Category Archives: European projectors

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.

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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.

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.