For almost 25 years, the European Union has been a model of democracy, free trade, and fraternity between nations. Or, to put it another way, the EU has been a feeding trough for plutocrats and the worst kind of cronies to ever besmirch the good name of crony capitalism. It’s a contentious issue, and while of course there are good and bad things about the union, it’s a dead duck. Here’s why.
Let’s begin with the hot topic du jour. Brexit isn’t just fragmenting the EU, which most British people didn’t feel part of anyway—it has put splinters in the fabric of British society itself. If you voted to leave, rest assured you are probably a racist. If you voted to remain, you are a pawn of the elites.
Even before the negotiations have begun, politicians across the continent are treating the topic with all the respect and gravitas of a pack of terriers encountering roadkill. Whatever goes down with old Blighty, it is fair to say that the knock on effect is going to be huge. Now that the precedent has been set, Euro-skeptic nationalist movements across the EU have been emboldened and are making hay on the idea of independence from Brussels. Even if the Brits make a mess of it, the first domino has fallen. Hold on tight.
9The Failure Of European Neoliberalism
The average European has seen a decline in their wealth of 5 percent over the last 10 years while seeing their counterparts in Canada (50 percent growth) and Australia (100 percent growth) grow through the metaphorical roof. Politically, the people have been given the finger by a string of governments both at a federal and national level as taxes rise, yet public services decline.
In the countries where conservatives are in power, the poor are demonized and oppressed, while in more socialist countries the middle classes are squeezed with high taxes. 30 percent of young Europeans are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Joblessness is rife, and there appears no recourse for young Europeans at the ballot box. So dire is the situation that an EU-sponsored survey found that more than half of young people (18–34) would actively participate in large-scale uprising against the generation in power. The sample was over half a million people. We can see from these results that the EU project is not working out for many millions more. But why?
Mass immigration has been a cornerstone of EU policy for a long time. Singing from the UN’s hymn sheet, the response to the troubling problem of a society that doesn’t breed as much as it used to (and gosh darn it, simply doesn’t die off quick enough) has been to import large numbers of migrant workers. Not a bad idea on paper when you just have to balance the financial books, but apparently for many people, the knock on effect of increased competition for work, artificially stagnated wages, and lack of integration is a problem.
Meanwhile, the population of Africa is exploding. As we’ve already seen, the relative wealth and permissive societies of Europe are attractive to migrants from the Global South. Now, there are those who will suggest that this is somehow just deserts for the historical exploitation of the colonialist powers, but this perspective is sophomoric in its vindictive nature. The European Union, in any case, will be beset by an immigration problem that will not be stymied by politically correct rhetoric, and may well be met with draconian politics from the new Right.
As we have learned from the Brexit debate, those people are undoubtedly racist and should be bullied for wrongthink. Except . . .
7Bullying People For Wrongthink Doesn’t Work Anymore
For several decades now, Europe has been moving along the path of what is called equality. While there is, of course, no doubt that no one should be discriminated against for their sexual orientation or race or any other arbitrary characteristic over that they have no control, the topic in the current year is politicized like never before. To oppose the political exploitation of equality, even against one’s own interest, is wrongthink.
The problem for the political left who have been the arch proponents of this tactic is that many people have no more patience for such behavior, as witnessed by the rise of right-wing, europskeptic parties in the UK, Poland, France, the Netherlands and many other EU nations.
It is this little-understood truth that has contributed to the election of Donald Trump in the United States. When nations operate under democracy, we cannot expect the populace to fall in line through politically expedient altruism alone. Identity politics are finished as a method of control, and the left is reaping the whirlwind.
The ballots had barely been counted for the Brexit referendum before Germany and Britain were yelling at each other about who could be the best friend to big business. On one hand, Britain is in quite a good position to do whatever she likes with the whole leaving the EU thing. On the other, Germany is an economic powerhouse too, thanks very much, but maybe Fritz doesn’t want to annoy Tommy too much, as the Brits might stiff the Germans with a big unpaid tax bill and sail away leaving the EU credit rating in ruins.
But then there are at least a few hundred other checks and balances to iron out as we slowly come to realize ultimately the whole palaver looks less like a negotiation between elected governments and more like an overly complicated game of dares to see who can impress Big Business and her alluringly ginormous sexual appetite. And you know what that means . . .
Hey kids of Europe, remember how for the last 15 years you’ve been out of work? Guess what! You’re still screwed.
If you have a degree, your chances of finding work have gotten worse in the last 15 years. We were shoveled into degrees we didn’t care about to learn skills that weren’t needed and to massage unemployment figures that didn’t represent reality. No wonder the Greeks are revolting.
Not like that, you racist. We mean that 67 percent of young people are willing to overthrow the government in Greece. That kind of revolting.
4Islamic Terrorism And The Far Right
It’s not nice to confront this issue. The refusal of Liberals to engage with The Religion of Peace’s European Tour contributed to this whole Marine Le Pen problem. France is a pretty good example. In the French Presidential Elections, we have a centrist Tony Blair clone in Macron who doesn’t seem to stand for anything in particular and would like to simply move migrants off his land. He’s going up against a Le Pen. Marine’s father, Jean-Marie, was quite the nutter by all accounts, and while Marine has remodeled and reconditioned her party she remains a nationalist—not traditionally a popular position in France.
Under normal circumstances, we would expect to see a decent showing in the French elections by the socialists. These are not normal circumstances. Hamon and Melenchon were drubbed because their base, traditionally the working classes, has swung away to the right after more than 200 deaths at the hands of Islamic terrorists in two years. In these times, failure to address the problem of Islamic terrorism in Europe hands the initiative to the politicians who understand the public mood: The Far Right. There now is a decent chance that Le Pen will take the presidency, and the left only has themselves to blame. As more terrorism occurs, the political winds will blow all the stronger in favor of Populist Nationalism.
3The Currency Is A Dead Weight And The Union Is The Sick Man Of The Global Economy
A few years back, when Greece flipped the tables and went into complete meltdown, the new government was elected on a mandate of sticking it to the European Central Bank. They failed utterly, were brought to heel, and lumbered with such an insurmountable debt it looks like even now, seven years later, that the only way Greece will be in the black is if the entire Union collapses.
Fortunately for fans of apocalyptic doomsday scenarios, that might just happen. The Euro itself, spread over so many different economies and yet intrinsically linked has led to a bizarre shackling of both strong and weak nations. Tied together by an artificial monetary standard, Germany is in the same leaky boat as Greece, Portugal, and Ireland. Meanwhile, the Tiger Economies of the Far East leave Europe choking on red tape, far behind and off the pace.
2The Mission Of The EU Has Been Completed
The entire point of the European Union (and the various trading agreements that preceded it) was to see if there was some manner in which the French and the Germans could be persuaded to stop killing each other for a while.
It was a roaring success. In the grand scheme of things, the Nobel Prize for Peace might be a small reward. The Gauls and the Germans have been successfully murdering and pillaging since before the time of Jesus, if Julius Caesar is to be believed.
We also mustn’t forget that for the latter half of the 20th century, the French and Germans had to get along or else the Commies in Moscow would just ruin everything and no one would have any iPads today. So that’s good.
Nowadays there are no enemy at the gates in the form of an enemy state, and the lack of competition between these two European powerhouses has been to the detriment of both. Surely we can avoid another Franco-Prussian armed conflict without the EU.
1The EU Is Anti-Democratic
Many European countries are relative newcomers to this whole democracy thing. As the empires of Europe ebbed and flowed through the 19th century, jolly old Britain was off making a bloody mess of half the planet. What this means for Europe though is that it is only since the fall of the Third Reich and other Fascist regimes at the end of World War II that much of Western Europe got into modern democratic systems.
Germany, and to a lesser extent France, make up the de facto leadership of the EU. Owing to the history of the last century, it is an uncomfortable position to be in. The Teutonic efficiency yearns to be let loose to tidy up those slacker, sunshine-drenched neighbors to the south, but leadership for the German is forever tainted. Instead, the EU is the arch-conservative. Regulate everything, and hope no one asks you what to do next.
Ash is an English writer, living on Ibiza. He works in digital marketing and creates content for cash or signed pictures of Kathleen Turner. You can hire him at ashsharp.wordpress.com