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 and Mark Golding,

    I think that if you juxtapose Mark’s observation:-

    ” 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.”

    Against what Craig initially posted, then one can readily see the distinction between the super-structure – versus – the substratum upon which policy in its macro expression is built.

    Economics, oil and power in a slimy mix – seems to me.

  • anders7777

    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.

    P4NED 🙂

    Last vestige of those defeated overwhelmingly in debate is the hoary old grammar and spelling straw-grasping defense!

    Truly risible! 🙂

  • anders7777

    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.

    More self aggrandising waffle.

    What is your POINT?

  • Dwight

    I also consider myself an internationalist. We all should be able to travel, live, and work anywhere we want in the world. The nation state is passed it’s usefulness. I would prefer a United Peoples rather than a United Nations. One place to begin with the necessary change in mindset would be with the currently proposed choice between one state or two states for Palestine/Israel. The solution should be no state. How we achieve that and protect all individuals could provide a template for the rest of the world.

  • Mike

    It seems you’re advocating a One World Government with subservient Councils. National borders are not the problem, it’s the despotic megalomaniacs within them that are the problem. Those and the fiatist money brokers who strive to control lives through artificial scarcity.
    Depriving people austensibly for their own good by artificial austerity will never make people happy.
    Whilst we have Zionists backed by Superpowers, and smaller arselicking NATOistic Nations salivating at the thought of the spoils to be had by agression and regime (sic) change there will never be true peace and happiness.

    And the biggest problem…

    Fuck You! I’m alright Jack!!!

  • anders7777

    Wow,

    30 posts before an OT mention of ‘zionism’, that must almost be a record.

    And trust YOU to bring it up! 🙂

  • Phil

    Wow! In general, (on the first reading), yes! Even after going through the preceding comments. It’s long time to end the notion of the nation state. I’m Welsh, by the way, with my own local historical perspective [and nationalism], and now resident in Bulgaria. Someone (C.M.) who’s telling it, straight. Invigorating.
    Bravo!

  • nevermind

    Great expectations come from Europe for it is only evolving from its first steps as an appointed commissioner led entity to a more accountable, newly coordinated EU.

    I take it that the island mentality displayed during the 70’s 80’s and ever since, the stuck up British fence display, sniping from the sidelines rather than getting involved will all be forgotten now, nothing but birth pangs.

    The EU never had a great mechanism for reform from below, it has not reached the full potential envisaged, its an inspirational idea in the making. To give power to the state and appoint commissioners was the greatest mistake ever. Not returning accounts, lack of probity, was another.

    Now we have well equipped hooray henry’s in charge of floating us free from any more of this EU nonsense, much talk for a referendum by a public fed on bend banana news, politically inept on what Europe’s about or what makes it tick. Bound to be disappointing.

    Now, should they not really be at the centre and negotiate a new more accountable Europe, a Europe with a peace and defence force, accountable balance sheets, its fine to abandon NATO, just look at what its serving these days, let Europe be that historic fourth, balancing power.

    We have nothing in common with the simple mistakes made by minds who are still stuck in colonial exploits, using religion and false flag terror as its core hegemony spade. We have nothing in common with those who steal territory to excuse their unsustainable lifestyles, all the while warring, killing and destabilising in the name of freedom democracy and Liberty,sic, and pretending to be technologically incompetent to do different.

    Humanity has the ability to be different, we are intelligent, but sadly the principled actions are left to the normal EU citizen, the burden is on us to enable change.

    The night of Atonement indeed, what a positive post.

  • Richard

    I agree with your observations, but I am not sure your conclusions are correct.

    In particular, we already have a political system where most people are de-facto disenfranchised: unless one lives in a marginal seat, one’s vote has little effect; also, there is very little choice between the parties (there is, for example, no party which espouses personal freedom and the best aspects of the free market).

    But much of Europe is worse. The “average” policy benefits nobody, and there is very little democracy in a system where the candidates are selected on a list, by party grandees.

    Also, truly free movement of labour is impractical… there is a language barrier. When one zone gets out of sync with another (as has happened recently), at least one of the following must happen to redress it: drastic subsidy from richer to poorer, swings in exchange rate, or huge localised unemployment (eventually mitigated by labour-migration, or “internal devaluation”). By discarding the exchange-rate flexibility, we have guaranteed large scale misery in Greece and Spain for the forseeable future. Germany can’t (and won’t, and shouldn’t) give 25% of its tax income to these countries. So unless we disband the Euro, they can’t devalue their currency, and the only remaining economic pressure-release is that of unemployment – this solves the imbalance, but at huge human cost.

  • Ben Franklin

    Of course, there are those who get off on chaos and disharmony. Such rise quickly through the chain of command, as ruthless as any bureaucracy.

  • Nextus

    Craig, this advocacy of the amalgamation of nation states sounds very neo-Marxist. It resonates with Lenin’s philosophy in his Thesis on the National Question, the Right of Nations and Critical Remarks on the National Question. E.g.:

    The elements of democratic and socialist culture are present, if only in rudimentary form, in every national culture, since in every nation there are toiling and exploited masses, whose conditions of life inevitably give rise to the ideology of democracy and socialism. But every nation also possesses a bourgeois culture (and most nations a reactionary and clerical culture as well) in the form, not merely of “elements,” but of the dominant culture. Therefore, the general “national culture” is the culture of the landlords, the clergy and the bourgeoisie.

    Are you in favour of Marxism without the socialism, perhaps?

  • anders7777

    Of course, there are those who get off on chaos and disharmony. Such rise quickly through the chain of command, as ruthless as any bureaucracy.

    Psychopaths – Blair, Bush &Co. Out of 650 in the Commons I’d wager a good 600+ are psychopaths. Ponerology, the book, describes the mechanisms very well.

  • Alasdair

    There’s much to agree with here, but Craig’s recommendations for the EU seem to conflict with his views on the nation state. Essentially, it seems, he just wants to turn the EU into a large nation state itself. Wouldn’t it just suffer from all the same problems, but on a larger scale? What’s the point of removing ‘our God-awful national governments’, only to replace them with a supernational government that’s even more powerful and remote from its citizens? The argument is allegedly based on anti-nationalism, but the reason for all this is ‘maintaining Europe’s position in the World against the mergence of China, India and South America’. That sounds pretty nationalistic to me – it’s just European nationalism instead of British nationalism.

    And if Craig imagines that a more powerful EU would be any less likely than its constituent states to ignore ‘international law’ and use threats to gain access to resources in poorer countries, I think he’s seriously mistaken. Read about the EU’s trade policies towards poorer nations sometime; they may be less directly brutal than military conquest, but the ultimate intention is the same.

  • Jon

    @Barbara – I didn’t see any disdain for the armed forces in the piece. There was disdain for creeping militarisation for sure, and justified it was too. But I don’t think Craig was holding soldiers responsible for that state of affairs – it isn’t their fault.

  • Phil

    @craig
    Yes nation states are bad for your health, but would a European state be any better?

    I think you answer that question by calling for the break up of Russia, China et al. And of course the US suggests the answer is no.

    Power must be decentralised. A European super state would only be more of the same. Except bigger.

  • Jives

    @ Barbara,

    Are you wilfully mis-interpreting Craig’s words or do you just not get it?

    His example re the Olympics was about the wider militarisation of Western democracies not about “our troops”.

    How can you not see that straightforward and reasonable point?

  • OldMark

    ‘The peace of Europe, and the freedom I have to move around Europe, to work study or settle there, is simply wonderful.’

    Craig appears to have morphed in this post into an Anglo Scotch version of that great europhile & internationalist, Peter Sutherland. The downside of the freedoms this post celebrates were well illustrated by tonight’s Newsnight feature on the race to the bottom in employment terms and conditions now affecting the Hotel sector in London, courtesy of the free movement into the UK of nationals from the EU accession states. The Poles, who predominated there until recently, are now being undercut by Bulgarians. If that is ‘progress’ one must ask ‘progress for whom?’.

    ‘There exists a body of international law which had been gaining in respect and conformity in the decades since the Second World War’

    ‘International law’ in an international labour market context is simply the legitimation of the lowest possible minimum standards and hourly wage rates.But I suppose that,if you need someone to clean your house, or nanny your children, these freedoms are indeed ‘wonderful’.

  • jellyman

    Craig…. you speak about a European superstate as an almost spiritual concept and ignore the political reality….. when was the last time a spiritual concept was forced on the world as a political reality? Israel…. enough said.

  • MJ

    “nation states are potentially extremely dangerous entities”

    Too right. No structure can better empower its citizens than a democratic nation state. Look how Iceland has used the simple tools of currency and exchange rates to mitigate the burden of the banksters’ debts. That’s how dangerous nations can be.

    “I believe that the nation state should be attacked from top and bottom”

    Rest easy, that’s all in hand. It’s called the neocon agenda. I take it Craig will be doing his bit by leaving the SNP.

  • LeonardYoung

    I think Craig is keen to allow Scotland to leave the UK, not Europe. Nevertheless I’m intrigued Craig, that you are an SNP supporter having posted the above.

  • craig Post author

    Seems perfectly consistent to me. I say above that existing nation states should be broken down into smaller nations and/or regions. The UK is a prime candidate for the breakup. Strongly pro-EU views are quite common within the SNP.

  • evgueni

    Alasdair, Richard, Kempe – especially, thank you for the sanity check. Craig Murray is showing his true colours again. For him the end justifies the means, like it did for Ульянов and Co. The EU is not undemocratic, it is patently and intentionally anti-democratic. Its inherent tendency to undermine national governments in favour of regional power centres happen to suit Murray’s nationalist sentiment. Everything else can be made to fit. One doesn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

    When the word subsidiarity is used by the EU apparatchiks, its meaning is turned on its head. It’s USSR all over again.

    Olly Figg provides a good starting point for those who would like to know more about our new masters: http://tinyurl.com/figg387

  • nobody

    Craig – may I rewrite one of your key sentences?
    .
    Thus – Anybody who truly believes that it is coincidence that Iraq, Libya and Central Asia are not subject to the control of a usurous international banking cartel, and the major areas of Western military activity, is wilfully blind.
    .
    Between control of oil and control of money it’s no contest at all with oil as daylight-second. And you think it’s all about oil? Oh, and did you say ‘wilful’ just now? Never mind.
    .
    Just to make things clear – usury/interest wasn’t a sin in every religion for no reason. The differences between interest-based usury and a pyramid scam are merely in the packaging. Usury is fundamentally wicked like pyramid scams are fundamentally wicked. Neither have a future that doesn’t involve crash-and-burn.
    .
    Here’s how the scam works – the central banks make money from nothing (they simply click their fingers and declare that they have it) and they then ‘lend’ us this fictional money and receive and demand real-world collateral and interest. The mad thing is that they deserve neither of these things since they never had the money to begin with. The whole thing is bullshit from the ground up and there’s no need for any of it. The bankers bring nothing to the party except what is essentially a cascading tax designed for no other purpose than to impoverish us and otherwise have us beholden.
    .
    Here’s a simple truth: when you turn the means of exchange into just another commodity (with cascading charges, no less) it becomes debased, a corruption that functions for none apart from those who control it. It then becomes a devastating weapon.
    .
    Boom/bust cycles are not accidents. They are hammer blows delivered by the untouchable dictators of monetary policy to smash all and any sovereignty beneath them. And of course those who offer a non-usurous banking system and are not subject to the bankers (which is to say Muslims) get militarily smashed by those who are. Three cheers for us as dupes. We are golems serving the grand purpose of a one world government under unelected, faceless, and answerable-to-none international bankers.
    .
    And here you are cheerleading for them without any idea for whom you’re cheering.
    .
    God help us all.

  • Scouse Billy

    “And here you are cheerleading for them without any idea for whom you’re cheering.”

    Indeed – compare and contrast with Vaclav Klaus’ views in the Sunday Telegraph – now there’s a man who knows what he’s talking about and an economist to boot:

    The new push for a European Union federation, complete with its own head of state and army, is the “final phase” of the destruction of democracy and the nation state, the president of the Czech Republic has warned.

    http://www.klaus.cz/clanky/3191

  • glenn

    I’m very disappointed with this post.

    They way it was set up, I fully expected to be made very angry, and find myself with yet another tarnished one, that I’d hitherto respected. This post has entirely failed to live up to this expectation – how am I supposed to have the anger and disgust that I was looking forward to, if it’s talking in such reasonable terms?

    I’m Welsh too (Hi Phil!) and despise nationalism in all its forms. That’s why I always found the Scottish nationalism in some of these posts a little off-beat.

  • Karlof1

    Given what’s occuring climatically now and what’s in store soon, much of the current global political-economy will be destroyed along with hundreds of millions of human lives. I admire your thrust Mr Murray, but you’re ignoring what will soon confront humanity and completely trash its highly complex sociopolitical structures, particularly national governments and their economies. Such a drastic future might be avoided if the primary Outlaw Nations–essentially the English speaking nations–and their leaders are reigned in by a massive public posse followed by the most intense effort that could be launched to totally eliminate carbon pollution by 2030. Accomplish that goal and then we can talk about retooling sociopolitical and economic arrangements. If we don’t save our environment first, it won’t make any difference how fine an essay you write about how to retool society for a world that no longer exists.

  • DavidH

    Craig,

    As usual, fantastic analysis of the problems: lack of real choice for voters; redistribution of wealth going the wrong way; governments getting away with ridiculous wars, targeted assasinations etc etc; death of independent media…

    Not sure The EU is the answer to all these problems, though. As posters above have already said, EU systems are set up to be bureacratic and anti-democratic. There is no real respect for the will of the people in there at all. The banksters and the business lobbies and the corrupt politicians are already running the show, so the chances of taking it over as some kind of pure democratic project are even slimmer than similarly transforming The UK government. You are day dreaming on that one. Of course, the very size of The EU makes it inherently less accountable to it’s citizens and more ripe for the kind of institutional corruption and abuse that you describe so well.

    The real answer to the problems is for the voters to wake up and face the music. Until then, they get what they deserve and you can’t save them from themselves.

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