Ah, poor old Saor Éire. It was nice while it lasted. Ireland’s freedom and democracy? What’s that to the rulers of the “New Europe”. Instead we have technocrats and an autocracy where once we had votes and a system of representative government. And, it would seem, in the near future a new treaty series of amendments to the Lisbon Treaty dictated to us from the corridors of power in Brussels (and Berlin and Paris) with a new warning: this time make damn sure you vote the way we tell you to vote; or else…
Of course it doesn’t have to be like this. Some people, some nations, do it differently, as the Guardian points out in a report from Iceland (y’know? Iceland. The country that finally stood up to the Free Market racketeers and pirates when the rest of Europe capitulated):
“If the 99% want to reclaim our power, our societies, we have to start somewhere. An important first step is to sever the ties between the corporations and the state by making the process of lawmaking more transparent and accessible for everyone who cares to know or contribute.
We had the first revolution after the financial troubles in 2008. Due to a lack of transparency, corruption and nepotism, Iceland had the third largest financial meltdown in human history, and it shook us profoundly. The Icelandic people realised that everything we had put our trust in had failed us. One of the demands during the protests that followed – and that resulted in getting rid of the government, the central bank manager and the head of the financial authority – was that we would get to rewrite our constitution. “We” meaning the 99%, not the politicians who had failed us. Another demand was that we should have real democratic tools, such as being able to call directly for a national referendum and dissolve parliament.
Many great things have occurred in Iceland since our days of shock in 2008. Our constitution has been rewritten by the people for the people. A constitution is such an important measure of what sort of society people want to live in. It is the social agreement. Once it is passed, our new constitution will bring more power to the people and give us proper tools to restrain those in power. The foundation for the constitution was created by 1,000 people randomly selected from the national registry. We elected 25 people to put that vision into words. The new constitution is now in the parliament. It will be up to the 99% to call for a national vote on it so that we inside the parliament know exactly what the nation wants and will have to follow suit. If the constitution passes, we will have almost achieved everything we set out to do. Our agenda was written on various open platforms; direct democracy is the high north of our political compass in everything we do.”
Once upon a time such a description of core beliefs would have been the very essence of what most of us believed modern Europe stood for. This is what we enthusiastic Europeans thought of as our ideals as well. Then came the Lisbon Treaty votes. The first. The second. And with them the lies, distortions, threats and intimidation. The hallmarks of dictatorships, of police states, of that other Europe, the one we did not really think about any more. Old Europe, pre-Union Europe, a Europe we left behind. How wrong we were. How stupidly, blindly optimistically wrong we were.
The future is spelled out in The Atlantic, with an enthusiasm I suspect most of us will find baffling (or chilling):
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a speech at her party’s annual gathering this week, declared that Germany — and Europe — must address the problems in the economic union by creating a political union. The European financial crisis is threatening to snowball from small, periphery states such as Greece and Ireland to the world’s eighth largest economy, Italy, and possibly even the fifth largest, France. Even if Europe can save Italy, and even if France does not fall into similar crisis, the European Union’s awful year has exposed some real flaws in the monetary union.
Some economists (the ones not calling the entire European experiment doomed) argue that what Europe needs is a fiscal union to make sure that the state economies behave responsibly and in some kind of sync. Integrating some of the world’s largest economies under this kind of unified fiscal authority would be a big deal. But Merkel wants to go one very big step further. “It is now the task of our generation to complete the economic and currency union in Europe and create, step by step, a political union.” She warned that Europe had entered “the most difficult hours since World War Two,” drawing a pointed contrast to the event that led to the creation of the European Union in the first place.”
Once I defined myself as Celtic, Irish and European. I did so with a certain degree of snobbery, as if invited to the much sought-after membership of an exclusive club. Now? Celtic. Irish. But European? Do I feel European? Of Europe?
It is a question that I find harder and harder to answer.
- Eurozone crisis gives Britain a chance to redraw, says David Cameron (guardian.co.uk)
- Merkel Risks EU Clash Over Political Union to End Crisis (businessweek.com)
- Merkel Urges Political Integration to Stabilize Euro (nytimes.com)
- Europe’s post-democratic era | Jürgen Habermas (guardian.co.uk)
- EU debt crisis: European Union in peril without reform, warns David Cameron (telegraph.co.uk)
- European debt crisis is worst time since second world war, says Angela Merkel (guardian.co.uk)
- Euro – source of friction or unifying? (bbc.co.uk)
- Berlin rebukes ‘greedy Brits’ in battle for Europe’s future (rt.com)
- Cameron Rebuffs Merkel Push for More Europe Political Union (businessweek.com)
- Merkel’s party votes to allow countries to leave eurozone (business.financialpost.com)