Barbara Amiel in a recent article in the Telegraph had some good insights:
The problem is the way that the EU developed and is continuing to develop. Now it stands for Western values in name only. In substance, it stands for accommodation with those forces of the world that are the opposite of such values.
Perhaps this can be explained by Europe’s history: accommodation has almost always been the way small countries deal with more powerful forces ranged against them. The dream of Prodi, to create what he calls an “association of minorities”, is not an illegitimate response to the painful European history of national and ethnic conflicts. The dream of many Europeans, from Stefan Zweig to Luigi Barzini and the founders of the EU, has been to escape their own history through a unified Europe.
But for Britain to continue further into this union means forsaking or potentially injuring a natural ally – the United States – and an alliance based not only on common values but a common legal and cultural heritage. In anybody’s books, this looks like a bad bargain.
I concur heartily with Amiel’s Anglospheric note about the basis for the Anglo-American alliance.
Europe, as a Grand Project, is all about the escape from history, and a flight from the present and the future as well. In other words, it is a fantasy project, performance art, smoke and mirrors, a collective delusion. If everyone whistles past the graveyard in unison, then Europe will somehow have the money to pay for its unsustainable social goodie-bag, and the blind luck to avoid being damaged by the evil forces at work in the world today without having to pay for real military power in the necessary (large) quantities. The European project bears a family resemblance to an earlier pan-European vision: the Thousand Year Reich. Hitler’s visionary “Europe” was also phony baloney all the way down, a papier mache Wagnerian stage set pretending to be a polity. Brussels doesn’t want to gas anybody, which is one small thing in its favor. It just wants to turn the continent with the most glorious history in the world into a three-hundred- million person Registry of Motor Vehicles office. Less malign than Hitler, though with less snappy uniforms — but just as impossible.
Britain does not need to escape from its history, or hide from the present or the future. As part of the global Anglosphere, Britain is poised to continue to play a significant role on the cutting edge of world civilization. Britain has, there for the grasping, a brilliant future which the continental Europeans cannot share. I hope they figure it out in time.
A bad bargain, indeed.
5 thoughts on “A Bad Bargain”
Alas, Tony Blair and Jack Straw represent the position thae the UK must join the EU, even if it has to be done without asking the populace.
For the life of me I still can’t figure it out. Why does the UK bank so heavily on the corrupt wanker-fest that is the EU? I’ve heard all the arguments (I think) about collective security — but those Brits must be smoking some strong shit, because this is not in their interest. In the future I don’t think it’ll be possible for them to have a “special” relationship with the US and stroke France’s fragile ego at the same time. And economically, why should the UK tie itself to France and Germany when those countries can’t even follow their own damn rules?
Someone’s got pictures. That’s the only explanation.
Amiel’s Anglospheric prejudice make her disingenious. The pan European project doesn’t date back to Hitler. It goes much further back in time all the way to Charlesmagne. The Europeans have never forgotten the peace and propserity the Roman Empire brought (and they’re not blind to the viciousness, cruelty etc either) and have wanted to have something similar ever since.
To be provocative towards Amiel: Ever since Britian undertook its imperialsm, it has successfully thwarted any attempt by the Europeans to unite. I agree that it was legitmate to fight Napoleon and Hitler but certainaly not Charles or Felipe II.
And to add a bit of sardonic humour, if the Brits don’t think they’re Europeans than by all means stay out of Europe :) To me, Britian’s ambiguity towards the EU merely manifests the former’s frustration that it can no longer thwart the union and the Europeans- for better or worse- no longer care about Britian’s stance on Europe.
Xavier, we agree and disagree. European unity goes back even before Charlemagne, as you note, to Rome, and maybe even farther. The question then is, what type of political structure should reflect this underlying cultural unity? I am saying that the EU is the wrong structure, since it is based on a denial of the reality of national distinctions and a belief in the efficacy of bureaucratic meddling and other bad ideas. The Third Reich, in its bloody way, was based on an almost equally stupid idea: Germans are supermen, and it too was the wrong model for European unity.
As to whether it was legitimate for England to fight Philip II, I have mixed feelings on it, myself — it cuts along the fault lines between my Anglospherism and my Catholicism. I will simply say it is too late now to do much about it.
I too would like Britain to stay out of “Europe” as it seems to be forming.
Xavier, the Roman Empire was not in any way shape or form analagous to the EU. The point I want to make, however, is not about the EU but rather the anglosphere. As a Quebecker who worked for a quarter of a century at a French university, I learned to view the anglosphere with awe and respect. Only someone who works in what is supposed to be one of the world’s other important languages can know of the incredible advantages the anglosphere offers. The sheer abundance of innovation and learning is overwhelming. Most unilingual English speakers take it for granted that other languages offer similar riches but that is not the case. The linguistic playing field is not a level one. The English speaking world continues to develop exponentially and what is most admirable is that it is willing to share its abundance with the rest of the world. Try to imagine if that would be the case were the francophone or Arabic speaking worlds holding the keys to such treasure.
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