|Vivan Las Cadenas
||[Feb. 26th, 2016|10:07 am]
The problem with Empires is that people don't like being ruled by foreigners. The Empire may bring good governance, the opening up of new markets, all sorts of desireable things- but that's not what people really care about . People are intensely tribal. They want to have their chief be one of their own, not some great white father over the sea. They'll always prefer a bad ruler who grew up on the block to a good one who didn't.|
It's not rational, it's not particularly admirable, but it's how human beings roll. I've always loved the story about how Napoleon turned up in Spain with his enlightenment values, promising to rid the Spanish people of their chains and a bunch of captured resistance fighters went to the wall- where the enlightened French soldiers were going to shoot them- shouting, "Vivan las cadenas- Long live chains."
And that's why the EU isn't going to last much longer.
Although the guerillistas had seen through the little corporal's particular take on 'enlightenment' some time before he made the grab.
Bunuel featured the incident in his movie, The Phantom of Liberty, playing one of the guerrillistas himself.
This is why the canniest empires are the distributed ones, like the Persians, who were happy to have local satraps ruling their own peoples, keeping local laws and religious practices, etc., and then paying a bearable tribute to the out-of-sight centre.
Do it well, and people may not realise they're living in an empire at all.
That's where the British Empire went so wrong so fast. The least hint of condescension or racism towards the subject peoples and you're sunk.
And that's why if the UK leaves the EU, the Scots, Northern Irish and Welsh may want to leave the union. Westminster has a worse record than Europe with regard to how it treats its regions. Westminster counts as foreign rule as far as we're concerned.
It felt rather as if we were under foreign rule when we lived in Manchester. Westminster (and especially Tory Westminster) favours London outrageously.
Which is one of my favourite arguments in favour of Brussels (having grown up in Newcastle I had a similar impression).
Simon Jenkins had a piece the other day (I think it was him) saying how museums in the north are struggling and threatened with closure at a time when London is getting a new concert hall and a "garden bridge" that nobody but Joanna Lumley wants.