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Misery loves company

Today, May 1st, is a big day for the European Union because today is ‘Accession Day’ whereupon 10 new countries will be officially enjoined into the Union:

Leaders from the EU’s 25 member states are taking part in celebrations, after a night of festivities heralded its historic expansion.

The 15 old members welcomed in Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia at midnight.

Yes, it is celebration time. The ‘family’ of 15 countries becomes the even bigger ‘family’ of 25 countries as hands are clasped in firm handshakes across once-inpenetrable borders in a new spirit of continent-wide brotherhood, sisterhood and transgenderhood. Ring out the bells, sound the trumpets and let the cliches flow like a swollen river.

Chief among the consequences that is causing excitement, even outside the usual Europhile circles, is the prospect of droves of fresh-faced and energetic young Slavs who will pour into the cities of Western Europe eager to programme computers, brew coffee and deliver hot pizza to Western Euopeans, most of whom will be quietly relieved that they are being served and waited upon by people who are unlikely to be donating any portion of their wage packets to Al-Qaeda.

I can sympathise with this enthusiasm for I, too, hope that this scenario will come about and, if it does, I expect that it will largely prove to be a very good thing for all concerned. However, trade is (usually) a two-way street. East may have a lot to offer the West but what does the West have to offer the East. Jobs? Well, in theory, yes, but if the Western Europeans are unwilling to reform their stifling labour laws then a lot of those eager young Slavs are going to cross the continent only to end up burgling in Bremen or pimping in Paris.

But even that does not mean that Western Europe is without something to offer the East, though certainly not workers (unless they are prepared to export their own immigrants). No, what Western Europe has to export Eastwards is a plague of social-worker types (of which the West has vast reserves).

That is the thing about this globalisation phenomenon. It does not just mean the widespread distribution of DVD players and avocados, it also means the widespread distribution of people who make and consume both. So far, so orthodox, so what? This is the accepted view. What is often overlooked is that global trade also means the spread of ideas and (for reasons I simply cannot fathom) it is widely and blithely assumed in free market circles that this inevitably means the the speard of ‘good’ ideas only. Why?

For a start, there are no good ideas in Western Europe but there is a mountain of ‘Very Bad Ideas’ and no shortage of people who know how to disseminate them very effectively. Indeed, as I type, there is probably a warehouse full of Very Bad Ideas boxed up, shrink-wrapped and waiting on the dockside ready to be shipped off to Lublijana and Vilnius.

Those poor Slavs and Baltics may well imagine that today marks the end of their decades of totalitarian repression and a gigantic leap towards liberation, modernity and prosperity. HAH! Those poor saps have no idea what is waiting in store for them or what membership of the big, unhappy ‘EU’ family actually means in practice.

They will soon learn the folly of their ideals when they are invaded by an army of self-righteous busybodies, armed with bogus statistics, sham science and filofaxes full of pre-arranged media and government contacts. Right now, these health-fascists and control-freaks must be goggle-eyed with anticipation at the thought of a whole, new, virgin audience for their peculiar brand of histrionics.

Over the coming years, these once-complacent Eastern Europeans are going to be nagged, hectored, lectured, nannied, finger-wagged, sermonised and relentlessly bullied by a seemingly never-ending parade of dull, obnoxious, earnest, condescending do-gooders whose mission is to convince them all that they are too fat, too thin, too unfit, too rich, too poor, too happy, too sad, too tall, too thin, too bald, too hairy, too thoughtful, too reckless, too drunk, too sober and just too bloody ignorant and criminal for their own good.

By this time next year, the people of the Accession countries will have been told that they smoke too much, eat too much, drink too much, laugh too much, work too much, love too much, hate too much, walk too much, drive too much, breathe too much, talk too much and that they are destroying the planet, abusing their children and not paying anywhere near enough in tax. As well as that they will also learn that they are racist, sexist, fascist, cubist, buddhist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, agoraphobic, arachnaphobic, technophobic and institutionally obese and….SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!!!!

I feel sorry for them I really do. We in the West have had time to get used to the psychosis of the ruling classes but for these unsuspecting Baltic greenhorns, the misery is all to come. In some respects it is actually worse for them because they are hoping for a bright, shiny new dawn of freedom without perhaps the slightest notion of what lies in store for them now that they are about to be firmly welded into the regulatory machine. From New Soviet Man to Neu-Rotic Man in one generation. How is that for bad luck?

If I was them I would alleviate the problem by simply shooting all these invading busibodies on sight but I verily believe that there is some utterly unreasonable law against doing that kind of thing. Instead, I predict that, within five years, there will be a serious political movement in Eastern Europe dedicated to bringing back the Iron Curtain. Not to keep their own people in, mind, but to keep the undesirable Westerners out.

36 comments to Misery loves company

  • ******* brilliant!!

  • Euan Gray

    Good article, but I don’t think the enlargement is necessarily a bad thing, and it may be a very good thing for the Eurosceptic.

    8 of the 10 new states are ex-Communist, so on the one hand they know all about living with petty regulation and unchallengeable bureaucracy. On the other hand, they’re good at finding ways around these things. But most importantly, I can’t imagine they want to get away from one imperial master just to land in the clutches of the Spawn of Bonaparte.

    They’re more pro-American than the other states. Although their economies are small (altogether they add something like 5% to EU GDP), they have more flexible and modern ideas than the western states, esp. France and Germany. They will want a say, and they already look like getting a worse deal than the western states regarding subsidy, etc. I can’t see that lasting unchallenged.

    I don’t expect a new Iron Curtain, but I do think this will in time be seen as the day the old EU started its terminal decline. I think the eastern states will force the EU to radically reform. Or die. Or both.


  • David,
    You said it more eloquently — excellent post. I hinted at this issue myself. Europe has a long way to go but this is a good start.
    Best regards,

  • Wild Pegasus

    I think Eurosceptics are kidding themselves if they think today is the end of the EU. Whatever obnoxious rules the EU will implement in these Eastern European countries, these countries see joining the EU as a reassertion of their fundamental westernism and their commitment to social democracy. That alone will keep them in it.

  • A quick nitpick: “Ljubljana” is the preferred nomenclature. The city was called Lubiana once, but only after being occupied by Mussolini.

  • Mati Karu

    Those poor saps have no idea what is waiting in store for them or what membership of the big, unhappy ‘EU’ family actually means in practice.

    Oh, come on. We know very well, that the EU is not a libertarian utopia. And I say that as one of those two thirds of Estonians, who voted “yes” to join the EU.

  • Having lived under or near the Iron Umbrella for a long while, I think they may know all too well the nanny and intrusive types about to be littered about. They’ll look like lightweights in comparison to what they’re used to. While some of the youngin’s are more likely to be taken in, you can’t have survived the Cold War and not know how to protect yourself from those people.

    What amuses me to no end is the fact that it is happening on May 1. Red Parade Day?? Does this not bother anyone? It is either the greatest example of irony known to man, or was intentional.

  • Mati,

    Just wait until Estonia’s personal income tax rates are “harmonised” (ie. raised) with those of the original member states…

  • Mashiki

    Red Parade Day, well I was looking at the irony of it all and laughing darkly at it when I saw the story. I just couldn’t get my head around it.

    Being that I’m in a cynical mood today, I’ll just toss in that perhaps they were pointing at the way things are going to go in the future.

  • We need an enlarged Europe to fight American Imperialism. We have to stop future Iraq’s from occuring.

    Here is a prime example of American Imperialism:

    Abu Ghriab Prison

  • Antoine Clarke

    revolutionary blogger,
    please learn how to use the apostrophe if you don’t want to appear like an illiterate twerp (Your point is worth bearing in mind though).

    imagine if the EU constitution had actually been ratified by now… then we’d have problems.

    As for the new EU countries, if they could escape the Soviet block, they can handle Eurocracy.

  • The EU is made up of imperial nations,the very concept of the EU is imperial.The Americans can teach us nothing about imperialism.

  • Jon Davison

    I wonder if “Revolutionary Blogger” noted the link to British torture of Iraqi prisoners from his own link….?

  • Verity

    Mrs du Toit – You are right to say these people know their way round petty bureaucracy and petty public service tyrants.

    That, however, is not the point. We want the EU abolished. We do not want to become skilled in evading or fooling our “masters”. We don’t want “masters”.

    Also, it is now too unwieldy to control; there’s too much disparity of traditions, language, aspirations, education (I’m assuming the newcomers have better education systems than Britain, France, etc) and economies. With any luck, it’ll end all in tears by bedtime.

    Revolutionary Blogger – Antoine has already tweaked you for the flying apostrophe. If you want people to understand what you have taken the trouble to write, you must master punctuation. The Chinese invented the puntuation signs 3,000 years ago. People who read a normal amount find they have absorbed them without effort.

    Next, could you give us an example of “American imperialism”, please? Please tell us of one country or territory the United States has ever annexed in the 250 years of its history. Just one example of “imperialism” will do. The du Toits or other Americans will know the details, but I seem to recall that it took Alaska and Hawaii around 20 years of knocking on the door and begging to get admitted as states. Americans seemed to have some inbuilt idea that God intended America to be the lower 48. They uniformly hate the idea of having overseas possessions, which is why they haven’t got any.

    Revolution Blogger, here is something you don’t want to read: you are not revolutionary. You are vapid, predictable, inane, ill-informed and a deeply predictable lefty.

    And do work on the punctuation, there’s a good chap.

  • Michael Farris

    As a resident (non-citizen) of Poland, I’m surprised that the Libertarians here aren’t happier that the EU is gaining 8 (eight) countries with direct experience in getting rid of governments the people don’t want.

    That’s the general attitude among those I know. If the EU doesn’t work out, Poland will try something else.

    Most Poles, despite some lip service to the contrary, are born practical libertarians without the theoretical whining. Good, bad or indifferent they mostly ignore the government as much as possible (standard voting procedure is to vote against whoever’s in office at the time) and generally only follow those rules and laws that seem sensible to them. Many unpopular regulations are simply abandoned due to lack of enthusiasm by all concerned.

    (AFAIK this is much less true in the Czech republic and Hungary).

  • Euan Gray

    Verity – I think you might want to look at the history of Hawaii again. And, where do you think most of the south-west US came from if not from conquest? Texas is a special case, but technically both Texas and Hawaii became part of the Union through being annexed thereto with statehood following later, which I suppose answers your question.

    Also, America controls: Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Marianas and American Samoa. It effectively controls Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau. And, in earlier times, what of the Philippines?

    Having said that, it is true that America was never a proper colonial power. I think this is unfortunate because had they been then they might have some better understanding of how to deal with occupied nations such as Iraq, instead of blithely assuming all the whole world wants is liberty, democracy and apple pie – which, frankly and disappointingly, it doesn’t.


  • Dave

    From the rather selfish perspective of my business its a really good thing, as David pointed out “programming computers” is something a lot of the people from the new members excel at. Of course, universal adoption of the Euro would help us too…

    I suspect it will improve things for the Euroskeptics. It will make life harder for the German/French axis to push things through and while I’m generally pro-European, I don’t want a “French” style administration thank you.

  • Verity

    Michael Farris – It took them 40 years to get rid of the USSR. This, we don’t want to emulate.

    Euan – Puerto Rico, etc are there of their own free will. It’s either Puerto Rico or Costa Rica which is trying to get statehood. The United States is not and has never been a colonial power and you are picking nits.

    Yes, the whole of the United States was won by conquest – not just the Southwest. They didn’t come with the notion of conquering people. They came to start a new country and a new life. They weren’t seeking to increase their influence on the world. Once they’d tamed America, they never looked any further.

    If the lefty media, Colin Powell and State would quit yapping and just let Rusmfeld get on with it, the troops would all have been home by now. His plans were far more intelligent and sophisticated than State’s. It is Colin Powell who has made such a dog’s breakfast out of Iraq.

  • Euan Gray

    Puerto Rico and the PI became American colonies after the Spanish-American war, having previously been Spanish colonies. The PI were subsequently granted independence, but Puerto Rico was not. Although the inhabitants of Puerto Rico don’t seem to have any desire for independence (why should they, America pays for the place and its defence), they equally don’t seem to want to become a state and have rejected the idea in (I think) three recent referenda.

    Anyway, the point is that it’s not really true to say that American expansion was all consensual and confined to the continent. I did say that the US was never a real colonial power, so I agree with you on that. But the US has acquired territory through variously purchase, war, expansion into vacant territory and annexation in support of strategic interests – pretty much like any other country. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but let’s not delude ourselves that it was always and only done through mutual consent.


  • People complain about the occupation of Iraq when America has basically two basic goals:
    1) Creating a non-hostile government as fast as possible, so our troops can pull out.
    2) Not killing many civilians.

    #2 is really the amazing thing here. We could have leveled Faluja long ago, but didn’t. People need to pay attention to this.

    Also, in terms of the recent Arab & lefty fury over the torture of a few more-likely-than-not dangerous people:
    1) Where was this fury when Saddam and the like were torturing Iraqi citizens for far less?
    2) Where is the fury now over violent suppression of student democratic movements in Iran?
    3) Where is the fury by lefty women’s groups over the backwards, often violent treatment of women in the Arab world?
    4) Where is the fury over blatantly corrupt policies of Arafat’s government, which is preventing peace as much anything Israel is doing?

    As for comments of imperialism, I think they are quite misplaced given our huge interest in getting out ASAP. And, if you think that the government we help establish will be worse than Saddam’s regime, you clearly have a warped sense of priorities.

    Also, in case you have been living in a cave for a few months, your ideas are not revolutionary. In fact, they have been shared by a number of institutions in the west. Now we are finding that they took the phrase “no war for oil” quite literally, and have been getting a pretty sweet deal on cheap oil in order to combat the US (and the world’s) interest in Iraq.
    Try reading here (Link)for details.

    And finally back on topic, the basic debate with the EU is one of cost benefit, right?
    1) Opening opportunities for much larger and more lucrative markets is a clear plus.
    2) Relinquishing control of your country’s government is not good.
    3) Potentially breaking the budgeting rules (like France) to avoid #2 is another plus.

    All in all, I think the trade argument trumps the rest, and entering the EU is a good decision for these countries, whether or not the EU is all good.

    For similar commentary, check out my blog, where you’ll find mostly proper use of apostrophes:

  • Verity

    Ivan Kirigin – 4) Where is the fury over blatantly corrupt policies of Arafat’s government, which is preventing peace as much anything Israel is doing?

    5) Where is the fury over the approx 12m euros a month paid by the EU (grace of his most benevolent highness Chris Patten) to the Palestinian Authority?

  • Dave

    If the lefty media, Colin Powell and State would quit yapping and just let Rusmfeld get on with it,

    With what precisely?

    the troops would all have been home by now.

    Like in 1914 perhaps?

    His plans were far more intelligent and sophisticated than State’s.

    Specifically *which* plans?

    Comeon Verity, call me a troll all you like but you throw these ridiculous data points out and then expect people to swallow them?

  • Rick


    You reject
    “blithely assuming all the whole world wants is liberty, democracy and apple pie – which, frankly and disappointingly, it doesn’t.”

    When you say that people do not “want” democracy, how do you know, exactly? Do you take a vote? Are you suggesting that people “vote” for dictatorship? Gee, wouldn’t that make it a democracy?

    It is impossible for “people” not to “want” democracy, because democracy simply means that people get the government that they want.

    Rather, people reject the compromise that is inherent in democracy. Which is to say, they want to get what they want, but do not want anyone else to have the right to choose something else.

    In effect, each person “rejecting” democracy is demanding their own, personal dictatorial powers.

    The problem with every person in a society demanding dictatorial powers is that each person’s demands violate the demands of everyone else. Hence, such demands are impossible to grant.

    So, a society of aspiring dictators is still left with no rational choice except democracy.

  • Euan Gray


    Some cultures have no experience of democracy. Some have no experience of liberty. Some have so many irreconcilable forces tearing them apart they only function reasonably well under foreign government or home-grown dictatorship.

    I saw on the TV news last year from Iraq a report of the following exchange (not exactly word for word, but you get the picture):

    Iraqi water workers: What do you want us to do with this water plant?

    American officers: It’s yours now, you’re free, just get on with it.

    Iraqis: You don’t understand. Just tell us what you want us to do and we’ll do it. That’s how things work here.

    Americans: Oh.

    Just because something worked for some 18th century colonists (who in any case came from relatively developed nations with more or less advanced political and social features), does not mean it will automatically work for everyone, everywhere at any time.

    Anyway, the logic of your argument is that any form of government other than democracy is impossible. Since this doesn’t appear to be the case in the real world…


  • EG,

    Have you looked at comments from the west about the prospect of bringing democracy to Japan after WWII?

    They sound remarkably similar.

    Granted, these are very different societies, but it is basic human nature to desire choice in matters at all levels. This is the main reason I don’t see our actions as imperialistic. You can’t force people into democracy, you can only remove oppression.

    As soon as there is a semi-viable authority (even if appointed – not elected) we can leave it up to them. Considering the stories I’ve heard about GIs giving tutorials on how to run town-hall meetings, I think the chance that choice will be welcomed is strong.

    Suffice it to say that unless the insurgents are not crushed, there is a little choice but democracy. It might be closer to socialist India 30 years back than today’s Turkey, but it will do.

  • Ivan,
    Just for one wonderfully surreal moment I imagined you were discussing the EU.

  • Euan Gray


    You may or may not be aware that Japan had a reasonable degree of democracy before the militarism of the 1930s, so installing it afterwards was not so hard. Iraq is rather different.

    it is basic human nature to desire choice in matters at all levels

    I disagree. Most people want tomorrow to be pretty much like today, ideally just a little better. Stability is more important, people are inherently conservative. As long as they aren’t actually being being crapped on, they tend not to care too much. This is why firebrand political ideology never catches on with the masses.

    I don’t see our actions as imperialistic

    Neither do I. Frankly I’d be happier if they were.

    we can leave it up to them

    If you want it all screwed up, yes you can. Iraq is not a natural country, it was created as a League of Nations mandate from three distinct Ottoman provinces and most of its current problems stem from there. However good GIs are at town-hall-teaching, you have to remember the impulses tearing the Kurdish, Shia and Sunni people (all of whom pretty much hate each other) from each other, and it would also be a good idea to note the three regional powers around Iraq – one Sunni, one Shia, one with Kurdish problems of its own. Gee, now what do y’all think might could happen after the boys go home…

    If you want to make Iraq work then either (a) annex it as a protectorate or mandate, or (b) install a local hard man to run it, or (c) partition it between the regional powers. And in the process, please, learn that democracy is not an end in itself but a means to an end – sound government.


  • Apologies to everyone who was so deeply offended by my punctuation error in an earlier posting. I was not aware how deeply troubling that was to some people. Apologies for any trauma that caused to any of the readers.

    I am not going to argue further, I am a firm believer that a picture is worth a thousand words. So here is further evidence of the generosity of the American Empire.

    Courtesy of your friendly liberator

    I thought believers in libertarian values firmly believed against the tyranny of any government. How can you claim your self to be a libertarian and be a firm supporter of the American government. I can understand support for the American people, but the American government…doesn’t sound right

  • David Mercer

    Here’s how Powell mucked up Rumsfeld’s plans for the occupation; contrary to Democratic Party talking points, they actually existed in quite some detail, and did indeed take into account many lessons of, for example, the British experience of Empire: Rumsfeld’s War, Powell’s Occupation.

  • The Snark Who Was Really a Boojum

    The post by Michael Farris brings up an interesting question: Any guesses as to how the EU would react were a nation or 2 attempt to secede? o_O

  • Euan Gray

    Any guesses as to how the EU would react were a nation or 2 attempt to secede?

    What could they do?

    Appeal to the government(s) in question? Ask them to hold a referendum, repeatedly if necessary until they got the “right” answer? Apply sanctions (illegal)? Use force (no legal basis, not exactly popular)?

    More likely, if it was a small nation they’d give up if neogtiation failed and carry on pretty much as before. If a big (i.e. wealthy) nation, perhaps they’d really try to reform? More likely than secession is the scenario of a country (realistically, UK) negotiating a looser tie to the Union and the repatriation of several powers.

    Of course, it’s quite possible that the recent expansion amounts to overstretch, in which case the EU will have no option but to reform, and in the process return to a looser trading bloc rather than a nascent federated state. I think this is the most likely option.


  • Verity

    Pascal Lamy, the EU Commissioner for Trade – whatever the hell he does all day, who knows? – has come up with a really scary threat if Britain says it wants to leave the EU. Wait for it (children – cover your eyes!) …

    We could become like Switzerland!

    Oh, no! Not that!

    Oh, please, no! Not rich and independent! Not left out of EU laws and regulations and directives and boondoggles! Not responsible for pensions and expenses of 100,000 or so pointless bureacrats! Not governed by cantons where we know the policians and are given our say in frequent referenda!

    What kind of hell is this?

  • Revolutionary Blogger,

    Even the high end (bogus) estimates of 10K civilians killed or maimed, pail in comparison to the government that was in place, which murdered multiple hundreds of thousands of people.

    So just to be fair & balanced, check out the actions of the despot you implicitly supported(Link).

    Do you see a difference from targeted killings and accidental collateral damage?

    Either way, pictures of murder without context are meaningless. This is what I hate about the way death is reported in the news. The focus is entirely on the existence of the death, and the people that are affected by it. It is never in context; what that person was doing when they died and why is almost never fully explored..

    For instance, were anti-aircraft turrets placed on top of a school or hospital to generate the photos you linked to? Probably.

    To draw equivalence between us and them is perhaps the most short-sighting thinking I’ve ever seen in modern political debate.

  • Johnathan

    Good piece David, as always. I dunno about your general thesis, though. Most of the nations concerned threw off communism, so I cannot see them kowtowing to a bunch of earnest Guardianistas.

    My Maltese girlfriend would let these types know where to go in no uncertain manner. They’d be dumped straight into Valetta harbour.

    Verity — come on, I agree with you most of the time but the USA has had imperial possessions, but it is true to say that the US has fairly quickly either given these places free constitutions or left.

    Ever heard of the Monroe Doctrine?

  • Dave

    David, nice piece – a little revisionist and ignoring some of the other issues which emerged as the land invasion occured.

    The key point raised here, IMO, is “10,000 Shia and Sunni freedom fighters led by Shia exile leader Ahmed Chalabi and his cohorts in the INC, the multi-ethnic anti-Saddam coalition he created. “

    The issue here, as I understand the State Department was well aware of, Chalabi and the INC had abolustely no credibility on the ground or in Iraq, and, for that matter still don’t.

    I’m still not sure what 10,000 would have been able to do to deal with the looting and general collapse in the initial law and order state. , especially as they were freedom fighters and not police.

    What was needed was a trained and ready security force to take over policing once the battle was one, that was the first of many critical mistakes.

  • Jeff LeFlore


    Dear Mom,

    Things are not as bad as I thought they would be here in Pravda! I have actually come to the point iof being “glad” that the UNSOCIETALIMPROVMENTREEDUCATIONGROUP prosecuted me for my comments on the old samizdata site. It was hard to face at first, but I realize now the harm I was doing with my free thinking doctrine.

    We practiced puting on clean underwear today, and tomorrow, If I remember without reminder to brush my teeth, I will began the clothing coordination classes. It’s really quite a step. I can’t believe the way I dressed in the past. I haven’t any pictures but I do remember some of the old photos posted on the net back before the internationalist took control and brought order to the old chaotic system. Really, if there was a God I would certainly thank him for those changes, as much as they hurt.

    Well, it’s almost 8:05 am, time for my daily bowel movement. Must have these at the right time you know.

    your politically correct son, David