Category Archives: European political class

Centripetal and centrifugal forces in doomed Europe

CONTINENTAL PARADOX

The centripetal forces, writes Dalrymple,

are those that would lead to the ever closer union proclaimed to be the purpose of the EU (eventual total union),

while the centrifugal forces are such as the following.

  • Flanders nationalists want independence from Belgium. The status and prestige of the French and Flemish languages created resentment: the Flanders aristocracy or haute bourgeoisie spoke French not Flemish; the educated Flemish speakers learnt French but the French-speakers did not learn Flemish. Many Flemings have neither forgotten nor forgiven that while Belgian army officers in the Great War were French-speaking, the Belgian infantrymen, the cannon-fodder, spoke Flemish and could neither understand the officers nor be understood by them. (Today the Flemings subsidise the Walloons.)
  • Scottish nationalists want independence from Britain. (Scotland receives subsidies from London.) Unlike the Irish, the Scots have little to complain of at the hands of the English, at least in the past two centuries. The Scots were among the greatest advocates and beneficiaries of the British Empire; and far from being an anti-imperialist movement, Scots nationalism is a consequence of the decline and fall of empire rather than a rejection of British imperialism.
  • Catalan nationalists want independence from Madrid. Catalonia is more prosperous than the rest of Spain, and its taxes subsidise other parts of the country. Catalans felt oppressed by the Franco regime.
  • Basque nationalists want independence from Spain.
  • In Wales within living memory, children could be punished for speaking Welsh on the playground. There were Welsh-speaking parents who did not want their children to grow up speaking Welsh (those of Dylan Thomas, for example) — they felt that speaking Welsh was not merely useless but harmful to the prospects of young Welshmen. The experience of being punished for speaking one’s native tongue in one’s native land is bound to create resentment. (Cardiff is a recipient of subsidies from London.)
  • Corsican nationalists recently won local elections. (Corsica receives subsidies from Paris.)
  • A northern Italian movement wants to disembarrass that prosperous part of the country of its perpetually impoverished south, which it must subsidise.
  • Many Bavarians want independence from Germany.

SEARCH FOR IDENTITY

Dalrymple points to factors in the rise of separatist movements.

  • People dislike their near-neighbours more than they dislike distant ones. Since hatred is by far the strongest political emotion, it is not surprising that people in search of an identity find it in distinguishing themselves, usually with dislike, from their nearest neighbours.
  • There is the search for identity in modern conditions, in which even in supposedly small countries, large cities make anonymity the normal daily experience of the majority. In such conditions nationalism, like tattooing and piercing, becomes a shortcut to personal identity.

MEGALOMANIA OF PETTY POTENTATES

Why are the separatist movements strongly pro-EU? (This appears strange in so far as the EU would destroy or replace national sovereignty.) Why are nationalist centrifugalists so eager to form an alliance with EU centripetalists, who wish to efface the very thing the nationalists claim to be seeking? Dalrymple examines three hypotheses.

  1. The nationalists might not be aware of the contradiction. Few of us are logical calculating machines who work out the full implications of our beliefs, let alone always act in our own best interests.
  2. Out of the frying-pan into the fire: nationalist dislike of immediate neighbours may loom so large that it overcomes thought.
  3. Leaders of the nationalist parties or separatist groups want there to be more places at the top table—vacancies that they would then fill. They might even rise to the dizzying heights of the former prime minister of Luxembourg, who has long bestridden the world, or Europe at any rate, like a colossus. This he could never have done without the existence of the EU. In other words, personal ambition and the megalomania of petty potentates.

EUROPE OF REGIONS

What should be the attitude of leaders of the EU towards the potential fracturing of the EU member states as they are at present constituted? Dalrymple explains.

In the short term, EU leaders have to pretend to support the current arrangements, because for the moment power is concentrated in the hands of the leaders of those member states. If the power in Madrid or London begins, however, to seep away, the path to a Europe not of the nations but of ‘the regions’ is cleared.

Why the British shunned the European superstate

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 23.11.50Dalrymple writes that the precise nature of the so-called European Project is

never spelt out or even demanded.

However, the purpose of the project is clear. It is

the creation of a United States of Europe whose main object is to be powerful.

This empire-building, Dalrymple notes,

is the obsession of the European political class, not of most of the people.

To create a unitary European state in the hope that identity will follow

seems to me to court a Yugoslav-type dénouement.

The Yugoslavia de nos jours

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 09.04.37

Koversada socialist naturist park in Istria, Vrsar, on the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, Yugoslavia

For those, writes Dalrymple,

who have nothing but contempt for the European Union and the political class that has formed it, these are happy days.

Clear-sighted people have long realised that

  • the single currency is unworkable without political union
  • political union is impossible with even the most minimal democratic oversight, and is therefore essentially a fascist ideal
  • in the end the so-called union will bring conflict and even violence

Having pursued, says Dalrymple,

the policy of après nous le déluge for so long, European politicians find themselves in a dilemma: they have to decide which kind of economic degradation to plump for. They can maintain demand for a time at the expense of the currency, or they can maintain the currency for a time at the expense of demand.

Monotony and feebleness of Eurofederalist argumentation

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 10.34.53The best hope for the European Union, writes Dalrymple,

would be for it to eventually evolve into an enormous Belgium. More likely, it will evolve into an enormous Yugoslavia circa 1990.

The European political class and its intellectual cheerleaders

appear determined to produce one or the other. Whenever I listen to the defenders of the European Union I am astonished at the thinness of their argumentation and the ruthlessness of their determination.

Here are just three of the feeble and sketchy arguments:

1. European civilisation is superior to all others, for it is the only one that has ever accorded adult status to individuals. From now until 2020, 130m children will enter forced marriages. Without the indispensable infrastructure that is the European Union, Europe will be swept away by ill winds that blow from all directions.

Dalrymple:

Preposterous and cowardly. European civilisation predated the European Union by some years. The malign trend does not reach Europe from all directions—not from North or South America, for example, or Russia. The words are directed against Muslims, though there is not the courage to say so. There is no danger or prospect of forced marriage becoming general in Europe, nor is there any reason to suppose that a Europewide state would be better at preventing or prohibiting it among Muslim minorities than the present nation states are.

2. The only way of combating the kind of nationalism that led to catastrophic European wars is European federalism.

Dalrymple:

Absurd. There is no reason to believe that, but for the European Union, Portugal would attack Estonia, Ireland Luxembourg, or Greece Denmark. The only plausible candidates for a serious military conflict on the continent are France and Germany. What is really being said is that the European Union is necessary to contain Germany. This is to subscribe to the view of the Germans as eternal militarists, the inevitable enemy of France. I do not believe that but for the European Union, Germany would attack France.

3. The countries of Europe must unite politically in order to compete in the world. Large countries such as China, India, and the USA have clout; there is no place for small countries. In order to be of any account, European nations must forgo sovereignty and become part of a heftier entity.

Dalrymple:

This ignores

  • the political difficulties of union
  • the impossibility of making a functioning democracy of so many different nations
  • the inevitable clashes of national interest that federalisation would entail

It also ignores the evidence that many of the most successful countries in the world are small. There is no reason why countries cannot cooperate, including militarily, without pooling sovereignty; such pooling as has occurred in Europe has held its prosperity back. The currency union without any kind of fiscal union has proved disastrous for several countries, and is economically deleterious for all. But the further step of fiscal union could only be imposed by an unelected, authoritarian bureaucracy upon countries unwilling to comply, and whose interests might not be served by compliance. Sooner or later, a federation would lead to war, or at least to revolution.

The arguments of the federalists

are trotted out with monotonous regularity, like the stories of someone with Alzheimer’s, and anyone who raises objections, however obvious and unanswerable, is immediately compared to a rabid nationalist, as if to be attached to a national identity were a symptom of hating everyone else. There are such rabid nationalists, to be sure. Forced federation is the best way of ensuring their increase in numbers and influence.

The badness of an idea

does nothing to halt its progress. Europe is sleepwalking (yet again) to cataclysm.