This post from 5 April 2009 seems appropriate to bring forward, following yesterday’s motion on EU economic governance.
Today, I shall be remembering those who have fought and died for our freedom over the years.
A good time to complete Booker and North’s extensive history of the European Union — “The Great Deception – Can the European Union survive?” — seemed to be these last few weeks, as I visited Portugal, France, Germany and Austria. It was an enlightening read.
I have visited most countries in western and northern Europe, perhaps all except Finland, Eire and the Balkans. I have also worked and toured widely in North America, the Middle East and Asia: those trips were a great pleasure but Europe is home and I love it. The political structure that is the European Union is another matter.
There runs through human history the idea that mankind could be happy, if only the good and wise were allowed to rule the rest, free of the inconvenience of democratic accountability. The European Union is yet one more embodiment of this idea.
It perhaps began with Plato and his Republic, with his philosopher kings, his warriors and his labourers, with his requirement for absolute control over lives. Plato believed he had a plan to make all people perfectly happy. But to be happy was to accept your allotted place: justice to be held there.
Later philosophers developed the theme: the appearance of democracy; the state as Absolute Reason; a perverted understanding of economics and the development of history; the “will to power”, moving Beyond Good and Evil to a nobility of amoral “supermen”, ruling a people who no longer need to understand right and wrong.
The historical fruit of these ideas? Planned, controlling, unaccountable, statist governments which have failed catastrophically. See Popper for a thorough analysis.
And so we turn to a new kind of government, unseen in the dark and lamentable catalogue of attempts to force people to be prosperous and happy: a government above the nations — “supranational” — serenely untroubled by the popular will, yet preserving the illusion of democracy as it issues reams of regulations. I will let Booker and North take up the story:
Perhaps the cleverest [feature of the EU Constitution] was the way in which a combination of three separate articles in Part I […] with provisions from Part III could be used to coerce all countries, including Britain, into ‘co-ordinating’ the running of their economies and employment policies, without the right of national veto.
These hundreds of pages wove the recipe for a system of government as complex as any the world had ever seen. Its real ingenuity, as had been the case ever since the launch of the ‘project’ half a century before, lay in the extent to which it left all the outward institutions of national governments in place, while hollowing them out from within. It was a system of government which, while preserving some of the outward forms of democratic accountability, through the presence at its centre of elected politicians and through the European Parliament, was in fact almost wholly unaccountable to the peoples in whose name it would be claiming to act. There was no mechanism whereby they could hope to dismiss their supranational government, or replace it with another. It was a government over whose decisions most countries could hope to have virtually no individual influence. [ … ]
Yet it was into the power of this system of government, through a document so impenetrable that almost no one could claim to understand it, that the peoples of Europe were now being invited to surrender their destiny. — The Great Deception, pp 543-4
Born in the 1920’s — at the time of another great failed experiment in planning, Le Corbusier’s vile concrete cities — the European Union was always intended as a supranational government free of democratic control. Booker and North make that case in detail, but consider for example:
From the Cabinet papers of the time, it is clear that Macmillan and his ministers were fully aware of the wider political implications of what they were doing: that the real purpose of the European project was to work towards ultimate political union, and that this would involve an open-ended commitment to surrendering power from Westminster to Brussels. When Macmillan visited Kennedy in April 1961, he was in effect told by Monnet’s friend Ball that Washington would only support Britain’s application to join on condition that she accepted that the Common Market’s true goal was political integration. Heath had already given Ball assurances to that effect on his visit to London. — The Great Deception, p 585
So we have an unaccountable, supranational government for all Europe built on deceit and lies but is it any good for us? It appears not:
What was now [post Maastricht] becoming uncomfortably clear was that, whatever the Community claimed it was trying to do, the result was invariably the opposite. A Single Market [that] claimed to be a great act of ‘liberation’ and ‘deregulation’ had produced one of the greatest concentrations of constrictive regulation in history. A ‘reform’ of the [Common Agricultural Policy] intended to cut back on over-production and misplaced expenditure ended up producing more unwanted food at even greater expense. The [Common Fisheries Policy], intended to ‘conserve Europe’s fish stocks’, had resulted in an ecological crisis. — The Great Deception, p 373
The Common Agricultural Policy today costs families nearly £400 a year, families who are struggling to cope with spiralling food prices. The authors go on to briefly summarize support for their claim that any argument that the Single Market had stimulated the economy and created jobs was a mirage. In particular, British fisheries, farming and butchery was wrecked by the EU.
Again we must discover and refine the truth: that if life is too complex for responsible individuals to rule themselves, then there can be no wise man to rule us all. We must trust people if we are to have a strong and free society.
There is such a thing as society and it is not the state: not the British government and not the European Union. It is the combined purposeful behaviour of responsible individuals striving together to make progress, to improve, to experience, to discover, to prosper, to love and to live. Society is all of us living our lives together, not a dehumanized system of rules and control.
We live today in a broken society, a broken economy and a broken political system. That these breakdowns are the product of long-term state intervention barely requires justification: can anyone seriously claim the last century has been laissez-faire?
We need a society which can withstand the floundering of incompetent corporations and businessmen but benefit from those who succeed — a society which does not demand ever greater quantities of inevitably ineffective regulation to answer every problem — a society in which the prosperity of the world is not ruined by a few central bankers incorrectly promoting debt.
We need opportunity, responsibility and security. We need a self-regulating, decentralised society of free and responsible individuals and families, built on sound money and transparent accountability. We need a change of heart in politics and in society but the European Union is an obstacle to it.
Consider for example, the chicanery of the Lisbon Treaty, which needs no further documentation here, except to remind ourselves that its intention is to proceed with a Constitution which was democratically rejected. That this is so was borne out by the words of that famous enthusiast for European Union, the Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke MP in the debate:
Does the Foreign Secretary not accept that he could save himself all this theological nonsense of trying to claim that the present treaty is different from the former treaty if he would accept that his own genuine view is that the last Prime Minister made a mistake when he came along and told us all, to our complete surprise, that he was going to have a referendum on the treaty that he then had? The then Prime Minister did not really believe in referendums on such subjects, and I am sure that the present Foreign Secretary was as amazed as I was to hear the Prime Minister’s statement. If he would only admit that the referendum should never have been offered in the first place, he could save himself this arcane and ridiculous argument, rather than trying to demonstrate that this is a different document, in fundamental terms, from the one that we had before.
After a month of travel across Europe in a life of travel across the world, I am reminded that I love Europe like no other continent. It is a magnificent place of great culture and wonderful people. Our present troubles do not begin and end with the European Union, far from it, but the Union has evolved entirely on the originally-intended trajectory to become a tragic, destructive pantomime suffocating on its own bureaucracy. Like Plato, Hegel and Marx, the EU’s founders and proponents do not mean to harm us, they mean to help us; nevertheless, the EU must be dealt with as part of a programme to change our country for the better.
Thankfully, Parliamentary sovereignty remains:
On 18 February 2002, [Lord Justice] Laws [in the Court of Appeal] ruled that EU law could only override the will of Parliament because Parliament had permitted it to do so through the European Communities Act. But there was nothing in this Act , he explained, which allowed the EU or any of its institutions “… to qualify the conditions of Parliament’s legislative supremacy in the United Kingdom. Not because the legislature chose not to allow it [but] because by our law it could not allow it.”
The EU, he explained, could not overrule Parliament, because ‘being sovereign it cannot abandon its sovereignty’. Parliament might have lent its power to make laws, but in no way was it capable of handing over the sovereignty it exercised on behalf of the British people. If ever Parliament wished to reclaim that power by repealing the ECA, Laws emphasised, it was free to do so. — The Great Deception, p 487
A paper came to mind from Statewatch exploring the European Union’s justice, home affairs and security policy — The Shape of Things to Come:
This analysis looks at the ideology in the Future group report, Freedom, Security and Privacy – the area of European Home Affairs. The EU is currently developing a new five year strategy for justice and home affairs and security policy for 2009-2014. The proposals set out by the shadowy ‘Future Group’ include a range of extremely controversial measures including techniques and technologies of surveillance and enhanced cooperation with the United States.
This examines the proposals of the Future Group and their relation to existing and planned EU policies. It shows how European governments and EU policy-makers are pursuing unfettered powers to access and gather masses of personal data on the everyday life of everyone – on the grounds that we can all be safe and secure from perceived “threats”.
It reproduces a quote from a Council Presidency Paper:
Every object the individual uses, every transaction they make and almost everywhere they go will create a detailed digital record. This will generate a wealth of information for public security organisations, and create huge opportunities for more effective and productive public security efforts.
It too is an enlightening read.