Thursday, February 17, 2005

A simply astounding leap of non-logic

The Bruge Group is often responsible for spouting abject pap and inanities about the EU. This particular piece of nonsense, however, is based on so much non-logic that it is almost unbelievable.

Step One: Make a wildly over-the-top analogy in the very first sentence of a long and supposedly analytical piece on the constitution, and act as if that analogy is so accurate that is in on the level of indisputable truth.

To wit: "What is the meaning of the "constitution" of something resembling a new Soviet Union in Europe?"

By the simple addition of the word "Soviet" (which actually means, lest we forget, one of the legislative assemblies of the former USSR, and is not anything but superficially comparable to the various local, regional and national assemblies of any of the EU states), a hint of something sinister and anti-capitalist enters the analysis from the get-go.

Step Two: Ignore any concept of political philosophy or the history of ideas, ignore any concept of logic, and forget all you were ever told about that old nonsense about how the progression "All dogs are brown, Alfred is brown, therefore Alfred is a dog" makes no logical sense.

To wit: Now that we have "established" that the EU is effectively Soviet, that means it must be Marxist (which is obviously bad and with no redeeming features).

So now we claim that "The philosophical root of Marxism is found in Hegel," which - in itself - is a moderately fair over-simplification of an incredibly complex philosophy of political economy.

Next, we claim "So is the philosophical root of racism [found in Hegel], and so too is the root of totalitarian nationalism," thus heavily implying that "because we claim x and y have the same root, z, this means that a - which we claim also to have the same root as x and y - will necessarily follow the same paths as x and y. Even though x and y did not follow the same paths, and a neither has the same root nor is actually related to either x, y or z."

Step three: Introduce an "if" factor which has no basis in current reality, and combine this with your implication based on a flawed over-simplification, from step two, to predict a worrying course of events.

To wit: "If the EU/NSU [I think they mean "New Soviet Union"] bans the nation-state, it risks leading either to the anarchy, the gangsterdom, of class, race, tribal, linguistic, or religious self-interest or to the authoritarian imposition of empire."

Because after all, the EU is "Soviet", and because "Soviet" means "Marxist" and because Marxism was rooted in Hegelian philosophy, which was also - we claim (based on very little actual fact) - the root cause of racism and totalitarianism, therefore the EU must inevitably lead to racism and totalitarianism.


Of course, the only relationship any of this incredible and turgid rubbish has to either Hegel or Marx is that it, like both of those political philosophers, swallows whole a teleological, linear approach to history which presupposes that there is some kind of overarching, unchangeable destiny controlling all events. It is on a par with a medieval peasant assuming the crops failed because God was angry, rather than because he forgot to water the bloody things.

I hereby declare The Bruge Group to be populated either by ill-educated morons or by devious bastards deliberately trying to distort the debate over the constitution with calculated and flagrant misrepresentations of the facts. If pushed, I'd probably opt for the former.


Blogger Anoneumouse said...

Toby, because god was angry, he made me forget to water the crop, ergo the crop failed. We plough the fields and scatter (american adult vernacular)

2/17/2005 06:40:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2/17/2005 07:25:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I noticed they have something called the Bruges Group Online Film. I was quite impressed when I downloaded it, thinking they were a sophisticated outfit with their own 'guerilla' film campaigns. But I realised after a while that it was the BBC who created it for the politics show. honestly.

2/17/2005 07:27:00 pm  
Blogger sean said...

OK, you dreary little half-wit, here is one way the Constitution is Soviet.

The Article concerning the choosing of EU Commssioners says that, in future, the Commissioner 'shall be appointed on the grounds of his.. European commitment'. The Commission spokesman has confirmed that this brand new clause means that a eurosceptic, of whatever colour, could NOT be appointed.

Now, when I pointed out to the Commission that this was discriminatory and undemocratic, as it prevented eurosceptics from participating in their own executive, or elite civil service (the Commission) they said 'well would you expect the Labour Party to have employees who didn't agree with Labour Party policy?'

QED. The Commission is intended to be an ideologically correct government (or elite civil service), where dissent (on European integration) will be ipso facto unthinkable. In other words, everyone will be signed up to the party line beforehand. Sounds spookily like a Politburo to me. Funnily enough, you couldn't vote for members of the Politburo either.

You people are either blind, or mendacious, or criminally stupid.

2/17/2005 09:46:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Anoneumouse - wrong blogger - Toby's on Straight Banana, but ta anyway. You can "prove" anything with that faith malarkey.

Alun - it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest.

Sean - stop being such a childish twat. If you want to be taken seriously, don't start your point with an insult, especially if it's the first time you're posting on a blog. You may well have a reasoned argument, but to be honest I didn't get past the first sentence. Now piss off or grow up, there's a good fellow.

2/18/2005 12:28:00 am  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

OK, it's the morning - I've decided to give this Sean bloke (Winner of the "Bad Sex Prize 2000" by the looks of things) the benefit of the doubt.

He has a logical argument after all. However, by the same logic, the British and US cabinets are both Soviet as well.

After all, with both they have to swear an oath of loyalty to the country they are serving and neither the British nor US cabinets are elected to their positions, but are appointed by one man.

And, please note, the reason Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and that other Sinn Fein MP no one ever remembers are not able to sit in the House of Commons - despite being democratically elected - is because they will not swear the oath. So the British parliament prevents those who don't support Britain from participating.

Maybe we should re-name ourselves the United Soviet Socialist Kingdom? USSK - it's got a certain ring to it...

2/18/2005 10:38:00 am  
Blogger Anoneumouse said...

The solemn oath of loyalty, sworn in the case of UK members of parliament, is to up hold the state in law. It is a requirement of all members of parliament, whatever their political beliefs or ideology, to swear that oath before they can take their seat in Parliament. Members of the Government do not swear a separate loyal oath, unless they become a Privy Councillor.

"I ………. swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me

EU Commissioners swear an oath to up hold the EU ideology.

"To perform my duties in complete independence, in the general interests of the communities; in carrying out my duties, neither to seek nor to take instruction from any government or any other body; to refrain from any action incompatible with my duties."

2/18/2005 12:40:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

I never suggested that cabinet ministers swear a separate oath. The parliamentary one is sufficient to prevent them from being able to do anything to undermine the concept of the UK, as Her Majesty, in that oath, is effectively a synonym for "the United Kingdom".

That oath too, in its way, is ideological - which is why (I seem to recall) there is now a variant of the oath for those Members of Parliament who wish to abolish the monarchy. There remains, however, some kind of obligation to uphold the state.

It's all a matter of perception. The EU commissioners' oath makes perfect sense - it's an off-shoot of the Two Swords theory which caused so many problems for the Holy Roman Empire: the idea that it is impossible faithfully to serve two different masters. Where once it was Church and State, for the commissioners it has become the EU and their own nations' interests. The oath is no more ideological than any other attempt to prevent conflicts of interest arising in any other area of public life.

2/18/2005 01:00:00 pm  
Blogger Anoneumouse said...

You write : ...."for the commissioners it has become the EU and their own nations' interests"

But the EU oath is quite clear, that a commissioner, cannot perform his duties in the interest of his own nation.

ergo, in November 2004 Pursuant to Article 213 (2) (ex157(2)) of the treaty establishing the European Community, Peter Benjamin Mandelson; Crown Steward and Bailiff of the manor of Northstead not being a person compelled to do so, took an engagement in the nature of an oath intending to bind the said accused to commit an offence namely treason. He freely gave a solemn Oath before the Court of Justice of the European Union "To perform my duties in complete independence, in the general interests of the communities; in carrying out my duties, neither to seek nor to take instruction from any government or any other body; to refrain from any action incompatible with my duties."

This being treason and misconduct in a public office in direct contradiction to the Oaths he swore as a Member of Parliament for Hartlepool and that, which he swore as a member of Her Majesties Privy Council.

Juramentum est indivisibile, et non est admittendum in parte verum et in parte falsam. (An oath is indivisible; it cannot be in part true and in part false).

2/18/2005 01:14:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Anoneumouse - erm... yes... that was precisely my point. You'll notice I mentioned the theory about how it's impossible to serve two masters? I think you somewhat mis-read...

If you want to get into specifics with Mandelson, yes I agree with you entirely. His Privy Council oath is entirely incompatible with his one as a commissioner. I mentioned this four months ago on this very blog. He should have been forced to choose - either Privy Council OR Commission - he cannot serve faithfully on both without a conflict of interest and breaking both oaths.

2/18/2005 01:40:00 pm  
Blogger sean said...

Your comparison between the EU Commission and the British Cabinet would be fascinating, brilliant, apt and insightful, if it weren't for the fact that I CAN VOTE THE BRITISH CABINET OUT OF POWER. DIRECTLY. They may be appointed by the PM, but they are all MPs, answerable directly to their electorates. Moreover, they are all members of a political party which PUBLISHES a MANIFESTO, upon which I am asked to make my JUDGEMENT, as a VOTER.

VOTER. VOTER. V - O - T - E - R.

Hello? Earth calling? Am I getting through? Have you not heard of this word? Maybe not. Maybe it's not used very much in pro European circles. Likewise 'democracy' and 'the people' and all those other troublesome terms...

My point remains. The unelected government of the EU will, under the new Constitution, be legally closed to people who don't agree with an integrationist ideology.

Finally, I would like to withdraw my 'dreary little halfwit' remark. On second thoughts I just feel sorry for you. Can't be easy defending the indefensible.

2/20/2005 12:48:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

No, Sean. No you can't vote out the cabinet. The only pepple who can directly affect the makeup of the cabinet are the Prime Minister and Her Majesty the Queen.

Yes, you can indirectly affect the makeup of the cabinet through not voting for the local representative of the political party currently in power, and were your local MP to be in the cabinet, you could not vote for them. But there is not a single voter in the land who has a direct say in the cabinet. That is simply fact.

I understand such rhetoricals are beyond a lot of people, but I would have thought that your father's fascination with the Soviet Union would have given you enough knowledge not to bandy around such silly comparisons.

2/20/2005 01:00:00 pm  
Blogger sean said...


Forgot to mensh - your comparison with the UK's parliamentary oath is not just sophist, its fatuous.

The UK oath merely requires MPs to honour the laws of the UK, embodied by the monarchy. The EU oath requires a statement of ideological commitment to a controversial and contestable political theory - European integration.

Scottish Nationalist MPs sit in the Commons, despite wanting to dissolve the UK. There are republicans in the Labour Cabinet. A Eurosceptic of any stripe will not be able to serve as a Commissioner. Thus preventing maybe 60% of the UK population from ever being Commissioners. In perpetuity.

This aside from the salient fact that I can't vote the bastards out of power.

Anyway, enough. Arguing with pro Europeans is like arguing with Fundamentalist Christians. You just 'believe', don't you? Whatever evidence to the contrary?

2/20/2005 01:01:00 pm  
Blogger sean said...

'I understand such rhetoricals are beyond a lot of people, but I would have thought that your father's fascination with the Soviet Union would have given you enough knowledge not to bandy around such silly comparisons'

Duh?!!? Research?! Go, girl!

Now that you know so much about me (good old Google!) perhaps you would be brave enough to reveal your own identity? Or do you operate under the same rules of 'transparency' as the EU?

2/20/2005 01:08:00 pm  
Blogger sean said...

Hah! Two can play this game Mr Tim Burton, Lord of the Rings, so-called J Clive Matthews!!

Interesting. I'm just reading a book myself about J RR Tolkein, 'Tolkein and the Great War'. Very intriguing. We'd probably have a lot to chat about if you weren't such a herniated mongoose when it comes to politics..

And now I really am done. I have another novel to write. I see your book is at sales position 67,456 on I'd scoff, but my last one is at position 234,867. So I'd better get cracking if I want to out-sell you...

2/20/2005 01:22:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

My actual identity is hardly a secret (hell, with three or four clicks of the mouse from this page it's possible to find out who I am). There are two reasons for the pseudonym, and two reasons alone. The first is that I sometimes blog from work, and don't want to make it too obvious that I'm doing other things, the second is to prevent the occasional troll getting vindictive. At a push, a third reason is that I am hardly anyone massively important. If my points are valid, they will stand up on their own merit, under my own name or not.

As for my political views, I think you've somewhat misinterpreted what I'm trying to achieve here. I am not a dogmatic supporter of the EU, and in fact fully agree with many Eurosceptics about some of the current system's flaws. My support for the EU is based largely on its future potential, not its current reality.

For me, this blog (and this post is a prime example) is purely about the thinking about the issues, and trying to approach them in different ways to those that are normally bandied about. I actually fully understand your argument about the lack of democratic accountability in the Commission, and to an extent agree. My point, however, was merely that other extant political systems are equally "undemocratic" at the top levels - if you look at them from a certain point of view.

I certainly don't claim to have all the answers, and I am not in the pay of Brussels or anyone else. This is not propaganda, merely one chap (occasionally helped out by some of his mates) trying to work out where he stands on a number of complex political issues. I just have a (surely understandable) tendency to get a tad irritated by people coming in and disagreeing in overly heated terms and making assumptions based on one post out of the several hundred I've written for this blog. Disagreeing is fine, but bit of civility never hurt anyone.

2/20/2005 05:25:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Oh, by the way, that Tolkien book you're reading is pretty good. If you haven't already I'd suggest looking at Humphrey Carpenter's two books on the guy as well, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography and The Inklings: C.S.Lewis, J.R.R.Tolkien, Charles Williams and Their Friends - both have impressive research and offer some interesting perspectives on the personal background to the writing processes involved in the creation of Middle-earth which you're unlikely to find elsewhere.

2/20/2005 05:31:00 pm  
Blogger sean said...

Dude, I'd probably give your remarks about civility a lot more credence if YOU hadn't written, in the post that kicked this all off:

'I hereby declare The Bruge Group to be populated either by ill-educated morons or by devious bastards.'

Er, how civil is that? It was these remarks that got my goat, and led me to term you a 'dreary little halfwit'. i.e. You started it.

But enough of this playground-type stuff. Or maybe not. I actually think there is room for this kind of knockabout in the EU debate - at least it gets people engaged in something otherwise quite dry (for people who aren't wonks like us). But if you dish it out, as you did in your post, then you must expect it back, no?

Anyway. As it happens I can agree with some of your thoughts. Beieve it or not, a part of me thinks the EU is quite a noble project: I'm not a do-or-die UKIPite. But there are three big problems with the EU, and its advocates.

1. It IS becoming a Federal superstate, near enough - if not a traditionally structured superpower. This is explicit in the Constitution, I think. And continental politicians are happy to admit this fact. However, UK politicians are not, for obvious reasons, so keen to tell the British public this obvious truth. That means there is a cognitive dissonance in their debate. Put it another way, they are obviously lying. Hey, why not just come out and sell it like it is? Persuade us of the virtues of a Federal Europe. Be honest about where the EU is going. The public isn't stupid, nor is it dogmatic. You might even win the debate.

2. There is not, yet, a European demos. Until there is - and it will take generations, I think, requiring a common media and a largely common language (English) - the EU will be perforce undemocratic.

3. Coz the EU is undemocratic - as well as opaque, labyrinthine and corrupt - the UK should not hand over any more power until it reforms itself. Voting for this absurd and depressing constitution will just reinforce the dire situation. The EU needs a wake-up call.

4. I've just worked out that the elves in the Lord of the Rings are the Celts. I'm Cornish. That makes me an elf! Cool!

2/20/2005 06:26:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Moderately fair - although I have to admit that I reckon slagging off organisations is fine. I (usually) try to avoid being nasty to individuals.

Anyway, enough of that - civilised dialogue has been restored, so never mind, eh?

As for your points about the EU (kept as short as humanly possible):

1) Sort of. And that's the problem - it is already federal, by strict definition. It is heading towards further integration. But most people hear "federal superpower" and think of the US kind of heavily centralised federal state in which the component parts have very little influence. I don't believe it'll end up on that model.

2) Agreed - pretty much.

3) Again, sort of agreed. If rejecting the constitution would simply be taken as a rejection of the constitution (and the current set-up of the EU) rather than of the very concept of the EU itself, and could thus provoke further discussion about the best way to reform the way the thing works, I'd vote no. This old post sort of sums it up.

4) Off the top of my head I can't remember which one it is, but one of the two elven languages Tolkien made up was based around Welsh - not too dissimilar to Cornish (although my knowledge of Kernewek only extends to ordering a pint and a pasty, that's about it). Rydhsys rag Kernow lemmyn and all that...

2/20/2005 07:57:00 pm  
Blogger sean said...

Hey. I went back to that old posting of yours, and.. yes.... that's a pretty fair summation of the facts. And an interesting angle. I have misjudged your position somewhat. Mea culpa, etc.

That said, we still have to examine why there is so much anger on the eurosceptic side, which leads in turn to so much anger and hysteria overall - so much heat in this debate, and so little light.

The fault, I believe, lies on the pro-European side. Your lot have - and those no getting around this - lied about Europe for twenty years or more. As you say, the EU is fully intended to be a Federal superstate, albeit not as centralised as some. So why the F can't pro-European UK politicians come out and say it? I can name barely a handful of mainstream pols - Hattersley, Red Ken - who are brave enough to argue this point. The others demur, dissemble, and lie.

I am a patriotic Brit. My country matters to me. But so does democracy. Therefore I am happy to listen to people who will honestly argue their point, whether its European Federalism or rights-for-ducks. But when I see people mendaciously playing with my identity, my country, my soul, people prepared to lie about the EU so as to bamboozle us all into the superstate, because they are too scared of the public's reaction to the truth, well then I do turn into a swivel-eyed loon.

A 'tidying-up exercise'? I mean, I ask you. Fucker.

Anyway the upshot is a lot of angry people like me. We then get feel free, if not obliged, to attack Europe from all angles, and with all our ammunition, up to and including out own lies and fibs. This then gets the pro Europeans all antsy, and they retreat into propaganda of their own, while accusing the press (with some justification) of stoking the debate with anti-European myths.

Crikey. It's not a pretty sight, for either side.

How we fix it I don't know. Actually I do. Your lot have got to come clean about Europe's intended destiny. Your lot have to stop lying, first, cause you started it.

And that's the end of my absurd ranting for one day.

Impressive command of dead Brythonic languages, by the way. Kernow Bys Vyken!

2/20/2005 09:29:00 pm  

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