European Union and Democratic Weakness

The European Union is an uncertain creature. Founded in the 90s as the culminating answer to questions of European security and destiny after the catastrophes of World Wars I and II, which exposed the supposed weaknesses in the nation-state system established at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. As an economic entity the EU is unstable, as a political entity it is neither part of the European nation-states, nor is it fully superior to them, and democratically it does not command wide-spread support among the people of the European nations, nor does it rest wholly comfortably upon the national governments of those nations. Briefly state, the EU suffers from many problems, I will briefly discuss several.

1. The European Union is an attempt at what it sounds like: unity. But unity upon what grounds? The first answer might be upon the shared love of a religion such as Christianity, whether Protestant or Catholic. But this was forbidden by the secular nature of the treaties which created the EU, the Maastricht Treaty, and later in the Treaty of Lisbon. The Catholic Church, in particular the late Pontiff John Paul II sought to have recognition of Christianity’s role in the history of Europe written into the preamble, an effort which failed. Instead the EU has embraced a secular view of European history (secular here having the meaning of antagonism towards religion, not mere neutrality to religious claims). The EU fails at unity because it’s architects chose to ignore the most unifying element of the human experience, a shared story, a sense of belonging in history, which is centered upon and bounded by a share set of religious dogmas. This failure of religion and historical narrative leads to another failure of its lust for unity.

2. This Union is unlike the American Union, which was formed by ‘free and independent States’ who chose to live under a federal government which was accountable to them and to which they were accountable. This is federalism: a system in which the various governments, whether state or federal, are accountable to one another and each may, if the other oversteps their bounds, call them to account for their action. The challenges to federal gun laws and the ongoing fight against the Affordable Health Care Act may both serve as examples of federalism. The European Union does not enjoy such a close relation as the American Union does. The American Union is founded upon a series of shared goods. A shared government, social ideas, broad religious commitments, freedoms, culture and a shared historical narrative. The European Union shares none of these. What binds the European Union together is the action of supranational builders, a loyalty to something which presumed itself better than the benighted nation-states over which it is set. The European Union lacks a connection to a shared language, a shared history or religion. The Union’s architects are known to have plotted its creation against the desires of many in the nations of Europe, why let the opinions of stupid people get in the way of the greater good, especially when you and your like-minded peers determine what is the greater good?

3. The European Union stands upon a fallacy of political theory and history. The desire of many European elites to ‘get beyond’ the Westphalian structure of nation-states, Great Power politics, imperialism and Congresses is, on one level, understandable. The awesome attachment of many in European nations to their own histories, at least on a popular level, the political and cultural elites seem not to share in such mundane concerns as loyalty to the ‘democracy of the dead.’

Former Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who has closely observed and partaken in the EU, has written the following:

The authors of the concept of European integration managed to short-circuit the minds of the people, making a link between Hitler’s aggressive nationalism (nationalism of the totally negative type) and the traditional nation state, calling into question the existence of nation states in general. Of the many fatal mistakes and lies that have always underpinned the evolution of the European Union, this was one of the worst. It led to total obliteration of the enormous positive energy of national sentiments, or positive nationalism, (where the state is based on national identity and loyalty), ignoring the fact that throughout human history this form of statehood is the much more common standard. 1 

Klaus, Vaclav (2012-09-27). Europe: The Shattering of Illusions (Kindle Locations 261-266).

The error present in this ‘fatal mistake’ is that of assuming that any loyalty to the particulars of nation, government and the bonds of a common history, language, culture or faith is, by nature of its particularity, an evil. This is applied with particular force to the nation-state, perhaps the greatest instrument ever seen for ensuring a reasonable degree of happiness and comfort for the majority of mankind. The reasons for the general rejection of this system of balance of power are remarkably self-serving for those elites who disdain the nation-state. For these individuals, the nation-state is a relic of a benighted age out of which they alone are capable of taking Europe. The future they see is one in which the old loyalties are replaced by a loyalty to the amorphous thing called Europe. But this is no Europe bound by common interests of religion or history. Instead, these are rejected in favor a system which seems to be run more for the benefit of self-aggrandizing elites and self-serving bureaucrats.

4. The EU is not founded upon a true democracy. A democracy, as a social system and a form of government, presupposes a people, a true demos, who can be said to have something in common. Certain ideals I have used as examples of somethings in common are: history, religion, customs, ect. Yet these are but abstractions by which I refer to concrete realities. Edmund Burke wrote that, ‘liberty must inhere in some sensible object,’ and the same is true of loyalty. Loyalty inheres in the realities of belonging to a shared narrative, a shared story of our place in the world, under the eyes of God, under a law, with a government which is, hopefully, chosen by the people. Loyalty does not inhere in abstraction of which we can have no direct experience, but must be directed toward what is known.

Since there is no ‘demos of Europe’ and there is no European entity which the EU can claim the represent, I can only conclude that the EU is not a true democracy. Vaclav Klaus’ is again worth quoting at length.

At any rate, it is clear that national as well as territorial loyalties are the precondition for democratic governance. It seems equally obvious that the European continent is not a space suitable for territorial or national loyalty . You cannot grasp this diversity in one Augenblick – from Cyprus to Finland, from Portugal to Estonia. Therefore, no nation called European exists, and no such nation ever did exist. That is why the entire concept of the ‘ever -closer Europe’ of unification, centralization, harmonization and standardization (you could call it Gleichschaltung) and utmost suppression of the nation state, is a wrong concept. Eurocrats seem to know this, and that is why they do not talk about the national or continental principle . Instead, they talk about the ‘communitarian’ principle, which is yet another undefined and undefinable legal cliche, which can cover – and conceal at the same time – whatever it desires. The great and much too self-confident lawyers of the ‘European law’ naturally cannot defend this principle in any way: they just use it as something that descended from above, without any arguments supporting it – whether things are right or wrong, functional or dysfunctional, positive or negative, all they have to do is just say it is ‘communitarian’ or compliant with the communitarian law.

Klaus, Vaclav (2012-09-27). Europe: The Shattering of Illusions (Kindle Locations 1301-1311).

 

I pray that some will find these scattered thoughts of some value.

 

Your Humble Servant, C. McDonald

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