Mother knows worst

Daniel Finkelstein of The Times is in the running for a coveted prize: the most emetic article of the year, and the other aspirants are falling off one by one.

His mother has just died, and he understandably feels grief. Not having had the pleasure of meeting the late Mrs Finkelstein, I can’t share her wayward son’s sorrow, but I do sympathise with it.

However, turning personal bereavement into a public message is no easy matter. Finkelstein only got as far as an acclamation of political vacuousness, pegged on the Lessons My Mum Taught Me.

One of said lessons must have been taught using a smokescreen of mawkishness to envelop an underhanded swipe at people whose feelings about the EU are cooler than Lord Finkelstein’s.

By his account, his mother always refused to make a big deal out of being a Bergen-Belsen survivor, which speaks highly of her character. She does sound like a remarkable woman, but, alas, that doesn’t necessarily translate into being a deep thinker.

According to her wayward son, Mrs Finkelstein preached political moderation above all. Not for her Barry Goldwater’s fiery 1964 oratory that “moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue”. Justice, schmustice, Mrs Finkelstein’s ship always stayed on an even keel:

“Mum was happiest,” writes Finkelstein, “when she supported the SDP, though she admired John Major”. And John Major self-admittedly admires Neville Chamberlain, thereby establishing the political continuum into which two generations of the Finkelsteins fit.

The SDP was a short-lived splinter group of the Labour Party back in the 80s, advocating, among other suicidal policies, unilateral nuclear disarmament. Its socialist manifesto stated that “The SDP exists to create and defend an open, classless and more equal society…”.

Translating from socialist into English, that means as much state control and as little individual liberty as achievable without resorting to the present-day equivalents of Bergen-Belsen. If that’s moderation, I’ll choose extremism any day.

And it takes a spectacular lack of discernment to admire John ‘Edwina’ Major, a man whose mediocre intellect is only matched by his vapid character and petty deviousness. Raised from political obscurity by Margaret Thatcher, Major in due course led the cabal that stabbed her in the back. He then went on to sign the Maastricht Treaty, which Mrs Thatcher had called “a treaty too far”.

To Mrs Finkelstein’s wayward son, reversing with a flourish of the pen 2,000 years of Britain’s political tradition, effectively turning her into a province of Greater Germany flanked by a post-Vichy France, seems like a display of laudable moderation.

However, the way Finkelstein castigates those whose understanding of such matters is superior to his own doesn’t strike me as particularly moderate: “We find unbelievably stupid people who put the Nazi emblem on the European Union flag or call it the EUSSR.”

As one of those unbelievably stupid people who have on occasion likened the EU to other objectionable regimes, I’d be prepared to debate the issue with Lord Finkelstein, making mincemeat of the puny, wishy-washy, leftie musings he passes for moderation or indeed political thought.

No one in his right mind would claim that the EU duplicates Nazi Germany in every macabre detail. But only “unbelievably stupid people”, to use Finkelstein’s moderate phrase, would fail to see the underlying philosophical and teleological similarity.

Here are snippets from a speech delivered in 1942 by Walther Funk, Hitler’s Economy Minister. Herr Funk spoke from the heart about the EEC, Europäische Wirtschaftsgemeinschaft for short:

“No nation in Europe can by itself achieve the necessary scale of economic freedom to meet all social demands… It means a readiness in certain circumstances to subordinate one’s own interests to those of the European Community… The economic unity of Europe is manifest… The new European economy will have to consider as its first task the fulfilment of its social obligations… The new empowerment of the productive and creative power of the individual is grounded in the community, the creation of a uniform economic understanding and attitude, the allocation of decisive tasks through the political leadership… Europe, in fact, meets all the requirements of a complete, self-sufficient economic area…”

Junker or, for that matter, Major would happily sign this EU-presaging address. In fact, just about every programmatic document issued by the EU repeats this line of thought almost verbatim.

Herr Funk’s vision died at the Nuremberg gallows, but it came back in the EU – only an “unbelievably stupid” or else ignorant person would fail to see that. Granted, some people’s rhetoric may go too far in defence of Britain’s sovereignty, but can you blame them?

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, explained Newton. The likes of Lord Finkelstein preach, one hopes unwittingly, Walter Funk’s ideas, which is bound at times to induce some more intelligent and better-educated people to express themselves with excessive fervour.

But, as the same Barry Goldwater remarked, “Extremism in defence of liberty is no vice.” In the interests of moderation so immoderately championed by Mrs Finkelstein, let’s accept that even such extremism may still be a vice – but a much lesser one than the despotic supranational socialism her wayward son evangelises in unison with the EU.

4 thoughts on “Mother knows worst”

  1. “No nation in Europe can by itself achieve the necessary scale of economic freedom to meet all social demands…”

    SOCIAL DEMANDS!! The welfare state in all manifestations. The government as boss of all things. Big Father knows what is best for you! And don’t suggest otherwise. That has been the paradigm for how long now?

  2. There’s a lot to said for Barry Goldwater. A very principled man and respected in the Senate by people who knew him personally.

  3. Resemblances can be tricky things. If whole lot of countries were delivered up to you, would you set them free? What sort of rhetoric would you employ to consolidate your power? Even Bismark invented a welfare state to keep the great unwashed (relatively) happy with his new empire. Hitler’s greatest mistake was to declare war on the USA before his empire was fully secured. Now there’s a thought ….

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