Skip to main content

What is the point of the European Union, anyway?

David Cameron's vetoing a new EU treaty seems to me obviously the right decision, even if he cloaked it in some rather bullshitty reasons about a financial transactions tax. The real reason, as Sullivan points out, is that the British people would have certainly rejected this treaty and his government would have collapsed like a flan in a cupboard. Cameron has been catching hell for this, as it apparently "isolates" Britain.

Suppose for the sake of argument that Britain is now isolated from the decision-making powers in Europe. My question: so what? I am increasingly skeptical about the whole rationale for the whole European project. People often talk about a possible "United States of Europe" as if the American version were a self-evidently good thing. America is certainly among the worst-governed countries in the developed world, suffering galloping political decay, and it's not at all obvious to me that it will survive intact even into the medium term. We barely made it through the debt ceiling debacle; imagine what President Gingrich will do to the place.

I don't think it's a coincidence that the best-governed countries around the world, like Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Singapore, etc., are all small- to medium-sized. Countries like that are big enough to be able to fund reasonable infrastructure and defend themselves, but small enough that their governance problems are surmountable, and perhaps most importantly, weak enough that they aren't tempted to traipse around the globe and engage in boneheaded meddling.

I think what people forget when they talk about the need for unifying Europe, especially looking back at WWII, is that Hitler was fundamentally a product of horrible economic collapse. These days if countries are fat, content, and prosperous, the chances of great power wars are zero. Nuclear weapons plus development = peace. It's akin to airline security. There is one development that has increased security aboard airlines, and that is the expectation that the passengers will fight any hijacker. Yet governments feel a need to impose a bunch of totally ineffective rules and a bloated agency over the top so they can say they've "done something" about the problem.

Is it so crazy to think that countries should just focus on their own homes and try to provide a good life for their own citizens, instead of jockeying for position in loopy supranational entities run run by lunatics? To my eye "influence" in Europe plus $1.50 will get you a cup of coffee, plus your very own lounge chair on the Hindenburg.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why Did Reality Winner Leak to the Intercept?

So Reality Winner, former NSA contractor, is in federal prison for leaking classified information — for five years and three months, the longest sentence of any whistleblower in history. She gave documents on how Russia had attempted to hack vendors of election machinery and software to The Intercept , which completely bungled basic security procedures (according to a recent New York Times piece from Ben Smith, the main fault lay with Matthew Cole and Richard Esposito ), leading to her capture within hours. Winner recently contracted COVID-19 in prison, and is reportedly suffering some lingering aftereffects. Glenn Greenwald has been furiously denying that he had anything at all to do with the Winner clusterfuck, and I recently got in an argument with him about it on Twitter. I read a New York story about Winner, which clearly implies that she was listening to the Intercepted podcast of March 22, 2017 , where Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill expressed skepticism about Russia actually b

The Basic Instinct of Socialism

This year I finally decided to stop beating around the bush and start calling myself a democratic socialist. I think the reason for the long hesitation is the very long record of horrifying atrocities carried out by self-described socialist countries. Of course, there is no social system that doesn't have a long, bloody rap sheet, capitalism very much included . But I've never described myself as a capitalist either, and the whole point of socialism is that it's supposed to be better than that. So of course I cannot be a tankie — Stalin and Mao were evil, terrible butchers, some of the worst people who ever lived. There are two basic lessons to be learned from the failures of Soviet and Chinese Communism, I think. One is that Marxism-Leninism is not a just or workable system. One cannot simply skip over capitalist development, and any socialist project must be democratic and preserve basic liberal freedoms. The second, perhaps more profound lesson, is that there is no s

Varanus albigularis albigularis

That is the Latin name for the white-throated monitor lizard , a large reptile native to southern Africa that can grow up to two meters long (see pictures of one at the Oakland Zoo here ). In Setswana, it's called a "gopane." I saw one of these in my village yesterday on the way back from my run. Some kids from school found it in the riverbed and tortured it to death, stabbing out its eyes, cutting off its tail, and gutting it which finally killed it. It seemed to be a female as there were a bunch of round white things I can only imagine were eggs amongst the guts. I only arrived after it was already dead, but they described what had happened with much hilarity and re-enactment. When I asked why they killed it, they said it was because it would eat their chickens and eggs, which is probably true, and because it sucks blood from people, which is completely ridiculous. It might bite a person, but not unless threatened. It seems roughly the same as killing wolves tha