Confessions of a Secret Europhile 224


I remain a committed internationalist. For me, nation states are potentially extremely dangerous entities. They have the power to co-erce, brutalise and even lawfully to kill their own citizens. They regulate economic, commercial and societal transactions. They wield such power that contest among internal political leaders for control of that power can erupt into violent civil war. And they control such physical resources that nation states can launch war on each other in order to annex those resources or access their benefits.

Western democracy has, in my view, in general been the happiest form of government in modern society, in controlling the internal use of power through democratic mechanisms and in spreading welfare benefits among its citizens, while allowing the economy to function relatively efficiently.

But there have been three developments to jolt us from the notion that the emergence of western democracy represents a development in an inexorable trend of human progress. The notion of historical “progress” is one in which my generation was brought up implicitly to believe. I for one believed in it consciously and explicitly.

The first and most obvious development is the realisation that, while western democracies have more or less eliminated open violence in their internal political arrangements for control of resources, they are increasingly liable to resort to open warfare to gain control over the benefit of the resources of other nations, particularly as those resources become more scarce and valuable. Anybody who truly believes that it is coincidence that Iraq, Libya and Central Asia are hydrocarbon rich, and the major areas of Western military activity, is wilfully blind. There was nothing new about neo-imperialism and its recent manifestation as liberal interventionism is no more than a rehash of standard imperial propaganda on the spreading of civilised values.

What is new is the destruction of the notion that we Western democracies had got morally better and had moved on from the crude war as resource grab. What is also new is the extraordinary use of modern mass media to propagandise the inhabitants of western democracies into such fear of an alien threat, that the government can withdraw numerous liberties and extend vastly its power for everyday physical coercion – which at the most mundane level dawned on Andrew Mitchell last week. The fact that the public accepted 17,000 members of the armed forces guarding the Olympics from nobody at all, and that the armed forces were mentioned in every single public speech by a British politician or official in the Olympic ceremonies, to wild applause, gives but one example of the extraordinary militarisation of Western societies.

The second development is the galloping increase in the gap between rich and poor, in virtually every developed economy. In the UK the normalisation of the extreme concentration of wealth, and the neutering of the political forces for redistribution, constituted the real achievement of Blairism. The wealth gap between directorial and non-directorial incomes in British society has been growing at approximately ten per cent a year for two decades.

This development has been worsened by an abandonment of regulatory mechanisms that modified capitalism, and particularly the tendency of the financial services sector through oligopoly to take vast rent out of simple commercial transactions for which they should be the mere facilitator, at the same time inventing gambling transactions and other artificial processes of cash multiplication with which to tempt the wealthy and the fundholders within their own industry. The epitome of this transfer of wealth was, after the inevitable bubble disintegration, the payment by the state of huge sums to the financial services industry, using the power of the state to coerce the population through taxes to hand over sums amounting in total to several years income each.

Which leads me to the third adverse development – the concentration of media ownership in the hands of the extremely wealthy, the control by the same interests of the mainstream political parties, and therefore the lack of effective choice before the electorate on issues like the bank bailout, where the media and politicians combine to limit the sphere of public debate that will be carried to present only tiny variations on a single alternative. The same is true, for example, of the war in Afghanistan. Without an effective choice being offered to the electorate between real policy options, the notion of democracy is meaningless. That is where the western democracies now are.

Nation states, therefore, even the best of them, are dangerous entities which employ force against their own and other citizens and can be an active danger to international peace. The regulation of relations between states by international law to reduce conflict is therefore an urgent necessity. Some countries are much more danger than others: Ghana, to take one example, has never invaded anybody while the United Kingdom has at various times invaded or bombed the territory currently occupied by three quarters of the states in the World, while the United States projects deadly physical force overseas by a variety of means on a daily basis. Reining in these rogue states is a major priority.

There exists a body of international law which ad been gaining in respect and conformity in the decades since the Second World War, but both the United States and United Kingdom, and others following the neocon lead, have in recent decades driven a coach and horses right through the fabric of international law, through invasion, extraordinary rendition, torture, detention without trial, indiscriminate bombing of civilian populations, targeted extra-judicial killings by shootings or by drones, murder of journalists in war zones, and so on in a depressing litany.

Fundamental platforms of international law violated by the UK, US and their neo-con allies from the BushBlair period on include: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The Nuremberg Principles, The Charter of the United Nations, the Geneva Conventions, and the Hague Convention. Recently the UK was proposing in effect to tear up the Vienna Convention too.

My conclusion is twofold. Firstly that international law needs to be radically strengthened in order to come back into repute. Secondly that the idea of the nation state as the basic unit of political organisation should be radically attacked; that the period of history is past in which the development of the nation state was a force for the good of its citizens and the world community.

I believe that the nation state should be attacked from top and bottom. From the bottom, as societies internationalise the idea of an ethnic basis to state boundaries becomes anachronistic. Advantage should be taken of this trend to deconstruct states from within, breaking them down into a combination of smaller states and/or of powerful autonomous regional polities. We need to see many more states split up, especially among the westen democracies but also very definitely Russia, China, India and states in their orbit.

From the top, and with particular reference to the UK, I view the European Union as an excellenct prototype of the sort of organisation that can attack the sovereignty of national states from above. Nobody dares to say this should happen – when those few Europhiles brave enough to state their beliefs talk of greater integration, they talk of “pooling sovereignty” to disguise from themselves and their listeners the fact that what they really mean is appropriating and destroying national sovereignty – and a damn good thing too.

In the UK, national schadenfruede at the problems of the Euro is almost universal across the political spectrum, which is why I trailed this as my most unpopular post ever. How foolish, British media and politicians gloat, of those silly Europeans to undertake the biggest single economic step in the history of mankind! How wise we were to stay on the sidelines sneering!

The problem of the Euro, as I observed a decade ago and everyone now agrees, is that a currency union is not really feasible without a fiscal union. The answer to that is a fiscal union. Where the European Union has gone wrong is not that it has gone too far in integration, but that it has not gone nearly far enough.

After a period of disastrous free-for-all, what we now have is a de facto fiscal union in the Eurozone in which the German government in effect dictates policy – in this case austerity policy – to everyone else. Democracy is now even more meaningless to the Greeks and Spaniards than it is to the rest of us.

The cause of this is the fundamental weakness of the European Union – its deference to the nation states it should be eliminating. Executive power within the European Union needs to be removed completely from the nation states in the Council of Ministers, or Council of German Orders as it should be better known now.

The executive body of the European Union should rather be dependent on, and largely drawn from, a majority of the European Parliament. That parliament divides along ideological, not nationalistic lines and does provide a much broader range of representation of opinion than most national parliaments.

The existing European Commission would become simply the Civil Service to this new, democratically elected, European Government. The European Commissioners themselves, devoid of administrative responsibilities which would pass to the new parliamentary ministers, might form some kind a second chamber, of a deliberative and revising nature, to the European Parliament. Rather like the US Senate, this would give a balance of due consideration to the interests of smaller nations; it might also encourage the break-up further of over-large “national” units to ensure more second chamber representation.

The question of subsidiarity and the balance of powers between the new democratic European government and national and regional governing bodies, should be the subject for a book not an article. But I would move virtually every power of a nation state either up or down. Fiscal policy, foreign policy and defence should all be exclusively at the European level.

The problems of the European Union multiplied when it adopted the philosophy of variable geometry, of inner and outer cores, of fast track and slow track members. For the single currency and single market to succeed, unity must be much tighter. If the European Union is serious about maintaining Europe’s position in the World against the mergence of China, India and South America it must conform to the logical force behind its existence. In economic terms that means not just the free movement of goods, but the free movement of capital and labour as well. So to be in the European Union should mean being in the Euro and being in Schengen too. The alternative should be to leave; and be treated as an outsider. The EFTA free ride must finish.

I view the European Union as a wonderful thing. It is a cliche to note that in my parents’ lifetime Europeans were fighting against each other in the grimmest war imaginable, and yet now are embarked together on a great political and economic project. The peace of Europe, and the freedom I have to move around Europe, to work study or settle there, is simply wonderful.

Let us make it even better. Let us get rid of those pesky internal borders and immigration countrols and those huge foreign exchange costs that benefit nobody but the bankers. And let is get rid of our God-awful national governments.


224 thoughts on “Confessions of a Secret Europhile

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  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Craig,

    When you say:-

    ” And they control such physical resources that nation states can launch war on each other in order to annex those resources or access to their benefit.”

    And

    “Western democracy has, in my view, in general been the happiest form of government in modern society, in controlling the internal use of power through democratic mechanisms and in spreading welfare benefits among its citizens, while allowing the economy to function relatively efficiently.”

    The reality seems to me to be:-

    1. A process of enslavement and exploitation by the Europeans.
    2. Capital accumulation in Europe.
    3. An ongoing process of Europe and the Euro-American Empire trying to continue the processes of domination ( in the modern era through financial domination).

    The foregoing is not a world that would satisfy basic utilitarian principles – the greatest good for the greatest number.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    A distinguished Professor from the University of the West Indies, Professor Rex Nettleford, put it this way:-
    “The Europeans have come around to what the Caribbean has long understood to be a sine qua non of civil society. “The world is our village”, says Jacques DeLors the French intellectual. “If one house catches fire, the roofs over all heads are immediately at risk. If anyone of us tries to start rebuilding, his efforts will be purely symbolic. Solidarity has to be the order of the day: each of us must bear his own share of the general responsibility”. We are our brothers’ keepers, and our sisters’ too!”
    And with the shift of manufacturing jobs, the façade of skewed global development now compels Europe and Europeans to ask the kinds of questions, that others had long since been focused on.

  • CanSpeccy

    “I remain a committed internationalist.”

    And a Scotch nationalist.

    “nations atates are potentially extremely dangerous entities. They have the power to co-erce, brutalise and even lawfully kill their own citizens.”

    Like empires don’t co-erce, brutalise or even lawfully — and even unlawfully, as in the case of 9/11 — their own citizens.

    Are you paid to write this tripe, or do you do it entirely off your own bat?

  • craig Post author

    The above is a work in progress – published prematurely by mistake – hope to finish it off in the next hour or so.

  • Mary

    Is this post the one promised?

    ‘I have in mind a short post on an important subject on which I suspect that 99% of my readership – including the regular dissident commenters – will strongly disagree with me.’

    ‘Anyway, that’s enough musing. You won’t like my next post, whenever it comes. Promise.’

    If so, then latter true.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Craig,

    If you think your postion through to its fullest, you will even then have a huge debate on your hand. You are touching issues that affect the “wretched of the earth” and you don’t even want momentarily to start down the path of a Nial Ferguson.

    The problems that the US/European declining Empires are facing will not disappear anytime soon. An entire new template is presently needed. It may thus come through global negotiations – or – war. History of the West tells us it shall be the latter.

    Consider:-

    From the early exploitative periods to the accumulative periods of the African Atlantic Slave Trade through to our post-colonial times the pull from Africa pushed European societies economically forward while leaving the Africans behind – or indeed, as Walter Rodney has demonstrated, Europe actively underdeveloped Africa.

    As Malachy Postlethwayt, a political economist, frankly and honestly wrote in 1745: “British trade is a magnificent superstructure of American commerce and naval power on an African foundation.”

    Let us not have the modern day expression of the same sentiments here expressed.

  • CE

    I’m probably not the ideal weather vane for the rest of your readership Craig, but I enjoyed this piece, and I’m in almost full agreement with your overall view of the EU and regarding enhanced fiscal union and increased sovereignty for the EU being a positive move.

    Some people are just so short sighted now, looked at historically, the EU has to be viewed as a resounding success. People forget the raison d’etre of the ECSC, interlocking the great economies of Europe so tightly that the endless cycle of violence and inter-European Wars could be stopped, and to a large degree (within Europe) it has. To be a Citizen of Europe in the last 50 years has truly been the best of times. We now have a shared European identity, most of us mingle and experience each others culture and history. In the last year alone I have visited Amsterdam, Vilnuis, Krakow and Tenerife, something that would have been unthinkable to my grandparents generation.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Sorry – his name is Niall Campbell Douglas Ferguson and his work is:-
    “Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World”
    I believe, to save space, he adumbrated the title, not to have the complete picture:-
    “…with others blood, sweat, slave labour and tears.”

  • Villager

    Craig, i’ll wait for version 2.0, but my estimation of you as a Global villager has gone up a hundred-fold! Forgive me if is sound judgmental.

  • Barbara

    Actually I agree with most of this, apart from your disdain for our Armed Forces. They did a great job at the magnificent Olympics and Paralympics, far better for them than fighting unpopular and unwinnable wars.

    Your point about international law is well taken, but how are laws to be enforced?

    International laws are generally bilateral or multilateral voluntary agreements between governments. There are no means to enforce compliance. Are you suggesting there should be some sort of UN enforcement – that is, a UN Armed Forces?

  • anders7777

    The plan is an EU currency, hence the desire to prop it up at all costs

    A joint Canada/USA/Mexican currency, all signatures on time and tickety boo

    An OZ/SE Asian currency

    And so on

    By Fabian slowly slowly catcher monkey means we will then be on course to merge the last four or five remaining currencies

    In comes a World Army after the massive war abates

    Total information control

    A system of credits begin

    Use em or lose em

    Resistance is futile

    All coordinated by the CFR, RIIA, UN and traitors in every single country selling us all back into feudal serfdom

    Lorded over by the chosen few

    Cf. Blair’s troughing son, a primo example of the desired new breed

    No riff raff need apply!

  • nuzothie

    At the risk of contradicting our guest, this article seems eminently likeable and appealing to me. Indeed, my deepest hope is that the UK would relinquish its historical visceral fear of a united Europe, realise that it is more European than American, and join in for good — and not only because Europe is easier to sabotage from inside.

    The emergence of the BRICs, the relative decline of the USA and the various turmoils of the changing world (Arab Spring fallout, Chinese demographic aging and economic bubble, etc.) mean that the world needs a powerful point of reference strongly committed to Human Rights if we want democratic, law-abiding States to emerge, rather than Russian- or Chinese-inspired authoritarian ones. The last decade has proved the USA to be more fragile than we could have though in this respect. In a multi-polar world, Europe is an essential component to strengthen the Human Rights pole, and possibly even to fill a void there.

    Building a strong and serene Europe is an endeavour of unequivocal global interest.

  • Ben Franklin

    Nationalism certainly is a fly in the ointment of peaceful coexistence. Craig, you listed a lot of it’s inherent flaws, but allow me to air my grievance regarding Internationalism.

    Even if one could get agreement in the form of a quorum, as the UN and League of Nations have found, the implementation of it’s decisions, aside from the prickly fruit which grows out of those negotiations, is neutered to a sterility which both binds the well-meaning, and gives air to the forces opposing that agreed-upon good.

    I know, by now, someone is screaming for a link and specific examples. I may list some, if I think it won’t be parsed and dissected beyond human recognition. But for now, it is just a concept I am propounding.

    Most of us have been frustrated when dealing with Bureaucracy. A bureaucrat, IMO, is a politician without a constituency. They rarely answer to anyone, other than a higher-ranking bureaucrat, with the same mentality. They are obtuse to an inordinate degree, as well as myopic, with a laser focus on preserving the bureaucracy which feeds them like a Host. The Hive Mentality creates a kind of Evil Oversoul with a life of it’s own, as though a composite intelligence takes a leadership role wherein the workers and soldiers operate as one, and that ONE is like an unreasoning Wild Beast, which devours and defecates in the same location.

    The larger the bureaucracy the greater the distance between Humans. The impersonal nature of such organizations makes for lousy public servants. Less accountability, less transparency, less effectiveness or efficiency. A great American politician once said “All politics, is local”

    Villagers Rule ! That’s my $.02.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Craig,

    I will come back at you:-

    ” The cause of this is the fundamental weakness of the European Union – its deference to the nation states it should be eliminating. Exceutive power within the European Union needs to be removed completely from the nation states in the Council of Ministers, or Council of German Orders as it should be better known now.”

    This is not one of your better posts. Think about it.

  • Villager

    Ben Franklin
    26 Sep, 2012 – 10:32 pm

    Also one famously said “A bureaucrat is one who has a problem for every solution.”

    (James Murray”s A Gentleman Publishers Commonplace Book)

  • anders7777

    d’etre of the ECSC, interlocking the great economies of Europe so tightly that the endless cycle of violence and inter-European Wars could be stopped, and to a large degree(within Europe) it has. To be a Citizen of Europe in the last 50 years has truly been the best of times. We now have a shared European

    =====
    Best of times?

    Rioting in the streets?

    Our next generations in perpetual debt?

    Unemployment up the kazoo as the traitors, Heath onwards, sold out our manufacturing to China, destroyed coal, and set us up as an absolutely useless service economy.

    Kids have no future, they are quite rightly telling the useless dumbed down Uni’s to get stuffed with their £30,000 perpetual debt.

    The plan has been to destroy Britain from within by mass immigration, and it has worked. Blair’s ministers are on record saying that was the plan.

    We are in Orwell’s 1984 right now.

  • Joe

    I think you’re missing the main point Craig. It’s not that nation states pose a threat to their populations, it’s that certain nation states have been ruled by psychopaths. I don’t really care whether we have nations states or an all-encompassing union of global states or a ‘new world order’ for that matter. What I DO care about is making sure that psychopathic individuals and ‘ponerised’ groups do not rise to positions of power over the masses of ordinary people.

  • Barbara

    Second point:
    You consider youself a committed Internationalist, but then refer mainly to Europe and yourself as a Europhile.
    Being a real Internationalist is rather more than being a Europhile!!

  • CE

    Another attempt by Anders to ruin a thread with his inane ramblings. Paranoid, fanatical, badly punctuated, illogical, head-in-the-sand nonsense, and that’s me being kind.

  • CE

    Anders,

    you’re obviously devoid of any historical knowledge or perspective if you think that the problems we in the EU have experienced over the last 50 years are in any way, shape, or form comparable to some of the trials and tribulations that Europe has suffered in the past.

    Enjoy yourself mate, you’ve never had it so good! :mrgreen:

  • Jay

    Great post Craig. But do you not worry then that when national identity finally dissapears, our demographics will then define who we are, Location Location Location.

    As long as we repair the earth, save all earths declining species including most Fauna and form a immaterial, simplistic society based on well-being and nurture then. I am all for it!

    Sadly Craig as with europhillia, its Greed, and making money, and gaining a higher status that matter to those who are not going to change there ways unlees we all have some sort of spiritual transcendation and I do`nt thinks thats happening anytime soon.

    One nation, one world doesn`t really matter. Now`t will change Craig.
    WE are all above Nations anyway. Its about people.

    Are you hoping to change nations mindset, because you know who has the keys for that one Craig, its there call. All we can do is oblige.

  • Robbie Pennington

    I like CanSpeccy’s idea of whisky nationalism, I think. But seriously, Scottish nationalism is a civic nationalism, enthusiastic about engaging with the world. It’s a little unfortunate that “nationalism” is a term with such diverse meanings, use of the term tends to confuse rather than illuminate.

  • Kempe

    Probably the most ill-informed piece to appear on this site yet.

    The very way the EU is organised makes it undemocratic, power lies with an unelected, unaccountable bureaucracy which, as the Euro crisis has shown, is too unwieldy and lacking in leadership to take quick decisive action. The “light touch” banking regulation which helped cause the crisis was EU policy and let’s not forget it was low Eurozone interest rates which enabled countries like Greece to borrow money cheaply. Too cheaply.

    It’s also unlikely that abolition of the nation state would end aggressive wars, federalists in Europe want the EU to have it’s own armed forces and 80% of the troops in the Balkans are from EU member states. Twenty five out of twenty seven EU member nations also contribute personnel to the NATO force in Afghanistan. A clear demonstration of EU support. The EU is also guilty of oppressing it’s own citizens, overruling democratically elected governments and perverting the use of referendums (keep having them until you come back with the right answer). It was also the EU that introduced European Arrest Warrants and the Data Retention Directive by which all our phone calls, e-mais and web surfing will be recorded.

    Think about this; the hallmark of a totalitarian state is that the state takes precedence over the individual. Now the EU is expecting millions of it’s less fortunate citizens to accept a 30% cut in living standards in order to save the Euro.

    I don’t want to see the EU abolished entirely but it needs to be scaled back from a wanabe federal government to a simple trading bloc as soon as possible.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq Association

    Agent Cameron speaking at the UN General Assembly meeting yesterday in New York, enforced the Western rhetoric to almost blow Syria sky-high and then spread the chaos to Iran, because I believe Iran is the real target of the whole Syrian destabilization.

    Without mentioning China And Russia he moved the world nearer to the potentiality for World War III. Yet agent Cameron has a very short memory and has failed to recognize the devastating mistake that he made steering the UNSC towards Libyan intervention and the destruction of a country that was in war with no one.

    In the same building President Obama reminded the world that a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. He said, “that is why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

    The US United is currently operating behind the scenes as puppet master pulling the strings of the Erdogan government in Istanbul to massively intervene in Syria, despite a quarter of the Turkish population against Turkey’s involvement.

    If Syria falls then the next target, assisted by Israel, will be Hezbollah in Lebanon before the final onslaught on Iran. Iran plays a vital role in Chinese energy national security. China has already lost South Sudan or are threatened with the loss of South Sudan, they’ve lost Libya where the Chinese had an active oil involvement in some of the richest oil fields in Africa. And they are fighting to keep their hold in Africa. So if the Iranian supply of crude oil to the Chinese economy were jeopardized by chaos inside Iran, China would be the ultimate loser and I think they realize that.

    In this financial world crisis it is the ‘Western democracy’s big oil and their military industrial complex that are seamlessly interwoven into a political lever that suits US and Britain’s geopolitical interests that include containing China and Russia while protecting the interests of Tony Blair’s BP together with America’s ExxonMobil, Chevron and Halliburton.

    It is interesting that the European Union ponders while the cogs of a Zionist new world order continue to turn in a hegemony of arrogance.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Craig,

    No:-

    ” OK it’s kind of finished now.”

    Go ahead and flest out what is in the depths of your heart and mind.

    Again, @ Craig,

    Your theme, if you develop it, seems to be the distinction between an ideology of nationality ( America with its concept of American exceptionalism) – versus England’s, European countries’ version.
    There is more readily a common bond of ideology and of national ideology in America
    ( and by extension an embrace of American exceptionalism) than there is in England/the EU.
    England ( read also -the City of London) has a somewhat duplicitous role that it has long since been playing along the path of the “special relationship”.
    The challenges appear to me to be :-
    1. Unlike the US – how does one weld together a disparate group of nations that have a common “European heritage” but lack an ideology that overcomes and surpasses the barriers that continue, in mind and by reference to special national interests, which divide national ideology from European unity?
    2. Divergent levels of economic achievement within the Union ( as is the situation in the US – in the sense of urban or regional poverty) make it much harder in the EU to have national populations accept the need for subsidies, special privileges and special measures to narrow economic disparities, accompanied by a largely free flow of labour ( capital always flowing regardless) – because the national resentments and divides then come to the forefront – don’t they?
    3. How do the large and economically/financially more successful nations within the Union bridge the gap between – say – a Germany at one end – and a Greece at the other end?
    Despite my historical bait thrown at the onset – in a serious way – I think that you have food for thought which raises the question – that along certain lines you really should develop and expand on this theme. But first, bury the holier than thou and “exceptionalist and nationalistic” flavor. Others much older than you did that way back then – and a man of your caliber really should be taking the analysis, on important issues to a different level.

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