Category Archives: European project

The doomed European Union

A faceless international bureaucracy will never replace the nation state

Britain, Dalrymple points out,

has a very different (and incompatible) political and legal tradition from that of the rest of Europe.

Moreover,

people need a sense of identity rooted in land and culture, and not just in an abstract idea. There may be some citizens of the world who feel equally at home anywhere, but they are few, and the majority of people feel a need for some kind of physical and cultural rootedness. The most satisfactory way of finding such rootedness in the modern world, that permits both freedom and a degree of democratic control, is via the nation state. It commands loyalty, affection and a sense of duty to a degree that no other polity does. It has its deformations, but it gives its citizens a sense that the polity under which they live is theirs and is capable of responding to their concerns.

By contrast,

a faceless international bureaucracy, composed of superannuated politicians of a variety of countries, clinging to unelected power and influence like limpets to a rock, will never replace the nation state in the affections of most people.

Advertisements

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 Dalrymple voted for Brexit

Dalrymple spends part of every year in his house in Shropshire

Despite the fact that the European Union is far from being the cause of all the country’s problems, the outcome of the 2016 UK EU membership referendum steers Britain away from a potential monster, Dalrymple tells an interviewer.

Although no sensible person would liken it to the Third Reich or the Soviet Union, the EU nevertheless bears the seeds of an unfree state. It wants to force different peoples together in an artificial union. Dalrymple notes that Belgium is such a union: it holds together, more or less, but to do such a thing on a larger scale is to court major problems.

And the argument that the EU is the only way for Europe to play a role on the world stage can be swept aside. The EU has shown only weakness.

The European project, says Dalrymple, is little but misplaced megalomania.

 

The giant error that is the European Union

Dalrymple notes that proponents of the unitary European state

always talk about the European project. But they never tell you what it is.

In fact the European oligarchs are building

a new Yugoslavia,

or, if we are very lucky, a new Belgium,

a dysfunctional country that somehow functions.

But Dalrymple points out that

it is much harder when you have 27 countries.

The Eurocrats, he notes, are

determined to keep it together, because it is their jobs and their power that are in danger.

Plus,

nobody likes to admit that they have made a mistake.

The crumbling EU soft-dictatorship

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-09-45-45Dalrymple suggests that many of the 52% who voted for Brexit in the UK European Union membership referendum might have done so

because they feared that the ‘European project’ was the creation of a vast sovereign state to slake the thirst for power of megalomaniacs of the political class, impossible of even minimal democratic oversight, a giant Yugoslavia.

The leaders of France, Germany, and Italy have said that they want to push forward to closer political union. Dalrymple comments:

Consider the following. The French government, whose legitimacy no one will deny even if he denies its competence, is attempting some weak reforms of the rigid French labour market. This has resulted in months of conflict and continued violence. But at least the reform is the work, or attempted work, of a French government. Imagine if the reform were imposed by fiat of a European government despite the opposition of the French government and members of the European parliament.

The hydra is genderqueer

screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-20-34-09Dalrymple writes that

if genderqueerism spreads, one can only hope for the future of the human race that the biotechnologists find a way of turning Man into a kind of hydra, the simple coelenterate that reproduces not sexually, but by budding.

Being genderqueer, he says,

is a bit like being a European according to the projectors of the European Project: that is to say one identifies not as German or French or Portuguese, but as European.

Man and meaninglessness

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-10-27-27Lack of meaning is a serious problem in modern Man, says Dalrymple. This is so particularly in Europe.

Dalrymple asks us to consider the possible sources of meaning in people’s lives:

  • the struggle for existence. This no longer applies. It is impossible to starve in the West.
  • religion. In England, and certainly in France, it is nearly dead. England is a very irreligious country, and France is an anti-religious country. (The English are too lazy to be anti-religious; they’re just not religious.)
  • politics. Whatever you say about Marxism, it provided people with a transcendent purpose. They thought they were taking part in something bigger than themselves. They were. Unfortunately, it was something very bad.
  • Participating in or contributing to culture. There has been an almost deliberate cutting-off of people from any sense of continuation of a culture. It’s not as bad in France as in Britain.
  • patriotism. In Europe this is shunned. It is equated with the worst of excesses.

What is left? Advocates of the unitary European State try, says Dalrymple,

to make the European Project (as they call it — they never tell you what it actually is) a source of meaning, but it is no source of meaning.

Superior rationality of the Eurocrats

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-19-45-29Thwarted élites, Dalrymple points out,

are not good losers. They resort to any manœuvre to ensure that they prevail.

Brexit

is by no means a certainty.

But just say that Britain were able to effect the departure from the European Union that most of its citizens want. In that case,

the EU’s hopes for survival would rest on catastrophe for Britain. If it were able to prosper outside the Union, or maintain its level, the value of the Union would be called into question by the peoples of Europe even more than it is today.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-19-47-28Imperative that the British be made

  to suffer for their impertinence,

as Admiral Byng was shot pour encourager les autres. This could not be done

without causing harm to European companies that do a lot of trade with Britain; but when it comes to the EU, politics overrides economics. If it did not, the common currency would not have been created, for there was little justification for its creation; to the contrary, there were many obvious disadvantages for most member countries.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-19-49-44The ‘European project’, Dalrymple explains,

is a political rather than an economic one. A prosperous economy is only desired insofar as it is necessary to produce a strong and powerful polity. The aim of the EU is not peace but power. The driving force of the Union and its so-called project (never spelt out) is megalomania.

The wishes of Europe’s people not only must not be followed,

but should be neither consulted nor even known. This contempt for the opinions of the ruled was inherent in the European ‘project’ from its inception, its founders believing in the incapacity of populations to know what was in their best interest, and that a cadre of the enlightened knew their interest better than they.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-19-52-24‘Democratic oversight’

should be appearance rather than reality,

that the masses might believe

they are ruled by consent. Any pretence of such oversight must not be allowed to interfere with the serious business of benevolent, wise, but bureaucratic or technocratic control of society. Politics is to be abolished in favour of administration: the dream of every utopian from Plato to Marx and anarchists of every stripe.

But Dalrymple notes that

riding roughshod over a population’s opinions and sentiments in the name of a supposedly superior rationality is not a very wise policy.

A public flogging

That is the proper penalty, writes Dalrymple, for any man

who uses the phrase European project without spelling out its denotation.

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-19-12-06

For the European élite, high tax is an intrinsic good

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 10.15.00

Not a happy ending

Every country, Dalrymple points out, ought to

use the means at its disposal to solve its own problems that arise from history and culture.

Yet a large part of the so-called European project is the plan for a

fiscal straitjacket, accompanied by transfer payments from one country to another.

Glancing at the newspaper the Monde, Dalrymple comes across an article on the subject of la tentation du paradis fiscal that carries the heading

Après le Brexit, le Royaume-Uni fait le choix des charmes dangereux du dumping fiscal

This is a reference to an idea floated in some parts of the UK government that corporate tax might be cut to 15%. ‘Fiscal dumping’ here means

levying a tax rate on corporate profits lower than that of other nations.

Some people, Dalrymple ventures,

might call this competition.

The Monde‘s use of the term ‘fiscal dumping’ is telling, says Dalrymple, about

the dirigiste European political élite mindset. They cannot say a priori what rate is ‘correct’, but terming a 15% corporate tax rate ‘dumping’ implies that there is a correct rate.

The implication is that national differences in tax rates are inherently wrong, and that the tax rate ought to be high, even if a lower rate results in a higher take.

One might think that the main attraction of high tax rates is the distress they cause to those who pay them.

Dalrymple explains that the belief in a ‘correct’ tax rate

can only mean a belief in the uniformity of tax rates in Europe, and in overruling each individual country’s preferences and needs. Uniformity implies the need for a centralised authority over which there could never be the slightest democratic oversight. There is no European people to elect a European government, and never will be.

Official tax rates and effective tax rates may differ.

A system of concessions, exceptions, and bribery is likely to flourish where rates are high and it is worth avoiding and evading tax. A corrupt or flexible polity with a high tax rate may impose less tax in reality than an honest one with a low tax rate.

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 10.06.32