Twelve Stars project – join in!

by Ingrid Robeyns on May 16, 2018

So folks, I want to draw your attention to the Twelve Stars project – a project set up up by some (mainly German) philosophers who will publish a book, in the run-up to the European Elections of 2019, in which philosophers will defend a specific policy proposal that that the European Union should adopt. There are 25 propositions that will be defended, including that the EU should not tolerate member states to restrict freedom of religion (defended by Rainer Forst), that the EU should offer citizenship to people from Island nations inundated by rising see levels (Mark Alfano), that the EU should abolish intensive farming (Mara-Daria Cojocaru), that the EU should encourage new forms of governance in which companies are run by employees (Lisa Herzog) and many more. For a list of all propositions, take a look here. Our own Miriam Ronzoni will defend the claim that the European Parliament should be elected on the basis of transnational lists, and I will defend the claim that the EU should institute high levels of taxation on air travel.

An interesting feature of the project is that the authors will try out their proposals in a “change my view” debate with anyone who wants to join the discussion. The first three debates are this Friday, with Peter Dietsch arguing that the European Central Bank should consider the distributive effects of its monetary policy, Clement Fontan arguing that the EU should adopt stricter financial regulations, and Jakub Kloc-Konkołowicz arguing that the European Union should involve its national parliaments more strongly when reshaping its institutions and politics. Feel free to join those discussions, and those following over the next weeks!

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

1

MFB 05.16.18 at 12:20 pm

This sounds very like a European version of the “Charter 88” movement. That is, a possibly well-meaning but wholly unrealistic attempt to reverse the actual policies of a very powerful organisation, without having any of the power to do so, and without understanding either those policies or the significance of the organisation.

By the way, is there anything there about withdrawing from NATO? My Internet connexion is lousy at the moment. If there isn’t — well, that does suggest what the authors are really up to.

2

Tom West 05.16.18 at 12:55 pm

> An interesting feature of the project is that the authors will try out their proposals in a “change my view” debate with anyone who wants to join the discussion.

I like the idea, but I prefer something used in my grade school – you have to write a piece attacking your preferred position. If you can’t do a moderately persuasive job from the other side, either you don’t understand both sides well enough to make a compelling pro argument or the issue is so self-evident, it’s not worth debating in the first place.

3

engels 05.16.18 at 1:09 pm

Thos seems very EU

The European Union should institute a Europe-wide holiday to commemorate Europe’s past and celebrate the EU’s success

4

Ike 05.16.18 at 5:52 pm

@3 The European Union should institute a Europe-wide holiday to commemorate Europe’s past and celebrate the EU’s success. Awesome! I’d also advocate mandatory biannual pilgrimages for all adult EU citizens, one to Brussels, the other one to Strasbourg.

5

Dipper 05.16.18 at 7:07 pm

Prof Robeyns – The central tension in the EU is between nation states and a Federal EU. This manifests itself in all sorts of ways, not least of which is your previous post about the Dutch government reducing welfare benefit as EU nations engage in a race to the bottom in welfare provision to avoid being the one paying for other EU nation’s benefit cases.

So, how about “the EU should adopt a common standard of welfare payment and availability and this should be funded centrally through an EU-wide welfare tax.”

6

John Quiggin 05.16.18 at 8:05 pm

@1 Charter 77 looked even less promising, but was (or contributed to) a massive success in the end. Admitting that most projects of this kind fail, is there any way to determine in advance which are more likely to succeed?

7

John Quiggin 05.16.18 at 8:13 pm

I agree with the first three propositions, so I’ll wait a bit longer to take part. The idea of a European English Academy sounds pretty pointless to me, but also harmless.

The proposal that would interest me is that of a Euro-dividend, which I assume would initially be too small to live on. I think that’s the wrong way to go about things
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/07/why-we-should-put-basic-before-universal-in-the-pursuit-of-income-equality?CMP=share_btn_tw
but it would be interesting to discuss this with Philippe von Parijs.

8

Kien 05.16.18 at 11:18 pm

I would suggest giving the EU Parliament power to raise taxes. This would make voters care about European elections, and the EU Parliament in turn would be more accountable to voters. It would also strengthen European identity as the experience in Canada and Australia shows.

9

Tabasco 05.17.18 at 5:52 am

the European Central Bank should consider the distributive effects of its monetary policy

The Bank of England recently published a research paper that does this.

10

nastywoman 05.17.18 at 6:18 am

@3+4
”The European Union should institute a Europe-wide holiday to commemorate Europe’s past and celebrate the EU’s success.”

The ”Union” should – seriously – firstly as a reminder of:
”as Inequality is on the rise across the world, Europe stands out as a positive exception. Despite all the criticism thrown at the EU, it is a global leader in preserving a degree of fairness in the social fabric. This may seem unlikely – Europe is hardly devoid of problems and tensions. Parts of the left depict it as a vehicle for neoliberal economic policies, and parts of the right deride it as an inefficient administrative monster.
BUT
”It’s hard to exaggerate the difference between western Europe and the USA when it comes to inequality. In 1980, these blocs of similar population and average income were also similar in income inequality: the top 1% captured around 10% of national income, while the poorest 50% took around 20%. Things have changed dramatically since then. Today, the top 1% in Europe take 12% of income (in the US, 20%) while the bottom 50% have 22% (in the US, 10%)”

And for somebody who lives in both ”worlds” – the US and Europe – something like the Twelve Stars projects proves that actually –
YES @Ike – ”AWESOME” – how far ahead ”the discussion” seems to be in Europe ahead of in my homeland the US?

And – just as another taste of the current EU reality:
”A record number of people in EU countries now personally feel like they are citizens of the European Union, according to a long-running survey monitoring the continent’s views on integration. As Britain heads towards the exit door the rest of the continent feels more positive about European identity than ever, with a solid 68 per cent of the population telling the regular Eurobarometer poll that they “feel they are a citizen of the EU”.

So guys – try to get with it!

11

Dipper 05.17.18 at 7:13 am

its nice you are such a fan of the EU @nastywoman. Along with many of my fellow Brits, I am not.

Take the current negotiations on leaving the EU. It has been made a clear red-line that the Good Friday Agreement must be respected and that means, as far as the EU negotiating team are concerned, that the UK must remain in the Customs Union despite the general opinion being that the vote to leave the EU would not be properly implemented if the UK stays in the Customs Union.

We should remember that the Good Friday Agreement is not a minor agreement on local trade arrangements, it was an agreement that sought to end a terrorist campaign. As part of this agreement nearly 430 terrorists were given early release, including Patrick Magee who planted the bomb in the Grand Hotel in Brighton killing five people and leaving Norman Tebbit’s wife in a wheelchair for life.

Lots of people had a strong dislike of the GFA, but the Irish problem is a particularly tricky one so were prepared to swallow their dislike if that was what Ireland felt was the best way of moving on as expressed in the referenda that were held. However, Michel Barnier and the EU have now made this agreement not a local one, but one that covers the rest of the UK (which didn’t get a vote), and by implication now covers the rest of the EU.

So how about the Twelve Stars project discussing the proposition that “The principles of the Good Friday Agreement should be extended to the whole of the EU, recognising that terrorism has a legitimate role in politics in the EU, and that agreements to end terrorism take priority over the results of referenda”?

12

nastywoman 05.17.18 at 7:55 am

@
”Along with many of my fellow Brits, I am not.”

As I’m currently in London and together with a lot of ”Brits” -(and ”Non-Brits”) who are – like me – very much ”Fans of Europe” -(please notice that I didn’t write ”EU”) – we just last night talked about guys like you – who love to come up with all kind of stories – ”including Patrick Magee who planted the bomb in the Grand Hotel in Brighton killing five people and leaving Norman Tebbit’s wife in a wheelchair for life” –

just in order to argue against the EU?

13

nastywoman 05.17.18 at 8:09 am

– and furthermore –
reading all these firstly (disapproving?) – comments about the EU on this thread – mostly from what I consider ”my” side – the so called ”Left” –
How NOT awesome – how some on the so called ”US Left” have made it really hard for young Americans to point to the EU and say:

That’s what WE want in America too:
The same ”social security” – with the same payable health care – the same free education – long vacations and very important right now: ”payable shelter”.

By constantly badmouthing the EU some of you guys played just in the ”Dippers” hands.

14

dax 05.17.18 at 8:26 am

“Along with many of my fellow Brits, I am not [a fan of the EU].”

Good! Leave!

“It has been made a clear red-line that the Good Friday Agreement must be respected and that means, as far as the EU negotiating team are concerned, that the UK must remain in the Customs Union despite the general opinion being that the vote to leave the EU would not be properly implemented if the UK stays in the Customs Union.”

Not true. To respect the GFA Northern Ireland seems to need to remain in the Customs Union. Whether the rest of the UK remains, is entirely a UK decision.

And general opinion? Is this like The Will of the People? In the Brexit vote 48% wanted to stay in the EU, x% wanted to stay in the customs union but leave the EU (with x>>2%), while the rest wanted to leave the customs union. Even if the rest was substantial, it was surely not more than 48%. By any rational measure, the Will of the British People was to stay in the EU.

15

Dipper 05.17.18 at 8:43 am

@ nastywoman – how is that a story? Are you arguing that Patrick Magee didn’t plant that bomb? That Margaret Tebbit hasn’t spent the last 34 years in a wheel chair as a consequence of that? That he wasn’t released under the GFA?That the EU haven’t made the GFA a cornerstone of their negotiations?

The EU has effectively threatened the UK with terrorist violence as part of the negotiations if we don’t agree with their demands. This is sadly typical of EU politicians who, by virtue of being leaders of a state-that-is-not-a-state, have different risk-rewards than national politicians. They are incentivised to be highly aggressive and confrontational in order to increase their power, and if it all goes wrong they walk away and leave the EU nations to pick up the pieces.

I’m glad you are having a great time in London, but London is a world city, and very much not like the rest of the UK.

16

casmilus 05.17.18 at 10:56 am

@15

“The EU has effectively threatened the UK with terrorist violence as part of the negotiations if we don’t agree with their demands.”

No, they haven’t.

17

nastywoman 05.17.18 at 11:01 am

@15
”Are you arguing that Patrick Magee didn’t plant that bomb?”

No – I’m arguing that you seem to be one of those ”Brits” -(you used the term first) who try to badmouth ”our” (still) EU by coming up with whatever ”story” a so called Brexiter likes to come up with – while – yes – London is not only a world city but London actually is ”THE European City” of the EU with probably the greatest mix of citizens of ALL European States – and I also love ”the British Countryside” as my next stop Bruton in Somerset -(visiting some Swiss there) – will prove.

AND sorry to have been OT-ed –
as I think the topic of this thread is the ”Twelve Stars Project”?

18

engels 05.17.18 at 2:59 pm

The EU has effectively threatened the UK with terrorist violence as part of the negotiations if we don’t agree with their demands.

Huge if true

19

relstprof 05.18.18 at 6:44 am

Good luck to all of this. Seriously! Kudos for the good will.

The problem this projects faces is this: why should the struggling poor care about a book project that interrogates EU power from a position of a distant cousin?

Without revolutionary push-back against the continued pyramid scheme of patron-client relationships, human beings without power will continue to suffer. The grocery store will always be a struggle for the powerless — their own sense of self-worth and value — what they can afford, what makes them the expendables. Immigrant or ‘native’. Gay or cishet.

How does this project accomplish anything?

People are tired! Christ, we’re 10 years off a break-down of global proportions that mostly resulted in austerity, and we’re now meant to engage in an academic disputation with the EU power-brokers? Like this is the way to effect change? Meaningful change for human beings?

Financial hegemony and hierarchy tires out the ordinary human, immigrant or ‘native’.

We don’t need to offer questions and debate positions for the power-brokers of the EU or the US or the UK in text form. It has to happen as collective action for change. In the flesh!

They need to listen to us — LGBTQ, black, trans, women, male — all of us. This is the politics of the 21st.

So good luck with this, anyway.

20

Z 05.18.18 at 7:28 am

I admit I find some truths in MFB harsh assessment @1.

The European Central Bank should consider the distributive effects of its monetary policy, the EU should adopt stricter financial regulations, and the European Union should involve its national parliaments more strongly when reshaping its institutions and politics sound to me a bit like “the American Republican Party should champion a bold single payer universal health care plan with special care given to the poor and Black single mothers”. It would be great if it were true, but it seems to relate to another world.

The epitome of that effect is reached for me in Jens van’t Klooster’s proposal “The Eurozone needs its own parliament to bring decisions on the Euro under strict democratic control” (which is not accompanied with a detailed proposal yet). As I learned in particular reading Henry here, the Eurozone was designed explicitly with the aim of subtracting monetary policies from popular oversight, and since then it functioned precisely in this way.

21

nastywoman 05.18.18 at 9:27 pm

@20
”It would be great if it were true, but it seems to relate to another world”.

Not to ”another world” just to European countries where even so called ”Conservative Parties” have to accept bold single payer universal health care plans with special care given to the poor.

And that’s -@20 ”the thing” – why there is so little truths in MFB harsh assessment @1 –
AS it’s NOT only ”a possibly well-meaning but wholly unrealistic attempt to reverse the actual policies of a very powerful organisation, without having any of the power to do so” –

There is already a very realistic social-democratic ”reality” in many of the (social-democratic) States of Europe which not only provides ”bold single payer universal health care plans with special care given to the poor” – but also all kind of other very ”realistic attempts” which are discussed by the Twelve Stars projects – AND it’s NOT the Europeans fault if somewhere else commenters can’t even think about starting such a discussion!

22

nastywoman 05.18.18 at 9:45 pm

– and @all –

It’s understandable that anybody who doesn’t have yet ”bold single payer universal health care plans with special care given to the poor” – (or a Central Bank who consider the distributive effects of its monetary policy) – might think it ”relates to another world”.

BUT – one day you guys HAVE to start to discuss such ”another world” or y’all never might get there?

23

J-D 05.19.18 at 12:43 am

Dipper

I haven’t read the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) and don’t know precisely what it says. I do know that it’s an agreement between the United Kingdom (UK) and the Republic of Ireland, which means that the government of those two countries are obligated to adhere to its terms. The European Union (EU) may be very much in favour of the GFA, or it may not, but it’s not a party to the agreement, so the UK and Irish governments have the responsibility to adhere to the terms of the GFA no matter what the EU does, and it’s not the fault of the EU if they violate its terms (and also not the fault of the EU if adhering to the GFA turns out to be difficult).

Since I haven’t read the GFA, I can’t be sure whether it’s possible for the UK to withdraw from the EU and still adhere to the terms of the GFA. If it isn’t possible, then it was the responsibility of the UK government to be aware of that fact and not to initiate the referendum, because they should have known that withdrawing from the EU would result in violation of GFA obligations. If it is possible, then it’s the responsibility of the UK government to find a way to conform with GFA obligations while withdrawing from the EU, and if that weakens the UK negotiating position that’s not the fault of the EU; once again, it’s the responsibility of the UK government, which should have been aware of the issue before initiating the process.

24

nastywoman 05.19.18 at 7:15 am

– and as – to say it ”bluntly” – the majority of ”Average Americans” -(and Brits?) can’t afford living in ”their homelands” anymore – because ”shelter” – has become forbiddingly expensive – the first subject of the discussions about Central Banks considering the distributive effects of its monetary policy – is highly recommended.

Especially for Americans and Brits.
As it deals with the stupidity and shortsightedness of (mainly US?) – doctors -(economists) – prescribing drugs without taking any likely and serious side-effects into account.

As America should slowly start to recognize – that ”the ultra-low interest rates and high levels of liquidity” -(which supposedly ”saved the economy”) – ”exacerbated inequalities in income and wealth” to new heights – as ”cheap credit” drove so called ”investors” -(aka: speculators) to drive the prices – not only of stocks but also of houses -(and thusly rents) to historic highs. ”This favours the owners of such assets over the have-nots who solely rely on – relatively much more stagnant – income”.

AND it has in the US already reached such ”critical mass” that the only resolution I see – is US all moving to Europe – where one still can find ”shelter” 30 to 40 percent cheaper than in ”THE homeland”.

25

Dipper 05.19.18 at 10:22 am

There are some emerging similarities between the UK and the EU; the UK has a common currency and common interest rate as does most of the EU, the UK has regional parliaments but the main power is in London, and states in the EU are approaching having the same limited kind of powers that the Scottish Parliament has. One big difference is in transfers of money from rich regions to poorer. In the UK money flows from England (and principally the South-East of England) to the regions. This is part of the redistributive policy of government, and these flows are not loans. In the EU flows from Germany to poorer regions are entirely different; at best loans. Quite simply, within the EU there is no way for poorer regions to escape the consequences of this. Inevitably poorer countries will end being owned by Germany, and the only way citizens of poorer nations will be able to avoid paying the onerous debts of their nations is to leave their homelands as millions are doing.

How about a proposition that “Permanent fiscal transfers from rich nations to poor nations should become a recognised part of the EU budget?” (although this may be covered by the first proposal of Peter Dietsch)

26

nastywoman 05.19.18 at 1:02 pm

@
”In the UK money flows from England (and principally the South-East of England) to the regions. This is part of the redistributive policy of government, and these flows are not loans”.

Or –
In the UK money from all over the world – and from some of the Richest Europeans flowed into London –
(be aware that the YUUGEST Colony of Rich French and very Rich Greeks is in London) – and then all of this dough – which was sucked away from the EU -(sometimes from much ”poorer” European Countries – supposedly was NOT well enough redistributed to the so called poorer areas of Great Britain.

While in the EU the richest Countries pay for the poorer ones with a lot of subsidiaries -(NOT loans) and as we all know that for example the UK didn’t want’ to pay for poor Greece anymore – yes ”them” Germans had to the loans – with (supposedly?) some of this money finding it’s way back to London – which I think is ”splendid” as it probably also payed a bit for this phantastic wedding we just celebrated today…

How well money can be spend in this ”Great” Britain?
-(especially if a part of it might have gone to the wedding dress of one of my ”sisters” from Inglewood California!!)

27

nastywoman 05.19.18 at 1:07 pm

and @25

How about a proposition that with the Brexit –
“Fiscal transfers from rich Europeans to London and the UK should all flow back to poor nations – the money cam from – as a recognised part of the EU budget?”

28

nastywoman 05.19.18 at 1:24 pm

and about the silly idea that –
@25 ”Inevitably poorer countries will end being owned by Germany” –

Don’t you know it’s exactly some other way around – as nearly every ”Right-Winger” -(you too?) – believe that Germany soon will be completely owned by ”Some (Poor) Muslims”.

And the word ”poor” is essential here – as how silly are these Germans? -(compared to ”the Brits” who welcomed every Rich ”Fureigner” with open arms – BUT when the much poorer ”servicing crowd” followed -(the Rich need to get ”serviced”) – somehow we suddenly got a ”Brexit”?

29

Collin Street 05.19.18 at 2:49 pm

“Permanent fiscal transfers from rich nations to poor nations should become a recognised part of the EU budget?”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regional_policy_of_the_European_Union

[a person might insist on “nation” rather than “region” but not I think reasonably]

30

Dipper 05.19.18 at 4:12 pm

@ nastywoman. It’s not just me. “No serious economist believes Greece will ever crawl out from under its more than €300 billion debt without significant forgiveness from its creditors. That means convincing Germany, the country to which Greece owes the most.” From Politico website.

31

nastywoman 05.19.18 at 9:52 pm

@29
Don’t worry after the UK will tell the 40 000 Rich Greeks that they have to go back home -and they all will sell their very valuable London Real Estate – they just will write a few checks and ”their homeland” will not own an Euro to them Germans anymore!

32

J-D 05.20.18 at 1:22 am

Dipper

How about a proposition that “Permanent fiscal transfers from rich nations to poor nations should become a recognised part of the EU budget?” (although this may be covered by the first proposal of Peter Dietsch)

They already are. The Cohesion Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, and the European Social Fund make up over one-third of the EU budget.

33

nastywoman 05.20.18 at 7:26 am

– and there is this other… subject in the project we all -(and especially the Brits and our American friends) – should learn about – that’s:
”The EU should encourage new forms of governance in which companies are run by employees” – which is already done by some very successful companies in the EU –

and how about that? – about NOT being from ”another world”?!

34

Ingrid Robeyns 05.20.18 at 8:56 am

It’s totally fine with me for CT readers to be sceptical, critical or dismissive about a project such as Twelve Stars. But I do think it would be fair when discussing a project such as Twelve Stars to distinguish between three different questions –

(1) “Is this book of any use at all?”,
(2) “what should philosophers who want to contribute to improve politics and policies in the EU do?” and
(3) “what is the most urgent type of activism to change the EU in the right direction, even if that may imply abolishing the EU”.

On my reading, some of the comments are looking for an answer to (3), and it’s clear to me that this book is not an answer to (3). That’s not the role philosophers have to play in society. But I do think that this book, on balance, can be a useful (though obviously limited) input to foster a debate in Europe on the EU, and hence my answer to (1) would not be “it can potentially make a difference” – but some of you seem to believe that the answer to (1) is “nothing”. But isn’t it the case that for most books, it’s impossible to predict whether they will have any effect in society? Moreover, most effects of writers are just very hard to trace or prove — but still I’m a strong believer that it does make a difference to live in societies in which books on political and public affairs are written, and also that academics, including philosophers, have a contribution to make. And in terms of time-investment, this book is (for the contributors, at least), an time-efficient way to make a contribution to (2). I understand the interaction with the broader public as a way to improve the quality of what will be argued, for the writers to change their views after the debates, just like we here at CT change our views sometimes after we’ve had discussions about a certain topic.
But clearly there are quite likely more powerful and effective answers to (2) – perhaps even “try your utter best when teaching” may be the #1 answer to question (2)…

35

Z 05.20.18 at 1:30 pm

Ingrid it does make a difference to live in societies in which books on political and public affairs are written. [P]hilosophers, have a contribution to make.

I’m very impressed with anyone able to muster the intellectual energy to write a book, and of course I agree that philosophers have a contribution to make, so of course I am all in favor of a project like Twelve stars in principle.

But the question “what should philosophers who want to contribute to improve politics and policies in the EU do?” presupposes a recognition of what the EU politics and policies are at the moment and how they are currently shaped. The very statement of several of the proposals (not yours, incidentally) seem to me to be quite oblivious to that point; indeed, they seem to presuppose that some powers within the EU have aims and interests diametrically opposed to what their actual aims and interests currently are.

As you wrote, most contributors are German, and perhaps the national dialogue about the EU in Germany is so remote from the one in France that, seen from a German perspective, these proposals are considered reasonable and achievable. I would tend to believe that even if their perspective turned out to be accurate and mine faulty, that they could differ so much is in itself a reason to doubt the possibility of an actual common political project of the kind many of the proposals require.

36

Z 05.20.18 at 1:55 pm

J-D and Collin Street The Cohesion Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, and the European Social Fund make up over one-third of the EU budget.

This is not a serious objection. The budget of the EU is absolutely tiny: in 2016, the GDP of the EU was about 17 trillion dollars, comparable to that of the US at about 19 trillion dollars, and its budget was about 160 billion dollars, negligible compared to the 6,5 trillion of the US federal budget (40 times larger), comparable to the government expenditure of Denmark that year and only about twice what Germany alone spent on the former länder of East Germany that year.

Even though it is minuscule, it is also important to remark that the Cohesion fund is actually severely criticized at the moment (by the usual suspects) and that negotiators expect that it will be reduced and/or radically redefined for the next round of financing (which opens in 2020).

So it seems to me that even if 100% of the budget of the EU was devoted to transfer towards poorer regions and countries, it would remain a drop in the bucket in terms of transfer, and Dipper’s points @25 would stand, unless one insists weirdly to interpret them as existence statements throughout.

37

nastywoman 05.20.18 at 4:15 pm

@36
And – NO –
Dipper’s point doesn’t stand AT ALL – if I – (with a lot of irony) – just quote ”the Dippers” arguments for Brexiting:

“The EU costs us over £350m a week, enough to build a brand new, fully-staffed NHS hospital every week. This is almost £20bn a year, half the entire English schools budget, or four times the annual Scottish schools budget and four times the science budget.”

And as a reminder – ”the Dippers” didn’t want to pay for the ”No-Haves” of the EU -(like Greece) anymore” and soooo – somehow ”the largest net contributors” in the EU, MUST have contributed a lot to the poorer EU countries – and to find out exactly how much – I would suggest:
”Google is your friend”! –
as it really isn’t that hard to find out – and just as another reminder:

How do you think some of ”the Poor” of the poorest EU countries made it in just a few years -(with the introductions of the Euro) – from ”riding on donkeys to riding in Porsches” – and that’s a really ”hilarious” quote from a Greek Cousin of mine – who actually used to a donkey in 2001 – and now he drives his Cayenne daily to his (small) hotel in Nafplion – and how true – how true – a lot of his other cousins and friends didn’t get as fast ”rich” as he did – BUT still – there were these ”Dippers” who came to make vacations in Greece and returned home to the UK telling their neighbors:
”They” -(the Greeks) take US to the cleaners”!

38

nastywoman 05.20.18 at 4:26 pm

– and If I’m allowed to conclude:
Dipper comments and Z made obviously clear – that there is a YUUUUUGE need for more – and more ”discussion” -(and books) about the EU – in order that Jimmy Kimmel – the next time he sends somebody out on Hollywood Boulevard doesn’t get the answer:

”the EU”…?
”the EU… isn’t that the Capital of London?

39

nastywoman 05.20.18 at 4:39 pm

– or in other words: let’s just blame this whole disaster -(from the Brexit to all these other self-destructive Performance Art pieces) – to some ”lack of information”.

And my mom told me:

Reading books is a really good thing for ”gathering useful information” – and just think if every Brit and every American finally will find out that there are countries where all this ”good stuff” -Ihave listed over and over again on CT) is ”happening” – NOBODY -(not even a Von Clownstick) will be able to stop them in voting for good!

40

Dipper 05.20.18 at 4:44 pm

to Z’s point, I’d repeat that the current arrangement of an EU parliament, a commission, a council of ministers and individual states is highly unsatisfactory in that power and responsibility are not evenly shared. The EU commission is constantly, almost maniacally, striving for more power, but it is responsible for nothing.

Take the Galileo satellite system which the UK and the EU are currently arguing about. The EU are trying to exclude the UK from Galileo, potentially cutting off the UK from key data that is an intrinsic part of the UK’s defence technologies. This compromises the UK’s ability to protect Eastern Europe as part of NATO. Hence the EU is not currently responsible for the defence of Europe but does own part of the infrastructure. It shows no sign of responsibility for this, indeed seems to regard undermining NATO as a legitimate action as part of enhancing its own powers. If NATO is fatally weakened on the Eastern border, that will not be the Comission’s problem.

Guy Verhofstadt, the representative of the EU parliament in Brexit negotiations, constantly insults the UK. He says the UK should be a subordinate state of the EU, that we should divide up the UK to make life better for one member state, boasts that he should rule the UK, not Theresa May. If a head of a foreign power did all this, he would be facing military action imminently or have to back down. But he isn’t head of a foreign power. If the UK wants to have a military strike against him, where does the UK strike? Nevertheless, he is a person of considerable influence in European politics. He has power, influence, and absolutely nothing sticks to him as he is responsible for nothing.

The nations of the EU really need to understand that they are constructing a system of governance with some very bad incentives and risk-reward. You can all have a good laugh as the UK seeks to find a way out, but beware, as unless you are German, then one day it will be you having to deal with this.

41

nastywoman 05.20.18 at 5:37 pm

– ”but beware, as unless you are German, then one day it will be you having to deal with this”.

Well – as some of my British friends in Marbella would say:

As long as these crazy Brexiters -(and the Spanish government) won’t force us to return to where we don’t want to return to – everything is ”smashing – super – ace – pucker”…

42

nastywoman 05.20.18 at 5:45 pm

and @40:
”The nations of the EU really need to understand that they are constructing a system of governance with some very bad incentives and risk-reward.”

You for sure meant –
”The nations of the EU really needed to understand that they needed to construct a system of governance were the interests of some narrow minded nationalists are irrelevant – as only completely ignoring some very bad narrow minded nationalists will lead to a United Europe.”

43

Chris "merian" W. 05.20.18 at 7:57 pm

Dipper (#40): The inability to have a military strike against a foreign representative who says some mildly insulting things about your government’s policy choices is a feature and not a bug of an organization that has as one of its chief objectives the preservation of peace. The whole peace aspect doesn’t seem to be something you value enormously, given your characterization of the Good Friday Agreement as mostly something that gave some people an undeserved reprieve from a murder conviction.(*)

And it’s ridiculous to place what Mr Verhofstadt says in the category of worthy of retaliation. With Brexit, the British government is screwing over a whole bunch of people (Scottish and Irish most obviously), and it’s also spitting in the communal soup and forcing everyone to drop everything else and tend to your priorities. If you inconvenience everyone you deserve some shade, especially if you’re being an asshole about it.

This all said, we probably agree on some of the criticisms of the EU as an institution. It’s not bold enough, not responsible enough, and the power structure isn’t sufficiently democratically legitimized. I’ve all my life clenched my teeth and voted pro things the EU wanted (if there was a referendum) all the while wishing for institutional change. The Euro turns out to have been a mistake, if not as a project, then at least in design and implementation. Germany has been a major beneficiary of policies that tank Greece and Spain, and many Germans manage to feel a smug superiority. And some of the anti-EU votes, especially the rejection of the sham of a constitution by France (and another country… Denmark?) were right. However, on balance, Brexit provides a live case study how the whole is more than the sum of its parts, and how the UK benefitted from EU membership in ways that its citizens clearly were unaware of (and now have an incentive to dismiss).

(*) Have we learned so little from this? I can’t see anything much more important in international relations than not just simply peace, but putting states, regions and populations on the path to a peaceful future. Unfortunately, we have a lot of places where this is needed. Throughout my lifetime, it feels like we have failed at building peaceful conditions, on the contrary, have created new spots of trouble. And unresolved, they tend to inflict deeper injuries to the people who live and grow up there. Northern Ireland used to be one. So yes, once you’re at a point where every side has committed atrocities and every pointed finger leads to a never-ending mess of causes and effects, the only non-genocidal way out of it involves knitting together some complicated balanced thing in which some people get away with crimes that in general are punished. (Even in the face of total defeat, like my own country’s after WWII, an astonishing number of Nazis quite openly went on to pleasant, fulfilled careers.)

44

J-D 05.21.18 at 12:44 am

Z

Dipper did not write ‘the EU should raise much more money in contributions from member States, dramatically increasing the size of its total budget, and use that dramatically increased budget for redistributive transfers from rich nations to poor nations on a vastly expanded scale’. I suppose it’s possible that Dipper would be in favour of such a proposal, but given Dipper’s other comments I am dubious.

What Dipper did write seemed to be premised on the supposition that the EU currently does nothing of the kind–the apparent presupposition was not that the amount was negligible, but that it was literally nothing at all. Given what Dipper actually wrote, it still seems to me to be appropriate to respond that the amount is substantial in proportion to the actual EU budget, even if minuscule in proportion to the aggregate size of the economies of EU members. I accept what you say about the scale of the EU budget in that context, but Dipper’s question treated the allocation of the EU budget, whatever its relative scale, as significant, and my response was valid on that basis.

45

nastywoman 05.21.18 at 9:46 am

@43
”I’ve all my life clenched my teeth and voted pro things the EU wanted (if there was a referendum) all the while wishing for institutional change”.

That might be a ”major” problem – as it has become such ”a fashion” -(especially in the US) to ”clench some teeth” in order to vote for some ”lesser evil” while more ”rational” voters always vote for the best available policy – and as in Europe the major – MAJOR beneficiary of policies has been ”THE European Place” – London -(with ”a French Colony” of nearly 700 000 heads – and thusly the ”Savoir Vivre” to enjoy France AND Small Britain at the same time) – and –
Please – what always get’s forgotten -(especially in the US) – BE-fore my ”homeland” blew up the worlds economy in 2008 – ALL of the poorest European nations had been lifted out of poverty -(mainly thanks to the Euro) – and the fact that these countries – economically had to suffer most -(after ”the party” was over) – should NOT ”pivot” from the point that ”the party” has restarted again – as y’all will be able to witness – when we meet in Greece this summer!
-(but only if y’all will be able to get a room – as most of the most fun places are already reserved solid)

46

Thomas Beale 05.21.18 at 10:06 am

In response to @34

Q2 (what philosophers should do): they could potentially write some useful explanatory material designed to clarify such basics as:

* (w.r.t. the UK/Brexit) no-one voted for ‘Brexit’ in the referendum, since it was not defined, and remains largely undefined. They apparently voted for something to be concretely done on immigration, and in some sort of abstract way, repatriation of sovereignty, but of laws or capabilities that no ordinary voters can ever articulate. More likely the vote contained a great deal of diffuse outrage from the economically disenfranchised against those they perceive as ‘the elite’, and doesn’t indicate the ‘will of the people’ so much as the ‘mood of some people’. They might point out the truth of the comical farce occurring in the UK parliament these days, with the PM using phrases like ‘the Brexit that people voted for’ and other laughable nonsense. Or perhaps help people understand the real challenges of immigration by referring them to real evidence.

* that a referendum is a completely inappropriate instrument for determining any ‘will of the people’ on a complex question, and that they should never be used in the EU for matters of state.

* possibly explicate why arguments such as Prof Alan Sked’s against the Lisbon treaty and much else are actually quite good, but don’t constitute an argument to leave the EU for simple reasons of legal and economic complexity.

Q3 (what should activists do): agitate to get rid of the directly elected European parliament, and replace it with a member country delegate system (roughly Jack Straw’s proposal in 2012).

Agitate for other ways to fix the democracy deficit, e.g. the problem of trilogues, the out of control EU lobbyist industry and so on.

Agitate for sensible EU-wide policy on border management.

Possibly agitate for cutting the Eurozone up and ending the lock-in of greatly different economies into a single currency (north/south structural differences, east/west cost-of-living and salary differences both mean the single currency will never function properly). Interesting paper on EU design failures.

The Democracy in Europe movement (DIEM25) might be a useful organisation to work through, if it can get any traction.

47

nastywoman 05.21.18 at 1:16 pm

@56
”(north/south structural differences, east/west cost-of-living and salary differences both mean the single currency will never function properly).”

A single currency is the best and only solution – as the Euro is the main reason to keep the whole thing together – as proven by the Brexit –
(there never would have been a ”Brexit” if the Brits would have had to give up a currency they had for over 15 years)
And about some ”structural differences”? –
Hardly ever there were bigger ”structural differences than the ”structural differences” between East and West Germany – and there are no bigger ”structural differences” in Europe that the ”structural differences”… for example – between NY and Paris TX – or SF and Stuttgart Akansas – and still – there is ONE currency which HAS to make do…

48

Collin Street 05.21.18 at 8:58 pm

Q3 (what should activists do): agitate to get rid of the directly elected European parliament, and replace it with a member country delegate system

Indirect elections are a terrible idea for chambers that are intended to debate policy: you want to represent — stand in place of — the people, but indirect elections don’t do that, they represent the electing chamber. And so you double the distortion that any election produces, and… for what?

49

nastywoman 05.22.18 at 5:53 am

– and as Paul Krugman just wrote in the NYT – again –
”What’s wrong with Europe”
and he wrote in 2017 –
”What’s wrong with Europe”
let’s partly quote what a commenter in 2017 wrote as an answer:

There is an odd, almost visceral hatred among US economists of the EU and the EURO, and Prof. Krugman is no exception.

Prof. Krugman gives a very concise, very evenhanded assessment of the advantages of the French social/economic system versus that of the US. The same can be said of most other European countries and societies, and one of the driving reasons why Europe is offering its people a much better life than the average American is due to the stability offered by the EU and the Euro.

Portugal, Ireland, Spain have all gone through a “Euro crisis”, just like Greece, and they all have, or are coming out of that crisis…

Great Briton’s Brexit problems are not caused by the EU, they are caused by British arrogance, and yes, stupidity, on a par with that if the US for electing Trump.

The EU and the Euro are, to be sure, not perfect. But is seems to me that economists like Prof. Krugman are still pouting that they have been proven wrong…”

and that’s why it is so important to repeat on US blogs over and over again:

Europe is still the place –

Where Health Care is payable.
Where there are ”real secure jobs” -(and not mainly ”gigs” and low paying service jobs)
Where you get a long vacation with your job.
Where our kids will get a free education and where inequality isn’t as out of bounds as in the US and one can still find great shelter 20 to 40 percent cheaper while the average American can’t afford to live in his ”homeland” anymore…

50

Thomas Beale 05.22.18 at 10:54 am

nastywoman @47
That the Euro was/is a disaster is one of the few things most economists agree on. There are numerous analyses available. But since you seem unaware of some of the structural problems, let me give you an idea of just one problem – the net average Eurozone salaries: Germany – €2225; France – €2157; Spain – €1734; Greece – €1069; Portugal – €1001; Slovakia – €708; Lithuania – €585; Kosovo – €360. Many of these countries have vastly different levels of infrastructure and were in greatly different financial situations when converting to the Euro, and they still are. A single currency does real harm here.

A worse effect of the Eurozone is that there is now one reserve bank – the ECB – imposing one interest rate on banks across the Eurozone, regardless of each country’s internal dynamic – growth, recession or other.

Collin street @48
Indirect elections are a terrible idea for chambers that are intended to debate policy: you want to represent — stand in place of — the people, but indirect elections don’t do that, they represent the electing chamber. And so you double the distortion that any election produces, and… for what?

Yes, sure, that’s democracy 101. And it applies well enough to the national level of government. But the EU is a different beast altogether. Directly elected MEPs have been a demonstrable failure since their inception (from a partial delegate system earlier), and the parliament has been useless (it generally just gets told what to do by the Council and the Commission anyway). The conceptual reason it doesn’t work is because the way interests of individuals with respect to Europe functions isn’t mainly in the relationship citizen-EU, but mediated via their country, i.e. citizen-Greece-EU, citizen-UK-EU etc.

The issues at stake are all structural ones that require nation-level representation and negotiation – food and technology regulation, educational exchange systems, research networks, cross-border health insurance, defence, supra-national law and so on. It’s all institutional stuff. This is the reason so few know who their MEP is, or vote in elections. Only government-level delegates, or some other country-level delegate system can do this job.

So, no, not a terrible idea. It’s the opposite. The evidence is all there.

51

Z 05.22.18 at 3:39 pm

nastywoman

A single currency is the best and only solution

Best and only solution to what problem? Certainly not that of managing an economy, as the Eurozone is I think the worse area world-wide in terms of economic growth. I agree that a single currency is the best and, indeed, only solution to the problem of having a single currency. That’s generally how it is defended nowadays.

And about some ”structural differences”? –
Hardly ever there were bigger ”structural differences than the ”structural differences” between East and West Germany

The structural differences between West Germany and East Germany are much smaller than the structural differences between the Netherlands or Sweden and Bulgaria, but you know what? I’d be more than OK with that provided the EU and its member states were doing what West Germany did and does to East Germany (as I noted above, the entire budget of the EU is in fact just about twice as big as what West Germany gives to East Germany).

– and there are no bigger ”structural differences” in Europe that the ”structural differences”… for example – between NY and Paris TX – or SF and Stuttgart Akansas – and still – there is ONE currency which HAS to make do…

That’s a very strange assertion. On many measures (unemployment rate, income, wealth, educational achievements, life-expectancy…) the differences obtaining in the EU exceed and often dwarf those in the US, whereas uniting factors (starting with a common language, a common political system and common federal programs) are much more prevalent in the US than in the EU.

52

nastywoman 05.22.18 at 8:11 pm

@50
”Best and only solution to what problem?”

To get such a diverse group of countries -(as your comparison of salaries describe) – peacefully TOGETHER!

And the different currencies before the EURO made it nearly impossible to get those very different and diverse countries TOGETHER – and do I really have to repeat that if Great Britain would have gotten on the EURO too there for sure wouldn’t have been a Brexit.

And@ 51
Hardly ever there WERE bigger ”structural differences than the ”structural differences” between East and West Germany – as – did you know that the both countries not only didn’t have the same currency – but East Germany and West Germany also were ”politically” much much further away from each-other than any other ”Modern Western Democracy”.

And about the ”strange assertion” that EU countries might have more in common than NY versus Paris TX or SF versus Stuttgart Arkansas…
We were there -(a group of Europeans form 6 different European countries) -and we can ensure you that just on one of the most important measures for us -(GUNS) – some really… stark differences are much more prevalent in the US than in the EU.

Which – together with all the other differences between ”red” and blue” Americans might let most Europeans believe that they live in a completely different world than the US – and sees the world with quite a different perspective?

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