Look at the shifty eyes and flabby jowls of our Prime Minister. Ultimately international relations come down to a question of trust. Looking at David Cameron, without even knowing anything of his background, could lead one to hesitate before taking him at his word. Knowing his background, record in power and how it was obtained few would be stupid enough to attack Moody's decision announced overnight to remove Brirtain's triple A credit rating. The first time such has ever occurred in history.
How we got here is well documented, ten years of truth-telling it on this blog and its forerunner "Ironies" is being celebrated this very weekend.
Pointless adding any more it seems.
Now the Conservatives must set about removing their shamed leading team of shysters, but will they?
Here is the post of ten years ago today, that launched my first blog, as the "Europe" Discussion Forums of the EU refused to publish it. It remains as true, if not more so (for much of what it forecast has now been proved true) as it was back then:
Sunday, February 23, 2003
I have been attempting (without success) to post on the EU Futurum
Future of Europe debate pages, the following contribution to their
debate on the proposed new constitution.
I quote it in full as presented to the EU before its rejection:-
DEMOCRACY OR PAN-EUROPEAN TOTALITARIANISM
Pericles in his famous funeral oration for the slain warriors of
democratic Athens, among many other ringing statements in favour of
democracy, pertinently said the following:
Although only a few may originate a policy, we are all able to judge
it. We do not look upon discussion as a stumbling block in the way of
political action, but as an indispensable preliminary to acting wisely.
The above is quoted directly from Karl Popper's book The Open
Society and its Enemies published in paperback by Routledge Classics
(ISBN 0-415-23731-9). It should be required reading for all members of
the convention chaired by Vallery Giscard d'Estaing on the future
structures of the European State.
Others following these debates are also recommended to the book, but
for those unable to obtain a copy, or spare the time to read it, I give
below a brief summary of what I consider to be the most salient points
as concerns the dangers Europe now faces if the convention proceeds as
seems likely. In my opinion, never will the outcome of such a debate be
likely to affect so many millions of people, and rarely can there have
been such reluctance to openly discuss the frightening implications of
the decisions being taken.
Plato is the early villain in Popper's analysis for the ever present
drive against democracy and equalitarianism. The author describes, with
detailed logic, the elitism, racialism and totalitarianism that can
eventually result in a Society that follows the 'chosen people' concept,
intrinsic to much of Plato's writings.
Popper makes an excellent case that the critical divide in
governance of a geographic entity, whether city, nation (and it follows,
super-state) is between collectivism and individualism.
The argument made by Plato that the state be placed higher than the
individual and the suggestion that justice is synonymous "for that which
is in the best interest of the state" now apparent in the structures of
the EU, must be refuted at, virtually, any cost.
Anti-democratic forces malign the case for individualism by falsely
asserting that collectivism is synonymous with altruism, while
individualism is blackened by being equated to egoism.
"Who should rule
?" Plato asks and gives his own reply, "the
wise shall lead and rule, and the ignorant shall follow?" Popper
proposes that the very question "Who shall rule?" itself, becomes the
problem and proposes an alternative question.
How can we so organize political institutions that bad or incompetent rulers can be prevented from doing too much damage?
I would suggest that the above question is the one that the present convention on the future Europe should be considering.
As Popper argues "all theories of sovereignty are paradoxical". For
instance we may have selected 'the wisest' or 'the best' as a ruler. But
'the wisest' in his wisdom may find that not he but 'the best' should
rule, and the best in his goodness may decide that 'the majority' should
By emphasising who should rule, or indeed on what basis our ruler
should be appointed or by what limited constituency he should be
elected, we are driven up a blind alley. We should be debating the
checks and balances which should be imposed on those who rule us,
bearing in mind that only by the best of good luck will any of our
future leaders be anything other than reasonably competent. The majority
will be incompetent and we will for sure, be subject to the occasional
tyrant reaching the pinnacle of pan-European power. How could such a
despot be removed? Popper asserts:
A theory of democratic control can be developed that is free
from the paradox of sovereignty. The theory I have in mind is one which
does not proceed, as it were, from a doctrine of the intrinsic good or
righteousness of a majority rule, but rather from the baseness of
tyranny: or more precisely it rests upon the decision, or adoption of
the proposal, to avoid and resist tyranny.
Continuing with this theme Popper argues that there are two forms of
government, those that can be got rid of without bloodshed (such as in
general elections) and those that require a successful revolution to
replace, or not at all. He labels the first sort 'democracies'
and the second 'tyrannies'
What facilities will the new European super-state supply for the
replacement of its rulers… none that I have yet seen proposed, we would
thus appear to be heading towards tyrannical, non-democratic rule as
labelled by Popper!
Debating who should rule avoids the subject of democratic checks and
balances, and leads to further problems clearly evident in the French
system of government, such as, that the qualities of leadership may be
believed to be identifiable at a young age and an elite education
provided, tailored along the lines of those attributes considered
important by the existent ruling clique. Self-perpetuating incompetent
rule, or worse appears to me the inevitable result.
France nevertheless clearly remains a democracy within Popper’s
definition, is this likely to remain the case for the Union of Europe if
a French model is imposed on the already un-democratic institutions of
the existing EU? The first draft constitution clearly places the State
above the individual, inter alia, by granting rights beyond its gift to
give, or power to protect.
It would be a major mistake for the new Europe to follow a Platonic
pattern of government, but a mistake that daily appears more likely. The
existing EU is already the kind of elitist, non-accountable,
non-removable nightmare against which Popper warned when he wrote his
book in the early nineteen forties. It is incredible how little Europe
seems to have learned from those wartime years and the events leading to
I have frequently heard it boasted, the EU would not have advanced
this far, (or?) to 'ever closer union', had democratic authority been
sought at every step!
The present difficulties of the common currency and acceptance of
the latest expansion amongst the general public, should amply
demonstrate to the extreme federalists who make such remarks, that the
limits of such non-democratic coercion have now been reached. Proceeding
with further imposed integration, and consequent diminution of national
democratic protections, could threaten the whole project of future
European unity. Rumblings of discontent abound in all three of the major
EU States I have recently visited!
I appeal directly to the Chairman of the convention, who, probably
co-incidentally, incorporated my earlier minimum requirement in his
initial constitutional draft, to read Popper’s excellent book and
consider its implications. To achieve lasting renown, requires a bold
step in favour of democratic fundamentals which will be strongly
resisted by the various Brussels and National elites! Courage mon brave!
Should Europe’s new institutions be directly controlled by 'the
majority' using the new tools available from the revolution in
Why is the major topic of discussion in the Convention, not about
how the people of Europe may periodically remove their leaders and avoid
the new organisations such as the ERRF and Europol becoming the
instruments of a despot?
Are, perhaps, the tyrants already in control?
These are the questions that need to be addressed. Using Popper's
labels of societies, they can be democracies or tyrannies, if the EU is
to take on the full characteristics of a State, as the majority in
Europe seem to believe is desirable, test whether this statement is true
with a pan-European referendum. If the answer is Yes!, then build a
Democracy for which all should wish, and of which they can be proud.
If No!, then at least the convention and its Chairman will not have
lent their name, to the creation of perhaps the largest tyranny the
world has yet to see!
Against whom will the name of Vallery Giscard d'Estaing be set in
history… Pericles or Plato?... and for the creation of what kind of
European Union, one of democracy and freedom or Popper's only
Labels: Cameron, EU, Karl Popper