Friday, March 07, 2008

It's not just Britain

I have received an email which I hope you will find as interesting as I did. [Reproduced in full, with permission—"Of course you can publish my letter. I do not mind having my name published either. I am not ashamed of my views..."—from the author.]
Dear Devil,

I would like to join the Libertarian Party. I am German, however, and since I am not even, at the moment, a resident in the UK, I suspect that my circumstances disqualify me as a member and supporter of a British political party.

You may wonder why I turn to Britain in search for political allies. The trouble is that I am afraid liberty and democracy are irretrievably lost in continental Europe. These days I seriously doubt whether these principles have ever really been part of the so-called European tradition.

The ideals of socialism are so deeply ingrained in German political thought that politicians and citizens alike don’t actually accept the fundamental tenets of individual liberty which they consider a typical example of the pragmatic-primitive nature of Anglo-Saxon thought, a typical product of the greedy superficial merchant soul of Anglo-Saxon culture.

In Germany, the two most fundamental principles of a representative democracy, individual liberty and the nation-state, are viewed with deep suspicion. Since the defeat of World War II, the nation-state has lost all credibility in Germany as a desirable political entity. This is due to the incredibly stupid and very dangerous habit of blaming the catastrophe of the Third Reich on the national bits of the National Socialist ideas rather than the socialist bits.

The nation-state, and you can hear this everywhere on the continent, is responsible for all the wars waged since the Treaty of Westphalia. The nation-state has become the scape-goat, nationalism the enemy, whereas the main culprit, the undemocratic political structure based on socialist ideas, has >>got off scot-free<< [a slight amendment to the correct idiomatic phrase there—DK]. When one reminds Germans that the Nazis were not actually "right-wing" but, as the name suggests, national Socialists, they are either confused or outraged.

But no-one in Germany trusts the people. No-one trusts politicians either. But almost everybody is convinced of the inherently benevolent nature of the State. In Germany, laws are not considered a necessary evil but the only way to salvation. That is the reason why the Germans are always so keen to hand over legislative powers to their executive. That way things can be sorted out so much more efficiently. Now this, to Germans, is true liberty. The European Union is of course a perfect fit. It offers Germany the two things it most craves at the moment: the dissolution of the nation-state and the dissolution of democratic government.

Although I have always been interested in politics I have never been able to vote for any political party in Germany in the five years I have lived here. As seems increasingly the case in Britain, all German political parties really offer the same things: They all support the EU and they all believe in big government, and I refuse to cast a vote for anybody who believes it his supreme duty to regulate my life rather than to defend my freedom.

But nevertheless I went to see "my" MP to ask him about ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon and how much power would remain with the German parliament. The MP, a member of the Green Party and a veteran of the radical student movement of 1968, had not yet taken the time to read the treaty—frankly, he has very little knowledge of what is going on in the European Union. But he nevertheless freely admitted that already now the German parliament had almost no legislative powers left.

He even accepted my argument that the transfer of such legislative powers to the executive is nothing else than an Ermächtigungsgesetz (I know this term has been rather popular in the European Parliament lately). He did not really seem to approve of all this but he is so convinced of the beneficial effects of the European Union, regurgitating all the popular myths about the blessings of the European Union (fifty years of peace and stability, progress on the challenges of climate change and globalisation, great laws on consumer-protection, etc), that he considers the many structural defects as reformable and merely a temporary nuisance.

Talking to Germans about the EU, especially German politicians and intellectuals, is deeply worrying and deeply depressing because they do see the defects. They just don’t care. When I pointed out to my MP the many ways in which my democratic rights are circumvented so as to render them non-existent, he shrugged. They are so in thrall to the ideology of Europe that they would sacrifice almost anything to realise this dream, that they consider all means justified to reach their end.

I have lost all faith in the capability and the will of the German people to live in a democracy. There are pockets of resistance now, as there were before, but as before these are only a handful of individuals with virtually no presence in the public sphere. Germany is once again on the road to serfdom.

If, as I suspect is the case, I cannot become a member of your party, perhaps I may nevertheless be allowed on occasion to attend events organised by your party or even help in any way you consider appropriate.

Thank you for your time and thank you for devilskitchen.

Yours sincerely,

Nana Etessami

Thank you for such an informative and well crafted email, frankly. It is always interesting to get reports of the prevailing attitudes from outside these isles of ours.

I am also happy to report that, according to the Electoral Commission (we checked), a foreign national may indeed join a UK political party—but they may not make any donations.

It is not just in Britain, it seems, that the people care not a jot for their freedom. As long as they can afford the next fad and their central heating—warm, safe and coddled, like the infants they so obviously are—they just don't give a stuff.

It is, as Nana says, profoundly fucking depressing. Welcome to the new tyranny.


Rob said...

"transfer of such legislative powers to the executive is nothing else than an Ermächtigungsgesetz"

That's easy for you to say. Sad British joke, there.

Rob said...

Europe had a political class long before its emergence in Britain. This class despises the public and are profoundly anti-democratic. Corruption, horse-trading and the limiting of democratic debate are presented as "consensus politics".

The problem is, underneath this "consensus", which is a consensus within the political class only, the fissure with the masses is getting larger and larger. For a member of the political class to go against the consensus is political death, so they herd themselves into the authoritarian state that Europe is becoming.

It is, as you say, profoundly depressing. Perhaps the neo-cons shouldn't have tried to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan, but started first on the European mainland?

Mark Wadsworth said...

May not make donations over £200, actually.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Yes, Mark, but we are being rather more stringent with our interpretations than most other parties.


Gareth said...

The US President once went to Berlin and said 'I am a plum doughnut'.*

A very different US President went to Berlin and said 'Tear down this wall'. And eventually it was.

I used to think the West won the cold war. Now I'm not so sure. Did we lose the cod wars as well?

* He didn't really.

Kay Tie said...

It's very important to distinguish between the "EU" and "the people of Europe". The people of Europe are just as pissed off as we are (I know for a fact that French market stall holders are just as livid as ours).

Little Black Sambo said...

Brilliant e-mail.
As for wars, it isn't nation states that start them, just Germans.

John Trenchard said...

the demise of nationalism in Germany isn't down to the "political classes" there. It's the Americans.

Don't forget the rather not-so-small matter of American military bases on German soil post WW2. Do you think that the Yanks would have tolerated any sort of resurgent German nationalism?

thats the crux of the matter - the European Union perfectly suits the zeitgeist of Germany and their postwar culture.

It most certainly does not fit with the culture and history of Britain.
Therein lies the fundemental paradox and breaking point of this entire EU idea.

Nana said...

Ah yes of course. The old battle cry. The Americans did it! Excellent. The Germans will love this argument. They have a long tradition of blaming everything on outsiders, Americans, Anglo-Saxon capitalists, Jews, take your pick. Of course they are never responsible for their own actions. It's always somebody else who made us do it.

The German dislike of nationalism is not due to American propaganda. It is a cop-out, trying to wriggle out of learning the hard lesson that socialism is dangerous. The Germans voluntarily gave up nationalism to keep socialism.

If you want to understand the German obsession with socialism, read Hayek. And please give us Germans some credit for independently coming up with our own silly, stupid and dangerous ideas.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't the EU that gave Europe peace over the last 50 years, it was NATO.

It was NATO that created the structure and circumstances that allowed to EU to come into existence.

Otherwise we'd all have been citizens of COMECON