Democratise Europe!

To continue on from a previous post in which I stated that, despite all the recent set-backs, we have an obligation to continue with our quest to democratise Europe.

I have to admit that this new challenge is a big turn-around for me. Not the democratise part, I hasten to add, but the change of strategy.

I have slowly come round to this way of thinking due to a number of reasons:

  1. The events in Greece over the past 8 months have proven that the B-List countries of the EU/Eurozone (ie. the deficit states which for the most part are the Southern European countries) will always have to follow the rest. They will never, ever call the shots. So, while they may have elections and each political party will make all sorts of promises to the electorate, the deficit of democracy will remain. Sure, at regional and local levels, democracy can and will be meaningful. But at the national level, forget it. This means that every government in office, irrespective of their political leaning (left/centre/right) will carry out the instructions from Brussels. The Greek experiment proved this…..”it’s our way or the highway!” And the highway is most likely the route to economic suicide, as difficult as this idea is to swallow. The dreamers amongst us (and I was one too) had this vision of Greece telling the rest of the EU to take their Euros and to shove them……and Portugal and Spain and……….but it will never happen. Why? Because this is the way that the system was set up, and most Europeans went along with this, knowingly or in ignorance. So this leads us to conclusion No.1  – a national government will not be able to change its status quo in the Eurozone or in the EU (under the current treaties and agreements).
  2. I have finally had to accept that, although the greater body of experts might not all agree on the solutions, they do agree on one thing. Crashing the EU or the Eurozone would be a catastrophe. So, any plan that might impact on this is just a non starter. Some of us can dream about drachmas, escudos and pesetas but that is where they will stay, in our dreams. This means that we are going to have to do things the hard way. The EU and Eurozone cannot be removed or replaced. Things are now just too advanced to try to turn back the clock. As faulty as they are, things will just have to be fixed. But fixing something European is going to require the Europeans to fix it. The Italians are going to have to “feel” European again, likewise the Spaniards, the Germans, the Greeks and the rest. This is very possible to do, I think. In many ways, the EU achieved this goal in the past, except that they could not make it stick. Things have unraveled a bit since then but things do not seem irrepairable. In the strangest paradox, whilst some are building fences, others continue to build bridges between our European nations. Conclusion No.2 – we are going to have to Europeanise the Europeans….again!
  3. Europe is being used as one of the world’s political footballs. I am not privy to the geo-political influences, the behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing, but one thing seems very clear to me. It is time for our politicians to get some back-bone and tell the rest of the world to eff-off and stop interfering in our regional affairs. This interference is not doing any of the citizens of Europe any good, it is not uplifting our economic prospects and it is not giving us any greater feelings of security. In all cases, the reverse is true. Conclusion No.3 – Europe must call the shots in her own backyard….again!
  4. Europe, as it is embodied in the EU, is a great idea and it has many merits. However, the principles of democracy in order to run this big state, fairly, openly and with the continued support of its citizens have been whittled away. The sham of the current European parliament is now obvious for everyone to see and no one is fooled any more. I am certain that the citizens of the EU nation states would not object if the pretense of their national democracy was to be replaced with meaningful and real democracy at an EU level. Conclusion No.4 – we need more democracy, not less.

Who else thinks this way and are they prepared to do something about it?

Like all plans, brilliant or otherwise, devising the plan is usually the easy part. The difficult part is finding people who are ready, able and talented enough to take on such a challenge. Now, what I am proposing is no small task. It is huge! In fact, we are going to need someone with a big pair of cojones to take this one on. Someone who is not put off by criticism and ridicule. Someone who is probably not like the average “you” or “me”. This is going take someone with a “big character”, who shrugs off set-backs as if they hadn’t occurred. But someone who can relate just as well to the person-in-the-street as he would to the EU-elites. Bearing in mind that one of our major issues is economical, we are going to need someone with a pretty good background in economics. However, our ideal candidate is going to be required to think “outside of the box” and consider radical ideas if necessary. This is going to be a “greenfields” project. Nothing will be a given and everything will be considered. Political experience would be handy, but a career politician is not what we are looking for. Double-speak, protecting-my-back, feathering-my-own-nest……these are political concepts of the old Europe, not the new one.

So, if you think you have what it is going to take; willingness to go against the flow and the confidence to upset the status quo……not just for the hell of it, but to achieve a desired goal. Do you have sufficient knowledge and self confidence to speak in public, everything coming from your own mind and nothing from stupid advisers? Above all, do you have the integrity to deal with the pressure of the task and the responses that you are likely to get. Then maybe you are our man (or woman, a name springs to my mind immediately) for the job……”A Man for all Seasons”.

Funnily enough , I think that I have the perfect person in mind for this task. And, as luck would have it, he is in-between jobs at the moment.

A Man for all Seasons” is a play by Robert Bolt. The plot is based on the true story of Sir Thomas More, the 16th-century Chancellor of England, who refused to endorse King Henry VIII’s wish to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon, who did not bear him a son, so that he could marry Anne Boleyn, the sister of his former mistress. The play portrays More as a man of principle, envied by rivals such as Thomas Cromwell and loved by the common people and by his family. The title reflects Bolt’s portrayal of More as the ultimate man of conscience. As one who remains true to himself and his beliefs while adapting to all circumstances and times, despite external pressure or influence, More represents “a man for all seasons.”
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About Peter Smith

A "foot-soldier" in the wider Post Capitalism Movement. First task - keep spreading the words of change, hope & inspiration.
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6 Responses to Democratise Europe!

  1. Pingback: Why Yanis V is wrong about his democratic renaissance in Europe | Thoughts on European Politics & Economics

  2. Pingback: Democratise Europe!….can it be done? | Thoughts on European Politics & Economics

  3. Pim says:

    Peter,

    To democratize isn’t of course the answer to everything. If more than 50% of your country is totally ignorant you will get democratic but stupid policies as a result.

    I believe it was Churchill who said, I am convinced our American friends will come up with the right solution, after they tried everything else.”

    I have watched the debate between Yanis and Hans Werner Sinn. Two polite and knowledgeable gentleman that discuss some technicalities but ignore the elephant in the room.

    The fact that our legal tender (as Eric wishes to call it) mostly comes into existence as a debt to someone and not as a commodity that can be produced at hardly any cost. To benefit us all.

    The present system keeps us in debt and by doing so enslaves us all, so the rallying cry should be “end to this slavery.”

    Instead we have a discussions over how benevolent some slave owners are compared to others.

    Yanis tells lovely anecdotes about the time he was a minister of finance and by doing that he probably can make a living for himself for the rest of his life.

    But I do not think he will ever led us out of slavery.

    Like

    • OK Pim, let’s look at these points that you raise.

      Firstly, since you mention Sir Winston Churchill and it was he who said so many wise things, my info is that the quote you mention was not one of his. But that is not really the point. Perhaps you were thinking of the following quote of Churchill’s:

      “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time; but there is the broad feeling in our country that the people should rule, continuously rule, and that public opinion, expressed by all constitutional means, should shape, guide, and control the actions of Ministers who are their servants and not their masters.”

      It seems to me that you have got the meaning of your first sentence back-to-front. Without a philosophical splitting of hairs, I am guessing that you are making a general statement about democracy…..that it could be good for some but not for others? What would be a democratic but stupid policy? This sounds like a paradox. If the majority of a country voted for government, who implemented a policy in which the government would issue money into the monetary system without creating debt for the government or the people, the bankers and other vested interests would surely label that a stupid policy. So that would be an example of a democratic but stupid policy….I am sorry to be so simplistic, but I am looking for a way to understand the concept that you are describing.

      As for the rest of your comments, you are entitled to your opinion. However, I cannot believe that you being serious when you constantly insist that it is Yanis V’s fault with whatever is wrong with our economics/politics and that it is his sole responsibility to correct the faults.

      Maybe he is not a “fixer”. We all wanted him to be but maybe that is not the case. Maybe he is an “educator” and that may be his best role.

      Goodness only knows, we need a good educator here in Europe. If the ignorant electorate of Europe have allowed all of these “stupid” policies to be imposed upon them through their misguided democratic processes, then a lot of education is still needed!

      Like

      • Pim says:

        Hi Peter,

        About democracy. It’s undoubtedly the best we ever got, but we shouldn’t think it will protect us against stupid decision. Electing Hitler or Mugabe wasn’t a smart move at hindsight.

        I have great faith in the common sense of ordinary people, simply because they usually can’t afford to stick to a wrong decision for a very long time.

        However on state level corrections on earlier (wrong decisions) can take ages. Approving Greece to join the Eurozone was clearly a mistake. Popular sentiment in Holland (at that time) was against it.

        The same applied to not declaring Greece bankrupt in 2010. As far as the 3rd bail-out is concerned, again popular sentiment was against it, but on all these occasions popular sentiment was overruled by the wisdom of our rulers.

        In that respect I totally agree with Yanis, let’s stop pretending and let’s face reality. Most of us have (in daily live) no other choice. It is only the happy few that can live a life of pretending.

        So, although I have great faith in the common sense of people there should also be room for doubt having read Neil Postmans “Amusing ourselves to death”. It was back in 1985, when I first read it. We are forty years later and I do not believe things have improved.

        My grandchildren have iPhones that are glued to their hands and there is very little on facebook or twitter that deals with monetary policy.
        One day they will be able to vote and if you happen to be an American you may choose between two billionaires as a representative of the common sense.

        Given all that, I get a bit weary if Yanis tells us we should democratize, I’d rather have a plan.

        In my view that plan should include a proposal to stop pretending that sovereign debt is something we ought to pay back sometime. We can’t and we won’t

        So why not consider 60% of our GDP no longer as debt but as base-money, needed to run the economy. Provided by the sovereign or the institution acting on its behalf and let’s stop paying interest on it.

        I have seen several proposals for such a transition. Will it cause some trouble? Sure, but so did dropping of the gold standard. We survived that, so we will survive this transition to.

        It isn’t only Greece that had to cope with austerity. All countries have. All of them had to cut back on social benefits, in order to meet interest payments over something that isn’t really a debt but a bare minimum we need to run a economy. A minimum that should be provided by the sovereign.

        Yanis disappoints me by not advocating such a bold move, but still trying to prove he was the smartest member of the Eurozone. He probably was, but how does that help.

        Like

      • That was a really good answer.

        See my latest post!

        Like

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