Back in 1975 when Britain was holding its referendum on membership of the European “Common Market”, I must admit I was in favour of the idea of joining. I realized the government was talking only about the Common Market and avoiding talking about the idea of a Federal European Super-State because too many people would be against that, but it was obvious (to me) that that was the basic idea, and I thought that that would be a good thing: to me, parochial nationalism was (and still is) bad for the future of humanity: it was small-minded, and led to too many wars.
Strangely, most people seemed to accept the government on its word and were talking only about the simple trading arrangements that the Common Market represented. That seemed naive to me even though I wasn’t old enough to vote. It still seems strange to me that people believe government spokespeople when they avoid the subject, lie, etc… (such as on mass immigration from within the EU and from Islamic nations these days). Still, I was with the majority at the time in being in favour of joining, as indeed we did.
I think we can see, with the benefit of hindsight, that the whole experiment is going off the rails, and in any case was misconceived from the start. A number of problems come to mind.
- The lack of democracy implied by those politicians’ prevarications right at the beginning – failing to discuss the federal plans of Europe and not mentioning the “ever closer union”, knowing people would be against it – should have been a warning. Europe – the EU – is not democratic. Not only is that simply morally wrong, it is a major reason for the project’s failure. It is simply not feasible that a bunch of upper-middle-class bureaucrats looking after the interests of themselves and their big-business friends can run anything in the majority’s interests. They don’t in the individual nations either, but in the EU all this is writ large: the European Parliament has no real voice and is even less representative than most nations’ failing regional parliaments anyway (I don’t think much of so-called “representative” democracy as a system, although finding better alternatives is a real problem). The EU could, perhaps, have been made to work if the people’s multiple voices had been listened to, and integration done with the people’s resistance and support worked out in an adult way, with open discussion and vehement argument, instead of these Eurocrats treating the mass of the population as if they were children, trying to keep us all in the dark. We may be under-educated and encouraged to lack sufficient interest in politics, but we do know what’s good for us, in fact. A system that starts with lies and having to hide its real agenda is going down the wrong path and is probably doomed, as the truth has to come out sooner or later.
- The deception inherent in the early days of the EU has continued: there have been a number of referenda about treaty changes over the years. At first, when countries voted the “wrong” way (i.e., against greater union and handing over sovereign powers to the EU), those countries simply had to hold the referendum again until the voters got it right. Recently, with the EU constitution referendum, which was scuppered by French and Dutch voters, the EU simply enacted the terms of the constitution in a way that didn’t need a referendum – and we have the Treaty of Lisbon. Frankly, this is unacceptable. People who say Europe is being driven towards some sort of socialist/fascist dictatorship are probably exaggerating, but from government action like this you can see what they mean: Europe’s ruling classes plainly do not believe in democracy. That can only be dangerous, given human nature.
- The whole idea of forging a new nation-state, or super-nation, out of the existing nation-states of Europe, was probably a doomed idea from the start, especially if implemented by force or deception rather than by evolution, discussion and education, because it ignores the lessons of the past few centuries of Europe’s history. Not so long ago, Europe had a feudal system, with no nation-states at all. Instead, countries consisted of aristocratic landholdings scattered randomly throughout the continent. The populations within those lands spoke various languages – a single aristocrat could own chunks of what are now Austria, Germany, Spain, Holland and other places, and the populations each spoke their own languages. Europe was a patchwork of landed estates. When feudalism was abolished after the revolutions of the 18th century, nation-states gradually appeared (after numerous wars to sort them out, the most recent of which being in the former Yugoslavia, again a nation forged with no reference to the wishes of those living there). These nation-states were based roughly on language, plus some hazy ideas that the local people had as to which “people” or nation they belonged. The problem with a European Super-State is that it takes none of this into account, but instead tries to forge a new nation-state on the somewhat undefined idea of Europe, but not on any linguistic basis, or on the ideas that people still have about to which people they belong: a Frenchman is just not a German, or, gods forbid, a Brit. And the cultural differences between these peoples are not just going to go away because we are all being brainwashed into buying the same needless new gadgets and aspirational whatnots from the TV and magazine lifestyle ads. It was a nice try, perhaps, but it hasn’t worked. Despite the deliberately poor education of most people, enough are smart enough – smarter than the majority in the ruling classes, obviously – to see through these plans and to decide for themselves what kind of country they want to live in.
- The single currency. Well, what a stupid idea that was. The EU is not the United States (and even they had a massive civil war before they sorted things out a bit): let’s all be forced into one currency so we don’t have proper control over our own economy any more. That way, when we are uncompetitive, we can’t devalue our currency any more but will have to work harder instead or something. That’ll work! And while the Eurocrats were busy making up stupid anti-competitive rules about the shape of a cucumber (making life difficult for small businesses but helping their rich mega-farming friends), they were at the same time ignoring important issues such as reforming those uncompetitive economies so that they could compete. Thus, after all these years in the EU, the Spanish still have ridiculous rules that stop people starting new businesses or bankrupt existing ones, such as the one where all new self-employed people have to pay some €250 a month in tax, even if they aren’t making that much (most of my self-employed businesses have never made that much); or a business that moves into premises where a previous business was subject to an unpaid fine (which probably forced it to close), takes on that debt (which will probably force it to close). Or, in Greece, where existing businesses have a poweful say in which new businesses can set up in their area to compete with them, so the resulting legal battles can take a decade or more before someone new can start trading, or where it is illegal to, for example, sell or even lend books from, say, a coffee-shop. At least it gives the Greek population time to protest that they have no jobs… Maybe it could have worked if these pathetic countries hadn’t been left to reform their economies on their own – certainly they haven’t done it. Something so crucial to the working of the system was foreseeable, was foreseen, and was ignored by our great and secretive leaders.
- From the point of view of Britain, it became particularly clear that the EU amounted to an anti-British conspiracy as soon as we discovered (the politicians hadn’t mentioned it) that we would have to drop all preferential trading arrangements with the nations of the British Commonwealth. The UK was the main export market for many of these countries, which were suddenly plunged into impoverishment without notice. Very nice. Anyway, such rules could only have resulted in a weaker, poorer Britain than would otherwise have been. Yes, by joining the EU we could trade more easily with the European nations, and we have done so, but only by cutting off a load of others. Net result: better, or worse? Worse for the Commonwealth. For the UK, not as good as it should have been, at least. Can we go back to the Commonwealth? I doubt it; not with the current bunch of economically uneducated twits running the country anyway. There will be a penalty for leaving, but as we are a net contributor to the EU budget, even with the reductions negotiated in the ’80s, that might still work out as a profit. And given that the Commonwealth is probably not an option for British exports, we will have to leave on terms that allow us to continue trading with the rump of the EU on some sort of preferential basis.
Well, enough said: is it time to dump these Euro-idiots and deal only with our own idiots? What do you think? Leave your comments below.