Tuesday, May 31, 2005

France Rejects the EU Constitution...

As you may know, French voters soundly defeated ratification of the EU Constitution this past Sunday. I'll round up the best information for you and post it here for your enjoyment.

I have a saying, "Corporatism is the gateway to Facism". What I am saying is that by dividing the population into interest groups and devaluing the rights of the individual, the government can then encroach the rights of the individual in favor of the group. The political battling over Social Security and between corporate media and bloggers are some examples of this struggle. The European Union strikes me as particularly corporate and statist. I believe Mark Steyn once compared it to the United States in this way, and I'm paraphrasing, The United States is a government of the people and by the people where the European Union is a government of an elite political class looking to impose itself on a people. One of the first things a corporate group, whether a business corporation or a non-profit charitable organization, must do to become a legal entity is names its officers, including the President, Vice-President, and so on. This is done even before the corporation has employees or perhaps even products. So it is with the European Union, a full government administration with executive and parliamentary branches now attempting to secure a people over which to rule.

Speaking of Mark Steyn, his column in the Washington Times on Monday has some revealing comments by Jean-Claude Juncker, current President of the Europeon Union.

"If at the end of the ratification process, we do not manage to solve the problems, the countries that would have said No, would have to ask themselves the question again," President Juncker told the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.

Don't bother remembering his name, the EU President holds office for only six months and has little power. However, do make note of the actual choice being given to the people here. Vote "YES" and accept the EU bureaucracy and its rules or vote "NO" and be asked again until you vote "YES". Isn't that a tactic used in police and military interrogations? Steyn goes on to illustrate my point about corporatism encroaching upon the rights of the individual quoting from a book by Europhile Will Hutton.

But, having brandished his credentials, Mr. Hutton says it's his "affection for the best of America that makes me so angry that it has fallen so far from the standards it expects of itself." The great Euro-thinker is not arguing that America is betraying the Founding Fathers but that the Founding Fathers themselves got it hopelessly wrong. He compares the American and French Revolutions, and decides the latter was better because instead of the radical individualism of the 13 Colonies the French promoted "a new social contract."

Precisely. And it's the willingness to subordinate individual liberty to what Mr. Hutton calls "the primacy of society" that blighted the Continent for more than a century: Statism -- or "the primacy of society" -- is what fascism, Nazism, communism and now European Union all have in common.

That's why Will Hutton feels almost physically insecure when he's in one of the spots on the planet where the virtues of the state religion are questioned. "In a world that is wholly private," he says of America, "we lose our bearings; deprived of any public anchor, all we have are our individual subjective values to guide us." He deplores the First Amendment and misses government-regulated media, which in the EU ensures that all public expression is within approved parameters (left to center-left). "Europe," he explains, "acts to ensure that television and radio conform to public interest criteria."

Of course, the mention of the French Revolution and the various Euroisms that have been inflicted upon man-kind, one cannot forget the worst product of France, terrorism. The President of the... What's that? You find the notion of terrorism being invented by France outrageous?

One difference between the American and French revolutions that Mr. Hutton fails to point out is that the United States began its experiment in democracy by protecting loyalists in a document known, ironically, as the Treaty of Paris. The French began their experiment in democracy a few years later with a decidedly European twist known as the Reign of Terror. The Online Dictionary of Etymology offers the following notes on the origins of terrorism.

1795, in specific sense of "government intimidation during the Reign of Terror in France" (1793-July 1794), from Fr. terrorisme (1798), from L. terror (see terror).

"If the basis of a popular government in peacetime is virtue, its basis in a time of revolution is virtue and terror -- virtue, without which terror would be barbaric; and terror, without which virtue would be impotent." [Robespierre, speech in Fr. National Convention, 1794]

General sense of "systematic use of terror as a policy" is first recorded in Eng. 1798. Terrorize "coerce or deter by terror" first recorded 1823.

Now, getting back to the coercion of the European Union, the Dutch referendum on the EU constitution coming up on Wednesday is non-binding on the Dutch government, and the Netherlands' governing party is already moving the goal posts for the conditions under which they would accept a "NO" vote (hat tip: Instapundit).

Unlike France's referendum, which was binding on the government, the Dutch vote is advisory. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's governing party said Monday it will accept a "no" verdict only if turnout reaches at least 30 percent and if 55 percent of those who vote reject the charter.

Finally, I leave you with the ever insightful analysis of Gregory Djerejian at the Belgravia Dispatch.

Let's take a quick step back--as the dust begins to settle ever so slightly--and take an initial look at the historic events of yesterday. We might begin by looking backwards a bit. Recall that French political elites have been intimately involved in cobbling together this project of European unification for over half a century now. I mean, it's not as if little Portugal or Denmark said no thanks. France did! As Vinocur says, perhaps the "quintessential" European nation. What a crushing (if not fatal, at least yet) blow to the European project.

Indeed! Read it all.


Blogger Mike said...

The leaders of the European Union would be wise not to upset the people of France. The last time they were upset with their government they did something about it. In fact they named a day after it. It's called Bastille Day.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Mike, the people of France are always upset about something, and usually a good bit of it is aimed at their government.
IB, you wrote "Vote "YES" and accept the EU bureaucracy and its rules or vote "NO" and be asked again until you vote "YES". Isn't that a tactic used in police and military interrogations?"
If asking the question over again is a fascist tactic, why are we still talking about Roe vs Wade? Why did Jeb Bush run for governor again after losing the first time? As lousy as the 60,000 word EU Constitution is, 46% of the country voted yes, so sentiment may change by the next year.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What a crushing (if not fatal, at least yet) blow to the European project."
Is Europe a sort of firm ? Is a Constitution the place for promoting liberalism, put old economic treaties on fishing and others ?
Can we build a supra-national entity only on trading ?
This is not the Europe I vote for !
First of all, cut the thrid part of this so-called constitution, then we would discuss on part 2 and 3.

2:17 PM  

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