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Thoughts about the euro and the sovereignty vacuum

“It is not beyond Germany’s financial power to rescue the ailing eurozone countries. But the increase in political power for Germany which such a rescue implies is surely way beyond what most of the people of Europe would accept. The Germans do not want it either: in agreeing to create the ECB, they willed the means, but not the end. Now that the end is nigh, they are terrified. What Europe faces, then, is a disaster that was predictable – and predicted – and is now unavoidable. In the process, millions will lose their jobs, an entire generation will miss the opportunities which their parents enjoyed, and blood will probably be shed. The rulers of Europe have never been so wrong since the late 1930s.”

Charles Moore. His remarks about such EUrophiles such as Chris Patten (remember that pompous arse?), FT journalist Lionel Barber, Hugo Young and of course, Jacques Delors (remember him also?) are gloriously scathing.

By the way, here are two books, one by John Laughland, and the other by Bernard Connolly, written some time ago on the architects of the modern EU. I don’t agree with all of their ideas, but they were remarkably prescient in certain respects. Laughland, for example, picks up on Hayek’s point about the dangers of politicised money, which is essentially what fiat money usually is.

In case anyone asks, I certainly don’t endorse Laughland’s nationalistic views on the treatment of people such as Slobodan Milosovic. . That is a subject for another day.

10 comments to Thoughts about the euro and the sovereignty vacuum

  • For me one of the many foolishnesses of EUrope was that they were determined to create an Empire, but equally determined to deny themselves the means, namely a big bastard of an army.

    The idea was that EUrope was somehow different, an empire of niceness (as the EUromaniacs saw it), of everyone agreeing. But, what if everyone does not agree?

    What if, for instance, money was lent out, but the lendees then spent it all and refuse to pay it back? Who will then enforce the rule about it being paid back? Nobody. “Soft power”? That’s about as useful as dry rain or dazzling darkness, in circumstances like these. Which have of course now arisen.

    Blunt questions have always been avoided by EUroists. Oh, that wouldn’t happen. Oh, it’s not a question of people being forced to do what they don’t want to do. Oh, people won’t behave like that. It’s an empire of waffle, a great gathering of Important People, willing to do everything to keep their show on the road, in particular to throw other people’s money down the drain, except the essentials.

    The sooner EUrope collapses in ruin the better for all concerned. I know, that won’t be good. But the longer the EUroists keep it going, the worse the collapse will be when it comes. Which it will. It has pretty much arrived already.

    The alternative is that they might start being honest about their damned empire, and about the means of making it stick. That hardly bears thinking about.

    The idiot idea was that this EUrope thing would end War As We Know It. Because, you know, Federal Governments make all war everywhere from then on impossible. The result could well be a European Civil War, and if anyone wins it, more wars, against everyone else within range.

    But on that last score at least, I live in hope. Compared to the creators and maintainers of that earlier Federal Government across the Atlantic, the EUroists are like mashed potato made with powder from a packet, compared to a real steak. These people are so irredeemably self-contradictory, not just in what they say, but in what they believe themselves to be, that they just don’t have the balls for the reality of fighting a war against their enemies. I mean, for a start, that would involve accepting that they have actual enemies, who hate them, for good reasons.

    Confronted with reality, which quite soon will be demanding that the EUroists either fight or fold, I expect them to fold, and what is more with quite extraordinary suddenness. Simply, their huge stash of Other People’s Money will run out (is running out), and their frivolous and ridiculous game will be up. To hell with them, and the sooner the better.

  • Laird

    Interesting article, and I think generally correct. There is no one with either the authority or the will to enforce the discipline necessary for a monetary union to function, and even if there were the people of Greece (if not its government) have made it abundantly clear that they won’t recognize any such authority. Clearly, monetary union was always unsustainable in the long run without political union as well, but that doesn’t mean that Jacques Delors and the other Europhiles pushing for monetary union (as the second-best option) were wrong in their calculus. Given a few more years of relative tranquility, political union likely would have been achieved and their dream of a unified Europe realized. Unfortunately (for them) the inevitable economic collapse is occurring too soon. I frankly can’t see how the EU can survive in anything like its present form.*

    As I understand it, Greece’s lawyers are trying to figure out how it can withdraw from the EU and the rest of the continent’s lawyers are trying to figure out how it can be kicked out. Both seem to be reaching the conclusion that it’s impossible without unanimous consent of all (17?) members, which no one thinks is achievable. From the EU’s side I think that’s probably correct, but it cannot be so from Greece’s. If sovereignty means anything, it means the ability to unilaterally withdraw from treaties which no longer serve the nation’s interests. If Greece feels that it needs its own currency, so it can devalue and move on, then as a matter of traditional international law it certainly has the power to do so (notwithstanding the words of the Lisbon Treaty). Greece has to do what it believes is right for itself, and if that means abrogating a foolish treaty so be it.

    I see that George Osborne has assigned an arbitrary deadline for “fixing” the Euro, that being the next meeting of the G20 leaders in about six weeks. Nonsense. The markets aren’t going to wait for the next gathering of pompous, self-important, impotent blowhards. I don’t think there’s anywhere near that much time remaining, and I can’t see how it can be “fixed” regardless. I think Brian is correct: the game is up.

    Brian also notes that the current crop of European leaders “just don’t have the balls for the reality of fighting a war against their enemies.” Which is undoubtedly true, but it doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t have the balls. It was in just such soil as this that Hitler and Mussolini took root. There’s another such out there waiting for his opportunity. As I see it that’s the most serious long-term risk of a collapse of the monetary union: a replay of the 1930s.

    * If the US subprime mortgage collapse (itself a localized and relatively small-scale problem) was the catalyst for the world-wide economic turmoil we’ve been enduring for the last 4 years, perhaps in the long run it will have been a good thing, as it will have exposed the fragility of the modern international economic system and especially the EU. Maybe this is the best of all possible worlds!

  • lucklucky

    First phrase first silliness.

    “It is not beyond Germany’s financial power to rescue the ailing eurozone countries. ”

    With what? printing Deutch Marks with then B rating?

    Btw Britain is worse than eurozone.

  • Dishman

    Brian Micklethwait wrote:
    I mean, for a start, that would involve accepting that they have actual enemies, who hate them, for good reasons.

    You only describe the current leadership.

    It is from the wreckage that a true monster would emerge.

  • ADE

    Has anybody noticed the curious photo that Charles Moore has chosen to illuminate his point?

    I think we should open a caption competition.

    Mine is:
    Angela: Oh come on Sarko, I’ll save your economy if you will…

    Saroko: Non, non, non, I want this one.

    As for the Dude between Sarko and the doll, my mind boggles.


  • Alisa

    It is from the wreckage that a true monster would emerge.

    Thank you, Dishman. BTW, I’m afraid that the same will be true in the US – the Big O is small potatoes.

  • Dave Walker

    A thought-provoking article; and this is the second time today I’ve seen speculation about war in Europe following EU collapse. Not Good.

    Watching all the brouhaha in the news about Greece, though, gave me a rather wild idea. Market forces are putting Greece into financial crisis, so how about Greece getting itself out of crisis, using market forces, by selling… well, Greece?

    Try the following for size: “We, the Greek Government, will sell sovereignty of bits of our territory to other nations, in return for huge piles of money, and we’ll draw up some treaties and go to the UN with you to inform them of the resulting changes in national borders”.

    As so much of Greece comprises an archipelago, this could actually be implemented fairly elegantly; other countries could buy Greek territory one island at a time. Unfortunately Turkey is broke too, but, for example, how much would they pay to buy the (currently) Greek South of Cyprus?

    This isn’t without precedent, of course; the US bought Louisiana (and several other modern states) from the French and Alaska from the Russians…

  • A bankrupt government of Greece selling off territory to foreigners is just the ingredient needed to kick off a war.

    People refuse to accept sell off, not recognising transfer of sovereignty. They agitate, they resist, foreign power defends its assets while Greek govt stands back. Outrage. New national government emerges, tears up agreement, begins fighting to regain territory. People take sides. Escalation. Foreign power realises only way to “win” is to topple the new Greek government and install puppet, harrumph, sensible government.

    Or sommat like that.

    If you want to totally screw up the Med, Greece sells it off to China, who then uses an island to build a massive F-Off coaling station and repair dock for their blue water navy.

    Oh, and, while the chequebook is open, China buys majority interest in the Suez Canal from impoverished Egypt. Just to secure access, for their freight traffic, you understand.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Look, the best solution is to let the strongest power, Germany, buy up the impoverished nations! You should have one dominant language, and what is wrong with Berlin as Europe’s capital?
    oh, wait, haven’t we done this already?

  • Paul Marks

    We live in “interesting times”.