Tuesday, 11 September 2012

"Rejecting the European Project"

Theodore Dalrymple is always worth reading.  He writes, inter alia, for the City Journal and the New English Review.  Always clear, cogent and incisive.
In his "Rejecting the European Project", he reviews Daniel Hannan's "A Doomed Marriage: Britain and Europe".
The money shot:

Like all people with bad habits, politicians and bureaucrats are infinitely inventive when it comes to rationalizing the European Project, though they’re inventive in nothing else. Without the Union, they say, there would be no peace; when it’s pointed out that the Union is the consequence of peace, not its cause, they say that no small country can survive on its own. When it is pointed out that Singapore, Switzerland, and Norway seem to have no difficulties in that regard, they say that pan-European regulations create economies of scale that promote productive efficiency. When it is pointed out that European productivity lags behind the rest of the world’s, they say that European social protections are more generous than anywhere else. If it is then noted that long-term unemployment rates in Europe are higher than elsewhere, another apology follows. The fact is that for European politicians and bureaucrats, the European Project is like God—good by definition, which means that they have subsequently to work out a theodicy to explain, or explain away, its manifest and manifold deficiencies.

I confess I've always been a Eurosceptic.  I've spent nine years of my life in Europe and the UK, in the fifties, in the seventies and in numerous trips since.  I loved it in the "old days", with its clearly defined differences country to country: a kind of bordered diversity, if you will (to give a nod to the diversity so beloved of the Left).  The hassles of changing Italian Lire to Swiss Franks, and then to German Marks, and having to show a passport at a border, were a small price to pay for the excitement and anticipation of leaving one culture, one language and one currency and arriving, a short time later in a completely different one.  Nowadays, you drive, say, from Germany to the Czech Republic and because of the Schengen agreement, you don't stop, you just fly by and hardly know you're in a different country.
I'm told by many that the European Project has kept Europeans from fighting each other for 60 years; and that the Euro has helped Europe's competitiveness -- that leaving it would be a "disaster".  I'm still not convinced.  Would Greece and the others be in the pickly they now are in, if we didn't have the Euro?  I doubt it.  And the clip above is surely a rather devastating one-para critique of that view, even if arguably reductionist.
Hannan's book must be a must-read for people of my persuasion.  But what of the cheerleaders for the European project?  Will they read it?  Dalrymple is not optimistic. Quoting Gibbon: "truth rarely finds a favourable reception in the world...."

H/T for the link: DT