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When it comes to the EU, one should trust Mr Cameron as they would adders fang’d…

Does any serious person think that EU reform will see them include ceding powers or the acceptance of a decrease in funding?

In spite of overwhelming historical and contemporary evidence to the contrary, Mr Cameron seems to think so, as do Messrs Miliband and Clegg. Having returned from irresolute discussions in Brussels, Mr Cameron is walking tall after not capitulating to the EU Commission’s unreasonable demands for a substantial increase to their budget. Bravo Mr Cameron – except, that is, for your track record on Europe.

His policy of ‘Practical Euroscepticism’ has time and again proven to be neither practical nor Eurosceptic. His modus operandi observes the following pattern:

  • Express exasperation and concern about EU policy
  • Adopt a ‘no nonsense approach’ to look strong
  • Capitulate and beg for mercy from his EU master

It follows, therefore, that having appeared strong on Europe at these recent talks, that at the next round of negotiations he will not hesitate to genuflect to the Commission, then claim to the British public that a satisfactory deal has been reached on their behalf. But who is he trying to fool?

At no point has Mr Cameron called for cuts to the EU budget, and his ‘real terms freeze’ will still see the UK debited for even more than the £53 million a day it currently pays. Worse still, Mr Cameron and friends are still willing to sign the UK up to a political ideology that has not had its accounts signed off by auditors for some fifteen years. The EU is a one-armed bandit against which the UK will only lose.

The only person aside from Mr Cameron who feels that the Conservatives will win the next election is Conservative Home’s Tim Montgomerie. Both characters have devised elaborate strategies to see the Tories regain power, peppered with newspeak and initiatives to ‘re-connect’ with voters – but they all choose to miss the essential point: that if Mr Cameron were to offer an EU referendum, with a positive vision of how the UK would manage (quite easily) without the EU, he would secure a second term and a majority.

This will not be done, however, because Mr Cameron is no more a Eurosceptic than the recently discredited Labour criminal Denis MacShane. In terms of difference and monetary returns, expect no change.

© thepanopticonblog, 2012

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When Douglas Carswell claimed that the UK had ‘shackled itself to a corpse’ by continuing to belong to the EU, his remarks entertained an alarming, but unintentionally accurate implication…

Europhiles have begun to look like necrophiliacs.

Any thinking person has long since known that justifying the UK’s ongoing relationship with the EU, let alone attempting to justify the EU’s very existence, is a hiding to nothing. As it begins to resemble the government of a third world country (with its excessive spending for those who least need the money, its corruption, the violence it has bred, the bankruptcy it has initiated, the poverty it has caused), support has become a marginal voice.

But it still has its champions, who cite the following arguments in the EU’s defence:

1. The EU Safeguards Peace

The EU has never prevented a war in Europe, let alone safeguarded peace. At the present time, significant civil unrest continues to rock Greece and Spain as a direct result of EU policy, whist even recent history proves this notion a false one – in Bosnia, Kosovo and the Chechen wars, intervention was led by British and American initiatives carried out by the UN and NATO whilst the EU twiddled its thumbs, actively arguing against intervention.

2. The EU gives states more power on the global stage

One pro-EU website repeats the familiar line, ‘EU membership gives states increased influence on the global stage.  While nations would find it easy to ignore Britain or any European nation acting on its own, the combined influence of all twenty-seven member states acting together is harder to ignore.’ This feeble argument is presented by EU necrophiliacs and from within the UK by apologists. In fact, the UK is the world’s tenth largest exporter, with $495,400,000,000 worth of exports occurring in 2011 alone. Considering the UK’s size compared to other countries in the top ten (France, Germany, Russia), this is not to be underestimated. Notwithstanding the fact it is also a nuclear power, the UK is also one of the biggest contributors to the UN.

3. The EU makes us better off

EU necrophiliacs continue to claim that by creating a customs union and later the single market, the EU has been hugely successful. But this does not account for the fact that the collapse of the ideological project of the euro has left about a quarter of working-age people in recession-hit Spain unemployed. Indeed, Spain’s economy is set to shrink by 1.5 per cent this year with the recession due to continue into 2013 and beyond. Its level of unemployment is now the second highest behind Greece where the average is 11.4 per cent.

4. The EU encourages our neighbours to reform

Instead of presenting an argument against this, I have chosen to quote directly from a pro-EU website (that claims to be impartial):

“The EU shares land or sea borders with a great variety of nations including Egypt, Libya, Serbia, Turkey, Syria and Israel, with unstable governments, histories of conflict or different cultural and political outlooks to our own. Despite this, the EU’s European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) ensures stability with the region by offering favourable relations with the EU in exchange for nations living up to standards such as the rule of law and democracy. Meanwhile, nations that look to join the EU are encouraged to reform their national institutions in order to fit in with the European liberal democratic model.  This encourages wider stability and improves people’s lives.” [2]

Claims as fatuous as this do enough damage to themselves without the need for annotation.

Leave the EU, now.

© thepanopticonblog, 2012

Notes

Pat Condell once again illustrates the miry corruption of the EU by using the example of Ireland’s vote(s) on the Lisbon Treaty as his locus. A salient reminder of why the EU should be resisted rather than embraced, as the UK political class continue to have us do.

In which we see how Dr Evil can tell politicians a thing or two about how their economic strategies are perceived. 

In a joke repeated throughout the film spy-spoof Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, the villainous Blofeld-like Dr Evil makes efforts to extort from the world’s superpowers the sum of one-million dollars. This figure is laughed at, since Dr Evil is still thinking in terms of the economics of the 1960s. Realising his error, he re-states his threat, this time demanding $100 billion, a sum which causes outrage among the United Nations [1].

Today, this latter sum is no less laughable than the former. Consider the EU, where in 2012, its budget was 129.1bn euros, a 1.9% increase on 2011, with the grubby money-ink-stained fat hands of neo-Maoist President of the EU Commission, Jose Manuel ‘Unelected-doesn’t-need-lessons-in-democracy’ Barosso urging a 6.8% tax rise for the commission’s 2013 budget from nations who are being urged to cut their own national spending [2]. Examine the negligible effect of quantitive easing (QE) in the UK, where at the time of writing, £325 billion has been ‘injected’ into the economy in an effort to kick-start growth. Yet just last week, the UK’s recession deepened with a 0.7% fall in GDP between April and June, after £50 billion worth of QE was paid into the economy in February [3].

The reasons for such economic malfunction are multiple and subject to a variety of individual causes, but one thing is for sure, the money is being spent and invested by those whose mismanagement was responsible for the economic crisis in the first instance. Big Government knows only how to spend the taxpayer’s money, not truly invest it. How many more billions will such governments try to impress the general public with, forgetting that this is the taxpayer’s money who would sooner see money well spent rather than just spent?

Whatever the currency, the theory that spending billions stimulates growth is a ruinous fallacy. The argument is lost both economically and politically. When politicians talk of billions of pounds of investment being undertaken, or billions of Euros being spent on an initiative, or billions of dollars being injected into the economy, the electorate are rightly cynical and unimpressed with this rhetoric.  The word ‘billion’ has lost its significance and its ability to impress, precisely because such sums have proven themselves worthless in salvaging the economy and show little return for the taxpayer.

In today’s world there is no need for Dr Evil and his trivial demands for billions. Discredited policy, politicians and economies are villains more reckless and immediate in destroying what remains of the way we live now.

© thepanopticonblog, 2012

Notes

‘To make anything very terrible, obscurity seems in general to be necessary’ – Edmund Burke’s description of the Romantic sublime has never been more pertinent as this article suggests parallels between both this and the EU. 

One of the Romantic period’s greatest philosophers, Edmund Burke, in his celebrated discourse A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, attempted to articulate the nature of the sublime. This sensation, which today we take to describe a state of almost transcendental perfection, held a different meaning for Burke and his contemporaries and is encoded in much of the great poetry and writing of the period.

In essence, the Romantic sublime is at once the combination of fear and awe. In our own time, we might suggest that some of the natural disasters we see on television, like those powerful images of the tsunami in Japan in 2011, provoke in us a feeling of awe at the power of nature and fear of that very power. More specifically, the Romantic sublime suggests that it is to be within the proximity of like danger (real or imagined) but to be just safe from harm that we recognise the unquantifiable and the reconciliation of the individual self to it. In this spirit, Wordsworth wrote that in his youth he was ‘Foster’d alike by beauty and by fear;’ and ‘sanctifying by such discipline | Both pain and fear until we recognise | A grandeur in the beatings of the heart.’ [1]

The sensation of the sublime is not restricted to encounters with the natural word. Indeed, Edmund Burke notes that the sublime can be used to political ends and that obscurity is key to power:

To make anything very terrible, obscurity seems in general to be necessary. When we know the full extent of any danger, when we can accustom our eyes to it, a great deal of the apprehension vanishes. Every one will be sensible of this, who considers how greatly night adds to our dread, in all cases of danger, and how much the notions of ghosts and goblins, of which none can form clear ideas, affect minds which give credit to the popular tales concerning such sorts of beings. Those despotic governments, which are founded on the passions of men, and principally upon the passion of fear, keep their chief as much as may be from the public eye. [2]

To offer a more recent frame of reference, one need only consider the figure of Big Brother in Orwell’s great novel; whether he is real or not is immaterial, because he is unseen (obscured) save for propaganda, he can be both everywhere and nowhere, obliging the citizens of that dystopia to normalize and regulate their behaviour in the most oppressive fashion. Thus the figure or idea of Big Brother elicits both awe and fear alike.

Away from literature, this idea of the sublime conveniently translates into both the perception and the reality of the EU. Its governance operates remotely (literally in another country) and its politicians and bureaucrats are, too, remote. They are unknown, indeed, obscure quantities ruling from afar; because they have not been voted in, they cannot be voted out and so they are utterly unaccountable.

Generally, those in awe of the EU are not experiencing a pleasant sensation, rather they are struck by the self perpetuating bureaucracy, the job justification and the disparate often vested interests at work within this institution. So, too, one has a legitimate right to experience fear; those making laws, those passing legislation or enacting are doing so without the mandate of the people, let alone their consultation. Indeed, professional obscurity is no bar to occupying professional office: look at the example of the European Court of Justice. As Daniel Hannan remarks ‘it doesn’t require its members to have served on the bench in their home countries. Many of them are academics, politicians and human rights activists who happen to have law degrees. And some are quite blatant about using the institution to advance an agenda that would be rejected at the ballot box.’ [3]

Time and again, when those such as Mr Farage remind the likes of Mr Barosso, Mr Van Rompuy or Mr Schulz that they have not been elected by the people to hold the offices they hold, they respond that they were voted for by colleagues and peers within the EU as if this equates to the same thing. At the most fundamental level, therefore, democracy is replaced by obscurity, since there is no correlation between the electorate and the people who claim to rule in their name.

The fear of the EU is not just in its meddling and efforts to standardize and legislate, it is, most obviously, to be see on the world stage where the effort to salvage the credibility of it economic prowess have floundered. Yet, day in, day out, it issues face-saving propaganda to claim success – but success for whom? Generations have been saddled with insurmountable debt to prop up countries that should have never joined this ill-conceived economic project. The EU’s own ideology has, therefore, become obscure, yet it still wields ‘fearful’ power over the nations and peoples it claims to serve (cf. ‘Weltanschauung: The Destructive Nature of the EU’s Ideology’). It is, in the Romantic sense, sublime.

The list of likenesses between the EU and Burke’s understanding of the sublime are many and varied. Perhaps the most potent sensation is the fact that in giving away practical powers to an unknown quantity, the UK has lost something far more worrying: its own symbolic value. Just as the idea of Big Brother or omnipotence  is powerful enough to regulate and normalise the actions of citizens, so we forget that the idea of the UK, with its independent, individual, pioneering and innovative spirit is more powerful than the sum of its policies. The economic or political ends of a nation state are never as valuable nor as powerful as its symbolic value. When one talks of the UK government failing to stop its ceding of powers to the EU, we cast our politicians as the victims of some obscure plot – but make no mistake – these are powers that have been given away with alacrity to serve an ideology conceived of by the passions of men.

What the obscure EU has to fear is exposure. It is sensitive at precisely the point where normal democracy should be strong – it is neither open, nor democratic, nor accountable –  which is why it is necessary to cast a floodlight over the shadowy machinations of this institution and its politicians, the men and women who keep themselves as much as may be from the public eye.

© thepanopticonblog, 2012.

Notes

The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one more such victory would utterly undo him. For he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him, and almost all his particular friends and principal commanders; there were no others there to make recruits, and he found the confederates in Italy backward. On the other hand, as from a fountain continually flowing out of the city, the Roman camp was quickly and plentifully filled up with fresh men, not at all abating in courage for the loss they sustained, but even from their very anger gaining new force and resolution to go on with the war. [1]

By a narrow margin the Greeks have voted for the New Democracy (ND) party, whose pro-austerity, pro-euro policies will bind them to years of hardship and ruin. It is a Pyrrhic victory, since what has been voted for is undeliverable and will undo this country, the cradle of democracy.

There is no doubt that the EU and europhiles will exclaim that the vote for ND is an affirmation of the EU’s viability, a ringing endorsement of the destructive ideology which cannot be plugged by the trillions euros invested in shoring it up.  Rather than acknowledge a way other than their own, the EU will stick firm with their rhetoric, with overtures of unity and cooperative strength, with the dreadful propaganda which the peoples of Europe (using their eyes, their ears, their sense) will know to be false.

If  Greece and the EU cast off their blinkers and look towards other countries in the Anglosphere or the Far East, for instance, who are showing growth, or within their own line of sight to Iceland which is making a remarkable recovery from bankruptcy, they will see countries gaining new force and resolution whilst their own union, mortally wounded, flounders like a man in fire and lime.

© thepanopticonblog, 2012

Notes

A sensible, objective and intelligent discussion on the EU and the eurozone crisis? Not on the BBC. Here Nigel Farage, Gisela Stuart and Lord Malloch Brown talk Greece on Sky news. Proof positive that UKIP have led the way and that the other political parties are desperately playing catch-up.