Greetings, fellow humans! I haven’t blogged in a while, but I’ve something to get off my chest. What follows is the result of some considerable pondering. I’ll try and be succinct.
I’m an internationalist. Or at least, I’ve always thought of myself as one. It’s my opinion that humans are at their best when they’re working together to achieve some mutually pleasing end – whether it’s trade, collaboration, or simply resisting the urge to maim one another.
I’m also a democrat. Democracies are superior to autocracies. They’re morally superior, for the simple reason that power is better than powerlessness. But they also produce favourable results. They’re more prosperous. Their citizens are happier. They don’t war with one another – though quite a few wars have been fought in order to establish and defend them.
In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a referendum approaching on our membership of the European Union. I thought I’d make a point of researching the topic a little before deciding how to cast my vote. I don’t expend much thought towards the EU, really. It’s not something I’m often consulted on.
And that, it turns out, is precisely the point. This fledgling superstate is structured in order to minimise democracy. Its mechanisms are as shielded from public scrutiny as it’s possible to be. Look at this Wikipedia article on the European Commission and ask yourself whether you seriously think this is a good way of doing things. The twenty-eight heads of state vote for a president. This president helps to select a commission (usually comprising a handful of politicians who are tired of having to appease voters, and happy to appease other politicians). This commission then wields legislative and executive power over five-hundred million people.
I’ve read Dan Hannan’s book, ‘Why Vote Leave’ recently, which makes this case far more eloquently, and in far greater detail than I ever could. I also read Hugo Dixon’s ‘The In/Out Question’, which makes the case for a reformed EU, and, as you might have gathered, wasn’t anywhere near as persuasive. At first my suspicion was that Hannan is simply a better writer than Dixon – but really he had the easier job. The case isn’t a difficult one to make. It’s not a left/right issue. It doesn’t matter where you sit on the political spectrum. Democracy is good; the EU is not designed with democracy in mind.
At the rear of Hannan’s book is a collection of quotes from prominent Eurocrats. And this section is revealing indeed. Anyone who thinks this organisation is about mutual co-operation between like-minded nations and not empire-building should examine the sort of people it promotes to high office.
“What is driving us is not to be re-elected,” reveals Dimitris Avramopoulos, the commissioner in charge of fucking up the migrant crisis and creating an enormous fucking mess. “That’s why for us the political cost means nothing.”
Well, good for you, Dimitris. Or should I say Emperor Palpatine. “We need a political federation with the Commission as government,” says Vivianne Reding, another high-ranking sith. Well, maybe you should make that case to your electorate, Vivianne.
Are these the sorts of people we’d like to represent the interests of the continent? Darth Junker puts it in the plainest possible terms, “when it becomes serious you have to lie.”
Right you are then. You might think that, in context, these quotes (and there are a lot of them) aren’t so bad. You’re wrong. They’re worse. But they’re not a source of outrage for some. Bizarrely, the sorts people who regard Westminster with hawkish suspicion seem to regard Brussels (and Strasbourg) with a sort of passive acceptance – or even reverence. Lord knows why this is – perhaps it’s a sort of masochism which assumes that everything foreign must be benevolent. Perhaps its idealism. Or perhaps it’s because they perceive the Brussels to be more closely in tune with their personal politics than the current elected government in Westminster, and therefore likely to take the edge off the latter.
If you’re the sort of person who gets angry at the thought of the House of Lords being appointed, or who can’t contemplate the unfairness of a FPTP voting system without seeing spots, then I can’t imagine the moral and logical contortions you’d have to perform in order to defend this unholy freak show. Even the most cursory examination reveals that it is predicated upon a contempt for democratic process. Necessarily so, really; if the EU paused for a moment to consider what the people of Europe thought of it, it would probably collapse like a manatee stricken by existential doubt. This organisation is immune to popular opinion, and is accountable to no-one. Is it any real surprise that it behaves as it does?
In this interview, Yannis Varafakis describes the loan agreement he wouldn’t sign, which obliged the elected Greek government to agree to whatever the EU might in future impose upon it, and forbade them from passing any legislation without the EU’s permission. I suppose I should take Greek willingness to remain within the EU as evidence of Stockholm syndrome.
Anyway, the campaign’s officially underway now. So we can look forward to the procession of career politicians and EU-funded NGOs, all offering their entirely impartial endorsement of the EU. Soon even the President of the United States will pay these shores a visit, and – doubtless without a hint of irony – warn against any future declaration of independence.
That’s my best guess, anyway. Don’t forget to vote.