The invention called necessity

Dhaka,  Tue,  19 September 2017
Published : 05 Aug 2017, 20:06:53
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The invention called necessity

Mahmudur Rahman
The best documented form of adventurism is usually traced back to the tiny islands that comprise Great Britain. The transition from fiefdom, then monarchy and, finally, democracy had much to do with trade and business opportunities opened up by the sailors that braved the seas in search of new lands. The country was built and developed on exploitation of the most rude in nature, all of which was shielded by a diplomacy as dark as its exploits. Compared to that, Germany's adventurism was fiercer, crueller and driven by the need for sustenance. Whereas the British ended up establishing the biggest empire in the world, Germany ended in ruins after two over-ambitious military campaigns that spiralled out of control. Democracy had nothing to do with it.

Today, the famous empire is gone, retained only by the vestiges of a poorly cobbled conglomeration called the Commonwealth that is anything but common and a travesty in wealth management. The famous Diplomacy of the British is now under multiple shadows. Convicted but never to be tried for falsely documented reasoning leading to the systematic destruction of a country throwing it into total destabilisation, they now appear to have shot themselves in the foot. More than a year after raves and rah-rah exuberance over a popular mandate to exit the European Union (EU), it would appear Britain doesn't have a clue as to how to go about it. Two of the main ducks they had lined up have been dispassionately shot down in just two of the scheduled monthly meetings. The EU will have none of parallel discussion on trade agreements before a Brexit and have binned with contempt the proposal on migration, that is, the fate of EU citizens in the UK after Brexit.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan's unflappability is coming unstuck as a major bank announced it was considering Republic of Ireland as its EU hub. Others are certain to follow to avoid the uncertainty of unpegged currency. Mixed messages are emerging from cabinet meetings -- some suggest migration may be relaxed for five years while others say 2019 is the break-off date. The more emergent issues of pay-out, suggested to be in billions of pounds and trade ranging around £100 billion haven't even been discussed. 

Germany tottered up from the ruins of the Second World War in two pieces: East Germany became a vassal state of the then Soviet Union; the West an indirect one of the West, largely United States. The first overture was of creating the EU so as to guarantee industrial inputs. However, even in the 1990s, it was an unstable economy. The message of thrift and a hard-negotiated agreement on acceptable increases in wages with the union led to a nation that saved, spent but only on need and mercilessly curbing wastage. In soccer the Germans are described as a machine, clinical and decisive. They've run their country similarly to become the most powerful economy in Europe. Democracy was allowed to flourish and their long-term desire of reunification ended up being a world-wide celebration rather than a national one. Obviously the famous break-up of the Soviet Union wasn't in isolation either.

The one area where Germany went right and Britain went wrong was in building on its strength. Britain abandoned services and engineering to foray into the sexier prospects. Germany focused on engineering, medicine and science. The results are clear to see. Britain dared Germany to do without it after Brexit, given it was the destination of 66 per cent of German exports. The bluff was played as German businesses came out in saying they wouldn't override their government's position given that tariffs and duties would no longer be same or similar -- a precondition for smooth flow of goods and services. Britain is no longer the nation of shopkeepers as Napoleon Bonaparte had described them as. Basic trades such as plumbing, maids  and electricians are no longer of interest to the English and there are those who are  already wondering who is going to mow their lawns and gardens.

Seven years of austerity has hit the British hard. Public servants are incensed with the 1.0 per cent pay rise annually, well under the inflation rates and while more people are employed than ever, real wages are low by their standards. Their cabinet has had stormy discussions on pay rises, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer flatly stating he didn't have the money for substantial lay rises. This is, in a way echoing a Prime Minister Theresa May's statement during the election campaign that there's no 'magical money tree'. 

Faced with growing threats of strikes across the board and especially hospital staff, the British government appears to have bit off more than they can chew. Part of the success of austerity has been availability of workforce at pay levels normally unacceptable in Britain. It has kept cost of business down and kept it competitive. While the opposite is true in terms of prices, i.e., the cost of oranges from Florida decidedly cheaper than Spain, the holistic scenario does not appear to have been worked out. To think of Britain not having worked out its sums or the diplomatic details is akin to that famous English phrase: 'It's not cricket'. 

mahmudrahman@gmail.com

 
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