It’s fitting that Oskar Lafontaine should have been one of the principal instigators of the single currency.
A German with a French surname, he’s a personal embodiment of European federalism, which, when all is said and done, is a Franco-German alliance with a few irrelevant extras. These include all those marginal countries, like Britain, there to act as bridesmaids at the Franco-German love-in Oskar carries in his own person.
He’s also a communist in all but name, which is a useful, if not necessary, qualification for a eurocrat. The whole project is designed as a more prosperous version of the Soviet Union, sort of a Third Reich before the genocide, and it takes an insider to know how to put all the nuts and bolts together.
For that reason Oskar ascended to the post of Germany’s finance minister at the time when the rouble… sorry, the euro was adopted as the currency to end all currencies, at least the European ones. Yet now the poor chap is having second thoughts.
Whatever make him change his mind? Surely it couldn’t be the demonstrable fact that the eurozone is on the verge of bankruptcy? Or that over half of young people in the Catholic part of it are out of work? Or that eurozone economies are no longer competitive – if one discounts the competitive ardour they display in begging for Germany’s largesse?
No, it can’t be any of those. As a true communist, Comrade Lafontaine must welcome such developments. They, as his spiritual father Lenin taught, create ‘a revolutionary situation’, wherein the uppers can’t, and the lowers won’t, live the old way.
Of course there’s always the possibility that he is reviewing his Marxist convictions, but it’s a minuscule one. Once a Leftie, always a Leftie – any shift isn’t so much a change of heart as a change of phraseology (with all due deference to Melanie Phillips who claims her heart did change – if so, she’s a rare exception).
I bet what scares Oskar is the distinct possibility that the revolution brewing in Europe may not be the one he and his mates will be able to control. In the same spirit, Stalin ordered German communists not to form a bloc with the Social Democrats – this in the knowledge that the only possible outcome would be Hitler coming to power.
The left edge of the putative EU monolith wants neither the anarchists to perpetrate a revolution in southern Europe nor Angela Merkel then to suppress it. The resulting order would either be completely disorderly if the anarchists win, or completely Merkelian if Angela carries the day. The comrades are uncomfortable with either scenario.
The most recent anti-Hollande manif in Paris was conducted not under the fleur de lys, the only possible symbol of a virtuous counterrevolution, but under the red banners of Leftie anarchism. Amazingly, some Catholics came along, to voice their opposition to the debauchment of marriage. Joining forces with the people who are institutionally and emotionally committed to murdering Christians and destroying churches seems odd to me, but European politics is nothing if not topsy-turvy these days.
But one can understand Lafontaine’s unease – should either faction emerge victorious, the likes of Oskar won’t get even a sniff of power. That’s why he seems ready to perform a post-natal abortion on his own brainchild, the euro.
Don’t be surprised if Angela doesn’t follow suit. She understands as well as Oskar that the euro isn’t so much an economic as a political construct. Her predecessors used tanks to pursue their political ends; Angela relies on the euro. The single currency is her Guderian’s panzers.
But even as Guderian’s tanks were eventually set alight by superior and more numerous tanks, so will the euro be blown apart by aggressive markets. One can only hope that this is as far as the analogy will go: one would hate to see millions die for the fallacy that Oskar no longer espouses but Angela still does.
Our own, admittedly more benign, answer to Lafontaine is Nigel Lawson, who is now calling for withdrawal from the EU. Said withdrawal should be effective immediately after the British vote for it (which they may not) in a referendum (which they may not get) promised by Dave should he be re-elected (which he most probably won’t be).
Better late than never, I suppose, but being a vindictive sort I find it hard to forget that, when he was Chancellor, Lawson put forth the disastrous policy of shadowing the deutschmark and eventually joining the ERM, the precursor of the euro. One tangible result of that debacle, apart from an immediate loss of billions, was sending the economy into a tailspin it still hasn’t reversed.
As a corollary, Margaret Thatcher was ousted and replaced by the pathetic John Major who succeeded in making the Tories unelectable for at least a generation (unless you believe that Dave was elected as a Tory, which I don’t).
Anyone even remotely familiar with economics knew all along that unifying European currencies, or for that matter states, would lead to a catastrophe. Where were all those Oskars and Nigels then? Doing what they always do – seeking power for themselves and their ilk.
Lafontaine and Lawson have different friends, but not different aspirations. Hence their belated recovery of sight. Nigel did beat Oskar to it by a couple of years, but then his political career has been dead for yonks. Political execution is like the normal kind: it focuses the mind.