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Post France, UK and EU
Created by John Eipper on 02/08/12 7:16 AM

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France, UK and EU (Nigel Jones, -UK, 02/08/12 7:16 am)

It is always a pleasure (and happens with surprising frequency) when my old intellectual sparring partner Alain de Benoist (7 February) "entirely agrees" with one of my posts! (Though I suspect that we often reach identical conclusions by looking from the polar opposites at a given question).

Alain has clearly studied the Hungarian question in more depth than I. All I can add to the matter is that I see a familiar pattern once again raising its ugly head. Viz, a government elected with an overwhelming majority of its own people being bullied and overruled by an unelected outside power. The Hungarians, of course, have plenty of experience of being bullied by an over-mighty foreign power. When they resisted in 1956, they were crushed by Soviet tanks. Resistance in 2012 will be crushed by the less spectacular, but no less powerful, forces of the EU's economic tanks.

I would, however, like to widen the discussion to take up some of Alain's other points by borrowing a title from my hero George Orwell and writing a few "Notes on Nationalism," since I believe that it is old-fashioned nationalism--or, if you prefer, patriotism--that will destroy the European Union. Let me try to explain.

Alain, as I hope he would agree, is a patriotic Frenchman. France, perhaps because of its unhappy experiences of occupation in the 20th century, is still an intensely patriotic, not to say nationalistic, nation. It was instrumental in setting up the organisation that has evolved from the Franco-German Iron and Steel confederation to the Common Market, to the European Economic Community, to the European Community and finally to today's European Union.

The EU, in all its manifestations, is a French project, founded by two Frenchmen (Monnet and Schumann) and was seen by France as a way of avoiding a fourth ruinous war with Germany, while dominating smaller European countries. The EU's structure is that of a French department of state; its civil servants are either French or French-minded; its subsidiary institutions likewise.

General de Gaulle, as a nationalistic Frenchman, saw the EU--along with the remnants of the French empire, still tied to France despite notional independence--as a way of projecting a French "Force du frappe" (power) in rivalry to the hated Anglo-Saxons. As Alain rightly notes, he kept Britain out of the Common Market because, as a nation as big as France, it might challenge France's leading role. De Gaulle also had a personal issue with Britain and America as he had been forced to flee to London in WWII and entirely depended on British support for his "Free French" movement. Had it not been for Churchill's backing (which he later regretted) no one would have ever heard of De Gaulle. FDR was no fan of De Gaulle and opposed him until that became politically impossible. For a proud man like De Gaulle, this humiliating dependence on the Anglo-Saxons was intolerable, and he had his revenge by keeping Britain out of the Common Market while he had the chance.

When Britain finally got in in 1973, the architecture of the EU was already set in stone and was impossible to alter. (You cannot build a Wren cathedral when Le Corbusier has already designed the ground floor.) It is this basic incompatibility of a continental system with an "Anglo-Saxon" one that has made the EU ever more unpopular in Britain ever since--along with its increasingly sinister anti-democratic power grab. The country that bred the Levellers, the Chartists, and the Suffragettes and invented Parliamentary democracy around 1700 doesn't take too kindly to being run by countries whose democracy is fragile and recent at best, and whose leading political figures over the past couple of centuries have been Napoleon, Mussolini, Hitler and Franco.

Now its time for a bit of honesty: I think Alain's animosity to the Anglo-Saxon model is rooted in history. If I were French I would resent a country that has won every conflict with France (and there have been many of them) since the 100 Years War ended in the 1450s. I would resent the two nations who liberated France in two World Wars, and the graves of whose soldiers who died in that liberation still litter the soil of north and eastern France.

Nationalism is still a force far more potent than the ersatz new "European" identity, with its stupid flag of stars and its hated nomenklatura promoted in Brussels. That was OK in the good times, but in economic winter, older ties reassert themselves. That's why German flags are burned in Athens. Why Germans grumble about lazy Greeks, and why little Sarkozy gets angry with the City of London. No doubt its all very sad and anachronistic, but--hey--so is Europe!

As for Alain wishing Scotland independent (because it would weaken the England he dislikes), it might surprise him to learn that I, and most English people, heartily desire such an outcome too. Scotland is heavily subsidised by the English taxpayer. The only problem is the Scots themselves--according to opinion polls they don't want independence, because they want to continue sucking on the teat of the said taxpayer.

JE comments: With this posting from Nigel Jones, the dormant Jones-Benoist polemic will be jostled back to life.  I believe Alain will deny that he's a French nationalist; I've always seen him more as a champion of pre-modern (i.e., pre-national) cultures and institutions.

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