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My Last Diary on Lisbon

by Frank Schnittger Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:14:47 AM EST

I have been shocked and stunned at the reaction I have received to my last diary on Lisbon. OK, perhaps "Where is your outrage?" wasn't such a clever title for a diary published in Christmas week.  But far from eliciting any outrage that groups like Sinn Fein, Libertas and Coir were claiming to speak on behalf of all Europeans concerned at a democratic deficit within the EU, I have been taken to task for all manner of arguments I never made.

Meanwhile, the NO campaign is busily recruiting Vaclav Klaus, Le Pen, British Tory Eurosceptics, US Defence contractors and sundry other European ultra-nationalists and neo-fascists to their cause.  What I hadn't expected was that ET commentators also don't seem to mind being aligned with that 'coalition of the unwilling' if it enables them to take revenge on their own Governments for not holding plebiscites in their own countries.

Let me say, just one more time, that I have no problem with Ireland or any other EU member state holding a plebiscite on this issue.  I empathise with those who feel their Governments reneged on a promise to hold one.  However it is not my role, or Ireland's, or Sinn Fein, Libertas and Coir's, to tell other Sovereign Governments how they should go about ratifying Lisbon or any other Treaty. We have not ceded Sovereignty on our Treaty ratification process and so cannot expect other EU member states to cede Sovereignty on theirs.

However, I would have hoped that our fellow Europeans, regardless of their views on Lisbon or the manner in which it was ratified in their own country, would not have made common cause with the 'coalition of the unwilling' above, if only because they do not support neo-fascist, neo-conservative, religious fundamentalist, or ultra-nationalist parties in their own countries.

I feel Ireland is being used by anti-Lisbon people elsewhere to pursue their agenda when they failed to secure that agenda in their own national or European parliament.  And if as a result of this Ireland is marginalised within the EU for blocking Lisbon, or the EU becomes even more ineffectual and moribund in an increasingly unstable world, I don't expect they will come to our aid, at least not in any effective or meaningful way.

Ireland needs the EU more than the EU needs Ireland.  We can't allow those within the EU disenchanted with their own Governments to drive a wedge between us and our European partners in Government, Governments which have, moreover, been generally very supportive of the needs of a small, emerging, and conflict stricken country such as the Ireland which joined the Union.

Edmund Burke, the famous Irish political philosopher, once said:

"The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing".

So why is it that Ireland is the focus of anti-Lisbon leaders everywhere, and yet pro-Lisbon leaders and activists both here and in the larger European public space do nothing?


Let me also acknowledge, once again, that it is perfectly possible to make a logical, rational case against the merits of Lisbon, the quality of its drafting, or the manner of its adoption.  But these are three separate issues, and I am happy to concede the last two. The debate in Ireland was never on Lisbon's merits.  Most NO voters in Ireland were happy to acknowledge they had never read it, did not understand it, and thus were susceptible to the dire NO campaign warnings about abortion on demand, conscription into a European army, increased taxation, and enforced secularisation.  

That is why it has been so easy for the European Council to give a virtual blank cheque to Ireland for any opt-outs, declarations, or clarifications on these issues: because Lisbon simply isn't about them. The one issue that was relevant to the Treaty - the "loss of Ireland's Commissioner" - was contained in the Nice Treaty in any case, and rests on the fundamental and wilful misunderstanding that Commissioners are there to represent their countries.

And that is also why the European Council's concessions on these issues hasn't changed the fundamental dynamics of the debate in Ireland - which rests almost entirely on the claim by Sinn Fein, Libertas and Coir et al, that Lisbon represents an undemocratic project by a European elite, in contrast to their much greater commitment to a far more democratic Europe.

The audacity of this claim is quite breath taking.

I find it quite incredible that we should be allowing Sinn Fein, Libertas and Coir et al to claim the high moral ground of democratic legitimacy when they have contributed almost nothing positive to Irish democracy, whilst the EU has helped to end the antagonisms of two world wars and the Cold war, has helped to consolidate democracy in formerly Fascist and Communist states, and made a significant contribution to the lessoning of British-Irish tensions in Northern (and southern) Ireland.

Groups and individuals like Sinn Fein, Libertas and Coir have opposed Ireland's accession to the EU and every major Treaty since.  In Sinn Fein's case they have long denied the legitimacy of the Irish State and only recently stopped killing Irish citizens, policemen, army personnel and parliamentarians. Libertas has been entirely opaque about its funding, but is headed by a man who is making most of his millions from US Defence contracts.  Coir seems to be populated by individuals who feel that their Catholic ethos should take priority over the EU's secular one.

Are these the collective values and the kinds of people we want to see running Ireland and the EU in the future?

I will leave it to readers here to judge whether I have fairly characterised the discussion on Where is your outrage? in the above summary.  Obviously there were nuances in the discussion that the summary here does not include.  

But my fundamental request to you is this:  Please do not translate any misgivings or anger you may have about Lisbon or the manner of its ratification in your country into tacit or active support for the NO campaign in Ireland.  It isn't about you or your disenchantment with your own Government.  It is about an organised attempt to roll back the overwhelmingly positive influence the EU has had on our political culture, our social legislation, and on our economic development, and to return us to a narrow catholic nationalism and an EU made up of Sovereign states with much reduced social cohesion, economic integration, or political unity between previously warring nation states.

The EU has many problems and imperfections, but we seem to take its positive achievements for granted.  We won't fully appreciate it until Ireland has been marginalised or the development of the EU has been stalled and put into reverse.  And then it will be too late. Clearly the primary responsibility for preventing this happening rests with Irish people themselves.  However it would be 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 ultra-nationalists and neo-fascists as well - whilst those who have helped build up the EU to what it is now sit mutely on the sidelines or use the Irish situation to vent their spleen at their own Governments.

So once again, my request to you as citizens of the EU and of our fellow EU Member states is that you 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

Stating that even though you are angry at your own Government for denying you a vote on Lisbon, you do not support the claim by the Irish NO campaign to speak on your behalf and advise the Irish people to vote on the Lisbon Treaty on its merits and not on some misguided belief that a no vote will somehow usher in a period of greater democratic accountability within Europe as a whole or within your own country.

Poll
Ireland should vote on the Lisbon Treaty
. On its own merits 85%
. On the manner of its drafting 0%
. On the manner of its ratification by other countries 0%
. On the fact that it appears to be supported by an EU Elite 0%
. On the conviction that the Irish people shouldn't be asked to vote twice on the same issue 0%
. On the politics of those who are for and against the Treaty 0%
. On the fact that I am pissed off with all this EU governance crap 0%
. I don't like the Irish anyway, so let them go to hell... 14%

Votes: 7
Results | Other Polls
Display:

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.

Anything 'we' want they have the right to block by asking for unanimous vote in 27 countries. The elites (we) have been stupid, they should have put a referendum the question 'should we stick with the Nice Treaty'? Then when all the malcontents voted "no" (because all they care about is to show a finger to the autistic elites), the Constitution would have been implemented by default, just like Nice, which the anti-EU crowd hates even more than the Constitution, got their nod via the 'non' votes.

Consistency is not their preoccupation. Except that of being against the elites.

The fact that the non would be spun, and has indeed been spun as a no to the EU as a political entity, and not as a non to the neolib project, and that this works in the favor of the Anglo-US common wisdom that the EU is weak, inefficient, anti-democratic and declining still does not seem to have been grasped.

Of course, it's a bit harder to make the political case against neoliberalism and bring an alternative to power.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:35:26 AM EST
Jerome a Paris:
It's a lost cause, Frank

Hence this is my last attempt to articulate this case here.

It is truly remarkable how skillfully the popular hostility to the neo-lib economic and neo-con political projects have been spun into popular hostility to the EU political elite, and hence to the Lisbon Treaty - when part of the purpose of that Treaty is precisely to enable more effective EU governance against the neo-lib economic and neo-con political projects.

If I can't win that argument on ET, what chance have we got in the popular debate in Ireland?

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 07:01:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, as you cited me I think I should respond.

The current rules (whether you and I like it or not) require all-nation consensus.

Civilized players play by the rules, irrespective of liking them or not.

The "harsh truth", is then when somebody wants to ditch out the rules out of convinience, that somebody is throwing away civilization also.

If you ask me, I happen also not to like the current rules, but I would not suggest tweaking the rules just for my convience.

We are not (yet) an European democracy, we are not an European nation. The "1% is blocking" is falacious, is moot: these are the rules of the game, which were accepted by all.

by t-------------- on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 11:48:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
why do you say that ratification by Parliament rather than plebiscite is not democratic? Each country is following its own rules to sign treaties and is behaving democratically in doing do.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 05:05:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:

tiagoantao:

To be quite clear, I would be OK with:

  1. parties go to vote on national elections with promise to ratify Lisbon
  2. All countries have parliaments with Yes majorities
  3. Treaty is ratified

90% of the Irish Parliament support the Treaty.



notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 05:14:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is behaving according to the rules of the constitution. Promising something will be put to a referendum before an election, then not putting up the referendum ; or reversing the result of a referendum, aren't shining examples of democracy in action.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 07:32:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - My Last Diary on Lisbon
Most NO voters in Ireland were happy to acknowledge they had never read it, did not understand it, and thus were susceptible to the dire NO campaign warnings about abortion on demand, conscription into a European army, increased taxation, and enforced secularisation.  

I am just curious - have you read the treaty?

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 07:23:16 AM EST
Yes - some time ago - but would have to re-read parts to check on particular facts.  A subsidiary argument - one I have not been making here - is that it is unrealistic to expect the electorate in general to read a complex international treaty c. 300 pages long.  Such documents are typically crafted by lawyers and diplomats and are a many layered compromise between at least 27 competing interests.

The Government in my view, should have ratified it in Parliament, and then referred it (via a request to the President) to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality.

The supreme court may or may not have found parts of it contrary to the existing constitution, and if so, the Governments should have put those specific sections to popular vote in a referendum.

That way the debate could have been structured around whatever specific changes were required in the Irish constitution, and not around a whole raft of issues of no relevance either to Lisbon or the Irish constitution.

That is what we pay parliamentarians for - to consider complex legislative issues and to tease them out to a few propositions where the Government and Opposition differ - and then seek a popular mandate based on a debate around those differences.

Irish leaders fell down on that job very badly, with even McCreevy and Cowen admitting they hadn't read the Treaty in its entirety.  So why on earth should the Irish people have confidence that they had done their job properly?

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 07:37:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To expand my question to ET at large I wrote a new diary with a poll.

European Tribune - Has anyone read the Lisbon treaty? With poll!

Inspired by Franks latest diary, I started wondering how many that has actually read the Lisbon treaty.

I would agree that it is unrealistic to expect the electorate at large to read the treaty. On the other hand I think it is unrealistic to expect the parlamentarians to read a complex international treaty c. 300 pages long. I have come to the conclusion that parlamentarians as a rule do not really study what they decide. They read executive summaries and check who opposes and who supports an issue. Their main concern is to be re-elected (or at least it is those who act on that concern that remain in office) thus the important thing is not what they decide but who likes and dislikes it.

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 07:48:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And even worse, they are often whipped to support a particular party line regardless of their misgivings.  

I think we can agree that the drafting and ratification process for the Treaty has been a political disaster, even if technically, legally, no constitutional requirements have been broken.

This now places a heavy burden on "opinion formers" and leaders to enable an informed debate - something they have failed lamentably to do so far.  Hence muy frustration both here and in the context of Irish popular debate.

The original impulse, to create a shorter, readable constitution was in my view correct.  Unfortunately it was horribly mismanaged and the timing was awful.

But none of this takes away from the fact that the EU project is in danger of running aground at a time when we need it more than ever.

This is what leadership should be about - explaining complex and difficult issues clearly, and building a consensus around them.  We can all whinge about the awful drafting, the bungled attempts at ratification, the obfuscation which followed, the resiling from previous commitments.

None of this solves the problems Ireland and the EU currently face - which Lisbon only begins to address.  We badly need to move beyond the Lisbon debacle so that the Global financial, environmental, and increasingly political crises can be addressed more effectively.

Playing blame games about who screwed up in the past isn't going to help us do this.

Perhaps I have been misunderstood in all of this.  I will yield to no one in my horror at how badly the whole EU constitution/Lisbon Treaty has been managed.  I don't try to justify any of it.

I just think we need to make the best of a bad job and move on to the even more serious challenges ahead - and hopefully learn a lot of lessons from how badly this saga has been handled..

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 08:10:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure, as I said in another thread, that adopting Lisbon would be so much better for the UE as a popular political process than rejecting it. In France the process was so ugly, without any politician moving beyond a patronizing "if only we explained it more, the people would agree with us" tone, that right now any UE referendum would be a non-starter...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 08:18:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A fair point and a salutary reminder that you take any electorate for granted at your peril.  In Ireland we have a saying that "what you do isn't as important as how you do it", and on that basis you could certainly make a case that that whatever substantive improvement Lisbon can make to improved EU Governance is more than counterbalanced by the damage done to the European project by the way in which that objective was pursued.

I suppose my take on this is that damage has already been suffered and cannot eb undone in the short term - so we may as well make the substantive improvement - given that we have already paid such a high price for it.

My fear would be, if Lisbon is rejected finally now, that it will never again be possible to pass a major Treaty in all 27 member states.  Not only would that stop further enlargement, but it would effectively freeze the EU in time - with major states like Germany, France and the UK increasingly ignoring the EU and pursuing their own national objectives separately.

Europe will become increasingly divided at a time when greater cohesion and integration is most urgently needed - and most particularly so by smaller and newer member states like Ireland.

I don't like painting doomsday scenarios, but I really can't see much good coming out of a Lisbon rejection at this stage - beyond a resurgent Euroscepticism and nationalism in Europe as a whole and with every country increasingly looking to its own interests - which is largely what happened in relation to the financial crisis to date.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 08:35:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Achievements this year, read

Value of union reinforced in a time of crisis - The Irish Times - Mon, Dec 29, 2008

The EU suffered a crisis of confidence when Irish voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty in mid 2008, casting doubt on its ability to reform. However, two major international crises in the latter half of the year, continued stability in the volatile Balkans and a final EU agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions underlined the union's worth.

The year began with the first of the new member states that joined the EU in 2004 taking over the rotating six-month presidency. Fears that Slovenia, a state with just two million inhabitants and a small diplomatic service, could not handle the pressure of steering Europe through difficult times were unfounded. Under the ice cool leadership of Slovene prime minister Janez Jana the union skilfully supervised Kosovo's declaration of independence while offering the hand of friendship to a deeply unhappy Serbia.



notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 08:48:54 AM EST
I don't think you are either winning or losing the argument on ET. Rather I think you are asking the wrong question.

You are correct in identifying the glaring faults in the ratifying process, but I agree with those who say that you should be railing against the stupidity of those who created that process. Asking that we protest that people are being misled by unpleasant people into voting against A because they're pissed off with B is never gonna fly. Telling people they're too stupid ill-informed to work things out for themselves is never gonna win popularity contests, even when you happen to be correct.

When Lisbon fialed the last time, we had a long session here where the general sentiment was that the YES campaign was so awfully managed, domestically and at EU level, that they probably couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery, let alone something this important. Like the No on Prop8 in california, the good guys had lost before they started cos they didn't know what they were doing, didn't understand who they were talking to, didn't understand the concept of messaging and genenrally insulted the intelligence of everybody within reach.

And guess what ? They look like they're doing it again.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 10:48:27 AM EST
Since when is telling people harsh truths more insulting than lying to them?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 11:34:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The general discourse in the run up to the French referendum from the yes side was, "you citizens might not understand everything, maybe we need to be more pedagogical, but trust us you have to vote yes". That's not telling people harsh truth.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 11:38:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Get made with telling these 'harsh truths', by their opponents.

Messaging matters. I think that's rather obvious.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 01:16:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why have youtube videos stopped embedding on ET?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 01:40:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 01:44:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]

See especially, from 6:43. Someone needs to excerpt that.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 02:13:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can other people see the you tube videos on ET or is there some problem with my browser settings?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 02:15:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a problem with your browser in this case. Do they stop after 2 seconds?

Sometimes youtubes can't embed because embedding is disabled, but these all work.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 02:19:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is just blank white space where the starter video image should be

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 02:56:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Strange. I've seen that error some times, normally it is due to an error in the ID that provides the link... I don't know how the browser makes those errors. But try another.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 03:03:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
aha it works in IE but not in firefox.  Can't quite figure why not.  I seem to have correct Flash version installed.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 03:38:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that's lying.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 05:57:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Newsom isn't necessarily lying as much as he is being hubristic, which is a messaging issue. The opponents do lie, or rather, spout a lot of bullshit. But it's effective bullshit. Same with the 'no' campaign.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:18:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is still lies.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:32:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is worth splitting hairs over

Frankfurt, H.G.: On Bullshit.

Frankfurt, one of the world's most influential moral philosophers, attempts to build such a theory here. With his characteristic combination of philosophical acuity, psychological insight, and wry humor, Frankfurt proceeds by exploring how bullshit and the related concept of humbug are distinct from lying. He argues that bullshitters misrepresent themselves to their audience not as liars do, that is, by deliberately making false claims about what is true. In fact, bullshit need not be untrue at all.

Rather, bullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant. Frankfurt concludes that although bullshit can take many innocent forms, excessive indulgence in it can eventually undermine the practitioner's capacity to tell the truth in a way that lying does not. Liars at least acknowledge that it matters what is true. By virtue of this, Frankfurt writes, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 07:36:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I see a trip to the shops in my near future. That has to join my library.

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 30th, 2008 at 03:26:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ok, I can live with that. it's appropriate indeed.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 05:07:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Helen:
You are correct in identifying the glaring faults in the ratifying process, but I agree with those who say that you should be railing against the stupidity of those who created that process.

And what will that achieve now?  We are where we are whether we like it or not. Each of the 27 member states retains its own Sovereignty over their ratification process under there own constitutions.  The Governments may have negotiated and agreed the Treaty at Council level but they are still subject to their domestic constitutional, judicial, parliamentary, and electoral processes.  

Sure, the constitution should have been agreed before enlargement, with enlargement made conditional on it.  Sure the French, Dutch and Irish Governments screwed up big time when putting the Treaties to their electorates.  We can all have a great time feeling good about ourselves and poking fun at effete and ineffectual elite establishments produced an unreadable document and who arrogantly took their electorates for granted.  Change the lot of them!  Fine by me - most of the relevant leaders gave gone at this stage anyway.

Lisbon will now either be ratified or killed by the Irish electorate (= 1% of EU total) depending on their mood towards the Irish Government, the degree to which they think voting yea or nay will have real consequences, and acting under the influence (amongst others) of a europhobic British media, a slick US style advertising campaign, and lots of people shouting about unaccountable elites to the applause of various self styled socialists, progressives, nationalists, liberals, and conservatives.

If Lisbon is defeated, I can't see how the EU can ever again achieve unanimity on a new Treaty and so the EU as we know it will die a slow death by ossification.  It will be in everyone's interest to hold out for a larger share of the cake and in no one's interest to settle early.  The wonder of it is that 27 Governments ever managed to agree on a substantial treaty at all. Without some roadmap for the development of the EU The major European powers will resume acting on their own behalf outside EU structures which will increasingly become a form of window dressing to be used or ignored at will.

We can laugh/wail about elite incompetence or we can try to help fix the problem.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 02:12:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LTEs don't equal power. Whatever we might wish, we are largely spectators in this game. This is not a counsel of despair, but i really think there is more to be gained by engaging with those forces on the YES campaign to work for better messaging in the environment you have.

Failing that I doubt the EU will be derailed by the Irish, any more than it was by previous knockbacks. In the intersts of greater democracy, coarse democratic will can be circumvented, there is too much momentum. No, there is too much urgency. I imagine that an associate status will be created that will not be in your country's economic interest and you'll find yourselves dumped into that (as will the UK) until the electorate accept that resistance is futile.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 03:49:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
Lisbon will now either be ratified or killed by the Irish electorate (= 1% of EU total)

I do not agree. That might be what the rules say but the rules are ever so mendable. Did they not say that the Irish electorate killed it the first time around?

Frank Schnittger:

If Lisbon is defeated, I can't see how the EU can ever again achieve unanimity on a new Treaty and so the EU as we know it will die a slow death by ossification.

I think it would be fairly straightforward. If the political will was there that is.

A) Draft a constitution that can be understood and adresses the mayor problems with todays construction. Do not forget to check with the population that the new constitution is understandable and does adress the mayor problems.

B) Put it to a EU-wide referendum. Do not bother about mini-treaties deciding what the output says in advance. Just call it advisory and pull a referendum together at the same time across the EU. All that is needed is the executives working together. If you want to be cheap do it at the same time as an EP election.

C) Convince the population that this constitution is better then the current treaties. Assuming you actually did A, this should be easy.

D) If passed with a clear margin (55-60% yes) then it will have the moral authority to pass all ratification processes. Or nay-voting countries will be tossed out into special-deals.

I suspect there is no political will to create a union where public opinion matters. I guess it is pretty comfortable to have an opaque Brussels to blame. And looking at the waves of surveilliance and information control laws I am starting to doubt that there is a political will to have a traditional democracy at all. With or without the EU.

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 04:18:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A) was essentially tried with the Constitutional Treaty which was agreed after widespread consultation.  There is no evidence it would have any more success now.

B) The whole point of nationalist objections to the EU is that they want to retain as much national sovereignty as possible.  Why ever would they agree to dilute/pool this further? Why would smaller member states agree to an EU wide referendum (however advisory in nature) when they would then have less than 1% of the vote whereas now they have a 100% veto?  I wouldn't be surprised if the NO campaign even made a major issue this time around out of Ireland's reduced EP representation and weighted majority voting weight under Lisbon - even though it is still much higher than the EU per capita average.

C) It appears that the reasons the French/Dutch voted down the constitution had little to do with the constitutional text itself and a lot to do with the unpopularity of their Governments and the poor jobs those Governments made of explaining the text

D) A swedish kind of death:

nay-voting countries will be tossed out
 On what constitutional basis?


notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 05:03:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
Why would smaller member states agree to an EU wide referendum (however advisory in nature) when they would then have less than 1% of the vote whereas now they have a 100% veto?

Countries agree to nothing. Do you refer to popular majority, parlament majority or the executive?

My argument is that the council is made up by the executives and if the want a treaty to pass, they could use this as a tool. They would agree to it in order to circumvent the veto. And they would do it if they wanted the treaty to pass.

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 06:32:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A swedish kind of death:
Countries agree to nothing. Do you refer to popular majority, parlament majority or the executive?

Oh yes they do - countries sign and ratify treaties according to their own constitutional arrangements which generally involves the executive/Government negotiating a deal, parliament voting for it, and the head of state signing it.  Depending on the country it may also require judicial scrutiny or popular referendum.

The whole point is that the EU is still made up primarily of 27 Member states and only very secondarily of 500 Million citizens and that cannot change unless all member states agree to it.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:45:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you need to ratify a treaty to have an advisory referenda? Just because your neighbours are holding a referenda that is extremely similar? Unless your constitution bans referendas or bans advisory referendas your government can hold one. Probably requires an act of parliament in most cases, at least as a budgetary item.

My point is that the executives of the EU agreed on the Lisbon treaty, obviously agreed on a process to minimise referendas, and then rubber-stamped it through their respective parliaments. If they can do that they could arrange a simultaneous referendum throughout the EU. If they want to.

By treating the EU as something forming to represent 500 million citizens they would gain (assuming they could convince the population) popular legitimacy for the new state. And in my opinion that is today lacking.

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 06:59:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU Parliament elections could well become an EU wide referendum by proxy if many of the parties campaign on the basis of their support for Lisbon or otherwise.

There is no such thing as an "advisory referendum" under Irish law.  You could pass a law to create one, but it would only have legal effect if it were in fact a real referendum

I see no difficulty with 27 Governments agreeing to hold a referendum in their respective countries on the same day just like the EP elections.  However even if 70% of EU citizens voted in favour, the proposal would still fail in Ireland and in the EU if it failed to achieve 50% here.

However the very fact that a pan EU referendum was being held might address some of the criticisms of a lack of direct democracy within the EU - and thus might allay the concerns of some NO voters, and encourage a yes vote if it looked like a proposal was going to be overwhelmingly endorsed throughout Europe.

This may well be a way forward in the future.  However the statistical odds against even a generally popular proposal being passed in all 27 states must be very small.  There is bound to be some regional dispute or grievance - perhaps totally unrelated to the actual proposal - which will sour the atmosphere and cause a NO vote in at least one state - e.g. Cyprus worried about possible Turkish accession...

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 07:24:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cyprus has already approved the EU constitution and in general favors Turkey's accession precisely because it would imply a resolution of the island's stalemate.
by Upstate NY on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 10:53:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fair point, however Cyprus is in a position to insist that the terms of Turkish accession are to their liking.  Will they recognise Northern Cyprus as part of Turkey?

My more general point was a purely mathematical point.  Suppose there is a 90% chance that a referendum is passed in each EU member state.      
.9 to the power of 27 = 0.058149737

I.e. there is then still only a 6% chance of the referendum being passed in all EU member states.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 11:39:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Northern Cyprus is not, and has never asked to be recognized as part of Turkey.

About Cyprus: the Greek Cypriots will not ask for any demands to be made on Turkey. Most people don't realize this when thinking of the Cyprus issue, but the Greek Cypriots never made demands on Turkey with respect to turkey's candidacy. Instead, the Greek Cypriots were asked to approve derogations which would allow Turkey to proceed on course while violating EU law.

Among these derogations were the non-recognition of the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member, the non-allowal of commerce at Turkish ports for members Cyprus and Malta, the illegal occupation of property in north Cyprus, etc. Cyprus is effectively, well, DE FACTO, blocking Turkey by not accepting these derogations.

Nothing would please the republic of Cyprus more than Turkey entering the EU and abiding by EU law. If that were to happen tomorrow, Cyprus would not ask for a single thing from Turkey, since the absence of derogations within the context of the EU would meant that Cypriots would be allowed to return home to their properties, as any citizen of the EU might.

This isn't a situation like you have between Slovenia and Croatia.

The Republic of Cyprus is not disputing the borderline which was created by the illegal force of the Turkish invasion.

In Turkey, the politicians talk about not giving up the Cyprus card, which means that Turkey will not relent on Cyprus until they are assured admission into the EU, and even then Turkey will only give up Cyprus in order to get something in return. The new talks on Cyprus's reunification are interesting precisely in that Turkey is backsliding more than even the EU imagined by insisting that Turkey will have the right to veto any decision made by the Republic of Cyprus with respect to international affairs.

by Upstate NY on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 04:04:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like you could write a very interesting diary on this....

Are Greek Cypriots hoping that Turkish membership would enable the "hard border" would gradually soften to an administrative one and allow a normalisation of all Greek Turkish relationships on Cyprus and beyond?

What would be the status of Northern Cyprus within the EU if Turkey joined??

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 04:49:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The only proposal on the table coming from both Turkey and Cyprus is for Northern Cyprus to join Cyprus as one Republic, composed of two federations.

The tricky part is whether Turkey will get guarantor intervention rights, and the decision as to what to do with 40,000 Turkish occupation troops.

The two sides have already agreed on a rotating presidency, with veto rights by the minority on international issues.

By and large, the only question mark is Turkey's role. The Republic of Cyprus, as an EU nation, does not have any current oversight other than Brussels. They will obviously not allow Turkey to get veto rights over their country. That's the sticking point right there.

I personally think that Cyprus would rather Turkey enter the EU than to accept Turkish veto over its affairs. This would be a bad scenario for them, however. It's true that the hard border would dissolve in such a case allowing Cyprus to press its property issues against Turkey through the EU legal system. However, Cyprus would surely insist that Turkey recognize its legitimacy as an EU member long before that, so I doubt we ever come to a point where Turkey enters the EU prior to the resolution of the Cyprus conflict.

The thinking is that Turkey will not cut a deal on Cyprus until it sees that france and Germany are serious about admitting it,.

by Upstate NY on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 05:13:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose it is one of the few bargaining chips Turkey has in trying to expedite its admission.  Otherwise it could just agree that the EU/UN supervise minority rights in Cyprus without Turkish admission.

I can't see Turkish admission coming back on the table until the EU gets much stronger central institutions and decision making processes than even Lisbon allows.  In other words, its not going to happen any time soon.

Is there anything else Greece/Cyprus could offer Turkey in return for agreement other than the prospect of EU admission?

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 05:22:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, there is nothing else on the table in these discussions. Actually, Greece is not involved at all, nor does it have interest in being named Cyprus's guarantor, as Turkey does.

This is a very messy situation when you consider both sides seem content to leave things as they are now. The Greek Cypriot side has been living with the loss of the north for 35 years.

Turkey, and the UK, see Cyprus as a military asset, the so-called unsinkable battleship in the Mediterranean. The UK has sovereign bases on the island that are the lingering spoils of colonialism. Eu admission is perhaps the only carrot that would allow Turkey to cede this military asset.

by Upstate NY on Wed Dec 31st, 2008 at 03:17:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A good friend of mine has a flat in Cyprus, unfortunately its inside the green line zone, and has been unacessable for the last however many years

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Dec 31st, 2008 at 04:03:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They shoot people on sight in that green zone.
by Upstate NY on Wed Dec 31st, 2008 at 10:16:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Suppose there is a 90% chance that a referendum is passed in each EU member state.      
.9 to the power of 27 = 0.058149737

I.e. there is then still only a 6% chance of the referendum being passed in all EU member states.

This is a fundamental point that lots of people seem not to grasp.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 05:08:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a 52-48 consistent polling majority means more than 90% chance to pass. And are you looking to build the EU on that kind of popular approval ? If you get 60-40 approval across Europe, the odds are much, much better.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 07:18:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The above equation assumes that there is exactly a 90% chance of a referendum being passed in each EU country. - resulting in a 6% chance of it being approved by all.

In practice, even with a 60-40% overall majority, that will be very unevenly distributed across the Union.

Support need only dip below 50% in one country for the referendum to fail. The precise probability of this occurring assuming a bell/normal curve type distribution of support across 27 states is beyond my statistical recollections, but I would still expect the risk of failure in one country to be very high even with 60% overall support.

All it takes is for one country to be seriously pissed off with its own Government or the EU.  One incompetent referendum campaign  One emotive local issue.

I'm surprised the EU hasn't published a recent survey of support for Lisbon across the EU. Perhaps it is because the Renault would be negative in some sensitive countries like UK.  However it would certainly boost the Yes campaign in Ireland if it could be shown that support across the EU was 55%+ .

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 07:42:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:

D) A swedish kind of death:

nay-voting countries will be tossed out
 On what constitutional basis?

Strongarm their governments into accepting it or call the new thing EU2 and abandon the old one.

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 06:39:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A swedish kind of death:
and abandon the old one

Members are still bound by their Treaty obligations to each other even if they do want to abandon them.

But I agree, one possible outcome is a two speed Europe where some members engage in enhanced cooperation with each other - something which is to some degree already happening with the Euro, Schengen,

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:49:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no evidence it would have any more success now.

There's no evidence this constitutional treaty would get the votes. Maybe another one ? The EU wouldn't be the first country to need more than one go at getting a proper constitution. The problem being that the governments do not want to admit their mistake and try to write a constitution that would pass a vote by their citizens rather than one they'd all agree to, as governments - and governments don't necessarily hold the same opinions on the matter as citizens.

The whole point of nationalist objections to the EU is that they want to retain as much national sovereignty as possible. [...] It appears that the reasons the French/Dutch voted down the constitution had little to do with the constitutional text itself and a lot to do with the unpopularity of their Governments and the poor jobs those Governments made of explaining the text

There have been dozens of millions of people voting against the Treaty, for quite a few different reasons. You can't lump all of the no votes in the same basket, and claim they all came for a single reason. You have to try and build a majority. But refusing to engage the naysayers by telling them "you didn't answer the question" or "you're just agreeing with some stinky racist people" isn't an attempt at getting to a compromise.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:46:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But that is the nub of the problem - if everyone voted against it for only one reason you could address that problem and then get agreement.  The problem is that there are a huge diversity of reasons for voting against the treaty and even though the Irish Government has very earnestly tried to address all the reasons stated by the NO campaign for their opposition - the debate simply moves on an "new" problems are created.

You can't rationally answer an objection such as - "if the EU elite want it I'm against it..."

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:55:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't try to answer all reasons for the No vote - you try to answer enough of them to get to at least 50%+1, ideally more.

And you can rationally answer "if the EU elite want it I'm against it...", we had that debate before, although it requires more action than any political class is going to be willing to provide - since it's a sign of democratic detachment, and shows the social contract is not being properly maintained.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 07:01:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You do not need to adress all the reasons, just enough to build a coalition.

I am working here under the assumtion that their is a potentially large majority for a democratic, understandable EU. And that the hardline nationalists are a minority. If that is not the case, then the whole project is doomed, not from procedural questions but from a inherent lack of popular will.

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 07:04:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See my mathematical point above:

.9 to the power of 27 = 0.058149737

Even if there is an average 90% chance that a treaty will be passed in any particular country, there is only a 6% chance that it will be passed in all 27 separate referenda.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 11:42:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]

B) Put it to a EU-wide referendum.

That requires unanimous ratification in 27 countries. "Democracy," in other words, according to its proponents.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 05:59:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No it does not.

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 06:18:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So you are suggesting that e.g. the French should organise a referendum in Ireland if the Irish refuse to do so as part of your all EU referendum plan?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:28:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I should have started by pointing out that the group wanting to pass a new treaty would need the executives of all countries on board from the start. I saw it as more or less a given.

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 06:37:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes it does. the EU is an international treaty, it can only be modified by unanimous consent of the parties, ie the countries.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:31:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The ratification is in D.

It takes no modification of treaties to pull a referendum, it only needs the executives to agree on it.

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 06:33:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that people in Latvia or throughout the EU vote in favour of a Treaty has about as much bearing on the Irish constitution as an opinion poll whether or not an Irish Government organised a similar poll in Ireland.  The only votes which matter in Ireland are votes cast by the Irish electorate, and only they can change the constitution to accommodate a new Treaty.  Thus even a Treaty with 95% support throughout the EU cannot be ratified unless it achieves 50% in Ireland.

Anything else is magical thinking.

I haven't seen any opinion poll data on the Lisbon Treaty throughout Europe.  Perhaps it is supported by 60% of all Europeans.  It simply doesn't matter under current Community Law.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 07:13:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Would not a treaty that had got a resounding majority in the EU be easier to pass in Ireland? You complained in your last diary about the argument of the current no side in Ireland of represnting the silent majority of the EU, and wanted some outrage to hit the irish papers.

An EU-wide referendum would have no constitutional weight on anything and huge political weight on lots of things.

Then again, I am expecting Ireland to be sidetracked somehow if it votes no on Lisbon. Because when it comes down to it there is enough political will in our collective political elites to do so. Rules or no rules.

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 07:24:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A swedish kind of death:
Would not a treaty that had got a resounding majority in the EU be easier to pass in Ireland? You complained in your last diary about the argument of the current no side in Ireland of represnting the silent majority of the EU, and wanted some outrage to hit the irish papers.

An EU-wide referendum would have no constitutional weight on anything and huge political weight on lots of things.

yes

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 07:27:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A precis of 12 pages should have sufficed. There are not too many people who can slog through 300 pages of near opacity. I have read the document and did understand roughly 40% of it. Most people I know in rural Kerry have not bothered to read any of it and contended themselves by pointing the finger at Libertas, muttering words to the effect of "they must know something we don't" kind of meme. Pity because Ireland will pay a steep price should it attract another NO.
by Asinus Asinum Fricat (patric.juillet@gmail.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 01:28:21 PM EST
The charter of fundamental rights reads well.  A pity the rest of it couldn't have been in a similar style

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 05:04:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The rest was just a restating of the past treaties, something which is impossible to avoid given the initial inter-governmental structure of the EU.

To get rid of the intergovernment al structure, you need to follow the inter-governmental rules. By law. There is NO WAY around it. That it is a cumbersome process, and that the "elites" took all the possible pains to follw the route and make it acceptable to most as obviously not enough.

Nothing will ever happen now, which is exactly what the anti-EU had in mind. That the euroskeptics push for that to happen is understandable. That avowedly pro-Europeans support that state of fact with glee is pathetically painful to watch.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:03:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
12 pages, but still unreadable. Kept from the public for as long as possible. With strong pressure on all states to avoid a referendum.

You can say that the result matters more. But it wasn't a pretty process.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:09:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The discussions of the convention were public and widely discussed, and could easily be followed in all loving detail if you cared to.

The relevant bit is "if you cared to." It did not play on TV other than very occasionally, because, rightly or wrongly, TV executives did not think it a worthwhile way to garner audiences.

So who's to blame?

I'll also note -again- that the very people that are crowing about the EU's lcack of accountability or democracy are the very same that are adamantly opposed to EU-wide votes or anything that would smack of federalisation or additional political legitimacy for any EU institution.

Why the avowedly pro-EU people find it smart to support people whose sole goal is to destroy the EU as a political project I will never get. Sure, neolibs can use the EU to push their advantage. But the EU can also push back (and indeed, I'd argue that, as the most important rule-making body in the world, it is the single strongest force against neolibs). The neolibs don't need the EU to push their wares. But they do fear it having political legitimacy.

Voting no kills the political legitimacy; it does not weaken the neolibs in the slightest.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 05:15:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome a Paris:
Why the avowedly pro-EU people find it smart to support people whose sole goal is to destroy the EU as a political project I will never get.

I think you are getting very close to the central point this diary was trying to make: my frustration that avowedly progressive pro-Europeans were prepared either to do nothing or actually to make common cause with the most reactionary forces in Europe in a bid to destroy the political legitimacy of the EU still further - as a NO vote undoubtedly would.

I think the fundamental reason for this paradox is that we (on the Yes side) see the EU (for all its faults) as the best chance we have of reining in some of the worst excesses of the neo-lib project.

Those progressives on the NO side, on the other hand, see the EU as almost indistinguishable from the neo-lib project, and thus think they help to destroy the neolib project by further undermining the EU.  

(The concept of globalisation is sufficient fuzzy not to distinguish between global corporations and their political servants and global/regional political organisations like the EU)

The fallacy of this progressive position - in my view - is that they think they can replace the current EU with something better, whereas the people they are aligning with actual want to destroy as much of the EU as they can and replace it with unalloyed political nationalism allied to global capital.

Its the old divide and conquer routine.  Nothing scares global capital more than the prospect of more effective global political regulation.

My problem is:  If I cannot convince politically astute pro-European  progressives of this, what chance have I with popular sentiment in Ireland which is:

  1. not as politically astute
  2. has no great knowledge of the workings of the EU
  3. Has no particular ideological orientation other than that we need jobs, investment etc, which allegedly global capital will provide
  4. Is naturally inclined to be nationalistic and chauvinistic on the grounds that it favours more local control and feels more comfortable with a Government in Dublin which it can kick out of office rather than a more remote Commission in Brussels.

In this emotional context, the arguable fact the EU institutions have been more effective in securing peoples interests vis a vis global capital is almost irrelevant.  You are asking people to vote for an abstraction in Brussels rather than a more concrete reality closer to home.

It's going tobe a very tough sell...

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 05:44:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe we're talking past each other, I meant Lisbon, not the Constitutional Treaty (Convention, and so on).
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 06:12:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but many of the criticisms made of Lisbon (complexity, cobbled together by a cabal of unelected insiders meeting in secret) do not apply to the constitution.  The French/Dutch governments failed to convince their electorates that the constitution would make the EU more democratic and responsive to popular concerns.  So the EU Governments adopted a less democratic and less obviously responsive approach to fix the problem.

Not a very clever move.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 06:31:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Dutch government was certainly useless. Wrote about it at the time.

Whether what the Council did was clever, I don't know. They've passed Lisbon in more countries than the Constitution, so we'll see next fall.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 06:44:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The question is whether Lisbon will be worth the ultimate price to be paid in terms of the difficulty of passing any future Treaty.  The EU will have to be able to demonstrate that Lisbon helped them do better before they can dare go back to the well again for a further Treaty

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 06:50:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Lisbon Treaty pose a dilemma for me in terms of input and output legitimacy.

I have severe misgivings about the process that led to the treaty and the way the Irish are being asked again to vote. In terms of the product, it's slightly better than what we have. So, on that balance I took the 'neither oppose nor support' option.

Something like an argument of 'when I look at the crew who supports no, I support the yes' was used in the French referendum on the Constitution. It didn't work there, and I don't think it'll work in Ireland. It's kind of a poisoning the well argument.

It will be interesting to see what happens when Ireland votes no again.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 01:44:54 PM EST
nanne:
So, on that balance I took the 'neither oppose nor support' option.

That was in Askod's diary, of course.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 02:41:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and with due apologies to those whose sensibilities I may annoy (in advance of which I should mention I've a father and two sisters who are eligible to vote in these silly referenda for which the Irish seem to have such a  fetish).

Those of us with long memories may recall the Irish behavior during the Nice treaty. Even if, like me, you're not real keen on Lisbon (for similar reasons that you might have voted no on Giscard's constitution, view which I see Jerome seems to be ably referencing), seeing the Irish, less than one percent of the EU, hold up anything is absurd in extremis. Even moreso when it appears to be part of a precious constitution they've made for themselves, hamstringing Europe, from whose tit they've suckled for decades. (And, given the financial crisis they've made for themselves, and the fact they're in the Eurozone, they likely will continue to need to be suckling for some time to come, as the celtic tiger  reverts back to the celtic drunk we all knew and loved).

It's sort of like as if Charleston, South Carolina could require the rest of the US to stay racist and make blacks sit at the back of the bus because they, too, couldn't get a referendum passed (noting in passing the special place in American history Irish-Americans hold with respect to discrimination and segregation of Blacks in that country).

Big exception though in the analogy: unlike Ireland, Charleston wasn't bankrupt. If Ireland hadn't been let into the Eurozone they'd be begging for an IMF loan just like Iceland, Hungary and Latvia.

Like I said right after the first no vote on Lisbon: I could care less about Lisbon, but the Irish behaviour towards the EU is shameful, and to the Irish morons who vote against Europe, that they understand that there are two viable alternatives for the Irish tothe EU. They are, imminent bankruptcy, and membership in the UK. Note that these two alternatives are not mutually exclusive.

There is but one advantage to the rest of us seeing the silly Irish with their constitution thumbing their nose at the rest of us: it underlines just how absurd it would be for us to ratify anything whose subsequent modification would require a unanimous consent of the member states.

by redstar on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 05:30:04 PM EST
is the argument that the Irish no is less legitimate than the French one. It is every bit as legitimate - and indeed as effective in blocking things.

But what apeears absurd when it's the Irish is not when it's the French. Why? It's just as stupid (or not) or legitipate (or not) in both cases.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:07:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Up to a point, I see what you are saying but, again, go back to Nice.

This is all about future federalism imo. And, weighting of power. Remember, the big think about Nice was, we got the same votes as the Germans even though we had less population. The Germans weren't happy and for reason but then, we had just let them unify and let the eastern Lander in at Mark ar par, to the detriment of our own economies and the massive recession this caused the rest of us, so there was a bit of a point to this.

But go back to Nice and see, in terms of weighting to population, what the Irish got and then said no to.

Talk about Democratic deficit: every Irish vote for "No" is worth more than five German votes for "Yes" when it comes down to it. You all can complain about the so-called Democratic deficit but the Irish show the biggest one - improper weighting within the union because of different rules.

We won't get to Europe via direct democracy, btw, and I think you suspect this as well.

by redstar on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:24:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is not appropriate for some topics. It's not anti-democratic to say so, just anti-populist.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:31:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For state creation, I think it is appropriate. There's no way around the fact that at a point, all citizens of Europe will have to be asked, "do you want to be EU citizens rather than (insert state here) citizens".

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:36:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With all due respect, this is about state destruction.

You are correct that we need to be careful about this.

by redstar on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:59:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Agree.

Would have been easier though with the signatories of Rome only (less maybe the country where Rome is) plus Spain.

At least we'd be culturally, politically and economically coherent.

Just saying...

by redstar on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:45:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
redstar:
We won't get to Europe via direct democracy, btw, and I think you suspect this as well.

So its back to good old imperial conquest in your opinion?

 redstar:

This is all about future federalism imo

In your dreams...

The weighted majority voting system is a sort of half way house between one member state one vote, and one citizen one vote. There is no federalist future for the EU without every member state - including Malta agreeing to it, and at the moment many states are explicitly opposed.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:40:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually not at all. Ireland can do whatever it wants. I don't even want any of the (past) money back, Ireland can keep all the CAP money it got until now, no offence from me. Last I checked, there's no EU army ready to occupy Dublin and, in any event, is there anything there worth occupying since the Guiness brewery has been delocalised? (I suppose there's always my da's Beamish....)

What I want from and for Ireland is nothing less than what I want from and for Corsica: for it to assume its role and quit simply being a part of Europe which takes much but only gives back criticism. Yes we love your taxpayer Euros but we accept no responsibility for it and our best and brightest, which we are incapable of integrating into our own Irish society, will emigrate as usual somewhere English-speaking, usually the US or the UK.

Want to be constantly on the dole from Papa europe? Then accept the role of offspring. Want not to be treated as offspring? Then try to get through a decade without needing massive European subsidies in order to be a full part of Europe.

Want colonialism? Well, you can go back to the time before Europe. What was that like?

by redstar on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 06:58:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ireland is now a net contributor (or at least was before this latest crisis) and so you will be getting your money back sooner or later whether you want it or not.  Neither will Ireland be accepting Department status like Corsica from the French state any time soon.  Sorry Mr. Bonaparte! I was in Guinness only a couple of weeks ago.  Any time you are in Dublin I will be happy to give you a tour to assure you it is still very much there.  Beamish, sadly, is closing down.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 07:35:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(...was before the latest crisis...)

Bingo.

What's the latest estimate? 7 per cent of GDP deficit? That's an inflation tax for the rest of us Euro holders, to pay for proflicagy in Dublin. Before, it was the CAP, now it is this.

Ireland was a net contributor for what, the whole of ONE FUCKING YEAR?

But, of course, as we all know how the Irish are, we will hear about that ONE FUCKING YEAR for the NEXT FUCKING CENTURY.

If not millenium which as we all know, the Irish are also capable of remembering.

Of course, it is cheaper for them to do so than it is for the rest of us.

by redstar on Mon Dec 29th, 2008 at 07:58:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Racist cant is always cheap.  The CAP was a French invention to benefit French farmers.  Why shouldn't the Irish and other EU member states get in on the act?  Or is the EU meant to be a French benefit gig only?  I'm beginning to think I insulted Bonaparte by suggesting you might be a closet Bonapartist.  Your ideas of European unity appear to come more from the Soviet playbook.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 07:47:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The CAP was a fundamental, if not the fundamental, founding raisons d'etre of the EEC. It follows right on the heels of the Treaty of Rome. Without the CAP, no common market: tariffs on BMWs sold in France, limited fresh produce off season in northern parts of Europe. It was not a French invention benefit French farmers, it was a European invention (and by Europe, here I mean Rome signatories) to benefit German heavy industry, Dutch commerce, and of course French agro-alimentary concerns.

Your ideas of European unity appear to come more from the Soviet playbook.

I'll assume you mean this as a compliment.

As for the racist charge, you know, I guess this means I'm a self-hating Irish, and this I do not mean in the Irish-American sense. You can't hold two EU passports anymore, but if you could, I'd still have been able to have that one too. Never been there though so of course I can't say if it is something in the water there which leave the Irish to keep the silly habit of national referenda on any and all change, large and small, to their constitution.

It is this habit, of course, which underlines just how
difficult it is to get anything done via unanimous consent in the EU. And, I've always been of the view a strong Europe is a politically integrated Europe, but how do you integrate a country like Ireland, led alternately by two right-wing parties whose apparent differentiation rests on distinctions of who is more nationalist than the other?

That's not how you go forwards, that's how you go backwards.

 

by redstar on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 10:55:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually the 7% deficit in Ireland will not create any inflation tax for the rest of Europe. It only means misery about to befall the Irish people. Irish gov will have no way of raising that sort of debt in euros when the germans will crowd out the sovereign debt market with their own bunds for their own set of rescues.

The Irish gov will either quickly balance the budget by a combination of service cuts and/or tax raise, or default (a major service cut, but at least there is no more tax, ha ha !), or leave the euro (in which case they will have a huge hyperinflation tax), or accept EU conservatorship (and there will be no more issue of irish vote in the EU).

Actually, I think the default is the most likely outcome, although they may give a try at the other face-saving options at first. The ultimate reason is that the Irish people and the Irish private capital are among the most mobile in the world:

  • capital is in euros and there are no capital control at this point,
  • labor is english-speaking with the option of emigrating to the entire anglo world, which is always going to be better off than Ireland, with the possible exception of the UK (and still, it's bigger so more opportunities for emigrants even if the headline economic numbers will be terrible)

So eventually, there will be nothing and no-one to levy tax upon and amortize debts & guarantees offered to the private sectors (bankrupt banks...)

Pierre
by Pierre on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 08:54:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The next few years are obviously going to be very painful for the vast majority in Ireland, but let's keep this in proportion.  Ireland's Debt/GDP ration may go up from c. 25% to c. 60% over the next few years - i.e. closer to the European norm.  That amount of borrowing is very small in the context of the whole Eurozone and shouldn't cause a problem either for Ireland or the Eurozone.

Also, whilst some of the problems are self inflicted, Ireland had no part of the sub-prime crisis and has also suffered from inappropriately low Eurozone interest rates in previous years, and inappropriately high rates now.  In other words, whilst overall, the Euro has been very beneficial to Ireland, it also has its costs for us:  interest rates are set with Germany/French requirements in mind rather than those of smaller peripheral economies like Ireland in mind.

In this context the strong Sterling depreciation relative to the Euro is also proportionately a much bigger problem for us, as the Sterling area is still our largest single export market.

Membership of the EU and Euro has hidden costs as well as benefits for member states, and just because some countries like France/Germany are net contributors, it doesn't meant that they aren't also net beneficiaries in terms of the increased access to a larger internal market and the economies of scale this creates.

Indeed it could be argued that net budgetary transfers within the EU are quite small in comparison to the overall benefits which the creation and expansion of the EU generates for all members, but particularly the larger more central ones.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 09:38:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
CDS spreads for irish gov are already in the 100 bp.
It means, even before the german crowd out started, that markets don't trust the irish solvency so much. I expect peripheral EMU countries, and most notably, greece, ireland, et al, will pretty soon face borrowing costs closer to 10% than to the 2-3% of germany.

At this point, debt service on a debt @60% of GDP (and that's before GDP shrinks by 10-15% peak to trough) will mean 6% of GDP (up from near 0 now). A big new item to fit in the budget, and total deficit then will then look like 12%: a real death spiral.

Either gov services amounting to 12% of GDP get cut to make room for the new spending (near-impossible), or the gov will attempt to print its own money. The figures are terribly simple. It is a matter of incremental changes in the cash flow. Ireland has a low debt right now, so no debt service spending. It cannot add both deficits, bring back bank's toxic assets in gov debt, and service that debt, while avoiding a death spiral.

Pierre

by Pierre on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 11:45:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Scary, yes, but a very rapid readjustment is taking place.  In addition there is a €20 Billion nest egg in the National pension reserve fund c. 10% GDP to help tide us over.  It will be bad, yes, but I remain an optimist...

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 12:27:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If this is representative of wider French attitudes it is easy to see why there won't be any moves towards Federalism or greater EU unity any time soon.  Big or small, member states join the EU as equals, not as imperial fiefdoms of France.  Lisbon has no chance of passing in Ireland if it comes to be seen as a part of a power grab by the larger EU states.  BTW France has a much greater history of involvement in Slavery than Ireland has and Frances Debt/GDP ratio is much higher than Ireland's.

I have been the most trenchant critic on ET of Ireland's NO votes and economic mismanagement, but a little less racism and concern for factual accuracy would be more helpful.  When I read this comment first I thought you were just "hopping a ball" and hoping someone would rise to the bait so I decided not to respond.  I'm still not sure I should dignify it with a response now.

Suffice to say that the attitudes presented here are not part of any EU I would like to see developing into the future, and if you really want to help the NO campaign in Ireland you should spread your bile a little further.  Hopefully somewhere else.  In any case I will not be responding further as I can't see what positive contribution this discussion could possibly make.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 08:16:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nosemonkey answers questions about the French Presidency of the EU

As for disappointment, it's a definite shame that no attempts at genuine reform were even hinted at. No efforts to increase the transparency of the Council, no moves towards the long-overdue reform of the CAP or CFP.

And then there's the unsurprising disappointment that the efforts to ratify the Lisbon Treaty are ongoing despite the Irish No, and that no real effort has been made to understand just why the electorates of three very different EU member states have all seen fit to reject the contitution/Lisbon. Where are the attempts to find out what the people of Europe think about the direction in which the EU seems to be heading? Until we get some sign that the views of the people are valued, the stalemate that the EU's been stuck in since the failed Treaty of Nice way back in 2000 is only going to continue.



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 10:31:47 AM EST
All the 'no's were about rejecting neolib elites at home, not about rejecting the EU or a treaty they did not understand.

It has had the opposite result - the neolibs do not need the EU as a political project, only as a functioning machinery, and that remains. The more we vote "no", the happier the Anglo Diseased elites are.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 11:05:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is getting this point through to the electorate when the media themselves are part of the neoliberal elite... (Libé's Brussels correspondant's blog being very instructive wrt that...)

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 11:47:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Irish vote was certainly not a rejection of the EU - which remains at c. 70%+ support, but at least partly a rejection of a Treaty they did not understand.

As for the Neolib project, Declan Ganly is a pretty good personification of it and whilst I don't think he will do particularly well in the EP elections there is still some grudging respect for his entrepreneurial achievements and a sense that Ireland needs more entrepreneurial endeavour at the present time.

I personally think the Irish state is more culpable that the EU Commission but there is a lot of anger at Government inefficiency/waste which could be re-directed at Lisbon.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 12:00:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't speak for France/Holland, but I think a fair attempt to understand the reasons for the NO vote has been made in Ireland.  Addressing them, in the context of an extremely unpopular Government, is another matter.  The ground is likely to shift in the second Referendum - towards generalised anger at the Dublin/EU elite, towards anger at being asked to vote twice.

A lot of the opposition isn't about reasons at all - but about an atavistic rejection of a complex, perplexing, scary, globalising world and a feeling that we are no longer in control of our own destiny.  A lot of people are losing their jobs, are worried about the future, and are looking for someone and something to blame.  And hey presto! along comes a concrete example of the seeming remoteness of the EU!  What's not to vote against?  

Unless you can convince them that the alternative will be even worse.  This is about Ireland's future in the EU, as well as the future of the EU itself.  Unless people come to believe that, a NO vote is a cheap protest opportunity that is badly needed by many people...

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 11:27:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Has I was one of the persons answering strongly on your previous points, I would like to make some of my disagreements clear (although I agree with most of your assessment on where we agree to disagree):


However, I would have hoped that our fellow Europeans, regardless of their views on Lisbon or the manner in which it was ratified in their own country, would not have made common cause with the 'coalition of the unwilling' above, if only because they do not support neo-fascist, neo-conservative, religious fundamentalist, or ultra-nationalist parties in their own countries.

That is a very shallow  argument and, again, I would say (in the same lines) that you have a common cause with Blair, Brown, Sarkosy (yes, they are less bad than your bogeymen examples). But again, I feel that is a very shallowm argument in the lines of "the friend of my enemy is my enemy". Think about this: If you were to recuse to support a cause just because some despicable people also support it, you were not able to support any cause at all. This is because there will always be somebody that you utter dislike which will agree with you on something.


Most NO voters in Ireland were happy to acknowledge they had never read it, did not understand it, and thus were susceptible to the dire NO campaign warnings about abortion on demand, conscription into a European army, increased taxation, and enforced secularisation.  

So, I suppose most YES voters read the treaty top to bottom? Because your argument only olds any ground if most YES votes did that.
Not to say that reading the whole treaty by itself is not a good argument per se, but I will pass that for now.


But my fundamental request to you is this:  Please do not translate any misgivings or anger you may have about Lisbon or the manner of its ratification in your country into tacit or active support for the NO campaign in Ireland.

My fundamental problem is not direct versus representative democracy (although I would, midly, prefer direct democracy on this issue). There is a big misunderstanding going on here. The issue is the fact that our national goverments made a mockery of democracy. i,e, democracy was only allowed if the outcome was yes. The whole ordering of the ratification of Nice was done in order to put the eurofriendly coutries in front (Spain, France and The Netherlands) were put to vote first in order to make way for they yes vote. And when "2 Euro-friendly" said no, they were not allowed to revote. Democracy was seen as a mean, not an end in itself.

I simply dont trust the same people that have such comtempt for the "will of the people" to make such a change on the way we work together in the EU.

To be quite clear, I would be OK with:

  1. parties go to vote on national elections with promise to ratify Lisbon
  2. All countries have parliaments with Yes majorities
  3. Treaty is ratified

I am not OK with
  1. Referenda are called because it is thought people will say yes (Nice). As people don't say what they were supposed to, then we don't call votes anymore.
  2. Promising a referendum and then not delivering.

You might say that people voted No out of protest for other things (Ireland and also France, The Netherlands). You might be right (you are probably right). Its bad, but its the way of the (civilized) game. Its not perfect. But it would be much worse for some power to declare: "people choosed for the wrong reasons, so we will override". Even if this is correct, I don't want to live in a EU where somebody hsa the power to override the will of the people at a whim (even if the "will of the people" is based on perceived unsound reasons).
by t-------------- on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 12:17:50 PM EST
Thanks.  Our differences are in fact quite mior and nuanced.  e.g.

tiagoantao:

I would say (in the same lines) that you have a common cause with Blair, Brown, Sarkosy (yes, they are less bad than your bogeymen examples).
 At least Blair, Brown, Sarkosy have been elected to represent their countries - Sinn Fein, Libertas, and Coir have not.

tiagoantao:

So, I suppose most YES voters read the treaty top to bottom? Because your argument only olds any ground if most YES votes did that.

No.  My difficulty is not that most voters of any stripe did not read the treaty (although that would have been desirable)  my problem is that NO voters gave spectacularly misinformed reasons for voting NO on the treaty - abortion on demand, conscription, enforced secularisation, increased taxation.  Yes voters more generally regarded it as a very badly drafted attempt to continue the process of EU enlargement/integration - a process they generally support.

tiagoantao:

here is a big misunderstanding going on here. The issue is the fact that our national goverments made a mockery of democracy.

Yes Governments screwed up big time - no argument there - but I am only asking that people vote on the Treaty on its merits - not because they are angry with their Government for all manner of legitimate reasons.

tiagoantao:

To be quite clear, I would be OK with:

  1. parties go to vote on national elections with promise to ratify Lisbon
  2. All countries have parliaments with Yes majorities
  3. Treaty is ratified

90% of the Irish Parliament support the Treaty.

tiagoantao:

I am not OK with
  1. Referenda are called because it is thought people will say yes (Nice). As people don't say what they were supposed to, then we don't call votes anymore.
  2. Promising a referendum and then not delivering.

A legitimate problem for the citizens of those countries - who may well punish their Governments for so doing at the polls - but not a good reason for the Irish electorate to vote NO.

The structural problem we are trying to overcome is that the unanimity rule is very onerous and makes any change very difficult.  The danger is that this will result in the EU becoming very ponderous and unable to respond to global crises, and also that it may result in a temptation for EU leaders to over-ride democratic processes in an attempt to achieve what they see as much needed reforms.

If that was the case, it has backfired spectacularly and has made future change even more difficult.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 12:57:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rapid - Press Releases - EUROPA
Eurobarometer survey examines the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty A nationwide referendum on the Lisbon Treaty was held in Ireland on 12 June 2008. After the result was known, a Flash Eurobarometer survey was conducted by Gallup, from 13 to 15 June, at the request of the European Commission Representation in Ireland. Altogether, a randomly selected 2,000 respondents, aged 18 and older, were interviewed by telephone. The main objectives of the survey were to understand the reasons for the "yes" or "no" votes as well as non-participation in the referendum, the respondents' views about the campaign and views of the consequences.

The main findings were:

Support for Irish membership of the EU was very high among both 'yes' and 'no' voters: Among 'yes' voters, 98% and among 'no' voters 80%.

For the 'yes' voters, the main motivation was the feeling that it was in Ireland's best interest (32%) and that Ireland benefits from the EU (19%). Helping the economy (9%) and keeping Ireland engaged in Europe (9%) were other reasons.

The 'no' voters presented a much wider range of reasons to explain their preference. A lack of knowledge of the Treaty (22%) was the main one, while others included the protection of Irish identity (12%), safeguarding neutrality, lack of trust in politicians, losing the right to a permanent Commissioner and protecting the tax system (all 6%).

'No' voters supported the view that the result would put Ireland in a strong position to renegotiate the treaty (76%).

The young people who participated, women and those not working were significant supporters of the 'no' vote; many professionals, managers and retirees were backing the 'yes' campaign.

Over half of the people who did not vote in the referendum said this was due to a lack of understanding of the issues.

Similar surveys were carried out following the referenda on the Constitutional Treaty in France and in the Netherlands in 2005.
The Flash Eurobarometer survey is available on the website:



notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 07:48:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank,

I just now read the whole thread and I want to say a few things to you (and all):

  1. It has been a pleasure discussing this issue with you. You are a true liberal and democract (in the best sense of the words).
  2. I've been shocked to some of the answers to your post. I take myself as being quite difficult to shock. And some kinds of comments were completely unexpected (at least here on ET). It seems that you don't need to look very far to find some of the bigotry that you are afraid off.

I stop here.
by t-------------- on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 12:41:42 PM EST
Thanks.  It's been a pleasure debating with you even if it has taken awhile for us to clarify our respective positions and elucidate what differences remain. (Not many in my view - I seem to be more accepting of the "real politique" dynamics which govern many EU leadership actions whilst you are not prepared to let bygones be bygones in relation to past EU blunders).

I just think it is in all our interests to move on from past blunders and fix what problems we can, whilst not getting consumed by the problems we can do nothing about - for the moment at least.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 04:55:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let it be clear that I hate these vague accusation of bigotry. Either you point to a specific comment, or you don't. Such a blanket statement creates a blanket dismissal of the comments you disagree with without a way of knowing hat you actually object to in the exchanges.

You stopped too ealry or too late.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 30th, 2008 at 05:21:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I think we all know to whom s/he is referring.

Of course, s/he wasn't the only one; Frank played that card pretty explicitly too. Character bashing in cyber space, how cute. Especially when done obliquely, as you seem to be upset. Directly, indirectly, aspersions in the air, like much PC bullshit is usually done..in the air. But, you know, it is tiresome.

Laughing I am at all the yellow cards coming my way for the trouble...

And really, lately, it isn't worth the trouble.

by redstar on Wed Dec 31st, 2008 at 07:30:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
80% of redstar's comments on this thread are my target.

Mark my words: that kind of atitude will be the undoing of the Eurozone and Europe. When the real shit hits the fan during this or next year, finger-pointing, country-bashing, a comtemptuous atitude towards some countries will lead to an all against all mentality when we most need to be together.

All that was written was the opposite of the necessary solidarity and tolerance for other's falts, it creates a warmongering mentality, it is "you-against-me".

I now know, that being from a country that is a net receiver of EU money, I am a 2nd class citizen in the eyes of some here. Please excuse me if I don't label that kind of creatures as my friends. It is absolutely obvious what is surfacing... I actually do think that this is a sample of what is comming in a large scale.

I actualy do agree with most of the criticisms to Ireland and about the economic mismanagement of many in club Med. But what we are seeing here is something more sinister than just criticism.

This is my last post on ET.

by t-------------- on Thu Jan 1st, 2009 at 08:45:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is my last post on ET.

Amazingly silly. I don't even feel like arguing with you about it.

<sigh>

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 2nd, 2009 at 05:33:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
C'mon Afew.   tiagoantao  has made a reasoned argument as to why he found many of Redstar's comments offensive.  (I still haven't decided whether Redstar was really serious about them as he can be quite factual and logical on other topics.)

I agree with  tiagoantao  that such comments, if replicated on a mass scale or seen to be emblematic of wider attitudes in e.g. France - will have a devastating impact on the wider solidarity of the EU in general and will help to defeat Lisbon in Ireland, in particular.

If such comments are seen to be fair comment on ET, I don't see the point of pro-Europeans making an effort to contribute positively and participating here.  We can get that sort of crap anywhere.

I have have to say that I, too, am disappointed that, not for the first time, my attempts to encourage action in support of values and ideals I thought ET favoured have come to nothing.  

Popular debate on Lisbon in Ireland is very sensitive to "!how others in the EU see us" and there is a hypersensitivity towards remarks that might be interpreted as bullying, patronising, dismissive, chauvinist, colonial or just plain ignorant.

Equally there is a positive role that even small sites like ET could play in encouraging a more positive view of the European project as seen by our friends and neighbours elsewhere in Europe.  

I personally think that LTE's highlighting the negative impact of a Lisbon rejection on e.g. Croatia accession, on effective foreign policy coordination, and on a more dynamic response to the Global financial crisis could be very helpful.

But most particularly, I think it is important that we expose the Neo-con,neo-lib, ultra- nationalist and religious fundamentalist agendas behind the NO campaigns claims to better represent the Democratic aspirations of Europeans everywhere.

tiagoantao was my strongest critic when I first raised this topic here in Where is your outrage?".  We had some robust exchanges but at least have been able to clarify our respective positions and narrow our differences.  That is what good political debate should be about and why I come here.  I'm not sure what positive contribution Redstar was trying to make.

Either way, if tiagoantao leaves, that is one less reason for me to spend time here.  If all frontpagers and Editors can do here is ridicule those who feel that the rules of fair comment and debate have been breached, then I don't see much future for ET as a serious forum for debate either.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 2nd, 2009 at 07:17:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, redstar was being somewhat offensive. This is not news. He attracted an amount of flak - and a stack of twos - for it. What do you want? Banning? Deleted comments? Censorship of low-level offensive content? I don't think it's been endorsed as fair comment.

However, if people are going to do the "this is my last post on ET" thing every time someone says something a bit offensive and is censured for it, that seems silly.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 2nd, 2009 at 07:48:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I dealt with Redstar in my own way and asked for no FP intervention.  What FP intervention there was seemed to take tiagoantao to task for being both insufficiently direct and silly. I doubt this will be helpful in encouraging him to stay on.  I'm trying to encourage wider engagement on the Lisbon and "Democracy in the EU" issues, so forgive me if I see this as a negative.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 2nd, 2009 at 08:12:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
I'm trying to encourage wider engagement on the Lisbon and "Democracy in the EU" issues

Fine. But the "constitution" and "Lisbon" issues are highly inflammatory, we've seen it enough in the past. It is almost impossible to have a debate about this without fur flying. And, when you start out by calling on people's sense of "outrage", I'm afraid you have to expect a somewhat bumpy ride.

What I find "silly" about tiagoantao's attitude is just the "my last comment" drama. tiagoantao strikes me as someone who can solidly defend his point of view. I don't think he's been victimised or put upon. In consequence, I see no reason for him to leave, and I find the prima donna antics silly.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 2nd, 2009 at 08:25:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not one comment on where is your outrage? elicited anything less than a 4 rating even though some of them were quite robust.  Outrage was conspicuous by its absence!  The level of debate was generally quite high in my opinion - even if no one seemed to agree with me!

As I recall, Redstars comments here which attracted a couple of 2's weren't about Lisbon at all, but were just generally mocking and abusive about the Irish - redstar:

I could care less about Lisbon
and comparing the Irish unfavourably to Charleston slavers, suckling the European tit for decades, Celtic drunks, bankrupts, and suggesting membership of the UK as an alternative to the EU.  (This last, being, of course, the worst insult of all!).

None of these comments elicited any negative FP response whatsoever and yet tiagoantao was reprimanded for expressing generalised concern at their tone.

I'm not saying that I agree with or want tiagoantao to stop contributing here, I just think that calling him silly wasn't a very helpful response in the circumstances.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 2nd, 2009 at 09:18:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
However, this diary appears to present your "last diary on Lisbon" (title) in a different light:

European Tribune - My Last Diary on Lisbon

I have been shocked and stunned at the reaction I have received to my last diary on Lisbon.

You're right my "amazingly silly" comment was "not helpful". It was not attempting to be. It was the reaction of a member and front-pager who has had it to the back teeth with reading belly-aches about "this place". And, in this case, tiagoantao was insinuating that the forum did not meet with his censorship expectations (though he had only a short time before complained about PC being enforced). No, I didn't feel like being "helpful". Sorry.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 2nd, 2009 at 10:30:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My shock was political, I had not expected what I thought to be a predominantly progressive European readership to be so relaxed or equanimitous about Sinn Fein et al's claims to represent them and their best interest.  It had nothing to do with abusive comments or a lack of moderation.

As I read tiagoantao's latest comment, his decision to leave is primarily political as well, even if he does express disappointment at the daily mail tone of Redstar's (and only Redstar's) contribution here.

Your comments about some ETer's being concerned at the sexist/macho tone of some commentary here are well made and I have always appreciated that there is very little objectionable content here - due in large part to your efforts and also the community rating system which I don't think was abused inn this case.

As you know my frustration is more that I think that ET collectively lacks the ambition, drive, shared commitment, and implementation and management skills and organisation to become a significant player in the EU (and in the context of Lisbon, in the Irish political space), and thus if I want to influence the Lisbon debate in Ireland, I have to go elsewhere.  

I don't write for the sake of writing, I don't believe in spending time on lost causes or flogging a dead horse, so this is a purely pragmatic decision on my part.  (I used the term collectively advisedly, because this is a criticism of me as much as anyone else.  It is not an exercise in finger pointing.  Simply my judgement of the current reality, one I am still hopeful might change in the future, just not any time soon.

Hence the Title of this piece which I hope expressed the reasons for my frustration. If the anti-EU/Lisbon forces in Ireland are to be defeated, we in Ireland are going to have to win that battle on our own.  At least these diaries have clarified that.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jan 3rd, 2009 at 10:07:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not ridiculing tiagoantao. I am sick and fucking tired of putting in time here only to read people endlessly complaining about "this blog", "this forum", "ET", AS IF THIS SITE WERE SOME MONOLITHIC FUCKING ORGANISATION.

Even you, Frank, who have consistently complained in the past that "ET" does not allow, in your view, enough diversity of expression (see your comments on including your conservative chums from Times Online), seem to be carping now that "ET" is not repressing sufficiently what you see as reprehensible comment. I'd remind you that front-pagers can barely attempt to moderate without sparking open disagreement (including from tiagoantao, for instance) and, often, accusations of censorship, "groupthink", straitjacketing, etc.  

As for the "I am leaving" because "the site" has not done what an individual member thinks it should, I think it is FUCKING PATHETIC.

I don't need to ridicule anyone who brings out this threat, they are doing a great job on their own.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 2nd, 2009 at 08:02:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know of anybody who thinks ET is a MONOLITHIC ORGANISATION.  (To me its seems more like semi-organised chaos!!!:-)))) and I am full of admiration for the amount of time you and other  frontpagers give to often thankless tasks.

However sometimes it seems  to me that it is you who takes any criticism of ET very personally, and react to it in a personalised way.

I don't know how tiagoantao is supposed to take the silly allegation as anything but personal.  You are entitled to your view, but how do you think that comment is going to encourage tiagoantao  to reconsider his perhaps hasty comment?  Or is it a case of you saying good riddance?

In terms of the criticisms you have directed at me:

  1. I do think that if ET is to grow dramatically, it will have to tolerate a wider range of views.  I never thought or asked that Redstar should be banned or his comments deleted.  I just wasn't sure whether he was being serious and whether it was worth my while engaging with him because -  I think that Lisbon is a serious issue and on that issue I don't have time to waste on messers.

  2. I don't have "conservative chums" on Timesonline.  I did try to encourage anyone and everyone to cross-over from there when I left because I thought ET was in the business of encouraging wider engagement on European issues.  I didn't ask them their politics or make any preconditions for them joining here.  Valentin and Lily have, I think made a positive contribution here, but I would be the first to admit that the cross-over wasn't huge.  Some, left here because they didn't like how they were treated here, but I would be the first to accept that some turnover is unavoidable and that ultimately, people have to take responsibility for their own decisions.

  3. Please let me know if you want me to stop encouraging more people joining ET from wherever (and without a political vetting process beforehand).  If you do require a vetting process, please let me know what it is.  (I just assume that anyone who has bothered to engage with my stuff constructively, if negatively or positively, has something going for them!


notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 2nd, 2009 at 08:55:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't have "conservative chums" on Timesonline.  I did try to encourage anyone and everyone to cross-over from there when I left because I thought ET was in the business of encouraging wider engagement on European issues.  I didn't ask them their politics or make any preconditions for them joining here.

Hi afew and Frank!

It has been more by accident than deliberately that I've been reading through this intriguing thread tonight. I confirm that you, Frank, have never been busy being chums with others on timesonline but that you have been debating for issue's sake both there as you are doing here.

afew, what you don't know is that timesonline, i.e. Charles Bremner's Paris blog is a blog that promotes a "fair free for all" - only that it isn't fair because over time ideas have been more and more debated into the "wanted" direction. This is made possible by timesonline's non-existent registration policy in particular. Fact is that Frank, like Valentin, like The3rdColumn and myself have always been speaking for our selves while I doubt that is the case with everyone there.

Why so ever, timesonline attracts very interesting characters with deep and vast knowledge. Not everyone there is a neo-something. It's a pity that the few honest debaters there still feel attracted by the easy format, and, yes, maybe the classic conservative values while they are abused of and manipulated.

Frank, you want to make a difference with regards to the Irish vote and the European idea. You hoped to find substantial support on Eurotrib and appear to be disappointed. This blog lives on and for people who mostly both read and contribute as registered users. There is no organised abuse due to proper rules for registration and against trolls but then, this blog doesn't reach such a wide audience. I still appreciate it because this is an excellent forum where you'll always find feedback when you want to dig deep and develop your ideas, find out, learn more.

If you want to have political impact on more people, I shall recommend to you to seek out blogs that aim at manipulating people into saying 'no' and explain why they should say 'yes' - there because these blogs reach tens of thousands readers every month. You cannot do the journalist's job but you can have your share in diversifying the debate. Don't expect honesty or integrity or that anybody values truth highly or at all. Others push their opinion - you can manifest yours.

So much, about the conservative "chums", afew, ;) - They may not care about true facts over there but they do care when you point out the lies. You could give it a try, too. I have never made it an issue to, say, promote the EU on timesonline. I only wanted to understand and learn - and, I learnt a lot. In the meantime, I have lost my initial "innocence". I believe that lies and agenda need to be exposed. At the same time, I have lost interest because it has been tiring to be ignored or run over time and again by people who operate different pseudos, using changing IP addresses and who may dispose of helpful, knowledgeable software at the same time... On the other hand, it's still places like those where the media reach people large-scale...

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Jan 4th, 2009 at 06:23:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi Lily,

As you can see Afew has been a bit pissed at the number of people complaining about this and that on ET and threatening to leave if they feel their concerns haven't been fairly dealt with.  Sometimes you can't win in those situations, and I don't envy Afew his job.

ET can't be everything for everybody and sometimes you have to pick the right forum for a particular job.  In this case I have found ET a very good forum for bouncing/refining my ideas on Lisbon on other people and gauging the reaction this engenders.  The discussion is often of a far higher standard than you can find elsewhere.

However when it comes to reaching a mass audience - particularly in Ireland - ET is less suited to the task.  LTEs can be effective - particularly when they come from a range of different people from different countries, but nobody shared my views on that topic and so I have done all I can on that issue here.

Timesonline doesn't have an Irish blog and the Irish newspaper blogs are awful, so there aren't to many options open to me.  I'm thinking of starting my own blog focused on Irish politics, but more particularly, in the short term, focused on Lisbon.  As always, building up a significant readership in a short time is the problem.

In any case, I hope to see you around the place here on other topics from time to time.  Don't take afew's conservative jibe personally, he was just having a bad day!

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jan 4th, 2009 at 08:07:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In this case I have found ET a very good forum for bouncing/refining my ideas on Lisbon on other people and gauging the reaction this engenders.  The discussion is often of a far higher standard than you can find elsewhere.

I fully agree with you.

And I can see the idealism and work frontpagers put into this blog. Are they crazy?! Well, I prefer to call their continued investment admirable.

What you call afew's "conservative jibe" doesn't bother me. It is obvious that ET is left-leaning. So, conservative people must weigh their words. The same happens when "lefties" frequent right-leaning blogs. They will quickly be the whiners or abusers. Sometimes, I think that right-leaning blogs are "easier" because people who blog there know their bias and know that they are out their hunting down the lefties. Neo-cons are at war with all others. That's a clear world view. Left-leaning people strive for objectivity while they, too, come from somewhere. They may not have declared war but they feel at war since aggressed by a right-wing mob. So, there can be some passive-aggressiveness here, too.

the Irish newspaper blogs are awful

;) - So, they NEED you there! They are the easiest way to reach a mass audience. You can still open your own blog and try to reach some, hopefully influential people but I believe that it is rather smart for alternative policy makers to copy neo-con methods to their own ends... only without the lying.

Whatever you'll eventually decide to do, I wish you good luck!

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Jan 5th, 2009 at 02:20:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"out their" should read "out there".

What I've just said about bloggers on right-leaning blogs doesn't apply to ALL bloggers on these sites!

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Jan 5th, 2009 at 02:37:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't define myself as left or right wing at all.  I just think that if you base your analysis on humanitarian values rather than on financial self-interest then the latter group will try to delegitimise your analysis by calling it biased or left wing.  

Money isn't biased, but a primary focus on that to the exclusion of all else is.  However I don't there is anything inherently left-wing about humanitarian values, and those who think that just expose their own money grabbing violence based imperial tendencies.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 5th, 2009 at 06:58:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you can say - in fairness - that a systemic disinterest in, or even negation of, humanitarian values is inherently right-wing.

That leaves the centre-left interested in humanitarian values by a process of elimination. And because the right is so yappy and loud in media space, it can look as if humanitarianism is somehow edgy and dangerously close to consorting with terrorists.

Something we don't do nearly enough of on the left is taking the fight to the right. I think that pointing out the Right's consistent love affair with inhumanity has a lot of potential as a tactic for swaying the floating centre.

It's not as if the right's MO isn't consistent and clear. From Ayn Rand to Thatcherism to the Bush Doctrine (to Sinn Fein, at a guess) - it's all about intimidation, violence, and either indifference to suffering or personal, financial and cultural abuse.

This is what the right does - always. If more people realised this, winning votes would become rather harder.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jan 5th, 2009 at 08:18:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well certainly if you put humanitarian values at the centre of your analysis those who disagree - either because, on the extreme left, revolutionary ends justify violent means, or on the right "the war on terror" justifies the means - have to engage in all sorts of quasi theological arguments as to why their use of violence is somehow for the greater good.  They can only do this by demonising others as even worse than them.

In this context, humanitarians are often just ridiculed or discounted as idealists far removed from the "real world" of economic self interest and violence.  Ultimately, those who justify themselves by reference to this "real world" are in fact its progenitors.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 5th, 2009 at 08:50:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Something we don't do nearly enough of on the left is taking the fight to the right.

Exactly.

When afew (or anyone else) is talking of Frank's chums at timesonline, she/they doesn't/don't realise that while ET digs deep - there is no better place like a blog to win people because it looks so free, free of bias which is why people will TRUST what they read there.

And the centre-left will feel annoyed by what they see and go away. So, in the end, all that's left is propaganda, that can even be spiced up with "real" characters whose opinions will be smashed since you can create whoever you want at timesonline, and likely on other neo-con blogs as well.

If only not everyone ran away...

If more people realised this, winning votes would become rather harder.

How are they supposed to realise this? People who read and trust the drudge report will never go through the hassle of registering at ET! But everyone here could and should not be afraid and GO THERE.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Jan 5th, 2009 at 10:04:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fair point, I think. The problem - if it is a problem - is that commenting on an Irish blog from the UK with a very distant and inexpert sense of local context is dangerous and leads to possible outbreaks of clangy giveaway stupid.

I'm sure we could - and probably should - do more locally in our local patches. But trying to become an international response squad is going to be difficult.

Which is not to say it couldn't be done, or that it shouldn't be. It's a relatively cheap way to 'buy' media, and if we're sending LTEs to the Anglo press there's no reason not to send them elsewhere. But local references will always be a challenge for non-locals.

Also, I wonder how influential duelling LTEs are on voting patterns. In the UK the Mail is probably more influential than the Times, but it's going to be much harder - if not impossible - to get a critical LTE printed in the Mail.

Which media offer the most leverage?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jan 5th, 2009 at 11:02:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As a general rule I would never advocate sending LTE's to newspapers in other countries.  However in this case I was advocating merely that Europeans deny the claim of the NO campaign to speak on their behalf.  Something on the lines of:

Dear Sir,

I am a citizen/resident of (say) Germany, and I was denied the right to vote on the Lisbon Treaty by way of referendum.  The Treaty was instead ratified following a debate in the Bundesrat/tag.

I disagreed with the Treaty, and will be voting against the German Government at the next European and German elections.  That does not mean, however, that the Irish NO campaign speaks for me or represents my views or best interests.  In fact I would be embarrassed to be represented by a collection of neo-liberal US defense contractors and their allies including ultra-nationalists and religious fundamentalists.

Ireland should vote on the Lisbon Treaty on its merits and in line with its own interests and not because the German Government failed to hold a referendum on the Treaty.  I have my own way of getting back at my Government for ratifying a Treaty which in my view unduly favours smaller Members like Ireland.



notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 5th, 2009 at 01:00:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yours are fair counter-arguments. I have no clear idea of the larger picture in which different media outlets operate and to what effect. My experience has been limited to timesonline. It is amazing how many Americans, who mostly don't live in France, care about France and its people... They are clearly more distant than are you from the UK with regards to Ireland.

On the other hand, all this eventually boils down to time and money. Who has the luxury and idealism to spend the day fighting in an international response squad against manipulation by the media? ;(

It can't be done, okay. But then, the least everyone should do is accept one another in our diversity and accept newcomers for who they are - unknown. It's futile to look for clues indicating a right or left bias. Such never does justice to the whole person, her narrative, her worries and hopes.

BTW, even the most mind-boggling neo-cons have some reason to act the way they do. It can be an interesting exercise to try to understand why other people think and talk the way they do. Most people aren't just stupid or ignorant. Something must be going on in their minds that will lead them to conclusions that are difficult to apprehend by many others. Most of the time, you'll find fears, a very human trait... -

To address these fears could be a beginning, e.g. Why are you afraid of a unified Europe? Could it be that Europe's image in the World is distorted, e.g. the presumed genetic German Nazism or France's lack of productivity or lack of sense of reality etc.

     

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Jan 5th, 2009 at 01:01:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are a lot of Americans who have a lot to gain from the maintenance/extension of the US empire even if it is at the cost of disunity in Europe (a handy way of weakening a potential competitor) or millions of lives if Iraq, Afghanistan or Palestine.

Others - like Terry - perhaps just revel in the attention their views still get in Europe - whereas in the US he would be quickly discounted as a Republican neo-con hold-out from the pre-Obama era.  Part of my reason for leaving Timesonline was I didn't want to give these guys the attention/recognition which they so obviously crave and which they appear to believe is their due as members of the US master race.

I would much prefer to work with people who want to be helpful than against people who patently don't...

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 5th, 2009 at 01:10:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't define myself as left or right wing at all.

Neither do I. I'm only picking up on the name calling that exists on both sides of the spectrum... -

I feel like saying, "I prefer to resist all categorisation" - which is from you.

Unfortunately, you cannot, I cannot, no one can prevent anybody else from resorting to categorisation which isn't always an act of ill will by the way because stereotyping often helps to highlight a point within the debate.

I'd say that I like to resist all categorisation that aims at distorting facts/truth.

"Humanitarian values" sound so "68ard" to Valentin's ears and the rhetoric attached to them may remind him of communism that he knows first-hand.
He speaks of "rational Reason", seemingly from the mountain top which causes something like an electric shock in ET regulars.
I like to refer to "Truth" which is a term that isn't well received at timesonline though conservatives should strive for integrity/truth, shouldn't they? I assume that's why. ;)

"Wording", i.e. finding the right notions to describe the essence that, from what I understand, you and Valentin and I share though our motivations differ, carries too much weight and, unfortunately, it often closes doors instead of furthering mutual understanding.

In the end, we won't be able to overcome this difference that is rooted in our respective narratives unless we can detach from our narrative for the greater good of 'love of our neighbour', 'love of God', peace, love for humanity or even rational reason.

 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Jan 5th, 2009 at 10:29:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was stupid for me to say that in the current context.

There are various reasons that make me feel inclined not to return here, the fundamental being ideological. Ie. I am changing my view of the world, and with that change I feel less inclined to come to ET.

As a real last post let me explain why I don't feel at home here anymore.

  1. I am starting to disbelieve in any kind of highly organized, rational world (or Europe for that matter). I think mankind is better off if we don't associate ourselves in a large scale and maintain our independence and localism. I think the typical ETer (I think there is something that more or less defines the "typical ETer") is cosmopolitan, european. Something I was, and I am starting to grow serious doubts that I still am.

  2. I am starting to think that Europe is a fraud. This whole EU project only worked in the aftermath of the 2nd world war and during the good times. Now that the shit is hiting the fan, I believe that we will enter blame-mode sooner rather than later. My highly pessimistic view makes me think that here are entering an era of mutual blame and confrontation, just seeing it here (without the outrage that I think it should raise) only reinforces this view.

  3. On a more tactical (less important) side I think that most people here are delusional about the role of EU institutions.

I was also appaled by the reaction of ET management to this whole discussion thread. I do profoundly respect redstar's comments, it is just that I would thought they belong to the The Daily Mail foruns, not here. People were irritated by the twank's silly macho comments. I think these are an order of magnitude worse. and it is exactly this approach that will be our undoing.
by t-------------- on Fri Jan 2nd, 2009 at 11:17:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, tiagoantao, for giving comprehensible background to your feeling you don't belong here. I don't think you're right, for a number of reasons.

The first concerns localism versus cosmopolitanism. There's certainly a "cosmopolitan" tendency here, proceeding from the fact that many of us (like you, I think) are ex-pats or have experience in living in other countries than that of their birth, and also from the practice of "meet-ups" to which members travel sometimes considerable distances. That doesn't preclude an interest in what's local, along the lines of think global, act local. I'll offer as evidence a couple of my own diaries, In Vino..., where I talk about the locavore food cooperative I do voluntary work with here, or On The Crisis, Help Requested, or a diary I wrote on the lack of attention paid by the EU to citizens' everyday lives and rights, Life, Love, Death and the EU. But many other ETers are convinced by the need for local action, and get involved at local level in political and social initiatives. Try writing about what you see as the right kind of local way forward, and I think you'll see you're not alone here in that concern. Though I think you're probably right that a majority here would also favour association at a wider level.

I think you also project too much on "groupthink" about the EU here. On a subject like the Lisbon (formerly "constitution") treaty, for example, there is little agreement here, and this has been so since the site's beginning. And disagreements on it are always sharp. Just as they are outside this site. As for being delusional about the role of EU institutions, I find that strange, since there has never ceased to be criticism of the democratic deficit and the appalling communications of the EU here. This has not been just, you know, a bit of icing on the cake, it is a real and important theme on ET. Though some of us (not all) think that, on balance, it's better to have the EU and to try to push it towards better democratic practice, than to give in to those forces which would find a world in which it no longer existed more amenable to their interests.

As for your final point, I can only tell you that there is no "ET management". We are just a handful (and, of late, because of real-life problems, a very small handful) of volunteers. If you mean that you were annoyed by Jerome's (annoyed) remark to you, it's best to say it straight to him. As for Twank's comment, there was quite some history behind that, and consistent complaints from female members about a male chauvinist atmosphere (not caused by Twank alone, far from it), and worries that this might put women off from participating, that led to my moderation comment to him. This has been a concern since quite early times here.

I hope you'll think again about leaving. My reaction was pissed-off, but it did not mean for an instant that I hoped you would go, or didn't appreciate your presence and excellent contributions here.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 2nd, 2009 at 01:06:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think Redstar speaks for the EU. I don't think his views would find a lot of support in most of the EU - except possibly some of the more racist enclaves.

Unfortunately it's hard to find anyone who does speak for the EU.

The problems with Ireland vs Lisbon are symbolic of the EU's inability to connect effectively with its constituent populations. I'm left with the feeling that Wallstrom et al. either don't understand why fostering bottom up enthusiasm should be the single most important political goal, or don't feel they need to bother.

The irony is that when the fascists and crazies accuse the EU of being remote and bureaucratic, there's nothing to point to which says that the EU isn't remote and bureaucratic.

Irrespective of the merits of Lisbon, politically it has turned into a fiasco precisely because this kind of popular disconnection leaves a gap in which the fascists and crazies can prosper.

It's not about who funds whom or where the money goes - most people won't be paying attention to that. It's about the way that the EU's communications team has completely failed - spectacularly, to a textbook case history extent - to create any emotional feeling of personal connection or participation among most of the EU's population.

In a business this would be called buy-in. If you don't create buy-in, people don't care what you're trying to do. It sucks that this is necessary, but it's utterly foolish and counterproductive to believe that it isn't.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jan 2nd, 2009 at 07:20:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I couldn't have put it better myself.  I don't know who is making the positive case for the EU right now but I do know its not Sinn Fein et al.  If if is down people like you and me to make that argument, the EU is in big trouble.  The "progressive left" is so busy preening itself on its anti-establishment credentials to realise that what is on offer if Sinn Fein et al wins is so much worse.  

I know I'll be accused of exaggeration, but the EU's PR would have put the Weimar Republic to shame.  Having seen what Sinn Fein do up close and personal when they tried to intimidate me over a local issue, I don't want them in power in Ireland, and I don't want the tendencies they represent, and other forces aligned with them to become the dominant force in Europe.

This is about much more than Lisbon.  That is only the current battlefield.  Does the rest of Europe not realise this, or do they not care?

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 2nd, 2009 at 07:37:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the problem is that you picked the one single case - the democratic deficit - where the "no" actually have a case.

I happen to think that their case is not strong enough to - on balance - swing the entire argument in their favour, particularly when I look at the amount of bullshit they fling around on other issues. But there's no denying that they have a case on this precise issue.

I don't think most people would want to write angry LTEs taking people to task for overusing their one solid argument.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 2nd, 2009 at 08:45:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
I don't think most people would want to write angry LTEs taking people to task for overusing their one solid argument.

All the more reason to attack them on their apparently  most solid argument, because it also underlines how they are in the business of undermining the democracy they claim to espouse.  Its like the neo-libs campaigning on full employment and freedom for working families.  You have to challenge the very base of the lies they are seeking to promulgate.

Merely proving that Lisbon isn't about conscription into a European army isn't going to get you any votes.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 2nd, 2009 at 09:35:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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