December 05, 2005

Europe: on building a Demos

MatGB of Great Britain, not little England is posting about building an EU Demos using as one of his examples
"300 years ago, do we really think that Scots and English felt a common enough kinship to think of themselves first as 'British'? No"
But 300 years on significant numbers still don't think of themselves first as British. The second largest party in the Scottish Parliament campaigns for independence for Scotland. This is despite sharing a common language, as the first language, and the financial disincentives of independence.

Scottish independence is not an isolated case, Ireland was conquered by Elizabeth I at the Siege of Kinsale in 1602, 403 years ago. And yet 22% of the population want independence in the only part that has not yet become independent.

The Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia turned into the Velvet Divorce soon afterwards, with the people most in favour being the Slovaks again against their simple financial interests as
the Czech Republic's GDP was some 20% percent higher than Slovakia's
After a transition period of roughly four years, during which the relations between the states could be characterised as a "post-divorce trauma", the present relations between Czechs and Slovaks, as many people point out, are probably better than they have ever been.
No movement to re-unite Czechoslovakia has appeared and no political party advocates it in its programme. Political influences between the countries are minimal. Trade relationships were re-established and stabilized. After a short interruption, Slovakia's mountains are again the target of a growing number of Czech tourists.

That was a painless example, unlike close by Yugoslavia which disintegrated via a bloody civil war along the lines of the countries that it was formed from 50 years before as soon as the binding force of authoritarian Communist rule loosened.

The best historical model for what the EU wants to be is probably Austro-Hungarian Empire which saw repeated political turmoil every ten years as it renegotiated it's existence and only lasted 50 years before breaking up as a result of being on the loosing side of World War 1. It never developed a unifying Demos.

There are many more examples like these even the United States of America descended into civil war despite a the majority sharing a language, religion, history and heritage. The states that are being merged into a single nation by the EU do not have the advantage of sharing these. The current glorious diversity of European cultures presents a stumbling block for creating a single one to replace them.

Creating a single unifying culture is hard. Sometimes it takes a very long time, sometimes it simply doesn't happen. This is not helped by the contempt shown by the Eurocrats for the existing demoses when they democratically try to oppose EU integration, such as the Irish Referendum on the Nice treaty, or the Danish on Maastricht both of which where called again when the 'wrong' answer was produced.

The EU is a polity formed with the aim of replacing the current ones. This is why it needs a Demos in the first place. Without one democracy will be hard as people will simply tend to vote en bloc for candidates that belong to the same Demos as themselves, replacing the open market of policies that characterises a successful democracy with a static oligarchy based on population levels.

But why do the the current political institutions need to be replaced anyway? They have flaws, all human creations have flaws, but by almost any measurement that you care to take the EU is currently more flawed than what it seeks to replace. Why is it that replacing structures with flaws with a structure with more and deeper flaws seen as a good thing? If it ain't broke don't fix it, and certainly don't try to fix it by replacing it with something that is broke.


Blogger MatGB said...

Evening. I've put a quick link up, and, well, sorry for not getting here earlier. Disagree, fundamentally, with most of your opinions, but I like debating stuff with people I disagree with.

There's a question at the bottom of that post; matbowles [at] gmail [dot] com if you're interested.

Oh, I've been thinking of setting up a generic Torbay blog, torbay.blogspot is gone to someone who's never used it, but it could be fun, and might inspire to start getting back involved in the town a bit. Interested?

10:50 pm  
Blogger chris said...

Only by finding someone that you disagree with can you sharpen your arguments, so I await your response. I'd also be interested in contributing to a Torbay Blog should you set one up.

11:01 am  

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