The rich are revolting

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Which is an apt summary of an article in the Guardian today, which goes under the title "Wealth gap grows and solidarity fades as rebellion of rich spreads across EU". The message is simple:

The rich bits of Europe are revolting. And it is some of the most successful and attractive cities on the continent that are in the revolutionary vanguard. From the fashion and finance mecca of Milan to the hi-tech centre of Munich, from the world's diamond capital, Antwerp, to the vibrant coastal hub of Barcelona, Europe's most dynamic cities and regions are increasingly rebelling against "subsidising" the poorer parts of their countries, demanding to keep their home-grown wealth, and causing headaches for central governments.

This is profoundly worrying. As the Guardian says:

The great unsung success story of the EU over the decades has been its social democratic exercise in redistributing wealth between and within countries, narrowing the wealth gap and hugely benefiting states such as Greece, Portugal, and Ireland. In essence this meant that big, wealthy Germany kept the chequebook open.

But this is changing:

Having poured hundreds of billions of euros into ex-communist eastern Germany to fund unification over the past 15 years, the burghers of Munich, Cologne, or Hamburg are less keen to stump up for Bulgarians or Poles. The result is that in an EU of 500 million people, the wealth gap is greater than ever. The richest corner, inner London, generates more than three times the wealth of the EU average, while north-eastern Romania manages barely a quarter. The rich regions are clamouring for a new dispensation, arguing that they only want a square deal.

"It's all very well to support solidarity and national cohesion, it's quite another to damage yourself or endanger your own growth," says Mr Guardans of Catalonia. "We only want to receive back what we pay in."

He points to the Basque country with some envy, since the Spanish Basques levy and spend their own taxes, simply paying the central government in Madrid for services rendered. But Mr Guardans concedes that if all 17 regions of Spain had the same fiscal powers, there would be no more Spain.

It's worse than that. Extend the logic just a little more and you get to Thatcher's position: there is no society. It may be what the Right dreamed of, but the reality is that this spells the end for civilisation as we know it. Take these definitions of civilisation from Wiktionary:

  1. A stage or system of social, political or technical development of a large scale order encompassing several or many communities, often on the nation or people scale. cf culture.
  2. A country or group of countries with a common cultural background.
  3. A communal understanding; the achievements of a communal understanding; e.g., Ancient Roman Civilization - the communal understanding of the ancient Romans, or what the communal understanding of the ancient Romans achieved: buildings, conquests, roads, laws.

What these people who argue for separation are saying is;

  1. We don't and won't share
  2. We are not a community
  3. We don't share a culture
  4. We do not have a common understanding
  5. We are not a nation or people

They are doing this on the basis of wealth. In doing so they show they do not even understand how wealth is created or sustained, which can only happen within communities. Break those, and the path leads to mayhem in all its forms.