thousands of years by humankind, is the right to free movement (slavery notwithstanding obviously). People should be able to move around as they please. It’s only with the invention of provate property have we made the distinction between acceptable and unacceptable freedom of movement. In New Zealand, we recognise this distinction legally between public and private land. When he forbid people from owning the foreshore around New Zealand we think it normal, right, and good that all Kiwis can access beaches and the ocean no matter where they are (there are exceptions to this of course but the point remain nonetheless).

Thus, how can Larry Williams claim that the poor shouldn’t be allowed to sit on the street. It is public property after all. No one owns that land, except perhaps the government. Even so, it is declared public land to be used by the public i.e. by everyone. Homeless people are using it, just not in the way that you like. If people are choosing to be poor, as Larry claims they are, then it follows also by his own reasoning that they are choosing to sit and sleep where they wish. It seems rather hypocritical for Larry to chastise these people for choosing to sit around doing nothing all day drinking and getting high, in other words, being poor, and in the same breathe say they shouldn’t be able to do.

Along this slippery slope Larry will continue to wander mindlessly. I bet that if pressed hard enough Larry would be in favour of forcing the homeless to work in exchange for food and shelter without considering for one second the ramifications of what he is actually advocating. But Larry does not care. And why would be? When he sits up there on his comfortable upper middle class high-horse wanting freedom and personal liberty, what he is really saying is freedom and liberty for me and the people I like, but sorry not for anyone else.

Larry Williams calls homeless people a scourge on our society. It is so ironic that in fact it is people like him, unsympathetic, ignorant, selfish, weaselly little men who see the world in black and white. For all their talk of freedom and personal liberty, these are the people are the most slavish of all. They are slaves ideologically, intellectually, and economically. Larry Williams is the face, or rather, the voice, of a system that oppresses  and exploits the poor and then turns around and blames them for being poor.


Britain Will Never Leave the European Union

Britain will never leave the European Union short of a complete collapse of the economic and political system. The powers that be in Europe, Britain and the United States, will never let this happen – there is simply far too much at stake economically and geo-politically. Those that claim an exit from the EU will be easy or smooth are kidding themselves.

An interesting parallel for such a conclusion can be drawn from the Delian League, the fifth century alliance led by the Athenians Persia. The parallel draws attention to the fact that whether or not a nation wants to leave a union such as Europe is irrelevant. Rather, it describes a situation where Britain will not be allowed to leave the union despite how politicians frame the issue.

The 478 B.C. Athens with a host of other Greek city-states around the Aegean joined together to create an offensive alliance against Persia which had recently invaded Greece and destroyed many Greek communities, including Athens. The alliance was concluded on the island of Delos (hence the name Delian League) and irons were sunk to symbolically cement the alliance in perpetuity. For seven years the league under the leadership of Athens took the fight to Persia and freed many more Greek communities from Persian control on the western coast of Asia Minor and the Hellespont region (modern day Turkey).

In 471 B.C. the island polis of Naxos no longer wanted to contribute to the League and decided to secede. Athens acted swiftly and decisively. Crushing the revolt, the tore down their walls, confiscated their navy and denied the Naxians their vote in the League. Six years later a much larger and more powerful polis in the northern Aegean, Thasos, also found that their interests were no longer best served in the League and decided to defect to Persia. Once more Athens acted swiftly but this time the siege lasted over two years. When the revolt was finally put down, the same fate awaited the Thasians as had the Naxians. Their walls were torn down, their navy confiscated, and their access to the mines in the region turned over to the Athenians.

Henceforth Athens became a much overt imperial power in its relations with the league members. In 454 B.C. the treasury was moved from Delos to Athens and using these funds Pericles began the construction projects in Athens which built the Parthenon, and the rest of the buildings on the Acropolis that we usually associate with the greatness of the Greeks.  For 50 more years Athens continued its imperial project. Many other allies attempted to defect and each was met with swift resistance from Athens. The Delian League was only dissolved following the defeat of Athens in the Peloponnesian War at the hands of Sparta.

The European Union as we know it today developed over the course of the last 60 years. From the nascent European Economic Community many developments have integrated Europe closer together so that

today the European Union is the largest economy in the world, constituting 24% of global GDP with a unified economic area that enables the free flow of labour, good and services, and capital.

Of the 28 member states, 19 use a single currency which was recently threatened by the European Sovereign Debt Crisis. The European Union is not even a century old and it is facing severe structural pressures which could undermine its long term existential future. In large part this has been the catalyst which prompted a large chorus in Europe to demand a breakup of the European Union.

Many of the issues members like Naxos and Thasos had with the League have striking parallels to issues many Britons (and other Europeans) have with the European Union. Britons in particular are afraid of the ever closer union that many on the continent aim for in the future. They also fear the free flow of labour which they believe undermines their economic security as jobs are either shipped off elsewhere in Europe or taken by Europeans within Britain willing to work for lower wages. In essence many Britons feel their economic and national sovereignty is under threat from integration with Europe. This same fear was no doubt felt by many of those Greeks under the influence of the Athenians in the course of the fifth century.

Athens actively pursued policies that integrated the Aegean market with Athens in a similar fashion to policies pursued by the European Union. Athenian coinage was the standard currency throughout the Aegean and further abroad. Athens also passed legislation that standardised weights and measures across the empire. Dispute resolution between interstate parties was also relocated to Athens where they would be tried by Athenian jurors. All of these policies benefited Athens in the short term but in the longer term it is now suggested by some economic historians that measures such as these would have benefited trade throughout the Aegean in the longer term as trade became easier and transaction costs lowered. As Athens transformed the Delian League and integrated markets together they faced stronger opposition from their allies who saw these attempts as attacks on their national autonomy.

Just as the members of the Delian League feared ever closer union with Athens, so now many Britons fear ever closer union with Europe.

The lesson to take from the historical parallel is not a prescriptive analysis of whether or not Europe should integrate further.

Instead, this should be assumed.The lesson is rather that Naxos and Thasos were utterly crushed by Athens for attempting to leave the league, so too now will Britain. Athens brought their allies into submission through military might. Europe with the United States in tow will bring Britain into line using the economy.

The United States has already warned that the no free trade agreement would exist between Britain and the United States if they decided to leave the EU. Nor would the United States be interested in negotiating one. We can also be sure that the appetite for a free trade agreement between Britain and the rest of the European Union would be sour. Indeed, the prospect for economic warfare forcing Britain back into the fold is high. It could potentially create a situation similar to Napoleons’ failed strategy of banning Britain from all European ports. That exchange came down heavily in favour of Britain due to its overwhelming naval superiority and vast empire. Such superiority no longer exists. The conditions that allowed Britain to succeed previously no longer pertain and Britain would be cast adrift alone in the international community. To be sure, Britain alone is still a formidable economic power. Isolated from the two largest markets, Britain, in both the short and longer terms, will certainly face economic decline and even collapse.

When David Cameron stands in front of No. 10 Downing Street and declares that Britain is stronger and safer within the European Union you can be sure he is telling the truth in this instance. Not only is this true, but secretly he knows that leaving Europe would be politically impossible. Britain risks losing far too much from a Brexit than it would gain. Moreover, the world is so interconnected these days that national interests have lesser meaning in the face of corporate interests. These are the forces that will ultimately keep Britain within the EU.

The United States wants to keep the EU strong for two reasons. The most important is that two of the United Nations Security Council Members are located in Europe. These are important allies within the UN against potential rivals China and Russia who in the last decade have stepped up attempts to expand their global influence. Together, Europe is a powerful ally that can keep Russia in check. The threat of China in the east is an important reason why the US recently negotiated the TPPA in order to reassert their influence in the Asia-Pacific region. The US is currently pursuing a similar strategy in the west against Russia with talks for a Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement between the US and the European Union already underway. British multi-national corporations will most certainly want Britain to remain within the EU to facilitate these talks and influence negotiations in their favour. Leaving the EU threatens British influence at the bargaining table and Britain will risk losing out especially to French and German corporate interests further undermining their economic security..

For the European Union allowing Britain to leave the European Union could also set a precedent paving the way for other states to leave. This is something which we noted Athens refused to allow to happen in the cases of Naxos and Thasos. Athens knew that if these allies left others might follow suit and the alliance would disintegrate. Athens behaved in their own self-interest as we would expect any other rational agent to do. We should not expect the European Union to behave any different this time around. The exit of such a large and integral member of the union would certainly undermine any other attempts to stop other states from leaving. Thus, the exit of Britain poses a long-term existential threat to the rest of the European Union.

The historical parallel between the Delian League and the European Union indicates prima facie that despite any intention to do otherwise, Britain will never be able to leave the EU. In the fifth century Athens introduced many policies similar to the stated aims of the European Union to facilitate trade, and create a large economic area allowing for the free flow of capital, labour, goods and services. It also did not allow members to leave if they perceived these policies to no longer be in their national interest. In its own time Athens became an overt imperial power which never succeeded in creating a unitary empire. Today the European Union faces its greatest long-term existential threat to date. Luckily for Europe the global geo-political situation means the United States – still the world’s largest superpower- is on their side in this debate. Even without the US, Britain faces losing far more than it could potentially gain from leaving. In the event that Britain does decide to leave, they will almost inevitably find the global economy a cold and lonely place to be without the help of the world’s two largest economies.

Some Sources and Extra Reading

Meiggs R. (1972). The Athenian Empire. Oxford Clarendon Press.

Ober J. (2015) The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece.  Princeton University Press.