Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Let the Storm Break Loose

“Is the EU mortally wounded?”, Larry Sidentop asked in an article published in the July issue of Prospect (A crisis of belief). I hope so, Larry, I certainly hope so. I would like to update Voltaire’s observation about the Holy Roman Empire, that it was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. The European Union is neither European nor a union. Rather it’s the most awful hybrid, something that might very well have been created on the island of Doctor Moreau.

There they were, those ‘idealists’, the politicians and bureaucrats who tortured this creature into existence, determined that they knew what was best for the peoples of Europe. The best was to escape history, democracy and destiny; the best was to submerge our unique and varied identities in something unreal, a structure cosmopolitan beyond the definition of cosmopolitan. The reaction is setting in, touching on things that go far deeper than sovereign debt.

"Are Europeans willing to shed national identities?", another question put by Sidentop. No, the answer is coming, from Finland to France. There is no secret here. A little bit of sense, an understanding of history, should have demonstrated that change happens slowly; that it takes centuries for a common identity to emerge.

But Europe has been transformed almost overnight; transformed by rapid expansion of membership from the east; by massive migration of peoples, something, I would hazard, that has rarely been paralleled since the time of the late Roman Empire; by the abolition of so many national currencies in favour of the one size fits all euro, a unit of value that really should have been called the Procrustean (thanks Calvin!)

Above all there is the migration of power, away from national parliaments to the super bureaucracy in Brussels, a system of decision making and governance which effectively makes democracy irrelevant. As this ‘ideal’ has waxed so support for integration has waned, with half of the citizens of the EU now doubting that it is a 'good thing.'

The problem, you see, is that the European project was at root based on distrust, based on the assumption that the whole business of integration and harmonisation was too complex for ordinary people to understand. Democracy was tried and found wanting, something people who live outside of the new super state may not fully appreciate.

Earlier this decade a new constitution was devised and put to a limited vote. In both France and the Netherlands, the very heart of the original community of six, it was decisively rejected. The constitution is dead; long live the constitution. Yes, the Frankenstein monster was revived and dressed up as the Lisbon Treaty, with no need for more votes. Oh, sorry, the Irish had to keep voting until they got it right.

With Euro-sceptic parties gaining strength across the Continent, the Eurocrats may come to regret their ignorance of history. Sidentop puts the point reasonably well;

From the outset, in promoting integration, they have failed to understand how difficult it was to create the nation states of Europe—overcoming prejudices of tribe and caste, dialect and region. Creating the social solidarity and willingness to make sacrifices for other citizens, which alone offer a stable basis for political union is, inescapably, a very slow process. American national identity took a century to form. When Robert E Lee was invited by the newly elected President Abraham Lincoln to assume command of the federal armies, after 24 hours of deliberation he declined, replying that he was a Virginian before he was an American. And, after a far longer period of time, consider how imperfect European state formation remains. Separatist movements in Catalonia, northern Italy and Scotland testify to that.

Now the Greek crisis looks set to accelerate the process of integration, which means more centralisation, which means an almost complete loss of national sovereignty, of centuries of inherited tradition. It means all power to the Soviet-style technocrats of Brussels, a new kind of Orwellian state, based not on violence and intimidation but malign forms of repressive tolerance, of indifference to the popular will.

Make no mistake, democracy, meaningful democracy, in the sense of popular empowerment, is dying in Europe. We live under a tyranny far less representative, far less responsive, than that which outraged the American rebels of 1776. It really is time to take heed. Come, European people, stand up and let the storm break loose. :-)


  1. Liberty, Diversity, Democracy.

  2. It is a great tragedy that the "unique and varied identities" of the peoples of Europe have been jeopardized, and also that the terms 'Europe' and 'European' have been sullied and compromised.

  3. I certainly see your point about how unlikely it is for Europeans to coalesce as rapidly as the American states have (altho, like Marsa Robert, I see myself as a Virginian first, a Southerner second, and only then, an American). Your 2000+ years of "interstate warfare", almost a different language and legal system for each state, ditto w/cultural mores - Yup, it does seem pretty unlikely. The only thing I can think of that would increase the probability is that the starting core of the EU were already members of NATO, and used to working together. An exception to this would be the your Eastern European members, but I happen to know (from the many close friends I have in Slovakia) that they are THRILLED to be in the EU. Since joining, their economy has hugely expanded, as has their standard of living. Finally, I am pretty sure (you should correct me if I am incorrect) that in general, the average American is more likely to stand up to a centralized government than the average European. It's not JUST because many of our citizens are better armed than the local police forces, it's that we are USED to having that state of mind. I recently read Joseph E. Perisco's "Nuremberg - Infamy on Trial" and one thing that astounded the American judges was the culture of total obedience to authority the German people exhibited. Couple that with the machine guns/pistols I which have seen many continental police carrying, and it would seem where the population isn't likely to revolt! (as far as I know, Switzerland is the only exception - its citizen/soldiers routinely keep mortars and machine guns in their homes).

  4. Anthony, there are certainly some people I would deport immediately.

  5. CB, you are absolutely right about the inherited tradition of Continental Europeans to bow before state power, often in the most abject terms. Their legal tradition is also quite different from that of the Anglo Saxons, which means that grafting their law on to ours is all the more problematic.

    I really hate everything that is happening to my country. I used to believe that it was in our best interests, at least in economic terms, to be part of this Continental bloc. Not any longer. The sooner we get out the better. With the rebels of 1861, I’m a strong believer in state rights, an enemy of the more perfect European Union.

  6. Superb article. I especially enjoyed reading about Gen R. E. Lee and the differentiation between various American identities and attachment to local particularities. God bless you.

  7. I really appreciate that. Thanks so much. :-)

  8. Ana, something that I didn't mention (but I suspect is relevant) is the effect of demographics on the whole thing. I understand that in general, indigenous Europeans aren't reproducing at remotely a high enough rate to maintain their population (for example, recently it was reported that Italy only has a birth rate of 1.23, where 2.1 is required), resulting in an ageing and shrinking population. To deal with the shortage of young, unskilled labour, millions of Turkish (and other Islamic) guest workers (and their families) have been imported. They are exhibiting birth rates as much as triple that of the natives! I understand that they really aren't assimilating into the population - there are large sections of Paris where the French police don't dare go, ditto the Dutch police in the Netherlands. Their children are being taught in Madrasa, and it's Sharia laws (and financial systems) that are being observed. What effect is this having on citizenship demographics? America has very loose requirements, but I don't know how much stricter are the EU's. Are the Muslims slowly taking over the voter's rolls, and voting the way their mullahs instruct? Or are they just guest workers that don't participate in politics, and are used to being governed (without having any say in the matter). Either doesn't look appealing.

  9. CB, it does not. There is a debate raging across the Continent on this whole issue, particularly in the Netherlands, France and Germany. On the latter look out for a book called Deutschland schafft sich ab (Germany Abolishes Itself)

  10. Storm break loose? Phwaauughh! Goebbels said that! Which inspires me to rotate this stick in the bull-ant nest: Hitler had the right idea and the wrong enemies. That's a sick joke today. Fifty years from now it may appear to be a reasonable viewpoint.

  11. Hey, Retarius, I'm glad somebody spotted my provocation. :-)) Actually he wasn't the first. It's the opening line from a poem called Männer und Buben - Men and Boys -, written by Karl Theodor Körner during the War of Liberation in Germany against Napoleon.