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Our European Identity

by Frank Schnittger Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:08:40 PM EST

Many thanks to all who have contributed to making the Is there such a thing as a European Identity? diary such a lively debate.

As the debate there has now exceeded 100 comments and is getting sidetracked on other issues perhaps I should attempt a summary of my take on the conversation.(My bravery always did exceed my wisdom!)

I think the very passionate nature of the debate highlights that the European project is something we all care deeply about.  It has made a major contribution to peace and prosperity in Europe over the past 60 years and is becoming increasingly influential throughout the World in the post Cold War era.

It has expanded both geographically and in depth and scope and now covers many aspects of Government competencies that were formerly carried out by national Governments.  Through a series of reform treaties it has attempted to both deepen integration and improve the transparency, efficiency and accountability of the decision making process.


My argument has been (in part) that this reform did not go far enough and that it may now (post the expansion to 27 members) be too late to achieve any further radical reform because it is simply too difficult to achieve unanimity on any significant new measures including further institutional reforms.  (See also the difficulty of changing the US constitution where there are less stringent change ratification processes to overcome in what is arguably a much more united and well established federal political culture).

The consequences of this are (in my view):

1)    a growing difficulty in taking decisive action at EU level when challenges or crises arise - e.g. the reform process itself/rejection of constitution, Iraq, Human rights (rendition, Guantanamo, Darfur, Balkans), Peace making, Middle East Palestine/Israel/Lebanon etc.  In other words, the EU is not punching anywhere near its economic weight in world political and diplomatic affairs.  This means that a very positive potential influence on world affairs is missing or at least relatively ineffective.

2)    A growing popular disillusionment with the European Project even amongst previously enthusiastic members

3)    An increasing disconnect or alienation between the EU elite and its activities and a popular unease at the way things are going e.g. Iraq, human rights, economic liberalisation policies, the effects of globalisation, the accession negotiations for Turkey and poplar sentiment

In seeking to address these issues I asked the question as to whether there is a definable European identity which defines what Europe is about for most people and which, if articulated better, or embodied in a simplified EU Constitution would help EU citizens to re-engage and become more enthusiastic about the project again.  

I suggested that a directly elected EU President, or a Commission structure more like a federal European Government more directly accountable to the EU Parliament might make it easier for people to identify with the European leadership and feel more engaged with decisions as to its future direction.

I also suggested that what most of "Europe" had in common was a christian background even if that background had been subject to a huge history of wars, disputes, and antagonisms that rage to this day.  My argument was that these were internal disputes arising between people from a common christian background even if the resolution of the dispute resulted in a largely secular, anti-clerical, an avowedly non-religious political culture.

Many commentators raged at that idea and suggested that enlightenment philosophy or some such other value set lay at the heart of the European Ideal and pointed to the largely negative and reactionary role of organised churches in the reform process.  I think this is unarguable, and I wasn't for a moment suggesting some kind of more formalised role for Christian Churches in the European Polity.

However, what I was suggesting is this:  Every project has to have definable boundaries that people can relate to.  Of course, these can, and have changed over the years, but it is important that people are consulted and can take ownership of any changes that are to the boundaries of the project.

Up until now the changes to the boundaries of the European project have been largely within what has been historically part of Christendom, and influenced by and centrally engaged in such seminal and more recent historical events such as the Reformation, the enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic wars , The industrial revolution, the Russian revolution, two World Wars and the Cold War.  

All of these often hugely brutal and destructive events have taken place between at least nominally christian antagonists - at least in the cultural sense  Indeed when you look at that list, it is hard not to conclude that Christianity must be the biggest scourge of all time to have fallen on mankind.  It is not difficult to see why Europe should want to move beyond it.

But does that movement beyond any form of institutionalised Christianity also allow us to embrace predominantly Islamic societies which have not had the same history and now perhaps don't share our determination to remove religion as a factor in our Government and in the organisation of our civil societies?  

An interesting test case in all of this is the proposed accession of Turkey.  Of all the major Islamic societies, it is probably closest to us in our "European" experience.  The Ottoman Empire extended to the gates of Vienna.  It has seen many wars and ethnic cleansings of Armenians, Kurds, Greeks (and Christians).  It is avowedly secular and democratic.  Sounds pretty similar to our history then!!  Many bloody wars followed by a history of relative stability, democracy, secular norms and economic progress.

So what's the problem?

Turkey is still seen my many in Europe as "other", or "not like us".  Following so soon on the heels of a huge (and as yet ill-digested) expansion eastward, the inclusion of an even more geographically remote, huge and populous country pushes the boundaries of the European project beyond what many people are ready for.  The EU is already seen as big and unwieldy, with a remote and technocratic elite without any identifiable single leader or clear policy direction.

Even the watered down Reform Treaty signed in Lisbon this week may well not be ratified if put to the popular vote because of a sense that the EU is getting too big, too diverse, too unwieldy, too globalised, and too remote from the sense of identity that most Europeans have with their own locality or nation state.  (In those countries where the Treaty is not put to the popular vote it will exacerbate the sense that the EU is an elite project being foisted roughshod over the heads of its citizens).

The fact that Turkey is Islamic may simply become the excuse or pretext for an opposition to the further development/reform/expansion of the EU that is based not on an informed experience of what Turkey is actually like, but from a sense that the EU is already too remote from our concerns and sense of identity within our own locality or nation state.  

This may not be a problem for the EU elite - used to thinking on a global scale, travelling widely, managing global corporations, looking for access to further labour and merchandise markets, further resources and sources of profits.  But it may very well be a problem for ordinary European citizens who take the past successes of the EU for granted, but who have difficulties with the pace of change, the scope of integration and the scale of the EU even as it is now.

So my question "Is there such a thing as a European Identity" wasn't really aimed at the European elite - who probably couldn't care less - but at the general populations who (in some countries) will be asked to vote on and ratify the new Reform Treaty.  People will vote for it if they feel comfortable with where the EU project is going, they will vote against it if they feel the EU has gone far enough, for the time being, even if the actual content of the Treaty will ameliorate some of the EU's worst defects as identified earlier.  

People won't read a 300 page document, much less understand it. They will vote on sentiment, on whether they trust the EU leadership, on which side articulates its case best in the media.  They will vote positively if they feel they can IDENTIFY with what the project is trying to achieve; if they feel comfortable with its scope, its depth, its boundaries both geographical and in the degree to which previously national powers are subsumed into "Europe".

But that vote will help shape the scope, depth, efficiency, and prospects of success for the European project in the next few years.  If we can't answer the question "Is there such a thing as a European Identity", how do we expect ordinary voters to identify with the European Project?

So my conclusion is:  if we want the European project to continue to develop and expand we have got to do a better job of articulating to the European electorates why it should do so, what's in it for them, why they should feel it is part of their heritage, and what further positive contributions can it make to the world as a whole.  In short, why they should want to identify with and feel part of it.

So what does our commitment to the European project say about us:  It says we want to put an end to the wars between us, to transcend the national rivalries that have in part caused those wars, we want to work more closely together for our mutual benefit and prosperity, we want to help those regions and sectors of society which have lagged behind, we want to put behind us those parts of our history - religious intolerance, racism, class division and discrimination of all kinds which have been used to dehumanise others, and we want to project those values more effectively onto the world stage.

Is that not what our European Identity is about?

Display:
I was just checking the latest Standard EuroBarometer, and I found the following chart, which shows some clear correlations...

Younger people are more likely to favour and less likely to oppose EU membership. This suggests it's just a matter of time before a strong European identity develops, but it would be useful to see the same poll 15 years ago to see if the result is more or less constant in time for a given cohort.

More educated people are more likely to favour and less likely to oppose EU membership. One could argue this shows the EU is an elite project.

The more people know about the EU, the more likely they are to favour EU membership and the less likely they are to oppose it. Correlation is not causation.

All of these correlations are monotonic and strong, which should imply significance (though I haven't computed significance levels).

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:46:36 PM EST
A very interesting chart. To me it would imply that the young think the EU is a good thing in spite of the isolated elite.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:53:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is another chart on EU membership being beneficial to one's country and the favourable percentages look very similar, but the unfavourable percentages are rather higher. The trends are the same.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:55:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Same age and education correlations for "support for enlargement".

It seems European integration is working and it's just a matter of time.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:57:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This would then be very good news.

I certanly see this in my daughters' attitudes. For them, Europe just IS. It has always been there. Finland is a part of it, but they are in no way nationalistic about it. They think Finland is a good place to live, but they just can't wait to explore all the other interesting countries, and BTW all the other interesting boys ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 02:10:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I certanly see this in my daughters' attitudes. For them, Europe just IS.

Same for my daughters.

they just can't wait to explore all the other interesting countries, and BTW all the other interesting boys.

Ditto... ;-)

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 02:50:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, my son is almost 17, very handsome and he plays piano, drums and guitar. And very smart too. And he would kill me if he knew I posted this!

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 03:17:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm....my eldest is 15 and a very accomplished clarinettist (he didn't get that from me).

Seems we have the makings of a band...

He wouldn't kill me unless I failed to introduce him to Sven's daughters... ;-)

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:02:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does it give a chart for support for Reform Treaty?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 07:29:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See it for yourself here:

http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb67/eb67_en.htm

There are separate country reports as well.

Support for a (not the) European Constitution is at 66% vs. 20%
Support for an EU Foreign Minister is at 69% vs. 18%
Support for an EU Foreign policy independent from the US is at 80% vs. 10%

See also

Public opinion analysis - EB special reports

EB67.1 European cultural values
Full report
EB66.3 European social reality
EB65.4The role of the European Union in Justice, Freedom and Security policy areas
Full report
EB65.1 The future of Europe


We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 02:52:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I checked question 40, "which are the issues that most create a feeling of community among European Union citizens?", where religion was way back with 13% in the EU-27. Members and candidates with significantly higher figures:

Turkish Cprus: 49% (most frequent choice)
Turkey: 41% (most frequent choice)
Romania 28% (2nd most frequent choice)
Malta 26% (4th most frequent choice)
Cyprus 25% (3rd most frequent choice)
Slovakia 25% (3rd most frequent choice)
Croatia 21% (3rd most frequent choice)

So, interestingly, religion matters most just in the candidate country that might be resented for that, and is high in some new members least sceptical of Turkey's accession. (BTW the question is not nuanced enough to know whether Turkish citizens thinking so are Eurosceptics or those who would join and think religion is why they get rejection.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 03:40:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Same question: I see with sadness that the welfare state is only picked by 12% as answer (same as religion), and it seems the French (here generalising well deserved) think the welfare state is not European (most presumably think it is French?): ojly 1% pick it. But I am just as startled that 25% of Hungary is right behind Spain's 26% on this question.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 03:52:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand, 32% of respondents think that "a European social welfare system" would strengthen their feeling about being a European citizen (see my comment on a parallel thread).

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 03:56:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]


We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 04:03:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find lots of interesting tidbits.

  • Recognition that sports give a feeling of community is highest in Ireland and Britain.

  • 62% of those above 55, only 54% of the 19-24 year old think peace is the most positive result of Eropean integration. So those born into it recognise it less, but fortunately the majority still does. (Also, the overall figure increased over the last poll.) Among countries, the Iberian peninsula is least thinking so.

  • The EU is least seen as democratic not in Britain, not in Sweden, but in Finland (50%).

  • Attachment to the European flag is very strong -- even in Britain (more identify with it that in France!).

  • Attachment to the EU itself is less strong, with Finland again "outdoing" Britain at 30% -- will there be a Finnish Euroscepticism outbreak?

  • On the harder question on membership, countries where "good thing" is not an absolute majority: Czech Republic (46%), Cyprus (44%), Finland (42%), UK (39%), Hungary and Latvia (37%), Austria (36%). (However, for those who aren't merely indifferent but think it's a "bad thing", Britain's 30% leads, followed by now usual suspects Austria, Finland, Sweden and France.)

  • An outstanding 79% of Danes think EU membership benefitted their country -- maybe that's why Rasmussen waged a referendum on the Euro? The sceptics are led by Hungary (52%), which I ain't surprised about (I suspect most blame the government for failing to make much of it, failure to withdraw EU funds was an issue recently).

*Where the UK stands reall apart is trust in European institutions: always dead last and at least ten percentage points behind the second-last.

*52% of Slovenes consider themselves well-informed about the EU -- a startling and outstanding result (Luxemburg's second place with 50% doesn't surprise me).

* The UK is co-last along with Romania in correct answers for three questions about the EU (40%), but Europhile Italy's 43% is not much better... Startingly, Greece leads all the way (74%). The question with least correct answers is a whopper: that on direct election of members of the most popular and known EU institution, the EP (45%, -4% compared to last time).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 04:44:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just a note on the U.S. constitution.  The reason why amendments are so difficult to change, is because the constitution outlines basic rights that SHOULD be difficult to alter or change. The right to free speech, freedom from search and seizure, free exercise of religion, right to bear arms etc. That is our federal constitution. However, each state is allowed to pass it's own laws that do not contradict the federal constitution. For example, the death penalty.  I believe 36 states have the death penalty. 14 dont. My state, New Jersey, just abolished it yesterday. So, state laws are relatively easy to change. Rights guaranteed in the constitution, not so.  This makes sense because every election the new party could change the constitution with a 51% vote.  This would make constitutional rights subject to the whim of every election.  

BTW: From my distant vantage point, the EU seems to be the rule of elites and bureaucrats.  If the net effect is to impose another layer of bureaucracy, taxation and regulation on european citizens, dont expect them to love the EU.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 02:15:40 PM EST
Please, Terry, have a look at European Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Lisbon treaty makes it legally binding for the member states, except for the UK and Poland which have negotiated an opt-out clause.

From my distant vantage point, the EU seems to be the rule of elites and bureaucrats.

Your vantage point might be too distant. Try to look closer and, please, favour information over clichés.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 03:02:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasnt referring to the EU constitution. I was referring to the US constitution.

Terry
by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 12:03:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nobody is saying constitutional change should be easy. 2/3 majorities in parliament and absolute majorities of electorate are normal hurdles.  My point was simply that a unanimity requirement amongst 27 and possibly more states is too high a hurdle.  

There have been very few successful ratifications of changes in the US constitution in recent years - the last one took 200 years to be ratified.  This means the constitution can get out of date or not appropriate to modern circumstances.  And the US constitution only requires 3/4 of states to agree (as well as 2/3 congress)

Thus the "right to bear arms" clause may have been appropriate when arms meant muskets and revolvers and when people were at risk of attack from Native American indians, other colonists, bears, or just due to the general lawlessness of "the wild west".  The same clause can now be interpreted to give an individual the right to own a Tank, cluster bomb or nuclear bomb.  Hardly appropriate in modern circumstances!

My greater point is that the EU unanimity rule applies not only to constitutional changes but also to matters which any state deems to be a matter of vital national interest -which could be anything from a dairy cow suckler herd subsidy to corporate taxation rates.  This is why EU negotiations tend to be so "byzantine" in their complexity and difficulty.

I appreciate that more areas of policy will now be subject to "weighted majority voting" under the Reform Treaty if passed.  But the scope for national obstructionism is still huge.  Cypress can, for instance block Turkey's accession, unless it gets northern Cypress back.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 07:48:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did of course man Cyprus!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 07:52:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Every project has to have definable boundaries that people can relate to.

Hah, Anglo-Saxon "you have to draw a line somewhere." (Channelling Emmanuel Todt.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:40:00 PM EST
No - but it is the first rule of both project management and politics - know what your objectives and boundaries are!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 07:53:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All of these often hugely brutal and destructive events have taken place between at least nominally christian antagonists

Well, are the Balkans and environs and Ukraine part of your Europe or not? Because for those regions, the Ottoman Empire (and also the Golden Horde/Crimean Tatars more to the East) is a rather defining part of history. In various ways. (This old diary of mine might show you history you wouldn't expect.)

So what does our commitment to the European project say about us:  It says we want to put an end to the wars between us, to transcend the national rivalries that have in part caused those wars, we want to work more closely together for our mutual benefit and prosperity, we want to help those regions and sectors of society which have lagged behind, we want to put behind us those parts of our history - religious intolerance, racism, class division and discrimination of all kinds which have been used to dehumanise others, and we want to project those values more effectively onto the world stage.

Is that not what our European Identity is about?

Precisely. Or, to put it another way, European identity is in an entanglement of inter-relations, not in a common trait.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:53:29 PM EST
Thanks for your excellent diary.  I think my description of both European and Turkish histories of wars, ethnic cleansings, brutality and repression etc. shows that we are well matched with little to choose between us except the labels we used to justify our genocidal campaigns.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 09:24:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
another great diary, thanks frank.

So what does our commitment to the European project say about us:  It says we want to put an end to the wars between us, to transcend the national rivalries that have in part caused those wars, we want to work more closely together for our mutual benefit and prosperity, we want to help those regions and sectors of society which have lagged behind, we want to put behind us those parts of our history - religious intolerance, racism, class division and discrimination of all kinds which have been used to dehumanise others, and we want to project those values more effectively onto the world stage.

verry gut!

good thing we like big coffee mugs...

or can you pare it down to a tenth of the size?

love, justice, the euroglobal way....

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 06:09:00 AM EST
As to European identity, I dont think this is something you can really foster.  People have to "feel" european rather than just Italian, French, English, German on their own.  I think that would be very hard for most Europeans to do.  There are things that make Californians feel the same as New Jerseyans that make them identify themselves as European.  It is more than just geography.

What makes a European European, I think is the question that you need to answer?

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 12:09:50 PM EST
Considering you're American, on what information do you base your opinion that it will be hard for Europeans to feel European rather than German, French, Italian...? I presume your statement about Californians and New Jerseyans is based on personal esperience?

Take a country like Spain, of which Cánovas del Castillo, one of the most influential politicians of the 19th century and several times Prime Minister said in the Spanish Parliament that "Spanish is he who cannot be anything else". It shouldn't be too hard to substitute a European identity for a Spanish identity.

I found a 2004 Spanish survey on attitudes to the EU. Out of a sample of 2488 people,
6.9% feel primarily European
27.0% feel equally Spanish and European
59.3% feel primarily Spanish
6.0% feel neither [these would be people who feel more a part of their region than Spanish or European]

In other words, European sentiment is already stronger than nationalistic sentiment within Spain.

The question you have to ask is what makes each European European, because the resons why a Spaniard and a Finn feel European are likely to be different different, but that doesn't prevent each from saying they feel European.

I am Spanish. I feel European. I don't like identity politics. Therefore, I am not particularly interested in 1) picking apart the reasons why I feel European; 2) telling the world that my way of feeling European is the way Europeans should feel; 3) passing judgement on why or how Americans feel American.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 02:18:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Last paragraph: very well said! Tho' in for point 3, where I sense some smugness ;-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 02:42:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am actually not including "Spanish Centralist Nationalist" among "nationalist sentiment", which is a mistake on my part, but which is also not possible to pick out from the survey data.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 03:33:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of the Italians I met, Tuscans in particular, hated the EU and euro especially.  They told me that all Brussels does is charge taxes and passes stupid regulations.  Perhaps, they identified themselves as European (I dont know) but as far as a EU government was concerned, they detested the idea.

"In other words, European sentiment is already stronger than nationalistic sentiment within Spain."

You're own poll contraditcts what you are saying. Reading your poll, 59% of Spanish feel PRIMARILY Spanish.  Only 7% feel primarily European. It seems to me Spain has a long way to go.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 08:13:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "nationalistic sentiment" Migeru is referring to is not that of being Spanish, but that of feeling Catalan, Basque, etc..., as he has already pointed out.

And many of those that identify themselves as Americans hate "the federal government" too, like the Tuscans in your example.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 09:01:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"The "nationalistic sentiment" Migeru is referring to is not that of being Spanish, but that of feeling Catalan, Basque, etc..., as he has already pointed out. "

This does not change what the poll says. The poll says 59 percent identify themselves as primarily Spanish. Only 8 percent as European.  Few spaniards identify themselves as European according to the poll he cited.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 11:50:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This does not change what the poll says. The poll says 59 percent identify themselves as primarily Spanish.

Which is a federal identity, just like 'European' or 'EU citizen'.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 04:49:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the more I think about this the less I'm sure, but nowadays I lean towards that view. I would say that Spain didn't become a unitary state until the Bourbons took over the crown after 1713, and that at least since 1830 there has been evidence of strong regional identity movements (political or simply cultural). The First Spanish Republic of 1873-4 was subject to strong separatist tensions (famously, the city of Cartagena declared itself an independent canton), and the Second Spanish Republic of 1936-9 gave autonomy to Catalonia, the Basque Country and was drafting a Galician statute when the Civil War broke out. The Spanish Constitution of 1978 intended for only those three to have full autonomy retaining a unitary (but decentralised) state for the rest, but Andalusia managed to win a referendum to fast-track itself into autonomy, and in less than 5 years the whole country carved itself into 17 autonomous communities. Spain is effectively a federal state in all but name. However, I see a majority of the PP electorate and a sizeable part of the PSOE electorate favouring a unitary state. This was evident during the recent controversy on the reform of the Catalan Autonomy Statute.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 05:10:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Which is a federal identity, just like 'European' or 'EU citizen'."

No, it's not. They had the choice to choose "European" if they wanted. They chose Spanish. Nice try though.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 11:59:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, it's not

So you don't even understand what Spain is, and go on lecturing us. <off>

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 03:48:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU has no power of taxation. The only thing Europe has been allowed to do in the taxation area is harmonization of the Value-Added Tax (a sales tax), which is paid to the Member States, not to the EU.

About the "stupid regulations" I am not so sure either. Often these are stories propagated by the press with little basis in reality, or the member states add them to EU directives when they transpose them into national legislation. But there are stupid regulations, such as the liquids ban on airplanes.

There is one data point in these polls which I found interesting: of the people who are interested in national politics, 30% are not interested in European politics.

As for the Spanish sentiment, the one glaring omission in the CIS polls is the question of ranking regional, national and european sentiment. This means that they either ask people about their regional vs. national identification, or their national vs. european identification. So the 60% of people who identify primarily as Spanish includes those who identify equally with Spain and their region above Europe.

According to the Eurobarometer, 95% of those polled have seen the EU flag, and 54% identify with it [including 68% of Italians]. It should be noted that the flag is originally the flag of the Council of Europe, a human rights organization, which includes all European countries except Belarus including Turkey, Russia and the ex-soviet Caucasian republics. As for attachment, 91% feel attached to their country, 86% to their city/town/village, and 53% to the EU. Spain and Italy are both at 62%. Interestingly, the ones who feel most attached are people from Macedonia, which isn't even a Member State. For those living in a different EU country than that which they are born in or born of foreign parents, attachment is higher at 65%.

If you want to argue that the EU and a European Identity have a long way to go, I don't think anyone will disagree with you. But if you want to argue 1) it's not happening; 2) it can't happen; 3) it's hopeless; I think you're wrong.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 04:25:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you want to argue that the EU and a European Identity have a long way to go, I don't think anyone will disagree with you. But if you want to argue 1) it's not happening; 2) it can't happen; 3) it's hopeless; I think you're wrong.

And the emergence of Spanish identity vs. 'regional' identities might be a case in point.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 04:43:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Im trying to figure out why you would cite a poll says the exact opposite of your premise. And then why I point it out, you state it is flawed.

Anyway, I dont think Spanish changing their minds about feeling "european" is impossible, or hopeless. I am saying you have an uphill battle.  It didnt happen overnight in the U.S. Many states used to have border wars before the revolution.  Of course, there was the civil war, when half the country wanted to be their own country.  The trend lately has been for countries to split up-Soviet Union, Kosovo-Serbia etc, for ethnicity reasons.  Europe is trying to do the opposite of that trend.  

Right now, the EU government is secondary to the member states. BUt I have the feeling that many here would prefer the opposite.  I am not sure most european citizens are ready for that given the statistics you cite.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 11:42:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you think is my premise?

I did not cite a poll that I knew from before. I just went and found what is probably the best source of opinion polls (CIS: Spain's Institute for Sociological Investigations) and found the most recent poll on European attitudes (2004: the year of the latest European Parliament elections). I then interpreted the result. You disagree with my interpretation. What I was after was basically a measure of the strength of the sentiment, not a yes/no answer as to whether it exists.

For good measure, I just went and found the previous analogous poll, from 1999 (previous EP elections). The results were as follows:

Out of 2491 respondents,
Mostly European 5.2%
Equally Spanish and European 21.5%
Mostly Spanish 65.4%
Neither (Spontaneous) 7.1%

One of the advantages of CIS polls is, clearly, that they provide you with time series of the same questions.

So I would say the shift towards a European identity is strong, considering it's happened in only 5 years. Not that I expect you to agree.

For reference:

I found a 2004 Spanish survey on attitudes to the EU. Out of a sample of 2488 people,
6.9% feel primarily European
27.0% feel equally Spanish and European
59.3% feel primarily Spanish
6.0% feel neither
If you put this on a logit basis you have
Mostly European goes from -2.90 to -2.60
Equally Spanish and European goes from -1.30 to -0.99
Mostly Spanish goes from 0.64 to 0.38
Neither goes from -2.57 to -2.75

If I had to make an extrapolation based on this I'd predict for 2009
Mostly European 9%
Equally Spanish and European 34%
Mostly Spanish 53%
Neither 5%
with "mostly Spanish" dropping below 50% by 2014 and below "both equally" by 2019. By the time I'm 50 the "mostly European" group would be at 20% and the "mostly Spanish" group at 34%

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 08:25:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't know about the maths, but the politics is certainly all to play for.  Given the number of Brits who now live in Spain, even the UK may soon be becoming less Eurosceptic.  In reality, European integration s probably happening at a popular level even faster than it is happening at an official, structural level.  Whether there will be a reaction against this at some stage, I don't know, but for most people, an ever deepening level of European integration is now a given.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 08:39:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of the Italians you met is quite obviously a rather unrepresentative sample of Italians.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 04:48:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How hard would it be, Terry, to meet Americans in the States and hear them complain in the same way against the federal government? In fact, in the States it could go further than grumbling about taxation and annoying regulations - it could go to reviling the federal government for applying basic human rights (see States' Rights).

Coming back to Europe, the Italians you cite seem to me to be belly-aching without knowledge. The EU does not levy taxes (its budget is small, around 1% of GDP). I'd suggest those people, if the EU didn't exist, would be griping about the Italian government in the same way.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 06:00:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A very good point. Not far at all. I am the first to complain about the federal government.  The federal government is supposed to defend the country, enforce the borders, regulate commerce BETWEEN the states etc.  The rest is up to state law.  The federal government has expanded their role well beyond its stated purpose, involving itself in elementary school education, crime, social security, etc.

The difference may be several reasons. First, our federal government is proportionally made up of citizens from the states. Second, I dont feel much different from someone from FLorida then someone from New Jersey.  I am not so sure the same identity exists between a Tuscan and an Irishman yet.  

Another point, the increase of the US federal government is the result of a civil war, and two world wars. Before that, the role of the federal government was limited.  Frederick Hayek warned of the danger that the increased need of mobilization during wartime leads to more government control and the disease of socialism. He wasnt wrong.

The Italians I am talking about are pissed about the euro in particular. You may be right about their own government.  But the imposition of the euro has taken monetary policy out of it's government's control. So, guess who they blame.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 12:11:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"In other words, European sentiment is already stronger than nationalistic sentiment within Spain." - Migeru

I think you misunderstand Migeru's language here Terry.  By Nationalistic sentiment he (and Spaniards) mean Basque, Catalan etc. which at 6.0% is lower than the 6.9% who feel primarily European.  

One of the benefits of the EU, is that it has reduced the relative importance of the nation state which in turn means that tensions within that nation state (Spain, Ireland/N. Ireland,) can be reduced, and previously suppressed identities (Basque, Catalan, Breton, Scot, Welch) can be expressed more freely.  I matters less now if Belgium breaks up because all the component "bits" will still be within the EU.

Is this a more general experience throughout Europe - e.g Eastern Europe?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 07:54:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would you want to reduce the importance of the member state?  Government that is close to the people has the most legitimacy.  I would imagine that Spaniards would rather have their laws come from Spaniards who live in the region than bureaucrats from some other country living in Brussels. Those that dont, probably just dont like how the system runs in Spain, do not have the political ability to change it there and probably want their compatriots in the EU to impose it.

In the US, the states have direct control over their own regions. The federal goverment, while supreme, looks over the nation.  

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 12:16:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Terry:
As to European identity, I dont think this is something you can really foster.
Europeans, by and large, disagree with you:

(source: Special Eurobarometer 65.1 on The Future of Europe)

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 03:22:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The most interesting part of that poll was that nearly 1 in 10 said SPONTANEOUSLY said that they didnt want to be a European citizen.  

I dont think much of polls in general.  They are most often designed to produce a desired result rather to measure opinion.  Take the poll question, "what would
strengthen your feeling about being a European citizen".  10% answered they didnt even want to be one even thought that wasnt a choice.  The question is first do you want to be a european citizen.  And then
perhaps "What characteristics make you feel European."

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 08:20:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh. Talk of reading polls a biased way. Had you paid attention, your question about wanting to be an EU citizen is rathewr well answered by the question about whether EU membership is a good thing. Check upthread.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 04:46:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i think i feel european as default, to the point where i'm not really aware of it until i exit europe, when i sure feel my roots getting tugged and my attitudes challenged.

similarly, i think americans feel most american, when travelling and noticing how different other cultures are...

in this po-mo, irony-rich world we inhabit, it is nigh-impossible to espouse anything noble without immediately sounding cheesy..

image fetishism...build it up, tear it down...

human rights covers it nicely, why don't we stand up for them here at home, where there are so many problems?

design the policies intelligently,and the qualities will emerge which make us who we are...

whatever qualities we insist on bannering as 'ours', will serve to polemicise unless we insist they are universal, not just gimmicks to attract investment...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 07:29:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As to European identity, I dont think this is something you can really foster.  [..] There are things that make Californians feel the same as New Jerseyans that make them identify themselves as European.

To the contrary, I'd say American identity is a poster example of fostered identity.

It began with an elite of mostly Enlightement secessionist colonialists (AKA "Founding Fathers") positing a union of British colonies with a liberal constitution, and getting the majority to adopt it (in their own way, even most the then absolute, now relative majority of Christian fundies).

It continued with the expansion of Northwestern industrialism to the West and (after victory in the Civil War) the South, when the agrarian ideal of probably most Founding Fathers was subdued across the country by the merchant ethos, and government-pushed development of railways enhanced mixing.

The last two, and strongest, instances of fostering identity are again federal government pushed policies.

One was the FDR-time war drive, with the draft and war propaganda as main elements: the mixing of grunts from everywhere for a common American cause did forster community, and by design.

The other was the conscious policy of suburban development from the Truman era: in a country with similar-looking rather than regional-specific roads, houses, offices, shops and restaurants, where habitation is so uniformized, moving around is rather easy in a psychological-cultural sense, and minds get uniformized, too.

To be honest, I don't want a fostered European identity like that. I'm fine with an identity existing across a regional diversity, like those earlier developed in Germany, France or Spain, and obviously already developing for the EU.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 05:05:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that according to the polls the most important benefit of the EU is seen to be the freedom of movement. The more people move about the stronger a common European identity will be.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 05:12:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(I note that I think all national identities are fostered, what's more only imagined, but the above should suffice to negate Terry's points.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 05:21:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From what I understand, the whole point of the EU is to economically compete with large markets like the US, China, Southeast Asia.  Slice it anyway you want, but that is why countries want to join. Not mutual defense.

As to the U.S., the government fostered western expansion, not identity.  America is unique in that indiviual achievement, individual freedeom and individual prosperity is the founding cornerstone.  That is what Americans see as their identity.

It's not because Truman fosters suburbization, or because the government told people to go west or because Eisenhower installed the national highway system.  Americans dont say their american because of Conrail or Route 80. It is because we believe in economic and individual freedom.

Europe by contrast just got around to getting itself free in the last 100 years. Most a lot less. So, there has never been much autonomous freedom of the individual or much economic opportunity for individuals.  FOr the most, part Europe's experience has been completely totalitarian.  England is probably the only real exception.  Therefore, you have a band of elites who think they are smarter than the other europeans and want to control them through socialistic mechanisms.  That's at least how I see the EU.  Most of what I have read here only confirms that suspician.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 12:29:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From what I understand, the whole point of the EU is to economically compete with large markets like the US, China, Southeast Asia.  Slice it anyway you want, but that is why countries want to join. Not mutual defense.

Globalisation is certainly one factor and mutual defense is only beginning to be addressed.  But you miss all the other things - regional development, sectoral development, environmental policies, human rights, security cooperation - and all the things that are best handled on a Europe wide basis.

You forget a few things about the EU.

  1. Its budget is only c. 1% of GDP
  2. It's "bureaucracy" is about the size of Birmingham City council
  3.  ALL of the areas of policy it addresses are areas which ALL EU governments have ASKED it to address in various treaties.

It then suits various Government to "Blame" the EU Bureaucracy for unpopular proposals and deflect popular criticism from themselves.  In fact EU Governments actively push difficult policy areas to EU level to distance themselves from what they know is the rational and likely outcome.  

Your Tuscan friends are buying into this game.  The reality is Italy would be a basket case without the EU and the Euro - and is in significant difficulty even with them.  Alitalia has more debts than it has assets despite massive (illegal) Government subvention and support.

The reality is all EU policies are agreed by EU Governments.  Some suit some members better than others, and so a lot of horse-trading takes place.  You get a lot of messy compromises - a bit like the US Budgetary process.

If anything it is too easy for a particularly short sighted or self-interested Government to block necessary proposals.  The evidence presented by the surveys cited here is that most Europeans view the EU positively, would like to take a more active role in many areas, and support its enlargement.

Far from being governed by an unaccountable bureaucracy, most people actively support and vote for the policies which have been implemented.  I have argued long and hard that the level of transparency, accountability and efficiency in decision making needs to be radically improved as the EU grows larger and deeper.

You say that Americans are individualists and want to restrict the power of Government as much a possible.  Europeans see Americans as being ruled by corporations, the military/industrial complex, private interest groups and lobbyists, and would prefer to be ruled by an inefficient Government rather than an unaccountable corporation.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 03:29:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Socialists in America also see Americans ruled by corporations or the military complex.  This is all very old hat.  Are we still reading Galbraith?Corporations don't vote. The government does regulate and tax corporations as well as give them certain benefits.  As it does for enviromental groups, unions and other entities.  Europe does not do the same?  

I trust individuals to make free, unfettered decisions.  Americans support their system because it has promoted individual achievement and generated personal wealth.  

As for the mutual defense, does Germany still want Alsace Lorraine?  Europe's borders have been cemented over the past 50 years.  Democracies do not war with each other.  America has pretty muched guaranteed europe's freedom from soviet threats. So, war in Europe shouldnt really be a factor.  When there was (Kosovo), europe didnt do anything about it.

And if Europeans wholeheartedly support the EU, why are the member states governments trying to backdoor popular referendums to avoid "Non" votes again?

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 06:06:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Corporations don't vote. The government does regulate and tax corporations as well as give them certain benefits.  As it does for enviromental groups, unions and other entities.  Europe does not do the same?

Corporations don't vote, but they influence the law-making directly, via impressively effective lobbying. We're all free to lobby, true, but it costs money and thus somehow ends up favoring those that can actually afford to do it on a systematic basis.

Government does regulate and tax corporations, but it is doing an increasingly poor job of it because of corporate lobbying.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 06:56:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Corporations don't vote - and neither do most Americans.  Corporations buy votes, and most senior Administration officials have significant corporate connections or will end up working in the corporate sector again in due course. American politics is run by corporate "donations" even though the American polity is supposed to be made up of citizens rather than corporations.

Americans also have free speech (provided they aren't labeled a communist) but corporations control what voices are heard.  I don't doubt that many Americans buy into the corporatist culture you exult in, but many do not.  

In contrast more Europeans tend to buy into and participate in their local and national political cultures -including the emerging EU dimension to many of those aspects of Government - and this despite the fact that Europeans come from many different and diverse countries without the homogenising effects of a single dominant national culture which you so often express here on behalf of the US.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 07:55:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Corporations are taxed and regulated by the government, are they not?

But there are also unions, enviromental groups, the Sierra Club, the ACLU, Women's groups and a host of other leftist groups that also attempt to buy influence and do. This doesnt go on in Europe? Come on.

Communists and Socialists have the right to free speech and often use it in the U.S.  Most socialists actually hide within the Democratic Party because most americans dont like socialism.  Socialism likes to hide its agenda under other agendas because socialists here cannot convince the electorate otherwise.

Those who dont participate in the US political system tend to support the way its going. Massive turnout happens when the electorate is very upset with the current state of affairs.

As to corporations, why are corporations so evil?  Corporations employ people and provide goods and services. In fact, I believe one employs you Frank.  If it wasnt for corporations, you probably wouldnt have a computer to type on.  Corporations dont take anything from anyone. They offer a good or a service that people buy voluntarily.  Socialists tend to be people who really cant produce anything on their own.  Thus, they advance themselves by taking the means of production into their own hands (by force) so that THEY can be in control.  

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 11:38:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From what I understand, the whole point of the EU is to economically compete with large markets like the US, China, Southeast Asia.

Which, in an era of cross border ownership and transnational corporations , is no point at all, since you only compete with yourself.

"Competition" is all about depressing wages and living standards for the many to the benefit of the few. As has been exhaustively analysed and presented on ET...

Having said that, I know I'm in a minority here on ET since it is not clear to me what the EU is actually for in a globalised world.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 04:30:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Competition is not about depressing wages and living standards. Competition is about producing a good or service at the most effective cost for the best price the market will bear.  The opposite of competition is monopoly. This would be when there is one milkman and he can charge whatever he wants because there is no competition.  Introduce competing milkmen, and the other milkmen will charge lower prices.  

Competition and free market economies benefit the CONSUMER.  Business produces goods and services for people in exchange for money and profit.  Prices are determined by supply and demand.  Price is determined from information from a varity of sources.  No one person controls the price of anything.  That is what is democratic about the pricing system.  Free marketers dont want government intervention into the pricing system because it distorts market prices and causes unintended consequences such as shortages, etc.  So, for example, government starts giving out student loans to help students.  Now, students have more money to go to college if they are willing to hock themselves in debt. The result in the US, massive inflation in education costs.  Or, Clinton imposed a luxury tax on boats in the 1990s. The result-boats went up in price-massive layoffs in the boating industry, lost profits, lost taxes.  Or, government starts subsidizing corn for ethanol. The resulting distortion, massive inflation for corn products, corn sweetener, animal feed resulting in higher beef prices.  Poorer people now have to pay more for food. All for ethanol which is not a good fuel alternative.

Here is a great link to Milton Friedman explaining the economics of how a pencil is produced-it is two minutes long but worth 4 college credits.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=d6vjrzUplWU

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 11:57:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What a lovely religion you have. Unfortunately, nothing you say is true in the real world as opposed to the world of voodoo.


Competition and free market economies benefit the CONSUMER.

Sometimes, when appropriately regulated. Sometimes they don't - see the energy, rail and other infrastructural markets like health or education. I'm sure you're familiar with the sections of Hayek and Smith where they point out  there is a role for public provision there. I'm not sure if Friedman is sane enough to admit it: I still haven't got around to reading his stuff.

No one person controls the price of anything.  

No, that would take groups of companies colluding. Which I'm sure never happens in the wonderland that is the US. In the real world, I'll refer you to The Wealth of Nations for what happens when producers meet.

So, for example, government starts giving out student loans to help students.  Now, students have more money to go to college if they are willing to hock themselves in debt. The result in the US, massive inflation in education costs.

And lots of people having the opportunity of a college education that didn't have it before ... what was the effect of that on the economy.

Suitably regulated markets are among the tools we have to achieve our aims as a society. The stock and financial markets rely on brutal regulation to function at all: look what happens when the regulations are enforced badly or not adapted to the changing market.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 12:10:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, you're assuming that free marketers dont believe in ANY regulation.  That would be an incorrect assumption.  Friedman and Hayek say that there are certain areas where there are "market failures" where the government must intervene.  Enviroment regulations are a good example of "market failures".  Collusion and price fixing is another proper intervention as Smith noted.  That's why we have an anti monopoly law.  Smith also noted thought that price collusion often brings it's own revenge without gov. regulation.

I dont agree that energy, railroad and healthcare are good areas for government intervention.  These are business areas and bureaucrats are incapable of regulating industries properly. If they were, they would be in the private sector. Our medical industry is heavily regulated, especially with prices. This causes massive distortions in prices.  So, a doctor I know gets paid $75 for a spinal tap.  My father in law goes into the hospital for observation only for ten days and the insurance company pays $65,000.00 (no tests, no operations).  

As to education, I dont have a problem with a public role. It's just that private schools are better. The curriculum is more reading and writing oriented toward a British style system.

As to the higher education costs, do a lot more people have access to higher education now thanks to student loans? No, because the price of one year at college went up to $45K a year.  Student loans do not come close to that level.

As to stock markets, I think they are casinos. I do not think buying stock is "investing", it is gambling.

Being a free marketer doesnt mean your against regulation or laws. It depends on the regulation and what is trying to be accomplished. Unfortunately, much government regulation ignores human nature resulting in unintended consequences.


Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 02:16:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From what I understand, the whole point of the EU is to economically compete with large markets

You understand very little. (That was not even runner-up in my reasons when I votes Yes for Hungary to join the EU.)

Not mutual defense.

No one said it's mutual defense.

the government fostered western expansion, not identity.

And Western expansion fostered identity. It's a basic logical chain.

indiviual achievement, individual freedeom and individual prosperity is the founding cornerstone.

Depends on whom you ask. It may be true for you. At any rate, the old American state, regional (say, Confederate...) and religious identities, and economic structures like plantations, were washed away by the forces I mentioned, and made it possible in the first place for Libertarians and like-minded Republicans to preach individualist capitalism the defining mark of the USA today.

Therefore, you have a band of elites who think they are smarter than the other europeans and want to control them through socialistic mechanisms.

LOL. Your caricature couldn't be further from the truth. Our elites aren't much of a believer in socialistic mechanisms, they are increasingly believers in opressive and anti-democratic free-market mechanisms.

Most of what I have read here only confirms that suspician.

I have noticed earlier that you don't undestand what you are reading here. Say, Migeru on natiuonalism and Spain. I suggest you first make the effort to understand before making judgements.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 04:47:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I perfectly understand what people are saying. I just dont agree with much of it. The spaniards poll didnt quite jive with what he was saying.  I have heard these tired socialist arguments before.  Anti capitalism, anti corporate. Free Market is anti freedom.  Yawn.

Americans going west doesnt make them feel american. They went out west because they saw opportunity.

Perhaps you dont see europe coming together for common defense, but others here have mentioned that as a reason.

Precisely how does free marketism anti democratic?  

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 12:24:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The whole point of the free market is to replace the one people=one vote principle with the one dollar=one vote principle. Deeply oligarchic when dollars are not equally shared, as is the case everywhere.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 06:37:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Samuelson's introductory economics textbook uses the sleight of hand of describing the operation of the market as involving dollar votes to use the emotional attachment of the impressionable teenage reader to person votes in order to push the marketista ideology.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 07:27:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, a "free market" could be a viable (actually, not sure abour the viable part), democratic way of allocating resources if everybody had the same amount of money...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 07:50:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you gave everyone the same amount of money. Certain people would always end up with more in the end.  That is because certain people have skills that are more valuable than others.  Others, may prefer to work less but have more free time.  Some people have frugal needs, others more lavish.  Different people have different values.  

What way do you propose that better allocates resources?  Socialism? Pure socialism exists on the kibbutz.  These systems have failed because they ignore human nature.  Some people work hard, others dont. Yet, everyone gets the same earnings.  It's known as the freeloader or freerider effect. At some point,the hard workers get fed up and leave. That's exactly what's been happening in Israel.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 02:21:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Holy cow.  You're hard core, aren't you?  

Who are you going to vote for, if I may ask?

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 02:29:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't love many of the candidates. Thompson or Giuliani if I have to. Perhaps, the libertarian candidate (again).

Terry
by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 05:46:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Alrighty then.  Gotcha.  There's no point in me disagreeing with you further; we will always be of two minds.

I've decided to write in Putin.  That's my plan until someone successfully sells me on Edwards.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 05:50:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, you're quite right. We are never going to agree. The point of debating, however, is not always to persuade but to have people challenge your beliefs.  I have come to the right place. There's a nest of socialists here.  And socialism is totalitarian in nature.  Most socialists are envious of other people's wealth. They feel rather helpless in a capitalist economic system so they seek to destroy it.  Interesting how all the people you could choose to right in, you chose someone who seems to have those leanings.

Edwards is not totalitarian though.  His "Two Americas" is probably in line with your politics. Of course, I like how he is carving out his multi million dollar mansion in a forest miles away from civilization.  He will live in a large estate off the beat track while all the commoners live in the suburbs and cities.  All while he is preaching about two americas.

Vote Obama. I dont agree with anything he says. But there is no doubt that he genuinely believes in his philosophy. I can respect that at least, as to say, Hillary or Edwards.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 09:46:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Internaut Terry sealed the helmet on his General Electric Tubesuit then ran through the final checks, testing his BFG-1100 Red Roaster Flame Gun on a stack of copies of Das Kapital before launching himself onto the Interwebs, shouting "I'm gonna smoke me a nest of socialists."
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 09:55:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which still doesn't make the free market democratic in any way.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 02:38:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some people work hard, others dont. Yet, everyone gets the same earnings.

and capitalism is better how? in that it is possible for the person who works hard to earn much less than the person who hardly works at all, just happens to have had money to start with.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 02:58:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
People are paid with relation to how much their skill is worth.  

Please explain how your system is better.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 05:48:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That isn't true, I'm not advocating any particular system, I'm just saying that your argument is deeply flawed and packed with assumptions.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 05:56:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, well maybe someday you will take a stand and make an argument on how some other economic system is better.

I have at least done so.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 09:19:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Q: "Buffett, why are you a Democrat?"

A: "I have what I call the minus 24 hour genie test. Imagine a genie poofed up 24 hours before you were born and asked you what kind of world you would want to live in. And you being the smart minus 24 hour baby would ask, "what's the catch?" And the genie would respond that you would have to participate in the "ovarian lottery" and draw one of 6 billion tickets. Things such as born United States or Bangladesh; white, brown, or black; male or female; smart or dumb; these would all be completely up to chance. Well then, what kind of world would you create? And my [Buffett's] world would be a society with equality that treated everyone fairly. And the Democrats seem to be better at doing that."


You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 05:58:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of the extreme disparities in wealth really come from people being lucky - born in the right place and time, given the right education, inheriting wealth and a good start in life, just plain getting lucky. The free-market based systems magnify that luck with more access to opportunities for wealth.

What would work better was a balanced system that recognised the justice shortcomings of market based systems and balanced them against the need for incentives for the good of society. Redistribution is required to even make the theoretical models underlying free trade or free markets work.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 03:19:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What nonsense.  Maybe that's how it works in Europe.

Bill Gates, Andrew Carnegie, T. Boone Pickens, Rockfeller-I could go on.  Why dont you look them up and see what these people started with.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 05:50:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well Bill Gates was definitely Lucky, he just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and according to some sources succeeded by using ripped off versions of other peoples software.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 05:54:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL. I'm hardcore??

If Bill Gates ripped off somebody's software, someone would have sued him. It's not too hard to find a lawyer in the US.

Luck always helps.  But let's face it, he created something from nothing.  

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 07:00:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is not how they started, it's how they acquired their wealth. The acquisition of great wealth is almost more obscene than being born with it.  

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 05:55:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"The acquisition of wealth is obscene".

My my, you socialists are so envious of other people.  If you want to tell me some soccer player makes way too much, I might go a short distance with you.  

Some of you just dont like reality.  People create things, produce things, provide services to make money. They do this to feed their family and buy things they want.  Some do so well that they amass a lot of wealth. So what? The additional wealth creates more jobs and provide great things like that computer your typing on. The computer helps doctors, business and other industries provide better services and products.  How do think that computer got in front of you?  Elves didnt make it.  Because of profit motive.  You should probably thank these people rather than sneer at them.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 07:08:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So it is your opinion that only profit motivates people?

I live in a well functioning society where the differential between the top and bottom salaries is something of the order of 48:1. In your country it is 480:1. My well functioning society produced Nokia.

I only sneer at the people who want too much and who will trample on the rights of anyone else to get it.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 06:01:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where did I say that only profit motivates people?

Most individuals want to achieve something with their lives by using the talents they have. They also have obligations, like the need to eat, the need to live somewhere and perhaps, a family to educate and take care of.  

In my opinion, developing your talents to the best of your ability (ayn rand would call it "productive work") is one of the most important factors to happiness.  Family, recreation, friends, love are some of the others.

48 to 1? 480 to 1?  Are you saying it should be 1 to 1?  10 to 1? 5 to 1?  What is fair? Who is to decide what a doctor should make and a janitor should make? Should they make equal salaries? Incomes do vary greatly in the US.  The real question is what is the living standard of our poor.  The answer is that the living standard of the poor is quite a bit better than most people in the world.  The majority of the poor have 2 televisions, a phone, a computer, a place to live and, often, a car.  That doesnt mean their life is as comfortable as say, mine.  Thankfully, the US system allows for a lot of upward mobility and opportunity for those that apply themselves.

Your country may have produced Nokia. But the telephone was invented in the United States.  Ironically, it was invented by a Scotsman who came to find opportunity.  I wonder why he didnt stay in Europe?


Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 09:35:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Terry:
 Thankfully, the US system allows for a lot of upward mobility and opportunity for those that apply themselves.

Unfortunately that is a myth, the US alongside the UK come at the bottom of measures of Social mobility. all of those socialist countries that you criticise come way above both of those countries.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 10:32:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's why everyone flocks here.  The "myth" of opportunity and social mobility.  

When I was in college, I worked at a bagel store. The store hired some Polish immigrant cheap to clean the floor. A grim task with all the fish we also sold. Within in a year, he was a baker. Two years later, he owned his own store.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 01:02:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's why everyone flocks here.  The "myth" of opportunity and social mobility.  

A succinct summary of the situation. Well done.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 01:07:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One anecdote dosn't ammount to proof,

if you go and look at Intergenerational Mobility in Europe and North America (pdf warning) a report by the centre for economic performance, you'll see that you're far more likely to have a chance to improve yourself in Europe than you are in the US.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 02:08:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Redistribution.

So, it's ok for the government to take what I earn by force to give it to another person?  Is that what your saying?

I work hard for what I earn. Why should my family have less just because someone thinks someone else should have more?  Indeed, this is the language of socialism. That what someone makes belongs to everyone else. Society can take what you make and give it to other people.  That sounds quite totalitarian to me.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 09:39:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who gives a flying fuck if you think this is the language of socialism? What is your obsession with socialism?

If you believe you have what you have solely because you worked hard for it then you are far removed from reality. Why hasn't someone stolen it all?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 09:44:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you against taxation in general, or just in the case where it may be given to the 'undeserving' poor?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 02:09:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"note that I think all national identities are fostered, what's more only imagined..."  -DoDo

I think they are much more than that.  Most nation states arose as a consequence of wars and the outcome of those wars.  Nations that were defeated often vanished or were diminished in size and importance.  Artificial nations were created by colonial victors in those wars.  Many boundaries were set simply by the territories that were controlled by various armies at the end of those conflicts.  Thus a "Nation state" might have no clear logic, rational boundaries, or uniform composition in terms of ethnicity, language culture etc.

The most obviously disparate nations - e.g. Iraq often ended up very unstable and could only be held together by quite brutal or dictatorial means. Nationalism was fostered within states to try and create a coherent identity - through national service, parades, flags, emblems, religion, culture, sporting achievements, competition with neighbouring states etc.

In this sense all National identities are artificial, social constructs that could have been quite different had the armies ended up in different places.  Not only were national identites "fostered" they were enforced - by uniforms, repression of dissidents, pledges/oaths of allegiance, education systems and by the ideological apparatuses of the state.

The more diverse the state, the more the pressure to conform to some "universal" image of a Frenchman, German, Brit, or American.  Very clear norms and customs emerged - and stereotypes about the "others" usually cast in very negative terms - Frogs, Teutons, Loud etc.

What has always struck me as extraordinary about America - is the pressure to conform, to salute the flag, to recite the pledge of allegiance, to hate the Commies  etc. - and the way the US always has to be at war with SOMEONE - Commies, Drugs, Terror, Islamofascists etc. - to fear and hate the other - as a means of enforcing conformity and stability within.

I offer this a sociological observation, not an indictment.  The US is so large and diverse it could easily fall apart into e.g. an independent Republic of Texas or California etc. - if some kind of ideological superstructure created by the media and education system etc. did not exist, and at least it is preferable to an outright dictatorship as a means of ensuring conformance, uniformity and stability.

In this context, what makes the EU so interesting is that it is a voluntary coming together of previously largely sovereign states who are under no obligation to join.  Although obviously shaped by the outcome of the second World War and the Cold War, the outcome of those wars did not Directly lead to the foundation of the EU.

The EU is also relatively recent, and so it is not surprising that an EU identity is only emerging and that it exists side by side with National and regional identities.  The EU also does not have the same "engines" for forging a national identity - an EU army, an EU "National Service", an EU educational system, or highly visible symbols of unity such as an EU President.

So, in my view, the evidence of an emerging EU identity presented here is quite remarkable - even if it is in no way comparable to the strength of an e.g. Spanish or US national identity.  First of all - you can feel, in some degree, both Spanish and European - and not feel the two are mutually exclusive. And secondly not of the coercive elements of national identity formation so common in the history of Nations states are present.

So where Terry sees the glass of EU identity not being even half full, I see it as quite remarkable that there is such a widespread and tangible support for the notion of a European identity and ideal as a whole.  The evidence seems to be that the younger generation sees the EU as being something they take for granted, see as highly positive, and something they would like to see develop further.

Now that it has been confirmed that Ireland is the only country that is going to hold a National referendum on the EU Reform Treaty, I hope we do not destroy all that positive momentum by voting against it.  I haven't seen any recent opinion poll data, but the political atmosphere has soured considerably here in the last few months. Our Prime Minister's standing has fallen because of largely domestic factors, and many will vote against the Treaty not because they are anti-EU but because they have lost trust in his Government.

We are in for some interesting times.  

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 08:54:03 AM EST
We'd better hope that people don't vote against the treaty  as a protest vote against Ahern like they did in France against Chirac.

But in France the fact that the PS cadres split and some of them actually campaigned for the non was probably the deciding factor.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 11:06:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It will be interesting to see who will oppose treaty here - Sinn Fein - probably
- greens - probably not now they are in Government, but they would have before

However the big problem is a possible protest vote against Ahern.  It will be important for the debate to separate out domestic from EU issues.  I think this can and will be done, but there have been some really silly comments from Ahern and Commissioner McCreevy to the effect that we will be the laughing stock of Europe if we vote no.  People really don't respond well to that sort of blackmail - they will expect a debate on the facts.  The risk is a very low pro-EU turnout which will allow even a relatively small but highly mobilised anti-EU vote to make it a relatively close vote.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 02:42:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sinn Fein and lots of (other!) marginal groups financed by anti-EU groups from outside the country. Anti-abortion people claiming that the EU is going to force abortion on the country, pro-neutrality people recycling their claims about us being forced into NATO (as if that would make one blind bit of difference to the government's kowtowing to Washington) and so-on. The  media will magnify their voices in the name of balance and they'll be unconstrained by little details like the truth as per usual.  

What fun it will all be.

Apparently Merkel and others will be coming to help out Bertie and the lads persuade us.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 03:00:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep - and people will ask Merkel why, if its such a good idea, she doesn't put it to the vote in Germany and all the other European countries.  We all know Bertie is a big boy in Europe, but he has become very small in Ireland recently.  People are looking for an opportunity to give Fianna Fail a kick up the back side.  Lets hope they don't use the Treaty as the opportunity to do that.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 03:37:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting points. I dont take issue with your point that most states are created by some sort of war.  Not all the boundaries are artificially created though. Certainly not in Europe. The middle east you are 100 percent correct.

Nationalism was not the cause of WWI.  "Modern" wars, as WWI was, now require the mobilization of the entire entire.  Nationalism was used by the governments participating in the war bring MILLIONS of soldiers into the army and to mobilize war production.  

As to U.S., you obviously read your Marcuse or perhaps, Manufacturing of Consent.  You believe that Americans love america because the media and education system tells them to do so. That is a lot of hooey. I dont think people are sheep, Frank. And I dont think they are stupid either. Americans wholeheartedly endorse the system of government we have because it works.  Our government and economic system has provided more wealth and stability than any other system the world has ever seen. Naturally, Americans support it.  The US system is based on the INDIVIDUAL, something also very unique.  An individual has rights and that he has economic freedom to achieve what is best for him/her not "society", whatever that is.

I find it somewhat fascinating that you find Cuba more democratic even though rule their is enforced by gunpoint.  Socialism is usually the system that resorts to media control, education and almost always the gun to enforce conformism.  SU, Cambodia, Vietnam, old Eastern Bloc, National socialism, China and now Venezuela.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 11:59:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am having technical problems with this Blog.  I can see these comments when I go to my page, and comments, but not when I go to Diaries and click on this diary.  I have tried changing the view from nested to flat etc. to no avail.  Is there a known bug which causes some comments to didappear from a blog?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 02:20:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you got the nationalist bullshit filter turned on? That might explain it...

More seriously, which comments do you mean?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 02:26:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry it seems to be working now - my big comment above was intended as a reply to a point by DoDo way down the blog - but seems to have inserted itself way up the blog - perhaps I clicked on "post a comment" rather than "reply to this" but that was not my intention.

Do you have a nationalist bullshit filter?
I don't think it was switched on because I can still read most of the stuff here!!!!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 02:34:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"As to U.S., you obviously read your Marcuse or perhaps, Manufacturing of Consent." - Terry

No I haven't.  But to the outsider a lot of US political debate does seem remarkably stupid - as you no doubt consider much of the debate here.

My reply to your comment on Cuba got lost in transit and I can't be bothered to repeat.  Suffice to say I regard it as a one party democracy which is not quite the same thing as a dictatorship, but not a true democracy either.  

Chavez, on the other hand, has achieved huge democratic majorities in Venezuela and has accepted his one defeat - in the referendum on Constitutional changes.  The US has a habit of labeling democratic those dictatorships which support its policies and labeling dictatorships those democracies which vote for policies not in line with US interests.  

Seeing the US has a history of undermining and overthrowing democracies abroad, as well as having very low participation rates in its own elections, you should hardly be surprised that no one is willing to take lectures on Democracy from America.


Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 02:56:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe would not be democratic if it wasnt mainly for the United States.  And after what Europe did last century, Europeans need not lecture Americans on and peace, freedom and democracy.

And whether you like it or not, it was mostly the US that finally brought peace to Europe. Which side was Ireland on, per chance? Yes, I know they were officially neutral. But who did they help?

You are indeed right. American foreign policy has been on the wrong side of dictatorships too often. Especially, those who were anti communist during the cold war. Just as France built Saddam a nice nuclear reactor and how other european countries armed African dictators and permitted the slaughter in Kosovo.  No one can claim the holier than thou mantle.

You should read Marcuse and Manufacturing of Consent since it is in line with your philosophy. Although, you should try some opposing views too.  I recommend F. Hayek's Road to Serfdom.

Your "one party democracy" is a unique concept.  That would have made the old Soviet Union a democracy as well.  China might be a democracy too.  Democracy is not just an election.  It requires the consent of the governed, freedom of expression, the right to private property.  All of the things your Cuba is specifically bans.  

Chavez was democratically elected. As was Hitler.  However, Chavez "reforms" are designed to bring him permanent rule and end democracy.  Getting rid of media that doesnt agree with him. Making it a crime to criticize his government.  Arresting opposition members and taking private property.  This sounds like a democracy heading the wrong way.  No wonder there are food shortages now caused by his socialistic policies.

I will ask this one question again, are you a socialist Frank?  There is no shame in that in Europe.

P.S. Your million francs are in the mail.


Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 01:58:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OMG

What's going on here?

Europe would not be democratic if it wasnt mainly for the United States.  And after what Europe did last century, Europeans need not lecture Americans on and peace, freedom and democracy.

Let's not be so quick to forget where the Enlightenment ideals on which our democracy was founded originated.  Hint.  It was Europe.

And whether you like it or not, it was mostly the US that finally brought peace to Europe.

I would argue that the US was in fact instrumental, but hardly alone in that.  I think Great Britain and the Soviet Union might have lent us a hand in saving the world.  

Democracy is not just an election.  It requires the consent of the governed, freedom of expression, the right to private property.

I find that political ideologies are like religion.  Not easily defined.  Democracy is about more than elections.  Freedom of Speech is the holy grail of American democracy.  But private property?  I think that's more about Capitalism than Democracy.  

Lastly, I just want to pipe up, and say, I think it's a little unhelpful for Americans to show up at a European website and begin lecturing people.  Not because we don't have good points to make, and not because the Europeans are right about everything.  But because it just reinforces stereotypes about Americans being arrogant.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 02:22:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"I would argue that the US was in fact instrumental, but hardly alone in that.  I think Great Britain and the Soviet Union might have lent us a hand in saving the world."

I would wholeheartedly agree with England. The Soviet Union enslaved Eastern Europe with totalitarian governments including Poland, which was ironically over what the war started over. So, I wouldnt rush to thank them for a "free" europe. That is, unless you're like Frank and believe in "one party democracy".

Private property is a cornerstone of democracy. If I can take everything you earn, can you be free?

Of course, our democracy comes from the european thinkers. Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau were instrumental.  It is a shame that their philosophies could not have materialized in Europe because they were mostly totalitarian governments until the 20th century.

And I havent lectured anyone. I have given my opinion. I was discussing how I saw EU identity from an American viewpoint.  Some have chosen to stray a bit off topic into what democracy is and I have answered.  If you disagree, then challenge it. I dont worry about what Europeans think and how they percieve the US.  Especially, since three of my uncles risked their lives liberating it.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 05:41:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have to admit that the Soviet union played a major part in defeaing Nazism, That's not to say that post 1945 They were an unalloyed good for Europe, but without the Red army, the liberation of Western europe would have been an entire order of difficulty harder.

Private property is not a cornerstone of democracy,  and the outcome of democracy is not necessarily freedom, if you think that it is then you have misunderstood the nature of democracy.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 08:29:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, the Soviet Union played a large part in the defeat of the Nazis. Just let's not forget what they did. They signed an armistice with Hitler. Invaded the eastern half of Poland after Germany came in.  Then they were double crossed and attacked by Hitler.  And, by war's end, they had enslaved half of Europe including ALL of Poland. So, let's not pretend the Soviet Union was some white knight.

Again, property rights is the cornerstone of democracy.  Law is designed to protect life, liberty and PROPERTY.  If you do not have the right to keep what you earn, than you are not free. Simply saying it's not, does not counter my argument.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 09:12:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thought it was Life, Liberty and the persuit of happiness? Law may be designed to protect what you are saying but freedom, law, property and democracy are all different things, any of which can exist without the others.

Im not pretending that the Soviet Union was the greatest thing since sliced bread, but then again the claim that half of Europe was enslaved by the wars end is probably taking it a bit far and does sound like some 1950's Mcarthyite propaganda.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 11:08:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good grief, is there no part of the US-uber-alles orthodoxy you don't parrot?

Chavez was democratically elected.

Which puts him ahead of the current US regime, eh?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 03:09:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More people voted for Bush than Kerry in 2004 last time I looked.

Terry
by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 07:10:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
how about over Gore in 2000?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 07:39:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now, you want to switch to 2000.  George Bush got more electoral votes. That's all that matters in US elections.  I would add that Gore was the incumbent with a great economy.  He should not have lost.

I didnt vote for either.

Terry

by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 09:14:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have already argued that the period -1944- early 50's (say) was the high point of US history.  Sadly it has been largely ruled by political pygmies since who have corporate culture and the military industrial cmplex to dominate the polity since.

Ireland was formally neutral and quietly supportive of the allied cause during WW2 for reasons not relevant to this thread.

Sometimes reality is a little more nuanced that the Communist/Capitalist, Democracy/Dictatorship, Freedom/Bondage dualities so beloved of US ideological discourse.  

One of my arguments which I may expand on in a diary sometime is that the US appears to have a need to exacerbate tensions abroad in order to provide an easily definable or stereotypifiable Enemy which it can then attack.  The resulting war is then functional for the US both in terms of the immediate spoils of war and the degree to which it can unify and stabilise an otherwise quite precarious national unity within the US.  

Even when the resulting war is a disaster - as in Iraq - it still has the internal "beneficial" effect in the US for the dominant elite of wrongfooting all opposition and distracting attention from many other contentious and destabilise divisions within the US.

Have you been to Venezuela?  The reports I get speak of a very high degree of popular involvement in politics - as evidenced by recent referendum - a great deal of public criticism of the Government, and a good deal of social progress - probably more so than the US.

This is going to really confuse you Terry, but I am not a "socialist" or anything else which can be easily defined by any such label.  Let's try "thinking human being" as a first order approximation...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 10:03:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't really disagree with anything you say, but there was more in my throwaway comment about imagined identities. Maybe I can dig up an earlier thread where I discussed this at length, here very shortly:

For me, nation states are real existing things, came about the forced way you describe, but nations themselves not. What I mean is that even after the heavy uniformising drive, people counting themselves into the same nation differ strongly on (1) what they consider the common elements defining that nation, and on (2) who else they are willing to consider part of their nation.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 12:27:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right guys.  This is becoming a flame war.  Let's end it here as we are not adding to the sum total of human knowledge.  Calling people names - even if some will wear them as a badge of honour doesn't get us very far.

Terry, I'm afraid the onus is on you to write your Diary on the "American way" as you see it.  That is the right place for such a debate, and people who want to contribute to it can do so there.
 

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 11:05:01 AM EST
You are right. But I didnt really take this off topic. I just responded to what was asked me.

Terry
by Terry (Terry@pollackzuckerman.com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 01:04:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have written a blog on Will Ireland Reject the EU Reform Treaty? for those who wish to follow the debate on the EU Reform Treaty in Ireland - which is the only state to put the ratification to the popular vote. Ireland's strong sense of participation in the European Project may, of itself, not be sufficient to carry the vote because of a number of domestic political factors.  The EU project could well be stopped in its tracks for years to come unless this vote is won.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Dec 19th, 2007 at 06:55:10 AM EST


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