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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  • anders7777

    “And this is supposed to be a serious blog???”

    Breivik?

    =====
    Haven’t read that one Ben.

    3rd most influential blog, eh?

    I’d just call it 3rd rate idiocy.

    This country is HURTING and the cuts haven’t even started in earnest yet.

    But I know the score.

    The army war college are predicting riots in the UK, certainly by 2015, and ongoing to 2030 and beyond. Similar in the USA. Do your own research.

    A dystopian future awaits, and we have barely begun yet in the UK.

  • Paul

    empty vessels.

    nation states are not the only way of organising things. in human history, for most of the world, they’ve only been around for perhaps a millenium. Some parts of the world much less. That’s not to say that there weren’t territories, of course, but those territories tended to be much more organic. They were shaped by geography more than by politics, and fluctuated according to the strengths and sizes of the groups that held them.

    It seems to me that Craig Murray is attempting to outline two things.

    1. To establish a system that devolves power.

    2. To increase the size of territory in which that system exists.

    It should find common ground with anarchists, with socialists. with anyone who’s interested in creating a more just society.

    Nation states are complex entities. They require large amounts of time and energy to maintain. As that complextity increases, so do the maintainance costs. This process is subject to the laws of diminishing returns. Anthropologist and historian, Joseph Tainter has done some excellent work in this area. If you’re interested, look his work up.

    Energy is finite. The sources we use to maintain the current level of complexity are non-renewable. At some point in the foreseeable future, we will have less available than we do now, and will have to adopt a more sustainable model of running our affairs, regardless of the pros and cons of the current system.

    This simpler, less complex form seems likely to use smaller social units. For example, the current federation of states that comprise the USA may well fragment into individual states.

    So on the face of it, replacing “France” for example, with “Europe” seems like a bad thing.

    But that’s not the story here.

    ” 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. ”

    So smaller blocks (and blocs) but each obliged to live up to certain moral/ethical guidelines by an international body democratically selected from those unit elements.

    What not to like?

    Such a system has an inbuilt resiliance. If one small unit should turn rogue, it can do far less damage to the whole than some political monolith like the current big players.

  • thatcrab

    These deliberations are way to complicated for me.

    ♩♫ ♬♪ A Public Interlude of Mike Scott:

    I pictured a rainbow
    You held it in your hands
    I had flashes
    But you saw the plan
    I wandered out in the world for years
    While you just stayed in your room.

    You were there in the turnstiles
    With the wind at your heels
    You stretched for the stars
    And you know how it feels
    To reach too high
    Too far
    Too soon.

    I spoke about wings
    You just flew
    I wondered I guessed and I tried
    You just knew.

    I saw the crescent
    You saw the whole of the moon

    -carry on

  • thatcrab

    21stScent – I listened with my eyes closed and didnt heard the huh’ not kuh. It was too much to expect from that bat.

  • 21st scent tree

    Ben
    I license you.

    Crab
    It’s a Kuh not huh. I’ve listened with my eyes open, eyes closed and standing on one leg. Harriet Harman finally got it right.

  • nuid

    “Harriet Harman finally got it right.”

    Could have been a slip. Like John Cleese – “don’t mention the war”.

  • evgueni

    The hypothesis that EUSSR is bound to be a fountain of virtues (as compared to conventional nation-states) would be falsified if there existed an example of a nation state that possesses said virtues without being member of EUSSR or another such political union. A state that is ethnically diverse and yet cohesive, is densely populated, has no hydrocarbons of its own, is land-locked and yet is not aggressive. Of course it would also have to be successful economically, say ranked No 1 by WEF… http://www3.weforum.org/docs/CSI/2012-13/GCR_Rankings_2012-13.pdf

    A country whose ethnic minorities are not dreaming of seceding, DESPITE being free to do just that – all it takes is an Initiative. Free to travel, live and work within the EU and yet, strangely, they did not have to trade in their old-fashioned values of national sovereignty to enjoy these rights, instead preferring the bi-lateral agreement. Could this really be?

    What sets CH and EU apart is democracy / people-rule / popular sovereignty / citizen law-making – utter lack of it in the latter, comparative abundance of it in the former. Trouble is, in the intellectual supremacist view, the people cannot be trusted to make the right call. How could they, 50% of them have IQ below average… 100 is good, but 120 is very superior. There is a contradiction here somewhere, the empirical data do not seem to fit the theory. But never mind, press on because the end justifies the means 😉

    Me, too, Tony.

  • DavidH

    Need another article on this. Two columns – Pros and Cons of the EU from the point of view of freedom and democracy.

    Stick to the facts:
    Things the EU has done – good and bad
    Policies – helpful and unhelpful
    Departments / bodies – effective or not
    People in positions of authority – goodies & badies

    Can we even have something interactive where everybody can post ideas in the relevant categories???

  • Scouse Billy

    And me, Tony

    “The documentary released last fall, Thrive: What on Earth Will it Take?, takes an in depth look at the problems of the current system where a few elite bankers have managed to gain control of the planet while nearly bringing about its destruction at the same time.”

    It doesn’t exactly take the view of Mr Murray regarding the EU.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEV5AFFcZ-s

  • anders7777

    JimmyGiro
    27 Sep, 2012 – 11:30 am
    I bet this thread reaches 3,000 comments before 3rd October.

    =====
    I bet it does not.

    Rats leaving a sinking ship. GOOD RATS!!!

    160 replies so far.

    Disaster.

  • kashmiri

    The question of pragmatism is one thing – correct, supra-national entities are better poised to compete, or thrive, in a globalised world, more and more politcially dominated by empires (USA, Russia, China). That is, so as to say, quite well known.
    .
    On the other hand, you can’t disregard the sense of identity of individuals who form a nation. Englishmen have always been “holidaying in Europe”, which naturally means outside UK. Europe is not “here”: it is always *there*. On the level both geography and collective subconsciousness, Great Britain is a separate country, not a part of some large conglomerate.
    .
    Being from “Europe proper”, it took a while before I got to understand this somewhat unexpected view.
    .
    As the Soviet experiment has shown – the one of replacing the traditional coentury-old ethnic identity of all inhabitants with a new Soviet identity – identity manipulation hardly ever succeeds on a larger scale.
    .
    Mixing “democracy”, etc., into all this is hardly understandable to me, sorry. Democracy is just a convenient way of managing a territory+population and one of safest methods for middle- and high-income societies (democracy will never work efficiently in low-income societies due to inherently high cost of a democractic system).
    .
    Similarly, references to the military are very unclear for me. Even if Europe is united, it will have its own armed forces and, in all probability, will conduct the same ruthless policy of exploitation as it has been used to doing for centuries. The Caucasian race has been responsible for the bulk of atrocities in recorded history and I don’t buy that this has changed.
    .
    All in all, I see no linkage between a nation state, a state’s military policy towards third countries (esp. resource-rich countries), and the political system currently in place or “values”. There are no values in politics – they have never been, at least among the Caucasians. Sorry for not being very PC today.

  • Mochyn69

    In haste, gonna have to read CM’s article and all the comments on this again.

    But what I think Craig is getting at is a Europe of Communities, rather than a European Community.

    I have to admit to some fuzzy thinking on this myself, for I am a committed internationalist, and pro-European, whilst also supporting the idea of independence for Scotland, Wales, Cornwall even (why not?) Brittany (all of it), re-uniting the Basque country,and so on.

    And I have to confess to some perplexity about the Irish, fighting so hard for so long to rid themselves of the Brits, only to sign up so fully to the slavery of the EU!

    BTW @ Vronsky
    27 Sep, 2012 – 7:06 am Love the quote from Walter Scott! Classic.

  • Jay

    @ kashmiri.

    Democracy all told is a Greek Tradegy.

    Read between the lines.

    Craigs post is a refreshing approach.
    But must liberals sit on the fence on the questiin of censorship.

    If its not good for me or mine I do not want it around.

  • Debbie(aussie)

    (Just wanted to write this before i read comments, so apologies if I am repeating)
    When trying to talk about this kind of thing,”One World Govt” conspiracies always come to mind. But I too loath the way nationalism is used to make us see the ‘other’ as alien. It appears that we as a society are going backwards, fast, into another dark ages. With religion and war being the central way of life(although as of yet we aren’t doing that much of the dying). It appears that powers that be have us over a barrel and win, whether we change or not.

  • Jemand

    @Dr Strangejimmy
    27 Sep, 2012 – 7:49 pm

    A great moment in cinema, Peter Sellers at his best. Note the near loss of composure by the Soviet ambassador at the start.

  • JimmyGiro

    Nations are what we make them; it isn’t right or wrong in itself, but the choices in the bureaucracy, and its laws, that determine the stability and integrity of that system.

    “Democracy sits upon a stool of three mutually opposed legs: freedom, equality in law, and Justice; whereby each depends on the others for integrity.

    Utopians seek perfection, which is the enemy of the good, by trying to force the natural dynamism of democracy to fit their own manifestos; whether they seek more freedom, or more equality, or more Justice, or combinations thereof, they invariably must do so at the expense of one or both of the other democratic complements. Hence under utopian ideals, democracy risks losing its stability, for any position other than the natural equilibrium position, is unstable relative to it. Utopian systems have a nasty tendency to prop up their induced instabilities, by increasing laws in both number and severity, which in turn compromises both Justice and freedom, thence strains the natural dynamism of democracy until it becomes stagnant.”

    http://jimmygiro.blogspot.co.uk/2009/11/are-we-safe-or-are-we-sorry.html

  • Phil

    Craig’s post seems contradictory to me. While well analysing the problems with ‘nation’ states he then advocates a super state.

    You can take a man out of the establishment but it takes longer to take the establishment out of the man.

  • Jay

    @ jimmy.

    Good work.

    honesty is it learned or inherent because I am working hard to achieve mine.
    Capital H….

  • Mary

    No Harman did not say *unt. One of the presenters on Radio 4 Today did that and went down in history.

    {http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01n2wrd/Question_Time_27_09_2012/}

    Read The Green Benches to see what *unt, the replacement for Lansley, is up to with the NHS and the commissioning bodies on health rationing being put in place. The public have not got a clue about what is happening to OUR NHS.
    http://eoin-clarke.blogspot.co.uk/ You have to go to ‘older posts’ to see previous entries.

    8,000 word report concludes that the BBC “Betrayed the NHS”

    Mitt Romney’s mega corporation funds the Tory Party & in return they gain a NHS Contract

    9 government politicians who profit as a result of Virgin, Serco & Circle’s role in the great NHS carve up.

    5 Virgin Care moguls gift the Tory Party £1,000,000. In return, they win a NHS contract to profit from sick children in Devon.

    4 world hedge fund moguls donate £1,410,928 to the Tory Party. In return, they now run the UK’s first privatised NHS Hospital

    These 10 people killed themselves because of government cuts to their benefits. #RIP

    Serco Shareholders have donated £1m to the Tories & Lib Dems as 5 government politicians benefit directly.

    10 ways the NHS has got worse in 2012.

    Virgin Care limit the number of “Free” physiotherapy treatments for NHS patients to just 5 sessions

    et al

  • Mary

    @LeonardYoung 27 Sep, 2012 – 11:16 pm

    I totally agree with your words on Allsop. She and that twit Phil certainly fuelled the property boom and bear a lot of the responsibility for encouraging people to get into debt. Many now have negative equity as it is euphemistically called.

    Her reward was to get commissioned by Cameron to act as his housing adviser.

    From a Torygraph article by Jan Moir Dec 2007. Note that Kirstie is ‘genuinely kind’. Her husband is a property developer incidentally. The kids are called Bay and Oscar! I bet they dwell in Notting Hill.

    ‘Meanwhile, many fireside entrepreneurs, no doubt egged on by the kind of property porn programmes fronted by Kirstie Allsopp and her sister-in-crime, Sarah Beeny, are encouraged to put together a buy-to-let property portfolio.

    Why not? Rent it out. Do it up and sell it for a profit. What could possibly go wrong?

    Well, as thousands will find out when cheap mortgages run out next year, the days of the buy-to-let property deal as a one-way ticket to the pot at the end of the rainbow are well and truly over.

    Can we blame it all on Kirstie Allsopp? Well, it would not be entirely fatuous to suggest that she, and others like her, have a case to answer. Allsopp, a genuinely kind person who has recently been co-opted by the Tory party to give advice on house-buying, does not specialise in the gritty reality of cheap housing rented out to even cheaper clients; those who have no intention of fulfilling their obligations as tenants.

    Last year, she was still encouraging pundits to seek buy-to-let properties in Oxford, where a decent rabbit hutch costs a king’s ransom. Financial troubles begin when tenants stop paying their rents and arrears mount up, which is the kind of dark side television pundits like to wash over with a tin of magnolia eggshell.’

    She and ‘Phil’ have their own production company Raise the Roof Productions who produce, amongst their other series, the tosh where Kirstie farts around the ‘cuntry’ making useless bits of tat to ‘decorate’ her home(s). In 2009, you could rent her Devon second home for £2000 a week.

    http://kirstieandphil.com/

  • Vronsky

    @nevermind
    “There would be no elections in Norfolk”

    I’ve been an advocate of Demarchy for ages. And I think you should begin to take your Norfolk project seriously.

  • Abe Rene

    PS. Oh I get it, we weren’t supposed to like THIS one. 🙂

    You’re right. I don’t like the idea of a USE, or at least I’m doubtful, mainly because of the economio crises in Greece, POrtugal, Ireland, and maybe other members of the EU, plus the irevocability of such a step.

  • nevermind

    @ Vronsky, Ahh demarchy, could this be a way to select EU Commissioners? ensure a body that’s without corruption? Do that every four years and rule out re-selection and you would have fixed the biggest mistake, at the centre.

    The EU’s agricultural budget was a charter for fraud, still is, the lack of reform has stifled the EU, its seen to be rotten and nobody is fixing it, no mechanism to redress means stagnancy of progress.

    Just as Labour is clasping at straws with the national deficit, the SNP, behind the lines, will have to make similar decisions, living unsustainable just does not work out and as we said before, the nation state is very energy/cash intensive, keeping large bodies of civil servants on top pensions and regular wages.

    Thanks for spinning the yarn Jimmy, enjoyed your vision, rather than the Fuehrer bit, what would be so wrong with a/the right benign dictator in the EU, knocking head together, sacking the commission, demanding unity from squabbling MEP’s party politician who have been chosen for toeing the line, demanding that they find a united majority on every second issue that comes to Parliament?

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