Category Archives: European Union

Centripetal and centrifugal forces in doomed Europe


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.


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.


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.


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.


Self-preservation of the European political class is at stake

Important (for good or evil) as Brexit may be to the future of Britain, writes Dalrymple,

it is not without its importance for the European Union. Indeed, it was always essential for the Union that Britain’s departure should be an economic disaster for Britain: for if it were not, why have a union at all?

It was therefore entirely predictable

that the Union should drive a hard bargain with Britain, even a bargain economically harmful to itself, provided only that it was worse for Britain. In the European Union, politics always trumps economics.

In Britain too,

political considerations were uppermost in the minds of those who voted for Brexit. They saw in the European Union a Yugoslavia in the making, led by a megalomaniac class without effective checks or balances.

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.


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.


nobody likes to admit that they have made a mistake.


He who would rule us

Who would have heard of Jean-Claude Juncker had he remained a corrupt, utterly mediocre former prime minister of Luxembourg?


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 failing unitary European state

Dalrymple notes that the European Union is

  • corrupt
  • bureaucratic
  • cumbersome
  • archaic
  • inhibitory of enterprise
  • economically dysfunctional
  • undemocratic

He points out that

its two most recent major innovations, the single currency and free movement across borders, have been disasters for many of its members.


An elementary error of logic

screen-shot-2017-03-04-at-22-25-43The campaign to leave the EU may, says Dalrymple (from 12:35), have appealed

to xenophobes. But it is an elementary error of logic to argue that if xenophobes voted for leaving, then those who voted for leaving were xenophobes. The fact that so many supporters of Britain remaining made this error suggests that education and the ability to think are not identical.

He notes that the implied corollary

was that there was nothing to choose between continued support for, and submission to, a corrupt and self-serving political élite on the one hand, and beating up foreigners on the street on the other.



Europe, disaster zone

voted Leave in the Theodore Dalrymple: voted Leave in the 2016 UK European Union membership referendum

Theodore Dalrymple: voted Leave in the 2016 UK European Union membership referendum

Dalrymple points out that the common currency

has been a disaster for many countries — and it was predictable that it would be a disaster.

The political union necessary for a single currency to work has not emerged, and in any case,

such a political union would itself be a disaster.

No economic and social policy can be

good for both Greece and Germany.