Friday, June 02, 2006

Why I am reserved towards the European Union

I have mixed thoughts about the European Union, which Bulgaria is scheduled to join on Jan. 1, 2007. On one hand, our country is in such an abyss that it is likely to benefit from EU, at least we'll have more Western influence. (We'll also receive funding, but I don't think this will help - societies, similarly to the healthy adult individuals forming their backbone, rarely benefit from goods they haven't earned themselves.) On the other hand, you never know when the offsets will outweigh the advantages, and besides, by its rush to join EU and its future membership Bulgaria adds more undue legitimacy to this very dubious construction of political thought.
Why do I dislike the EU? It has too much bureaucracy, too much intervention of state into every affair, too much anti-American and anti-Semitic feelings. To form it, governments used blackmail. They first introduced myriads of sky-high tariffs and other barriers to free trade and movement, then told their peoples, "We'll let you have free trade and movement if you let us create united Europe, overlay a super-state onto the outdated nation states." The good old nation states of course were not perfect, but democracy in them was or at least could be functional. In the EU, the most important decisions are taken by people appointed by non-transparent procedures who are neither elected by anybody nor accountable to anybody. The elected body, the European Parliament, isn't much better because any decision concerning any country is taken by a majority assembled from other countries and hence incompetent in the situation (even Germany, France or Britain are a minority if taken isolated). In the United States, despite the common language and history, it is well known that New Yorkers know little of the life in Minnesota and vise versa, so states have much autonomy. In Europe, you have dozens of languages and cultures with long history of wars and no real wish to unify, yet the Eurobureaucrats know only how to centralize, centralize, centralize.
I first formulated these thoughts a year or two ago when talking with a British, who seemed surprised by my opposition to the EU. (He probably expected such opposition in Bulgaria to be rooted only in primitive nationalism and other anti-Western sentiments.) In that discussion, I didn't use one of the most important arguments against the EU - that it allowed itself to be transformed into what Bat Ye'or called Eurabia. Here I am pasting a June 1 post by Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey (

Supporting free speech proves danish intolerance
Oh man, my head hurts!
Think I’m exaggerating? Here’s the report on Denmarkreleased yesterday by the European Commission against Racism andIntolerance. And here’s the section — under the heading “vulnerablegroups” — on Danish Muslims. Quote (footnotes omitted):
"In September 2005, with the stated intention ofverifying whether freedom of speech is respected in Denmark, a widely-read Danish newspaper called on cartoonists to send in caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad; such drawings are considered to be offensive by many Muslims. This newspaper thus published 12 suchcartoons, one of which portrayed the Prophet as a terrorist. The issue has caused widespread condemnation and a protest march was organised in Copenhagen as a result. The fact that, according to a survey carried out regarding the publication of these drawings, 56% of the respondents felt that it was acceptable, is a testimony of the current climate in Denmark. ECRI considers that the goal of opening a democratic debate on freedom of speech should be met without resorting to provocative acts that can only predictably elicit an emotional reaction."
Here’s the poll I think they’re getting that number from. Via WorldPublicOpinion:
"A majority—56 percent—of Danes in the Feb. 3 Epinionpoll agreed with the statement “Respect for freedom of speech should be more important than the consideration of religious sentiment.” Only 37 percent agreed with the statement “Out of respect for the Muslim faith, the cartoons should not have been published even though this could be considered a limitation on the freedom of speech.”
Proof positive of a climate of intolerance. (End of Sandmonkey's post.)

Well, if the EU doesn't protect its members and the values of the civilization, what is the use of it? Just to keep legions of bureaucrats on payroll?
Danes were right to resist the EU. We older people remember that they said "No" on the first referendum whether to join EU. The government spent 3 years on pro-EU propaganda and then made another referendum. This time EU won by a very thin margin. Some Danes began street protests, the police used firearms against them and injured several people - a thing that hadn't happen in Denmark for many decades. So the Danish EU membership was baptized in blood.
Those street protests were neither violent nor even very numerous, so the use of force was unnecessary and just showed how easily the pro-EU politicians resort to nondemocratic means in order to enforce EU on the reluctant plebs. It is also notable that if the people say "No" to the EU, the referendum is periodically repeated until they say "Yes", after which it is never performed again. The national independence is lost forever. But is it really forever? We'll see.


Highlander said...

In this day and age we need to be part of a large group to counter the other groups. Maybe that is what those bureacrats see?
As the EU you can force an issue collectively...but as just tiny X it maybe more difficult. I would love to see something equivalent in the ME..but that's not gonna happpen soon ;)

programmer craig said...

Great post, Maya. I see the EU as being similar to the UN. It's not really a democratic structure... it's an autocratic structure.


In this day and age we need to be part of a large group to counter the other groups. Maybe that is what those bureacrats see?

There are better ways. Republics have been around for over 2000 years. That's one "better way" right there. Internal autonomy for the member states, with the central government handling foreign policy (and everything that goes with it) only.

I would love to see something equivalent in the ME..but that's not gonna happpen soon ;)

Arabs began taking "collective action" in 1973 :)

There is more unanimity on any given issue in the Arab world than there is here in America.

You're right, though... something like the EU would be a big improvemnet for the ME. It's just not an improvemnet for Europe's democracies.

About the "free speech" - I'm still baffled by the idea that *any* European actually believes that proections against discrimination equate to being required to show "respect" - it's just silly. That's like something out of George Orwell's 1984. Who gets to define what's "respect" and who gets to enforce it? The Thought Police!?

I said some disrespectful things about Catholics on Sandmonkey's blog a couple days ago. I guess I desreve to go to prison for that, eh? :o

Sometimes, I get the feeling that we're all doomed. When even people who have lived all their lives in a democracy don't understand the basic principals of democracy, we're in serious trouble.

Maya M said...

Programmer Craig, I think you are quite right that EU resembles the UN. UN is even worse, because most of its members are undemocratic, so it is difficult to imagine how it could be democratic.
Highlander, I agree that entities having common goals have to unify in order to achieve them. However, it is the American "empire" and not EU that I want my country to belong to. Not because America is mighty, I don't know whether it will be mighty enough, but because it is the only power standing in most cases for my values. What values does the EU advocate? And what does EU to achieve them? When wars raged in collapsing Yugoslavia, EU showed what it can and wants to do - nothing. Bad America came to rescue and then was criticized. Until 3 or 4 years ago, I hoped that EU could help us integrate our Gipsy minority. What a hopeless hope. They cannot integrate even their own immigrants. I really cannot remember an example of EU solving any real problem. It is not only undemocratic, it is inefficient.
As for Mideast unity, I think it depends on what ME people want. If they want to sink themselves and whomever else they can, unification is likely to help. If they want to make it to dry land, country-by-country individual efforts are likely to be more efficient.

Anonymous said...

EU = peace.. that's a problem you could consider it solving.