Tuesday, 17 November 2009

To Infinity and Beyond

Amongst supporters of Britain’s continued membership of, and subjection to, the European Union a common (you should excuse the expression) argument (trans. bald, unsupported statement contrary to known fact and bereft of logic) is that the EU is somehow governed along rational and even scientific lines compared with the national governments.

Rather than being dependent on all those silly old ad hoc forms of governance left over from millennia of human settlement in Europe’s cluster of peninsulas and attendant archipelago, if only we put the right technocrats in charge then the entire muddle would be sorted out and Europe would become a peaceful and prosperous superpower.

Just ditch all those messy leftovers from a (diverse!) disorderly past: from the settlemnts of Indo-European speakers to Christendom; from Classical Civilization and the heritage of the Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment, and working through local and national institutions, and Law, Reason, and efficiency will reign from County Kerry to, um, somewhere on the Danube. Or the Upper Euphrates. Or hopefully one fine day the Dneiper . Or the Don. The Yangtze. Who knows?

Get shut of all that nonsense of inheriting and anointing and nominating and canvassing and polling which really represent little more than centuries of superstition and inherited prejudice, and the good life will be assured from the Atlantic to the Black Sea. As the European Project builds up speed, and you can junk all the Celtic mythology and Germanic romanticism along with the meaningless borders and decidedly unmodern local customs and shires and States cantons and Provinces and Departements and oo la-la all that inefficiency and competition and parochialism will disappear to wherever the dryads and trolls and Magna Carta went to.

So you’d expect that choosing the President would be an ultra-modern, streamlined, silver-chrome rocketship of a process; a gleaming Dan Dare symbol of European hyper-modernity in contrast to all those complex national elections with several rounds of voting and the Royal Assent and hereditary monarchies and white smoke from burning ballot papers and ballot papers at all and indeed fussing about by asking anyone at all outside the EU institutions, such as, say, the citizens formerly known as the electorate, formerly known as free people...

Utter tosh: a Europhile writes.

Vanessa Mock: Shadowy race, but with the right result

It is nothing new for the EU to be blasted for being an opaque and shadowy bureaucratic behemoth, but the search for an EU President…

Actually, President of the EU is a fictitious and potential post, but somehow I can’t help feeling that our author really wants it to come true. What’s really on offer is the post of President of the European Council, which in turn is not to be confused with the quite different President of the EU Parliament. ‘Opaque and shadowy?’ Why, it’s child’s play.

Complete with scissor-wielding rubber dummies.

Note that the President of the EU is a theoretical post ; theoretical as in ‘We have no plans at the moment to bulldoze the nursery to make all the little children go away.’

… has triggered some of the most strident criticism yet of the way Brussels operates.

Objecting to the willful dissolutions of centuries-old political institutions isn’t modern or scientific, you see: it’s ‘strident.’ Hey guys, why not remove the ‘s’ from strident and run a real European policy?

Only joking.

Many of the candidates have not publicly declared themselves in a race that has taken place behind closed doors.

Well, the Tory party leader was chosen much like that until the 1960s, and of course almost all of Eastern Europe had its governments decided that way until the promise of EU membership with generous derogations and the hope of subsidiary principles made flesh brought the Iron Curtain down. Many of the East European parties and their leaders are probably so accustomed to governing from behind closed doors that this process probably feels quite traditional – a tradition that goes all the way back to 1945, I might add.

It’s tempting to imagine a dark, cavernous room illuminated by a single flickering candle (made of genuine vertebrate tallow) in the middle of a black, circular table here, with 27 hooded figures in midnight-coloured robes; faceless but for the steely glitter on an eye and colourless but for the occasional Thule Gesellschaft signet ring, the Grand Master’s pentagram brand, a Bank of Carthage fob watch or the knock-off Rolex on the skinny wrist of the British initiate.

And then I start to pour the unleaded down the stairs towards them…

One of the few openly campaigning for the job, former Latvian president Vaira Vike-Freiberga, has accused the EU of operating "Soviet-style" in "darkness". Last week, Poland led a group of nations demanding presentations from the frontrunners to make the process more transparent and democratic.

You’d think that such people would know what life under the Soviets was like, and their diverse experience would bring a bit of variety to institutions founded in Western Europe under the watchful care of the US Army, Navy, and Air Force. But it appears that their objections have the worst possible quality to the Eurosquish fascist commentator.

Yet these calls are unhelpful in this fraught and complex diplomatic game.

Unhelpful! Oh Noes! That’s worse than racist! Who will save us from this awful tide of unhelpfulness?

The Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose nation holds the rotating presidency, has been negotiating for weeks with the 27 capitals.

That’s the EU’s regional governors’ headquarters, with such familiar names and Rome, London, Paris and Berlin, rather than some hitherto unknown but recently discovered futhark. The Really Very Younger Non-Specific 27 Stave Common European Rune Row, perhaps.

The President and High Representative

High Representative!’ how grandiose can you get? He’s probably got facial tattoos descending to his knees and is known to his pals as Darth.

…have to strike a balance between small and large,

So there’s the Leprechauns and the Ice Giants appeased, and any tacky post-1970’s British comedy duo,

…east and west…,

Anybody round here’s grandmother raped by an Ottoman, or anybody round here’s grandmother raped on an Ottoman?

Yeah? Cool.

You’re both in then.

…north and south…

So, that’s a double helping of pickled herring with extra tangy lemming sauce and an equally valid side order of olives with nougat.

But wait! What kind of Alpine idiot crossbowed this carefully balanced apple cart and asked for fondue?

…member states. Ideally, one should be a woman and they should come from the EU's two biggest political families.

Auf Wiedersehen Order of Merit. Bonjour, Order of Proportionate and Balanced Representativitynessitude or whatever. So we’ve got to have a girl – good idea for when the DVD record timer need to be set and so on, and of course someone from each of The European Peoples’ Party and The Socialist Party so there’ll always be someone to make fudge even if he (or she!) can’t cut the mustard.

Notice that national groupings means nothing here, or language groups. There’s a reason for that.

It is a near-impossible task that has already dragged on.

Just up the EU’s alley, of course, and a problem purely of its own creation. A bunch of kids could pick sides for a kickabout football game easier and more sensibly than this farrago.

Suggestions of a US-style presidential campaign ignore the fact that whoever gets these un-elected posts will always be accountable to the 27 member states and will wield no power without them.

But since the whole EU project is intended to blur party and ideological lines and to dissolve national loyalties, the winner is sure to be with the programme from the start.

Infuriating and shadowy it may be, but in the end a consensus will be found. And that is what matters in a union of 27 very different countries.

Consensus is what matters. Not good government, or honesty, or recognition of the long and marvelously complicated histories of our many nations: certainly not freedom or democracy or any idea that the State is supposed to serve and protect its people, just a decision, however bad, mediocre, aimless or foolish, as long as it is made.

And as for an institution that can’t even pick its head bureaucrat (whose role might one day magically transmute into Supreme Leader of Europe) without doing it in secret and making a big girly fuss about it…

I have nothing against compromise. I’m a conservative and I value the principle. It’s how nations and families and companies work. I have few qualms about old and tested institutions that aren’t democratic being used to make important decisions – especially when they derive from and in tune with, established and familiar polities such as nation-states. But what this shows about the EU’s central philosophy about decision-making and the writer’s appreciation of it is the giveaway.

They plan to run our defence policy whilst up against nuclear-armed lunatics. Their compromise over Iranian missiles coming their way any time soon wasn’t to station European anti-missiles defences in Poland or better yet anywhere near the Mediterranean when Obama decided to pull the plug, but to make a bit nice with the Russians whose Putinist Commietzarist philosophy is Cold War With Added Oil Revenues, and to secretly hope the Israelis will do something soon, and bite their nails. I have a niece and a nephew who visit Central Europe a lot. Compromise isn’t going to keep them alive - not one that contains Greens, and Socialists and Soviet-Era Communist thugs in charge, at any rate.

They already run our workplace conditions, half of our policing across borders and they dictate the means of our waste disposal, our tax system, our agriculture and they have replaced our fisheries. They want to govern all aspects of Europeans’ lives, for which they need leaders for the whole heartless, pointless, aimless and amoral project.

And they’re choosing them by some Paleolithic-seeming magical process called ‘consensus’ where the process, and not the result, is apparently what makes the sorcery work.

They want power over all of the rest of it, and they still can’t appoint the top clerk with anything like consulting the people.

Not very modern. Not very rational at all.

Oh, and the front-runner’s a Belgian.

I feel safer already.


Sue said...

The whole project is a sodding farce!

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Post of the month, if not longer!

Great stuff, well done.

James Higham said...

You do have a unique style in your take on such a gloomy matter.

North Northwester said...

Hi Sue. Yep, easy targets I aim at. But it's so satisfying hitting them when we're down and they're up.

Hello Weekend Yachtsman. Thanks for your kind comment. Anger is often the loudest Muse, and I won't be calming down any time soon, alas.

James, you know me - the lower Dextrosphere's equivalent of that Picture Board competition on A Question of Sport. You know, the one where they show a tiny part of a sportsman and slowly reveal more and more of Mohammed Ali? And there's no nice angle from which to view the EU. Except possibly from 30,000 feet above.

Frank Davis said...

heartless, pointless, aimless and amoral

I stopped reading when I got to those words. Not because I didn't understand, or disagreed, or anything. But because I'd never come across the EU described that way. And it was memorable.

North Northwester said...

Frank Davis, welcome, and thanks for your comment.
My first show-stopper, perhaps? The insight isn't mine, of course; but Roger Scruton's from - I think - his Political Philosophy: Arguments for Conservatism.

I can't find a lazy online example of it readily, but here’s the book from which it came. I don’t think that even the most ardent of Rhineland Europhiles are brave or foolish enough to suggest that the EU exists to prevent the French and the Germans from going to war ever again as they did in my youth (at least, they daren’t mention it in these islands where the public’s looking), and even the counter-balance to the USA argument rings a bit hollow, especially as Obamanation seems hell-bent on transforming America into Social Democratic Europe Mark Two. The process is the goal, as far as I can see; ever-closer union is both the path and the prize.


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