Skip to comments.Europe’s Electoral Earthquake
Posted on 05/27/2014 2:25:56 AM PDT by markomalley
Theres a deal of ruin in a nation, said Adam Smith and that goes double for a continent. Sundays elections for the European parliament were an important stage on the road to ruin, which has now been traveled for almost 60 years, but they did not signal arrival at the final destination. From the standpoint of both its founders and its critics, that destination is a federal European state, and the transport system taking us there is the so-called functionalist theory of integration. Under this theory, Europe is supposed to be integrated function by function coal and steel production, trade diplomacy, trade in goods and services, legal rules, police functions, defense, foreign policy, currency, etc., etc. until its peoples and governments wake up one morning and realize that, Hey, were living in the same state/country/nation/polity/whatever. Isnt that great! Henry Kissinger will be phoning any minute to congratulate us.
The single most vital missing ingredient in the functionalist recipe, however, is a European demos. European is no more than a geographical expression. There are Frenchmen, Germans, Brits, Italians, and Dutchmen, but there is no European people united by sentiment, common fellowship, language, historical institutions, the mystic chords of memory, and a sense of overriding vital mutual interests. There is the vanguard of a possible future European people in the form of those politicians and bureaucrats who go by the name of Eurocrats. But vanguards are no guarantee of a successful future demos, as the dissolutions of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia illustrate horribly.
Without a demos, however, functionalism eventually fails to function. It runs into a crisis and it finds that it cannot call on the loyalty of its citizens to solve it. Indeed, its creates a crisis by removing powers from its constituent governments that the citizens would prefer at home. Eventually it provokes a rebellion. And that is what arrived on Sunday.
For the first 30 or so years of its existence, the European Union (which went under various aliases, such as European Economic Community, for much of the period) mainly pursued activities that were either mildly beneficial (e.g., reduced barriers to trade) or temporarily soothing (e.g., agricultural subsidies) or remote from everyday experience. Most of the crises that European countries experienced in this period, such as the Soviet threat, were unrelated to its existence. It rumbled on functionally. Most people lived their lives without thinking much about the EU.
After the Cold War ended, however, the treaties that installed the single European market, the harmonization of European regulations, and the single European currency meant that their lives were increasingly interrupted and disturbed by decisions made in Brussels. Tom Rogan has a very useful list of typical interventions in his NRO article. What irked people in individual countries, moreover, was that there seemed to be no way they could repeal or obstruct new regulations that they found expensive, burdensome, annoying, or simply unjust. National governments claimed to be powerless before Brussels.
However irritating this regulatory Saint Vitus dance was, though, no single example ever seemed worth making a real fuss over. And those citizens who did make a fuss such as Britains Metric Martyrs, who objected to the outlawing of the UKs traditional weights and measures could be snidely dismissed as cranks, fined, and be forgotten. People did begin voting for Euro-skeptic parties, but in small numbers that grew slowly election by election. It seemed that it would require a massive international crisis with all its attendant sufferings before the functionalist model of integration could be stopped.
Three years ago the euro which up to that point had been celebrated as an advance of civilization equal to the discovery of anaesthesia began its descent into crisis. Attempts to solve this crisis have imposed an extraordinary degree of economic austerity on Mediterranean Europe and serious exactions on the taxpayers of Northern Europe. The euro itself has been preserved, but at the cost of high levels of unemployment and economic waste seemingly without end. The EUs solutions to the euro crisis are worse than the crisis itself in their effects on ordinary people. People are enraged that they are not allowed to obstruct or even question the policies imposed by this functionalist express. In short, the euro crisis woke up European voters to the undemocratic nature of the European Union. Hence the rebellions in Sundays elections.
About one third of Europes voters cast their ballots for anti-establishment parties across Europe. These parties are very different in different countries. The hard-right nationalism of Frances Front National is very different from the welfare-state protectionism of the Danish Peoples Party, which is in turn different from the free-trade, outward-looking liberalism of UKIP in Britain. But they are all reacting to the failure of supranational, undemocratic Euro-governance, and they all want the return of powers from Brussels to national parliaments. They are expressing deep currents of opinion in their respective countries, amounting in many, if not most, cases to majority opinion.
If that is so, it is fair to ask: Why did the Euro-establishment parties of Left and Right win two-thirds of the seats in the Euro-parliament? The answer is that most ordinary people in democratic societies develop a loyalty to established parties that goes quite deep and remains a force even when the parties disappoint or betray their supporters. Yet 5 million Spanish voters abandoned the two major parties of the Spanish state; the Front National defeated the two equivalent parties in France; and UKIP, led by Nigel Farage, is the first insurgent party since 1910 to win a UK national election. These are massive political facts signifying a deep national alienation that also influences other regular supporters of the major parties just not to the extent of persuading them to abandon their customary loyalties and switch to parties widely seen as, at the very least, not respectable. At least for now.
Prudent leaders in national politics recognize such earthquakes and trim policy accordingly. But the leaders of the parties in the European parliament are the opposite of prudent; they are fanatical devotees of the undemocratic process of European integration that sparked the weekend revolts. They will work together across the aisle in an unacknowledged grand coalition rather than concede anything serious to the new arrivals. That will cause tensions with their colleagues in national governments, who will want to appease their publics opinions which in most cases will be their own domestic political supporters. But the likelihood is that although the European parliament will become a more raucous and rowdy place, its bipartisan-establishment majority will push ahead with functionalist integration, euro and all, with the support of the European Commission and its bureaucracies.
But since functionalism eventually fails to function, there will be another crisis down the road, and a larger electoral rebellion in response. And at some point the people will defeat the vanguard. Just not this time.
No comment about EU immigration dictats and growing national concerns and fears for the future?
Best article I’ve yet read on the EU election, especially for pointing out the diversity (hate the word, but it fits) of the European peoples (other than all being “white”) and the very different nature of the “protest parties” in the various countries. Thanks for posting.
Let me recommend to all nations the policy that worked so well for America before the Twentieth Century betrayal; An American Foreign Policy.
The only people left who still believe in Western Christian Civilization are the Muslims, who recognize its danger to them and therefore wish to complete the destruction begun by the descendants of Western Christians.
Thanks for your humorous and artfully phrased insight.
The Socialist party leader in Spain has quit because of his party’s poor result. They lost seats to minor leftist parties.
I also like his summation...
“But the leaders of the parties in the European parliament are the opposite of prudent; they are fanatical devotees of the undemocratic process of European integration that sparked the weekend revolts. They will work together across the aisle in an unacknowledged grand coalition rather than concede anything serious to the new arrivals. That will cause tensions with their colleagues in national governments, who will want to appease their publics opinions which in most cases will be their own domestic political supporters. But the likelihood is that although the European parliament will become a more raucous and rowdy place, its bipartisan-establishment majority will push ahead with functionalist integration, euro and all, with the support of the European Commission and its bureaucracies.
But since functionalism eventually fails to function, there will be another crisis down the road, and a larger electoral rebellion in response. And at some point the people will defeat the vanguard. Just not this time.”
Reminds me of the last stanza of the poem by Kipling “the Gods of the Copybook Headings”
“And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!”
Indeed. And a fitting quote, thanks!
(Note to self: brush up on Kipling.)
Do not hate the word. Hate the way that the Left abuses it by making forced mingling of those quite diverse peoples, a goal.
The Left does not really believe in accepting that man is diverse; rather they are bent on breaking down social cohesion by an insulting bout of social engineering, not dissimilar to Stalin's forced settlement of ethnic Russians in various governed lands, to break down the social cohesion of those seeking to resist Communism. What the Left means by "diversity," is closer to its elimination than its celebration.
The sharp political swing in France & Britain, away from the major parties, can be used by Conservatives in America to serve notice on the weak kneed element in the Republican Party, that they had better stop their game playing over immigration & other issues, or expect a similar rebuke in America.
With that purpose in mind, it is a great pity that this article is not getting more of a play at Free Republic.
What are you saying Billy Boy? That I should waste time on this sort of stuff when I await with bated breath Zullo's latest 'fast-breaking forgery' news?
Europe? .... Europe .... mmmm, where is that exactly?
Thank you for the clarification, you are quite right. I was lazy and just added the parenthetical comment before posting so folks wouldn't think I meant the leftist use of the term. The Orwellian abuse of language by the Left is so rife these days one feels compelled to cover one's a$$. A sad state of affairs.
You are right. They get away with it, because they screech nasty epithets at anyone who questions their dogma. But what they are about is a war on reality; and when you are at war with reality, your conscience does not bother you when you misuse the language in pursuit of your wish list.
Consider how the "game" is played. You bring together diverse peoples; peoples with different aptitudes & different proclivities. If you really accept diversity, those differences are not bad; they do not represent anything wrong; they simply represent that those folks are in fact "diverse." But note what follows. As each group will, on average, always achieve better than another in a particular direction; the Leftist has an inexhaustible source of imaginary grievances to exploit; to convince any group that does not achieve as well as another, in any area of comparison, that they have a grievance against the better performing group.
This gives the demagogue endless variations on an egalitarian theme, with which to stir envy & resentment; an endless source for destabilizing the social order--while mucking up the potential of each of the groups involved to actually perform at an optimal level. (The one stewing with resentment & looking to the Leftist politicians & demagogues for redress; the other group stewing with imaginary guilt for having done well in an area in which they had the better natural abilities; their daughters even looking on rapturously at an Obama rally, where their heritage is viciously slandered.
There is no remedy for what has been going on, but to understand the false premises, the lack of moral compass by those promoting it, and the actual realities of human existence.)