My posting with the above title first appeared on the Samizdata.net web site on Sunday 9th February 2003. It may be read as it then appeared from this link.
The moderately long posting concluded with the following plea:
I appeal directly to the Chairman of the convention, who, probably co-incidentally, incorporated my earlier minimum requirement in his initial constitutional draft, to read Popper’s excellent book and consider its implications. To achieve lasting renown, requires a bold step in favour of democratic fundamentals which will be strongly resisted by the various Brussels and National elites! Courage mon brave!
Should Europe’s new institutions be directly controlled by ‘the majority’ using the new tools available from the revolution in information technology?
Why is the major topic of discussion in the Convention, not about how the people of Europe may periodically remove their leaders and avoid the new organisations such as the ERRF and Europol becoming the instruments of a despot?
Are, perhaps, the tyrants already in control?
These are the questions that need to be addressed. Using Popper’s labels of societies, they can be democracies or tyrannies, if the EU is to take on the full characteristics of a State, as the majority in Europe seem to believe is desirable, test whether this statement is true with a pan-European referendum. If the answer is Yes!, then build a Democracy for which all should wish, and of which they can be proud.
If No!, then at least the convention and its Chairman will not have lent their name, to the creation of perhaps the largest tyranny the world has yet to see!
Against whom will the name of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing be set in history… Pericles or Plato?… and for the creation of what kind of European Union, one of democracy and freedom or Popper’s only alternative…?
The entire posting had been prepared for and submitted to the EU Future of Europe discussions forums, to which around the turn of the century, I had been a regular contributor, even exchanging directly with Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, on the only occasion that I know of, when he held a public exchange on that Futurum Forum!
That crucial posting was rejected for publication by the EU moderator, one ominous signal that the die had been cast, and the response to the posts crucial question"Are, perhaps, the tyrants already in control?" was not already answered in the affirmative but had been already been accepted and put into effect across the entire EU organisation, as must have certainly been obvious to the EU appointed moderator of the Forum, which had been supposedly set up for the future EU citizens to discuss their concerns over the methods of their governance!
I realised very quickly, that one posting on Samizdata, would not add anything to the long term debate and therefore by the end of that same month – February 2003 – had started my own blog
"Ironies" to continually and regularly push the same case.
On Sunday 23rd February 2003, I had grasped the essentials of blogging sufficiently well to post "Democracy or Pan-European Totalitarianism" on my own blog. A link is here.
Today due to the slow loading of the archives of Ironies old postings, I am presently preparing them on a monthly pdf file basis, which will be available free on line. The first month of posts for February 2003, should be linked here later today. An even more significant post from that same month, I posted on the Orphans of Liberty website earlier this month, that too seems now worth quoting here:
Parliamentary Democracy Unsuitable for Europe
The article in the 25th February edition of the Financial Times to which the link above refers, concludes as follows:-
A popular compromise is for the Commission president to be elected by the European parliament. But this would be a first step towards a parliamentary form of government and, once in place, it would preclude evolution towards a presidential system.
In the short term it would be better to have the Commission president elected by an electoral college. Member states would then be free to choose how to appoint members to the college, whether by direct election or appointment by their parliaments. Over time, this arrangement could evolve into a fully fledged presidential system, as it did in the US in the first half of the 19th century.
The writers are professors of economics at Bocconi University in Milan and at the Graduate Institute for International Studies in Geneva and are research fellows of the Centre for Economic Policy Research
The early portion of the column casually discounts parliamentary democracy as being inappropriate for the EU.
Europe’s intellectuals continue their determined assault on the Continent’s democratic traditions and the drive towards tyranny continues apace.
Remember this quote from Professor Bertrand Badie’s paper entitled "The Nation State One Player Among Many"
"The advent of citizenship has conferred on the national political community the status of a community with voting rights. In the context of the 19th century, and in the major part of the 20th, this was necessary for forging and perfecting democracy. There is no choice today but to admit that national political communities have fewer and fewer voting rights because the major decisions are no longer taken by the national political communities. Some of them are taken by the European Union, or even at world level……..The national level will remain the citizen’s level, but his freedom of debate will become totally illusory."
Note, we are not just to lose our right to vote, but also the freedom to debate.
When will some of these poltical theorists explain why democracy, parliamentary or otherwise, is unsuitable for Europe. My very ability to type this page, which instantaneously becomes available to be read by every internet connected citizen across the globe, let alone just within the existing or proposed EU, makes that position a nonsense. From here, within minutes I can register a vote on countless different websites expressing my opinion on pretty much every subject under the sun. The technology exists all we lack is the will!
posted by Martin at 2/27/2003 05:07:00 PM
In February 2003, it must therefore be clear, democracy as a tool for use by the EU had been already rejected by the powers that be. Valéry Giscard d’Estaing was not acting alone, but as one leader of the new self-perpetuating EU elite! The same men and women who have now brought the EU to this moment of existential crisis!
My delight last evening when I saw the article in a popular magazine from the EU’s most popluace, wealthy and influential nation state can therefore be well imagined, by all regular readers of my blogs.
I will post later today and this weekend, on the difficulties I now foresee and the best way forward that I can discern, given our truly dreadful starting point.
If my calls for direct democracy within the EU are to be now no longer completely ignored, careful thought and consideration before making further posts is now essential! The answers of course have all been provided time and again in the archives of both Ironies Too and Ironies.
This post first appeared on Ironies Too 2àth August, following an article in Der Spiegel, linked from my blog, calling for democracy across the EU and a pan-European Referendum!