“Europe’s supranational oligarchy of politicians and bureaucrats really wants the same thing that has fascinated Europe since 1789 and The Revolution …”
By Gary Scarrabelotti
As European leaders today contemplate publicly what yesterday they declared unthinkable – the unravelling of the euro as a single European Union currency – their ambition of creating a United States of Europe is revealed for what it is: a perennial and insanely dangerous European illusion of imperial greatness.
Not so many days ago voices from Berlin and Paris vowed that Greece would not be allowed to slip free of the euro. Yet the instant the debt contagion hit Italy, when its bond rate soared above a scary 7 per cent, French President Nicolas Sarkozy started talking openly (in Strasbourg on 8 November) about a two-tier monetary union of “core” and non-core members – a division of the EU, roughly, into northern “goodies” and Mediterranean “baddies”.
Let there be no mistake about this: a two-tier Europe would spell the end of the “European Project”.
The only way a European monetary union can be saved is by absorbing the euro nations into a single state in which national governments cede their sovereign power to run their own economies to a federal government based in Brussels.
This is the direction in which the EU has been headed slowly, and with apparent inevitability, for some time. It appeals to something rotten in the European political gene pool. Europe’s supranational oligarchy of politicians and bureaucrats really wants the same thing that has fascinated Europe since 1789 and The Revolution: a secularist, all-powerful, omni-competent state.
Vision of empire
Strip away the Eurocrat’s addiction to political correctness and formulaic references to justice, equality, and the rule of law – see, for example, the “State of the Union” address delivered by EU President, José Manuel Barroso, on 9 November in Berlin: a speech intended to chastise Sarkozy for his “two-tier” Europe ideas – and what you have is a vision of empire.
This is an empire, however, with a difference. It is not one held together by armies and internal security forces. The foundations of this empire are treaties, laws, regulations, lavish social security and intellectual conformism. It is Bonapartism by other means: a soft, totalitarian internationalism spread by bureaucratic creep and the purchase of popular consent through national social welfare systems.
What the Eurocrats are fighting for today is not just the survival of a currency union. Nor are they fighting only to stave-off threatened banking failure and economic catastrophe. What is really at stake is The Empire itself.
Bonapartism by other means: a soft, totalitarian internationalism spread by bureaucratic creep and the purchase of popular consent through national social welfare systems.
What imperils this Empire are contradictions between means and ends.
Currencies reflect the character and temperament of a people and their economy. A currency fits itself to a particular national community; it says who you are. A supranational currency, however, disguises national economic identity. This can lead outsiders – not to say insiders! – into misreading the economic realities to which a country and its people have attuned themselves.
In order, then, that the economic “ID card” of the euro be clear and “meaningful”, national governments must be counselled, cajoled, pushed and shoved, and where necessary arm-twisted by central EU institutions to fit the economic shape determined for them by the supranational currency. In other words, for the euro to work, the euro-zone needs economic central planning and a concomitant diminution of national sovereignty. The EU already has gone far in this direction, but it needs to go a much greater distance for the euro-zone and, ultimately, for The Empire to survive.
Haven’t we been down the economic central planning road before? Haven’t we seen before now that it does not work? Does not the recent unexpected collapse of the old Soviet Union and its unravelling into many states, each with its own currency, not hold some lessons for Europe? Or do the Gnomes of Brussels imagine that they can re-run history and get it right this time around?
Another contradiction is that in order to re-make economies in the image of a euro, pressure must be put on national governments to make reforms to their social welfare systems. But this undercuts the foundations of popular consent to – or rather resignation in – the loss of national identity and self-direction within the EU.
Shave back too far the national welfare states and people won’t cop so resignedly their loss of national self-esteem and sovereignty within The Empire.
Pan-European “group think” among EU elites means, however, that they cannot conceive of an EU without a euro, without centralised and imperialist economic institutions, and without compliant national communities at the periphery sapped of their national élan.
This mass failure of imagination by Europe’s leadership class when confronted by the EU’s internal contradictions means that the euro is headed for the dustbin of history and the United States of Europe will never come to birth.
Unfortunately for the hapless citizens of the euro-zone nations, the inevitable death of the EU might not be swift and it certainly won’t be painless.
The EU’s political and bureaucratic elites will fight against their doom to the last pensioner and to the last voter. These are the foot soldiers that will be sacrificed in the battle to shrink Europe’s ubiquitous welfare states. As the curtain comes down on La Dolce Vita, there will be a lot of blood and deep political consequences. Europe’s centre-Left and centre-Right social democratic parties, which provide the political underpinnings for the European Project, will die alongside the pensioners and voters.
The saving of the EU will mean its complete destruction.
Our problem is that the EU’s death throes are unlikely to be confined to Europe. The failure so far of successive Greek bailouts gives us no confidence that the Gnomes are in charge: Greece is more indebted today than it was at the beginning of the crisis. It would only take one significant European bank to collapse and the whole thing would spin out of control. In that event we could not avoid a world depression.
Thank you, Europe, for the gift of yet another of your mad dreams: for another Empire, for another “Reich to last a thousand years”.