Kicking the Irish Out

by Henry on July 2, 2008

This column from Wolfgang Munchau is a keeper. Challenged by Gideon Rachman last week to reveal the theory under which he believed that the Irish could be kicked out of the EU for having had the impertinence to vote ‘No’ a couple of weeks ago, Munchau obliges:

My own hunch is that they will try to find a way to enforce the Lisbon treaty without the non-ratifiers. As a first step, they will try to offer the No-sayers a quit-and-rejoin deal. It would be the least divisive option of all, but unfortunately, it may also be one of the least realistic. … … In Ireland’s case it may require a referendum to get out and another one to get back in. … If this is not possible, there are several other options involving varying degrees of involuntary separation. For example, everybody would formally remain inside the EU on the basis of the Nice treaty, but the ratifiers would organise their areas of co-operation outside the EU and its institutions – on foreign policy, immigration, economic governance, maybe even on energy and the environment. … There is, of course, the ultimate threat; not a trial separation, but permanent divorce. The Lisbon ratifiers formally leave the EU, and re-group under a new rival organisation. In reality, this is not so much an option, but the thing you do when you have run out of options, the strategic choice of last resort. Like a nuclear bomb, it is a useful device to be used in an emergency, not something you plan for.


As a political scientist who follows this stuff, I can only describe this column as a quite remarkable fantasy. The ideas that the EU would require Ireland and other dissenting countries to quit and rejoin, or that the pro-integration countries would themselves quit en masse to set up a different organization are, bluntly, completely political infeasible. The idea that some issue areas could be dealt with outside the EU framework is slightly less so – this has happened in the past with the Schengen arrangement on border controls. But the problem is that Schengen involved issues that were mostly distinct from the issues that the European Union then had competences over. Trying to do this on a broader scale would lead to an unmanageable mess. And I’m not even going to get into the near impossibility of constructing the necessary political coalitions among member states to pull a scheme like this off. Not to mention the legal problems given that the current Treaty doesn’t actually have a means for states to leave the EU.

Munchau’s columns can usually be relied on to give a good sense of what is occupying the minds of German business elites. Indeed, his remarks are consonant with heavy hints that German politicians have been dropping in the last couple of weeks. That his purported solutions are so adrift from reality suggests that a lot of people in Germany and Brussels (as well as Paris) are still in complete denial about what happened in Ireland, and about what options they now have. This is not only idiotic in itself; as Kevin O’Rourke notes (partly in response to a column that is perhaps even more mind-blisteringly stupid than Munchau’s), it makes for lousy politics:

Apart from anything else, [proposals of this kind] will provide “no” campaigners with an unanswerable question: Why should Ireland, or anyone else for that matter, sign up to yet another European treaty if their partners are unwilling to live up to their legal obligations under the present one? The whole point of the European experiment is that it is based on law. International law has not just been the mechanism through which the continent has integrated: a commitment to multilateral, treaty-based international cooperation lies at the heart of the European vision of the broader world. Trying to further such a vision by tearing up existing treaties would be intellectually incoherent, and politically disastrous.

Even more to the point, opinion polls suggest that there’s a stark divergence between the opinion of European elites and the opinion of ordinary voters on this topic. This Ouest-France poll (thanks to Kevin for sending it to me) suggests that not only do only 30% of French people have a positive impression of the EU, but only 14% of them want the Irish to vote again. As in Ireland, class seems to have important consequences for whether respondents are pro- or anti- Europe. Perhaps pro-European elites on the continent might think about addressing these burgeoning anti-EU sentiments among their own population, instead of constructing complicated and grandiose revenge-fantasies in which they punish Ireland and other insufficiently ‘European’ member states, create shining new political orders ex nihilo and so on. That might actually be useful.

{ 81 comments }

1

Ali 07.02.08 at 2:27 pm

Henry,
Why are you (and many of your fellow CT’ers) seemingly so antagonistic to the Lisbon treaty? I’ve never seen any of you outright criticize it or say it’s a bad idea, yet there have been many “meta-” posts about the treaty vote, nearly all of them focusing on the poor judgment (‘impertinence’ perhaps) of pro-treaty commentators.

Why don’t you tell us why you are hostile to the treaty and its supporters? From my perspective, as a US observer mostly ignorant of the treaty and the debate around it, the treaty seemed like a good idea, but I’d be happy to be convinced differently.

Or if you’re not opposed to the treaty, why all these attacks on stupid things some pro-treaty commentator said, or on the unjustifiable outrage of Ireland yes-campaigners? That’s pretty thin gruel: everybody is upset/outraged when they lose an important vote they felt they should win, and you can find someone making stupid, arrogant arguments on any side of any issue.

2

Freeborn John 07.02.08 at 2:51 pm

Wolfgang Münchau can best be described as the authentic voice of German wishful thinking. Very often his upbeat stories on the German economy (e.g. German business confidence rises) sit side-by-side on the same FT page as a story such as “German GDP estimates revised downwards”. However his piece on excluding nay-sayers from the EU plumbs new journalistic depths.

A more credible German commentator is Jürgen Habermas who has an interesting article on the same theme in the English edition of Spiegal. Despite the promising byline “let the public decide about the future of the European Union” he only goes on to propose an EU-wide referendum on the “future direction of Europe”. The legitimacy of pan-European referendums presupposes that the various peoples of Europe comprise a single polity, which is very far from being the case. No nation is going to going to accept that its state can be abolished against the majority will of its people, simply because there are majorities in other countries that would like them do so. Indeed Habermas implicitly accepts there is no pan-European polity by concluding that those nations where there is a majority in favour of a multinational federation should proceed to set one up (presumably outside the EU framework) without the others. In practice I doubt a majority could be found in any nation (outside the political class which is more interested in the pursuit of collective power than in representative governance) in favour of this step.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,560549-2,00.html

3

Dave 07.02.08 at 3:14 pm

I guess if you do see yourself as the economic powerhouse and political brains behind a project to secure the futures of 500 million people, being f*cked over by half a percent of that is enough to make you scream…

4

Freeborn John 07.02.08 at 3:47 pm

Ali (1): Even 150 years later John Stuart Mill can still provide the best answer as to why the Lisbon treaty is rejected by the public ….

“But if the era of aspiration to free government arrives before this fusion [to create a multinational federation] has been effected, the opportunity has gone by for effecting it. From that time, if the unreconciled nationalities are geographically separate, and especially if their local position is such that there is no natural fitness or convenience in their being under the same government (as in the case of an Italian province under a French or German yoke), there is not only an obvious propriety, but, if either freedom or concord is cared for, a necessity, for breaking the connection altogether.” — J.S. Mill “Considerations on Representative Government” (1861)

5

Henry 07.02.08 at 3:54 pm

Why don’t you tell us why you are hostile to the treaty and its supporters? From my perspective, as a US observer mostly ignorant of the treaty and the debate around it, the treaty seemed like a good idea, but I’d be happy to be convinced differently.

Or if you’re not opposed to the treaty, why all these attacks on stupid things some pro-treaty commentator said, or on the unjustifiable outrage of Ireland yes-campaigners? That’s pretty thin gruel: everybody is upset/outraged when they lose an important vote they felt they should win, and you can find someone making stupid, arrogant arguments on any side of any issue.

In response to your first suggestion – I have made it emphatically clear in previous comments that I would have voted ‘yes’ to the Treaty had I still had a vote in Ireland. In response to your second, because the quite extraordinary outpouring of idiocy we have seen has _real political consequences_ for a political project that I care about. If the European political elite seems to be doing its very best to dig itself deeper into the remarkably large hole that it has already created, rather than straightforwardly acknowledging the very real problems of EU legitimacy, then I at least think there’s a wee bit of a problem there.

6

Kevin O'Rourke 07.02.08 at 4:10 pm

In response to Ali: in my view, it is extremely important that pro-Europeans like Henry make these obviously correct points, rather than giving a clear run to Tory Eurosceptics, far right Polish extremists, French Trotskyites and fascists, and so forth. As an Irishman currently living in France, I’m deeply aware of just how cynical a lot of ordinary voters here are becoming about the European project. The reaction of European governments to the French and Dutch no’s in 2005, and to the Irish no in 2008, have a lot to do with this.

7

Freeborn John 07.02.08 at 5:32 pm

Kevin O’Rourke (6): European federalists have always pursued their project by undemocratic means because they know (as per my J.S. Mill quote) that it will be rejected if it were to be subject to free votes. Nobody should be surprised that the backers of the project should now refuse to accept the verdicts of national referendums. As far as they are concerned they could never have achieved anything in the past if such votes are respected.

The neo-functionalist plan developed by Monnet after the rejection of the European defence Community in 1956 was based on this realisation. From that point on the plan was to first establish the principle of European federal institutions initially with powers limited to areas of low political salience (such that the lack of democratic legitimacy inherent from the lack of a European demos would not be exposed in practice), then for these institutions to engage in a long-run campaign to expand their powers into ever more politically sensitive areas, and finally for the legitimacy of the exercise of decision-making authority in poltically salient areas to be achieved through the transfer of citizens’ allegiance from national institutions to those in Brussels. It is the last part of Monnet’s plan (the transfer of allegiance) which has not occurred leaving us (as predicted by J.S. Mill) with self-aggrandizing Brussels institutions that have no democratic legitimacy. The reason it has not occurred is that national identities, once formed, are self-sustaining depending on factors like language and culture that are extremely resistant to change.

8

Chris Dornan 07.02.08 at 6:08 pm

Henry you are totally right. I was not happy with the Irish vote–I just thought self-absorbed, irresponsible ingrates to be honest, but that is my opinion and I am entitled to it.

I am inclined to think that at this stage, with everyone having spent years coming to an agreement the option should have been sign-up or secede and nothing in the middle–it might help to focus people’s minds and encourage them to behave responsibly. I could easily be shown the error of my ways on this (maybe everyone in Europe should have had a vote).

There is lots wrong with project and the disconnect you have been talking about is very real and should be attended to. I think the disconnect along economic lines is spot on and I think we can see signs of the same splits appeaing across the pond with NAFTA.

The Irish of course given the choice had every right to vote no (this isn’t a North Korean democracy); the bozone layer screwed up as always.

Having said all of this, what planet is Munchau on? Just set up a new EU over night–and do the people of the EU get a say in this? I am beginning to wonder after all whether the Irish didn’t after all have a point.

9

a very public sociologist 07.02.08 at 6:20 pm

Chris, I’m sure such an attitude will do wonders to convince the Irish of the errors of their ways.

10

Walt 07.02.08 at 6:23 pm

Ooo. And how are the “Irish” going to learn this? Are you going to call them all up and tell every one.

11

a 07.02.08 at 7:10 pm

“The ideas that the EU would require Ireland and other dissenting countries to quit and rejoin, or that the pro-integration countries would themselves quit en masse to set up a different organization are, bluntly, completely political infeasible. “

Well an Anglo-Saxon would say that. I think Europeans (and you can take that to mean Continentals near the Atlantic) rue the day they let Britain join and, if push comes to shove, wouldn’t mind at all if peripheral countries were forced out. I’m sure the best European legal minds are figuring out how to do so; and if they can’t think of any way, then they’ll just do it anyway. It comes down to this: Europeans see the EU as it is, as ungovernable and prone to collapse. Since this is unacceptable, and detrimental to their nations’ interest in the highest sense, anything that avoids is permissible.

I think the most likely outcome is some kind of mish-mash opt-out; but the second most likely outcome is Ireland either revoting and voting “yes” or being kicked out.

12

Freeborn John 07.02.08 at 7:30 pm

@11 : The heart of the problem is the different political philosophies that shape Anglo-Irish and Continental thought. Continental thought since Rousseau has been dominated by the idea of collective self-realisation; that collective action is required to achieve political goals and the individual may be coerced in the interest of the collective (e.g. the nation, or the proletariat, etc.). Anglo-American political thought since Locke never accepted this, retaining a belief in the primacy of liberty; i.e. that individuals should be free to do what they want, with state interference limited to preventing one individual from unlawfully harming the interests of another. With the discrediting of socialism as an ideology, many of its former champions on the Continent have merely transferred their allegiance from class to Europe as their collective of choice, while retaining the idea that whole countries can be coerced through QMV in the name of the general will of the European collective. This coercion is however viewed as an unacceptable interference in self-governance by the English-speaking countries who believe we should be free do what we want (unless it causes injury to people in other countries).

13

lemuel pitkin 07.02.08 at 7:33 pm

there’s a stark divergence between the opinion of European elites and the opinion of ordinary voters on this topic.

There’s the crux of the matter, no?

From an outsider’s perspective, there seem to be several possible reasons for this. First, the obvious, that integration is economically advantageous to the elites but not to the majority of workers. (But is this true?) Second, that Europe lacks democratic legitimacy — most people don’t feel that European bodies are accountable to them — in part because the directly elected components are too weak. And third, that there is no European demos, most people stil identify mainly or solely with their national community. Elites, of course, *do* feel represented in Brussels — they are. And because they have more international experiences, loyalties and social ties, they do feel part of a European community.

Does that seem right to you, Henry, or are there other reasons for the divergence? And given the great difficulties in changing any of these facts, what are the prospects for the European project (re)gaining mass support?

14

Detlef 07.02.08 at 8:17 pm

freeborn john,

Wolfgang Münchau can best be described as the authentic voice of German wishful thinking. Very often his upbeat stories on the German economy (e.g. German business confidence rises) sit side-by-side on the same FT page as a story such as “German GDP estimates revised downwards”.

Are you kidding me?
Or didn´t you read the FT – oh- two years ago?
For years the (British) FT including Munchau have denigrated the German economy. Especially in comparison to the British and US one. So much so that in 2006/2007 the “FTD” (Financial Times Germany) wrote a few articles ridiculing their British colleagues including Munchau.
And I suspect they had fun writing those articles.

It was only in 2007 – in my recollection – that Munchau wrote articles grudgingly acknowledging that Germany might not be a waste basket any longer. While still asking for more reforms here.

Right around the time the housing bubble in the
USA burst. With the following credit crunch. Up till then he was a cheerleader for the UK and US economies.

15

Greatzamfir 07.02.08 at 8:30 pm

Lemuel, I am not Henry, but as far as I can tell, your points hit the nail on the head. A few comments on them:

Even if the economics of the EU are actually positive for most people, the benefits are much clearer the more ‘elite’ you are: high-up people are likely to travel for their work, to consider jobs in other countries, to see the actual trade balances of their companies. For ordinary workers, the benefits come in much more diffused form: lower prices as result of economies of scale, higher wages because your company works for other companies that work for companies that trade across Europe. So even if the benefits are fairly ditstributed, which they might not, the well-of are more likely to have a direct link between EU and more cash.

Your third point ‘demos’ is for me personally the reason to question the potential for further integration on short time scales. Language especially is large barrier, as it hinders cultural unity and easy migration. I suspect that the pro-Europe ‘elites’ in most countries are pretty much coincident with the higher educated people who are at ease when speaking English. Add that the EU does not even actively promote English as a binding element of Europe, and I think that the European demos is going to take many more decades, if not more, if it is going to come at all.

16

jim 07.02.08 at 8:57 pm

@11:

1. There is no mechanism for countries leaving (or being expelled). This was deliberate. The EU was designed as a roach motel. Integration was intended to be irreversible.

2. The EU works pretty well. It is not ungovernable and prone to collapse. One of the reasons (not the only one, of course) that the Irish referendum failed was that no compelling case was made that Lisbon was necessary to the continued functioning of the Union. Compare to Maastricht, when such a case was made and referendums, when held, supported ratification.

17

DC 07.02.08 at 9:22 pm

I think the scepticism about a European demos is both relevant and justified. However I think two points are also worth considering:

1) a European federation does not necessarily imply a European nation-state – this is why Habermas refers to a “postnational constellation”. Clearly such a federation would presuppose some features currently associated with the nation-state (eg a certain abstract but effective solidarity) but we should be careful not to apply misconceived standards based on a “national” mindset – if the EU is anything it is sui generis.

2) the question isn’t therefore whether the EU has the potential to replace the nation-state but rather what potential the EU has as a response to the difficulties faced by democracy (broadly conceived) in its classic nation-state setting. This is why Habermas wonders whether those who point to the EU’s lack of an adequate demos aren’t ultimately simply “eulogizing” the dearly departed national constellation – if indeed they don’t also celebrate, in a Hayekian vein, the decline of nation-based solidarity.

Apologies for parroting Habermas here but in so far as I take an interest in the question he’s why.

18

Tim Worstall 07.02.08 at 9:33 pm

“it is extremely important that pro-Europeans like Henry make these obviously correct points,”

Forgive me (well, you don’t have to) but I rather object here. I’m pro-European. I like the Continent, have spent the last few years living in Portugal.

I am however anti-European Union. I object to the manner in which the political system works. Yes, I know as I’ve revealed here before, I’m a member of UKIP, a political party that wants out of the EU. But that’s the point: the objection is to a political system, not the obvious reality that Britain (and if we’re to be inclusive about what “British Isles” means, Ireland) is a part of the continent of Europe (or just offshore, to taste).

I’m entirely pro-European and I object to that tag being appropriated solely for those who are pro- European Union.

19

lemuel pitkin 07.02.08 at 9:37 pm

dc-

Very interesting. You are certainly right that there is a major intellectual current toward de-linking states (or state-like authority) from the nation. Another aspect of this is the idea of humanitarian interventionism and the end of the Westphalian system (somewhat eclipsed by Iraq but one expects it to reassert itself) or the Hardt-Negri Empire thing (IIRC they were both vocal supporters of a “yes” vote in the French referendum.)

The question, though, is whether “postnational” government can still base its legitimacy on the will of the people if the people no longer exist except as a formal abstraction. And if not, what source of legitimacy replaces the demos? Certainly such a “postnational constellation” cannot be democratic in the usual sense.

20

mq 07.02.08 at 9:40 pm

I’m no expert, but I think there’s quite legitimate concern that the EU is too centralized to really allow the level of local autonomy that is justified by Europe’s level of cultural diversity (which is one of the glories of the place). The EU seems disposed to sacrifice various forms of local autonomy to economic efficiency and bureaucratic rationality.

This is a general issue with centralization, and could be said about some European states relative to their regions as well. The same could be said of the U.S. Federal government vis-a-vis the states, but in the U.S. there was obviously much, much less genuine cultural diversity than in Europe, and also much of that diversity was connected to unjustifiably racist local institutions in the South.

21

lemuel pitkin 07.02.08 at 9:44 pm

Language especially is large barrier, as it hinders cultural unity and easy migration. I suspect that the pro-Europe ‘elites’ in most countries are pretty much coincident with the higher educated people who are at ease when speaking English. Add that the EU does not even actively promote English as a binding element of Europe

Yes, this is what I was wondering about. As I recall, a big part of the consolidation of France and Italy (and presumably other European nation-states) in the 19th century was the concerted effort to ensure that everyone spoke the national language, instead of (or in addition to their local dialect. There’s a great book, Peasants into Frenchmen — but there doesn’t seem to be any equivalent project today to “make Europeans.”

It’s hard for me to see how you can have democratic legitimacy without a demos.

22

Doug 07.02.08 at 9:45 pm

How will the EU cope with the Liberum Veto? Especially when many questions of whether or not something is subject to veto are themselves required to muster unanimity? What are the chances that no country out of 27 will find a reason to knock down a major reform?

It’s not as if Prussia, Austria and Russia are at the borders, hungry for partition, but the EU’s chief institutions were designed for six members, are sorta creaking along at 27, and will increasingly degrade on the road to 40. What’s a rotating, six-month presidency worth once every 20 years?

Even in a reality-based debate about the future of the EU, there are some serious questions. The Union has made two solid, good-faith runs at addressing the institutional issues and related items, and they’ve been shot down at least one-and-a-half times. Is serious reform possible?

23

DC 07.02.08 at 9:54 pm

lemuel pitkin,

Arguably, legitimacy of nation-states has become progressively less based on nationality as such and more on formal political (legal and democratic) procedures on the one hand and substantive social and material outcomes (prosperity, security, equality) on the other. If this is true then the question becomes a)whether these conditions of legitimacy are still secure in the hands of nation-states and b) what role European political integration can play in better securing them.

In any case, in what sense is “the people” in a nation-state anything other than a “formal abstraction”? We will only ever come to personally confirm the existence of a tiny proportion of our compatriots after all!

24

weserei 07.02.08 at 9:55 pm

no compelling case was made that Lisbon was necessary to the continued functioning of the Union.

Key word compelling. A couple weeks ago, a lot of people were claiming that the sky would fall if the referendum failed. And yet … the trains continue to run on time (to the extent that they ever did). People still get their paychecks. The civil service (including that in Brussels) still goes to work in the morning knowing what they’re supposed to do that day.

25

DC 07.02.08 at 9:59 pm

and lp again – I don’t know that telling the people of Europe that they’ll all be speaking English in 100 years is likely to encourage pro-EU sentiment, but…I would say that a considerably greater proportion of the EU population speaks English than spoke Italian as their day-to-day language in the Italy of 1860.

But that’s just giving a bit of historical perspective rather than any terribly serious point I admit.

26

banned commenter 07.02.08 at 10:05 pm

“Only after you have kissed the fleeting stead of death,
wretch!” returned Grignr.
A sweeping blade of flashing steel riveted from the massive
barbarians hide enameled shield as his rippling right arm thrust
forth, sending a steel shod blade to the hilt into the soldiers
vital organs.

27

Freeborn John 07.02.08 at 11:06 pm

The concept of Liberum Veto has no relevance at international level. All international institutions, with the exception of the EU, retain democratic legitimacy through the use of unanimity. When the EU moved to qualified majority voting in political salient policy areas it sacrificed its democratic legitimacy. The only solutions now available to restore that legitimacy are
(a) to repatriate decision-making authority in politically salient policy areas to national institutions, or
(b) keep qmv but declare that national law is superior to European law in all politically salient policy areas.

Option (b) should be preferred because it would allow democratic national parliaments to overrule EU law on their territory when necessary. This would automatically lead to a very flexible Europe and would also resolve one major problem with the EU today, i.e. that members of national executives are today tempted to legislate at EU level so as to bind their replacements should they lose an election.

28

Henry 07.03.08 at 12:02 am

Lemuel – I’d differ on minor details, I think, but that’s a pretty good summary of key issues.

a at 11 – ah, the You’re Not a _Real_ European theory (Cursed Anglo-Saxon Interloper mix) raises its head. A recitation of the reasons why I do actually know something about EU politics on the continent and elsewhere would be both pompous and boring. Instead, I’ll refer you back to the post and its discussion of how only 30% of the inhabitants of that notoriously Anglo-Saxon country, France, have a favorable opinion of Europe. Nonsense about Anglo-Saxon oppression is a class of whistling past the graveyard (as a native of a country with a strong historical line in conspiracy theories about Anglo-Saxons, I know that whereof I speak).

29

P O'Neill 07.03.08 at 12:42 am

I’m surprised that no one has mentioned the Eurozone as the most obvious case of an inner group of EU countries running with more advanced arrangements. While some countries can’t join because of eligibility, there are at least three who choose not to participate: UK, Denmark, Sweden. Of course Ireland is not one of them.

30

Antti Nannimus 07.03.08 at 12:52 am

Hi,

Yeah…whatever. On the other hand couldn’t we just settle it all in a good, old-fashioned, traditional, brain-clearing, civil war, and get it all straightened out that way? What’s the matter with the way everyone else does it?

Have a nice day!

Antti

31

Nordic Mousse 07.03.08 at 1:34 am

# 28

“A recitation of the reasons why I do actualy know something about EU politics on the continent and elsewhere would be both pompous and boring”

Not at all, Henry. It would be very interesting to know from where you draw your insights concerning the continent. So please do ‘recite why you actually know something’

32

Kevin O'Rourke 07.03.08 at 6:40 am

Tim (#18): I sit corrected. I should have said “pro-EU”.

33

Doug 07.03.08 at 8:23 am

31: NM, start here, and click on CV.

34

Alex 07.03.08 at 9:28 am

For a start, the whole “We’re the real Europeans” thing is getting ridiculous. Now Sarko is president of France and positively dribbling on the Americans’ leg, who’s the carolingian core pioneer group? Germany (well, Angie Merkel ain’t no Jacques Delors) and Belgium? Chuck in plucky little Luxembourg? No Dutchmen or Danes, too keen on NATO, Italians or Greeks, paupers, Swedes, not in the Euro…does Spain or Portugal get in? Or are they too close to Africa?

And certainly none of the new member states; poor, and insufficiently ideologically pure. There’s an issue of bad faith here; it’s OK to not apply community law or vote against a treaty, so long as you are a member of the purity club, whose membership is constantly revised down. France votes No? Fine. Ireland votes No? Unfine. A couple of years ago they were the EU musterknabe, but now, well..

The Franco-Germans are just going to have to suck up the idea that people disagree.

Meanwhile, bad faith in language; not only does Tim Worstall claim to be a “eurosceptic”, which is hilarious – scepticism implies you can be persuaded – what’s this “I’m really pro-European” fuckery? Is there anything Tim believes in he doesn’t try to deny every time he gets called on it?

UKIP member…but I’m a lady! pro-European. DDT bullshit fan and long-term TCS climate bullshitter…but I’m a lady! environmentalist, I just don’t believe in doing anything about it. Supporter of all conservative causes….but I’m a lady! libertarian. Pathetic imitator of Glenn Reynolds in all things….but I’m a lady! fiercely independent pillar of British Blogging TM.

Operator of pathetic spam blog…he doesn’t actually deny that one. Owner of the only “blogging policy” in the world to explicitly give himself the right to accept payment for posts without making them known? Oh, that one too. What connects these two?

35

ajay 07.03.08 at 9:35 am

“These are my principles. If you don’t like them I have others.”

36

Alex 07.03.08 at 9:41 am

Just for reference:

The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content.

37

Dave 07.03.08 at 11:22 am

If only someone was prepared to pay for all the *other* f*ckwit nonsense people spout as their “opinions”…

38

Freeborn John 07.03.08 at 12:12 pm

It is lazy thinking (or perhaps more of the ‘integration by stealth’ deceit) to describe the EU as “sui generis”. There is no new form of governance in the world that has not been thought of time and again throughout history. The EU should today be described as a soft Confederation because its member states are still recognised as sovereign states in international law. However Elmar Brok’s description of the EU as a ‘state under construction’ best captures the intended direction. Any policies decided by the ‘community method’ are already federal as they can be imposed through QMV on nations against the will of the people or their elected representatives. EU law pre-empt national law just as US federal law pre-empts that of US states (which are certainly not sovereign states and would better be called provinces or regions).

39

Tim Worstall 07.03.08 at 12:56 pm

“what’s this “I’m really pro-European” fuckery?”

It wouold be difficult for an Englishman who lives in Portugal to claim to be “anti-European” now wouldn’t it?

40

Tony 07.03.08 at 2:00 pm

Henry,

“the quite extraordinary outpouring of idiocy we have seen has real political consequences for a political project that I care about.”

I agree with you, and I’d go a step further.

I think some of the responses to the Irish No have given us Pro-Lisbon people pause for thought. On one hand, I accept the (some say elitist) rationale that complex international treaties, constitutional matters etc are seldom put to plebiscite with very good reason. (Indeed, The Law itself should remain impervious to popular sentiment – I mean, we can all imagine a hypothetical situation in which Civil or even Human Rights are rescinded following a referendum arising out of some popular hysteria &c. (Immolate the paedophiles!!))

And yet. There is this nagging sense for me that some of the NO camp’s concerns have been vindicated by the paternalistic responses coming from some our EU colleagues: “you see their attitude to democracy”!

Slavoj Zizek might say this was all about Taboo. Irish Constitutional necessity has – almost accidentaly – exposed the unspeakable dirty little secret at the heart of the project: “Pssst … has everyone forgotten about the French and Dutch votes?”

Shaggy and Scooby (The Irish Electorate) removes the mask from the Spook (The Spectre of the EU Constitution) to reveal the Fairground Operator (The Eurocratic Elite.)

41

Tony 07.03.08 at 2:06 pm

And as I’ve said before:

And we would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for you pesky kids!

42

lemuel pitkin 07.03.08 at 2:49 pm

Meddling, Tony. It’s meddling kids.

43

William J Humbold 07.03.08 at 3:02 pm

There is still possible to vote online about the EU at http://www.FreeEurope.info. Vote YES or NO to Free Europe Constitution – open for all Europeans.

44

lemuel pitkin 07.03.08 at 3:13 pm

legitimacy of nation-states has become progressively less based on nationality as such and more on formal political (legal and democratic) procedures on the one hand and substantive social and material outcomes (prosperity, security, equality) on the other.

Right, that’s the question. For the last 200-odd years, government authority has been based (increasingly, and often in principle solely) on the idea that it represents the will of the people. Of course this only works if the people can be imagined as prior to the state — and indeed the trend has been toward increasingly ethnically homogeneous states, in Europe even more than elsewhere.

Of course that’s not the only possible answer. As you say, legitimacy could be based on the combination of formal legal gurantees and a steadily rising standard of living — and indeed that, rather than the popular will, has arguably been the fundamental source of legitimacy of the American state (as Herbert Croly argued a long time ago.)

What I wonder, though, is how much people are willing to accept state authority on that basis if they don’t feel the government represents them in some more fundamental sense. At the very least, that sort of legitimacy is very sensitive to whether the rising standard of living is broadly and consistently delivered in practice (as Croly also pointed out.)

In any case, in what sense is “the people” in a nation-state anything other than a “formal abstraction”? We will only ever come to personally confirm the existence of a tiny proportion of our compatriots after all!

Well, that’s why I mentioned Peasants into Frenchmen. It’s all about how the 19th century French state made a very concerted effort to give everyone living in France a common language, cultural and historical reference points, shared public life, etc., especially through universal primary education.

It seemed clear then that a state that was based on popular consent needed the “people” to exist in a positive way that a state based on divine right or “natural” hierarcy did not. There definitely seems to be a notion today that liberal political and economic insitutions are sufficiently universal and complete that there is no space left for the specifically political — the scope and source of authority of government doesn’t matter because the correct decisions are always the same, based on the same kind of rational expertise. What I doubt, though — and what these recent votes seems to call into question — is whether that kind of authority will be accepted in practice.

45

Nick 07.03.08 at 3:17 pm

re: #26:

Banned comments get replaced with snippets from The Eye of Argon?????

That is so much more awesome than disemvoweling!

46

Henry 07.03.08 at 4:34 pm

nordic mousse – I really don’t want to go into this too much because I don’t want to come over as too much of a self-aggrandizing arsehole – but I’ve spent several years living in continental Europe (3 in Italy, 2.5 in Germany, six months in Belgium as a stagiaire at the Commission, bits and bobs in France and elsewhere), have written several articles (and co-edited a special issue of _West European Politics_ on the relationship between EU Treaty change and day-to-day institutional stuff), and had and continue to have a wide variety of contacts with European political types, have also written extensively on this blog and elsewhere about the positive consequences of Rhineland style capitalism and so on. None of this means of course that I am _right_ about any of this of course – but I’m not speaking either from a vacuum of ignorance, or from an innate hostility to France, Germany etc. More generally, I think that it’s lousy argumentation to dismiss arguments you don’t like (as ‘a’ did) as effectively worthless because they’re coming from someone you regard as a lesser European. At the very least, it’s sloppy and lazy.

Nick – this is a new policy that may be varied according to whim and the availability of new sources of bad writing.

47

Freeborn John 07.03.08 at 8:50 pm

@43: Political institutions can be legitimised in several ways, of which democratic legitimacy (i.e. based on the consent of the people, as expressed in referendums such as the recent one in Ireland) is only one.

One alternative form of legitimacy (to which you are allude) is “output legitimacy”. An independent central bank may be legitimised in this way, even though it suffers from a “democratic deficit” similar to the EU’s. In the case of a central banker the rationale for delegation is to deliberately delegate power to an authority (a conservative central banker) known to value one policy outcome (lower long-term inflation) more highly than the delegating authority and therefore to enhance the credibility of a policy known to be in the public interest. So long as the central banker delivers the powers he exercises can still be accepted as legitimate.

Another form of legitimacy can come from a system that is simply the best that can be imagined. Judges for example exercise one of the three classical forms of political power but are unelected in (almost) all countries. The skills required to be a good judge are very different from those required to run for elected office, involving long experience of case law gained over many decades and the benefits of delegating judicial power to independent judges is widely held to be in the public interest. The ECJ is probably the EU institution that can claim this form of legitimacy, but it is hard to argue the same is true of the EU Commission with its monopoly on legislative initiative for law superior to any other for 500 million people.

Ultimately in a democracy all power must be derived from a people. This is reflected in EU treaties where the EU institutions only enjoy conferred powers that ultimately belong to the nation-states. The problem with all forms of delegated power is that is a danger of bureaucratic drift where the delegated authority uses its own discretion to achieve policy outcomes that those who originally delegated the power do not approve off. This danger increases when the ‘chain of delegation’ becomes very long (as it is with the powers conferred to the EU for example). “Output legitimacy” may have sufficed for Brussels institutions when they only made decisions related to the common market, but this is not good enough once those same institutions acquire decision-making powers in the general matters of politics that traditionally decide elections. The truth is that the powers now exercised by the EU exceed its legitimacy base. The problem is compounded by a bureaucratic drift in which the Brussels institutions confuse their own interest in acquiring more power for themselves for the general interest of citizens of its member states. We are witnessing the replacement of “government of the people, for the people, by the people” by “government of the politicians, for the politicians, by the politicians” and a consequent backlash from the disenfranchised voters in multiple countries.

48

novakant 07.03.08 at 9:19 pm

I have a suggestion: why don’t we all try to be good European citizens and discuss the new labour law underway, which could make the 60 hour week a standard if employers collectively take advantage of it. Or how about organizing some dissent regarding the proposed EU-US data sharing deal. With all the discussion about the referendum, such rather important measures that might actually affect our lives are almost completely ignored. Now maybe this is the fault of the undemocratic EU, but it’s equally our fault if we just let these things happen. If these measures had been proposed on the national level, there would be an outcry.

49

mikey 07.03.08 at 10:50 pm

I voted NO because I didn’t like Declaration 17 and Militarism. I didn’t like Declaration 17 because it was written in small print con and was designed to be opaque. I know because Giscard told me so.

The guff that we in Ireland were told about being at the heart of Europe has been exposed for the waffle that it is. How on earth did France get to be the main player in a UN mandated mission in Chad, a former colony? It’s like sending a guard back to his native village to police it. As a quid pro quo, at the heart of Europe, it seems that Ireland’s good reputation as UN peacekeepers was recruited by the French to advance their mission to help out in their former colony. Dermot Ahern went for this in return for God knows what, at the heart of Europe. This EUFOR mission is constantly being described as the European French led mission in the media. I think this tarnishes the reputation of Ireland as an honest broker which arises from its status as a former colony.

50

Freeborn John 07.03.08 at 11:06 pm

@47: Citizenship is the relationship between an individual and a state, and the EU is not a state no matter how much it wants to become one. The EU therefore has no more citizens than the Red Cross or any other international organization.

51

novakant 07.04.08 at 7:04 am

EU citizenship has been legally established with the Maastricht Treaty and has since been continuously strengthened.

52

Freeborn John 07.04.08 at 8:41 am

novakent : Citizenship is the relationship between an individual and a state and cannot be established in an international treaty, the contracting parties of which are states alone. “EU Citizenship” is a slogan, meaning nothing more than citizenship of a state that is a member of the European Union, which is why no-one can renounce their fake EU citizenship except by renouncing their real citizenship, or could retain it if their state were to leave the EU.

53

Alex 07.04.08 at 9:36 am

It wouold be difficult for an Englishman who lives in Portugal to claim to be “anti-European” now wouldn’t it?

It wouold be profoundly hypocritical, but no more so than the same man being a member in good standing of UKIP.

54

novakant 07.04.08 at 9:38 am

You’re simply wrong, EU citizenship confers substantial rights (movement, residence, work, anti-discrimination) that cannot be granted by national governments, EU law, where applicable, trumps national law and EU citizens can appeal to the European Court of Justice challenging national laws (Germany had to change its constituion in such a case).

55

Freeborn John 07.04.08 at 11:20 am

novakant: All those rights predate the Maasticht treaty, so can have nothing to do with the bogus concept of citizenship it declared.

Real citizenship imposes not just rights but also serious obligations on a citizen, such as to obey the law of state, to pay taxes, and even (in exceptional circumstances) to fight and perhaps die. It is therefore something which is wholly dependent on the strong solidarities that come from a national identity.

Citizenship is not something that can be invented by a Spanish prime-minister in a coffee-break at an EU summit (as EU so-called citizenship was) in order to impress his peers with his federalistic fervour as part of a campaign to secure regional grants for Spain.

56

Freeborn John 07.04.08 at 11:26 am

n.b. Citizens of a member-state of the European Union cannot appeal to the ECJ, because it is not a court of appeal. It is a court of reference whose role is to clarify the meaning of EU law when asked to do so by a national court. Also Germans can challenge national law inconsistent with any international law (not just EU law).

57

Tim Worstall 07.04.08 at 2:01 pm

“It wouold be profoundly hypocritical, but no more so than the same man being a member in good standing of UKIP.”

Why on earth would that be so? I’m against a specific political structure, not a place or a continent.

58

DC 07.04.08 at 2:35 pm

I’m not sure I really understand the stakes in the “is the EU a state?” and “can you be a citizen of something other than a state?” debates. Why is talk of EU citizenship “bogus” or “fake” if one is only an EU citizen by virtue of first being a citizen of an EU member-state? And why adopt freeborn john’s restrictive understanding of where it is and isn’t meaningful to use the term “citizenship”? Is there anything imortant at stake here or is this just a general desire to demean (or not to puff up if you prefer) the EU?

Why can’t we think of EU citizenship as a concept making reference to that set of rights and obligations arising from one’s nation-state’s EU membership? Obeying EU law is such an obligation, as is paying taxes to fund the EU. I don’t see that these obligations can’t be seen as arising from EU “citizenship” just because they happen to be mostly executed by member-states themselves.

Personally I accept no obligation to fight and/or die for my nation-state (perhaps this is because it has never had conscription) and don’t think this is necessary for citizenship to be “real”.

“Citizenship is not something that can be invented by a Spanish prime-minister in a coffee-break at an EU summit (as EU so-called citizenship was) in order to impress his peers with his federalistic fervour as part of a campaign to secure regional grants for Spain.”

I can’t help but feel this claim betrays a naive or romantic conception of the emergence of nation-states and citizenship therein. Who was it who said that national identity rests not just on common memories but on common forgettings as well?

59

Alex 07.04.08 at 3:54 pm

Tim, see comment 54.

60

Freeborn John 07.04.08 at 4:46 pm

@: The origin of the concept of EU citizenship is well-documented as being Felipe Gonzalez, Prime Minister of Spain at the time of the negotiation of the Masstricht treaty.

The issue at stake is merely to avoid lazy language. Those who use the term “EU citizen” are, consiously or otherwise, using language intended to suggest a federal state finality for the EU project. The same is true of any talk of EU “soil” or an EU “border”. International organisations have member states, and not citizens, borders, soil or indeed powers of their own.

61

Antoni Jaume 07.04.08 at 5:31 pm

@60

do you understant the meaning of “ever closer union”?

from the Economist :

“AN EVER closer union among the peoples of Europe” is one of the stated aims of the Treaty of Rome. The mantra is repeated in the Maastricht treaty, which also talks about a “new stage in the process of European integration”. From the very start of the European venture, Jean Monnet and the other founding fathers envisaged that, after progressing steadily, it would evolve one day into some kind of United States of Europe. Successive treaties have pointed in this direction; successive applicant countries have implicitly signed up to it.”

DSW

62

Freeborn John 07.04.08 at 5:49 pm

@61: DSW, Do you understand the meaning of the “consent of the governed”? Because it does not exist for “ever closer union” in any European country.

63

Nordic Mousse 07.04.08 at 5:51 pm

Henry #46:

Thanks for that. But you live in the US, don’t watch TV, and don’t visit Europe much

So why do you quote a 30% French opinion poll, as if you were sure what it meant?

I want to know what the experts think – do you actually speak French, or German, or any other European language with real proficiency?

64

Antoni Jaume 07.04.08 at 6:00 pm

@62

Talk for yourself. In Spain it is still what most people want. Even those that do not want to be part of Spain want to be part of an ever closer European Union.

DSW

65

Nordic Mousse 07.04.08 at 6:19 pm

John #60

The issue at stake is merely to avoid lazy language ….. the “EU project”

Indeed, the term “EU project” would be a case in point. It isn’t a “project” at all. Language doesn’t get lazier

Otherwise one could be talking about the “German project”, or the “UK Project”, or the “US project”

66

Henry 07.04.08 at 6:33 pm

nordic mousse – this is really quite pathetic. If you actually want to make your insinuation stick, why don’t you take a look at my cv, read some of my articles on the European Union linked therefrom, come up with some serious criticisms or evidence that I don’t know what I am talking about when I write about European politics and the European Union? While I’m waiting on that detailed and no doubt devastating critique, I’ll continue to go with the views of the editors of _West European Politics,_ _Journal of European Public Policy_, _Zeitschrift fuer Rechtssoziologie_, my former employers at the European University Institute, Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, European Commission etc that I am not completely incompetent to speak and write on these topics. But thanks for playing!

67

novakant 07.04.08 at 6:41 pm

The issue at stake is merely to avoid lazy language.

This is getting ridiculous: of course EU citizen and EU territory have a rather clearly defined legal meaning and a generally accepted ordinary language meaning. You can look it up in the relevant documents or just talk to people on the street. The fact that you don’t seem to like this state of affairs is wholly irrelevant.

68

Nordic Mousse 07.04.08 at 7:17 pm

Henry: #66

“this is really quite pathetic”

No, it’s not pathetic, Henry. One is quite entitled to ask for your qualifications to speak about Europeans, when you don’t appear to be one (any more) or to have much contact with them (except in the distant past)

Don’t get me wrong – I like you, and agree with you in many ways. But I don’t you’re qualified to say what Europeans think

69

Righteous Bubba 07.04.08 at 7:48 pm

No, it’s not pathetic, Henry.

Not being able to click on the “who are we” link is actually pretty sad.

70

DC 07.04.08 at 8:23 pm

Nordic Mousse – you’re being a dick. Sorry, not saying you are one, it’s just the impression your giving.

freeborn john – if international organisations don’t have powers of their own then the EU isn’t one. Guess it must be a state? Or sui generis?!

Also: my point re: the origin of the idea of EU citizenship (according to you Felipe Gonzalez at a coffee break) was not that this is inaccurate (never heard it before) but 1) that I don’t understand its relevance and 2) that many a nation-state has emerged from more inglorious (not to mention bloody) circumstances.

71

salientdowns 07.04.08 at 8:49 pm

Also: my point re: the origin of the idea of EU citizenship (according to you Felipe Gonzalez at a coffee break) was not that this is inaccurate (never heard it before) but 1) that I don’t understand its relevance and 2) that many a nation-state has emerged from more inglorious (not to mention bloody) circumstances.

Agreed regarding relevance. I think the idea is to discredit the notion of EU citizenship by characterizing it (or mischaracterizing it) as the misguided notion of one rogue authority figure.

72

Henry 07.04.08 at 11:30 pm

Nordic Mousse – please. Look at my research, which is ongoing, and involves me going to Brussels and elsewhere to do extensive interviews with European decision makers a couple of times a year. In fairness, you may not realise why your suggestion is a somewhat offensive one, so let me spell it out. My _job_ as an academic is to interpret and research European politics. What you’re suggesting, likely without fully realising it, is that I’m quite incompetent to do that job. As I’ve noted, there are a number of external validations for my work which would suggest that your rather sweeping claims about my competence appear to be untrue.

Let me stress again – none of this means that I am _right_ about any of this stuff. People with far more considerable reputations and qualifications than me get things very badly wrong all the time. So I’m not pulling qualifications in order to bolster my empirical claims. Nor am I deeply upset that a pseudonymous person on the WWW is calling these qualifications into doubt – after a few years blogging, I’ve developed a reasonable number of calluses. What I am saying is that the claim that I’m excluded because of who I am from interpreting European politics seems both rather obtuse, and carries some offensive implications given that this is, after all what I do for a living. At the least, if you want to maintain that I’m unqualified to pronounce on European politics, I’d be grateful for some specific illustration, drawn from my research or elsewhere, of how I have gotten it so badly wrong because of my purported lack-of-continued-European-ness or whatever as to prove your point.

73

banned commenter 07.05.08 at 7:22 am

If not for his keen auditory organs and lighting steeled
reflexes, Grignr would have been groping through the shadowed
hell-pits of the Grim Reaper. He had unknowingly stumbled upon
an ancient, long forgotton booby trap; a mistake which would have
stunted the perusal of longevity of one less agile. A mechanism,
similar in type to that of a minature catapult was concealed
beneath two collapsable sections of granite flooring. The arm of
the device was four feet long, boasting razor like cleats at
regular intervals along its face with which it was to skewer the
luckless body of its would be victim. Grignr had stepped upon a
concealed catch which relaesed a small metal latch beneath the
two granite sections, causing them to fall inward, and thereby
loose the spiked arm of death they precariously held in.

74

bernarda 07.05.08 at 10:17 am

The Lisbon Treaty, which is just the twin brother of the defunct European Constitution, is terrible for Europe for reasons I often discussed before the French referendum which rejected the EC.

I actively campaigned and voted against the EC. However that Eurocrat “elite” and its multinational buddies have more or less successfully “framed” the issue that if you are against their version, you are against Europe. Of they presented their project as the only one possible.

So now if you are against that particular project, you are labeled “anti-Europe”. I rather see it as being against rampant multinational globalization leading to the economy of the lowest common denominator.

If, as may be true, there is a need to revise European institutions, they could have written a text on that subject only in 20 or so pages. But they have a “mini-treaty” of nearly 300 pages that includes everything, even the kitchen sink, and all of it is favorable to corporate and banking interests.

French president and neo-con Sarkozy even expressly amended the French constitution for the sole reason of avoiding another referendum. One irony is that Sarkozy has been criticizing the European central bank even while his treaty reinforces the power and independence of that bank.

When the French voters rejected the EC, they did so in spite of the fact that the biggest political parties supported it and the mass media engaged in a dishonest propaganda campaign in favor of it. The “no” vote was really a grassroots movement with virtually no institutional support.

At the time, even many people who supported the EC complained about the unfair treatment of the “no” voices in the media. Typically you would have a forum with three or four “yes” advocates against one, if any, “no” advocates. The “no’s” where repeatedly attacked on a personal level and their motives were questioned. The major media talking heads denigrated the “no” spokesmen.

The “no’s” almost always strictly stuck to their own arguments.

75

Freeborn John 07.05.08 at 3:46 pm

DC (70): One difference between a state and an international organisation is that only the former has the power to determine the limits of its own competence. The EU is an international organisation and what powers it enjoys are those that have been conferred to it from nation-states. The democratic ideal is that the people are sovereign, but this is true of only one state in the European Union. Elsewhere parliaments are sovereign with the national executives that negotiated the Lisbon treaty being able to use the mechanisms of party discipline and the Whips to ensure it is rubber-stamped by legislatures.

novakant(67): You can be sure that I use terms such as ‘citizenship’ precisely. I expect that this site has higher ambitions than ‘street language’. It is impossible to hold a serious discussion about the problems facing the EU (problems that political science should be able to diagnose) using imprecise language.

76

DC 07.05.08 at 5:04 pm

I’m not sure if states do really “determine the limits of [their] own competence” (their competences are obviously restricted by the competences of other states, in other words by the extent of their territory). But putting that aside – you have shifted, it seems, from a point about the powers of the EU (i.e. your suggestion that international organisations, as opposed to states, have no powers of their own) to one about the geneology of such powers (the EU’s powers “have been conferred to it from nation-states”).

The latter point is true enough historically. On the other hand, I would point out that the powers of many states were, legally speaking, only conferred on them by other nation-states – e.g. Australia, Canada and indeed what you describe as the only EU member-state where the people are sovereign, Ireland. Of course in all these cases it was (always or eventually) politically and then legally imposible for the conferring state to reclaim the powers it had formally conferred, whereas, despite the lack of any explicit secession procedure, there is little to stop any EU member-state that wants to withdrawing and reclaiming the legal powers it has ceded/pooled.

So perhaps it is the possibility of secession that makes the EU no more than an international organisation in your view? But this poses questions about the status of, for example, the UK, since it has acknowledged the right of Northern Ireland (and at least implicitly Scotland/Wales) to secede.

77

Freeborn John 07.06.08 at 9:43 am

DC (76): State power does not exist to push other states around. Its purpose is to protect individual citizens from others in society who would unlawfully harm their interests, to protect society from external threat, to provide public services and institutions that individual citizens or the private sector cannot, etc.

Thomas Paine said (in ‘The Rights of Man’) that there are only two kinds of government in the world; (i) those which derive their legitimate power from a people and (ii) those which can trace their origin back to a usurpation of power, such as occurred in 1066 in England. When Paine wrote this in 1791 he judged there were only two governments in the world (the USA & France) belonging to his first category, but since then peoples everywhere (including in the countries you list) have succeeded in replacing the arbitrary rule of the descendants of the usurpers that we called Kings and Emperors by parliamentary or presidential democracies which derive their legitimate authority from a people. Those in Brussels, Berlin and Paris for whom Wolfgang Münchau would effectively be modern day usurpers so dedicated to their federalist vision as to be prepared to take us back to government without the consent of the people.

78

Freeborn John 07.06.08 at 9:46 am

DC (76): State power does not exist to push other states around. Its purpose is to protect individual citizens from others in society who would unlawfully harm their interests, to protect society from external threat, to provide public services and institutions that individual citizens or the private sector cannot, etc.

Thomas Paine said (in ‘The Rights of Man’) that there are only two kinds of government in the world; (i) those which derive their legitimate power from a people and (ii) those which can trace their origin back to a usurpation of power, such as occurred in 1066 in England. When Paine wrote this in 1791 he judged there were only two governments in the world (the USA & France) belonging to his first category, but since then peoples everywhere (including in the countries you list) have succeeded in replacing the arbitrary rule of the descendants of the usurpers that we called Kings and Emperors by parliamentary or presidential democracies which derive their legitimate authority from a people. Those in Brussels, Berlin and Paris for whom Wolfgang Münchau speaks would effectively be modern day usurpers so dedicated to their federalist vision as to be prepared to take us back to government without the consent of the people.

79

banned commenter 07.06.08 at 10:41 am

The paunchy noble’s sagging round face flushed suddenly
pale, then pastily lit up to a lustrous cherry red radiance. His
lips trembled with malicious rage, while emitting a muffled
sibilant gibberish. His sagging flabs rolled like a tub of upset
jelly, then compressed as he sucked in his gut in an attempt to
conceal his softness.

80

novakant 07.06.08 at 4:04 pm

Citizenship of the Union is hereby established.

Treaty of Amsterdam

81

mofo 07.07.08 at 4:46 am

As a Floridian still wondering if my vote in the 2000 U.S. prez election was ever counted, I cannot weigh in on Ireland’s rejection of the Lisbon Treaty. But I am curious about one matter: what is the basis for the oft-reported Trotskyite rejection of the treaty (if it is based on soemthing other than the obvious, i.e., that the new-Europe simply strengthens the ruling class and ignors or squelches the proletariat)? Everytime I read a blog about Ireland’s no-vote I see the Trotskyist “anti” position mentioned w/o either an explanation or a link to any original or expanded material,and I can Google no such link myself. Cheers to y’all, too!

Comments on this entry are closed.