Skip to comments.Faded Vision Splits Europe
Posted on 06/18/2005 10:30:57 AM PDT by 68skylark
BRUSSELS, June 18 - Something shattered in Europe last night.
The leaders of the 25 European Union nations went home after a failed two-day summit meeting in anger and in shame, as domestic politics and national interests defeated lofty notions of sacrifice and solidarity for the benefit of all.
The battle over money and the shelving of the bloc's historic constitution, after the crushing no votes in France and the Netherlands, stripped away all pretense of an organization with a common vision and reflected the fears of many leaders as they face rising popular opposition to the project called Europe.
Their attacks on one another after they failed to agree on a future budget - for 2007 through 2013 - seemed destructive and unnecessary, and it is not at all clear that they will be able to repair their relationships. And even if they do, the damage to the organization will endure.
Most embarrassing for the European Union was an attempt by its 10 newest members to salvage the budget agreement late last night. They offered to give up some of their own aid from the union so that the older and richer members could keep theirs.
For the new members, that offer was an opportunity to prove their worth. Criticizing the "egoism" of countries driven by national interests, Prime Minister Marek Belka of Poland said, "Nobody will be able to say that for Poland, the European Union is just a pile of money."
But for the older members, it was a humiliation. "When I heard one after the other, all the new member states - each poorer than the other - say that in the interest of an agreement they would be ready to renounce part of the money they are due, I was ashamed,"....
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Something along the lines of Hamilton and Madison versus Brutus. It would be awesome with not just two ideas but twenty.
What they have created is not a Federal system, but a Confederacy. If Hamilton was right, the Federal system is much more advantageous.
The Schaden's getting a bit too high and my Freude is running out.
It was a bad idea to begin with, and yet again we see France as probably the culprit at botching something up..
The newer nations willing to give up some money, and NOT asking the bigger nations to do so, was incredibly generous, yet naive...
France wants ALL of the POWER with none of the responsiblity, financial or otherwise.
Political unity is impractical for Europe unless they are willing to provide extensive policing of internal trade and that would require extensive taxing of commerce just to support the police system. There would be no advantage over separate states in that respect.
How true that observation is.
Pathetic that the eastern countries, familiar with communist tyranny, were still willing to sacrifice needed aid in order to feed the fat French and German state machinery.
Still was not enough... But then anything short of their total economic and social control never is if you are a communist.
That probably cannot be done since the borders are easily accessible from all sides. Both the internal borders of greater Europe and the external borders are practically open as should be clear from the extensive history of uncontrolled migration in the region aside from the brief periods of actual policed walls in a few locations.
But that's what I was saying [writing, rather] - that it cannot be done without a bloodbath. The last known attempts at obliterating cultural identities on European landmass were Katyn forest [a relatively small scale attempt at "surgical change", picking the social leaders and potential leaders only] and - more comprehensively - Holocaust.
I agree with your premise. What the French see is not a EU without the "Frenchity" as you put it, but rather a French EU, where everyone else would give up their Germanity, Italianity... For some reason, unknown to me, the Germans seem fine tossing out their Germanity in exchange for French, but the other nations aren't going to take it any more.
That's about to change, and rather radically I fancy. Once Shoe-odor and the Greenies are booted out of power in a couple of months (they rate to be absolutely clobbered, btw), the new gov't won't be nearly so cozy with either the froggies or the Russians.
I would never want to see a frenchman stripped....but wouldn't it be "Stripped of their Frenchinicity"?
I think we need a much closer relaionship with some of the newer states, especially Poland.
Anyone know if Poland produces a good wine?
According to the paper, ole Jacky Chiracy tried to lay the collapse solely on Britain because Britain refused to surrender its annual rebate and several other nations demanded financial relief. Jacky said he "deplored" Britain's attitude during the negotiations. Tony Blair responded by saying there were four other countries that couldn't reach agreement. Referencing Jacky Chiracy and France, Blair said: "I'm not prepared to have someone tell me there is only one view of what Europe is. Europe isn't owned by any of them; Europe is owned by all of us." Jacky Chiracy's own people refused to ratify the EU Constitution. So he better look to his own self for fault before looking at others. Besides, the French people sent a message to Jacky and he doesn't seem to be listening. Isn't that just like a US demoncRAT legislator? (rhetorical)
The EU will never go anywhere so long as the UK is a member. Britain's consistent policy over centuries has been to play "balance of power" politics to keep the countries on the continent divided and equal in power. The idea of a united, strong Europe is most unwelcome to London. Europe has to figure out how to get the UK out, and how to get the Ukraine and Russia in.
"...stripping the French of their Frenchity."
How do you pronounce that? Fren-CHITEE' or Fren-SHITTY?
I prefer the latter....
If the UK leaves, the economy collapses. Period.
The Netherlands won't be very far behind UK, and then Finland and the Swedes, I think pretty soon it will just be the ones who are getting the most from the EU budget. All of a sudden they will realise that the money isn't coming in and it will all fail.
I see your point, and I'm very hopefull. I love Germany. My ancestors came from Germany.
I know the CDU will push for better ties with the US, and will try its best to pull the majority of the population out of dhimmitude. For the past several years, at least the past 3, Germany has sat up and obeyed whenever France beckoned. Germany used to be a proud nation, not a lap dog.
I hope the economic reality has finally awakened the good people of Germany out of their dhimmitude.
I'm very hopefull for Germany, and look forward to the day they throw Chirac oops I mean Shroeder out from office.
It should read:
defeated lofty notions of sacrifice and solidarity for the benefit of a few.
The example might be a stretch, but the unifying force at the Plymouth Colony was the shedding of a communal effort (no one did any work), and the introduction of free choice concerning what and how much to produce.
In Europe, the social net is celebrated, and entrepreneurship is scorned. Banks are the chief source of finance (rather than the capital markets) leading to regulatory preferential treatment, little ability for investors to share risks, inadequate choices for firms to build optimal capital structures. This leads ultimately to an underfunded capital stock of productive assets and poor economic performance or little growth. The cycle then starts all over again.
You know why Japan was the envy of the world from the 1950's until 1989? No capital gains taxes. Joe Stiglitz won a nobel prize for basically suggesting that it was their banking system that provided capital. Turns out he was wholly wrong, as were, typically, the Nobel committee members.
In Europe, start with cutting taxes and offering incentives for saving, then beef up the capital markets (the same thing the sneering pig Chirac derides).
Success in a generation or less. Then you'll have a European identity.
You'd find it funny to know that even at LSE, Imperial, SOAS (London University colleges all) they're teaching macroeconomic policy according to the US.
One of the reasons the EU was never, ever going to work is because they dont have one language and one culture. Also, socialism never works.
You are so correct. I enjoyed reading your entire post. Thank you.
You are so correct. I enjoyed reading your entire post. Thank you.
Or even with, apparently. That has been tried often enough.
It's easy (and fun!) for us to sit back and tell Europe what to do. But really, I like your ideas and I wish we could do more of them here in the U.S.
Well, there are some isolated reports of successful transculturations, like, say, Islamization of Iraq by al-Hajjaj(sp?) around 7th century AD. The butchery associated with his name is still remembered. But then again, he did not have to transculturate among major language barriers, only across religious ones.
For example, if the Third Reich, which turned into a bloodbath, had reached its goals, would Europe, including Russia, right now, be much different?
Maybe you guys have any comment about it?
By contrast, Mr. Chirac and some of his allies are skeptical of what they call the "Anglo-Saxon model" and protective of the continental "social model" that offers citizens a protective economic security shield. He refused to compromise Friday night on Mr. Blair's demand that France reduce the $13 billion in farm subsidies it receives every year from the European Union.
Thanks for your thoughts. Yeah, if some European countries want to pursue economic ideas built around freedom, then those countries might have to realize that France and Germany and other parts of "old Europe" are not going to participate. That may not be a bad thing -- maybe some freedom-loving countries can build their own alliance.
I wouldn't agree. The collapse of communism has allowed the reintegration of the Catholic countries of eastern Europe with the European main stream. In the North of Europe, traditional Protestantism of the Lutheran and continental Calvinist forms has essentially died of old age. In the East, communism has attenuated Orthodoxy. The time is right for a modern ecumenical synthesis that will encompass all of continental Europe. Ultimately, the gap between London and Paris will be found greater than the gap between Warsaw and Kiev.
A Sick Continent
By PAUL JOHNSON June 17, 2005; WSJ - Page A14
That Europe as an entity is sick and the European Union as an institution is in disorder cannot be denied. But no remedies currently being discussed can possibly remedy matters. What ought to depress partisans of European unity in the aftermath of the rejection of its proposed constitution by France and the Netherlands is not so much the foundering of this ridiculous document as the response of the leadership to the crisis, especially in France and Germany.
Jacques Chirac reacted by appointing as prime minister Dominque de Villepin, a frivolous playboy who has never been elected to anything and is best known for his view that Napoleon should have won the Battle of Waterloo and continued to rule Europe. Gerhard Schröder of Germany simply stepped up his anti-American rhetoric. What is notoriously evident among the EU elite is not just a lack of intellectual power but an obstinacy and blindness bordering on imbecility. As the great pan-European poet Schiller put it: "There is a kind of stupidity with which even the Gods struggle in vain."
The fundamental weaknesses of the EU that must be remedied if it is to survive are threefold. First, it has tried to do too much, too quickly and in too much detail. Jean Monnet, architect of the Coal-Steel Pool, the original blueprint for the EU, always said: "Avoid bureaucracy. Guide, do not dictate. Minimal rules." He had been brought up in, and learned to loathe, the Europe of totalitarianism, in which communism, fascism and Nazism competed to impose regulations on every aspect of human existence. He recognized that the totalitarian instinct lies deep in European philosophy and mentality -- in Rousseau and Hegel as well as Marx and Nietzsche -- and must be fought against with all the strength of liberalism, which he felt was rooted in Anglo-Saxon individualism.
In fact, for an entire generation, the EU has gone in the opposite direction and created a totalitarian monster of its own, spewing out regulations literally by the million and invading every corner of economic and social life. The results have been dire: An immense bureaucracy in Brussels, each department of which is cloned in all the member capitals. A huge budget, masking unprecedented corruption, so that it has never yet been passed by auditors, and which is now a source of venom among taxpayers from the countries which pay more than they receive. Above all, règlementation of national economies on a totalitarian scale.
The EU's economic philosophy, insofar as it has one, is epitomized by one word: "convergence." The aim is to make all national economies identical with the perfect model. This, as it turns out, is actually the perfect formula for stagnation. What makes the capitalist system work, what keeps economies dynamic, is precisely nonconformity, the new, the unusual, the eccentric, the egregious, the innovative, springing from the inexhaustible inventiveness of human nature. Capitalism thrives on the absence of rules or the ability to circumvent them.
Hence it is not surprising that Europe, which grew rapidly in the 1960s and 1970s, before the EU got going, has slowly lost pace since Brussels took over its direction and imposed convergence. It is now stagnant. Growth rates of over 2% are rare, except in Britain, which was Thatcherized in the 1980s and has since followed the American model of free markets. Slow or nil growth, aggravated by the power of the unions, fits well with the Brussels system and imposes further restraints on economic dynamism: Short working hours and huge social security costs that have produced high unemployment, over 10% in France and higher in Germany than at any time since the Great Depression which brought Hitler to power.
It is natural that high and chronic unemployment generates a depressive anger which finds many expressions. One, in Europe today, is anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. Another is exceptionally low birthrates, lower in Europe than anywhere else in the world except Japan. If present trends continue, the population of Europe (excluding the British Isles) will be less than the United States by midcentury -- under 400 million, with the over-65s constituting one-third of that.
The rise of anti-Americanism, a form of irrationalism deliberately whipped up by Messrs. Schröder and Chirac, who believe it wins votes, is particularly tragic, for the early stages of the EU had their roots in admiration of the American way of doing things and gratitude for the manner in which the U.S. had saved Europe first from Nazism, then (under President Harry Truman) from the Soviet Empire -- by the Marshall Plan in 1947 and the creation of NATO in 1949.
Europe's founding fathers -- Monnet himself, Robert Schumann in France, Alcide de Gasperi in Italy and Konrad Adenauer in Germany -- were all fervently pro-American and anxious to make it possible for European populations to enjoy U.S.-style living standards. Adenauer in particular, assisted by his brilliant economics minister Ludwig Erhardt, rebuilt Germany's industry and services, following the freest possible model. This was the origin of the German "economic miracle," in which U.S. ideas played a determining part. The German people flourished as never before in their history, and unemployment was at record low levels. The decline of German growth and the present stagnation date from the point at which her leaders turned away from America and followed the French "social market" model.
* * *
There is another still more fundamental factor in the EU malaise. Europe has turned its back not only on the U.S. and the future of capitalism, but also on its own historic past. Europe was essentially a creation of the marriage between Greco-Roman culture and Christianity. Brussels has, in effect, repudiated both. There was no mention of Europe's Christian origins in the ill-fated Constitution, and Europe's Strasbourg Parliament has insisted that a practicing Catholic cannot hold office as the EU Justice Commissioner.
Equally, what strikes the observer about the actual workings of Brussels is the stifling, insufferable materialism of their outlook. The last Continental statesman who grasped the historical and cultural context of European unity was Charles de Gaulle. He wanted "the Europe of the Fatherlands (L'Europe des patries)" and at one of his press conferences I recall him referring to "L'Europe de Dante, de Goethe et de Chateaubriand." I interrupted: "Et de Shakespeare, mon General?" He agreed: "Oui! Shakespeare aussi!"
No leading member of the EU elite would use such language today. The EU has no intellectual content. Great writers have no role to play in it, even indirectly, nor have great thinkers or scientists. It is not the Europe of Aquinas, Luther or Calvin -- or the Europe of Galileo, Newton and Einstein. Half a century ago, Robert Schumann, first of the founding fathers, often referred in his speeches to Kant and St. Thomas More, Dante and the poet Paul Valery. To him -- he said explicitly -- building Europe was a "great moral issue." He spoke of "the Soul of Europe." Such thoughts and expressions strike no chord in Brussels today.
In short, the EU is not a living body, with a mind and spirit and animating soul. And unless it finds such nonmaterial but essential dimensions, it will soon be a dead body, the symbolic corpse of a dying continent.
Mr. Johnson, a historian, is the author, inter alia, of "Modern Times" (Perennial, 2001). His most recent book is "Washington," due to be published this month by HarperCollins.
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We owe alot to Adam Smith, to be sure, and to Dr. Greenspan, but the Plymouth experiment is perhaps the driving force behind our economic freedoms and our insistence on independence.
We're not alone.
The idiot Chirac recently could be heard scoffing at economic 'liberalization' (meaning less safety net, longer hours, less regulation, more reliance on free market influence) as keys to economic performance.
This is a direct assault on Tony Blair and the Brit's market economy (and by proxy, ours) as well as the financial economists as places like LSE and Imperial and SOAS at London U that're now thinking that the way to a nation's wealth is through this liberalization.
In my judgment, the key to all economic growth is adequate finance, or efficient funding of the capital stock. Financial innovation has created a better environment for savers to share risks (more optimal portfolios), and for entrepreneurs to get just the type of finance they need to invent and innovate.
As they say in France, 'Voila!'
My vision of what EU should be is rather simple. It should provide its citizens with following rights:
1) Freedom of trade
2) Freedom of work
3) Freedom from beaurocracy
Currently it doesn't so I won't cry over it.
A faded, old, tired vision can be replaced by a fresh, new, uplifitng vision.
What the Europeans can conceive they can achieve.
(Denny Crane: "Sometimes you can only look for answers from God and failing that... and Fox News".)