Monday, May 30, 2005

They still don’t get it


Jacques Chirac

They still don’t get the point. It should be clear for the European political world that the European Union is a bad thing. It is centralised decision making in its most purest form, with all the overregulating, corruption and untransparancy accompanying that. Politicians and journalists, professors and students. Many of them present the eurosceptic wave coming over Europe as a problem of “image” Europe has. That there would be a core problem with it, isn’t even considered. Also now, after the “French Revolution”, little indicates that the minds are changing.

But there is light in the darkness. The Economist, the leading political magazine in the world, advised to vote against the Constitution Treaty, which is aimed at making the European construction more powerfull.

And yesterday, a French Revolution occurred. One from the bottom up, committed by normal, hard working people, feeling that their democracy is loosing decision power, not to the markets as the antiglobalists say, because that would be illegitimate decision power of a government, but to “l’Europe”. Feeling also that they are loosing it, that global competition is pushing for reforms that haven’t been made. For that they blame the highest hierarchical authority in Europe: the EU. They don’t trust something they don’t know. And with reason. The centralist inflexible Union is the main threat to prepare Europe for globalisation.

Until now, the debate has been left to the unrespectable extremes: to the extreme left and the extreme right. On the continent, eurosceptism hasn’t really been accepted into other fields of the political spectrum. But this might change rather fast. Several European leaders declared after the “Non”-result that the procedures will go on. This means that the European project will stay under fire in the upcoming referendums in Luxemburg (10/7), Poland (25/9), Denmark (27/9), Portugal (December 2005), Ireland (late 2005), the Czech republic (2006), and the UK (2006). The Netherlands have their referendum this Wednesday, and a “Nee”- vote is very likely. The process of fundamental critics to the Union was already very severe in the Netherlands, where the euro came under severe attack (Bolkestein already declared that the giving up of the stability pact means it would have been better not to join the euro). Europe is loosing legitimacy by the day.

It is time for mainstream politicians to consider that there is a fundamental problem with the Union, that there is something rotten in the state of Europe.

What will happen next? Unless the European leaders decide on their summit on the 16th of june that the Constitution project will stop, it will continue to undermine Europe’s legitimacy. At the end of 2006, there is a European summit planned which has to decide what will happen to the Constitution. Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxemburg president of the Council of the EU declared that renegotiation is no option. It looks like the European Union will at the end have to give up the project and continue with the procedures of the Nice treaty.

But suppose the Eurocrats try to go on with the treaty, in an open or a hidden way. This could give result to a clash within the Union, between the leaders of the more supranationalist states, and France is one of them, as long as they can rule the rest, and the more intergouvernmentalist, such as Britain and the Netherlands, not to forget the Eastern European Tigers. It could maybe even be the plan of France, to try to get the British out, and by that trying to create a smaller Union in order to rule smaller countries, like Belgium. The Belgian people would have lost their very old British ally then? Like Holland and England managed to escape from the Spanish absolutist rule in the 16th century, the Belgian people would remain again deprived from freedom? And its elite would fled the country again?

No. If France would succeed in its plans, the smaller Union would experience the same protests as the big European Union now. The small countries at its borders would thrive up the costs of letting the centralism exist. Citizens and businesses in the Union would demand more and more the alternative, which is decentralisation. And that is what is going to happen also now.

14 comments:

Tom said...

I think decentralization would be a good thing for the EU at this point in time. I believe EU integration cannot be dictated from the top down as it is now but needs to begin as a loose confederation that may eventually, slowly become more unified.

fcal said...

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them

Patrick Henry (1736 - 1799)

Pieter said...

Every confederation will at the end lead to a split or to a federation. And there's the slipperly slope danger. The US federation, for example, is there a fair power for the federation? I don't think so.

Mark said...

You wrote:

"What would be wrong with splitting up the US? Or at least decentralising the whole thing again?"

Why is America so blindly supporting a president destroying the republic and building an empire abroad, in order to later building it at home? Can someone argue in favour of that evolution?


There are some advantages to being a single large nation, instead of 50 smaller nations.

A strong military is one. I doubt that the state of South Dakota or Missouri could or would have defeated Imperial Japan or Nazi Germany or the Soviet Empire. Other advantages are a common market and a single currency. To be sure, some of these advantages could be had through treaty, without total unification.

Mark said...

Why is America so blindly supporting a president destroying the republic and building an empire abroad, in order to later building it at home? Can someone argue in favour of that evolution?

Many Americans do not believe that President Bush is "destroying the republic and building an empire abroad."

Instead, many Americans (including myself) believe that President Bush is helping to plant the seeds of democracy and freedom in an area of the world (the Middle East and Central Asia) in desparate need of those values.

In some sense, some Americans see President Bush as doing what America did when it confronted Fascism and Communism in Europe in the 1940s:

Defeat the enemy militarily when necessary and then attempt to help these societies secure freedom and democracy.

Pieter said...

- Given a hostile external world, it makes it harder to argue against a central defense, true.

- Nevertheless, a central defense is an internal danger. It should only be there if this is really necessary, and this is definitely not the case for Europa, where two memberstates have nukes.

A single currency isn't a good reason. I think private banks should just issue money. Besides, electronic money makes us going to that system.

I recommend you to read "America's great depression" of Murray Rothbard, in which he argues that the depression of the twenties was caused by an expansionist central bank policy in the US.

- The neocon argument for establishing democracies is a social constructivist fallacy. They should have abolished the sanctions against Saddam, that's all. Undermining his regime from underneath, as in China. All right, maybe sanctions only pointed against the regime.

There were and are so many bastards as Saddam, I think the applying of the right to overthrow other people's dictators bears in this case to many costs, not the least inside the US.

Mark said...

cleppe,

Prior to September 11th, a large majority of Americans would have accepted your views regarding American foreign policy and how it should deal with foreign dictators like Saddam.

But after September 11th Americans became much more willing to topple a dictator that gave the slightest hint of being hostile to America or American interests.

Now, I am not arguing that Saddam was involved in September 11th. I'm just pointing out the political changes in America that occurred as a result of the 9/11 attacks.

You seem to propose a laizzez-faire attitude towards foriegn policy and national security. And you suggested that I read the work of a strict Libertarian (Murray Rothbard).

I'll consider reading that. But I am skeptical that foreign policy and national security should be conducted as if it were domestic policy. I am, howver, a strong supporter of free enterprise and free markets.

Bart Vanhauwaert said...

@pieter : i don't agree the EU is what's hindering labour reform to prepare Europeans for the current wave of globalization. If at all the Bolkenstein directive is a European initiative. That countries from the former east-bloc can start competing with our own workers forcing us to become stronger and more efficient is also due to Europe.
The EU is still a very liberal club, certainly comparing with the Elysee or Berlin.
No, rigidism and old protectionist reflexes for 'national' champions like the Alstom debacle are more often based in national politics and we desperatly need a strong EU to counter that.
That is exactly what the Economist is advocating in their EU constitution commentary. They (and I agree with them) reject this draft not because it makes Europe stronger, on the contrary because it makes Europe weaker by importing part of the national rigid political thinking in a 'document incontournable'.

Pieter said...

Mark, shouldn't we be cautious about what people approove after such a dramatic event as 9-11?

I think it is impossible to draw a line beween internal and external policy of a state. The US military has an internal function, also as serving as a welfare safety net.

And when human rights are violated in Guantanamo, Americans should be cautious about violating at home.

We have seen the "PATRIOT-act". Ain't that against the American tradition? But to be honest, in Europe, they did go even further after 9-11, but nobody complains, that's the difference.

Pieter said...

Bart,

we don't need the Bolkestein directive to liberalise trade. The only thing we should do is open borders and abolish regulations.

It should be clear that the Union used the "opening of borders of goods" as a pretext to impose regulations on markets, as the European Court of Justice harmonises regulations.
Centralised regulation is inefficient, though, if it is imposed. To guarantee it would be efficient, it should be agreed upon freely by states.

It is true that France and Germany are not liberal. But it is a great fallacy to think that the Union is liberal, considering its overregulation and its huge external borders (fortress Europe, you can say)!

A small state won't survive if it is inefficient and protectionist, a big state will. So we should decentralise, abolish the supranationalist powers of the Union, and decentralise the big European countries also.

Mark said...

pieter,

Regarding the Patriot Act, I haven't noticed any reduction in my civil liberties. Despite all of the Left-wing hysteria, I still check books out of the library without worrying that the FBI or CIA is going to snatch me away in the middle of the night.

My views on the American military (and Guantanamo Bay detainees) are much different than yours.

I don't view the American military as a social safety net. It can be used for that purpose. But the same could be said for the police officer who hunts down rapists and murderers.

Many Americans might have supported the right cause (toppling Saddam) for the wrong reason (WMD). But I believe that America's national security has been improved by Saddam's removal and the attempt to plant democracy in a region where it has not existed.

I suppose we will have to agree to disagree on this.

I was a strong supporter of military spending during the Cold War against the Soviet Union and I support an agressive military policy regarding the thugocracies of the Middle East and elsewhere.

As much as I support free market economics, I don't believe it is always applicable to foreign policy issues where force tends to displace voluntary agreement.

Pieter said...

Well, Mark, indeed I'm not in favour of the war in Iraq, and I'm having serious doubts whether the Reagan military spending was a good thing. I would have preferred to see the Communist countries making a smooth evolution, rather than a revolution. I think revolution is very rarely a good thing. The first ten years after, Russia was in chaos, terrorised by criminals (although the CP were also in fact), and the people of Eastern Europe didn't improve (also because they had to pay off the debts of their old regime).

More fundamentally, I think, as I said, that you can not isolate defence and security matters from the general principles of liberty. Even if I would, I think there should be more critical sense towards military and security operations. Well, if interested, I can recommend you:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/

Mark said...

Pieter,

You recommended Murray Rothbard and now Lew Rockwell.

Both are very "pure" in their libertarianism. While I consider my political views as being heavily influenced by libertarianism (I enjoyed, "What it means to be a libertarian," by Charles Murray), I retain a traditionalist point of view as well.

But, we Americans tend to view military force as possibly a force for good (in addition to being potentially an evil) because of our role in World War II and the Cold War.

Many on the American Left, of course, thought that the US was almost as bad (if not worse than) the Soviet Union.

But many "right of center" Americans believe that military force can do what diplomacy and trade cannot: displace dictatorships with democracies.

I recommend, "The End of History and the Last Man," by Francis Fukuyama.

Also, "Reagan's War," by Peter Schwietzer

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