The de-industrialisation of Europe is now inevitable and imminent. With it will probably come political regime change. It will be rapid and dramatic, and most likely occur in the northern spring of 2023.
The seeds of this looming crisis have been sown over the last decade.
Firstly, European political power structures have done what they always do – become ever tightened; ever divergent from the wants, needs, values and expectations of the citizenry; increasingly reliant on the state controlled forces of the police, military and more recently media, technology and finance companies to censor and crush domestic political dissent; and never able to admit error or change policies.
Secondly, policies of the EU from bank bailouts during the GFC to open borders to the net zero unicorn of energy policy, to shutting down farms to reduce emissions have resulted in widespread public anger. To date, the anger has been kept under control via water cannon, riot troops, opinion censorship and financial censorship (repeated in Canada, Australia and New Zealand).
Thirdly, the botched handling of energy policy, pandemic management and the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have coincided to unleash immensely destructive forces on European economies. It was akin to a triple hammer blow on one’s own head. To use a sporting analogy, a massive own goal. Low cost and reliable energy is a prerequisite for a reasonable standard of living. Europe deliberately set out to destroy its own energy supply. I don’t know why the leaders did that, but that’s what happened. Yet they also imported gas from Russia. Their energy consumption did not reduce, they simply decided to replace their own energy production with that of Russian production. By then responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with economic sanctions, Russia in turn responded by turning off the gas to Europe. It is almost impossible to think that no-one in Germany could have predicted this scenario. Still, it is what it is. Energy in Europe, particularly Germany and UK is in short supply, massively expensive and the gas previously flowing down the pipeline from Russia is now being bought by China and India. This near collapse in energy, combined with the on-going dislocation to the economies owing to pandemic mandates, shutdowns, labour retrenchment and massive monetary stimulus, has created the conditions whereby economic collapse is possible.
So we arrive at the early autumn of the northern hemisphere with winter just around the corner. Business owners are warning that they won’t be able to function through winter since energy costs are already extraordinarily high and going to get higher. Supply chains are struggling, inflation is rampant and will get worse before it gets better – for many people, this winter will be a question of survival. Will they be able to pay the rent, buy food and heat their homes? Or will there be stress on public institutions for welfare: food houses, somewhere to sleep under shelter. The prospect of death from cold and starvation is not one that has been seen in Europe on a material scale since the previous disasters of political decision making, specifically World Wars I and II and communism imposed on eastern European countries. Survival will be the order of the day in the northern winter since organisation and mobilisation of political opposition in winter is hard. With the spring, that changes. In the face of an ever more draconian crackdown on ordinary people, more of those people have realised what is going on and are understandably organising a fight back. A revolt could erupt in spring.
The establised distinction between the left and right of politics, that term coined during the French revolution served reasonably well as a system of reference. For those on the right, they thought it still existed until the early 21st century. They had not realised that the forces of the Left had been working for close to 100 years to change the political dichotomy into something much more radical. The Left recognized that incremental change was never going to be sufficient to overhaul societal structures, both economic and political into their vision. Society had to broken down completely before a new order could be installed. Thus began the long march through the institutions, starting with schools, church and family. We are in a cultural war based on a dichotomy of practical vs narrative.
For those that favour a practical approach to life, self reliance, raising a family, solving problems, marriage between a man and a woman, freedom of speech, association, religion and trade: you are the Practicals.
For those that follow the current thing, the current narrative and insist on others following it too, no matter how insane it is, you are the Narratives. You say gender is a social construct, men can get pregnant, trust ‘The Science’, toxic masculinity, climate catastrophe is here and now, there is no definition of a woman, budget deficits don’t matter and modern monetary theory makes sense. Everything that used to make sense is attacked. This is a deliberate plan to break down societal norms and critical thinking and make people fearful, confused and willing to accept the State as Protector.
Practicals vs Narratives. In western countries, political leadership structures have virtually no Practicals. They are almost all Narratives. To the extent a Practical slips in unexpectedly, they are marginalised and attacked. Like the Hotel California, the party of Government can be changed periodically, giving a momentary impression of democracy, but the newly installed party is effectively the same as the ousted party. Same type of people, same type of policies, same disdain for the citizenry. Sure, you can change the Government. Just don’t expect anything to change.
This new dichotomy in politics could equally be labelled Outsiders vs Insiders. The Insiders are the political leaders of all parties, the bureaucracy, big tech, media and woke corporations. The Outsiders are the people.
The UK, with its geographical advantage of being a group of islands, developed a nose for detecting abuse of political power much earlier than did any European country. The magna carta is perhaps the signature to that quality. More recently the Brexit vote sent a clear signal the Brits resented EU political interference and abuse of power. Recent policy decisions and turn-arounds by the newly installed Truss executive indicates that there is some chance that the UK can recover before it’s too late. Whereas in Europe, no such signs have yet emerged.
The decay and collapse of an industrial/political system is not something that happens gradually. It happens in a flash. The Roman empire, in place for centuries, collapsed within a few decades after the first signs of trouble. The last Russian emperor abdicated in February 1917, the Bolshevik revolution completed that October and the tzar was then murdered. Germany and Japan were fearful enemies of the western allies in World War II right up until they weren’t. Soviet Russia collapsed a few weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall, swiftly followed by the Romanian revolution and the execution of the deposed President Ceaucescu and his wife. The incumbent regimes manage to maintain the impression of power and control up to the very point the forces of resistance break through. Almost overnight, all changes. What is left over is a political vacuum and chaos in the economy.
Countries in the EU, particularly Germany, France, Belgium and Netherlands, appear very vulnerable to massive upheaval in the very near term. The UK is vulnerable as are the smaller EU states that rely heavily on the big economies. I think it is a certainty that the industrial machine of Germany cannot survive in its current form and that will create a damaging contagion. Hungary, Italy and Sweden are potential bright spots. To what extent the looming industrial collapse also extends to political collapse remains to be seen. In the event the collapse does so extend (and how could it not?), what replaces it will depend on the success of practical political power in other countries, particularly the US. It looks increasingly as if the narratives have overplayed their hand and ordinary American practicals have awakened. Italians are at the polls in the next few days – the signs are good for a young practical leader there. Elections are due in the US, New Zealand and Canada soon. If practical power can become re-established in these countries, they will be favourably disposed to help a European reconstruction. It has happened before.