CANZUK fans beware-someone may be stealing your clothes

Recent discussions of Britain’s future after Brexit have sometimes included a CANZUK trope. The idea is to revive part of the old British Empire by uniting Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand in a single customs union, trading and political block. There seems to be little enthusiasm for including other formal imperial countries such as Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Kenya.

However, it may be hard to keep such countries out. In a recent article in Pocketworthy, Brian Gallagher looks at how Indian billionaire Gautam Adani used his vast resources to” capture the hearts and minds of Queenslanders” so that his companies could exploit its coal reserves. Gallagher goes on to show how the manipulative techniques of the very rich can be understood in terms of game theory, and how inequality itself distorts the whole political and economic process away from optimal outcomes.

We at LSS understand how CANZUK might appeal to many people, particularly those of an Imperialist or nostalgist bent. It was an idea sometimes floated in the Empire’s heyday. The historian Corelli Barnett dissected the idea rather thoroughly in The Collapse of British Power. The main problem then was strategic: if you create a valuable trading bloc, you have to be prepared to defend it. The strategic problems of defending such a scattered group were difficult enough in the nineteen twenties, when the Royal Navy was powerful and Britain still had a manufacturing base. How much more difficult will they be in the twenties of our century?

We thank Mr Peter Seymour of Hertfordshire for the idea for this piece

Barnett, Corelli The Collapse of British Power Alan Sutton 1984 see especially pp 166-173 et seq

#CANZUK #Brexit #inequality #queensland #maxplanckinstitute #gametheory

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