2 January 2017

The European Union is heading for the dustbin of history


Over the Christmas week, CapX is republishing its favourite pieces from the past year. You can find the full list here.

History seldom repeats itself, but it often moves elliptically, creating situations strongly analogous to past experiences. Today we are witnessing such a moment. The impotent and obsolescent European Union is going through death throes strikingly similar to the last years of the Soviet Union.

The USSR withered from the periphery inwards. So it is with the EU: eastern Europe is increasingly repudiating the authority of Brussels and following a saner path. Hungary and Poland were the two most mutinous satellites of the Soviet Union and today they are playing the same role in shrugging off the impositions of Brussels that they formerly fulfilled against Moscow.

Neither Poland nor Hungary proposes to hold a referendum on EU membership: they don’t have to, their governments have been mandated with large majorities by their electorates to assert the national interest and will. The migration crisis was the trigger, but it would have happened anyway when proud nations with ancient cultural heritages found themselves being dictated to by cultural Marxists with an anti-national, anti-Christian agenda.

In the inverted vocabulary of Brussels, representing and implementing the wishes of an overwhelming majority of the population, e.g. by counteracting the imbalance of a constitutional court rigged by pro-EU predecessor regimes and stopping judicial activism exercising a veto over the democratic parliamentary will, is termed “populism”. It used to be called democracy. Genuinely representing an electorate is described as “illiberal”, while imposing the prejudices of Brussels apparatchiks is “liberal”, in EU Newspeak. Brussels and Berlin professed concern about media freedom in Poland, while the German media concealed the Cologne sex attacks.

Poland and Hungary are no longer members of the EU project in any realistic sense, and the Czech Republic and Slovakia are not far behind them. Just as the last days of the Soviet Union were larded with much Gorbieguff about “perestroika” and “glasnost”, the failing EU’s apologists are prating about “European values” and “closer integration” to a non-existent audience.

The underlying weakness of the Soviet Union, after nationalist tensions, was the command economy, which could not sustain the needs of the USSR. The EU is being destroyed by a command currency, the doomed euro that is blighting the prosperity of member states as its deluded sponsors lose the struggle to push water uphill. Greece remains the basket case it always was, Portugal and Italy await their day in court, which cannot be postponed indefinitely.

What kind of a union is it that cannot, or will not, defend its borders, that wrings its hands while a new migrant enters Europe every 30 seconds? Within weeks that figure will quadruple. No geographical entity on earth could stand the strain of such an invasion. EU rhetoric is so prolific as to menace the ozone layer; but nobody does anything.

The Soviet Union lasted 69 years. The EU is 59 years old, wasted and sclerotic. Its time has passed. Just as we have been accustomed for a quarter of a century to refer to the Soviet Union in the past tense, we should prepare to employ the terminology “the former European Union”. It is simply unsustainable.

But it is not just the Brussels apparatchiks who will be the victims of EU collapse. The entire political class and its complicit satellites in media and finance are losing credibility fast. The talking heads, the suits, with their jargon, their shared assumptions and their contempt for the mug punters who comprise the electorate are an unfrocked priesthood. They exposed their impotence in the financial crash and are doing so again in the face of the migratory crisis. Nobody heeds them any more. Angela Merkel is an iconic exemplar of this Naked Emperor Syndrome.

There is a new Europe dawning and the first intimations of seismic change are coming not from Brussels but from Warsaw and Budapest. In the accelerating climate of EU disintegration the British referendum is almost academic. The former European Union is fast following the Soviet Union into the dustbin of history.

Gerald Warner is a political commentator. This article was originally published in January 2016.