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Where is your outrage?

by Frank Schnittger Tue Dec 23rd, 2008 at 11:16:06 AM EST

Mark Warren (below the fold) articulates perfectly the outrage I have long felt at the arrogance of those elements in the NO to Lisbon campaign in Ireland who deign to lecture the rest of Europe on their democratic deficiencies.

Let us forget, for the moment, that the NO campaign is made up largely of groups with very dubious democratic credentials indeed: Sinn Fein - who have long denied the legitimacy of the Irish state and whose military wing has killed many of its citizens and servants; Libertas, apparently funded by a US Defence contractor and which has never garnered a vote in its life; and Coir, a shadowy group apparently including arch conservative Catholics who have in the past been known to defer to Canon rather than Civil law particularly when it comes to child sexual abuse.

The real object of my anger is that these same groups, without a shadow of a mandate from any other EU Member state - deign to lecture our fellow members in the EU on the deficiency in their own democratic methods and procedures.

To date some 24 Member states, all with democratically elected Governments, have proceeded to ratify Lisbon in accordance with their own constitutional arrangements.  Some - such as President Sarkozy's Government, have been elected subsequent to an initial rejection of the original EU Constitutional Treaty - and have been elected on a campaign promise to ratify Lisbon.  In addition, the democratically elected European Parliament overwhelmingly supports the Lisbon Treaty.


Next June all EU member states go to the polls to elect a new European Parliament.  Let us see how many anti-Lisbon members are elected then.  Should the vast majority of European Parliament members elected then continue to support Lisbon will we then finally hear an end to the cant that Ireland is somehow more democratic that all other EU member states? I won't be holding my breath.  

It should be born in mind that other than Ireland, only Switzerland regularly holds referenda on specific proposals in addition to national and local elections.  Britain has only in recent years adopted the practice of very occasionally holding referenda on some European and Devolution issues.  Before that the UK Parliament at Westminster was always held to be the last word in Democracy.

The reality is that European countries have a long tradition of indirect and representative democracy. The Murdoch press inspired conflation of Democracy with Direct Democracy is in fact practised almost no where in the world.  

It is up to each EU Member state to adopt whatever democratic processes they see fit and fringe Irish groups of dubious democratic credentials at home and none elsewhere have absolutely no claim to better represent the views of the peoples of Europe than their own democratically elected Governments.

Would it be too much to ask our friends in Europe to write Letters to Irish papers expressing their outrage that nefarious Irish groups claim to speak and act for them?  We need lots of letters like the one from Mark Warren posted below.

Second referendum on Lisbon Treaty - The Irish Times - Mon, Dec 22, 2008

Madam, - AJ Cahill of Salthill, Co Galway writes (December 17th) of the importance of saying "No" once again to the Lisbon Treaty "so democracy can be kept alive long enough for the EU project to be rescued".

And this burden, he says, "the Irish people must accept willingly on behalf of the peoples of Europe". Well, as one of the "peoples" of Europe, I find this statement offensive and arrogant.

Ireland has received much of my tax money via the same undemocratic EU that he wishes to replace and "rescue". Mr Cahill's views are an insult to the many years of work and dedication contributed by mainly French and German politicians to make the EU the success that it is today.

The EU was born during the years of the Cold War, under the watchful and sometimes hostile gaze of the Americans, Russians and British. Many countries such as Ireland and the UK now reap the benefits of that hard work - conveniently not mentioned by the gentleman, or by the press and media in general. And as Lisbon II approaches, there will no doubt be many more ill-informed letters insulting Europeans and what Europe has achieved since 1945.

I have noticed a disturbing tendency among many writers to The Irish Times: they seem to assume that only the Irish have a God-given right to pontificate on democracy. Perhaps this is because, as the gentleman writes, "during the second World War we helped keep democracy alive as it was threatened in Europe". By fighting Hitler's Germany? I think not.

Do the Irish make up their own history? Only the Americans, British and Israelis can beat you at that, they are much better at it. But let's not quibble; Mr Cahill is in pretty good company.

If the people of Ireland do decide once more to say No to the Lisbon Treaty, it won't be Europe that will need rescuing. Libertas is a cultivated plant that can grow only on rarefied Irish soil; and in doing so, poison it. - Yours, etc,

MARK WARREN,

Biebesheim am Rhein,

Germany.

Perhaps I might also address the second shibboleth so beloved of NO campaigners:  That it is somehow undemocratic to put similar proposals to the electorate on several occasions.  

I have got news for NO campaigners:  The Treaties of Rome, Amsterdam, Nice, and Lisbon, not to mention the original Constitutional Treaty agreed by a convention of all European members states have ALL got many elements in common.  Each tries to build on the foundation of others as the EU develops, enlarges, and adapts to changed circumstances throughout the world.

Newsflash, Shock, horror!  No doubt we will be asked to vote on yet another EU Treaty in a few years time which may be only marginally different than its predecessors, but which again attempts to more fully address the challenges of a post Wall Street Crash world.  The processes of political development never end, and though it may seem tiresome to have to think about these issues again and again, the reality is that polities, no less than societies, must continue to adapt or die.

Those who now claim to oppose Lisbon because they prefer an EU based on the Nice Treaty also opposed the Nice treaty on the two occasions it was put to the Irish electorate.  They have opposed everything to do with the EU since our accession itself.  They have made NO contribution to the development of the EU whatsoever and now seek to demean and denigrate those that have.

So where is your outrage PEOPLE OF EUROPE?  Do you want to be denigrated as undemocratic by proto-fascistic groups from Ireland (who between them command less than 10% of the electoral vote in Ireland) and who claim to be working on your behalf?  Hell, even if you personally oppose Lisbon, you should be outraged by this slander.

So please sharpen your minds and your fingers and write to the editors of:

Irish Times   lettersed@irish-times.ie
Irish Independent  independent.letters@independent.ie
Sunday Business Post sbpost@iol.ie
Sunday Tribune  nhegarty@tribune.ie

Display:
Most of this post, is, I am afraid, based on falacies and misunderstadings.

Let me give a concrete example: I will probably vote for a party that was pro-Lisbon, though I am anti-Lisbon. Representative democracy is not normally single-issue. Following the reasoning exposed here, my EP vote would be seen as a support for the treaty, clearly it is not. Lisbon simply is not a single-issue for me to change my vote. I would bet 90% of the no camp would agree.

Another falacy is by saying that some of the supporters of the referendum are really not democratic (which is true) therefore the democractic argument does not hold. Because the NO-coalition is strange that doesn't change core issue: referenda were cancelled/forgotten because the expected results would be against the interests of the ruling elite.

And talking about representative democracy in the country where I am originally from a referedum WAS PROMISED BY THE RULING PARTY. It was cancelled (not because of the expectation of the result, but because it could cause a chain of referenda).

This is clearly a case where there was a preference to not listen the people. It is a mockery of democracy.

by t-------------- on Tue Dec 23rd, 2008 at 11:36:05 AM EST
I have no doubt that many people throughout Europe are opposed to Lisbon.  However if a majority of people feel strongly enough about it, they have a remedy:  they can elect someone else with a different policy to represent them.  Democracy does not mean that everyone is happy about everything.  It means that a majority are happy enough with the general thrust of Government policy to allow it to continue with its current policies - or indeed to vote for an opposition party which, too, does not oppose Lisbon.

tiagoantao:

Another falacy is by saying that some of the supporters of the referendum are really not democratic (which is true) therefore the democractic argument does not hold. Because the NO-coalition is strange that doesn't change core issue: referenda were cancelled/forgotten because the expected results would be against the interests of the ruling elite.

  1. As I said, this wasn't my core argument.

  2. If Lisbon isn't good because bad people are against it, neither is it bad because some supposed elite is for it.

BTW - who is this elite?  Is it the elected Governments of Europe, the Murdoch Press, US defence contractors, or Global capitalist interest who are also opposed to the EU because it regulates too much.

Declan Ganly also goes on about the Brussels Bureaucracy elite behind Lisbon.  But the Brussels bureaucracy is answerable to governments whereas Declan Ganly is not.  

If you have a problem with how your government has behaved, take it out on your government.  It frankly has no bearing on how people in Ireland should vote.  It is not our job to act as your anti-government opposition for you.

Finally - your arguments sound just like those of Libertas - they are looking for candidates to run on their behalf.  By all means join them and run.  I would respect them more if they actually had a representative mandate throughout Europe.

I'm afraid y

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 23rd, 2008 at 12:00:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]

I have no doubt that many people throughout Europe are opposed to Lisbon.  However if a majority of people feel strongly enough about it, they have a remedy:  they can elect someone else with a different policy to represent them.

In certain cases it would entail voting into power communist/fascist parties. I feel strongly against Lisbon but I would never vote into power a communist party. As this is a fundamental issue on power structuring I think the people should be consulted directly (as they were in ES, FR, NL. And as the results was not as expected then the consultation was not repeated).

Your argument is also on the basis that my vote entails full agreement with the party that I vote for. That is certainly not the case in a representative democracy.


BTW - who is this elite?  Is it the elected Governments of Europe, the Murdoch Press, US defence

Just to nitpick: Govts are not elected, MPs are.
But, even for MPs, they are part of the "ruling elite", which I do respect if you see most of my posts. I have no good or bad feelings about the "ruling elite" (I am not trying to entail nothing bad to the expression).


Finally - your arguments sound just like those of Libertas - they are looking for candidates to run on their behalf.  By all means join them and run.  I would respect them more if they actually had a representative mandate throughout Europe.

It you see this as a way to pursue your arguments and your agenda, then, frankly I see no advantage in wasting my time.

by t-------------- on Tue Dec 23rd, 2008 at 12:23:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
tiagoantao:
Most of this post, is, I am afraid, based on falacies and misunderstadings.

Am I not supposed to respond to this?  I am well aware of all the arguments you have made - and they are not dissimilar to those of Libertas - though as you say - that does not speak to their merits either way.  

I have, however, in fact addressed your arguments on their merits.

For instance - you say that Governments are not elected - that is precisely the argument Libertas and the Murdoch media make - conflating direct democracy with democracy - such that anyone who is indirectly elected is not deemed to be legitimately elected at all - e.g. the EU Council.

You appear to feel that the fact that no party perfectly reflects your views is somehow a flaw in democracy.  Well you can always start your own.  Failing that you have to comprise and decide which party most closely reflects your views.  That is not a flaw in democracy.  It reflects the fact that all societies represent a series of more or less equal compromises between participants.

A society of 10 million people each of whom expects to have their views implemented in all things is in fact 10 million distinct societies, not one.

However my larger point - which you appear to miss - is this:  whatever the short comings of democracy in your country - it is for you and your countrymen and women to address.  You oppose Lisbon, you want more referenda?  Fine by me.  However,  It is not the remit of the Irish electorate - much less of Sinn Fein, Libertas, and Coir - to tell you or your country how it should run its affairs.

Sinn Fein, Libertas, and Coir are claiming a mandate to speak on your behalf and on behalf of all who oppose Lisbon and who want more referenda throughout Europe.  I don't want fascists, religious bigots, or neocons representing me, thank you very much.  So I will oppose them and oppose anyone who makes common cause with them in Ireland. I will deny them the right to speak on behalf of millions of other Europeans who, for whatever reason, are opposed to Lisbon. It is not Ireland's responsibility to fight for your view if you have failed to make that view prevail in your own country.  

If you want them to oppose Lisbon on your behalf that is your choice.  Perhaps I should support communist/fascists in your country too.  That too is my right.  It doesn't necessarily mean good neighbourly relations within the EU, however.  And right now I think that good neighbourly relations are in Ireland's and Europe's best interest.

The real elitists are those who expect their policies to be implemented by others when they have never secured a democratic mandate for those view either in their own countries or in the European parliament.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 23rd, 2008 at 01:03:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Next June all EU member states go to the polls to elect a new European Parliament.  Let us see how many anti-Lisbon members are elected then.  Should the vast majority of European Parliament members elected then continue to support Lisbon will we then finally hear an end to the cant that Ireland is somehow more democratic that all other EU member states? I won't be holding my breath.  

It is a implied falacy (there might be a better word, but it would not sound less strong) that voting for a pro-Lisbon party is the same as supporting the Lisbon treaty. Don't take my vote for the Labour Party as a support for Lisbon (which is what you are implicitly doing). The 70% or so people that vote for parties that are pro-Lisbon might (or might not be) pro-Lisbon themselves. In countries like .NL people voted on pro-Lisbon on local parliament and most probably will vote the same on the EP and AT THE SAME TIME voted no on Nice (and were not give the opportunity on Lisbon). What do you honestly think is the main sentiment in the UK about Lisbon?

You, on the other hand suggested that I belong to the same bunch as Libertas. I take that as offensive. While I might agree with their empty rethoric (surely not with their agenda) in some issues I have nothing to do with them. Or should I call you Frank Blair Brown Sarkozy Schnittger just because you agree with those characters on this issue?

by t-------------- on Tue Dec 23rd, 2008 at 01:24:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
tiagoantao:
It is a implied falacy (there might be a better word, but it would not sound less strong) that voting for a pro-Lisbon party is the same as supporting the Lisbon treaty. Don't take my vote for the Labour Party as a support for Lisbon (which is what you are implicitly doing).

It is equally possible that people voting for an anti-Lisbon party like the Tories don't have a particular problem with Lisbon insofar as they know or care one way or another.  Bottom line - you appear to be denying the democratic legitimacy of the European Parliament to speak for Europe on this issue.  

But much worse - from my point of view - you seem to be happy to allow a motley collection of bigots, fascists and neo-cons in Ireland - with 1% of EU population - to block a proposal you don't like even though it has been approved by Governments mandated to speak for their countries representing c. 95% of the population.  That doesn't sound like democracy as I know it, even if the true figure for people specifically supporting Lisbon or knowing enough about it to care is much closer to 50%.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 23rd, 2008 at 01:44:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a missive falacy going on here (which Jerome also seems to endorse).

There is no European nation, nor European democracy. The EU is a sum of countries bound by a series of treaties. The Irish (or any country) have the right to say stop according to the rules accepted by all. There is no majority rule agreed. We never agreed to that to begin with.

The agreement in place is consensus based. Saying that we are an European democracy is false. The Irish (or the people of Cyprus, for that matter) have legitimacy to stop going foward because the accepted rules of the game are consensus based.

I am not saying it is good or bad. I am just saying that you are tweaking the existing rules and existing agreements to serve your point of view.

The current EU is not a majority based system, don't suggest that those are the rules of the game, they are not. Lisbon would not make it so by the way (there are a few needed minimums to makes things go forward).

by t-------------- on Sun Dec 28th, 2008 at 12:28:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
I don't think I am trying to make any of the arguments you suppose:

  1. The EU of Nice or Lisbon is neither one political entity nor akin to the USA.  It is still a Union of sovereign states who have pooled some sovereignty and are only beginning to develop the concept of European citizen ship rights as distinct from the rights from member state constitutions.


notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 28th, 2008 at 01:49:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have to insist on 1 point to make it clear.

Citing you:


But much worse - from my point of view - you seem to be happy to allow a motley collection of bigots, fascists and neo-cons in Ireland - with 1% of EU population - to block a proposal you don't like even though it has been approved by Governments mandated to speak for their countries representing c. 95% of the population.

Yes, I am "happy" with it. The current rules of the game say that to change the rules of the games all countries (irrespective of size) have to agree. If one tiny country blocks it, then, tough luck. That is it.

You see, I strongly believe that the only civilized way for nations (and big groups of people in general) to relate among themselves is through respect of the law and existing agreements. I am, in principle, against tweaking the rules for my convinience. If, say, the parliament of Luxemburg would have voted 51/49 against it, again, though luck.

Of course, exceptions might be opened in extreme cases (say a military coup in one of the EU countries). And while the result of direct democracy in Ireland might have been influenced by people we find despicable, the process in Ireland is still a form of democracy.

While I respect representative democracy (and believe it is an acceptable way to ratify the treaty), the processes in countries which either had referenda for Nice and then no referenda for Lisbon (Spain, France, The Netherlands) or promised a referendum during representative elections and then failed to deliver it (at least Portugal) puts the situation on those countries on a very shaky grounds in terms of respect for democracy (irrespective of is is either representative or  direct. The point here is that governments seem to be trying to avoid people to deliberate about that issue).

I don't see how one can say the process in Ireland was worse than in .ES/FR/NL/PT.

This has nothing to do with my opinion on the treaty (I am moderately against it. In fact I think I am most against it because of the contempt for "the people" that, in my personal opinion, was shown on the whole process).

PS - As a side, I think most people here see the european comission as a group of people which represent european social values. I think most are deluded. But that is another topic.

by t-------------- on Sun Dec 28th, 2008 at 07:41:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
tiagoantao:
I don't see how one can say the process in Ireland was worse than in .ES/FR/NL/PT.

I am quite happy with the constitutional position in Ireland where changes in the Constitution require a referendum.  I thought the YES side fought a lousy campaign last time around, but that is neither here nor there.  The NO side ran an extremely effective scaremongering campaign such that many NO voters genuinely believed that Lisbon would usher in an era of abortion on demand, enforced secularisation, conscription into a European army etc.  But that's Irish politics and it is OUR problem to resolve.

The major argument from the NO side which I object to (and which I thought relevant to raise with a European audience here) is that the NO campaigners claim to represent and speak on behalf of millions of anti-Lisbon people in other European countries.  I object to this because:

  1. Sinn Fein et al have no mandate to speak for any electorate outside the island of Ireland

  2. people in other countries have elected their own Government and opposition parties to represent them in the European and National parliaments throughout Europe

  3. In my view the EU has made a significant historic contribution to democracy, peace and prosperity between protagonists in two world wars, and more recently within formerly fascist and communist states.  I can see no comparable contribution to democracy by Sinn Fein who have only recently stopped killing Irish people - including Irish parliamentarians, police and soldiers.

  4. If you want Sinn Fein to be able to claim unchallenged that they represent you as far as Lisbon is concerned, there is nothing I can do to prevent that.  However I thought that many people in Europe, even those angry with how their Governments ratified Lisbon, would still not wish to be represented by the likes of Sinn Fein/Libertas/Coir because they do not support neo-fascist, neo conservative or religious fundamentalist parties in their own countries, and would therefor be principled enough not to do so in Ireland either.  Perhaps I was wrong about this.

  5. I believe that if Sinn Fein/Libertas/Coir succeed in their objective of killing Lisbon, the result will be that Ireland will be marginalised and isolated in Europe and that a twin speed Europe will probably result. Thus Ireland will be marginalised within Europe just as potential anti-Lisbon voters were marginalised in other European countries.  I don't expect that European anti-Lisbon sympathisers will be effective in preventing that happening.  I don't want Ireland to become the sacrificial lamb just so that anti-Lisbon Europeans can cock a snook at their own Governments.  It is not anti-Lisbon Europeans in other European countries who will suffer if Ireland IS marginalised - but Irish people themselves.  

  6. Even if Ireland is not marginalised, I believe tie EU will be fundamentally weakened and less able to function effectively in a rapidly globalising and destabilising world.  As a small country, Ireland needs the EU a lot more than the EU needs Ireland. Clearly the primary responsibility for preventing this happening rests with Irish people themselves.  However it would have been nice if we didn't have to fight just domestic nationalists and neo-fascists, but also Tory Eurosceptics, US funded Neo-cons, Le Pen, Vaclav Klaus, and sundry European nationalists and neo-fascists as well.

I had hoped to get some support for this larger battle on ET.  As usual, I have been disappointed, and so will take that battle to other forums instead.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 28th, 2008 at 09:03:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
So your second comment is essentially correct - the EU - through Lisbon and the development of petition rights, greater qualified majority voting etc. - is in the process of moving from a a Union of Sovereign states, to a Union with a legal personality in its own rights, and some citizen rights deriving directly from that Union and not derived via the constitutions of the member states.


notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 28th, 2008 at 01:54:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bottom line - you appear to be denying the democratic legitimacy of the European Parliament to speak for Europe on this issue.

Well, that's certainly true. Parliaments are not normally entitled to expand their own powers at the expense of the other branches of government... Not even when the EP happens to usually be the good guys in the Union.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jan 1st, 2009 at 07:38:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
However,  It is not the remit of the Irish electorate - much less of Sinn Fein, Libertas, and Coir - to tell you or your country how it should run its affairs.

Unless you view Europe as one political entity which is currently debating a revision of its constitution, in which case the distinction between Ireland, France, Denmark and Portugal makes only as much sense as a similar distinction between Arizona, Washington, Florida and Ohio during a similarly country-wide event - e.g. election for POTUS.

If Denmark decided to suspend EP elections (or gerrymander them into unrecognisability) this should very much be a concern for Ireland, because this impacts the quality of European democratic processes, not just Danish ones. The fact that the people making noise about this are themselves disingenuous, undemocratic twits does not detract from that point.

If Libertas and Coir are unfit to represent the Irish interest in democracy across Europe, then by all means make that case. That does not seem like an excessively hard task - they sound unfit to represent a flea-ridden stray dog, much less a European democratic ideal.

If you think that the notion of democracy that they promulgate is flawed, then by all means take them to task for that. We could certainly have an interesting discussion about that.

But please don't pretend that it is impossible even in principle to favour a "no" on the principle that the ratification process hasn't been democratically kosher elsewhere in Europe. Because that's clearly a losing case, at least for those who believe (or wish to promulgate) the notion that Europe is a unified political entity.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 26th, 2008 at 03:41:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think I am trying to make any of the arguments you suppose:

  1. The EU of Nice or Lisbon is neither one political entity nor akin to the USA.  It is still a Union of sovereign states who have pooled some sovereignty and are only beginning to develop the concept of European citizen ship rights as distinct from the rights from member state constitutions.

  2. If Denmark were to decide to suspend EP elections it would v. quickly find itself in a lot of trouble with the EU - as it would be in breach of Treaty obligations.

  3.  Of course it is possible to make a very good and principled NO case against Lisbon - only, I would argue - not on the basis that Ireland has a democracy superior to all others, or indeed that Sinn Fein, Coir and Libertas are trying to institute a superior form of democracy within the EU by looking for a Treaty superior to Lisbon.  That is demonstrably not the case, because virtually all the concerns they have expressed about Lisbon are specific to Ireland (i.e. our right to control issues like abortion, conscription, neutrality, corporate tax rates, keeping "our" commissioner).

I have suggested in the LTE below, that even Lisbon opponents should be outraged by the suggestion that Sinn Fein, Coir and Libertas have a superior vision for Ireland, Europe, or democracy therein.  Their ideological forebears (and sometimes the same individuals) have opposed Ireland's accession and every major Treaty since.  They have contributed nothing positive to democracy in Ireland or Europe, and Europe should not be so diffident as to allow the great democratic achievements of the EU to be attacked by such groups.

The equivalent elsewhere in the EU would be to look to the Le Pens of this world for inspiration for the EU's renewal.  Can I suggest that the Fascists of the 1930's also decried the inadequacies of democracy in the Weimar Republic.  That does not mean either:

1. That Weimar was perfect

or

2. That the fascists wanted to replace it with something better

or

3. That the fascists did not have a lot of popular support for that view

Neither is the EU perfect nor is it impossible to find very good principled reasons to oppose Lisbon.  I'm just suggesting you won't find them coming from Libertas, Coir, or Sinn Fein.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 26th, 2008 at 07:56:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We may have a different impression of which case the "no" campaign is attempting to make. I was under the impression that their case was that

  1. Lisbon is sufficiently momentous a development that it justifies - indeed, requires - the use of plebiscites in its ratification.

  2. Such plebiscites were indeed promised (and in some cases carried out) elsewhere in the Union.

  3. When it became clear that the current system of plebiscites would reject Lisbon, those promises were (occasionally retroactively!) withdrawn.

  4. This amounts to an ill treatment of the legitimate democratic concerns of citizens of other countries in the Union.

  5. This should be a concern for the Irish electorate - if not in their capacity as citizens of Ireland, then in their capacity as citizens of the European Union.

I don't personally buy this argument. But I don't buy it because it pretends to believe two things at once: That the Union is a treaty organisation of independent, sovereign states - which legitimately gives Ireland a veto over the proceedings - and that the Union is an integrated political body - which legitimises Irish concerns for the democratic processes elsewhere in the Union.

My own view is that the Union should be treated as a unified political entity, and that changes to the body of de facto European constitutional law should be subjected to a double-(qualified)-majority plebiscite, rather than a requirement of unanimity in a series of first-past-the-post plebiscites (the latter, as I understand it, is what the "no" campaign demands for it to drop its charge of the EU being undemocratic).

But that is a rather more subtle rejection, I think, than merely arguing that concern for the democratic legitimacy of the electoral processes of other member states is a priori beyond the remit of the Irish "no" campaign.

That such concern rings decidedly hollow when coming from a member of the American Mil-Ind complex and a gang of Catholic fundagelicals is a somewhat different argument, with which I have no quarrel.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Dec 27th, 2008 at 06:52:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Meanwhile, however, your argument also strikes me as believing two different things at the same time; namely that the Union is a treaty organisation - which means that the democratic deficit (if any) of other countries is none of Ireland's business - but at the same time, the Union is a more integrated construct than your vanilla treaty organisation - which renders an Irish exercise of their veto powers subtly illegitimate.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Dec 27th, 2008 at 06:56:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK great.  At least we are getting past the ranting phase of the rhetorical argument and into more subtle nuanced argument.  Many thanks for that.

I think you are in danger of confusing the reality of the now with our ideals for what we would like to see.

As I understand it, Lisbon is the first treaty to formally begin the process of embodying a concept of European citizenship - and so without Lisbon, discussion of the EU as a single political entity with a single demos is somewhat moot.  Up until now the EU as a single entity has only been embodied in what many would regard as elite institutions - EP, EC, ECJ and Commission.  I would welcome such a development, which is part of why I support Lisbon.  

So your second comment is essentially correct - the EU - through Lisbon and the development of petition rights, greater qualified majority voting etc. - is in the process of moving from a a Union of Sovereign states, to a Union with a legal personality in its own rights, and some citizen rights deriving directly from that Union and not derived via the constitutions of the member states.

In time this will no doubts lead to a greater focus on e.g. inequalities in health benefits or social welfare entitlements between member states - and so in a post Lisbon scenario, it certainly becomes meaningful for e.g. the Irish criticising the Poles for their poor social welfare system which means that Ireland is paying Irish social welfare benefits to Polish workers, now living back in Poland, because they used to work in Ireland and are thus entitled to Irish rates and benefits for social welfare.

So to answer your first comment point by point:

# Lisbon is sufficiently momentous a development that it justifies - indeed, requires - the use of plebiscites in its ratification.

- No Treaty or common citizenship rights deriving from Lisbon or any other past or proposed treaty gives the right to one member state to demand a plebiscite in another on any issue.  We might like - e.g. the UK to hold a referendum on joining the Euro, or giving independence to Scotland, but we cannot demand it, or imply that the UK is somehow failing to live up to its EU Treaty obligations for failing to conduct one..

# Such plebiscites were indeed promised (and in some cases carried out) elsewhere in the Union.

- Yes indeed, and all of those countries have subsequently ratified Lisbon without a plebiscite but in accordance with their own Constitutions and their EU Treaty obligations.  If lived in one of those countries I would certainly criticise and oppose any Government that had reneged on a promise of a plebiscite but that is a matter of internal political opposition within that state.  E.g. Holland does not have to answer to Ireland for failing to hold a Plebiscite, but the Dutch Government does have to answer to its own electorate for failing to do so..

# When it became clear that the current system of plebiscites would reject Lisbon, those promises were (occasionally retroactively!) withdrawn.

- Again an internal political issue for the state in question.  The most obvious example I can think of is the UK which has promised plebiscites on EU membership, the Euro?? (not sure) and  the Constitutional Treaty.  These are a political promises made by various Government and Opposition parties to the UK electorate - not of any concern to Ireland - although Sinn Fein, as a largely N.Ireland based party can legitimately complain to the UK Government about this.  (It does not, of course do so because it doesn't really want to acknowledge being part of the UK in N.I.).  

It is hardly a unique situation that a political party fails to deliver on an election promise or resiles from one through the artifice of pretending that the Lisbon and Constitutional Treaties are not the same and so a promise made in relation to one doesn't apply to another.

# This amounts to an ill treatment of the legitimate democratic concerns of citizens of other countries in the Union.

- So lets bring in the Nazis to make it better?

# This should be a concern for the Irish electorate - if not in their capacity as citizens of Ireland, then in their capacity as citizens of the European Union.

- such citizenship does not formally exist prior to the Lisbon Treaty, and even subsequently exists only to a very limited degree, and certainly not on any matter on which (e.g. the UK) has not ceded competence to the EU.

The above discussion relates to where the EU is now, and where it will be post Lisbon ratification.

That does not mean that I wouldn't like to see EU citizenship rights expanded radically - so that e.g. all EU citizens have similar educational, health, social welfare, and employments rights.  This might see the development of those rights stalled in some member states whilst others catch up and are provided with scarce EU funding in order to enable them to do so.  Thus obviously member states would have to formally agree to this - probably in a new treaty codifying those rights and providing the EU with minimal funding to support it.

However my greater point is that we need to be less woolly about what competencies have and have not actually been transferred or pooled by member states.  All such transfers or poolings will be hard fought within each member state because they imply real transfers of resources.  Sinn Fein, Libertas, Coir and sundry nationalist groups in Ireland have consistently opposed all such attempts at greater integration in the past and their claim to favour them now is wholly disingenuous.

You don't get a right, within the EU, to tell e.g. the UK it must do something without conceding the right to the UK to tell you to do something similar in Ireland.  That is what pooling of sovereignty and weighted majority voting bis all about, and that is why such Treaties which extend this are so hard fought...

Sinn Fein, Libertas, Coir and sundry nationalist groups want the EU to have no say in many matters on which Ireland has already ceded some sovereignty, and proposes to cede more under Lisbon.  That is why they have no right to demand actions of other member states in matters in which Ireland too has ceded no Sovereignty.  Whether or not Ireland holds a referendum is entirely determined by the Irish constitution - it has nothing to do with our EU obligations - because the EU has no competence to mandate how member states should conduct their ratification process - and neither does Lisbon change this.

Effectively, in political terms, Sinn Fein, Libertas, Coir and sundry nationalist groups in Ireland are seeking to make common cause with other Nationalist groups in other countries to roll back the trend towards EU integration seen in recent treaties.  Their most effective tactic for doing so is to emphasise the unanimity rule - such that Malta could hold up a proposal effecting all of the EU.

In such a situation to law of marginal political pricing applies.  It is in EVERY countries interest to be the last man standing and hold the rest of the EU to ransom - even on a proposal that it might want in the first place - Ireland was a major player in the drafting of the EU Constitution).

The EU is a fundamentally unstable and inert body for so long as any 1% can always hold the 99% to ransom.  That is the problematic the integration process is slowly trying to address through a series of incremental Treaties, and that is why it is so bitterly opposed by nationalist groups who don't want the EU to develop or even exist in the first place.

It is Sinn Fein, Libertas, Coir and sundry nationalist groups which are being fundamentally inconsistent by claiming to have greater rights to influence other Member state internal ratification procedures than EU statutes actually allow whilst at the same time trying to roll back what integration the EU as established under existing Treaties actually does now permit.  In so doing they create the popular illusion of an all powerful, elitist, and meddling institution which interferes with ordinary citizens lives to an extraordinary degree.

The reality is that the EU is in fact only a skeletal structure with very few emergent powers and and with few effective means to defend itself against such rapid populist rhetoric.  My concern IS that it is too much like a supranational Weimar - all too easy to stall and even topple by a resurgent nationalism - and all the more so because its proponents have lost any comprehensive vision of what it should be about, and all ability to sell it to into a political market dominated by national chauvinism.

Those who demand that legitimate EU progression can only occur though unanimous support by 27 plebiscites in 27 members know that it is in every one of those members interests to be the last man dissenting in order to secure the greatest concessions from all the others.  The EU has to stand up to such electoral blackmail if there is to be any prospect for any future Treaty to be passed.  That is the political reality of the EU as it is, perhaps not what we would like it to be. But that is the starting point from which we must begin.

---------

There is an old story told about an American tourist lost in the wilds of Connemara.  After many hours driving along country boreens with signs either non-existent or in unintelligible Irish, thy finally come across an old man standing at a cross-roads.

Relieved, they ask him what would be the best way to Galway.  "Well" says the old man "If I were going to Galway, I wouldn't be starting from here!"

Regrettably we have no choice but to, and that means having a clearer view of what rights the EU does and does not actually confer, and on what are the real agendas of those who purport to support its future development.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Dec 27th, 2008 at 08:54:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I understand it, Lisbon is the first treaty to formally begin the process of embodying a concept of European citizenship - and so without Lisbon, discussion of the EU as a single political entity with a single demos is somewhat moot.

European citizenship has been in every treaty since Maarstricht. In point of fact, one of Denmark's four opt-outs to Maarstricht was to Union citizenship (an opt-out that has since been quietly dropped - it is now interpreted an opt-out from replacing Danish citizenship with Union citizenship...).

Even under current rules, I have rights by virtue of being a citizen of the European Union - among them, the right to move to any other Union country with my family. We may debate whether those rules are derived from sovereign parliaments who have entered into treaties binding them to enact such laws, or they arise from a genuine federal mandate. But what is clear is that they are enforced by the various courts at the federal level. And as they say, possession is nine tenths of the law.

No Treaty or common citizenship rights deriving from Lisbon or any other past or proposed treaty gives the right to one member state to demand a plebiscite in another on any issue.  We might like - e.g. the UK to hold a referendum on joining the Euro, or giving independence to Scotland, but we cannot demand it, or imply that the UK is somehow failing to live up to its EU Treaty obligations for failing to conduct one.

But we can refuse to enter into further commitments with them until and unless they do. Just as we could refuse to enter into further commitments with Belarus until and unless they start holding elections. I happen to think that, on balance, rejecting Lisbon on the argument that the rest of Europe lacks sufficient democratic credentials to entrust further Irish sovereignty to it is probably A Bad Idea. But I recognise that the case can be made (albeit probably not so convincingly by Libertas...).

So lets bring in the Nazis to make it better?

I'm gonna call Godwin on that one. Unpleasant as Ganley is, he is no Hitler.

On the larger point, I thought that you were the one who argued that the referendum on Lisbon should not be treated as a vote of confidence in the flagship parties of the "yes" campaign?

The EU is a fundamentally unstable and inert body for so long as any 1% can always hold the 99% to ransom.  That is the problematic the integration process is slowly trying to address through a series of incremental Treaties, and that is why it is so bitterly opposed by nationalist groups who don't want the EU to develop or even exist in the first place.

Of course that's true, which is why the requirement for unanimity is silly. But doing away with unanimity does not mean doing away with referenda - one could, say, move towards a double-majority system. But you're still trying to have it both ways - as long as Ireland cannot formally object to the ratification procedures of other member states, Ireland ought to retain its veto rights. For myself, I would be in favour of doing away with unanimity and further standardise ratification procedures in order to prevent precisely this kind of impasse in the future.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Dec 27th, 2008 at 11:34:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
On the larger point, I thought that you were the one who argued that the referendum on Lisbon should not be treated as a vote of confidence in the flagship parties of the "yes" campaign?

The central argument of my previous diary was that Lisbon was now a confidence issue for the Irish Government and that merely fixing the "presenting problems" presented by the Irish Government was not going to be sufficient to secure a YES majority..

JakeS:

But doing away with unanimity does not mean doing away with referenda - one could, say, move towards a double-majority system. But you're still trying to have it both ways - as long as Ireland cannot formally object to the ratification procedures of other member states, Ireland ought to retain its veto rights.

I have never advocated doing away with referenda - merely that Ireland doesn't have a right to demand that other EU countries hold them.

Neither am I arguing that Ireland or other member states shouldn't retain some veto rights.

My arguments relate to the merits of the arguments made for and against Lisbon - and Lisbon has no relevance to Member Treaty ratification processes and only impacts veto rights on very specific issues where it mandates the use of qualified majority voting.

JakeS:

For myself, I would be in favour of doing away with unanimity and further standardise ratification procedures in order to prevent precisely this kind of impasse in the future

Yes but that is an entirely separate argument - not related to Lisbon - and would require a new Treaty -  and you can be sure that Sinn Fein, Libertas and Coir would oppose such a Treaty even more bitterly.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Dec 27th, 2008 at 12:45:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My main problem with this line of reasoning is that it strikes many of the same vibes I get from the "political consumer" meme.

I am told, on occasion, that I can vote with my spending, if this or that company's activity agitates me - and if enough people agree with me, the company will be forced to change its business practises.

That doesn't wash for a variety of reasons, a few of which are also applicable to the representative democracy gambit you propose. Chief among them is the objection that both Parliament and the market are very roundabout ways of polling public sentiment. If a majority of the citizens are opposed to a measure, then surely something is amiss in a supposedly democratic system if a vast majority of their elected representatives are in favour of it?

Now, the elected representatives may be right and the citizens may be flat out wrong, as they would be if Parliament were to - say - abolish slavery in the face of public opposition. But that is a quite different case to make - and a rather more subtle one than simply saying that they should vote for better representatives.

And of course, holding referenda on every law swiftly becomes impractical, so when employed, referenda should cover fairly momentous acts. You could make a case that Lisbon is not such an act. But again, this is not precisely the case you are making.

Finally, you may find referenda an inferior form of expression of the public will - that it has greater errors of measurement, if you will. I think you could make such a case. You're not making it at present, though... And at any rate, opening that can of worms would also open the possibility that parliaments may be found to be the inferior measure of the two.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 26th, 2008 at 03:22:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have absolutely no problem with Ireland holding a referendum (or two) on Lisbon.  So how could I oppose other countries holding referenda in accordance with their own constitutions, or you or anyone else agitating for same?

What I am objecting to is the claim made (very frequently) by the no campaign in Ireland, that they are representing all the people in Europe who have been denied a referendum within their own states.  It is virtually their main argument, and it is born out of a chauvinistic nationalism and an assertion that the peoples of the rest of Europe (as opposed to the elites) really support their point of view.

The EU has succeeded (with other factors) in making peace between the opposing sides in two world wars. It has successfully consolidated democracy in formerly fascist and communist states.

What have Sinn Fein et al achieved by comparison to assure us of their democratic credentials?  They have onl;y recently stopped killing their own citizens (including Irish police and army personnel), they have never formally accepted the legitimacy of the Irish state. They have opposed Ireland's accession to the EU and every major Treaty since.

Just which part of their commitment to Democracy to you find more credible or attractive than the EU with all its flaws?

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 26th, 2008 at 08:12:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mark Warren (Letters, Mon, Dec 22, 2008), writing from Germany,  articulates perfectly the outrage I have long felt at the arrogance of those elements in the NO to Lisbon campaign in Ireland who deign to lecture the rest of Europe on their democratic deficiencies.

Let us forget, for the moment, that the NO campaign is made up largely of groups with very dubious democratic credentials indeed: Sinn Fein - who have long denied the legitimacy of the Irish state and whose military wing has killed many of its citizens and servants; Libertas, apparently funded by a US Defence contractor and which has never garnered a vote in its life; and Coir, a shadowy group apparently including arch conservative Catholics who have in the past been known to defer to Canon rather than Civil law particularly when it comes to child sexual abuse.

The real object of my anger is that these same groups, without a shadow of a mandate from any other EU Member state - deign to lecture our fellow members in the EU on the alleged deficiencies in their democratic methods and procedures.

To date some 24 Member states, all with democratically elected Governments, have proceeded to ratify Lisbon in accordance with their own constitutional arrangements.  Some - such as President Sarkozy's Government, have been elected subsequent to an initial rejection of the original EU Constitutional Treaty - and have been elected on a campaign promise to ratify Lisbon.  

In addition, the democratically elected European Parliament overwhelmingly supports the Lisbon Treaty.

Next June all EU member states go to the polls to elect a new European Parliament.  Let us see how many anti-Lisbon members are elected then.  Should the vast majority of European Parliament members elected then continue to support Lisbon will we then finally hear an end to the cant that Ireland is somehow more democratic that all other EU member states? I won't be holding my breath.  

It should be born in mind that other than Ireland, only Switzerland regularly holds referenda on specific proposals in addition to national and local elections, and it is not even in the EU.  Britain has only in recent years adopted the practice of very occasionally holding referenda on some European and Devolution issues.  Before that the UK Parliament at Westminster was always held to be the last word in Democracy.

The reality is that European countries have a long tradition of indirect and representative democracy.  Referendums on any subject are rare and almost entirely a relatively recent innovation. The Murdoch press, British Euro sceptic, and US neo-conservative inspired conflation of Democracy with Direct Democracy is in fact practised almost no where in the world.  

It is up to each EU Member state to adopt whatever democratic processes they see fit and fringe Irish groups of dubious democratic credentials at home and none abroad have absolutely no claim to better represent the views of the peoples of Europe than do their own democratically elected Governments.

Those who now claim to oppose Lisbon because they prefer an EU based on the Nice Treaty also opposed the Nice treaty on the two occasions it was put to the Irish electorate.  Some of them have opposed everything to do with the EU since our accession itself.  

They have made NO positive contribution to the development of the EU whatsoever and now seek to demean and denigrate those that have.

Even those who oppose Lisbon should be outraged by this slander.  The founders and developers of the EU have brought peace and prosperity to the continent for over 50 years.  It has consolidated the development of democracy and freedom in all our member states - including previously fascist and Communist states.  

Ireland, with 1% of the EU's population, can indeed stop what Governments elected by 95% of the EU's population have already committed themselves to.  But is that Democracy?

There is, in any case, nothing to prevent our fellow members developing a two speed Europe based on the enhanced cooperation provisions of the Nice Treaty - and no reason why they should have to include us in the faster lane.  

Should we indeed be excluded, we will have only ourselves to blame - "ourselves alone" which is ironically precisely what Sinn Fein stands for and where it will lead us - if we let them.

NB "Ourselves alone" is the literal translation of "Sinn Fein" from the Irish language.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 23rd, 2008 at 07:58:44 PM EST
European Tribune - Where is your outrage?
So where is your outrage PEOPLE OF EUROPE?  Do you want to be denigrated as undemocratic by proto-fascistic groups from Ireland (who between them command less than 10% of the electoral vote in Ireland) and who claim to be working on your behalf?  Hell, even if you personally oppose Lisbon, you should be outraged by this slander.

They are not slandering me or my neighbours, they are possibly slandering the state where I am a citizen. My state has participated in the sordid aftermath of the Constitution ratification process, where the state elites within the EU chose a process to minimise public input with the next attempt. To loose a referendum or two and then try to bypass it, is an undemocratic choice.

So I would say that they are factually correct to call the process undemocratic, therefore slandering no one. If this argument is made by nationalistic, undemocratic forces, then in my opinion it just goes to show what you build up when you choose an undemocratic path for conveniences sake.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Dec 28th, 2008 at 04:10:52 PM EST
So you are happy that sundry neo-fascist, neo-conservative, religious fundamentalist, and anti-EU nationalist groups in Ireland (with 1% of the EU population) represent your anti Lisbon views and block the Treaty on your behalf because you have a problem with how the Swedish Government ratified the Treaty?

This will improve democracy in Sweden and the EU how?

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 28th, 2008 at 07:09:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Happy? No. But not outraged either.

As I see it you presented a case as to why I and others should be outraged. I can't really be outraged that groups I dislike use the sordid process to their advantage. It would be like being outraged that fundamentalist forces in the arab world are using the american crusades to their advantage.

By choosing the path of bypassing referenda in all countries were it was possible our political elites - working as a group - handed this argument on a silver platter to anyone opposing the treaty in the only member country where a referendum is mandatory. And it was completedly predictable. If you knew - and I guess that was predictable too - that it would be "neo-fascist, neo-conservative, religious fundamentalist, and anti-EU nationalist groups" that opposed the treaty then you knew who you were handing the argument too. Which leaves as conclusion that our political elites are either too institutionally stupid to realise this or do not care about it.

Personally I have not formed an opinion on the Constitution or its heir. I do however have opinions on the process. So I doubt that they are blocking the treaty on my behalf - indeed I don't see any signs that a no in Ireland blocks the treaty. The rules of the process looks highly mutable to me.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 05:11:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A swedish kind of death:
It would be like being outraged that fundamentalist forces in the arab world are using the american crusades to their advantage.

However if I am one of the Arabs whose society is threatened by the fundamentalists trying to take it over, should I not care?  Would you not care if you were an citizen living in a society threatened by fundamentalist takeover - e.g. Pakistan?  Blaming it on the Americans isn't going to help your child if he/she is forced into a Madrassa and if you stood by and let that takeover happen.

It's always easier to blame somebody else - especially if they can be referred to as some elite or foreign influence.

I think this Diary and discussion thread has died - if it ever really got off the ground.  I will try and summaries my argument in a new Diary and perhaps we can continue this discussion there.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 05:46:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
However if I am one of the Arabs whose society is threatened by the fundamentalists trying to take it over, should I not care?  Would you not care if you were an citizen living in a society threatened by fundamentalist takeover - e.g. Pakistan?  Blaming it on the Americans isn't going to help your child if he/she is forced into a Madrassa and if you stood by and let that takeover happen.

Points that are all valid in motivating outrage if you are living in Ireland. I understand your outrage, but you are not likely to get outrage at your local groups from people abroad. Or so I reccon. As presumably white skinned, do you feel outraged that racists twits in Sweden and elsewhere outside Ireland base their arguments on the good of the so called white race? Not outrage at them for being racist, but outrage at them for including you in their group who they claim to defend?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:47:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A swedish kind of death:
As presumably white skinned, do you feel outraged that racists twits in Sweden and elsewhere outside Ireland base their arguments on the good of the so called white race? Not outrage at them for being racist, but outrage at them for including you in their group who they claim to defend?

Absolutely, I am outraged and diminished by such actions.  My whole Masters thesis in Peace Studies in 1989 was based, inter alia, on the fact that Apartheid in South Africa elicited much greater outrage within Europe in Particular (than say Idi Amin's much greater death toll) because its apologists claimed to be white, western, European and Christian and thus claimed to Justify Apartheid by reference to our values.  For us to accede to that claim would be to accept racism within our societies as well, and thus that claim had to be resisted ferociously by anyone concerned with civil liberties here.

A similar argument can be made about Israel today.  Objectively Israel's depredations in Palestine might be considered to be much lesser than say Pol Pot, Rwanda, or perhaps even Zimbabwe today.  However Israel claims to share our western democratic values, beliefs and structures - claims in effect to be one of us fighting a common cause against Islamic terrorism.  For us to accept that claim would be to accept that bombing of civilian targets and ethnically cleansing those of a different ethnicity/religion from their own lands is ok by us.

I can't believe you wouldn't be outraged by that either even though it doesn't effect you directly.

PS - I have now published my new diary, so perhaps we could continue this discussion there.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 07:20:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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