Wednesday, April 13, 2005

My ignorance and degenerate motivations

Soon I hope to have in my posession a short(ish) manuscript which purports to show "how the inherent rights of the people in the U.K. (which are already constitutionally, legally established) will be annihilated by the proposed d'Estaing constitution for Europe" and, apparently, "After perusing this book, readers are enabled to perceive the ignorance or degenerate motivations of every person who speaks well of the d'Estaing 'constitution'."

So, ignoring the fact that - as I have run over innumerable times before but as so many anti-EU voices still refuse to accept - there are no such things as inherent rights in the UK (also comments section here), I am fascinated to find out how a "thesis" which starts from a position of ignorance (not to mention hyperbole, judging by some of the other claims) will reveal my own. Then again, I suppose my "Europhilia" means I have degenerate motivations, so I doubt you should take me too seriously...

Vaguely related, a couple of weeks ago one of the semi-regular anti-EU commentors on here emailed to ask me why I turned pro. Here's my reply (which was fairly rushed):

Here's the blog's first ever post - it may give you an idea, but probably won't answer all the questions about why I turned pro-EU (and I can only answer for myself - I have no idea why any national politician would want to see closer integration as it can surely only diminish their own power).

The short(ish) answer is that, having got a pretty good grasp of both
British and European history, I am fully aware of how times change -
and of how incredibly closely Britain's fate has been tied to that of the rest of Europe for most of its existence.

Attitudes held 500 years ago are (mostly) no longer valid today; attitudes held today will most likely no longer be valid in 500 years. Add to that the fact that Britain has been in decline for the last century, and I reckon that although we may be able to hack it on our own for the time being, maybe even for another century or two, long term (VERY long term) we'll be better off having a bit of backup.

In other words, I don't want to see Britain jump into a European superstate in the immediate future. If I genuinely thought Britain was capable of coping on her own, I'd say never.

I just reckon that the whole concept of the nation state is heading for a shakeup. The world is globalising, and it makes sense to broaden our horizons - even if that does mean, long term, that Britain itself ends up just part of a greater whole.

After all, Britain itself is made up of innumerable minor kingdoms, from Kent, Wessex and Mercia to the various Welsh principalities and Scotland. In two thousand years' time, I doubt if the then inhabitants of this island will have any real concept of "Britishness", just as I have no concept of being a subject of the kingdom of Sussex, despite having grown up within the borders of that ancient realm. Am I bothered by this? No.

As I say, I'm talking VERY long term best interests - for the people, not the nation - and for the people who will be living when our decisions take effect, not the short-term interests of those of us alive now. The current EU is flawed, and due for a major shake-up – on that we agree. The idea behind it, however, is a sound one - and I have faith (for that is all you can have) that eventually the EU itself will more closely come to resemble something on which we can all agree, and evolve naturally through the years in the best interests of all the people of Europe.

I couldn't care less, long term, about the fate of any of the nation states - they were all formed over time via a combination of mutual agreement and conflict, their borders and institutions are largely arbitrary, and our status as citizens of one or another is purely an accident of birth. In this more civilised age, I'm hoping Europe can unite without the conflict, and that the people of Europe can choose for themselves to live peacefully together. VERY, VERY long term, I'd like to see the entire planet united as one, in some kind of wishy-washy liberal utopia of the likes on display in that Star Trek nonsense. In my lifetime, I'll settle for a gradual decline in unthinking nationalism and growth in close international co-operation.

So, even shorter, I guess I'm some kind of idealist.

14 Comments:

Blogger chris said...

Finally a reason for the EU that is actually sensible. The only problem with it could be you are assuming that the EU is going to exist over the very very long term (in some reformed state), and that this will provide a more stable platform for living than the former nation states.

The CIA gives the EU 15 years until it breaks up, which does give this assumption some credibility. The stable nature of assembled states such as the USA and Germany is also an indicator that this very long term stability is possible. But when looking at other rapidly assembled states made of component states with different histories, languages, and ethnic identities (more like the current EU) the picture is less rosy such as Indonesia, the USSR, Lebenon, and Congo.

4/13/2005 04:23:00 pm  
Blogger Eddie said...

Following on from your comment, Chris, I am beginning to get a little worried myself about the future of the EU. I strongly approve of all the sentiment in the original post: especially w.r.t. the eventual demise of the wholly arbitrary concept of the nation-state... but I think this Constitution is going to be a major stumbling block.

It's now looking more likely the French are going to reject it. There is opposition in East Europe, who want all the benefits of economic union without the necessary political union. Meanwhile apathy is spreading through the founder members of the EU project who are forgetting just what enormous benefits it brings to us.

But some form of Constitution is needed if we are all going to agree a direction for the bloc. It's not going to be this one though. And then what happens? It could take another 10 years before another is drafted.

4/13/2005 05:10:00 pm  
Anonymous Graham Smith said...

So why do we not negotiate to become the 51st state of the USA? Do we not have more in common with the americans, politically at least?

4/13/2005 05:51:00 pm  
Blogger aEuropean said...

With all due respect Graham, in what ways are we politically closer to the US? Private healthcare insurance? Christian religious beliefs influencing political decisions? Disregard for the poor and worship of the fat cats? I could go on...

4/13/2005 07:44:00 pm  
Anonymous robin said...

Is it just europeans you want to be associated with?Whats wrong with other people in the world?
Sometimes,put in the mouths of LePen,the BNP or the Great Dictator himself,such words would be considered obscene.

4/13/2005 09:19:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

robin - was "I'd like to see the entire world united as one" not quite clear enough for you?

It helps if you read things properly...

4/13/2005 09:26:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Chris - see EU-Serf for the likelihood of the CIA being right about that...

Eddie - whatever the final makeup the the EU, the only thing that is certain is that it won't be in its current form. One other certainty is that for it to progress France has to accept a loss of influence. If the French vote no and the entire thing has to be re-thought, the influence of the new member states could be enough to swing it back towards a more British interpretation of what the EU should be. A French no vote could, actually, be the best possible outcome for all concerned...

Graham - although many Eurosceptics have used that argument, if you take a look at how little influence even California and Texas have on overall US policy, you'd see it's even less in Britain's interest to become part of the US than it would be to enter an EU superstate.

4/13/2005 09:38:00 pm  
Blogger Serf said...

....who want all the benefits of economic union without the necessary political union.....

The reason that I am a Eurosceptic is that I believe the above sentence to be false. Economic Union is in itself a silly idea, we need Free Trade. In order to trade freely, we do not need political union.

Britain has a far bigger role to play in the world as an independent state. As one of 25 or even one of 51, our voice would never be heard.

4/14/2005 06:29:00 am  
Anonymous Graham Smith said...

EU-Serf, I agree, be it 25 or 51 our influence would be diminished. Either you want federalism or you don't want it. It's not like a deli counter where you pick and choose which bits you like.

aEuropean-if you look I actually asked a question, it wasn't a statement. I believe we are closer to the USA in terms of our military cooperation, commitment to a market economy (notwithstanding the excesses of our nanny state), commitment to genuine, transparent democracy (look at how the EU is currently run) and most importantly we share a similar worldview to the USA. However I would happily admit my analysis may be incorrect, which is why i phrased it as a question.

4/14/2005 12:53:00 pm  
Blogger aEuropean said...

You are quite right Graham, you asked a question, but it was a loaded question with an underlying assumption. Perhaps I jumped on it a little to too hard and for that I apologise but still...

transparent democracy and the US? The EU has a democratic deficit only if you consider it a state. The point I was trying to make is that we are closer to our European neighbours (culturally, historically, politically) than the US. On the point of transparent democracy, the global standard of government transparency can be found in North Europe - Sweden. Further arguments in defence of this position can be found in Will Hutton's, The World we're In.

4/14/2005 04:42:00 pm  
Blogger aEuropean said...

Final note: Most Americans in Europe talk about a eurocentric perspective on the world. From my experience (this is a recommended experiment for others) when you put a group of Americans and other Europeans together, on most divisive issues the Europeans (including the Brits) will line up together in agreement against the Americans.

4/14/2005 04:48:00 pm  
Anonymous robin said...

Nosemonkey,
so what you desire is one worl government?

4/14/2005 07:34:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

robin - in a few hundred years, yes. Let's face it, it'd be great. Free Trade, no war. What's not to like? It's highly unlikely to ever happen, but then again, I did call it a Utopia.

4/14/2005 07:53:00 pm  
Anonymous Dave said...

I think its about time Great Britain looked at the facts or fact.

We mean nothing anymore, we have no empire or power ...

We have two choices, 1. to fully join Europe, the Euro and be governed by Brussells. And join countries that dont speak English. or to 2. Join the USA and become the 51st state.

The second option is the one I choose.

1/07/2006 11:32:00 pm  

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