Category Archives: Barroso, José Manuel

Self-advancement considered as one of the fine arts

Dalrymple writes that only Stendhal, or Balzac,

could do justice to José Manuel Barroso’s trajectory in life: from revolutionary Maoist student to prime minister of Portugal to chief apparatchik of the European Union to vice-president of Goldman Sachs with special responsibility for advising the bank on how to mitigate the effects of Brexit (for the bank, of course, not for Britain or Europe). If he had been born a couple of decades earlier, he would have been a high-up in Salazar’s dictatorship.

The attraction of the European Union, says Dalrymple,

for those who are prepared to endure its tedium and its requirement always to speak in langue de bois is evident. It offers a golden reward in exchange for the obliteration of personality, character and scruple. It plays Mephistopheles to a hundred minor Fausts.

A Procrustean political bed

The purpose of the European Union, writes Dalrymple,

is to fuse very different countries in the hope that something powerful will emerge, so that European politicians may play a role on a larger stage than their own. Who would have heard of Mr Juncker had he remained a former prime minister of Luxembourg, Mr Barroso had he remained a former prime minister of Portugal (and Maoist student agitator), or Mr Kinnock had he remained but a failed leader of the British Labour party?

The Mephistophelian superstate

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 08.47.25

Jackpot

Dalrymple notes that José Manuel Barroso’s trajectory has been

  1. revolutionary Maoist student
  2. prime minister of Portugal
  3. chief apparatchik of the European Union
  4. vice-president of Goldman Sachs with special responsibility for advising the bank on how to mitigate the effects of Brexit (for the bank, not for Europe)

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 08.57.17The attraction of the EU

for those who are prepared to endure its tedium and its requirement always to speak in langue de bois is evident. It offers a golden reward in exchange for the obliteration of personality, character and scruple. It plays Mephistopheles to a hundred minor Fausts.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 08.59.22

Arachnophobia

It's not quite what the British people agreed to in the 1975 referendumFor years, writes Dalrymple,

doubt about the wisdom of a European project (whose end can only be seen as through a glass, darkly) was attributed by its enthusiasts to a quirk, one that combined some of the features of

  • mental debility
  • arachnophobia
  • borderline personality disorder

One would not be surprised to learn that the European Union had sent lobbyists to Washington to have Euroscepticism included as a category in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

By now, though,

even the most convinced European projectors must have noticed that their project is not going swimmingly.

But

the projectors suggest that the solution to the difficulties is the granting of even more powers to themselves or people like them, that is to say those who conjured up the difficulties.

Morbid conditions

are never equally distributed geographically, and Euroscepticism was originally a predominantly British disease, an amusing consequence of our insularity; but it is spreading throughout Europe. The débâcle of the common currency, which will no doubt have a dénouement but not necessarily a solution, has lowered the estimate of the union in the eyes of practically all member populations.

What if the results of referenda turn out unfavourably?

The history of the union suggests that they will either be ignored or that there will be more referenda until the population gets the answer right: the European variant of African post-colonial democracy, that is to say one man, one vote, once.

And people like Habermas, Van Rompuy, Barroso et al.

are capable of boring the people of Europe into submission. You can bamboozle people so long as politics does not really interest them because their lives are going along quietly and smoothly, and they do not pay it much attention.

But

once their attention is caught by such things as unemployment, evaporation of  their savings, constantly increasing taxes and collapsing living standards, more precision will be needed.

Words that

connote human solidarity but denote bureaucratically administered and enforced transfer payments — on a scale that make Marshall Aid look like pocket money — will no longer suffice.

Openness, says Dalrymple,

is not the same thing as the incontinent abandonment of character, any more than hospitality is the indiscriminate welcoming, without any exclusion, of all and sundry into one’s home.

Multiculturalism as an official doctrine,

complete with enforcing bureaucracies, undermines the rule of law because it seeks to divide people, formalise their cultural differences and enclose them in moral and intellectual ghettoes. The rule of law requires a common cultural understanding, not merely the means of repression to enforce a legal code. Once that cultural understanding is lost, all that remains is repression, effective or ineffective, and experienced as alien and unjust. Nothing remains but conflict or surrender.

Supranational courts cannot supply the want of a national understanding, for two reasons:

  1. They are designed to escape any national tradition, as Rousseau knew Man, but not men. Just as the European Central Bank could set interest rates adapted to none of the member countries’ economic needs, so a supranational court or organisation can produce rulings that correspond to no one’s traditions, principles, requirements or interests.
  2. Supranational organisations, unlike international ones, escape the kind of checks and balances that can operate on a national scale. In the French press the need for such checks and balances is not even mentioned, probably because it is not thought to exist. In Napoleonic tradition, every problem is conceived as an administrative one; and even as the scant legitimacy among the French population of Europe seeps away, so it is proposed that the powers of a European administrative class be increased.