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Is it just me or does the EU sound really nervous?

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso says:

Europe must avoid an ideological war between free-market capitalism and the welfare state after the rejection of the EU’s constitution, [he] said on Saturday

Wrong. An ideological war is exactly what we need and it is long overdue. Pick up your spanners then go find some gears to throw them into.

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31 comments to Is it just me or does the EU sound really nervous?

  • “What we need now is an intelligent synthesis between the market and the state which can help Europe win and not lose in the face of globalization,”

    No! He still hasn’t quite got the idea,perhaps a piece of wood applied to the side of his head in a humane but firm way might help.

  • Susan

    Because of course, free market capitalism would win. . .

  • GCooper

    What’s that funny sound I keep hearing?

    Oh yes, it’s just one of the EUlite whistling in the dark…

  • I think the EU should, at all costs, avoid a war between the free market and the welfare state.

    And every law, directive, and regulation that the EU has, which takes sides in this war, should be abolished.

    i.e. all of them. Starting with the CAP, a clear, unwarrented victory on the side of welfare.

    And the EU could then become a talking head shop, funded “voluntarily” by gov’ts (and donors?), passing pronouncements that are agreed by all — and only such pronouncements.
    i.e. official International Children’s Day designation.

  • A united and economically integrated EU is an absolute must unless we want to play second fiddle to a get-up-and-go United States and a hungry, aggressive China.

    If you want to play into the hands of these countries, keep voting against the EU.

  • The ideological war between capitalism and welfarism does not require that anyone actively wage it. It’s not a thing that’s done; it’s a thing that is.

    The EU is a Frankensteinian monstrosity, cobbled together out of dead and moribund satrapies to slake the ambitions of men to whom principle is a stranger. The great wonder of the most recent developments is that they took so long to manifest themselves. It speaks admiringly of the political skills of the EU’s promoters that they concealed the fatal tensions embedded in the notional superstate almost long enough to bring it into being, and against the better judgment of half a billion people, at that.

    Talk about your narrow escapes!

  • Ron

    See the Daily Telegraph’s “healthy Constitution”

    WHEREAS the Peoples of France and the Netherlands have voted “No” to further European integration; WHEREAS their Governments argued, throughout the referendum campaigns, that a “No” vote would amount to a rejection of the entire European project; and WHEREAS said Governments are determined to abide by their own logic; we, the 25 Member States of the EU, HAVE DECIDED to cancel the proposed Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe and, in doing so, to annul the Treaties establishing the EEC, the ECSC and Euratom, the Treaty on European Union and all consequent accords. In their place, we hereby ESTABLISH a European Commonwealth, to be based on the following principles…

  • A united and economically integrated EU is an absolute must unless we want to play second fiddle to a get-up-and-go United States and a hungry, aggressive China.

    Firstly, who is ‘we’? I live in Ireland and have no interest in some imaginary geo-political struggle being carried out in my name.

    Secondly, how does having Europe harmonised to be more like declining scloritic France, Italy and Germany make the rest of Europe ‘stronger’? We have quite enough rules and regulations as it is, thanks. I quite like the idea of us emulating ‘get-up-and-go’ USA a great deal more that ‘lie-down-and-snooze’ France, Italy and Germany. Closer union? Sorry to be impolite but “get stuffed”. And yes, I voted NO. Twise.

  • Gordon:

    “A united and economically integrated EU is an absolute must unless we want to play second fiddle to a get-up-and-go United States and a hungry, aggressive China. If you want to play into the hands of these countries, keep voting against the EU. “

    This is the centuries old fixed sum fallacy. You write as though any increase in the wealth of Chinese or American people must necessarily be at the expense of the British. This is of course false.

    If the Chinese become wealthy, it will be through producing what others, including ourselves, want to buy.

    Try substituting “Asda” for “the United States” and “Cherry Autos” for China and the absurdity of your statement becomes clear.

  • Well said, Julius. I don’t mean to pick on Gordon but the ‘fixed sum of wealth fallacy’ is one of the most pernicious and yet so easily refutable notions that underpin a big chunk of socialist dogma (and all manner of other stasis based economic systems).

  • Phil

    Gorden:: Can i possibly have some of the stuff you have been smoking? please!!

  • Agent Smith

    “What we need now is an intelligent synthesis between the market and the state which can help Europe win and not lose in the face of globalization”

    It looks like some people are simply unable or too stupid to learn the lessons of history. Benito Mussolini defined Fascism as the “merger of state and corporate power”. And of course, like National Socialism, Communism and EUphilia, Fascism is derived from radical socialist philosophy. France and Germany are already part of the Franco-German Axis. I would suggest that if they decide to press ahead with the further integration of a hardcore inner EU, they name it the Pact of Steel.

  • guy herbert

    Fascism the “merger of state and corporate power”? Gosh, I thought that was Blairism. Wait a sec…. We’ve heard all the stuff about modernising before, too.

  • Tony (UK)

    Yes, you’re right – they are nervous. Now, how do we make them sh*t bricks…

  • Julian Morrison

    Ron: oh, if only. That would be a constitution to make the USA jealous!

  • How do you make them shit bricks? a run on the Euro,a series of strikes in Italy causing a financial crisis so that the Euro is even more restrictive for them.

  • Agent Smith

    Fascism the “merger of state and corporate power”? Gosh, I thought that was Blairism. Wait a sec…. We’ve heard all the stuff about modernising before, too.

    Rather disturbingly, I just found out that Mussolini also described and positioned Fascism as the Third Way.

  • I have a different perspective on all this. Perry notes the nervousness of Barroso and sniffs blood.

    My take on the general situation in Europe is that free market thinking is winning in ‘elite’ circles. Maybe those shindigs in Brussells and David Carr’s elegant smoking jacket has had an effect.

    The EU elite know in their heads that markets must be freed up somewhat, and they have found to their shock that the EU populations do not want a bar of it. The French definately voted for more free lunches. Barroso and his ilk know that they can not deliver those lunches for much longer.

    Dynamists might have the facts but the statists have the votes. Barroso and his collegues know that an ideological war will simply harden public resistance to change, causing the inevitable crash to be even harder, and ensuring his sort are put out of business. These people are scared for their jobs, and therefore even less inclined then normal to think rationally. Hence statements like ‘Europe must avoid an ideological war’…

    Interesting times… what he calls an ideological war is known in free nations as ‘democratic debate’.

  • Patrick W

    Gordon,

    F*%& Off!

    I wish to live in a Euro Superstate about as much as I want to jump into a mixer. If you had any common sense so would you.

  • Rob

    I agree with Barroso, the countries of Europe should not fight an ideological war between free-market capitalism and the welfare state . If France or Germany or any other country wants to pursue it’s own version of Marxism, who are we (or he) to say no. If Mr Barroso means what he says , he should begin the process of dismantling all of the pan-European laws controlling employment rights, health and safety and all of the other wealth destroying legislation emanating from Brussels, and let sovereign nations decide for themselves whether they want capitalism or socialism.

  • At the risk of sounding like an infant can I just say:

    YOU STARTED IT

  • Just how nervous?: German Interior Minister spins the Swiss referendum result (acceding to Schengen/Dublin accords) as an “important positive signal for Europe”.

    A bit of an over reach, that.

  • the centuries old fixed sum fallacy

    except that it isn’t, exactly. much as europe has declined in relation to the world since 1914, it will continue to decline in relation to the world if it does nothing. britain may get wealthier for a while doing so, employing its capital overseas in apparent proof of positive sums. but history has, i think, clearly shown that this is not a viable social strategy for the long term.

    i must say i agree with mr wickstein. the elites are the promarket forces here; the proletariat are the retrograde forces. the population is holding europe back, not the elites — who are being rebuked in these votes for being too progressive, in fact, abandoning (it is claimed by their enemies) the third-way/fascist consensus that others here have pointed out for a deregulated gilded-age capitalism that no one wants to return to.

    what is going on with the eu is nothing less, imo, than a demonstration of the fatal wekaness of democracy — that the power is vested in the people least educated to use it in a beneficial fashion and most likely to make stupid decisions — especially in complex questions such as economics.

    i would say that the eu is an attempt at what toynbee would have called a universal state — a preservation of order in response to a time of troubles (1914-45?). fail to create it, and western civility has precious little to continue with.

  • GCooper

    gaius marius writes:

    “i would say that the eu is an attempt at what toynbee would have called a universal state — a preservation of order in response to a time of troubles (1914-45?). fail to create it, and western civility has precious little to continue with.”

    Oh, Tonybee! Well, that just about clinches it, eh? What you might call a killer argument.

    But yes, the EU was/is a proto-state. Which is precisely why it is a bad thing – particularly as the true purpose has been cloaked, masked and lied about since its inception.

    States, universal or otherwise, do not solve problems. They tend to create them and the larger and more complex they become, the worse mess they cause.

    ” fail to create it, and western civility has precious little to continue with.”

    No. Only people, left alone to get on with living their lives in freedom.

  • Richard Easbey

    Mr. Cooper:

    I suspect that “people, left alone to get on with living their lives in freedom” is EXACTLY what gaius marius doesn’t approve of. What do you think?

  • Pete_London

    Marius

    Thank you for that. I know for certain that however mad I become there will always be someone madder than me.

  • “Power is vested in the people least educated to use it in a beneficial fashion”
    The world outside politics is teeming with brilliant people,thats why the world works,despite politicians and bureaucrats whose only attribute is the ability to climb the greasy pole.
    Politics itself is the process whereby one bunch of politicians spend their time trying to rectify problems created by other politicians whilst at the same time creating their own and so on ad nauseum.
    Stil thanks Gaius,it’s nice to hear a voice from 1917.

  • Gaius does not understand what the ‘fixed wealth fallicy’ means. It has NOTHING to do with RELATIVE growth or decline. The fact is that you can get a smaller percentage of a growing pie and still be better off. Clearly the UK is not the dominant Imperial world power it was 100 years ago, yet would anyone seriously argue that 99% of the UK’s population does not have a better standard of living now that it did in 1905?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Gaius’ comments are so mad they nearly make Kodiak look sane. Well, almost!

    Funny, isn’t it, how the likes of this man always fondly imagine that they are among the “elite” cleverdicks who will get to run the mass of humanity. The mixture of conceit, delusion and rank stupidity never fails to amaze.

    I wonder if this man has ever read John Laughland’s “The Tainted Source”? If not, he should.

  • Julian Williams

    I think they are nervous. Nervous because the Euro requires political integration to survive.

    It all started as EMU – that stands for Economic and Monetry Union (not European Monetry Union). Economic is code for tax harminisation and using those taxes for pan European projects.

    To make a currency area work money has to flow from hot spots to cold spots, and workers from cold spots to hot spots. This happens between California and Florida, and between Scotland and London. Without these transfers the cold spots get colder and the hot spots hotter.

    So Ireland will need interest rate hikes just when Germany need interest rate reductions. Unless you start moving people and money round the Euroland this problem will get worse and worse, and tensions will go on building.

    The constitution took us some way towards the Economic Union, a tiny bit forward. This project of integration is now dead. Tension will build up in the Eurozone until it finally, inevitably implodes.

    They should be nervous, this is a mess that will expose the rotten heart of the EU to pressures it can not control.

  • Scott Wickstein makes an important point – the French may be against the Constitution, but they certainly aren’t on the side of free markets. The only thing that really unites the different “no” campaigns across Europe is the belief that their nation’s social and economic policies should not be set by an unaccountable transnational elite. The actual policies that French “non” campaigners would choose are likely to be very different from those that a typical British “no” campaigner might support.

    Therefore an ideological war between free markets and statism would divide the opponents of centralised EU power into warring factions. This would allow supporters of the Constitution to argue that there really was no alternative to their plans except chaos, and to frighten the undecided with talk of militant nationalism on the rampage. They would also be able to detach the French free-lunchers from the “non” vote by warning that failing to back the Constitution would let those dastardly Anglo-Saxons abolish the welfare state in favour of ruthless American capitalism. Once public opinion had shifted sufficiently, they would just hold another referendum in the countries that had voted “no”, and needless to say a “yes” vote then would be final.

    So we definitely shouldn’t seek an ideological war against the welfare state. What we should be doing is promoting a positive alternative vision of a radically reformed EU to show that there really is a viable alternative to the Constitution and all it implies. But because of the great differences in public opinion across the continent, this could not be a purely free market vision.

    Rather, it would have to be a “Europe of Nations” in which the emphasis was on restoring power to the people by returning decision-making power on all key policy issues to elected national governments. Its key selling point would be that you decide what’s best for your country, instead of having something imposed on you from above. The Telegraph’s proposal for a “European Commonwealth” linked to by Ron is a good starting point.

    If the “no” campaigns across Europe could unite behind a vision like this, they could bury the Constitution and reverse the balance of opinion in many of the countries that have already voted “yes”. The conflict between free markets and welfarism would become irrelevant because each country would be free to decide for itself what model to follow.

    But “an ideological war between free-market capitalism and the welfare state” would only benefit the proponents of the Constitution, which is no doubt why Barroso wants you to think one is inevitable.