Jeremy Warner asks this good question in today’s Telegraph.
He can’t find a good answer because, as he correctly observes, all EU economies except Germany’s and ours are stagnating, and those of such key EU members as Italy and the Netherlands are actually shrinking.
The assumption is that the EU is pointless because it has reneged on its founding promise of prosperity for all. That, according to Mr Warner, explains the apathy of European voters, who are likely to register a record low turnout on Thursday.
However, both the assumption and the explanation are wrong, even though the prediction of a pathetic turnout is no doubt correct.
Mr Warner is confusing the reality of the EU with its slogans, a common mistake of many political commentators. In the past such errors of judgment had catastrophic results, not least in the West’s response to the two greatest evils in history: Bolshevism and Nazism, especially the former.
Nazi slogans by their nature lacked universal appeal, since most people, much as some of them admired Nazi Germany, found it hard to equate her good with their own. To give Messrs Hitler and Goebbels their due, they didn’t try very hard to pretend otherwise.
The Bolsheviks, on the other hand, spoke the language of universal post-Enlightenment shibboleths: equality, brotherhood, looking after the common man, power to the people, atheism, gradual fading out of the state.
Such promises were so appealing to those outlanders Lenin appropriately called ‘useful idiots’, that they were ready to focus on the slogans while ignoring the diabolic reality: six million starved to death, fifteen million killed, educated classes wiped out, 40,000 clerics murdered, 60,000 churches destroyed, the country thoroughly robbed and enslaved – all in the first six years, on Lenin’s watch, and before Stalin got going for real.
The EU has learned the lesson: you can do whatever you want provided you utter the bien pensant phrases today’s useful idiots yearn to hear. This learning ability came naturally, considering that many EU functionaries come from a hard-left background with, as in the case of Barroso, a bit of Maoist terrorism thrown in.
Hence the mendacious slogans highlighting the economic benefits of a single European state and its putative contribution to European peace, the noble ends to which the EU is supposed to be the means.
None of this has anything to do with reality. The EU was designed in pursuit of not economic but political goals. Its designers, all those Monnets, Schumans, Spaaks and Gasperis, specifically wanted to create a single European state, regardless of its economic benefits or absence thereof.
The original Eurocrats ought to be complimented for acting according to the inner logic of post-Enlightenment politics, otherwise known as universal suffrage.
Its inevitable result is a growing centralisation of power, just as localism was the inherent political practice of Christendom. If medieval kings held more sway over the loftiest courtiers than over the lowliest peasants, governments elected by unqualified and unchecked democracy naturally gravitate towards wider, ideally total, power.
They have to transfer to themselves the power that in the past was held by local, familial bodies, such as the parish, guild, kin, village commune, township – and of course the family itself.
This has an equally devastating effect on the morale of the voters and the morals of the politicians. The former sense each individual vote is meaningless, the latter know it is.
What matters is vast, impersonal blocs of atomised votes, and today’s politicians specialise in putting them together – to the detriment of statesmanship. (An American reader of mine recently mentioned a popular bumper sticker: “If our vote really counted, they wouldn’t let us do it.”)
Hence the calamitously low grade of the human material one finds in today’s politicians, and hence also their desire to remove themselves as far as possible from their constituencies. Short on intellect but long on cunning, these chaps realise that the closer they stay to the people, the sooner they’ll be found out.
However, this unspoken but keenly felt imperative has geographical limitations built in: once political power is more or less concentrated within a small elite in the nation’s capital, there seems to be no farther to go.
It’s to overcome such limitations that supranational organisations, all those UNs and EUs, were created. If within a nation power can only go so far, then it has to be removed from the nation.
Thus we have a proliferation of variously useless international bodies, all reflecting the in-built logic of the post-Enlightenment state: a single world government. Of these the EU is the most pernicious because it’s the most successful.
Its success, however, isn’t measured by economic indicators, Jeremy Warner is right about that. Nor should it be, for the definition of a successful political body has to be based on a comparison between its aims and its results.
The EU is successful in brainwashing Europeans to accept its PR effluvia and ignore its actual performance. The first part is crucial; the second irrelevant.
This is demonstrated by the EU’s stubborn clinging to the euro. Any moderately bright child knows it’s impossible for such diverse economies as, say, those of France, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Ireland to perform well with the yoke of a single currency around their necks.
There are enough people in the EU hierarchy who can match the intellect of a moderately bright child, which means they know all that. They also know that a single currency can only work in a single state. So if you want the euro to work, you must have a single European state. QED.
The euro, indeed the EU, isn’t an economic but political tool. It’s a chain designed to bind European nations into a single state ruled by an unaccountable supranational elite.
That’s why it’s pointless to complain, as Mr Warner does, that the euro undermines the strength of European economies. It’s like complaining that lupine carnivorism undermines the strength of ovine herds.