Strangers

The purpose of the European project, at least the purpose sold to the public, was to provide long term stability to the continent, particularly economic stability. The lesson of the first fifty years of the 20th century was that nationalist competition among states led to economic instability and war. Therefore, cooperation among the nations of Europe on economic matters, as well as a common defense, would keep the peace and allow all nations to prosper together, as one continent.

Talk to sophisticated Europeans and they will give you some version of how a united Europe has kept the peace. Many will argue that open borders and a single currency have been the solution. The Euro has become a symbol for the end of individual people, replaced by the common people of Europe. One people, one currency. The economic and political arguments for Europe have become a religion of sorts for the sophisticated types. This was obvious in the Brexit vote, with all the shrieking and panic after it.

The trouble is the Euro is proving to be unworkable and possibly a disaster for Europe. Since the end of the Cold War, when the project was supposed to come into its own as the new organizational model for the continent, it has been one crisis after another. The answer each time has been a doubling down on political and bureaucratic unification, which results in a new crisis. Each time they muddle through one problem, the result in a new set of bigger problems to be addressed.

There’s a Holy Roman Empire vibe to Europe these days. At some point, one of these problems is going to prove unsolvable. At that point, the logic of the whole enterprise gets called into question. That was the reason the Germans were hell bent on bringing the Greeks to heel. The sensible solution was to let them leave, but that would have meant the EU was a voluntary association of nations. If the Greeks left then anyone could leave. It turns out that political unity only works when it is compulsory.

That’s what may be tested now that the Italians have voted to reject the structural reforms most thought necessary to avoid a banking crisis in the country. Like the Greeks, the Italian banking system is in shambles, but the bigger issue is their political and legal system. Italian society is not engineered to work in a German economic model. That leaves two possible solutions. One is for the Italians to adopt the German political system or for them to go back to the Italian economic model, that is, leave the EU.

It turns out that Italians like being Italian and will not abandon their culture without a fight. This is a replay of the Greek crisis, except that the Italian economy is twice the size of the Greek economy. There’s also the fact that the Italians are much more of a core European nation, in the broader political and cultural sense. No one in Europe felt bad about stomping on the Greeks. The French and the Spanish will not be enthusiastic about siding with Berlin against Rome in a fight, because what comes next for Rome is next for Madrid and Paris.

Once again, we are seeing what is a core failing of technocracy. Public policy is about trade-offs. In a liberal democracy, the people, through their representatives, wrangle over these trade-offs and arrive at a compromise that satisfies most people well enough to keep the peace. Logic is not what drives these deliberations. Tradition, culture and vested interests play the leading roles. Smart people know how to create a better health system, for example, but getting everyone to go along with it is impossible.

Technocracy has no mechanism for this. It is the sterile decision making of bureaucrats insulated from the consequences of their policy choices. The managerial state has the added defect of bestowing a form of tenure on its members. No matter how much they screw up, they never lose anything but some face. That has even gone by the wayside. Jamie Gorelick is a colossal screw-up, but she keeps getting better gigs after each debacle. Hillary Clinton came close to falling all the way up into the White House.

Inevitably, people begin to look at the managerial class the same way the commoners looked at the aristocracy in 18th century France. The average citizen of a Western country feels as if they are ruled by strangers. The result is the rising tide of populism we are seeing, which is nothing like the top-down variant a century ago. The Italian vote was not about nationalism, It was about rejecting rule by strangers. It is why Trump will be the next president and Britain will leave Europe.  People prefer the familiar to the foreign.

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Guest

Not exactly on point, but related and definitely relevant to the unitary management class and their utter alienation form the working classes, I had the ill fortune of listening to this drivel on All Things Considered this morning: http://www.npr.org/2016/12/05/504395556/the-politics-of-trade-under-trump One expects the commies at NPR to reflexively oppose Trump, but listening to Jonah Goldberg and Salena Zito, both nominal conservatives, shred Trump for stepping up to the plate to save 1000 jobs for the unwashed masses in Indiana was the perfect illustration of your thesis. There are no longer two parties in any meaningful sense. Rather, our system has devolved… Read more »

Old Surfer
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Old Surfer

Yes, and we now have an enormous, entrenched bureaucracy with strong leftist beliefs that will resist any effort to alter the status quo. This is the real swamp that needs draining. Getting rid of government employee unions is essential – without that we may be doomed despite Trump’s best efforts.

Member

The idea of a European Union in the modern sense goes back to before the end of the second world war. Hayek even proposed it in the last chapter of The Road to Serfdom. The immediacy of the war gave the initial drive to its formation and was the glue that held it together. With the USA providing for the defense of Europe and the collapse of the USSR, there has been a loss of the fear of conflagration and a loss of the primary glue that held the Union together. Note the appeal of Nigel Farage: a union of… Read more »

Doug
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Doug

The EU is Carl Marx’s ghost come back to haunt the dummies for buying into a deal just too good to be true. Kind of like Hope & Change? I remember clear as yesterday working in my welding booth listening to the beautifully frosted cake of marxist shit on NPR all that summer and fall before it began, the fairy dust about bringing diverse people together and all the careful lies and thinking these people couldn’t be that kind of stupid to vote themselves into economic slavery to a cabal of unaccountable bankers and money changers, while flushing all those… Read more »

King George III
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King George III

There’s a massive difference between northern Italy and southern Italy. Northern Italians are descendants of the Lombards and are a lot like Austrians or Germans. Southern Italians…not so much. Thus the classic joke that Garibaldi had not unified Italy, but divided Africa. The EU itself is suspiciously devoid of actual military capacity. This, plus the facts that a) it came into being immediately after America entered the continent after WWII, and b) that its predecessor came into being after America had entered the continent during WWI…these should be major indications that the EU is the sockpuppet of USG. Did you… Read more »

Jak Black
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Jak Black

As Instapundit might say, the lack of military capacity is a feature rather than a bug.

Karl Horst
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Karl Horst

@ King George – Agreed. We say “work was not invented in the Latin speaking countries”. One only need look at the industry in Italy’s north, especially around Milan. South of Florence, a very different story. And for Greece, Spain and Portugal, it’s hard to grown an economy when it’s based on olive oil, oranges and corks. Not that it’s their fault. They simply were not blessed with the raw materials necessary to compete in todays market. Having said that, neither was Switzerland, yet they do quite well with luxury watches and chocolate – and pharmaceuticals. It’s about work ethic.… Read more »

Drake
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Drake

I get Italians wanting to be Italian and led by their own leaders. I don’t get what the Germans think they are gaining by insisting the remain economically tied to Southern Europe.

Member

One explanation I’ve heard starts with Greece. They are bankrupt. They cannot possibly pay their debts. Allowing Greece to default & stay or allowing them to leave, which would result in default, all means the rest of the EU takes a haircut. The German people will not tolerate it. The Germans resent the Greek debt observing the lesser productivity of Greece, their early retirements, etc. The Greek problem is not getting better & the EU pretends to hold valid Greek debt that can never be paid. Spain, Portugal & Italy are next up with a looming financial disaster – again… Read more »

Member

Great post Z. The EU seems to have only been a going concern because of the US’s heavy hand after WWII in helping out and then, after those initial few years, NATO and the rebirth of the UN and of course all against the Soviets. So the US paid for defense, and agreed to do so, as the Europeans all went socialist. It has only worked because of the little window in time that allowed it…. and that window has closed. We live in fascinating times. Immigration is a long-time destabilizing par of war or regional conflict… and yet, Europe,… Read more »

Karl Horst
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Karl Horst

@ Uncle_Max – We know the demographics here will change as they have in the UK. For Germany, it will just be a bit slower. Turks have been here for decades, but just not in large numbers. Same for Italians who were the first guest workers after the war. But the Italians went back home, the Turks stayed and Germany never pushed the issue of asking them to go back since they have never really been a major problem. The recent immigration issue has been the turning point, and Europe may yet pull it’s collective head out of it’s behind… Read more »

Jak Black
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Jak Black

Not quite sure what you mean about the EU being an unworkable project. At this moment in Paris, I’m watching Hala Gorani interview one Werner Amon, the secretary general of Austrian people’s party. She asked him why the people of Europe are rejecting the larger parties and turning to nationalism, and he explained that while it’s a complicated matter, in general the people of the EU have reached a level of comfort that is so lofty that it makes it hard for the traditional parties to offer additional layers of bribery. So clearly you’re wrong and the EU is falling… Read more »

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James LePore

Maybe this is why the EU elites have let in hordes of Muslims, to dilute and destabilize the old tribes. I believe this is why England left. There were just enough sane Anglo-Saxons left to force the issue. The same goes for Italy. Will the other old tribes make a last stand? I hope so. If they don’t we will be at war with an Islamicized Europe in thirty years or so.

Member

The EU is just warmed over Bismarck. Bismarck’s first step toward uniting the German principalities was to establish customs union, a currency union and a postal union or reinvigorate, expand, and standardize existing agreements. The Zollverein was just the heating of the crucible. Germany was forged in the Danish, Austrian, and French wars. The EU had the chance use the War on Terror to the same ends. History will judge whether or not that was a wise course. However, without a truly precipitating event to pull the European states together, the EU was always going to be a straw house,… Read more »

kokor hekkus
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kokor hekkus

The EU as a political entity is a scam. France and Britain have nuclear weapons, which utterly forecloses any possibility of a general war in Europe. Who gains from the EU? Banksters, Bureaucrats, and politicians. Who loses? Everyone else…especially southern Europe.

jack
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jack

Fourth Reich? The Germans, it is sometimes averred, understood before the formation of the EU that southern Europe had neither the productivity nor the fiscal probity to compete with them. Budget deficits for the southerners were assured, and Germany was assured of dominating the union by exporting to them.

Karl Horst
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Karl Horst

@ Jack – Not so loud, my friend. We’re trying to keep that Fourth Reich thing quiet. 🙂 The third one got a bit messy and complicated with invading countries, running tanks through towns and villages. This is the 21st century, it’s all about money. They say the third time’s the charm. We’re thinking the fourth time might be more to the point.

thor47
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thor47

” Italian society is not engineered to work in a German . . . model. ”

Of course not. What society is?

JohnTyler
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JohnTyler

The German?

thor47
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thor47

I thought the ” other than the German ” was understood.

J Clivas
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Just as Lincoln was hell bent on bringing the Confederacy to heel.

Member

For those concentrating on the money aspect: the EU is at base Germany loaning money to member states so that they can buy Germany’s industrial output. Problem is when the loans come due.

Karl Horst
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Karl Horst

At the moment we’re solving the problem with the “off shore” concept you Americans perfected; build German name brand products some where else cheaper, but sell them at the original price and pocket the difference. Hungary is working well for VW and Audi, Czech Republic is doing well for Siemens. Croatia is picking up slowly too. So yes, we are starting to get the hang of things.

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kiwi girk
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kiwi girk

Keep the “cooperation among the nations”, ethnic nations. On some mutually agreed locations, on could also create “nations” for gays, lesbians, zoophiles, mixed races, etc.
Enjoy!

Member

What we are seeing is the implementation of the August 1944 Red House Report for the achievement of the Fourth Reich.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1179902/Revealed-The-secret-report-shows-Nazis-planned-Fourth-Reich–EU.html