Riddle me this, if you will. ‘Europe’ as a concept has perhaps never stood in lower regard, whether in the eyes of its own citizens or of those of us thankfully still beyond its reach. Yet the euro is strengthening – with options showing levels of bullishness not seen since the 2008/9 Crisis – and the likes of Italy and Spain can both borrow for 30 years at much the same rate as can the USA. Ye Gods! It truly must be the Promised Land.
But, forget the fantasy world of central bank-distorted financial markets for a moment and look around at the world beyond the Bloomberg screens.
The Eastern Europeans are either incensed that Brussels is not being aggressive enough in its dealings with their ancient Russian foe, or are hopping mad that the EU’s poltroonery in the face of the American Neo-Con demands to help purge Putin is costing them valuable commercial links with their cousins across the steppe. The South still sees the North as a bunch of joyless Calvinist hairshirts, while the North is steeped in disdain for the work-shy, transmontane spongers who, runs the counter-charge, lust after its carefully accumulated savings.
All are torn between a commendable sympathy (or at least an affected, bien pensant concern) for the innocents in the human wreckage of the Volkseinwanderung washing up against Europe’s borders and a grave – and wholly justifiable – disquiet as to what the social and economic implications are of this vast, unlooked-for, largely male, transmigratory host.
Finally, at the Project’s sclerotic heart, a fast-fading France clutches desperately at the EU as a last means of pretence at La Gloire while Germany reluctantly plays along out of an increasingly anachronistic sense of Kriegsschuld. And as for Perfidious Albion? Ooh la-la!
Meanwhile, much to the consternation of the Michelin star mandarins who are supposed to have their—and only their—fashionable causes passed into law with few difficulties and even fewer discussions with members of the underclass, what they deride as ‘Populism’ has sprung up across the continent in all its sweaty, inerudite, culturally-conservative horror.
Ah, yes, ‘Populism’. A bitter harvest of disillusion sown by the fact that glib promises of a chicken in every pot have not been kept by those of the elite who never quite seem to take a personal share in the same daily struggle to make ends meet that their misrule has inflicted on their electors.
As a result, the ingrates have come to cast about for other leaders, thus presenting the opportunity to a few bold men and women from beyond the privileged, Platonic circle of the establishment to stand at the head of the canaille and scream ‘Ca ira!’ while pressed up against the pitiless railings which ring the local branch of the Ministry of Truth.
‘Populism’ – or, to use the lazy, journalistic trope: Far-Right extremism – which is to say, that purer form of democratic politics which is not explicitly socialist or sanctimoniously ecowarrior but which more closely tries to reflect the mood of the grass roots, of the man in the street, of the demos itself (not that a Burke or a de Tocqueville—or perhaps even a Jefferson—would see much merit in that awful purity beyond the sole virtue that it displays a refreshing lack of cant).
‘Populism’ – which sees the path to power in openly consulting and echoing the Mass rather than in disguising just sufficiently the heartfelt contempt in which the usual jacks-in-office hold it so as not to dissuade that minority of the proletariat which does actually bother to vote to put a cross in the correct box when paying a periodic visit to the hustings.
‘Populism’ – how the very concept makes one shudder! Fancy having to rub shoulders with the hoi polloi and to canvass their opinions at every turn! How can one’s expense-account be fully exploited, the necessary outside interests be served, the back-door deals be done, and the required quota of virtue-signalling be carried out if one actually has to represent the plebeians and their prejudices?
Do these villeins not understand that politics is nothing more than a well-paid internship for the Nomenklatura? That men and women only engage in ‘climbing the greasy pole’ in order to prove that they merit the rapid, post-retirement offer of a lucrative sinecure at some willing investment bank or accommodating defence consultancy, or else that they qualify for a spell of tax-privileged satrapy at the EC, the UN, the IMF or some other inviolable sanctum of the globalist Elect?
How utterly distasteful all that ‘people’ stuff is when one has one’s nest to feather!
Nor is it just the Spectre of Populism which Stalks the Land. Overlapping them are the nationalists and the separatists – the Lega Nord, the Catalans, the AfD, Pegida, Grexit, Brexit and all. There is Orban and Klaus, Le Pen and Farage, Blocher and Hofer, and a whole host of unsavoury Dutch and Danes and Flemings and Bretons and Savoyards and who knows what else besides? Mensheviks and Frondeurs, Splittists and Schismatics, every last one of them!
Do they not know that the only solution is MORE Europe? Monetary union? Fiscal union? Banking union? Legal union? Union union? More centralism? A greater monolith? Less accountability? Less local representation? Less appeal to difference, to culture, to time-honoured tradition? More dirigisme and less spontaneous order? That every successive failure of existing policy only gives conclusive proof that the vestiges of the nation state, the regional council, and the parish committee must be unsparingly swept away so that the Europe of the overlords can triumph? Have they never even heard of Robespierre?
Negative interest rates meeting negative worth banks and insurers. Mass youth unemployment to be treated with mass immigration. Restructuring the restructurings and bailing out the bail-outs for Club Med forever. A vehement defence of the right of the accession-minded client kings and Obsides who ring its borders to pursue their—but not necessarily their fellow citizens’—unique vision of subjugative ‘self-determination’ in places like Western (but not Eastern) Ukraine and Moldova and Montenegro and Georgia and even in non-Alawite Syria, but none for those who would quit the Beast’s less than tender embrace and opt for a vigorous independence from the writ of the soft Soviets in session in Strasbourg.
Is this really a polity one should be fearful of leaving? Is this the illusory haven in which the people of a free nation should cower instead of placing its faith in its own enterprise, diligence, and adaptability?
While pondering that question, one can – if one’s strains one’s ears to hear beyond the droning hubbub of flim-flammery, spin doctory, and B-Movie catastrophism – discern the proud anthem of Europe tootling in the background.
No – not that one! It is not Schiller’s lofty words and Beethoven’s soaring tonalities, but Pippi Langstrumpf whose theme song gives a far more eloquent expression of the view from Brussels:-
‘Zwei mal Drei macht Vier,
Widdewiddewitt, und Drei macht Neune!!
Ich mach’ mir die Welt,
Widdewidde, wie sie mir gefällt.’