Previous posts in this discussion:
PostWhat the EU Could Be vs What It Is (Nigel Jones, -UK, 10/21/17 4:23 am)
Istvan Simon (October 19th) wants me to discuss the EU in the abstract--i.e., how it could be rather than how it actually is.
Although this seems to me to be a rather pointless exercise, I am happy to do so as it does show that Istvan has shifted his position from support for the EU as it is to a theoretical discussion of what it might have been. I hope he has done so after hearing the arguments of WAISers like myself, John Heelan and Boris Volodarsky who actually live in the belly of the beast.
As John Eipper anticipates, I am not in principle opposed to a Common Market in Europe, to co-operation in trade, defence, security and other matters of common interest. This is exactly what Winston Churchill recommended after WWII to prevent a recurrence of the two world wars.
(Churchill did, however, explicitly caution that Britain, with its exceptional maritime position, Parliamentary history, Anglo-Saxon laws and insular detachment, did not belong in such a union, which is why we have never fitted in the EU and our membership has been an irritant since the day we belatedly joined.)
So much for the theory. Now for the reality.
The EU--as has become ever more obvious--is not the benign democratic body that Istvan imagines that it could be. Nor is it the purely economic and trade union that was lyingly sold to British voters by politicians when they joined in the 1970s. Its founders, Monnet and Schumann, specifically stated that it should be non-democratic. They distrusted democracy because they thought that fascist dictators like Hitler and Mussolini had come to power democratically. Instead they advocated that an unelected elite should secretly, without the peoples of Europe noticing, build a federal European state step by step that would do away with Europe's ancient nations.
This script has been followed faithfully by the EU ever since. But because--like all top-down theories cooked up by intellectual elites (Marxism for instance)--it flies in the face of human nature, history, and common sense, it has recently run into increasing trouble. If we look around Europe today we see nothing but crisis, conflict and dissent. Brexit, Catalonia, Greece, Islamic immigration, terrorism, the rise of populism, are all symptoms of this rising resentment against EU diktats. The EU is crumbling because its heart is rotten.
Now that I have answered Istvan's hypothetical question--hopefully to his satisfaction--I hope he will answer mine. (I note that he did not answer it the first time I posed it so I will repeat it.) If the US were to join an amalgam of the OAS and Canada ostensibly to facilitate trade, let us call it the "American Union" or AU, and over the next forty years the AU replaced Congress, bypassed the Presidency, overruled the Supreme Court, overrode elections, deposed governments, bought politicians, tried to abolish the dollar, and announced the beginning of a ' post-democratic era, would Istvan support replacing the USA with the AU?
If in all honesty he would not, he really should not expect the people of Britain and Europe to support the EU and the extinction of democracy and their nations.
JE comments: Istvan might counter that the US track record with democracy hasn't been so stellar (or even democratic) in recent years.
Let's discuss Nigel Jones's remark on populism (above). Nigel, do you see populism as a reaction to the EU's heavy hand? Meaning, that populism wouldn't be so, well, popular if the EU were more benign or didn't exist at all? If so, how does one explain Trumpism in the US?
How is the EU Antidemocratic?
(José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela
10/22/17 4:33 AM)
Nigel Jones wrote on October 21st: "I am not in principle opposed to a Common Market in Europe, to co-operation in trade, defense, security and other matters of common interest. This is exactly what Winston Churchill recommended after WWII to prevent a recurrence of the two world wars."
Regarding the same subject, in 2014 I wrote pretty much the same thing: "The European Union itself, which at the beginning was only intended to be a free trade agreement... proved to be good contingency measures to reduce international conflicts." And "We should remember that at the very beginning, the EU's purpose was only economic, the so-called European Common Market."
I recall that Nigel at that time mentioned that what prevented war in Europe was NATO alone; apparently he did not give credit to the EU for this result. I am glad he somehow changed his mind.
I also wrote that "I do not recall that...the EU... was ever intended to be a consolidated supranational state, a nation with its own national identity. To transform a set of different countries, with so many cultural differences and languages into such an entity, would be a miracle and, if ever possible, it would have taken a long time." To this I added, "In a continent with a long history of conflicts, wars and social, political and economic disputes, to practically get rid of frontiers is a success to me, not a failure. I am sure that if Russia or Ukraine had been members of the union, the current conflict would not have taken place."
The political or economic success of the EU is maybe still to be seen, despite its current problems. Nevertheless it is evident that even in the so-called poorest (PIGS?) member countries the level of life has improved markedly, and every member of the EU has benefited since its creation, even the British, the Germans and the French. To achieve a common identity is another matter, because the diversity of cultures is hard to integrate.
Now, regarding Nigel's question to Istvan Simon about the US hypothetically joining an amalgam of the OAS and Canada ostensibly to facilitate trade, I feel he is completely distorting the issue with this analogy. Maybe he could explain how the British parliament or any other European country has been replaced, what president has been bypassed, what Supreme court has been overruled, or what elections has been overridden, etc.
If I understand correctly, the EU´s three main institutions are:
1. The European Council, whose function is to set the general political directions and priorities of the Union, gathering together its member states' heads of state and governments (elected chief executives). The results of its summits (quarterly) are adopted democratically by consensus.
2. The European Parliament: 751 members, all directly elected. This is the EU's lower house of its bicameral legislature. It shares with the EU Council equal legislative powers to amend, approve or reject Commission proposals for most EU laws, rules and legislation. Its powers are strictly limited in areas where member states' sovereignty is their primary concern (i.e. defense). It democratically elects the Commission's President, it must approve the College of Commissioners, and may democratically vote to remove them collectively from office.
3. The European Commission, the "Guardian of the Treaties," consists of an executive cabinet of public officials, led by an indirectly elected President (elected by the Parliament). This College of Commissioners manages and directs the Commission's permanent civil service. It turns the consensus objectives of the European Council into legislative proposals.
Besides some other institutions, there is the Court of Justice, the European Central Bank, and the European Court of Auditors.
I believe it is very clear that the EU's institutional structure does not seems to be antidemocratic, nor even autocratic or authoritarian, as Nigel seems to claim or as he seems to depict with his unfortunate analogy.
JE comments: Nigel's biggest complaint (shared with many Euroskeptics) is with the Commission. I should brush up on my EU Civics, but are all the Commissioners chosen by the Parliament, or only the President?
A big thanks to José Ignacio Soler for walking us through the EU governance system. Most of us have strongly formed opinions about the Union, but few really know how it works--or is supposed to work.
A parallel question: Do European schools include EU "Civics" in the curriculum?
Churchill, Kaiser Wilhelm, and a "United States of Europe"
(John Heelan, -UK
10/23/17 4:32 AM)
Just a slight correction to José Ignacio Soler (22 October).
Churchill actually promoted a "United States of Europe" in his speech at the University of Zurich, Switzerland (9 September 1946), preferring the "unionist" position rather the "federalist position" preferred by Monet and his successors.
Churchill (and Monet and today's EU institutions) perhaps overlook the thought of Kaiser Wilhelm II when he said, "the hand of God is creating a new world and working miracles. ... We are becoming the United States of Europe under German leadership, a united European Continent." And "If a British parliamentarian comes to sue for peace, he must first kneel before the imperial standard, for this is a victory of monarchy over democracy."
The EU institutions are making "Kaiser Bill's" words come true.
JE comments: I was curious, and the Kaiser's words were actually those of an ex-Kaiser. The first statement was made in 1940, from Wilhelm's Dutch exile, in the wake of the German blitzkrieg. The second quote must have come much earlier, when the German monarchy still existed. (The Kaiser died in 1941 when Germany was still riding high in the war. Did he feel vindicated on his deathbed?)
Just to clarify: Churchill's "USE" was not to include Britain, correct?
- Populism and the Rise of Right-Wing Parties in Austria, Czech Republic (Nigel Jones, -UK 10/22/17 7:22 AM)
Our esteemed editor John Eipper (October 21) solicited my views of populism, asking whether it is a reaction to the undemocratic, dictatorial EU, and if so, how that explains Trump's triumph in the US.
My own view is that since roughly 1990, government, civil service, the media and academia in both Europe and the US have been increasingly controlled by those who in shorthand, can be characterised as a PC elite.
Socially liberal, militarily inexperienced, inclined to scorn their own countries and cut slack to their enemies, non-ideological and financially greedy, the electoral success of their centre-left parties have made them both arrogant and out of touch with the concerns of their electorates--particularly among the working class.
This has led, on both sides of the Atlantic, to the remorseless rise of populist parties and politicians, of which Donald Trump is the prime exemplar--or perhaps the reductio ad absurdum!
Until the so-called mainstream starts addressing these concerns and actually does something about them, I see no prospect of such populism losing...well, popularity!
[JE: Nigel Jones further wrote in a separate e-mail]:
A few weeks ago we were being told on WAIS that Marine Le Pen's failure to win the French Presidency meant that the populist wave in Europe had peaked.
Since then the disastrous decision of the frumpy Empress of the EU, Frau Merkel, to open the doors to a million unchecked migrants from the Middle East, has come back to bite her backside in the form of the populist anti-Islam AfD party winning seats in the Bundestag in Germany's elections and leaving her fatally weakened.
Then last weekend Austrian elections returned the reinvigorated Conservative OVP party to power. They are pledged to resist further Islamic immigration imposed by the EU. The OVP were compelled to adopt this policy by pressure from the populist right-wing Freedom Party, runner-up in the elections and their likely future coalition partners.
Now this weekend, in a similar pattern, elections in the Czech republic have returned the ANO party as the strongest force, with yet another right-wing populist party, the SDP, breathing down their necks. ANO ("Yes") is similar to Italy's Forza Italia, the creation of Silvio Berlusconi, in that it is the vehicle of a media and business tycoon, Andrej Babis, Czechia's second-richest man. He has also pledged to resist EU pressure to admit more Muslim migrants, remarking "Brussels may soon have a Muslim majority but it won't happen here."
So now we have a large bloc of Central/Eastern Europe--Poland, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic--all ruled by conservative parties adamantly opposed to the suicidal EU policy of encouraging Islamic immigration. This is scarcely surprising as these are the very countries with their own experience of Ottoman invasion who know that Islam and any semblance of Western civilisation are incompatible. Western Europe is now learning that lesson the hard way.
Yet another crack opens in the EU's edifice, and I am very surprised there has been no discussion of this on WAIS. Could it be that some WAISers are wedded to, if not employed by, the manifestly collapsing EU?
JE comments: Central Europe is turning to the right, and hard. One irony here: with the possible exception of Austria, the European nations most resistant to Muslim immigration are the ones to which Muslims by and large aren't emigrating anyway. How do we explain this? Nigel Jones cites the Ottoman example--Turks at the gates of Vienna. But that was 350-500 years ago. What other factors come into play?
- Populism and the Rise of Right-Wing Parties in Austria, Czech Republic (Nigel Jones, -UK 10/22/17 7:22 AM)
- Churchill, Kaiser Wilhelm, and a "United States of Europe" (John Heelan, -UK 10/23/17 4:32 AM)