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Reawakening Europe, but to what?

Reawakening Europe by Joschka Fischer - Project Syndicate.

If you find yourself in a dark and dangerous place and you need to find your way to safety, there is usually more than one route. Once you have set out on one of the possible paths, however, that's easy to forget. History consists of looking back at the one path that was chosen as if that choice had been inevitable.
Yes, the "European Project" was conceived as a way out of the dark historical place in which European fascism had thrived. Other paths could have been chosen. There was more than one way to the sunlit uplands of peace, prosperity and freedom. This is human history we are talking about, not a fantasy novel. Mount Doom is not around the next corner and even if it were – looking at his own dark and violent political history – Fischer is more Gollum than Frodo. If not actually an Orc.
Even if we believe Europe chose the most promising course in the beginning, that's doesn't mean that all its choices since have been correct. Still less that all its future choices must be. It's important not to be blind to the fact that there are other dark, scary places we might stumble into if we always navigate looking over our shoulders. Fischer reminds me of Sir Cloudesley Shovell, the British Admiral who – legend has it – led his fleet onto the rocks after hanging the humble sailor who had dared to warn him of his navigational error.
I tire of the implication that those of us who voted for Brexit are mindless nationalists hostile to European cooperation. We were only hostile to Britain's participation in a particular set of flawed, corrupt institutions. Institutions that have attracted to their service some of the least impressive specimens humanity can muster; people who would need a charisma transplant to rise to the inspirational level of a damp dishcloth. 
The supreme proof of the mediocrity of the apparatus of the Soviet Union was the rise of Stalin. The supreme proof of the mediocrity of the apparatus of the European Union is the rise of Neil Kinnock.
One proof of the European Union's flawed nature is that it engenders no loyalty in anyone but such mediocrities as Kinnock and Juncker. Even the poorest, weakest, least historically and culturally-significant European nation (and we don't have to agree for this purpose which one holds that heavily-contested title) engenders more affection in its people than this sterile, corrupt and self-serving body.
As Joschka Fischer, that living monument to political judgement , himself admits;
the “Remain” side often sounded like accountants. The bloodless bean counters didn’t stand a chance
Surely, if the EU had any moral value, someone somewhere whose personal wealth did not depend upon working for it, would love it? Not favour it like a bloodless bean counter, but actually love it? I spent most of my working life on mainland Europe and never met such a person. Not even amongst the sneering people who deride the democratic choice of the British people and take pride in denying such choice to their own citizens.
The best the "bloodless bean counters" could say was "Yes, we know it's rubbish but let's stay in so we can fix it". Even Mr Fischer, whose blood is febrile enough to have been heated by some of the most contemptible and violent notions in the history of politics, can't manage to speak warmly of the EU he excoriates us for deciding to leave; 
Differences over strategy and tactics between the key members of the currency union, especially Germany and France, and between the eurozone’s northern and southern members, simply run too deep. Everyone is aware of what needs to be done: find a new compromise within the currency union between the stubborn German-led focus on austerity and the Mediterranean countries’ need for increased spending to restore growth and boost competitiveness. But Europe’s political leaders seem to lack the courage to pursue this.
Which is why this article resorts to the old, tired, pathetic smear against its opponents. Support our shambolism or be seen as closet Nazis.
If Brexit and Trump are, as Comrade Fischer alleges, part of a pattern it has far less to do with nationalism and far more to do with their supporters' common aversion to being smeared. If the smug contemptuous elite Fischer represents would like to start winning some political arguments, maybe it should consider listening to, rather than denigrating, the European demos.


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Devolution appears to be the modern day remedy for disillusioned voters. They want to get back to their tribal roots where gaining consensus(not being dictated to by those they do not agree with) and being closer to decision making is possible(in theory anyway/perhaps wrongly they believe it is. Local government will have to change drastically first). They do not trust the establishment and rightly so. A cretinous, corrupt, incompetent lying bunch with some exceptions the lot of them. Socialism and progressivism and crony capitalism have failed miserably and brought us to the point we are at today and that point is not good, awful in fact.

True Trump is honest and he has some promising ideas on tax but his ideas on trade will if enacted devastate it. Clinton should be in prison and should not be let near a filing cabinet let alone the White House.

I read something on Cafe Hayek the other day and I share it with you as it sums up well the turpitude of politicians.

" The state – or, to make the matter more concrete, the government – consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get, and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. Then tenth time it is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods."


Yes, but what's interesting at the current juncture is just where the nation divided on Brexit. Norman Tebbit commented a few years ago that no-one is talking to "Margaret's voters", by which he meant those from the aspirational working class who were attracted to her honest promotion of self-help as life's main engine. I think her voters re-registered for the referendum and that they can be recruited to a small state approach. As can the much maligned millennials who have a sense of grievance that they are picking up the bills for previous generations' self-indulgence; benefits paid from government borrowing.

Over the pond, Trump's an idiot, but he's an honest idiot and that resonates, particularly when opposed by a candidate who has long lost any grasp of truth. Boris Johnson is no idiot (though he averts anti-intellectualism by clowning) but he is himself. He doesn't pretend he follows football or eats Big Macs. He was on the Bullingdon Club group shot with Cameron and Osborne. It hurt them but not him. Jeremy Corbyn is a loser, but he's never been anything but what he is now and couldn't pretend if he tried – not even to succeed in his life's goals.

The great temptation of politics is to lie for votes, to over-promise and either under-deliver or deliver at greater cost than voters understood. If I am reading the runes correctly, there is an upswell of resistance to dishonesty. "Don't be slick", the voters seem to be saying, "be real." We may be on the verge of the political equivalent of punk rock.


A major contributor to failure is the inability to adapt to changing circumstances. The private sector thrives because those who are good at adapting succeed and those who are not are culled. The public sector; government and it's institutions are very poor at adapting and regularly fail but do not die and we pay a high price because of that. The UK leaving the EU is the rare occasion that failure of a governing body to adapt has been punished. After Brexit time to start on our own cull of home grown bloated, corrupt, wasteful, inefficient and incompetent government.

Certainly political parties when in power do try to adapt to changing circumstances new laws and regulations for this and that and policy changes. The left always hopelessly and the right halfheartedly. Neither recognising we need less not more of those laws and policies. Although to be fair to the Conservatives after the left have promised the people so many somethings for nothing it is very difficult to not look as if you they are spitefully taking them away from them. It does not occur to the people that what was offered by politicians to gain them votes could never have been honoured free of a cost.

Nigel Sedgwick

Back on 20th June at Samizdata, I wrote the following.

My principle objection is that of replacing the nation state of the UK with the nation (super-)state of the EU. The EU has no Demos: a common people who self-identify as a nation (eg through shared culture and through few and common political parties). Thus, even if the current party list system of pseudo-democracy were replaced, the EU would not work as a democracy. It is also highly questionable whether a mixture of peoples with over 15 significant first languages (24 official languages) could ever come together as a Demos.

This looks to have substantive overlap (if not total coincidence) with Tom Paine's view.

Best regards

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