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.