Category Archives: European superstate

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.

 

Macron takes a drubbing from Dalrymple

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 09.04.48Dalrymple points out that Emmanuel Macron, France’s Ministre de l’Économie, de l’Industrie et du Numérique, is a

ruthless mediocrity.

The sentiments Macron expresses are, says Dalrymple,

orthodox for a member of the European Union’s ruling political class, and have been repeated ad nauseam. The tone of the minister is peremptory and his argumentation very weak.

MACRON: De quoi le référendum britannique est-il le nom? Pour moi, il traduit la volonté d’une Europe plus efficace, la fin d’une vision ultralibérale de l’Europe que les Britanniques eux-mêmes ont portée, la fin d’une Europe sans projet politique, tournée vers son seul marché domestique.

DALRYMPLE: This is misinterpretation on an astonishing, even an heroic, scale; only a man blinded by ideology or prejudice could entertain it for a moment. According to Macron, British discontent with the EU – which is less pronounced than in some other member countries – is due to insufficient political and bureaucratic interference in economic and social life. There has never been a demonstration, at least in the West, with ‘Less freedom, more official regulation!’ as its slogan. No one with the slightest contact with reality could describe any European polity as laissez-faire, let alone ultra-laissez-faire. Try starting a business or hiring a worker in France, and see how much you will be left to your own devices. Try going on to the street in England (that laissez-faire heaven or hell, according to Macron) and sell something to passers-by just as you choose. You will be stopped far quicker than if you go round shoplifting. Had Macron used the word corporatist he would have been nearer the truth: and to corporatism there is no easy answer, though regulatory obstacles to entry into a market encourage such corporatism. But Macron’s vision, his utopia, is entirely corporatist, with the state always having the upper hand.

MACRON: Si on laisse le «Brexit» ronger l’aventure européenne, vous aurez des débats comparables chez les Danois, les Néerlandais, les Polonais, les Hongrois. C’est d’ailleurs déjà le cas. Pour éviter le piège de la fragmentation économique, sécuritaire, identitaire de l’Europe, il faut revenir aux promesses originelles du projet européen.

DALRYMPLE: He speaks of l’aventure européenne as if a continent of hundreds of millions of inhabitants were engaged upon a mountaineering trip. If we allow Brexit to gnaw away at the European adventure, what then? Other countries, the majority of whose populations want to leave the Union, might also decide to leave, and that would be the end of his corporatist dream.

MACRON: Nous sommes en train de fermer la parenthèse d’une Europe sans projet politique. Il faut réinventer une Europe de la puissance qui se pense par rapport au reste du monde et définit ses règles de souveraineté. 

DALRYMPLE: Who this nous are does not bother Macron. In Colbertian fashion, nous are the political class who, unlike the mere people, know what is best. As for the project, what is it? Though the term le projet européen appears on innumerable occasions in the French Press, it is never spelt out what it is, nor do journalists ask those who use the term what they mean by it. La construction européenne is another such term: what is being constructed is never stated and no explanation is demanded. It is as if a builder built a house without a plan. In fact the plan is obvious. It is for a United States of Europe, minus most of the federalism.

MACRON: Cette tension est due à l’incomplétude de l’Europe; parce qu’au-delà de ces trois promesses, la solidarité est un objectif du projet européen: on n’a pas achevé la convergence de nos systèmes sociaux, de la régulation des flux migratoires ou encore de défense et de sécurité. Aujourd’hui, nous sommes bloqués par deux tabous: un tabou français, qui est le transfert de souveraineté, et un tabou allemand, celui des transferts financiers ou de solidarité. On ne peut pas avancer sans les faire sauter.

DALRYMPLE: In other words, the Greeks spend and the Germans pay, in return for the abasement of France which no Frenchman (quite rightly) wants. As a recipe for international understanding, and for the continuation of the peace that apologists for the Union claim is the only reason Portugal has not attacked Estonia, or Belgium Croatia, this seems unrealistic, to put it no stronger.

MACRON: L’Europe doit regarder le monde: le risque géopolitique n’a jamais été aussi grand, en Afrique et au Moyen-Orient. La meilleure réponse à cela, c’est l’Europe. Il y a, aujourd’hui, deux grands blocs – l’asiatique et l’américain – dont le risque est qu’ils se parlent en face-à-face en nous oubliant. Notre défi, ce ne sont pas nos petites guérillas, c’est de savoir comment l’Europe existe, défend sa vision, ses intérêts et se protège dans ce monde d’incertitude.

DALRYMPLE: Macron makes it quite clear that it is desire, and no doubt nostalgia, for power that is the motive — no European country, France included, is any longer by itself truly powerful on the world stage. As geopolitical theorising, this is drivel of Hitlerian proportions; but it is current in the class of which Macron is a fine example, used as a plea for ever more centralised control exercised by themselves. I would like to think that my fellow-citizens, in voting to leave the European Union, had in mind a rejection of Macron and his ilk. Many of them must have been aware of the bullying or menacing language of the European political class: Macron said the European Council must issue an ‘ultimatum’ to the British. It had the opposite effect of the one intended.

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.

La peine européenne forte et dure

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 08.53.20Dalrymple writes:

‘Europe’—in the Soviet-style usage of the word now so common—does not mean peace, but conflict, if not war. We are building in Europe not a United States but a Yugoslavia. We shall be lucky to escape violence when it breaks apart.

  • Europe is, so far, the consequence of peace, not its cause
  • multilateral agreements have always been possible without the erection of giant and corrupt bureaucratic apparatuses that weigh like a peine forte et dure on Western European economies
  • the maintenance of peace does not require or depend upon regulating the size of bananas sold
  • the notion that were it not for the European Union, there would be war, is inherently Germanophobic—no one believes, for instance, that Estonia would otherwise attack Slovenia, or Portugal Slovakia.

Take Belgium. The country is composed of two main national communities—the French-speaking Walloons and the Dutch-speaking Flemings.

The division between the two is sharper than at any previous time, to such an extent that the country recently had no government for more than 500 days. No one in Belgium explains, or even asks, why what has not proved possible for 189 years—full national integration of just two groups sharing so much historical experience and a tiny fragment of territory—should be achievable on a vastly larger scale with innumerable national groups, many of which have deeply ingrained and derogatory stereotypes of one another.

‘Europe’

lacks almost all political legitimacy, which will make it impossible to resolve real and growing differences.

Why corrupt élites so love the unitary European state

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 11.03.45 A ‘project’ that no one but the political class wants

To bypass the wishes of the people, writes Dalrymple, politicos

reintroduced the constitution as a treaty, to be ratified by parliaments alone. Only the Irish had the guts—or was it the foolhardiness?—to hold a referendum on the issue. Unfortunately, the Irish people got the answer wrong. They voted no, despite their political leaders’ urging that they vote yes. No doubt the people will be given an opportunity in the future—or several opportunities, if necessary—to correct their mistake and get the answer right, after which there will be no more referenda.

What could explain the Irish obduracy?

Several explanations came forth, among them Irish xenophobia and intellectual backwardness. The narrowest economic self-interest was also said to have played a part.

Another explanation

was that Irish citizens had been frightened by the proposal of the French finance minister to equalise tax rates throughout Europe, thus destroying unfair competition (all competition is unfair, unless the French win). No prizes for guessing whether the high tax rates of France or the low rates of Ireland would become the new standard.

Anyway, what does it matter if referendum after referendum, in Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Ireland, and just possibly Britain, defeats the proposals of the European political class?

The proposals can always be enacted regardless, by other means. What the people of Europe want is irrelevant.

The political class

loves the unitary European state precisely because it so completely escapes democratic or any other oversight (let alone control).

For this class the superstate is also

a giant pension fund.

However, Dalrymple warns that

tensions and frustrations in Europe have a history of expressing themselves in nasty ways.

Bad old habits of the Germans

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 07.16.57Dalrymple writes that a common European identity

has to be forged deliberately and artificially, and one of the imperatives for attempting to do so is the need of Germans for an identity that is not German. And since the Germans are very powerful in Europe, by weight of their economy, their need to escape from themselves by absorbing everyone into a new collective identity will sooner or later be perceived in the rest of Europe as the need to impose themselves— as a return to their bad old habits.

The shame of being German

Cologne is noted for its vibrant nightlife

Cologne is noted for its vibrant nightlife

The European Union, writes Dalrymple, is

a bureaucratic monster, unaccountable to anyone resembling a normal human being.

It is also a

vast pension plan for ageing or burnt-out politicians who cannot any longer face the inconveniences of having to be elected.

Why are the Germans so keen on it? Why do they yearn so much for a European identity? Dalrymple’s answer:

So that they can stop being German. This, of course, will deceive no one.

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Faiblesses de l’architecture européenne

The European construction

The European construction

Dalrymple was having a good day until he picked up the Paris newspaper the Figaro and came across the following sentence:

This [No vote in the Greek referendum] opens a new period in the history of the European construction, in so far as, for the first time, the exit of a country from the eurozone appears as a possible, some would say desirable, outcome.

Dalrymple fumes:

I don’t know how many times I have seen the words European construction used without it being said what exactly, or even approximately, was being constructed: indeed, I have never seen them used in so frank a manner. You can, perhaps, go on a journey without knowing your destination (just about), but you cannot construct anything without knowing what it is that you are constructing.

Under construction: the Berlaymont in happier days. It was completed in 1967

Under construction: the Berlaymont, Brussels, in happier days. It was completed in 1967

It is obvious, says Dalrymple,

what those who use the words European construction in a positive sense mean: a European superstate that will, on account of its size and economic weight, be a superpower. How otherwise could a former prime minister of Luxembourg take his place in the sun of power?

How best to characterise the European construction?

Megalomania? Fascism without the boots (so far)?

The European construction euphemism should, says Dalrymple, be banned.

Feeble-mindedness of the European federalists

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 09.56.03Harnessing hippos to a stagecoach

Europe, writes Dalrymple, is again

sleepwalking to cataclysm.

European federation is a bad idea, but

the mere badness of an idea does nothing to halt its progress.

The arguments of the European federalists

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 10.31.46are trotted out with monotonous regularity, like the stories of someone with Alzheimer’s, and anyone who raises objections, however obvious and unanswerable, is 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.

Such pooling of sovereignty as has occurred in Europe

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 10.45.40has 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.

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.

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 10.26.32

Belgian diagnosis

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 07.12.36Flemings, Walloons and a failed European project

In the course of a discussion of the implosion of the European Union, Dalrymple cites Belgium, stating a fact that is obvious to all but the West’s political and intellectual leaders:

What has not worked in two centuries in a small area with only two populations will not work in a few years in a much larger area with a multitude of populations.

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 07.44.36Belgium has existed since it was cobbled together in 1830.

In all that time, it has not been able to create a durable national identity.

The country is divided into populations with incompatible politics: Wallonia and Flanders. Belgium is officially bilingual, yet you will not see a word of Flemish in Wallonia or of French in Flanders.

Not pretty

But it’s not pretty

The division could not be starker if barbed wire separated the two provinces. Only in the capital, Brussels, does one find any concession to bilingualism.

Wallonia,

though it contained a minority of Belgium’s population, long dominated its culture and economy.

Even upper-class Flemings spoke French at home, while Flemish was the language of the peasantry; until recently, Belgian schools forbade children from speaking Flemish in class.

With the decline of Wallonia’s coal and steel industries and the economic rise of Flanders, the pattern of dominance changed. Flanders

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 07.54.21went from being the poor relation to being the rich one, albeit with something of an inferiority complex. It started to make large transfer payments to Wallonia, which suffered from comparatively high unemployment.

Such payments

rarely promote goodwill between groups. Resentment is common among both the donors, who harbour suspicions that the recipients are exploiting them, and the recipients, who indulge in mental contortions to explain their dependency away.

The largest political parties in Flanders

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 08.01.59are either nationalist or free-market; both philosophies lead to reducing or stopping the transfer payments.

The largest political party in Wallonia

is socialist and wants the payments to continue or increase. The Wallonian socialist party’s patronage powers in its territory are almost feudal in nature and extent; the last thing that the party of social change wants is actual change.

Binding the Flemings and Walloons together

Binding the Flemings and Walloons together

The Walloons

want higher taxes to maintain the current arrangements.

The Flemings

want lower taxes and reduced spending to promote long-term growth.

A masterpiece.

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 08.11.56