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.

36 thoughts on “Strangers

  1. 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.

  2. Pingback: Public policy is about trade-offs | IowaDawg Musings & More

  3. Pingback: Rule by Distant Strangers | We Seek the Truth!

  4. 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.

    • 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.

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

    Of course not. What society is?

  6. 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.

    • @ 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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, a new Austria-Hungary.

  9. 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.

  10. 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 apart because of the burden of its own success. And Werner actually seemed to believe this.

  11. Pingback: Political unity only works when it is compulsory | IowaDawg Musings & More

  12. 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, especially Germany, has invited this destabilizing on itself, in crazy numbers. Many spinning plates will start to fall as the special little technocratic stage of awesomeness becomes unmanageable. Then the instability will be something else. What will Europe look like in 30 years?

    • @ 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 as Frau Merkel is now taking a very different position compared to her stance last year. The AfD party may have had something to do with it and I believe Brexit was the real wake-up call that her future, or that of the CDU, is not guaranteed.

      While many young people I have spoken with don’t see immigrants as a problem, they also fail to understand the concept of job competition as you are aware of in the US with Indians and Chinese who are there on work visas and have displace American workers in the tech industry. For our youth, the only advantage is most Turks and middle easterners are not serious about education, and their German language skills are generally very poor, so they will remain un-employable and dependent upon the state. How long that can go on is another question. We have heard already that future social benefits will be reduced as an incentive for people not to come, or to just go away since it is so expensive to live here.

      We have a saying that the State only gives you enough just live, but not so little to die.

  13. 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.

    • The Euro has allowed Germany to dominate the rest of Europe. The ECB provides cash for Italy to buy German manufactured goods. Some portion of the profits goes back to prop up the Italian economy. It’s a lot like a company financing the purchase of its products. It works fine until people begin to default.

      • Indeed. As a manufacturing export economy the Germans have done brilliantly under the euro. If they were forced to go back to the Deutschmark they would have a very hard time as the Southern European states have kept the euro currency artificially low.

    • 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 economic. All of their banks have large non-performing bank debt, i.e. bad loans. For Italy, 18% of their bank loans are bad but held on the books. All debt is in Euro’s. The banks need a bailout rather than continuing under the pretense of assets (loans) that don’t exist. S,P&I cannot afford to bail out their banks. France cannot afford to cover their portion of any such bailout so a large disproportionate burden would need to be on the German people. They won’t tolerate it.

      If Italy leaves the EU, they would create their own currency to pay their euro debts at a big discount probably starting the dominoes falling, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, France, . . . as the non-existent assets would now be taken off the books ending the charade.

      The Germans are gonna take a very big hit sooner or later. The EU hopes to postpone that desperately seeking some solution where none exists. Southern Europe cannot operated in a common currency with the productivity differences between them & the others, esp the Germans.

  14. 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 know, for instance, that nearly 72 years after the close of WWII there are still 40,000 American troops stationed in Germany? Yeah….

    • @ 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. And to some degree when you live where you have to prepare for winter, you think differently.

      As to 40K troops here in Germany, do not forget that they are no long here as occupiers. Germany did not become fully sovereign until 15 March 1991 when the four occupiers left and those who remained did so under invitation of the German government. Having Americans here is a good thing. Good for the communities where they are stationed, because many bases are still in less populated areas of the country with limited employment opportunities. That’s good for the locals who support those bases and are able to provide services through various civilian contracts and direct employment.

      To the point of “EU military capacity” the German government isn’t stupid. It’s much more cost effective to invite the Americans to stay than build up a new Army, Navy and Air Force. It’s a win-win for us and for your soldiers; we now have the greatest military in the world in our own back yard, the US government pays Germany to be here, and the troops enjoy it here. Besides, no one in their right mind would invade Belgium, the Netherlands or France. To what possible gain? Same with anything north/north east of Denmark. For the most point, Germany is really the industrial engine of Europe, and Americans love German cars. Okay. maybe Volkswagen not so much these days.

  15. 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 free, independent nations working together peacefully in their own, as well as their collective interests. Put that right next to the globalist Hillary Clinton saber rattling about Putin interfering in our elections and planning to invade this country and that. This isn’t out of necessity. The discussion about this strategy took place in secret with other globalists who wanted to bring back the immediacy of war as a motive for people to think that the technocratic elite is more necessary than ever.
    You are right about the Holy Roman Empire vibe. It was shambled together in response to Moslem and other threats, and when folks saw that the threat was gone divided themselves up into groups that could better suit their needs.
    It does rhyme.

    • The issue for Europe is they cannot break free from the limits of money. In the end, money is about the trust in the government issuing it. That trust is a reflection of the national character. The Bund is the most favored collateral in Europe because the Germans are the most dependable people in Europe. The money needs to reflect this reality.

      • I believe it is something more elemental than that Zman. I seriously agree with your thinking about money as a driving dynamic, because lets be realistic, unbridled greed and the kind of power that comes with the power to have totalitarian control over an entire hemisphere’s wealth is the goal, wouldn’t you say? But there are things upstream of fiat politics and power to rule through control that fiat money.
        The threat populism and it’s revolution underway poses for the globalists is the simple virtues of us dirt people, that we are beginning to confront this Evil of globalism, the imposition the globalists will upon us is being acknowledged, confronted and defied. This to me is truth evident, as the elitists work constantly to dis-enfranchise and marginalize us dirt people, and since we have gave notice through our voting for Brexit and Trump they are doubling down and show signs they are not backing down.
        Regardless, they go too far, they are trying to pogrom the race of Western White Men through every means possible. It is not unlike the pogrom of Stalin’s Kulaks.
        For all their haughty moralistic meddling, their source and fig leaf of the appearance of political and economic power, really these elites whom have appointed themselves our betters and rulers fail to grasp something essential. They offer nothing but the Four Stages of Ideological Subversion:
        1, Demoralisation
        2, Destabilization
        3, Crisis
        4, Normalisation

        Steadfast Patriot TL Davis had this to say about that kind of deceit:
        “It is not ours to restore the power of the Constitution. It is ours to show them the wrath of America without the protections the Constitution offers them.

        Let them restore it to find refuge from us.”

        He has a point there. And why I ask, should we dirt people be their enemy, when we can be their nemesis instead? The definition of which I highly admire: A righteous infliction of retribution, manifested by an appropriate agent.
        Our culture as dirt people possesses something rather unique: It is upstream of politics, our liberty as people first, is upstream of tyrants. We forget that at our peril. But the meddlers do not.

        As a dirt person I plead my case, all I want is to be left alone, to be unencumbered from others meddling. That means I am free to pursue the meaning of the sphere of my life, in particular my physical activity’s and spiritual hopes and desires. It is not complex, nor is it dangerous to others, it is the simply the freedom of the land below my feet – my property, the unfettered economic freedom to provide a level of prosperity to enable me to live above the level of bare subsistence. It is not extravagant, it is provincial, in fact it is more stoic poverty than anything, living wisely within my means.
        In my mind and my heart, I see this as not only the foundation of who and what I am, it is my testament to my virtue and principles, it is an indication, my flag to others I want to be, and will be, left to my devices and my living, for I need nothing or nobody to tell me who I am or how I am to comport myself, for I bother no one, as that right there is the first thing, mind your own business: MYOB!
        I have become fiercely protective of my liberty in the above sense. I believe a man has to be in this world that presently has reached a level of meddling that is beyond crazy, it is insane with idea sticking it’s nose in every facet of the sphere of everyone else’s life is not only acceptable, it is it’s ordained privilege, and for those of us who resist, or defy, or rebel against this intrusion, we are somehow evil, the enemy.
        As a dirt person, it becomes clear, at some point, there is gonna be a fight over this. Because this do gooder world will not back down or stop until it is stopped. And that job is going to fall on us dirt people. It already has, it just isn’t at the stage where it gets bloody, yet.
        You see, us dirt people, we are backed into a corner here, and being a White dirt person, our backs are up against the wall. There is no other options but to fight. Every reasonable, rational, logical, gracious, peaceful, kind, generous, moral and just plain good old nice way to resolve the hate and derision directed at us dirt people has deliberately, with the most unwholesome premeditated malice imaginable, been rejected, spit on, insulted, degraded, taken out of context, taken for granted, sullied, and converted into lies. The reality here is there is not a whole lot left for alternative means to be left in peace.
        Sure it’s FUBAR, but that is the whole point, the intent. Remember the marxist slogan, “Order out of chaos”?
        Alinsky smiles from Hell as he gives the globalists a reacharound.
        Looking on the positive side. We all who have the courage and the wherewithal get to upgrade from the Former USA. There is an honorable resistance out there, it is real, it is tangible, it is happening because it begins with each of us who choose it, and you can join right now. All you have to do is choose Liberty, the rest is natural as primal rights and self determination, as profound as individualism.
        The real division is not between the republican party and the democratic party, but between a tyrannical political class and it’s slavery to the administrative tyranny of the state, and Freemen and a revolution of hearts and minds. The meddlers and their proxies can have the F-USA, it’s tyranny, it’s putrid “diversity” and all it implies or we can have civilization.
        As dirt people we only get to pick one.

        • “The real division is not between the republican party and the democratic party, but between a tyrannical political class and it’s slavery to the administrative tyranny of the state, ”

          Nailed it! The Elite may be interchangeable (Pray Trump is an exception). What we deal with daily are the administrators and their hired guns, The meter maid, the building inspector and the police are not the problem, but the chief of police, the mayor, the head of the building department, the head of the DMV, these are the minor tyrants that work the will of the elite upon us daily.
          I’ve noticed that when the traffic signals break down, motorists work out a way to keep things moving fairly well. I suspect we could get along just fine without most of the 25% -30% or so that work for the government as their primary product is friction.

          • But in a very specific way, those minor totalitarians are what give the larger totalitarians their power. The larger totalitarians are not the ones enforcing their diktat, it is the smaller totalitarians. The larger totalitarians are totalitarians who never do the dirty work, it is why they are totalitarians, how they remain totalitarians, in the first instance. And the totalitarians among us who keep voting for the same totalitarians and their totalitarianism, give power to the totalitarians to rule by totalitarian power.
            Us dirt people are left without sanction or franchise in this circle jerk of totalitarianism. But in every system of rule of men, there must be somebody to rule, or there is no power for the rulers to have power. That is the conundrum.
            It is when the dirt people begin to withdraw consent for being ruled that liberty begins. From there it is a mopping up operation. Because consent is power, the withdrawal of consent is power. It is the only power, all other power is an illusion. The power to coerce, via threat of force, or use of violence, is not power in the sense that consent is. Because, and here is the noodle baker, consent is something totally unique in all the activity of men, it can not be taken, it can only be given. Even if a totalitarian puts a gun to my head and threatens to blow my brain out if I do not comply, I still have the choice, to consent or to not consent, I have to choose, even tacitly, it is still consent or not.
            See the conundrum and the power here?

          • ” You can’t conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him.” ― Robert A. Heinlein

            Time for more”Irish Democracy”?

          • I increasingly keep coming back to this:

            “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”
            ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn”

    • 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 thousands of years of culture and beauty that made the continent such a myriad of history and heritage straight down the toilet.

  16. 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:

    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 into a unitary management class whose only interest is in maintaining the system that supports their paychecks.

    Conservative, Inc. can’t die fast enough.

    • 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.

Comments are closed.