Douglas Carswell MP BOOKtalk

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Douglas Carswell MP

Mark D'Arcy in discussion with Clacton MP Douglas Carswell, who is not standing in the upcoming general election, on his book Rebel: How to Overthrow the Emerging Oligarchy.

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campaign events. Don't miss a single moment on BBC Parliament and BBC


iPlayer. Pure politics. My guess today has written a book


about rebellion and he knows what he's talking about. As a new


backbencher he led the Commons of writing which unseated Michael


Martin over his handling on the expenses scandal. He harried David


Cameron and then quit the Conservatives for Ukip before


falling out with Nigel Farage and going independent. He is does this


card well -- Douglas Carswell. The central argument of this book seems


to be when the free market is moved in on by the state or a powerful


vested interests, prosperity goes out of the window. How does that


work? We are used to the idea that it is normal for us to become


wealthier, children will be wealthier than their parents.


Through most of human history, per Capita income has remained constant


and people have remained poor. The reason for this I argue in the book,


there tended to be some kind of extracted elite group, whether it


was Princes, priests or furrows which kept it from the masses and


Society pro. What changes is one society disburses power and when it


is able... The key engine is able to specialised to trade freely. One


society has discovered that, they take off. I go back to history in


the Roman Republic, Venetian Republic and the Dutch Republic.


Those are examples of modern societies who achieve this happy


state of affairs. The liberal order is pretty ubiquitous, it is the


driving force behind globalisation. But it is always under threat and


the parasitic oligarchy which overthrew the liberal order in the


past, is present and emerging today. What do they do to overthrow that


order, that poisoned the market? Extractive elite need to have things


done on force rather than free exchange. In history you see small


elite is presiding over societies, where they found all sorts of


pretext to redistribute wealth by force. I look at how, for example,


in the late Roman Republic, and oligarchy emerges, you get this


inflow of wealth into the Roman Republic from the provinces and this


elite emerges and it grows beyond the ability of the Roman republican


constitution to constrain it. You get a similar thing in Venice and a


similar thing in the Dutch Republic. But I argue we are seeing a sudden


inflow of wealth which is leading to the emergence of oligarchy today.


From prosperity to the bond market and banking. The very rich and the


very powerful accumulate power and freeze the market beneath them?


Absolutely. We have seen this nexus of power between central bankers,


bankers and politicians, if you like, what you might call the Davos


elite. They have emerged in the past 30 or 40 years may have enormous


power, they take public policy decisions without reference to the


public. Central bankers decide the price of credit and drive economic


policy. I cannot ever remember them appearing on a ballot paper. When


the Americans had the revolution, they argued for no taxation without


representation. The ability for the government to request taxes from the


taxpayer a wonderful constraint on the state in most western societies.


I argue in the last 30 or 40 years, Western elites have worked out waves


of subverting that. They can spend a asking the tax payers' permission.


What bad things happen if that continues? We are already seeing it.


Since the 1970s when this was created, many industries move in the


wrong direction. We start to see less social mobility, we see less


innovation. This huge transfer of wealth from people without assets to


people with assets. If you own a home in the South East of England,


or hedge funds, you have done well just for owning it, not for doing


much with it. You have inequality, not an income inequality, if


anything, less income inequality, it is the inequality between those who


rely on income for wealth and his wealth is in assets. But is a huge


driver of social inequality and it has become, I would say,


increasingly obvious since the financial crisis. Very few


politicians know what to do about it. You are best known in politics


as a leading proponent of Brexit, leaving the European Union, that


will happen now. How does leaving the European Union fit into this


analysis, or is there a different reasons? The European Union is only


one manifestation of this problem. The European Union is founded on the


idea that a small elite can organise an order human affairs by grand


design. They have currency, trade policy, agricultural policy all done


by top-down design and it is pretty disastrous. Leaving the European


Union is part of what I think we need, this broader reassertion of


what I would call classical liberalism. We need to challenge


this idea that human economic and social affairs can be organised by


design. The liberal elites and we have today, are not about liberal.


Liberal means, from the Latin, freed that you believe the world requires


little intervention, it doesn't require blueprints, it does not


require a small group of people to shake things for us. Again and


again, we see these attempts to impose blueprints to order human


society. Often they ending catastrophe, communism, socialism,


fascism. We see the same version of the elite's conceit when they try to


order contemporary society, according to blueprints and design.


It is the cause of our malaise, it empowers small groups of people over


the rest of us and it is incompatible with being a democracy.


It is striking, if you look across much of Europe, where people want to


get their particular country out of the EU, it is almost for the


opposite reasons for the one you are suggesting, not liberal free


trading, it is the conception of the nation state and your's


supranational and therefore they don't like it. In France, they had


to shedders. We see the voice against the oligarchy, the voice


against the Brussels machine and the centralisation of power is a raw


data is, pretty obnoxious bitter populism. By arguing the book, the


popular order faces this twin challenge, not just oligarchy


emerging, but the response is this hideous populist backlash. One of


the wonderful things I think about political culture in this country is


the new radicals in this country have been a decent bunch. Ukip, my


former party, nothing like as angry and nativist as perhaps the National


front in France and others. Perhaps, I would argue, Brexit in this


country is actually a safety valve. Maybe Geert Wilders, Donald Trump


and Marine Le Pen what you end up with if you don't have that safety


valve. Brexit has been our safety valve and perhaps that has taken


some of the obnoxiousness out of the system, it has allowed us to take


power back from the oligarchs, to some extent. Not far enough, but it


means the alternative is not between extremism and the oligarchy. You


have put this into practice yourself. It is stated clearly in


the book that one of the main reasons you switch to Ukip was to


stop the wrong kind of backlash from being in the lead to get Britain out


of the EU. You were there trying to make sure Nigel Farage was not the


face of the league campaign? Absolutely right. I was conscious of


this in the run-up to the referendum on the battle to make sure the right


people run the right campaign, I was conscious throughout history when


you get a populist reaction against oligarchy, often the people who lead


that, the grudge brothers in Rome, they are not attractive characters


and they often play straight into the hands of the oligarchy. If you


are in favour of a federal Europe, perhaps having Alex Cypriot is


writing numerically illiterate budget in Athens is a good way of


justifying governance by the trike up. There is an irony in the


sentence that the fight against the elite has to be led by the right


people? It has to be led by people who are able to persuade and


understand the problem and not just address the symptoms. Again and


again, I found, when looking at some of these populist movements


throughout the Western world, both in America and in Europe, often the


populist insurgents are talking about the symptoms of the problem.


They have very little ideas of what to do to tackle it. Again, if you


look back in history, when there was this anti-oligarch rebellion in


Rome, they actually introduced measures that were supposedly to


redress the symptoms of oligarchy. They played into the hands of


oligarchy and I fear that we perhaps see some of this today, some of the


populism is actually as much a threat to the liberal order as the


oligarchy. Heaven forbid we should end up being what France is today,


where in effect you have a choice between a technocrat on one side and


political extremist, I would on the other. How does Donald Trump fit


into this framework for you? I think Donald Trump is, on a good day, on


the right side of the fence. But I am very worried, for example, about


some of his economic policy. There is nothing liberal about it, it is


Roosevelt new deal. We have had, in America for ten years, monetary


stimulus, cheap credit to revive the economy. He is now talking about


fiscal stimulus. If that would happen, it will play into the hands


of vested corporate interest who would see lots of dollars coming


their way and I think it would end the liberal economic model that has


made the United States this extraordinary productive and


inattentive republic. I think the United States is probably the most


extraordinary and most miraculous republic that has ever existed. I,


as an outsider who loves America and their Republican ideas, is very


worried they may not survive another Roosevelt type a new deal. What


about Douglas Carswell himself? You have been pursuing this set of ideas


through two political parties and into independent status in the House


of Commons. Is part of the issue here, I don't know if it is your


ideology or just a personal thing, you don't easily fit into collective


organs like a party? I am delighted to be regarded as not very


collegiate, the alternative is fitting in with the groupthink in


the Commons tea rooms. But this isn't about me. It is a more


profound question. Given liberalism, in the true sense of the term, is


what the secret of our success is as a society and has led to growth,


prosperity and innovation, where do you go if you believe in liberalism


today? Where is the party that represents these ideas? I said in


the book, many of the parties believe in the big man, or the big


woman met, a single individual as a leader can somehow solve the world


and make it a better place. What we need is a recognition that that is


precisely what is getting us into this mess. We should challenge those


people who make public policy, who presume they know enough to know


what's right for the rest of us? Politicians love blueprints, ideas


and innovations imposed on the rest of us. I do think that for those of


us who are genuine liberals, there is a crisis as to who we vote for.


What does the Douglas Carswell of Utopia look like? I suppose it is


the wrong question to ask, what is your grand design, but what would


you like to see this country looking like five or ten years after Brexit?


There was an extraordinary Greek man, Epicurus, and I am an epic


curing, cos people think I am into hedonistic pleasure. Actual epicure


Inez is this idea, you can't achieve Utopia, but the idea is, the world


is self organising and our duty and obligation is to be happy and live a


life that we believe in the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of


happiness. That idea is echoed in the founding of the American


Republic and it underlines the Western success. What I think we


need to do to achieve, the closest we could ever get to Utopia is to


live in a world where small elites don't try to organise human affairs


by design. That has always been the enemy of progress and happiness. The


small elites who organise the BBC Parliament schedule, have reached


the end of their tether with this programme. We'll be back again soon,


goodbye for now.


Mark D'Arcy in discussion with Clacton MP Douglas Carswell, who is not standing in the upcoming general election, on his book Rebel: How to Overthrow the Emerging Oligarchy.