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

1 5 6 7 8
  • Jan Wiklund

    Why should an empire be better than a state? Was the German Reich any better than Prussia? Why then should the EU be any better than the UK?

  • Scouse Billy

    The larger the unit of land/population, the larger the hegemonous control.

    Remember we the people (farmed for tax) are the lowest rank.

    Above us the politicians.

    Above them the corporations.

    Above them their sources of finance, the banks.

    Above them, the central banks.

    Above them the BIS and the few families controlling it and everything below.

    What’s the deal, Craig?

  • Arbed

    … and speaking of the sovereignty of nation states…

    And the UK’s posture that “there is nothing in UK law which recognises diplomatic asylum” / “we are under a legal obligation to extradite Assange” [to face QUESTIONING in a case where there is forensic evidence that one complainant has faked evidence to back her allegations] collapses:

    http://rt.com/news/ecuador-uk-talks-assange-162/

    No wonder the BBC and other UK mainstream outlets are flooded with the ‘story’ of Amnesty calls for Sweden to provide [basically worthless] guarantees against onward extradition.

    Diversionary tactic? Whoops, our hogwash has been exposed – Quick! Get that spin mojo rolling…

  • Je

    Bad as it is, national sovereignty is about the only check on excessive private wealth. The future seems heading towards cliques of the super-rich living in tax havens whilst owning the assets of the whole world. With the less well off having to pay tribute to them in the form of work/rent of those assets etc and to live or starve as they deem it.

  • OldMark

    The utopianism inherent in this post by Craig sadly necessitates a good dousing in the cold water of reality.Warner of the Torygraph provides it here-

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/jeremy-warner/9572359/Spain-must-leave-the-euro.html

    The borderless world of global citizenship & solidarity which Craig dreams of cannot cope with two things- unsustainable population movements of poor people in poor countries moving to richer countries, and rich people in poor countries moving their capital to ‘safe haven’s’ in rich countries(or, even worse, tax havens). The latter problem is likely to do for the Euro in the near future.

  • james c

    Craig,

    I have to disagree with you about the Euro. Yes, it cannot work without a fiscal union but that is not sufficient.

    The problems that the Euro faces are the result of capital flows. A fiscal union will not change that.

    Regards,

    James C

  • Chris Jones

    @Debbie(aussie) 28 Sep, 2012 – 7:08 am

    “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”

    …Nationalism is a highly broad term. A nation can mean many things to many people-it can be used as a force for good and a force for bad (the British/English elite imperialistic nationalism we are seeing now in the middle east being a prime example of the worst kind)I prefer the term patriotism myself, and of course, under a republican model a nation can be as patriotic as it wants whilst protecting the interest of all. Sovereignity and patriotism are one of the last stumbling blocks against the blunderbus arbitary super states and one world government.

  • evgueni

    Вронский,

    I am broadly with you re: demarchy. It would certainly solve the problem of adverse selection – various scum floating to the top of hierarchical structures in politics.

    It would not address the other problem – that of corruptibility of human nature in general. It is generally acknowledged in psychology now I think, that any feelings of guilt are heavily modified by the perceived risk of one’s ‘wrong-doing’ being discovered by one’s peers. Thus to stop the rot quickly setting in, accountability is needed. Not the phoney kind (‘transparency’) but actual strong feedback mechanisms e.g. citizens being able to get involved in legislating directly, should they feel sufficiently misrepresented by the elected / randomly selected legislature.

  • Passerby

    I am trying to get my head around destruction of the nation state, and replacing it with more locally distributed constructs. This notion would be an acceptable proposition if it were not for the Elephant in the room US empire bent on domination of the planet forever and a day after.

    The destruction of the nation state could have been only probable if the too big to fail were readily rendered to the consequences of their failures, that would in turn have encouraged new firms setting up to take their place and or new concepts and arrangements to become viable.

    Given that the too big to fail did not face their own failures and their failures were distributed on the “plebs” and on the international scale, as it is evident in Greece, Spain, Portugal, soon to be joined by Italy and others.

    The US plutocrats off loaded their losses on the planet whilst the US government ensured the free flow of wealth from around the planet into the US was spent on oppression constructs with the aim of waging wars of destruction around the planet to keep the various actors in check and at bay.

    Therefore the destruction of nation states at this stage would suit the project for new American century just fine, because the smaller entities emergent post such redistribution of power would be leaving the newly formed organisational units at much more weakened defensive capabilities that would in effect aid the much diminished US military prowess, with further reductions in the research and development budgets for the future in wielding the oppression constructs US has been so adept at for the duration of the twentieth century and so far in the twenty first century.

    That is for starters

  • N_

    @Craig – Nice one, but I think to some extent you still suffer from the western ideological problem (which dates to functionalist sociology and further back) of imagining a deep deep separation between politics and economics.

    I realise you know ‘the media’ are under control by the same people who have the ‘government’ under control, but the way you talk suggests that capitalist democracy ‘went wrong’ somewhere along the line – as though in some kind of ‘essence’ it’s really great.

    I say this to introduce an observation that very few people have the nous to get.

    This is that developments in parliamentary democracy (in a UK context, not just since 1918 but beginning at least as far back as 1832), have in fact been media-driven. In the past, extensions of the franchise happened in the direction of social castes who’d become markets for expensive journals. Then it was the turn of groups who bought cheaper journals, and then eventually newspapers. Today it’s all TV, and the process is no longer one of extensification but of intensification.

    It’s all public relations and celebrities. David Cameron and Ed Miliband have no fucking power whatsoever. It’s only idiots who concentrate on what these stupid actors say, as if they really mean it. Changes in ‘front-of-stage’ ‘government’ at election time should only be considered in terms of public relations. In almost all cases, that’s the most critical and radical attitude to take.

    The development of capitalism’s media has of course always been technology-driven.

    In short, parliamentary democracy relies on the bourgeoisie’s use of its mass media. It is a use of those media.

    Don’t see crap in its own terms. It’ll suck you in.

    Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s when it was obvious to many that capitalism in the west had won a big victory, and that things were about to slide downwards with force, we wondered in what ways capitalism could get ‘more so’.

    We may have predicted the growing predominance of ‘fuck you, I’m all right, Jack’, but few if any of us predicted that the mainstay of western culture, namely the psychopathic condition of being shat on but thinking you’re ‘free’, would get more so. But that’s exactly what has happened.

    So…your article here has a good first part, but as for the second part…really! What do you want? More of a grip on what’s going on in society? Or more speaking gigs?

    I respectfully suggest you concentrate on getting more of a grip. You are getting carried away. The idea of having some Nu Parliamentary Democracy, whether over a bigger area (western and central Europe) or a smaller one (Scotland) ain’t the solution to anything.

    PS I support the UK joining the euro too. That way, I won’t get so ripped off by currency-exchange profiteers when I go to the eurozone.

    PPS It’s always good for a laugh, how the British media report the valiant, upright British PM marching into European meetings to bang the excitable, incompetent ‘continentals” heads together to show them how things should really be done. As if average personal debt in Britain isn’t far higher than anywhere else (perhaps excepting Ireland) in the EU! As if Britain isn’t far more finance-dominated than various countries such as France and Germany where at least people still make stuff, albeit not much.

    The racism and attitude of being born superior is of course genuine, but the question to ask is WHO IS DOING WHAT TO WHOM. It’s basically a STRUT for the HOME MARKET ONLY.

  • N_

    You have to understand what a nation-state actually is.

    It’s a BRAND!

    And a Eurostate would just be a kind of a nation-state.

    The basic premise of a nation-state is that the exploiters and the exploited are all in the same boat. That’s what needs to be attacked. The nation-state is a lie by exploiters.

    Why should I want to be on the same side as rich scumbags based in Britain, and against people in the same position as myself (which is the same position as the majority of the world’s population) in say France or Germany? “NO REASON”, I hear you say? Correct!

    Now replace “Britain” with “Europe”, and “France or Germany” with “China or India”, and ask the question again. The answer should still be “NO REASON”.

  • Jay

    Why is sex so highly measured in society?

    If we are to move on as a species this issue needs to be addressed?

  • Tony0pmoc

    Confessions of a Real English Person

    We can hardly speak a word of Spanish – a bit of French – my wife can speak a bit of German…

    But she said you have got to come home with me…

    So we are. She just asked us so nicely.

    We have just got our new passports. We wouldn’t have bothered renewing them otherwise.

    She is the best Diplomat, we have ever met.

    We both love this Spanish girl to bits.

    Her family and her friend’s small businesses in Spain have been completely devastated by the EU..

    But still she says come home with me.

    What’s your new job Craig??

    Tony

  • Tony0pmoc

    Scouse Billy,

    They tried it on me too. The technique is quite simple.You get a job, and work really hard, and shine – so you get promoted into management…

    And they say – you need to go on these Leadership courses – Residential just for a week – how can you say No – you might get an even better job if you go – So you go – and get an even better job…

    All Psychology based – run / or originated from The Tavistock Intitute – and your Senior Management Mates Go on Them Too…

    Presentation Techniques, Behaviour Analysis and Behaviour MODIFICATION – the lot – not you – Your Staff..These Techniques Work…They are So Powerful You Wouldn’t Believe It…Until You Try It…

    But I also talked to my mates who had been on the final course…

    I didn’t recognise them. They had been changed..

    The final course is to completely change you into the “Company’s” image..

    And I know how it works

    You are on a Residential course – it only takes 5 days…

    Your personality is attacked and destroyed, exploiting your most fundamental weaknesses and fears – not just by the lecturers, but also your “colleagues” on your course. You are also invited -into their room at your most vulnerable and brainwashed time (sorry – love – no way – 0h allright then – they then have even more ammunition to control you) But I said Goodnight Love.

    They then skillfully rebuild you – and give you all your self confidence back and personality built in the Company’s Image…

    I skipped that course

    And Took on the Fuckers

    Sure They Fired Me. I will not work with such people.

    That was not the end of me at the age of 27.

    Our Daughter is Studying Criminology and Psychology at University NOW.

    Tony

  • Scouse Billy

    Spot on, Tony – same technique used in EST later called the Forum.

    They didn’t like me, a psychology grad giving a running commentary on their techniques so they had to tell me I’d got them all wrong – it was “therapy” ha ha ha.

    Yeah, if you have any integrity or compassion, you have to take on th fuckers – I’m still at it 😉

  • Sunflower

    I must admit, this “confession” really blew my mind. It doesn’t makes sense and is not coherent with much that has been expressed here previously. And the timing, why now?

    Was expecting something along the line “I’m exposing the Illuminati”, instead I got “I’m joining the party” instead.

    And ScouseBilly, I watched the Thrive movement http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEV5AFFcZ-s and I liked what I saw. Their analysis of the world is spot on.

    Makes me think, did they buy Craig, threaten him with death or was he in on it all the time?

  • Scouse Billy

    “Makes me think, did they buy Craig, threaten him with death or was he in on it all the time?”

    We’re thinking along the same lines.

  • case

    I’ve been moving in the exact opposite direction as our host.

    I used to be ardently pro-(most-things-)EU, but the last few years have forced me into more of a fence-sitting position.

    The colossal and almost complete failures of the global so-called elites – the European ones prominently among them – over the last decade, particularly in terms of economic policy, have made me wonder if people actually exist who can be entrusted with the power to lead such large and powerful blocs as the EU, even if it’s only for a few years.

    Since I believe the negative „accomplishments“ of these people have far outweighed the positive ones, and I don’t see a way for actually competent and honest leaders to rise to the top, I’m thinking whether it might not be better to limit the damage inapt or bought politicians can cause by opposing the formation or enlargement of these types of unions.
    In the grand scheme of things, bad policies affecting 50 million citizens are probably less bad than the same policies being enacted for 500 million people.

    Changing the political structure of the EU to give the European Parliament more weight sounds nice in theory, but does not really address this problem, as I see it.
    After all, in many cases we’re already putting up with members of parliaments having little to no clue about the issues they’re voting on, and instead following what some lobbyist whispered in their ears. The EU parliament is certainly no exception to that.

    And, last but not least, what about totally unaccountable institutions like the ECB, which has played a major part in exacerbating the Euro crisis and contributed heavily to the suffering of tens of millions of Europeans?

  • Chris Jones

    “Makes me think, did they buy Craig, threaten him with death or was he in on it all the time?”

    …The fact that Mr Murray promised that we would not like the post does at least suggest that he felt obliged to write it, for whatever reason. Or maybe the pressure of having everyone praise him and expect him to speak on all our behalf against the creeping (and creepy) tyrranny made Craig rebel and give himself some breathing space and ‘be the bad guy’ for a while??

    …either way, the post itself is creepy and to publish such a post and then walk away from it whistling innocently and not take much responsibility for it i find very irresponsible,dangerous, and above all, a bit stupid (that is if theres no form of duress involved)

    Dissapointed,
    Tunbridge Wells

  • craig Post author

    Can’t think why; I am not normally very active in the discussions.

    I should say I most definitely am not being threatened or coerced! What I try to do with this blog is develop through internal dialogue an analysis of what has gone wrong with our society, coming to terms with my own disillusionment, and then the much harder bit of thinking up strategies and structures that will improve things. It is a process, of which this is part.

    Reading through the comments, the key question is whether a more powerful and democratic European government would be as prey to commercial interests and thus neo-con policies as national governments. I rather think it could not be worse.

  • Ben Franklin

    Craig; You are intimately aware of bureaucracies, and what they bring to the table. Matters of State are complex and fraught with dead-falls for the forces working for, not the perfect, but the good.

    How exactly, would decentralizing power make it better?

  • Kempe

    Well to begin with let’s make the EU democratic but excuse us if we don’t hold out breath. Sadly the EU has shown itself very much prey to commercial interests, submitting to pressure from banks to support light touch regulation and so forth. A european superstate would also be dependent on the same resources as any nation state and so might feel it needs to take military or covert action to safeguard those resources. Currently that’s mainly oil; in future it might be water.

  • evgueni

    “whether a more powerful and democratic European government would be as prey to commercial interests and thus neo-con policies as national governments. I rather think it could not be worse.”

    Bunk. It’s a lobbyists’ dream – power concentrated in as few hands as possible. Shamocracy lends itself to subversion by commercial interests very nicely. It’s certainly easier doing business with a bunch of unaccountable comissars than with multiple Parliaments that are at least elected.

    G’ment of the people, for the people etc – the real thing – is a much harder target. How do you lobby the whole of the people?

1 5 6 7 8

Comments are closed.