Monday, 7 May 2012

Et maintenant, que vais-je faire?

Ah yes, dear reader! Europe has a brand new Supra-national Anthem. It is no longer that hallowed line from Schiller’s poem that drones through European craniums to the tune of Beethoven’s Ninth, proclaiming that Alle Menschen Werden Brüder. Instead, on this dreary rain-swept morning in May, Eurogues, heads of state and tranquilizer-popping parliamentarians hum the first line of that sad, insecure, dejected French chanson by old Gilbert Becaud: ‘Et Maintenant que vais-je faire…?’ And now, what (the f...) do I do...?

Small surprise that is, for yesterday brought a most unsurprising (re)turn of events. Electorates in Greece and France, asked for a verdict on recent EU policy, rejected it soundly, as they invariably have done each time they were asked over the last 30 years. Never mind that their rejection has never been heeded by the European leadership, and will surely go ignored yet once again.

In France, M. Hollande won the presidential elections with a convincing margin, on an uppity, anti-austerity ticket which was a smack in the face of all Brussels Beurocrats. Meanwhile, in Greece, the two big mega-corrupt parties, PASOK and New Democracy, which in the past were bloodthirsty mortal enemies but found snug common ground in their love of Brussels bullying, scored a mere 30 % of the parliamentary vote, which gave them a neat 149 seats in the 300 seat parliament (talk about rigging electoral laws to your advantage…!) Sadly this is just a bit too little to reign together unopposed!

Consequently, just about everybody is now desperately wondering what to do, what stand to take, what flight routes to keep open, how to encounter their beloved friends and allies in the arena of the European Coliseum, where the gladius and the trident reign supreme over the embrace and agape.

Back in Berlin, Mrs Merkel is surely wondering how to face the new French president, with his demands for growth stimulus, which can only be paid through Euro-inflation or hiked taxes on the wealthy Germans. In London, I have no doubt, Mr Cameron is plotting how to get a foot back into the European door so as to re-establish a semblance of influence, without that foot being chopped off on sight by a German bayonet or a French guillotine. For his part, however, M. Hollande must be at a total loss how to behave now that the elections are won. He made clear promises to his voters; yet everyone who counts for anything in the corridors of power where votes are fully immaterial – the Brussels Elite, the Financial Markets, the Rating Agencies, the IMF, the international conspiracy of Bankers, the jubilant employers’ organisations – recognizes in those promises a frontal attack on their recent unopposed supremacy and will fight the man’s petty ambitions nails and teeth… 

In Greece, the old dilemma is back again: stand up, Thermopylae style, against the New Barbarian Invaders from Brussels and end up like Leonidas’ heroic Spartans (i.e. world famous and convincingly dead), or bend over forwards once again to be given IMF-director treatment in the catamite way… And finally, there are normal European men and women, who work for a living and worry about their children, who can’t make head or tails of what is going on, but are wondering where to go with their savings now that the venomous Euro may still go bust…

Et maintenant, que vais-je faire…?

The truth is that nobody knows.

Nobody, Alfred?

No, not nobody, dear reader! One body of fine folk knows perfectly well what they will be doing… Guess who? Indeed: the boys and girls in Brussels: EU commissars, bureaucrats, MPs, PR managers, translators, personal assistants, grandmothers, liaison agents, lobbyists, champagne suppliers and caviar caterers… You know: the entire parasitic lot that lives marvellously off the fat of our continent without having to show any sort of utility or performance. These ones know with absolute clarity what they wish and will do. To wit: save the Euro. For the Euro – much as it proved to be the poison of the European economy, a completely failed experiment, the millstone around the neck of 500 million people, an idiotic pipe dream of the Frankenstein type – to them is a blessing. It is the incarnation of their ambitions. It represents their mindboggling success so far. It is the political bubble that must not be allowed to burst, whatever the cost (to others)… A single step back, a single restriction, even one tiny nation stepping out of this house of cards, would mean that Progress is Not Only Forward, that questions may be asked, that the Trek towards Ever Closer European Integration may be revealed to be a March of Folly…

No such thing must ever be allowed to happen! Above the gates to Brussels there is a sign, which reads: ‘Abandon Doubt All Ye Who Enter Here!’

Do I mean that these folks are Evil? No, dear reader! Certainly not! They are merely very happy with how things have been going so far. And they believe in themselves, with the certainty of those who think invariably well of themselves…

Let there be no misunderstanding: these Eurogues would rather plunge a nation or two into unseen misery than to retreat one inch from their ambitions. But they do so because they operate under a very special mindset. They consider themselves to be the most benign agents of the ‘European Ideal’, a somewhat vague paradisiacal notion of a continent at Permanent Peace, Prosperity and Happiness, which has not had its equal since the Garden of Eden. This Ideal is an Absolute Good. Whatever serves the ideal is desirable. Whatever does not serve the ideal must be rotted out with fire and sword. The Ideal is above law divine or human. It is beyond Good and Evil. It justifies whatever measures the Brussels Crowd may take, no matter how inhuman, horrid or corrupt. I found a most instructive parallel to this self-serving and self-deluding attitude in chapter 4 of John Hooper’s book ‘The Spaniards’, where he explains how the Spanish officer corps saw itself just before the civil war of the 1930s:

Whether [a Spanish officer] was serving in the hills of Morocco or behind a desk in Madrid, it was obvious that the distance between him and his fellow citizens was growing. This posed a special problem for a body of men accustomed to regard themselves as instruments of the collective will and they began to evolve the curious belief that, even though they might not reflect the circumstantial preferences of the electorate, they none the less embodied the eternal virtues of the fatherland. And the fatherland, according to this theory, was infinitely more important than the sum of its inhabitants. A distinction was beginning to be drawn between Spain and the Spanish which in 1936 would serve to justify a war against the majority of Spaniards as a war in defence of Spain.

Put Beurocrat in the place of Officer, and Europe in the place of Spain, and you have a perfect description of how our Brussels’ leadership regards itself and the populations they are supposed to be accountable to. They serve a Higher Notion of Europe which the Europeans are told either to swallow or to suffer.

Imagine how such fine supercilious folk will treat a mere French president who dares to stand up to them an inch! And then – once you have shaken your head in disbelief - guess what they would do to a petty Mediterranean nation if the local populace dared tell them, in the eternal words of yet another French chansonnier:

‘Va t’faire, homme incorrec
Voir par les Grecs’

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