Standing Up Against the European Superstate

VACLAV KLAUS PRESS CLUBIn a time when almost everything about America’s current state of affairs is grounds for gloom, from the economic outlook to the national-security situation to the health status of our traditional liberties, one of the only reasons to smile – especially if you’re inclined to Schadenfreude – is the fact that the European Union, by most measures, is probably even worse off. To a considerable extent, of course, the dire straits in which America now finds itself are the consequence of an ideology essentially identical to that which has sent the EU into a tailspin.

One European leader who most assuredly doesn’t share that ideology is Václav Klaus, who for ten years (ending last month) was the president of the Czech Republic. Unlike his predecessor in that office, the late poet and playwright Václav Havel, Klaus, an economist and a champion of the free market who counts among his heroes Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, is a longtime critic of the EU. In Europe: The Shattering of Illusions, which has just been published in English, Klaus makes a clear, succinct, and compelling argument against the superstate. The book could have been called Idiot’s Guide to the EU or EU for Dummies, except that the real idiots and dummies aren’t those who need to be brought up to speed on the past, present, and plainly imperiled future of the European Union, but those who, rejecting economic logic and democratic values, have tirelessly promoted it and relentlessly pushed for the continual expansion of its powers.

It’s refreshing to read a book by a national leader that’s so learned, forthright, and explicit in its opposition to an establishment consensus. What Klaus opposes, specifically, is the “sacred mantra of the eurocrats” – namely, the proposition that “European integration is the Good,” no matter how many bad things it may lead to. Klaus doesn’t mince words, dismissing the “frivolous concept of world citizenship” as well as EU citizenship, and noting that the EU not only structurally resembles the Soviet world, in its time, but is defended by its adherents using arguments reminiscent of those made by Kremlin apologists. He begins with a brief history of the EU project, quoting EU founding father Jean Monnet as saying in 1952 that “Europe’s nations should be led towards a superstate, without their people understanding what is happened.” How better, after all, to subject Europe to a neo-Marxist superstate that despises free markets than by starting off with a capitalism-friendly free-trade zone and then moving gradually from A to Z?

And so it’s been done: established in 1957, the EEC (European Economic Community) gave way after some years to the EC (European Community) – the dropped “e” testifying to the increasing importance of non-economic affiliation – which, in turn, became the EU, the shift from “c” to “u” signaling the beginning of a real transfer of sovereignty from member states to Brussels. The introduction of the euro ushered in the EMU (Economic and Monetary Union), a.k.a. the eurozone; there ensued the creation of what Klaus calls the EFU (European Fiscal Union), generally known as the Fiscal Compact or Fiscal Stability Treaty; the culmination of all this will be, to borrow Klaus’s own coinage, the EPU (European Political Union), in which the superstate will be fully realized and all pretense of the existence of national powers and national boundaries will cease.

All of this, Klaus explains, has been motivated by “europeism” (also his coinage), an ideology propounded by utopian social engineers and founded on the notion that nation states “represent the Evil – because they were once the cause of wars among other things – while the supranational, continental and global entities represent the Good, because they – according to eurocrats – eliminate all forms of nationalist bickering once and for all.” (Klaus’s acerbic comment: “This view is obviously childish, yet it is generally accepted in Europe.”) Although rooted in anti-free market socialism, europeism has many non-socialist adherents, such as French politician Édouard Balladur, who called the free market “the law of the jungle, the law of nature,” and defined civilization as “the struggle against nature.” At the heart of the EU sales pitch, indeed, is the claim that the EU is the quintessence of civilization – the final  destination of humanity’s long evolutionary journey from barbarism, competition, and war.

Klaus is quite properly caustic about these ideas, and about the EU grandees who, cleaving to them, have deftly stripped more and more power from the people of Europe (all the while, in turn, “granting” them “rights”) without asking most of them whether this act of theft was OK with them – and, indeed, without the people themselves, in many cases, quite realizing quite how much was being stolen from them. The smoothness (slickness?) of these transitions has owed a great deal to Europe’s mainstream journalists, most of whom have been good little EU soldiers, reliably sending forth the message that European integration is “the Good,” period, and that all opposition to it is by definition rooted in prejudice, selfishness, or some other unsavory trait. Then there’s the urgent search “for the ‘soul’ of Europe” – the pathetic, asinine attempt to “fir[e] Europeans up for the idea of the European Union” that EU Commission President Jacques Delors kicked off in the early 1990s (encouraged, alas, by Havel, who, though a great man, was a true believer in “europeism”).

The EU’s fruits are well known. The accumulation of power in the hands of a remote, unelected elite has eroded democracy. The monetary union, far from resulting (as promised) in prosperity for all, has led to a debt crisis that was predictable from the outset – but whose inevitability the EU’s architects, driven (like their Soviet predecessors) by ideology rather than economic logic, refused to recognize. (Klaus reminds us that when the euro was introduced, its boosters smugly warned that countries that chose not to adopt it would suffer: now look who’s suffering and who isn’t.) Klaus is also harsh about the economic paralysis caused by a decades-long blizzard of inane, intrusive EU dictates, “based on a false, anti-liberal idea that a larger area needs more regulation, although we [in the Czech Republic] – educated by Hayek and our communist past – know very well that a larger area (and complexity) needs more market forces and more decentralized decision-making.” From 2004 to 2011, no fewer than “4527 decrees, 686 directives and 6617 decisions were adopted on the European Union’s institutional level.” That sound you hear is Calvin Coolidge spinning in his grave.

As EU power has grown apace, a surprising number of Europeans have responded with indifference. Even now, when Germany and other northern countries are transferring huge sums to the improvident south to keep the ship afloat, there’s remarkably little in the way of efforts to scupper the vessel once and for all (one exception being the UK Independence Party, whose recent successes are a light in the darkness). Why such feeble political opposition to the EU? Klaus attributes it largely to the fact that politics itself – in the sense of robust democratic debate over key ideas and initiatives – is already on its way out, replaced by a centralized technocracy that, being ideologically monolithic, has no need for debate and can concentrate instead on implementing its directives and imposing its will.

Another reason for the low level of dissent, I’d suggest, is that European voters, unlike their American counterparts, have long since resigned themselves to rule by a consensus-oriented political class. (The demonization of the Tea Party by so many U.S. politicians and journalists reflects nothing more than a frustration over the refusal of so many Americans to be led by a detached, unresponsive statist elite.) Another reason is that EU leaders, in their craftiness, have made it hard for an ordinary mortal to keep up with their mischievous shenanigans: the documents by means of which Brussels has steadily enhanced its authority and enforced its control are simply too many, too long, too impenetrable, and too boring. Nor does it help that, as Klaus notes, even putatively anti-EU pols tend to become EU-friendly once they take office, drawn by a system that promises them the thrill of acting on a bigger stage than they’re afforded at home.

Klaus’s prescription for Europe is clear. Shrink the welfare state. Drop subsidies. Slash regulations. Liberate the market. Say goodbye to the superstate and restore full sovereignty to its member nations. He asks Europeans to look to their own experience: “Whenever Europe was free, without the straitjacket of social-engineering projects, there was prosperity.” But, he acknowledges grimly, Europe’s struggle for freedom, liberal democracy, and individual rights may well be lost – and the faith in europeism, “post-democracy,” and “transnational progressivism” so deep-seated that the captains of this ship will keep refusing to change course right up until the moment it runs aground. We can only hope that Europeans somehow manage to find their voices, reclaim their countries, and restore their liberties – and, failing that, that Americans will at least learn from Europe’s foolish mistakes and step back from their own precipice before it’s too late.

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  • crackerjack

    If Klaus opposed the EU, why did he destroy Czechoslovakia and lead the Czechs into the EU in the 90's while he was prime minister?

    2003 Klaus was elected president with full support of the Communist fraction. Once in office, Klaus repeatedly attempted to erect a personal presidential dictatorship in opposition to the democratic parliament with a policy of constant conflict and obstruction. Klaus ended his term with a blanket amnesty for his friends from the Czech "finance industie" who had embezzled the life savings of millions of Czechs.

    Klaus always was and still is a reckless egomanic who puts his personal views above democratic process. His political views should be treated with a great ammount of scepsis. Go as the Czechs, who had him befor court for high treason after his presidency.

  • Chezwick

    Bruce,

    In the first chapter of 'How Europe Slept', you gave a biographical background of yourself….specifically, an acknowledgement of your homosexuality, the liberal hue with which you saw the world, and how it was subsequently shattered by your early experiences as an emigre in Holland and Norway.

    I think re-visiting this evolution in your thinking in article form would be a powerful testament that might reach an audience that missed 'How Europe Slept'. I personally know several liberals (some in my extended family) who couldn't help but be moved by your story, given their evolved empathy for gays and their intrinsic association of gay rights with their own liberal world-view.

    Please think about it. Should you decide to re-tell your personal story in article-form, I encourage all FPM readers to email it to liberal friends and family. It's a 'straight-from-the-horses-mouth' kind of scenario that will certainly shatter stereotypical misconceptions….as well as long-established sacred cows.

    • crackerjack

      In his laudation for supposed freedom fighter Klaus, Mr Bawer conveniently forgets Vaclav Klaus vetoed Czech parliaments Anti Discrimination Law and 2011 lashed out at 13 ambassadors for their petition in support of a gay pride festival in the Czech capital, and refused to distance himself from a deputy who linked homosexuality to sexual deviation.

      Strange that a gay rights activist like Bawer should fall for the "freedom" philosophies of a homophobe.

      Klaus concept of "freedom" was and still is his freedom to impose his views on others.

      • AnOrdinaryMan

        Klaus may very well be anti-gay, and that's not good, but in your zeal to brand him, you ignore the central tenet of the article; which is that Klaus brings out that the EU is a colossal failure. The EU is a failure because it has failed in the first responsibility of a government to its citizens: Protect them from invasion. I'm referring to the invasion of Europe by radical Islam, and the widespread acceptance of Sharia law, in several European countries. And how does Sharia treat homosexuals?
        Why, it prescribes death to them. What good is branding Klaus as anti-gay, when you've ignored the 800 pound gorilla in the room–Islam?

        • crackerjack

          Germany troops in Kabul. British Troops in Basra. Danish troops in Kirkuk. Polish troops in Bagdad. Spanish troops in Kunduz. French troops in Kandahar. But you see Europe as being invaded by the Muslims when they can't even defend their own countries?

          • AnOrdinaryMan

            Muslims are doing a very good job of defending their own countries; with the help of the U.S. Rules of Engagement, for example, in Afghanistan. And give us examples of how the German, Danish, Polish, and Spanish troops have harmed the native Muslim populations, where they are deployed. These peace-keeping troops stand around and do nothing all day.

          • WilliamJamesWard

            Don't forget the wooden soldiers in toy land…………………William

          • SCREW SOCIALISM

            Get the millions of Islamofascist troops OUT of the West.

  • Rostislav

    I often visit EU countries and I think that now one may meet the last anti-bureaucratic leaders only in the smaller East-European countries, like Lithuania, or, more to North, in my neighbor Finland. I've read this excellent Havel's book a year ago, in Polish, one of the few EU countries, which is still enough independent to discuss his ideas without cheap demagogy and condescending smiles. The reason for the present-day rarity of Havels is, I think, tightly connected with the successful corruption of the European public opinion both by their elected elites' massive handouts and by the huge influx of gastarbeiters (thanks to the Europeans' growing dislike for any hard work). Free ride proves to be much more powerful bureaucratic weapon than all the past prisons of Communists… But the results will be even more devastating. They already are. Rostislav, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.

  • http://twitter.com/theoprinse @theoprinse

    Geo politics are the politics of the New World Order. Not America or China or Russia as single isolated countries … but their much larger spheres of influence plus their own geographical position are at play. Geo politics are solely the realm of the secret intelligence agencies like the CIA, MI6 etc.

    Since Russia ended their communist isolation and China more or less is allowed to operate on the free market their economies and their financial dependencies are more and more mixed up and a (leftist defined) re-distributive, large government and innovation stagnant New World Order is at hand.

    In the rich world especially the medical and pharmaceutical mafia – as a placebo for classic war – is at the very front of this New World Order. In the US the Health Care program as promised by Hussein Obama will substantially aggravate the US financial strength which is what al Qaeda wants to succeed in the first place.

    On top China and Japan both have more than 1.000 debt claim each on the US. Japan has 250 % debt to GDP and the US perhaps will have 200 % debt to GDP in 2016 (2.000 billion USD). China has a huge housing bubble. Just a week ago eminent Dutch politician and former European commissioner Frits Bolkestein said France being a major economy for what it is … is bankrupt and pleaded for the Netherlands to step out of the Euro .. together with Germany.

    When the Euro were to be abolished by all 17 current Euro countries it would result in the resurrection of 17 instead of 1 exchange and interest policies and thus for the short term (10 years) improve their economies.
    ——–
    It is here that I resume the fact that it was Polish Catholic US immigrant Zbigniew Brzezisnki who advised Jimmy Carter to betray the free people of Persia to the Shia Muslims of Khomeini soon after he returned from Paris exile into Iran where former psy ops project MKULTRA convict CIA director Richard Helms had been ambassador for the US .
    ——–
    It was in 1979 that Z. Brzezinski (and others) saw the initiation of what was further developed in their method to diminish the Soviet ? Russian sphere of influence by betraying western oriented secular free people into the murderous hands of the Islamic fundamentalists of Khomeini. At that time in 1979 the CIA – being the sole operator in the geopolitical war of the spheres of influence of the US and Russia as well as China (China invested in Africa since the seventies for minerals and not primarily for military and political influence) – was fully indoctrinated by the psy opsed pornographic and narcotic based methods of mind control and manipulation of individuals as well as the entire population through televison techniques of the 500 dr. Mengele nazi’s incorporated within the CIA in 1950 in project MKULTRA. The method of enlarging the US Sphere of Influence by betraying western oriented secular people to the murderous Islam was proceeded under Reagan by Richard Perle and under Clinton by Albright and under Bush by Paul Wolfowitz
    ——–
    Political and military mineral number one for the US since Roosevelt’s Suez negotiation in 1945 has been Islam oil and the consequent arms trade in return … Part of the Islam oil revenues has leaked into the hands of the Saudi Osama bin Laden who became instrumental in the policies of Brzezinski and especially Madeleine Albright to liberate Catholic Croatia from the Serb dominated Jugoslavia which is why the CIA prevented Bill Clinton to kill their agent when they had Osama bin Laden in their cross hairs.

    The last few years the US is developing an energy INDEPENDENCE from Islam oil that will decrease their military presence as well as arms trade with the Arab region. At the same time the classic style of warfare has developed since 9/11 and the second Iraq war into an asymmetric war. That is why the CIA under director and Muslim John Brennan as head behind the unmanned drone attack program in Pakistan is increasingly taking over the military.
    ——–
    Far from assuming to have all the relevant factors like the gargantuan fact the middle and upper class in the US and western Europe have robbed between 5.000 to 17.000 billion in derivatives it is fair to accept that the US is in a very complex social, domestic and foreign geo political process which – under Hussein Obama – will almost impossible to revert until 2016 which is why for Europe indeed is to support Frits Bolksestein and others in their call for abolishing the Euro

  • Winston

    Duh! Such a misleading banner for this article. This nation's pseudo-leaders have no intention of standing up the the European super state… the liberals, socialists, communists, and neo-con globalists are working at a feverish pace to become a part of the global nation witha One-World Government. Open you eyes!

  • SCREW SOCIALISM

    G-D BLESS THE CZECH REPUBLIC!

  • LindaRivera

    We must NEVER lose our freedom to unelected, power-hungry EU ruling elites!

    Join and support Britain's new political party, Liberty GB, Britain's last great hope! http://libertygb.org.uk/v1/

    Paul Western, leader of Liberty GB:

    Britain Heading Inexorably Towards A Civil War With Islam? – Paul Weston http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embed

    • WilliamJamesWard

      Knowing my British cousins they will take just so much of the leftist crap and toss
      her Queenliness and her troop out and into the Tower of Londonistan, what a traitorous
      family, maybe William will stand up against the aging leftist abberition, after all they
      are in league to close the pubs……It may all be decided in England, it will depend on
      just who thier drinking buddies are not who they sit in Church with, the Churches
      have been fairly empty from what I have read which is thier biggest mistake……………….William

      • LindaRivera

        The churches in Britain are also disloyal. And anti-Israel. So much betrayal.

        • SCREW SOCIALISM

          Thank socialism for destroying Europe.

        • WilliamJamesWard

          The Queen is titular head of the Church of England, such a failure………….William

          • LindaRivera

            The Royal family are not going to do one single thing to help in the desperate situation Britain is in.

    • http://twitter.com/karita_feliz @karita_feliz

      Why not UKIP? Many more Brits know about the UKIP and they're Eurosceptic. If You all rally behind UKIP You'll have a higher chance of making your message stronger

      • LindaRivera

        The UKIP wants to get Britain out of the EU. That is good; but what most people are unaware of is that the UKIP is an EXTREMELY VINDICTIVE party!

        Look at UKIP requirements for joining the UKIP! British Freedom Party (which no longer exists), and the English Defence League are intensely HATED by the UKIP! Apparently, being deeply patriotic and wanting to protect the British people and deal with the terrifying problems of totalitarian, MURDEROUS Islam makes you UNACCEPTABLE to the UKIP and bars you from becoming a member of UKIP:

        http://www.ukip.org/helpukip
        Membership is not available to anyone who is or has previously been a member of the British National Party, National Front, British Freedom Party, British People’s Party, English Defence League, Britain First or
        the UK First Party. Any applications made from people who are or have been members of these organisations will be refused, and any subscriptions collected will be refunded.

        By applying for membership you certify that you are not and have never been a member of either of these parties. http://www.ukip.org/helpukip

  • Fritz

    Regardless of whether the man on the street takes a Prague Spring style stand against the E.U or not the E.U is finished, in another decade or so it will join the USSR on the ash heap of history. The reality of the situation is this, it doesn't matter how much the Eurocrats centrally control. or regulate, or consolidate power, the laws of economics don't cease to exist because they wish them to anymore then the tide would have stopped at mad king Knud's command. The level of productivity is dropping, the level of debt is increasing, and the money is running out.
    Margaret Thatcher was laid to rest last week, and while many criticize her governing style or her policies they tend to forget, or be ignorant, of why she was elected in the first place. It was due to four decades of decline under a welfare state columnating in the "Winter of Discontent" of 1978-79, with a never ending cycle of strikes, bankruptcies, power blackouts, and mountains of garbage piled in the streets. This is what awaits the E.U, and I'm not just speaking of the Southern countries but the Northern ones as well.
    As some have mentioned there is also the wave of Muslim migration into Western Europe, while this is becoming an ever more serious problem the economic collapse is even more imminent.

    • WilliamJamesWard

      European Nations have risen out of ashes for generations, they still have the genes to
      make a comeback but at what expense, free markets are the only means for success
      they have ever had, Communism is a foregone failure and with Islam in the mix,war
      is assured…………………………….William

  • Jim

    The fruits of the manic mind is this Mega Monster which is slowly sinking in to the quick sand.

    Thatcher warned about the common currency but the Conservative Party went a head an way.

    Even Germany,the last man standing, is just beginning to go under.

  • Ellman

    "At the heart of the EU sales pitch, indeed, is the claim that the EU is the quintessence of civilization – the final destination of humanity’s long evolutionary journey from barbarism, competition, and war."

    Wasn't this already attempted by the Romans in the Roman Empire? They conquered 'barbarism' until barbarism conquered the empire or the empire destroyed itself. What makes EU technocrats so confident they will succeed where their betters in Rome did not?

  • Ellman

    "We can only hope that Europeans somehow manage to find their voices, reclaim their countries, and restore their liberties – and, failing that, that Americans will at least learn from Europe’s foolish mistakes and step back from their own precipice before it’s too late."

    The certain manifestation of a desperate person or nation engulfed in a sick society and culture is that their welfare and salvation are based on HOPE almost exclusively. But hope will not change their fate because the forces driving them to oblivion offer no hope and no change. We can hope or we can act. We can be victims or heroes.

  • ross1948

    The European Surperstate is already here, with the same rogue ideologists using courts, as in the USA, to circumventt any lingering hopes among its subject states when they fondly imagine they can seek to defend their citizens. The European Convention on Human Rights existed before the EUSSR, but is expressly enshrined in the latter's membership rules. It's court, the ECHR, has become a jackboot used against sovereignty. http://rossrightangle.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/ca
    But this may well be the spark that ignites British patriotism to revolt.
    Wait and see!