Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Thoughts on Europe

Joe Knippenberg, as we know, has been travelling around Europe, old and new, united and not. This is a very fine article, with many fine insights and good thoughts. I’ll let it speak for itself, so y’all should read it (and Joe should write more!) and we can have some conversations about its fine points, at your will. I am willing to participate in such a conversation because I like talking about museums.

Discussions - 4 Comments

Since I was there with Joe when the discussions took place in the beautiful Zillertal, fortified by a glass of "schnapps" (not mentioend by Joe), I can attest to the veracity of Joe's main points made during our discussion. Leaves me to add some of my personal views of the European experiment. The euroscepticism Joe found in our newly made Dutch friends is pervasive throughout. And it is manifested in the ongoing struggle with the proposed new European constitution, all 481 pages of it! When skipping through this document the first impression one gets is, not of a simple, straightforward declaration of common principles and purpose, but more of a "To do Manual" in which all human activities within the EU are prescribed in minute detail.I believe that this is what the "common European" instinctively rebels against. In their quest to make (by force?) Europeans out of the mealstrom of individual, nationally oriented citizens, the Euro-elitist bureaucrats in Strassburg and Brussels have (elected) to overlook these deep seated allegiances to country and soil.
Of the 27 countries presently making up the EU, 16 have ratified the constitution, two, France and the Netherlands, have outright rejected it by popular referendum, and in nine countries the process in in limbo. It is noteworthy that of the 16 countries which ratified the proposed constitution, only two did so through popular referendum. The Strassburg/Brussels axis is now "sweetening the pie" by "rewriting" the constitution into a "treaty". And that's about as far as it goes, nothing but a name change. The main language and provisions remain untouched. For instance, some of the Dutch objections have been met by removing the reference to a European national anthem and an official European flag.But many objections remain and the upcoming discussions and votes may roil many local political scenes. Joe referred to English as the second common language, as practised in the circles in which he moved while in Europe. A common form of communication is, of course, of primary importance if one is to strive for unity. That common language, English, may be practiced in western Europe, but leaves the majority of Europeans without a common form of communication. Consider this fact: every rule, regulation, and edict issued by the European Union government agencies must be printed in at least 13 different languages and sometimes more. The printing costs of the EU government constitues one of the largest items in its budget!
To my mind, as an immigrant who learned English in school in Holland and who went to great lenghts to lose his accent once here, it is the common language which provides the great equalizer and the glue that binds us and reminds us of our common principles and destiny as a nation. At the same time, I can be proud of my ancestry and its contribution to what is essentially a multy-cultural America. What the all knowing political elitists, whether in Europe or in our country, don't get is that you cannot force conformity down the throats of the people. Sooner or later they will rebel! And that, my friends, is what is at stake in Europe (and maybe our great country)!

I, too, cannot help but say, long live the old Europe. The bureaucratic mess that is the EU is rightly frightening to those nations. Surely you are correct that the nature of that Union, the coiling roil of regulations, requires rebellion. And yet, in the face of Islamic threat, and the possibly growing threat of Russia (what, again?) wouldn't they all be stronger together, in some way, than separately?

As Joe the Younger said, the glue that Christianity could be against the former threat seems not to interest. Perhaps that is the legacy of established churches? If they could find strength in some kind of consensus on the goodness of European things, in cultural and political terms might that be a useful kind of unity against the Islamic threat within those nations? And a military unity might be a very good thing. Europe has the tangled common history as of a messy and factious family in terms relative to the rest of the world. But as the world is today, might they not need to hang together in some European way? The way they are finding through the EU constitution is banal and seems smothering. Maybe there is another way, though treaties of the old sort seem not to have worked all that well historically in Europe. The "treaty" that might as well be the constitution does not sound good, but maybe something of that form that does not demand conformity nor deforms the old Europe would be useful.

I thank both JKs, the younger for the essay, the elder for the report. Don't get much EU news in the states that isn't mind-numbingly boring b/c reported impersonally.

Joe the Younger, Pierre Manent teaches us that the glue proposed is the (post-Christian) "religion of humanity," a la Lennon's "Imagine," which finds political expression in the "empire of law," that is, transnational judge-made law. In other vocabulary, the "transnational progressivism" that John Fonte's fine article of a few years back describes. The non-theory types should start w/ Fonte, but heads up, our Paul Seaton will soon have a translation out of an accessible short Manent book on the idea of the nation and the EU situtation.


Thanks for the heads-up. I'll look for the book.

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