In 1919 in Petrograd, watching Lenin's revolution unfold, an American journalist cabled eight words which became famous. "I have seen the future," he wrote, "and it works." He remained a dedicated Communist for the rest of his days, rather than admit he had been wrong.
In truth, he had been half right. He was indeed watching the Russian future, but it never worked. World Communism slaughtered around a hundred million people (Stalin and Mao and their deliberately created famines) but everything it touched failed miserably.
In 1940 a Norwegian major had a similar epiphany. He too became convinced he had perceived the future of Europe. His name lives on, but to be fair to Vidkun Quisling he was one of hundreds of thousands utterly persuaded that Britain would be invaded and crushed that summer. The future was National Socialist; it was based in Berlin; it would be insane to resist the inevitable. In 1945 he was dragged out and shot. . . but not for being Right, it was for being wrong.
It is truly the greatest conceit in the world to believe that to you and a small circle of like-thinkers the future has been revealed. Such towering vanity permits every arrogance, every immorality. How can it be wrong not to encourage and aid the coming inevitable, even though so many fools cannot see it?
In the early Fifties a small and self-styled elite of largely-failed European politicians became utterly convinced that they too were able to see the future of the continent.
More, they would dedicate themselves to creating that future. It would take time -- all their lives and more -- but it would one day come. And it would be called the European Superstate.
No, that phrase is not recent, not new. It was not invented by today's EU-sceptics but by the acknowledged founder of the dream, Jean Monnet. In 1956, a year before the signing by the founder of the Treaty of Rome, he was officially named as president of the Action Committee for the European Superstate.
Dreamers they may have been, but pragmatists too. The founding fathers realised their vision could not avoid the abrogation of the existing nation-states, and that the vast majority of Europe's peoples would not want this. In Wilde's phrase, it was the love that dared not speak its name.
Force majeure would not work, nor democratic persuasion. So Monnet, in private writings only revealed many years later, laid down the template.
"Europe's nations should be guided towards the superstate without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation."
Monnet really wrote that: the recipe for government by deception. And Lenin wrote: "You cannot conduct a successful revolution with just a small committee of true believers. You need millions and millions of useful fools." He meant those millions who would swallow the propaganda hook, line and sinker.
This, at last, is where the Irish come in. For 35 years you have swallowed the propaganda hook, line and sinker, a passionately pro-EU western flank to EU-sceptic Britain. And the subsidies rolled in.
They helped you turn a largely agricultural land into a booming light-industry economic miracle. And you thought there was no catch. Sorry, but there is always a catch. For Ireland it was complete obedience.
Yes, there were a couple of hiccoughs. Your amazing constitution demanded the people be consulted on real transfers of sovereignty (we British have no such luck). And despite massive pressure from your entire establishment you said 'No' to the Treaty of Nice.
But government by consent is not on the menu. That verdict had to be reversed, so it was. A blend of threat and bribery usually works. Then you said 'No' to the Treaty of Lisbon. Same again. Reverse it or else. So you did. Now it doesn't matter anymore; Lisbon granted the autocrats all the power they will ever need to rule you.
Along the way you separated from the pound, then abolished the punt to adopt the euro, unaware or uncaring of a single truth: he who controls the currency controls the
economy, and he who rules the economy rules the land. Of course at first, from 2000 AD onwards for eight years, it looked like the biggest ceilidh in history.
First, 20 years of massive subsidies, enabling corporation taxes to be the lowest in Europe. The world and his wife queued up to open shop in the Emerald Isle, creating jobs and prosperity. The Celtic Tiger was born. Then the euro. But there was a snag and a big one.
Economies can die of hypothermia but, like a car engine, they can also over-heat and explode in a fireball.
For almost a decade after 2000, cautious, careful Germany needed tiny borrowing rates to encourage growth. So the European Central Bank awarded them. But Ireland needed caution, a check on insanity and greed; Ireland needed a high bank rate. The German rate, for Ireland, was like a bucket of petrol on a fire.
The ECB is in Frankfurt for a reason. It is there for the Germans and their partners the French. Franco-Germany runs the EU now, and the small nations had better believe it. By their own choice they have been consumed and are now virtually irrelevant. Their politicos strut and posture; they are even allowed to pose, beaming, beside the giants. But the real power lies behind closed doors where Franco-Germany decides and Brussels, long bought and paid for, agrees.
So whither Ireland now? For that matter, whither Britain? Is there really no other destiny than to be locked into the Euro-jail? Well, here is a true irony. The Euro-future is actually fading. The EU's global market share is falling. The economies not only of Greece and Ireland have failed, but those of Spain, Portugal and Italy are on a knife-edge. The British economy is in deep trouble, but at least we have control of our pound and can adjust it to suit our interests. Ireland does what Berlin decrees. And even the Germans are losing patience.
True, Chancellor Merkel is a save-the-euro junkie and Germany has no referendums. But polls show more than 60 per cent of the Germans want their deutschmark back. Even the German taxpayer cannot save the continent and even they might rise up if ordered to. In short, the EU, like an elderly harlot, is deeply raddled behind the greasepaint.
So is there nowhere else to go? This is the constant cry of the true fanatic. Outside the EU lies isolation and poverty. But it simply isn't true. Turn your eyes away from the claustrophobic captivity of the EU. There are new mercantile giants emerging worldwide -- physical distance does not matter any more, cyberspace has seen to that.
China, India, Brazil, Singapore and Malaysia will be the giants of tomorrow and they are eager for our partnership, but not via the chokehold of Brussels. Personally I prefer the Anglo-sphere. The six nations of Britain, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have immense wealth, numbers and power. We share history, literature, culture, democracy, jurisprudence and language.
The Irish would never be irrelevant inside a union of English-speakers. Seventeen million Irish-descended US voters see to that. The Irish have far more in common with Canadians than with Bulgarians. We all share the freedoms before the law and the world, bequeathed by the English Bill of Rights of 1689 and the American version a hundred years later.
If I were young and Irish today I would demand the old men of Dublin to become an Associate Member of the EU like Norway and Switzerland. And I would lift my eyes to the open oceans, to the Far East and the fellow English-speakers beyond the westering sun. There, if any place, is where our future lies.
The alternative, for the Irish, is to be treated as a euro-servant forever.