by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Birthplace of Independent Conservatism
Back from the hinterlands of progressive Blogistan, ready to do battle with the misguided, jackbooted lockstep rabid ideologues, I happened to come across the following at Memeorandum. The article, written by Daniel Hannan, an elected member of the European Parliament for the past eleven years, clearly cautions America from making the same mistakes European nations have made.
Mr. Hannan makes the case America, since its founding has essentially been a nation of individuals that recognizes the value of a less centralized government with effective checks and balances, and the value of capitalism and the free market. While I personally disagree that America has generally understood this since Woodrow Wilson, Mr Hannan, who resides in Europe and lives the daily realities of the movement towards a more centralized European collective if you will, thinks so.
His warnings to America ought to be seriously considered. He recognizes more clearly than a significant percentage of Americans that President Obama has set America's path on the road Europe has already traveled for some time. His perspective as a European, without the emotionalism Americans engage in, is, at least in this writers considered opinion a balanced perspective.
Following are select excerpts from the Wall Street Journal,
On a U.S. talk-radio show recently, I was asked what I thought about the notion that Barack Obama had been born in Kenya. "Pah!" I replied. "Your president was plainly born in Brussels."
American conservatives have struggled to press the president's policies into a meaningful narrative. Is he a socialist? No, at least not in the sense of wanting the state to own key industries. Is he a straightforward New Deal big spender, in the model of FDR and LBJ? Not exactly.
My guess is that, if anything, Obama would verbalize his ideology using the same vocabulary that Eurocrats do. He would say he wants a fairer America, a more tolerant America, a less arrogant America, a more engaged America. When you prize away the cliché, what these phrases amount to are higher taxes, less patriotism, a bigger role for state bureaucracies, and a transfer of sovereignty to global institutions.
He is not pursuing a set of random initiatives but a program of comprehensive Europeanization: European health care, European welfare, European carbon taxes, European day care, European college education, even a European foreign policy, based on engagement with supranational technocracies, nuclear disarmament....
Mr. Hannan so far is right on mark. Conservatives and Libertarians generally understand his balanced assessment. Progressive ought to seriously consider his words.
I don't doubt the sincerity of those Americans who want to copy the European model. A few may be snobs who wear their euro-enthusiasm as a badge of sophistication. But most genuinely believe that making their country less American and more like the rest of the world would make it more comfortable and peaceable.
All right, growth would be slower, but the quality of life might improve. All right, taxes would be higher, but workers need no longer fear sickness or unemployment. All right, the U.S. would no longer be the world's superpower, but perhaps that would make it more popular. Is a European future truly so terrible?
Yes. I have been an elected member of the European Parliament for 11 years. I have seen firsthand what the European political model means.
The critical difference between the American and European unions has to do with the location of power. The U.S. was founded on what we might loosely call the Jeffersonian ideal: the notion that decisions should be taken as closely as possible to the people they affect. The European Union was based on precisely the opposite ideal. Article One of its foundational treaty commits its nations to establish "an ever-closer union."
What a balanced understanding. Especially coming from a citizen of Great Britain, European socialism, and the general belief rights are bestowed upon individuals by their government.
The will of the people is generally seen by Eurocrats as an obstacle to overcome, not a reason to change direction. When France, the Netherlands and Ireland voted against the European Constitution, the referendum results were swatted aside and the document adopted regardless. For, in Brussels, the ruling doctrine—that the nation-state must be transcended—is seen as more important than freedom, democracy or the rule of law.
This doctrine has had several malign consequences. For example, it has made the assimilation of immigrants far more difficult. Whereas the U.S. is based around the idea that anyone who buys into American values can become American, the EU clings to the notion that national identities are anachronistic and dangerous. Unsurprisingly, some newcomers, finding their adopted countries scorned, have turned to other, less apologetic identities.
Does this sound remotely similar to what is presently happening in the USA?
The single worst aspect of Europeanization is its impact on the economy. Many Americans, and many Europeans, have a collective memory of how Europe managed to combine economic growth with social justice. Like most folk memories, the idea of a European economic miracle has some basis in fact. Between 1945 and 1974, Western Europe did outperform the U.S. Europe happened to enjoy perfect conditions for rapid growth. Infrastructure had been destroyed during the war, but an educated, industrious and disciplined work force remained.
Human nature being what it is, few European leaders attributed their success to the fact that they were recovering from an artificial low. They convinced themselves, rather, that they were responsible for their countries' growth rates. Their genius, they thought, lay in having hit upon a European "third way" between the excesses of American capitalism and the totalitarianism of Soviet communism.
We can now see where that road leads: to burgeoning bureaucracy, more spending, higher taxes, slower growth and rising unemployment. But an entire political class has grown up believing not just in the economic superiority of euro-corporatism but in its moral superiority. After all, if the American system were better—if people could thrive without government supervision—there would be less need for politicians. As Upton Sinclair once observed, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it."
Hmm, this is sounding more and more like President Obama's misguided plan for the USA. As was his predecessors.
Why is a European politician urging America to avoid Europeanization? As a Briton, I see the American republic as a repository of our traditional freedoms. The doctrines rooted in the common law, in the Magna Carta, and in the Bill of Rights found their fullest and most sublime expression in the old courthouse of Philadelphia. Britain, as a result of its unhappy membership in the European Union, has now surrendered a large part of its birthright. But our freedoms live on in America.
Which brings me to my country's present tragedy. The fears that the American patriot leaders had about a Hanoverian tyranny were exaggerated. The United Kingdom did not develop into an absolutist state. Power continued to pass from the Crown to the House of Commons.
Until now. Nearly two and a half centuries after the Declaration of Independence, the grievances it adumbrated are belatedly coming true. Colossal sums are being commandeered by the government in order to fund bailouts and nationalizations without any proper parliamentary authorization. Legislation happens increasingly through what are called standing orders, a device that allows ministers to make laws without parliamentary consent—often for the purpose of implementing EU standards.
Indeed. Please continue to the naked truth and read the entire article in full. Mr. Hannan, because of his first hand knowledge of, and experience with, European governments and their political/philosophical thought and inherent flaws presents a strong case against adopting President Obama's agenda.
Cross posted to Rational Nation USA