I simply do not understand the argument that Britain should have influence in the world. That argument is used as a justification for remaining in the European Union, not trying too hard to change the constitution of the European Union, and a whole host of other political, economic and environmental decisions.

The proposition that Britain should have influence in the world seems to be based upon either or both of  underlying propositions

(a) that Britain has more wisdom than the rest of the world and without British wisdom the world would fall into greater folly and

(b) in order to advance the interests of the British people, it is necessary for the rest of the world to be influenced by us.

Let us look at the first proposition. Certainly, it is clear, that the British are no wiser (or for that matter no more stupid) than the rest of the people in the world. Our land is not a haven of economic prosperity, environmental safety and  a marvellous justice system in which the innocent are never found guilty or the guilty are never acquitted; we are a reasonably peaceful place but find the money and energy and cannon fodder to fight wars for which we can find no justification. There are plenty of murders and rapes and burglaries in Britain and at least as many child molesters here than in other places. Of course other places may have more expertise in certain kinds of crimes but Britain is not a haven of law and order.

It is not as though Britain does democracy well; we have an unelected head of state, who is excluded from the rigours of taxation of most kinds; we have an unelected second chamber to scrutinise proposed legislation made up of cronies of those in power and some people whose families have been bastions of wealth and privilege for generations. We have a broken banking system which went out of control because the regulators allowed greed to prevail over prudence.

There are many things that are right in Britain, but it is hard to say that we do anything worth doing better than any other nation, so in these circumstances why should the rest of the world be influenced by a nation that cannot claim excellence in any area in which the rest of the world is deficient? It is not as if the British could claim that when Britain ruled the world, the world was a better place than when Britain did not rule the world.

The second proposition operates as one of self interest: influence is necessary to advance the interests of the British people. There is no reason why any nation should advance its own interests before those of other nations except for purely selfish reasons. Nations, like people, are created equal with but unequal advantages. The weak should be helped by the strong. One nation should not seek to place itself above other nations by “influence”; each nations should use its talents to advance itself, while saving some of those talents for other nations. Influence is not a talent: it is a device and a can be used malignantly and perfidiously, and is more often used in these was than it is used benignly and honestly.

One Response

  1. Britain is no longer the aircraft carrier afloat, but a leaky rowing boat adrift in an ocean of criminal leadership, here oars have been thrown overboard in favour of a rubber rudder and hands that no longer do their own dishes, so how could we possibly have any influence to where we are going, let alone the new world and order we are being assimilated into.

    There is so much more to bullets bombs and banks and land mines, yet our leaders jump at the chance to travel and sell this kind of influence around the world.

    Lets talk about the more sensitive issues rather than what we already know is under foot. No more on the fence tactics, but real issues, green light polotics or bust.

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