Sunday 17 February 2019

'No' vote gives us all a chance to take fresh look at Europe

THE 'No' vote was good: but better still was the hysterical reaction from those demophobic Europhiles, which merely served to confirm how right the 'No' vote was. For despite the shrill idiocies from the Eurocrats, Ireland has not said 'No' to Europe and 'Yes' to Auschwitz.

Ireland is not ungrateful for past European largesse, nor turned its back on the eastern European countries which wish to climb up the economic ladder, as we did. The EU is not a worse place today than it was last Thursday: indeed, it is a better place, because the Euro-elite has been told -- again -- that it cannot treat the electorates of Europe as mere rubber-stampers of their schemes. Even the term they use to describe their reluctant sorties into the public domain -- "the ratification process" -- confirms what we're here for: to faithfully and unfailingly ratify the decisions of the Eurocrats.

We did not say 'No' because we are selfish, short-sighted and small-minded: we said 'No' because we had the chance to. Indeed, every single electorate, with the exception of Luxembourg, would probably have said 'No' also -- which is why, of course, the eurologists prevented them from voting on the matter. Now I confess, I am a Eurosceptic -- more so than most of you. The EU I want consists of a series of trading partners who agree on a common moral and legal ethos, but with no political extension: that is, a commonwealth such as that enjoyed by the Greek city-states. At the most, I want the EU to have a common bargaining power when dealing with outsiders like the Russians.

But I do not want a united Europe, because I don't believe it could genuinely represent the wishes of the European peoples, in all their diversity. I do not want the meddling lunatics in Brussels issuing edicts on how to make cheese and where to graze sheep, for Galicia, Gdansk and Galway alike. And I absolutely do not want free population movements into Ireland. Take this simple test. How many Irish soldiers have been killed in action in Afghanistan? You know the answer to that, don't you? It's zero. How many British soldiers have been killed? You probably know the answer to that. Around one hundred. How many Polish soldiers? What? You didn't even know that there were any Polish soldiers in Afghanistan? Well, there are, and four of them have been killed.

And there are Germans, and Danes, Spaniards and Italians, Danish and French: in each one of those countries, the people are intensely aware of their army's involvement in Afghanistan, and feel deeply about their own casualties there. But outside those countries, the knowledge of that involvement is inversely proportionate to the distance from the country itself. Look. That's the nature of identity, which is not something political institutions can create.

Identity is illogical: political institutions, of themselves, are profoundly logical. But political institutions only acquire a legitimacy over those they govern when they appeal to their illogical side, to that part of the human brain which responds to a sense of the tribe, and tribal colours, and tribal chants.

This is why rational knowledge is often acquired irrationally: one knows the history of one's own country because one's heart directs the brain to study it.

Moreover, there is no "European" identity. We might share many cultural influences and traditions, but even language, proximity and similarity of culture do not confer a shared political identity, as the lowlands of Scotland and the north of England are in the melancholy process of discovering. Umbrellas like the EU are just that: no-one ever confuses the sheltered with the shelter, least of all the sheltered. And even then, just because you're under the same shelter with someone doesn't mean you want to have sex with them, or live together for the rest of your lives. Our 'No' vote is a people-sent opportunity for the governments of Europe to step back and consider our future. Do the Poles and the Spaniards and the Germans and the Swedes and the Irish have so much in common that they could genuinely have a single foreign policy and a single foreign minister that would fairly represent all their best interests?

This is like harnessing a weasel, a tadpole and a buffalo under the same yoke -- ah yes, just room to fit in a parrot here, and a jellyfish there: and ready when you are!

Now I understand the nature of the Euro debate: I truly do. It is for Eurocrats, like all good ideologists, simply to ignore the opinions of sceptics. No matter. The German Chancellor Bismarck, the most ruthless and most ambitious statesman of the 19th century, realised the limits of political possibility. Given the options of Lesser Germany and Greater Germany, he went for the former, simply because he knew that Austria could not be accommodated in the same polity as Prussia.

So, I am certain of this: even if the Eurocrats, by sleight, blackmail and gerrymander, manage to yoke together the disparate, brawling menagerie from the Vistula to the Corrib, and Gibraltar to the Barents Sea, they'll never plough a straight furrow. Never. Just watch.

kmyers@independent.ie

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