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Samizdata quote of the day

The EU is a Seventies solution to a Fifties problem

Nigel Farage

35 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    More and more, the EU seems to be just a welfare system for states and nations. You could make a soap opera out of it! When will Helena and Hispania get real jobs? Will Big Brother Deutschland give in to Model Franky’s demands for more money, or will they rely on Uncle Sam to bail them out? Tune in for more next year, if they survive that long.

  • Alsadius

    Seems like it was intended as a solution to a much more Forties problem, actually.

  • Jacob

    People in Chile (for example) used to say “communism or socialism are foreign programs, not fit for our people”
    That line of propaganda is obviously nationalistic and ridiculous at the same time. Communism isn’t bad because it’s “foreign”; it’s just bad, for foreigners too, everywhere.

    Likewise – the EU isn’t bad because it’s a plan of the Fifties.
    Actually it isn’t bad at all. It is a good plan, a good idea. It brings to Europeans many advantages like free trade, free movement of people, some kind of obstacle to insane national policies, some protection against inter-European wars.

    The problem with the EU is that’s too weak, and it has many wrong policies, but then, member states have still worse policies in place in their states.
    Though we decry the socialist tendencies of the EU, I don’t see that Britain (for example) is any less socialist than the EU, or has socialist policies forced upon her by the EU. Britain alone is as bad in every respect as the EU as a whole.

    The idea of a united Europe, with one sole currency, and open borders is, basically, a very good idea.
    The problems that exist in Europe were not created by the EU, it’s rather that the EU failed to prevent them, but it is not the reason that the problems exist.

  • The problem is not that the EU is too weak, I assure you. Creating one super state is fundamentally a bad idea as rather than creating a regulatory run-to-the-bottom, as early supporters hoped (such as myself) it has actually done the opposite … and frankly I would rather see the USA as 50 actually sovereign states than a single behemoth too.

    Free trade and movement is a great idea, except what we actually have is not free trade but rather politically managed trade increasingly designed to normalise anti-competitive rules upwards for everyone.

  • Gareth

    The ‘modern’ idea of a united europe rumbled into life after the First World War thanks to Arthur Salter and Jean Monnet. It is not a 70s solution to anything from the 50s.

  • It is not a 70s solution to anything from the 50s

    No. Farage is talking specifically about the EU, not ‘a united Europe’, which is not a modern idea at all (it has been around since the Roman Empire, in the same sense the Nazis saw it, and since Charlemagne in the sense the likes of Monnet saw it).

    The UK joined the EEC in 1973 (hence a 70’s solution…)… and the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957 (hence 50’s problems).

  • Jacob

    “The problem is not that the EU is too weak”
    It is too weak to impose, for example, it’s rule that budget deficits should never exceed 3% of GDP. Even Germany has a 5% deficit.
    The deficit was created by the member states, not the EU.

    But maybe you believe, like Paul Krugman, that the more you print money, the better, and nobody should interfere with the sovereign function of a state to print heaps of paper money.

  • RRS

    There is another perspective as to why and how the EU has taken its present form.

    The evolving pattern can be seen as a non-military, non-violent, repeat of the efforts to establish a “Universal Empire” over the contiguous areas (and hegemony over the perimeters) of EurAsia, first by the French, ended in 1814; then by Germany as a “New World Order” ended 1945.

    These attempts seem to follow upon trends of stagnation after periods of expansion, and usually require military dominance which was exhausted in Europe, and transferred to the U.S., whose population is still imbued with (a) different ideology(ies), and will not participate according to the “terms on offer.”

    It is difficult to grasp how the authoritarianism necessary for “Universal Empire” can be brought into effect without force for ultimate coercions. At present, and for the foreseeable future a source for that required force does not appear available.

  • John K

    Gareth is right, the EU is a development of the ideas of Salter and Monnet n the 1920s, designed to prevent another Franco-German war. It is a 1920s solution to a pre 1914 problem. The irony is that when it was finally established in 1957, the EEC was already out of date. Post World War II the division of Germany between East and West, and the establishment of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, meant that the strategic situation had changed totally, with no chance whatsoever of another Franco-German war. The fact that EU supporters still like to claim that the EU has somehow “kept the peace” in Europe shows how deep this fallacy runs.

  • Gareth

    Perry de Havilland said:

    No. Farage is talking specifically about the EU, not ‘a united Europe’

    What were the problems of the 50s that were distinctly different from before WWII of international institutions and agreements being prone to capture by the most powerful members and the threat of war in Europe?

    The solutions sought by Monnet in particular were the diminishing of nation states in preference to what was in effect a European nation to be installed above them.

  • But maybe you believe, like Paul Krugman, that the more you print money, the better,


    and nobody should interfere with the sovereign function of a state to print heaps of paper money.

    Yes indeed! I am totally supportive of sovereign nations, particularly democratic sovereign nations, being left to completely and utterly beggar themselves if that is what the majority votes for. Just as I do not think it is a good idea for nations to bail out banks, I do not think nations should bailout other nations.

  • What were the problems of the 50s that were distinctly different from before WWII of international institutions and agreements being prone to capture by the most powerful members and the threat of war in Europe?

    I am astonished to even see someone ask that question.

    In the 1950’s, the only threat of war in Europe was really that of a wider global thermonuclear conflict between the USA/NATO and the Soviets/Warsaw Pact. So clearly the prospect of old fashioned nation-state European conflicts was not at all a 50’s problem… that was a problem from earlier times (which was why the long standing British emphasis on ‘European balance of power’ was no longer meaningfully pursued).

    From the 1950’s onwards the problems of Europe were materially different to those which pertained between the wars or prior to World War One, as the institutions involved were very different indeed… in the Cold War world, concerns about Germany kicking off again (or indeed France or Britain) were rendered moot by the realities of the Cold War (American and Soviet Armies in the middle of the continent).

    It was a very different set of paradigms indeed.

  • Paul Marks

    Jacob the E.U. was from the first a CUSTOMS UNION – not a free trade area.

    It is not EFTA.

    And from the START the E.U. (then the EEC) was about an “ever closer union” – and statist policies (such as the Common Agricultrual Policy).

    The endless of regulations of the E.U. and the TERRIBLE damage they cause have been outlined (again and again) by such writers as Christopher Booker and Mr North.

    Jacob I know you mean well.

    But please believe me when I say that your comments have caused great offence.

    The EEC-EU is not a force for good.

    And it is certainly not “too weak”.

    And to claim that opponents of the E.U. are like Paul Krugman – is adding further offence.

    In fact it is the E.U. that is in favour of “pooling” national debts (“Euro bonds” and so on).

    Your image of the E.U. is almost the exact opposite of the truth.

  • Paul Marks

    Of course by “70s solution” Mr Farage is pointing to the CORPORATISM of the E.U.

    This is openly expressed – not even hidden.

  • Jacob

    What i meant is that the idea of having a unified Europe, without borders, one currency, no trade barriers – is a very good idea.
    It is feasible, maybe, only when you have a minimalist state. When the state runs everything, it is difficult and maybe impossible to reach agreement between states and peoples on endless issues of policy.

    So, the EU as it exists today, as an organization (not an idea) is not good. But the reason is – it reflects the ideas of the constituent countries. Each country, on it’s own, practices even worse policies than those recommended by the EU. The EU is not to blame for bad policies in Europe, they are socialist because they choose to be so, not because the EU imposes socialism in unwilling member states.
    As to printing money – the main complaint against the euro (the common currency) is that it denies member states the possibility to print their own money in unlimited quantities. All the assistance programs are necessary because the central EU bank refuses to flood Europe with printed money (as Bernanke does). (They print enough anyway).

    So, the problem is not that the EU is bad, the problem is that member states are worse (more irresponsible and socialist).

  • RRS

    To confirm the perspective I suggested, we can take jacob’s view of what would be “good,” how it could be sought – if that “good” were the goal.

    But it is not.

    Each nation, individually, can enact statutes that eliminate tarrifs, allow open borders, remove all trade barriers can adopt a common “unit of account” for “currency” transactions. No “treaties” needed – again if unity of purpose exists.

    But, it does not.

    The objective is “Universal Empire”

  • Jacob – You are absolutely free to have your own opinion on the EU and you are quite correct that some of the benefits of EU membership such as free movement and (to an extent) free trade are good.

    However even these good policies have a malign intent. The EU is attempting to create a new country called Europe (or Europa) in which the formerly sovereign nations such as the United Kingdom will be nothing more than signs on a highway.

    They have already achieved this to a certain extent with the establishment of a Foreign service under Baroness Ashton.

    You are correct that it is only partially formed, for the final form will be a United States of Europe and I hope I never live to see that day.

    No empire (and the EU is an empire in all but name) has ever ascended to domination without war, this might be the first, but I very much doubt it.

    I am not so concerned about the wrongfulness of your views as their naïvety, but given the propaganda that is put out by the EU and pervades throughout the education system, I probably shouldn’t be surprised.

    Certainly I expect the EU to be challenged before it achieves supremacy in Europe and I suspect that it will be Britain again that does this although whether we are up for the fight is uncertain this time around as we have been weakened by “The Enemy Within”.

    If it comes to a fight with the EU where will you stand?

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    I had long suspected that the EU was at heart a programme to create a corporatist superstate where everyone knows (and is kept in) their place.

    I base this on no evidence whatsoever. Only that several British industries have been been systematically destroyed with such skill that I always assumed it was deliberate.

    I always picture Heath in a bunker somewhere in 1973 meeting with other European leaders, and the conversation goes something like “Okay Heath, the eastern bloc countries want steel manufacturing, the French want farming, the Spanish want fishing, the Romanians (when they join) have asked for coal, the German’s want automobiles. All examples of the above must be “relocated” out of the UK. You can have banking, insurance and call centres…….”

    What could possibly go wrong, eh?

  • JohnB

    Indeed. The EU rides relentlessly on to create the superstate. (Need to trash the independence of the states that will go into its making first, of course. And as Jaded has pointed out it would seem to be a job that has been well done.)

    The preferred option would surely tend to be that the state, the super state and every other paternalist/maternalist organisation and institution gets off peoples’ backs.

    All going back, as they do, to the ‘I know best and you will do as I say’ syndrome.

  • Which ’70s? Could he be talking about AD 70?

  • RRS

    I find it passing strange that there is once again this penchant to reify an organization of interests, which are the the interest and actions of humans.

    The government; The EU – they have no distinct “will” or motive. They are not organic beings.

    It is the humans within those mechanisms and structures whose “motives and “wills” occupy the vacuum created by the failure of others to determine their own destinies.

  • RRS: to understand institutions you need to understand the action of cellular automata. The individuals who operate within an institution are not simply free agents as they operate within the rules of that institution. This may seem obvious but it means that as the individual actors gain their ability to act by virtue of their membership of that rules defined institution, as do all the others who they are acting with, you get behaviours that may seem individual if all you are looking at is an individual, but when you step back and look at the actions of others within that institution, you realise it is actually ‘flocking’ behaviour.

    Indeed cellular automata can produce remarkably complex emergent behaviour when contained by very few rules indeed.

    It is a mistake to think that the underpinning rules of an institution that governs its component parts does not have a profound impact on the emergent behaviours we see, which is why it is perfectly reasonable to attribute character and nature to things like “government” or “schools” or “armies”… of course a government is not a person, so when someone says “the government is malevolent”, in truth what is being described is not some meta-person called “Mr. Government” but rather a characterisation of the emergent property that emerges from said government.

    And it is why just changing the people in a government for “better” people more often than not makes very little difference unless the underpinning rules are changed (which may mean a radical revolution rather than just voting in a new set of well meaning people who soon “go native” when they find themselves operating within the context of the system they were thought to be reforming)

  • RRS


    Being written “offline” and copied in via permalink, this will likely get smited, hopefully it will ultimately appear.

    I do recall your admonition to me that governments are institutions, not mechanisms.
    I remain recalcitrant. I accept that governments contain (and some are composed entirely of) institutions; usually denominated “bureaucracies,” but with other categories as well, such as “The Senate,” and “the Department of . . .,” and “The Home Office.”

    The subject of institutions and their distinctions from other forms of facilities and “instrumentalities” has held my attention for many years because of their “roles” in past and current social orders and in the direction of civilization. H/T Carroll Quigley.

    So, let us begin with your description of the “cellular automata” action you refer to. Presumably that would apply to action of the individuals operating within any facility or instrumentality which comes into existence by reason of sufficient objectives of members of a social grouping or social order. Those individuals operate, as you say, “within the rules” of the facility, but they do not necessarily set those rules, and must generally adapt their conduct and conform their interests to the rules established as a result of the separately determined objectives and separately determined means of attaining them.
    A simple visualization would be parents establishing facilities for the teaching of the young, and arranging staffing for their operations.

    In the cases of institutions, as you point out,


    individual actors gain their ability to act by virtue of their membership of [sic] (within?) that rules defined institution”

    But, with institutions, as differentiated from other facilities, it is the condition of “institutionalization” whereby those members come to possess the powers to set the “rules,” by acceding to control of determination of the objectives and the means of attaining them, usually to the predominance of the interests of those members. I am not speaking to how or why that occurs; it occurs. The history of Western Civilization alone is replete with examples; and their stagnating effects have been chronicled in the East as well.

    So it is with “institutions,” we observe how interests, which are aggregated individual interests, become the determining functions of what have been facilities or instrumentalities. Rules determine the conduct of the “cellular automata” in both: but, how and to what ends those rules are established and applied creates differences that have effects which must be dealt with to slow, if not prevent, stagnation.

    Again, as you point out, that cannot be done by what is usually classed as “reform;” which leaves the systems for determinations in place and simply changes the “players” or conditions of membership. In governments, correction to the effects of bureaucracies cannot be achieved by replacing or adding bureaus of different staffing.

    Historically, the most successful corrections have resulted from circumventions; usually by the generation of alternative facilities, where the separation is maintained between(a) the determination of objectives and means and (b) the functions of operations of the facility. Thus did the guild systems of Europe and Japan atrophy, rather than “reform.” We may see something similar in the alternatives which have begun for schooling. Still, interests will tend to aggregate and the processes will repeat.

  • JohnB

    . . . you realise it is actually ‘flocking’ behaviour . . .

    So it is individuals thinking and doing things whilst intoxicated with some form of mob rule influence?

    Flocks are individual entities acting and reacting to the other individuals around them.

    The flock does not have a real, live person and will.

    I think that is one of the useful obfuscations that the deceivers employ. Get people caught up in group concepts.

    So that, for instance, it becomes regulators versus bankers instead of the truth of the situation which is that both the bankers and regulators tend to be the same people singing different songs in different roles.

  • RRS


    One may be reminded of Michael Polanyi’s example of a “cloud” of gnats moving across space. The cloud appears to be moving as if with unified direction, but, within it is made up of thousands of individuals flights in every direction, but remaining within the total cloud, and contributiong, somehow, to its general direction and speed.

  • RRS


    If my response post eventually comes up, you will note that I don’t take issue with application of the Cellular Automata to these particular types of groupings.

    I presume you refer to the effects of the boundaries existing and changing amongst the individual behaviors (cellular function) within the organization, and the effects of those “limitations” on the continuity of the grouping.

  • Jacob

    if unity of purpose exists. But, it does not.

    It does. Most member nations have applied to be admitted to the EU, nay they have begged (Turkey is still begging).

    The objective is “Universal Empire”
    That is your opinion, or interpretation… but the idea of universal empire isn’t bad; not feasible – maybe – but not necessarily bad. (Depends what kind of empire).

    I find that many people here assign to the idea of “a nation” (or “our nation”) – too much value. If we hold an individualistic point of view, we shouldn’t sanctify “the Nation”.

  • Laird

    Of course universal empire is necessarily “bad”, regardless of the kind. Large government is always bad, both because it has far too much power and because of the sort of people it invariably attracts. Governments the world over need to be made smaller and weaker, not larger and more powerful. Power needs to be dispersed, not aggregated.

  • Flocks are individual entities acting and reacting to the other individuals around them.

    That is exactly what ’emergent behaviour’ means 🙂

    The flock does not have a real, live person and will.

    Indeed, that is exactly true and it is also what I wrote. The state is not “Mr. Government”.

    But that does not change the fact that the actors (the individuals) are acting within constraints of the rules that pertain to the institution they operate within and they make their decisions based institutional perceptions of reality, operating within the meta-context that people within any institution accept as unspoken axioms.

    Don’t believe me? Try appealing to a policeman’s good nature next time you get a speeding ticket. It would be a great mistake to think of him as ‘just an individual’.

  • RRS

    Well, I am sorta disappointed that the smite is still in effect for my resonse to PdeH.

    But it’s either for offline or slow typing.

  • RRS


    To catch my placement of “Universal Empire” and the related hegemonies, you would have to refer back to my post above on 7/6 @03:17 p m.

    Whether “good” or “bad” such attempts at Universal Empire follow upon periods of extensive conflict in a civilization. Such establishment historically presages an extended decline of the civilization, regardless of the effectiveness of the “Empire.”

    The 90 years preceding the formation and extensions of the “Union ” probably qualify as an age of conflict. Only the exhaustion of resources and manpower for mass warfare (which gave rise to nationalism in the first place, as “something to fight for” instead of money and loot) seem likely causes for these efforts.

  • RRS

    I should have said “for those efforts to take this form.”

  • Paul Marks


    A Europe without restrictions on trade sounds like the “Single Market” that was passed by the United Kingdom Parliament in 1986 with arguments very similar to yours.

    IN PRACTICE the “Single Market” turned out to be about VASTLY INCREASEING regulations (not reducing them).

    Nor was this because the E.U. is “too weak” – they are EUROPEAN UNION REGULATIONS.

    “He who sees through the eyes of Morgoth, whether willing or not, sees all things crooked”.

    You have heard the attacks on the “free market” “pro austerity” E.U. from Paul Krugman and others so (NATUALLY ENOUGH) you leap to the defence of the E.U.

    You forget a vital fact – people like Paul Krugman are not just “intellectually mistaken” or something like that – they are LIARS.

    Nothing Krugman and co say (even who they declare are their enemies) can be trusted. That is why I waste of time listening to them or reading their stuff – seeking to “argue against” them is pointless as they do not even present an honest position, just a mist of lies.

    By “Corporatism” I am NOT talking about corporations and limited liability.

    I am talking about a specific early 20 century ideology – which made a come back in the 1960s and (especially) the 1970s).

    This ideology “industiries” and “labour” should be treated as lumps (not as individual human beings) – it involves de facto cartels, and de facto price controls and so on.

    Not against the government (on the contrary the government will attack voluntary agreements that are not part of its “policies” – and it will do so in the name of the “free market” and “competition”) but with the full agreement and guidence of government.

    This was the ideology of Mussolini (and many other of his time – including Franklin Roosevelt and his National Industrial Recovery Act) and it is the ideology of the European Union.

    It is not a good thing.

    By the way….

    A “single currency” is a TERRIBLE IDEA – if this single currency is a GOVERNMENT currency (it destroys all real limits on government). It leads to a vile concentration of power in government (and pet banker) hands.

    A single currency is only a good idea – if it is a freely chosen COMMODITY (gold, silver – whatever buyers and sellers choose) with strictly no connection with governments.

    If there are government currencies (not commodity currencies) then there should be as many as possible – and there should be no connections (no rigged exchange rates – no connections at all) between these government currencies.

    If there are “conferences” and “cooperation on economic matters” then evil is at work.

  • Paul Marks

    By the way the E.U. has nothing to do with “peace”.

    In 1945 Germany was utterly defeated – and I mean “utterly”. Its military forces were wiped out and its capital occupied (unlike in 1918 when the advise of Generals Foch and Pershing to do this was rejected – and the advise of such Generals as Haig was FATALLY followed instead).

    From then on the military threat was the Soviet Union (not Germany).

    The Soviet Union was never a member of the EEC-EU and the EEC-EU was NOT a defence against the Soviet Union (otherwise mad “the Soviets are not a threat” people, such as 1960s French govenrments, would not have supported the E.U.).

    The defence against the Soviet Union was NATO and the American military. Again unlike 1918 the American military STAYED in Europe.

    It disgusts me that the E.U. seeks to steal the credit for “peace in Europe”.

    As for the future…..

    Even Germany can not afford its Welfare State committments (let alone pay for the Welfare States of all other Eurozone members – as the demented international “liberal” elite, the Economist magazine and so on, demand).

    Eventually even Germany will go bankrupt (Time magazine is correct, from its own evil persepective, to PRAISE the present German Chancellor – basically this lady is in favour of the same international “cooperation” that they are, again the propaganda image of the German Chancellor is very far from the truth).

    What will happen when all the present (international and national) power structures collapse into economic and social bankruptcy?

    I do not know.

    So I will simply indulge fond hopes (fantasy) – the hopes of General Foch (why not?).

    A restored (and legitimist) monarchy in France, and such things as a restored Kingdom of Bavaria.

    With nations having limited governments (like Liechtenstein – only more so) and an end to the “modern state”

    Western civilisation returned – and the “modern state” (with its mass state education and so on) just a bad memory.

    Most likely this will NOT be how things turn out – most likely the future will be horrific (utterly horrific).

    But we might as well indulge pleasing hopes.

  • mdc

    A 50s solution to a 30s problem, I think.