Before becoming a politician, Godfrey Bloom worked in the City of London for forty years & won fixed interest investment prizes. Discontent with over-regulation of this sector, he entered the world of politics in 2004, as a Member of the European Parliament. Bloom represented Yorkshire as an independent MEP for ten years. He is an Associate Member of the Royal College of Defense Studies, holds the Territorial Decoration, Sovereign’s Medal, European Parliamentary Medal & Westminster Armed Forces Parliamentary Medal. He is also an author with seven books to his credit. He is married to one of Europe’s leading equine physiotherapists.
He is known as a firm opponent of government regulation and centralization. Bloom is also widely known as a euro-skeptic and was heavily involved in the Brexit “Leave Campaign” as an independent activist.
Claudio Grass: Godfrey, it is a great pleasure to have the opportunity to speak with you again to discuss capitalism, Brexit, the nature of the “EUSSR”, public education and free speech. Let me start with the first question. The UK basically asked the EU for free trade, meaning no customs or taxes on any goods traded among UK and EU. This sounds pretty reasonable especially for people like us, who believe in free markets and oppose government interventions. This brings me to core of the question. In today’s media and public consent our economy is called a free market economy, therefore it is operating under a capitalistic system. Can you give us your explanation of how you would describe a capitalistic system with free markets and its benefits and how you would characterize the actual system that is currently in place? Also, what is your opinion about the reaction of the EU refusing free trade with the argumentation that this would be cherry-picking and therefore such a deal has never been done before in the history of the EU – what does is say about the nature and character of the EU and the system we are living in?
“The European single market’s golden (if patchy) four freedoms of people, capital, services and goods are indivisible. “À la carte” access, as EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is fond of putting it, isn’t an option”.
Godfrey Bloom: Whenever I am asked about the rights and wrongs of capitalism, more often than not at universities the wrongs, I have to persuade people that there are almost no capitalist economies in the world today. Back in the 1960s, an economics exam response would expect a candidate to understand the difference between capitalism and mercantilism. The phrase today for mercantilism is often crony capitalism. This is unfortunate because it hints that the two systems are the flip side of the same coin. They are not, they are quite distinctive economic systems. Most industrial democracies are mercantilist.
Trade is controlled very carefully by complicated agreements based on tariffs. Most of world trade is governed by the World Trade Organization, well over 95% in point of fact. There are many mutually beneficial sub agreements which work alongside that umbrella concept. Tariffs have one major raison d’être, which is to protect home industries. The European Union is a customs union, the last of its kind in the world.
Centrally controlled in Brussels, the method of operation is what the Americans call pork barrel politics. The EU customs union is a labyrinth of self-interest. Amongst many others it is designed to protect home industries, French farmers, the European wine industry, Italian leather industry, French, German and Czech automobile manufactures, textile and raw material companies. The list is endless and the threat largely from the Far East.
The conspiracy is to protect politically favored industries in one country against cheaper imports and the tariff is of course paid for by the consumer. Political propaganda persuades consumers that this is somehow in their interest. Somehow this absurdity persists with otherwise sensible people. Emotive words appear such as “dumping”. Chinese steel is the classic current example. A home steel industry will suffer with Far East Steel delivered at rock bottom prices, so a Welsh or Northumbrian steel worker feels aggrieved, but his brother worker in Coventry building Jaguars or Land Rovers or Northumbrians building Nissans become globally competitive.
The Trump steel and aluminium tariffs helped 800,000 American steel workers at the expense of over six million white goods and auto workers, paradoxically encouraging manufacturers to relocate to Mexico. This is global mercantilism, protected industries are the ones with political clout. The European customs union projects its image as a free trade area, as politicians and mainstream media endorse this great lie on a regular basis. They even persuade European electorates that prices will go up if the cartel is abandoned. Goebbels we will remember, a brilliant propagandist, taught us the bigger the lie, the more likely it is to be accepted.
The British trade with this protectionist cartel has an £80 billion deficit. Great Britain buys 18% of French wine; imagine if the 20% tariffs on South American, Australasian & South African wines were abandoned. The UK is the world’s biggest BMW customer, yet Britain is preparing to pay £40 billion for a trade deal. Imagine being a top customer at Fortnum & Mason or Bloomingdales and being charged an entrance fee!
Hong Kong is probably the best post war example of capitalism, but examples are rare. Certainly, no major economy is capitalistic.
Why then is the Brexit debate about trade? Clearly that is absurd. A free trade deal is in everyone’s interest but particularly that of the European Union. The elephant in the room is that the goal of the EU is the fulfilment of a great noble dream, a centrally governed European Federation. The current negotiations are not about trade in reality, but the pursuance of that dream. The political and bureaucratic class cannot speak that truth, because no matter how noble the great dream is, nobody actually wants it.
Claudio Grass: Another suggestion by the Brits was that they restrict services, capital exchange and movement of people under the sole responsibility of the British government. This also has been sold as a negative request by the mass media and establishment figures. My understanding is that with this step Britain would become sovereign again, self-responsible and increase its self-determination. It’s also a clear step towards decentralization and it goes of course against the will of Brussels. And as we both know, decentralization means more competition, which is the key for future prosperity. What is your perspective on this point and what are the consequences for the people as well as for the economy of Britain if they escape from Brussels’ oppression?
Godfrey Bloom: Libertarians true to their salt always endorse total free trade, unrestricted capital and people movement. Unrestricted trade and capital movement are relatively easy to deliver given the political will. The orthodox libertarian need not abandon this holy writ. Where libertarian dogma falls down is the failure of its advocates to understand that substantial changes to government remits are essential before this can take place.
The industrial democratic economies have far too much baggage to embrace free movement of labor. In Britain, the State has committed itself, quite dangerously, to guarantee far too much to far too many people at the expense of an ever-decreasing wealth creating sector.
Health, education, pensions, social welfare, are all underwritten by the government. Its remit is simply too vast to sustain with the indigenous population, never mind significant immigration.
The cancer in the soul of the western democracies is welfarism. It fails to distinguish between those who make welfare dependency a lifestyle choice and those who need genuine help. All welfare economies started with an intention to underpin the unfortunate and unlucky. State sponsored social insurance was the concept, not a come one come all free hand out society at the expense of the working, thrifty and self-reliant. We are not, nor should we be our brother’s keeper. We might volunteer to be so, but not at the point of a State bayonet. State charity (welfare) morally degrades its recipients as well as demotivates them. Welfare addiction is as rife and harmful as drug or alcohol addiction and should be treated as such.
The libertarian must pause and look at primary dogma, property rights. If the health and education system, together with parks, transport, libraries and all the other self-imposed State remits belong to tax payers from the wealth creating class, if State borrowing is a burden on the indigenous population, the incomer impinges his or her property rights. One trip to a local British NHS hospital or school will drive home this point. To whom do these resources belong? Without the burden of welfare, free movement of labor becomes plausible, indeed desirable. Incomers post welfare state could then come to an economy not State-sponsored, but employer-sponsored. Job adverts could then be genuinely cross-border.
It is neither politically correct to speak of culture clashes, nor do libertarians feel comfortable with the subject, but if property rights under law are sacrosanct the principles of law must be so. The immigrant to Dubai must accept Sharia law as the immigrant to the United Kingdom must accept English Law. Far too few immigrants from alien cultures actually work on arrival at their destination. To compare modern day immigration to welfare countries with immigration to nineteenth century America from Europe is disingenuous at best, fraudulent at worst.
Claudio Grass: From her actions, or rather lack thereof, we can see that Theresa May seems to be a true Bremainer still and is not willing to enforce the will of the people. What do you think of what is going on and will the politicians be able to ignore the majority of the people who voted to Leave?
Godfrey Bloom: Americans with their genius for enriching the English language with contemporary phraseology coined “Deep State”. In my many TV & radio interviews over the last ten years I have warned true Brexit will not be available. The political ideal of a federal Europe runs too deep and has been around too long.
Modern western industrial economies are run by bureaucrats who manipulate the levers of government. They enjoy salaries and pensions beyond the dreams of ordinary workers. Moreover, they are beholden to no higher accountability system. There are no shareholders, no performance monitoring of any significance, they are unsackable. Their personal interest is maintenance of the status quo. Senior civil servants specifically made a decision at university to avoid the cut and thrust of commerce or relatively low pay of academic life. The system of government therefore can thwart even the most enthusiastic of ministers. Politicians remain in office for relatively short periods of time. The bureaucrat can play the long game: stall, bluster, misinform. The wonderful British satire “Yes Minister” of the 1980s showed the game at its best; hilarious but frighteningly true.
The EU federal dream is shared by the civil servant. It is utopia for the bureaucrat. He becomes seriously important, far more so than his political master who is here today and gone tomorrow. For the last forty years, it has been impossible to climb the promotional ladder without a deep and sincere commitment to the European project. Interestingly, the senior civil service is now largely recruited from the lower middle classes, petit bourgeoisie, a class not used to power or how to exercise it pro bono publico, but effective in wielding it if the cause is negative. Their junior colleagues are drawn to the health and safety industry. There are no civil servants who voted Leave. All were horrified at the result and have schemed for two years to thwart the electorate. They would probably have succeeded with hard line Brexiteer ministers, but with a prime minister, chancellor, Home Secretary who campaigned for Remain, Brexit was never going to happen. Add the sway of banks and big business, a Remain House of Lords and Commons, and it becomes obvious that it was never on the cards. The problem is the Remain camp thought with massive funding, big business, MSM, the campaign would succeed. The political establishment is in denial.
There will be a fake Brexit, dressed up to look like Brexit but will fool nobody. Remain is a deeply held commitment by the London-based public sector and professional class. Brexiteers are the provincial artisan class, the butcher, baker, mechanic, hairdresser, cabbie, carpenter. People who do a real job, folk with patriotic traditional values laced with common sense. They outnumber bureaucrats, politicians, bankers and the metropolitan chattering classes, but they do not have access to the levers of power. It will bring the prime minister down, but it won’t stop a fake Brexit. The EU project is doomed to failure however, as an empire that cannot control its borders and has devastatingly high youth unemployment must fail. When? Sooner than we might think.
Claudio Grass: I heard different voices in the past saying that Brexit needed to happen because the ongoing centralization agenda by Brussels, which is accelerating with new collectivist leaders such as Macron, could not have been done with the UK as an existing member. Do you believe there is some truth to that?
Godfrey Bloom: The proposed massive acceleration of the European Union project is doomed to failure. The main problem for all member countries, particularly Great Britain, is the increasing encroachment of national sovereignty. The British endorsed membership of a common market in 1975 in a referendum. The constitutional aspects were not a main part of the campaign. It was all about trade, as it is today. Enoch Powell, Tony Benn and Peter Shore were the only senior politicians who told the truth about the true nature of the project, a Federal Europe. Powell forecast that when the British became aware of that we would vote to come out. We did. Still there was no honesty about the nature of the EU. Still the debate is all about trade, which is of course irrelevant. The idea that political unity is necessary to trade is preposterous. No one believes it accept the same genre of middle-class Brits who visit Tate Modern in London to pretend they understand modern art and the whole charade is a peer group pressure nonsense, something northern Brits won’t buy into.
Nothing but mass civil disobedience will change things, possibly even violent protest. But Leavers are middle England patriots, very slow to turn to such things. More likely the political process will be seen as ever more corrupt and the best people will continue to disengage from it.
Claudio Grass: How do you see the future of the UK and the fate of free speech in particular? I remember the champions of the enlightenment saying that people can only enlighten themselves if they are free to use their own reason and to debate freely different points of view. As we can witness all over the world, free speech is very much under siege. What kind of reaction do you expect in the UK – will the people comply with the rules of the thought police or will they resist?
Godfrey Bloom: Free speech is under significant threat and has been for thirty years. It crept up on an unsuspecting public in the guise of political correctness. It manifests itself in a fascinating way. There is a lexicon of words and phrases that are strictly taboo. It is led in the UK by public service broadcasting which is the high church of what may or may not be said. Examples are almost too many to document, but recent examples include a suspension of a British MP for letting slip a very old phrase, “nigger in the wood pile”. The poor woman was almost hounded from elected office for what was at worst a lapse of taste. No groveling apology was enough, the politically correct mob wanted blood.
My own reference to Bongo Bongo Land sent MSM into a hysterical spiral, a suggestion that Goldman Sachs was a Jewish bank nearly set the twittering classes on fire and at the time of writing Boris Johnson is in hot water for suggesting the burka is like wearing a pillar box on your head. Well it is, isn’t it? But you see, there are some things you can say and some you can’t. The rules are very obscure, nor is there a final arbiter of what is correct or not.
The concept though is carefully designed to suppress free speech. It is highly effective, as those in public life dread the great major sins, being racist, misogynist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic etc. Hair shirt is immediate public ally worn. Public figures pander to these prejudices by treating them seriously. In a free society, it should be quite possible to be anti whatever you like as long as you are not inciting violence. But just try it. Even so-called libertarians succumb to this nonsense. It is of course yet another middle-class petit bourgeois affectation.
There is a misconception though that the encroachment on free speech is a new phenomenon, which is absurd. Criticism of Christianity carried heavy penalties in Europe for centuries, blasphemy laws so recently liberalized have returned in spades. Any criticism of lslam will possibly get you a prison sentence under the all-encompassing Hate Crime laws. This new offence drives a coach and horses through the principles of both English law or the American Constitution. No matter, the more senior the judiciary the more marinaded in political correctness they will be. Paradoxically, you can now say whatever you like against Christianity. Such is the crisis of faith in the Christian hierarchy.
Will there be any push back? Doubtful. As taxes grow, the pressure on families to make ends meet in an ever more difficult society means most folk will just keep their heads down. Nobody goes to the barricades with a full stomach and two cars in the garage.
Claudio Grass: What is your take on the current state of the education system in the UK? Do you see a decline in the quality and the spectrum of ideas that students are exposed to and do you think political correctness and politics in general have had a hand in this?
Godfrey Bloom: Education problems in Great Britain all originate from the same source: the system is designed for those who work in it rather than to those who are supposed to benefit from it. The dead hand of the State lies heavily upon it in the shape of a government-inspired curriculum. At school level, this started with the reasonable assumption that reading and writing are paramount. At the age of seven, the government common sense starts to evaporate. Tried and tested teaching techniques are often abandoned and flawed experimental systems sponsored by politically motivated unions take their place.
These are slow to be reversed and weird paradoxes follow. For example, primary and junior schools in poor countries using old techniques outperform modern fashionable method hypotheses. For example, phonetical reading is still the most successful, chanting arithmetical tables stay with children throughout their lives, and there are many other examples.
As children reach middle and senior school, learning gives way to what is loosely referred to as education. Teachers now like to call themselves educators, sublimely pompous and arrogant as well as being generally untruthful. Modern education is a form of giant long-term monkey puzzle. Ring the bell and get a banana. If a child gets enough bell rings, they move on to the next pathetic bit. Straight Three AAAs are essential for a university place, essential now to enter any of the professions. Pressure on children is enormous to ding that bell, but in no way is that education.
Entry to university is the final level where government calls the shots. Arts subjects perhaps excluding classics have been dumbed down to a level that elderly graduates of yesteryear find astonishing. University lecturers with a few noble exceptions lack not only knowledge of their own subjects, but also the ability to motivate the younger generation. Academe attracts pretty woeful candidates for lectureship outside the very top universities, sometimes not even there. Universities supposedly pride themselves on giving an education to young minds, but they don’t, it is all just a continuation of the great monkey puzzle game.
Industry endorses this futile merry go round by only interviewing university graduates. So, the failure to educate continues. The economics discipline is perhaps the most culpable. In twenty years of guest university lecturing, I have never met an undergraduate who has been taught Menger, Mises or Bastiat. They can of course quote Keynes until they turn blue in the mouth. Criticism will meet with the response that undergraduates wanting to understand their theories should have read philosophy. (Newcastle University 2013) Anglosphere countries will suffer from this in the long term. Undergraduates from the Warsaw School of Economics, for example, can probably speak three languages, quote most historical economists of any school and discuss Napoleon’s campaigns over beer in the evening.
Moreover, not only are British undergraduates being cheated out of an education with the pursuit of the monkey puzzle reward system, but they are also funneled into political channels by student’s unions and politicized university staff. The object is to hermetically seal the undergraduate mind to unorthodox thought. Safe spaces are nothing to do with protecting female undergraduates from rape, but politically incorrect thought, or even unmanipulated statistics.
The State is always the problem, there is no need for it to involve itself in education, indeed in anything else. Schooling in Great Britain by the State costs £4,500 pa per capita. Give that money to the parent in voucher form to spend in any private education establishment.
Remember the State gave you the Trabant motor car, the Soviet shop and potholes. Imagine Sainsbury, Tesco, BMW or Wetherspoon offering education. Competition drives excellence, there is no reason not to bring it into education.
Claudio Grass: Any final suggestions you can give our readers in terms of principles they should uphold, questions they should raise or different ways they can protect themselves by steering their ship through these stormy seas?
Godfrey Bloom: I hate to be a doom monger because I am a positive and optimistic individual, but the collapse of fiat currency and banks is now unavoidable. Gold held in specie, out of the reach of national governments can protect you and your family.
Thank you very much Godfrey for this interview.