With the Brexit vote less than a month away, I guess I’m not going to be able to get away from the topic of the EU for the next few weeks. But Spiked! has a bunch of very interesting essays about it, including The EU Is A Mirage:
When I am asked to describe the European Union, I often say that it is a bit like a mirage. We all know how a mirage works. From far away, the image is clear and strong. As you get closer, it starts to wobble and shimmer until eventually it disappears.
The EU is like that. Seen from national capitals, be they London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Bratislava or Madrid, it looks clear and distinct. It has its own institutions, its own buildings, even its own legal order. It can punish national governments for over-spending and close national banks. But as you get closer to Brussels, this image begins to wobble. Finally, when you are really up close, it disappears altogether.
What is left are our own national leaders – German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Francois Hollande, Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, and so on – taking decisions between themselves in meetings closed to the general public.
The EU, he says, is simply a way for member governments to distance themselves from their electorates, deciding matters for themselves behind closed doors. The real powers remain the sovereign member states, in the persons of Merkel, Hollande, etc. The EU is just a cloak they draw around themselves.
Rather than deriving their power internally, from their own subjects, governments of member states derive their power from sources externally, in particular from relations forged with other governments and international organisations. The most extreme case of this was Italy a few years ago. In 2011, when Silvio Berlusconi was ousted from power, he was replaced by Mario Monti. Monti’s authority derived from the support he received from outside powers: global markets, other EU leaders, the European Central Bank. When he tried to win over the support of Italians themselves, he failed miserably…
The relations forged with other governments and international organisations will include all the various EU treaties (Rome, Maastricht, Lisbon, etc.), but also treaties like the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). And these binding treaties have now come to exert more power over governments than the votes of their own national electorates.
Governments are increasingly bound more to one another than to their own people. The FCTC matters more than than any electorate does, and that’s why we all have smoking bans.
Negotiations between governments in international settings have become the dominant mode of policymaking, replacing deliberation within national parliaments.
Hence all the endless G7’s and G8’s and Bilderbergs. They’re where the real decisions get taken. And the only people who matter are world leaders. And they’re the only people who need to be listened to – as was shown during the EU Referendum campaign:
One of the most striking aspects of the current campaign has been the use of the borrowed credibility of foreign leaders and non-partisan organisations, by the Remain side in particular. A key point in the campaign was US president Barack Obama’s endorsement of Remain…
It’s a vision of the EU as a set of national governments tied more strongly to each other than to the people who elected them, becoming
a political class that has severed its links to society
One additional feature of this is that it would seem that the priorities of this political class have progressively become detached from the priorities of the ordinary voters that they no longer pay attention to. There are lots of examples of this: Smoking bans, global warming, gay marriage, transgender bathrooms. Most ordinary people simply don’t care about any of these things.
I’ll run with this a bit.
Governments all over the world are no longer supported from below by a solid base of national votes, but are instead kept in place by a floating global spherical mesh of treaties and alliances and agreements. It might be depicted thus:
It’s a completely new political architecture. It’s as if the political skyscrapers of the old political order have been replaced by an enormous geodesic dome spanning the entire globe, holding everything up.
The inherent instabilities of this New World Order are fairly obvious. Firstly, it’s completely detached from the (political) ground, and is liable to fall to earth. And secondly, if one set of treaties/agreements breaks, the entire system is likely to fly apart. There is the potential for complete chaos as all the governments in the world are simultaneously brought down, not by revolutions from below, but by the failure of supporting ties to other governments.
It’s a situation that’s rather like that of Europe immediately prior to WW1, where all the states were bound to each other by a complex web of treaties and alliances and agreements, which explosively unravelled in August 1914, hurling governments in all directions. Except it’s now a global web of treaties and alliances and agreements that is set to unravel, pitting government against government everywhere.
And it’s out of this clash of governments that war is likely to erupt, just as in August 1914. Only this time it will erupt simultaneously everywhere, all over the world.
The old political order was much more stable. If one government collapsed, the others wouldn’t all collapse too. They were largely independent of each other. But now that they’re all tied together, they’re all dependent on each other. And more dependent on each other than ever, because they no longer have much popular grassroot support, given that they’ve been neglecting ordinary people. They’ve lost contact.
The unstable New World Order is set to be swept away, and more or the entire global political class along with it. And most likely they’d take with them much, if not all, the politically correct dogmas they introduced – including smoking bans.
Or that’s one possibility.