Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Foreign Affairs

Sink the European Stability Union

On November 1, 1993, the Maastricht Treaty entered into force, creating the European Union. The treaty faced a tumultuous start as it failed its first Danish referendum, squeaked by with a victory in a French referendum by just one percent, and almost saw the British Parliament overthrow the government of John Major. Denmark and the United Kingdom were pacified by provisions exempting them from certain aspects of the treaty. Eighteen years later, the path towards ever-closer Union has been completely derailed, the news of the day filled by the possibility that, come January, the European Union will be on the road to disintegration--at least in the form that we currently know.

In an effort to avoid the fate of the former Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen, who was thrown out of office one year ago with the lowest approval ratings in Irish history after forcing a European bailout on his countrymen, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou made a startling announcement that he would be putting the terms of the European Union's Greek bailout, decided at a summit of European leaders last week, to a popular referendum. Recent polls indicate that the bailout is massively unpopular among the Greeks, and unless Papandreou has some trick up his sleeve, the vote in January will be to oppose the bailout. This means that Greece will default and suffer economic collapse, the contagion poisoning what is left of European stability. It will also be the likely first step towards Greece's departure from the Euro currency; perhaps the first of several departures. It will be economic chaos that could very well thrust the world back into a large recession. While that consequence is undesirable, I contend that this is better for Europe in the long-run.

My reasoning for this is that the European Union's leadership went too far last week in assaulting the sovereignty of the people of Europe. Despite the efforts of the German Bundestag and the British House of Commons against it, the "stability union" was approved after Chancellor Merkel's warnings of war in Europe should it fail. This union permits to the European Union the power to approve or disapprove the budgets of member-states--that is, to control the taxation and spending policies of individual nations. In effect, this means that the governments of individual states are no longer answerable to their people on one of their most fundamental reasons for existence: decisions on taxation and spending. With this new "stability union" the power over fiscal policy now belongs to centralized bureaucrats in Brussels, not Europe's national leaders. This cannot be. Though the economic consequences could be terrible for the whole world, Greece is right to challenge this. The popular tide in Europe has always been opposed to the elite-driven experiment in union, and now Europe's oligarchs have gone a step too far. Damn the torpedoes. 
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Discussions - 5 Comments

Not sure how disastrous this really is. If greece left the euro the currency would probably get stronger.

The european union probably should have the power to control spending decisions of individual states.

Also popular sovereignty is an exagerated value. One of the points I always bring up in a discussion of the Melian dialogues would be that even the Melians argueing on behalf of autonomy and self-determination only reserved this to the rulling class. The rulling class did what was best for themselves, without regard to the organization or society at large as a larger unit.

Who is to say that the bureacrats in Brussels are not superior to Europe's national leaders? The decisions these make might be less arbitrary and less capricious, and thus closer to Reason.

Greece is not the United States, certainly the U.S. can for the foreseeable future exploit the capacity to monetize debt, thus securing a sort of freedom from the budgetary standards that might be imposed either by Brussels or by Nature(within a legal framework).

Greece's departure from the Euro will be only theoretical, the Euro and to a lesser extent the Dollar would reassert themselves as the defacto currency of choice.

I read your comment with laughter because it is an argument for Oligarchy as such. Nowhere do you even attempt to portray the Brussels elite as a natural Aristocracy -- you accept them as an Oligarchy and champion their cause.

I'm with the author -- Damn the Torpedoes!

It is not an argument for Oligarchy as such.

It is simply an argument that questions the boundaries of democracy and rule by consent.

I am slightly Platonist, slightly Marxist, and marginally persuaded by Robert Mitchel. (I am slightly a lot of thinkers in a totality of the circumstances kind of way) I am also all about humor, and often times comment with a grin, even if it turns to the gallows!

It is in my view a rebutable presumption that Oligarchy is inferior to democracy. So I am a champion of democracy, and I certainly think wealth has too much power. Concentrations of wealth help fuel the Iron Law of Oligarchy. I think CEO's are overpaid, and I think income disparity is an issue. On the other hand even with a modicum of Oligarchy, the United States has become more prosperous.

I am not an expert on European politics, but I am expressing scepticism about the comparative "value" of decisions made by the Brussels elite versus the decisions made by say Papoulias or Papandreou.

To turn the tables, you certainly don't argue that Papandreou is a natural aristocrat.

I am not championing any cause (if I can help it). I simply accept as reasonable the idea that if you are going to have a single currency, you must also have the means of ensuring balanced budgets.

I am not predisposed favorably towards Greece, because they joined the Euro on the basis of Fraud.

I also don't see any reason to Damn the Torpedoes.

I don't think Germany is really hurt by the EU or the Euro, and I don't think Greece is either. Yet I recognize Fraud as grounds for "divorce"... But I have no real Dog in this fight.

I consider my true argument to be against Oligarchy. That is to say against a government whose decisions reflect a breach of the duty of Loyalty.

I certainly think it is possible that the elected leaders of various european states are inferior to the administators in Brussels. Anyone want to wave the Berlusconi flag?

Just as I think it is possible that federal Judges were superior to the elected judges in southern states post reconstruction.

While I am at it, I also think that these really low numbers of congressional approval have the potential for indicating that the various administrative agencies are superior to Congress.

I might have a higher opinion of the EPA, than I do of congress.

I almost certainly have a higher opinion of the CBO than I do of Rick Perry's budget projections.

More to the point, Europe is not the United States, so the decisions of the European Union lack legitimacy as it is not based on the consent of the government. It is an imperium et imperio, like the Articles of Confederation, in which the larger states dominate the smaller states, and which has the additional disadvantage of draining the resources of those larger states. Europe tried to achieve national union by stealth and it has failed. What Greece needs is an end to socialism, not perpetual dependence on the finances of its neighbors.

Augh: "consent of the governed"

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