Synchronistic, rather than ironic, was the fact that having spent much of yesterday discussing Pluralism with my wife she was about to come across the term in her nightime reading of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. The explanatory notes to the book gave further explanation of the word as quoted below:-
William Cobbett in his Rural Rides criticises the practise and says "A journey-man parson comes and works in three or four churches of a Sunday: but the master parson is not there: he generally carries away the procedure to spend it in London, at Bath, or somewhere else, to show off his daughters"
How appropriate to the EU that the main value the new society into which we are to be compelled to live has a corrupt practise as its guiding principle.
The Document published yesterday is an absolute horror. Its turgid text and uninspiring concepts all too typical of the ghastliness of the organisation it is in the process of restrengthening, reinforcing and imposing on the increasingly supine peoples of Europe.
A quick review of its terms highlight the following glaring problems:-
Article I-I: Establishment of the Union
Paragrah 1. Namely the first few words of the document state"Reflecting the will of the citizens and States of Europe to build a common future this Constitution etc.etc".
Immediately a Huge problem for Peter Hain Britain's Cabinet Convention Member and Tony Blair.........How can either of them possibly continue to argue against a British referendum if in the final draft these words are included? How will it be possible for them to suggest they be removed? The only way that any pretence of a reflection of the will of the people separate from that of the 'State' can be assessed is by a Referendum. The British people have never expressed their consent to "an ever closer union with the other countires of Europe" nor indeed are they likely to give approval in a referendum for that term's replacement by "a will to build a common future".
Article I-2: The Union's values
The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. These values are common to the Member States in a society of pluralism, tolerance, justice, equality, solidarity and non-discrimination.
Thus the first objective for the society of which we are to be coerced to be a part, after months of lengthy negotiations and secrecy has been decided as PLURALISM
What does that mean? Is it the same meaning in English as say for example the French version 'le pluralisme'?
Collins English Dictionary Second Edition 1989 Reprint, provides five definitions of this word:-
1. the holding by a single person of more than one ecclesiastical benefice or office.Surely not relevant?
2.Sociol. a theory of society as several autonomous but interdependent groups having equal power.
3. the existence in a society of groups having distinctive ethnic origins, cultural reforms, religions etc.
4. a theory that views the power of employees as being balanced by the power of trade unions in industrial relations such that the interests of both sides can be catered for.
5.Philosophy a. the metaphysical doctrine that reality consists of more than two basic types of substance. Compare monism (sense 1) dualism (sense2. b. the metaphysical doctrine that reality consists of independent entities rather than one unchanging whole. Compare monism (sense 1) absolutism (sense 2).
Which of the above meanings are the Convention intending being the guiding force for the society they are endeavouring to form and if it is any of the above Why haven't they spelt it out in clear words in all the necessary languages? The answer as usual is almost certainly that they are deliberately intending to confuse.
As discussed back on 23rd February on this Blogspot Democracy or Pan European Totalitarianism the French tendency towards elitiste government structures and their heavy influence in the Convention could lead to a conclusion that none of the straightforward, connotation free, dictionary definitions of pluralism are to be applicable in the Constitution.
In politics pluralism can be taken as the view that power in modern LIBERAL DEMOCRACIES is, and should be, held not only by government but by a diversity of autonomous institutions and associsations representing various interests. (Definition from 'The dictionary of important ideas and thinkers' by Chris Rohman).
Naturally enough all the so-called worthies who attended the various convention meetings or praesidium sessions would have been aware of that fact, but what of the ordinary citizen with limited research resources? How are we to understand exactly what is supposedly being done in our names.
Pluralism as defined above is supposed to provide a harmonious balance between collectivism and individualism but critics, in my view correctly, charge that it is an unrealisable ideal because of the inherent power of the State which of course the new EU will inevitably extend. Interestingly it all leads back to Plato, Popper and more relevantly in this context the elite theory and Robert Michel's iron law of oligarchy whereby control of any political organisation will unavoidably devolve to a small group because of factors such as the need for efficient action, the leader's love of power, and the apathy of the followers.
The democratic checks and balances that might serve to prevent such a situation occurring are of course completely absent from the proposed constitutional proposals, thus making pluralism the main objective of the new United Staes of Europe even more astounding.
Further thoughts on these matters will of course be blogged as time allows. Those interested in further discussion are recommended to the Samizdata post by Perry de Havilland made last Sunday, in which Peter Hain's confused thought processes are ruthlessly exposed see Libertarian Socialism
After two weeks of travel in France where internet connections are as rare as warm beer, I return to find the Daily Telegraph Leader 'Fight for a Referendum' today throwing its weight behind the call for a referendum on the EU Convention outcome. Steven Den Beste USS Clueless today also gives an outsider's view of Britain's wierd constituitional arrangements and the momentous decisions the country now faces.
The link provided to the John Major cover article in this week's The Spectator adds weight to the unanswerable case for the people to be involved in any decision. Major was interviewed on the same subject on Radio Four and for once sounded absolutely firm on a point of principal involving the EU, even sounding close to convincing when trying to justify his own avoidance of a referendum on the Maastricht Treaty.
While in the small Charante village of Aubeterre last week, I sat beneath a staute and plaque to the French founder of the League of Human Rights and discussed this fallacy with its attendant impossible contradictions that the system of English Common Law Rights so cleverly avoids.
Can the attendant disadvantages highlighted in today's USS Clueless Blog now mean that the British should join the rest of the world in the pretence that some can legislate the impossible and enforce the unachievable? Maybe so, but let it be a British Constitution with the powers vested solely in the Westminster Parliament, while devolved as only that body may deem fit!
Some excellent coverage on the Euro problem in today's Sunday Telegraph. One article on a cabinet member challenging Brown's five tests contains this interesting snippet:-
Last week, Mr Blair privately told Lord Marshall of Knightsbridge, the chairman of the pro-euro campaign group Britain in Europe, that he should not close down the organisation.
Officials of the group went to Number 10 last week to warn the Prime Minister that they would be forced to go into liquidation if the Chancellor's statement was too negative and deterred potential donors. Britain in Europe had a deficit of £55,520 last year and a salary bill of £604,465.
One official of the organisation said: "We have a real dilemma. We have got this huge office building with 250 staff and we have to sign a new lease shortly. We will have to fold unless there is an early referendum."
Finally some better prospects for the inner core of Europe! I have seen a glimmer of longer term hope for the economies of the Eurozone.
A report in The Lancet having studied the death rates from SARS in Hong Kong has established a mortality rate of 50 to 55 per cent for the over sixties but below 15 per cent for younger sufferers.
Finally a solution for the demographic time bomb!
From a personal viewpoint being closer to the high risk category, at last a small glimmer of hope for an early release from the growing nightmare that is today's European Union. If, on the other hand, one avoids infection or chances to be among the 45 per cent who survive, I will at least have the consolation of knowing that some of the old fools who now govern us will be removed from the scene to spare us yet more of their damaging dabblings.
An eighty year-old Tony Blair finally relieving the centenarian VGD'E at some future convention seemed an increasingly nightmarish possibility.
Don't get too concerned about the above headline from today's EU Observer.com. Its only the six months EU Presidency we are talking about.
As an accompanying article so aptly says, 'how comical' EU Observer
Italy may well struggle to push through any of its justice and home affairs proposals during its presidency if an embarassing corruption trial casts a shadow over its six month presidency, due to start in July.
The timing of a corruption case against Italy's Premier Silvio Berlusconi could not be more comical, as recently Italian Justice Minister Roberto Castelli said that the rights of the accused in criminal proceedings will be a "priority" of the Italian Presidency.
Six months name calling between the President of the Commission and the President of the EU as to which is the most corrupt, and who benefitted more from certain Italian privatisations seems totally fitting for an organisation such as today's European Union.
Will it affect public support? Probably not one jot, what are the people of Europe thinking of? Can Tony Blair be seriously proposing we ever join the Euro, accepting the currency and economic constraints of this clearly doomed conglomeration of disparate nations?
Strangely enough the answer would seem to be Yes. Blair and Jaques Chirac are now apparently back on 'tu' terms and the six bottles of expensive bordeaux wine sent by Chiarac as a Birthday Gift were reportedly received by Blair with a wide grin. Looks like we'll be dumping NATO after all!
German Defence Minister Peter Struck says he was surprised to learn that Poland wanted Germany to contribute troops to a stabilisation force in Iraq. Struck heard about Poland's plans while he was in Washington for a meeting with U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Monday. Polish Defence Minister Jerzy Smajdzinski told the "Washington Times" that he wants German and Danish troops to help patrol the sector of Iraq that Polish soldiers are to control. Struck said Berlin had not been consulted about the idea. After arriving back in the German capital from Washington, Struck also said that his meeting with Rumsfeld had gone well, and that relations between the two countries were returning to normal. Ties between Washington and Berlin have been strained in recent months due to Germany's strict opposition to the war in Iraq.
For the chance to see Struck shaking hands with someone other than Superhero Donald Rumsfeld visit the link!
From Irony to Absurdity. The following appears in an article in the British Newspaper The Independent
Government lawyers trying to keep the Norfolk farmer Tony Martin behind bars will tell a High Court judge tomorrow that burglars are members of the public who must be protected from violent householders.
Those who read to the end will note that the state has been so successful in keeping Mr Martin behind bars that his release date at the end of July makes these hearings almost irrelevant to this particular householder:-
"The court will decide tomorrow whether to grant Martin a full review hearing. He is due for release at the end of July."
Couldn't resist posting this item I felt compelled to put on the Financial Times Forum debate "Will the stronger Euro hurt the Eurozone Recovery" (as if there had been one!) Another contributor had noted the Blair against Chirac Le Monde editorial I had posted below, so coming out in support seemed essential. The FT Monitor will probably remove it as off topic, so let's record it here:-
The post 6009219 of 8731
02 May 2003 09:28 PM
by Peter J has it exactly right with a for once perceptive editorial from Le Monde "Blair against Chirac" Link.
This quotation, from Peter' post, is the best statement of the nub of Britains problem that I have recently seen "Getting rid of Blair is going to be essential if British interests are to be truly represented and not compromised and ‘consensualised’ behind closed doors by Blair and his truth twisting cronies".
Blair's stubborn certainty which was such an asset during the disagreements with his so called EU partners over Iraq could when applied to the 'European Dream' he clearly still fosters, be the death knell of our nation.
Interesting report today, that Iraq is to be divided into three military zones under the control of the US, Britain and Poland. Shame we will be the only ones with inferior jointly produced European aircraft to patrol our zone.(Australia's Howard got to get a trip on Air Force One en route to Craw-(eat it Jaques)ford Texas.
Any new reports on the engines for the A400M? Will the next to be cancelled German planes be planned to have the grossly expensive European engines or the much cheaper US models whose cancellation might incur penalty payments. What will the new four country European Defence group do with their headquarters if their only anticipated hardware is cancelled.How long before Portugal goes from 3 to 2 or zero?
The Chirac and Schroeder Laugh In, could be a replacement for those culturally unacceptable American soaps! Starring Euro Shorn as stand-in for Goldie (sorry that was sold at the bootom of the market) Have a fun weekend.
To instill some balance, so that any reader who might by chance stumble upon these pages, will be disabused of any idea that I have some pet aversion solely to matters French, here is a classic piece of the wildest stupidity from Deutsche Welle announcing that Joshka Fischer is to be the first EU Foreign Policy Supremo, and that before the post has even been created. That won't stop rumoured ex-terrorist supporter and left wing activist Fischer revelling in every moment of it from the looks of the photograph in the link.
Are we seriously supposed to take the EU seriously?
Today's Editorial in Le Monde discusses the different world view of Chirac and Blair. Blair seeing a world in which the Europeans compliment the American superpower and Chirac pushing for a multi-polar worlds with Europe "opposed" to America, other balancing powers mentioned by Chirac - China, India, South America but curiously not Russia - are they to be considered part of Europe the paper wonders or are they considered just too weak to be included. Curiouser and curiouser. Blairs view of this is presently not in doubt, he considers Chirac's ideas as dangerous, but let's not forget that in the past he has encouraged such thoughts - particularly at the St Malo meeting when the ERDF was launched!
Tony Blair's Keynote Cardiff Speech on Europe 28th November 2002
The above was an extremely significant landmark speech, notable not least for the fact that it was made outside of Parliament in a provincial capital. It was difficult to access in full even immediately after it was presented by the Prime Minister. Now several months later I could only trace it after much searching on Google at the British Embassy site from Berlin. I have therefore put a link here so that for the moment I can continue to use it as a reference source. As Blair's view of Europe has changed following the disagreements over Iraq I anticipate the speech might become practically invisible as the months go by. This would be a great shame as it is very well thought through and is in fact remarkably prescient in light of subsequent events.
The killer passage and most significant portion, other than the clear aim of the PM in throwing his hat into the ring for the job of first European President, is this portion I quote below :-
The basic ideology should be described in this way. Europe is the voluntary coming together of sovereign nations. Their will is to combine together in the institutions of Europe in order to further their common interests. In so far as it is necessary to achieve these interests, they therefore pool their sovereignty in Europe. There is no arbitrary or fixed limit as to what they do collectively; but whether they do it depends on their decision as a group of nations. So whilst the origin of European power is the will of sovereign nations, European power nonetheless exists and has its own authority and capability to act.
The negation of any democracy comes at the end, the sting in the tail as it were:-
It should be democratic; greater integration, rooted in the freely given decisions of the nations that make up Europe; with greater openness and transparency of decision-making; greater participation and interaction of National Parliaments; greater connection between the European Parliament and the decisions of Europe; and with the independence of the Commission guaranteeing that the interests of smaller nations do not weigh any less than the large.
None of the items listed of course, do anything to give the people the power to periodically remove from power those who rule them, which is the only thing that democracy is really about!