Boris Johnson, one of the leaders of the Leave campaign, has committed a sin that never goes unpunished in today’s politics. He displayed some knowledge of history and common sense.
Not much, mind you – he merely said something any average schoolboy knew when I was young: that the EEC/EU isn’t the first attempt to force Europe into a single state.
Following the example set by the Roman Empire, quite a few individuals, most of them unsavoury, have tried to recreate what they erroneously saw as the ideal towards which to strive.
The Holy Roman Empire, which Boris didn’t mention, was one such attempt and, contrary to Voltaire’s typically lightweight quip, it was indeed holy, Roman and an empire. The Carolingian dispensation represents the only benign attempt I’m aware of to glue Europe together. It was benign because the adhesive it used was Christianity, not nationalism, internationalism or any other ideology of conquest.
Another attempt Boris left out was that by the Soviets, which is a serious omission. The national escutcheon of the Soviet Union showed its institutional symbols superimposed on the whole globe, with no national boundaries anywhere in sight. That was more than just artistic licence.
The goal of global conquest was formulated by Lenin, and he tried to put it into practice by attacking Poland in 1920. Even now historians sometimes describe that war as a local conflict, ignoring the famous Order No.1423 issued by the Red Army commander M. Tukhachevsky: ‘Soldiers of the proletarian revolution! Direct your eyes towards the west. It is in the west that the fate of the world revolution is being decided. The way towards a world fire lies through the corpse of White Poland. On our bayonets we are taking happiness and peace to workers of the world. Westwards – march!’ So Poland was a step along the way, not the final destination.
That particular mission failed, but Stalin picked up the banner of world conquest and ran with it. By enslaving, terrorising and starving the whole population, he managed to create an army that outgunned in most categories the rest of the world combined.
In 1941 the Soviet force of 23,000 tanks, for example, not only outnumbered all the belligerents put together in the sheer number of tanks but also was two generations ahead of them in the machines’ characteristics. The same can be said for the Red artillery and air force – to say nothing of the numerical strength of the army.
All that was put together for the explicit purpose of striking at Stalin’s Nazi allies from the rear and conquering all of Europe, to begin with. Only Hitler’s preemptive strike, which beat Stalin to the punch by days and downgraded the Soviet army dramatically, made Stalin eventually satisfy himself with only the eastern part of Europe.
However, Boris did mention Napoleon and Hitler as Angie Merkel’s typological predecessors, which was enough to cause an apoplectic fit on the Left of the political spectrum, where the Remainers reside. The shrill shrieks of protest are breaking through newspaper pages, tearing them, and our eardrums, to shreds. How dare he!
How dare he what exactly? Draw historical parallels? Nothing wrong about that, as far as it goes. No one, and certainly not Boris, has suggested that Angie is like either Napoleon or Hitler in every detail.
But Germany does dominate the EU, and the EU is indeed an attempt to erase all the national frontiers under the aegis of a single state dominated by the Union’s most virile member – in this sense Merkel is an exact replica of Bony, Adolph and those other megalomaniacs Boris didn’t mention.
Hence the parallel is entirely legitimate, provided one doesn’t run to the other extreme of claiming that Angie plans to recreate Auschwitz and start murdering Jews en masse. In choosing the methods of uniting the continent, that objectionable woman follows not Hitler but an earlier, smaller-scale model established by Prussia in the 19th century.
Seeking to unite all German principalities under their aegis, the Prussians created a mechanism called the Zollverein, officially a customs union but in fact a way of either bribing or blackmailing the weaker provinces into compliance. Military force saw the light of day only once, when Schleswig-Holstein proved recalcitrant.
But the Zollverein taught an historical lesson that the Germans have learned well: the mark, whether it’s called Reichsthaler, simply the mark, Reichsmark, Deutschmark or the euro is an effective weapon in a campaign for European unification. The bank can succeed where the tank can’t.
This is all demonstrable and verifiable fact, but the Remain hysteria isn’t about facts. It’s about ideology fuelled by latent hatred for what Europe traditionally is. Unfortunately our population has been house-trained to respond to hysterical sloganeering with nothing short of lemming alacrity.
So off with Boris’s head, along with the heads of those who have read a history book or two and learned to draw legitimate parallels. As Descartes once said, all knowledge comes from comparing two or more things.
Boris did just that, but his opponents aren’t about Cartesian epistemology. They’re about enforcing an ideology that’s best conducive to their dreams of self-aggrandisement. Prepare yourself for more hysterical gasps in the run-up to 23 June.