There’s an opportunity in every crisis, and Manny Macron sensed that coronavirus presents an opportunity of a lifetime.
“I believe the EU is a political project,” he declared, thereby abandoning the legacy of the EU founders. Yes, they, the Monnets, de Gasperis, Schumans of this world, knew that their goal was political: the creation of a single European superstate.
But they largely kept that knowledge to themselves, wary of scaring off potential suckers. Instead they insisted that, for tactical purposes, every step towards further integration should be presented as a purely economic measure.
Isn’t it a good idea to pool our coal and steel production? Of course it is. Fine, now we’ve done that, shouldn’t we create a free trade zone? We all believe in free trade, but no? And so forth, until the time came to ditch subterfuge and relegate those perfidious founders to distant history.
The EU is indeed a political project and only that – always was, always is, always will be. Manny thus gets top marks for honesty from his foster mother Brigitte. But politicking is an expensive business. So who’ll pick up the tab?
That’s where the opportunity knocked, and Manny grabbed it with both hands: “We have no choice but to set up a fund that could issue common debt with a common guarantee.” And obviously that would mean a common finance minister at least or, better still, a common government with Manny at the helm.
Now imagine the same proposal being put to the denizens of a village. Some of them would own their houses outright, others would be up to their ears in mortgages and remortgages. Taking a wild guess, which group will support the idea of mutualising debt and which one would oppose it?
The answer is obvious. Just as obviously Germany, Holland and other northern EU members, net EU contributors all, are up in arms, while Italy, Spain and all other broke countries teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, back the idea wholeheartedly.
Manny was aghast at the selfishness of the sales boches. “Qu’est que c’est que ce bordel?” he screamed. “The whole damn EU thing was your idea, not just ours, and now you refuse to pay? What d’you want, kick the project into touch?!?”
This is a rather loose rendition of Manny’s actual tirade. But he did say words to that effect: “If we can’t do this today, I tell you the populists will win – today, tomorrow, the day after, in Italy, in Spain, perhaps in France and elsewhere.”
In case your EU is somewhat rusty, allow me to translate. In that language, ‘populists’ is a broad-spectrum term of abuse designating a) conservatives, b) patriots, c) those harbouring doubts about a European superstate, d) Marine Le Pen, e) those who dislike Manny and f) generally disagreeable individuals.
So yet again those northern overachievers will have to crack their chequebooks open, for understated generosity will spell “the collapse of the European idea”, as Manny put it.
This isn’t time for fiscal sanity, free enterprise and sound economics in general, he explained. “We are going to nationalise the wages and the financial accounts of almost all our businesses. That’s what we’re doing. All our economies, including the most liberal are doing that. It’s against all the dogmas, but that’s the way it is.”
Yet again a translation is called for. What Manny means is that all EU members should use the pandemic as a smokescreen behind which they can push through wholesale nationalisation.
Splendid idea, that, but I have to disagree on one minor point. That sort of thing isn’t against “all the dogmas”. Quite the opposite: it fully conforms to the dogmas laid down in Das Kapital and its spinoffs.
Thereby yet another cat jumps out of the bag whose strings were loosened by Manny. ‘The European idea’ is a socialist idea, and that’s all it can ever be. It’s a scaled-down version of a single world government, a notion cherished in every socialist heart.
And, divested of its bien pensant jargon, based on Christian ideals of brotherhood and solidarity bowdlerised and perverted, socialism is nothing but the tyranny of a giant central state. That’s the ‘idea’ for which Manny’s loins ache. His speech is nothing but an attempted power grab: he clearly sees himself as a potential present-day Charlemagne, minus all that ‘Holy’ business.
Now how do you describe the moral character of a chap who regards a deadly pandemic as a propitious moment to push through his pernicious political agenda?
I could provide a description or two, but I’m opposed to swearing in print.
P.S. My one-time friend Roy Kerridge, the last great eccentric among journalists and the last great journalist among eccentrics, died on 6 April. RIP.