Sunday, October 30, 2011

Who Won the Cold War?

Remind me again, which side won the Cold War between the Communist East and the Liberal Democratic West? Let's see, the official version is that the Liberal Democrats won the economic war, thus bringing the USSR to its knees, but it is becoming more apparent every day that the Communists won the war of ideas and that victory is now bringing Liberal Democracy to its knees in Western Europe.

Social democratic Europe is turning into the Soviet Union.

The long, relentless, one-step-at-a-time march of socialist ideas first through the hearts and minds, and then through the institutions, of Western Europeans has brought the European Union to the point where economic survival now requires the surrender of national sovereignty and responsible government in Europe.

Janet Daley, of the Daily Telegraph, has an illuminating and unusually honest assessment of the events which took place in Europe last week. Her blog post, entitled "This was the week that European democracy died," looks at the latest twist in the long drawn out train wreck that is the European Union:

Democracy went down in a blaze of glory last week. Both the German Bundestag and our own House of Commons put up one hell of a fight against the dying of the light. Maybe history will record that fact in an elegy on the demise of the great 18th-century experiment in government by the people: they were eloquent to the end. Because at the end, eloquence was all they had.

Trying to hold back the resurgence of oligarchy – the final dismantling of democratic responsibility in the governing of Europe – has been looking pretty hopeless for a long time. That eruption of excellent rhetoric and faultless argument which sprang to the defence of the rights of the governed (and in Germany’s case, of constitutional legality) made the loss seem all the more tragic, but no less inevitable.

So this is where we are. The agreed EU “stability union” triumphantly paraded before the media in Brussels will have the power to approve or disapprove budgets of countries in the eurozone – that is, to vet and police them – before they are submitted to the elected parliaments of those countries. In other words, parliaments which are directly mandated by, and answerable to, their own populations will not control the most essential functions of government: decisions on taxation and spending. Even without the ultimate institutions of economic and political union, which still elude the EU, actual power over fiscal policy will be taken from the hands of national leaders. And if, as a voter, you cannot influence your prospective government’s tax and spending policies, what exactly are you voting for?

Britain being outside the eurozone, we will not have to present our fiscal arrangements for authorisation before submitting them to the scrutiny of our legislators (and their constituents). But since our own economic recovery relies so heavily on the stability of the euro, we find ourselves (or at least, George Osborne has found himself) enthusiastically supporting this rape of democratic principle in countries which regard their freedom and self-determination as precious in much the same way, remarkably enough, that free-born Englishmen do.

The implications of what has happened will take some time to sink in. But eventually it will become clear that what has happened is that a centralized, EU bureaucracy has become sovereign, just as socialist theory says it should. And the reason why it should is the ineptness of old-fashioned, liberal-democratic governments to do the job. Capitalism (neo-liberalism) has failed; where have we heard that before? And so, therefore, democracy must give way to socialist central planning.

This is being put forward as a "solution"! In the year of our Lord 2011! Surely, as Daley wisely points out, the purported solution itself is a bigger problem than the problem it was brought forward to solve.

And among those hapless, soon-to-be-disenfranchised peoples, hatreds have been awakened that the EU was, ironically, designed to bury. The Greeks hugely resent what they consider to be the implicitly racist contempt of the Germans: the political opposition in Athens on both Left and Right rejects the idea of being “bailed out” of a crisis (with all the compliance that entails) that they believe to have been caused by the artificial constraints of euro membership rather than by national character flaws. Even their moderate spokesmen are beginning to characterise Germany’s economic impositions as a revival of its wartime attempt at conquest.

When Angela Merkel warned last week about the possible end of the blessedly long post-war peace in Europe, she meant that the failure of the euro (and thus of the EU project) would precipitate economic chaos and possibly lead to war. But she and her colleagues seem oblivious to the resurgence of hostility that is being brought about by every move closer to “successful” European integration.

Indeed, it is often quite eerie how the statements and mannerisms of EU officials, seemingly so dedicated to being the precise opposite of earlier, infamous generations, end up echoing (or parodying) the more memorable moments of the war-torn 20th century. When the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, proclaimed, “I am pleased to stand before you this morning and confirm that Europe is closer to resolving its financial and economic crisis… We are showing that we can unite in the most difficult of times”, I half expected him to wave a piece of paper in the air and proclaim economic stability in our time. . . .

Far from being an antidote to the ideological delusions of the past century, a trans-national superstate is the same sort of utopian, unnatural, ahistorical folly that earlier generations attempted to foist on the recalcitrant populations of Europe. Its doctrine of “co-operation” is simply coercion by another name. It relies on unswerving belief and enforced conformity, just like all the “year zero” political movements that ended in totalitarianism and terror in the past. The one hope is that the great mass of the people, unlike most of their political leaders, seem to understand all this quite clearly. It remains to be seen whether they will have to go out on the streets to make their case.

Only bureaucrats, academics and Marxists believe that there can exist a bureaucracy that serves no political master, that is, a professional cadre of technical experts dedicated only to solving all problems. It is a vision of politics as consisting of nothing but mathematical problems requiring only expert mathematicians to manage all the issues efficiently. What a dream: the benign rule of the technocrat!

The European super-state will fall apart much more quickly than the USSR did because the leaders of the EU likely will not have the stomach for murdering tens of millions of people. So it will not take anything like 70 years for the whole thing to collapse. In truth, the USSR only lasted a few decades, if that, before it lost all credibility. But its fall was a long, drawn out affair mainly because of the violence used to sustain it.

We can expect no such resort to violence from EU leaders because they, unlike those deceived by Lenin and Stalin, are not true believers in Utopia. Today's leaders believe in Utopia because all "right-thinking people" do and when the riots come they will acts more like the befuddled generals of the USSR in those last chaotic days than like the disciplined cadres of true believers who could slaughter millions with a good conscience in the name of making a better world.

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