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Larssen
Member
+45|646

Uziq wrote:

i was pro-remain because i am pro-european. i have been educated that way, i am cosmopolitan, outlooking. i did part of a postgraduate degree on french literature. i have great affection for europe. but europe is not the EU and too many remainers, the most stalwart and emotional among them, couldn't seem to separate the two. separation from the EU, it turns out, isn't a rejection of european culture tout court.

reading the neoliberal triumphalism and 'that's progress, folks' rhetoric from technocratic eggheads such as yourself has given me a new view on the EU bureaucracy. it seems parasitical and befuddled by its own orthodoxies. i don't see any original thinking or creative solutions in the EU. we are going through a TV re-run of the economic crisis and you have the same broken solutions again which have caused the continent to spiral into right-wing populism.

i used to believe, broadly, that blocs were A Good Thing. that bargaining power needs to be scaled up to compete with the superpowers on the world stage. like you, i believed that sacrificing local autonomy and throwing farmers, workers, etc. into the gyre of a global system was the price to pay for entry into this world order. now i don't really care and think it's immaterial, either way. neither the US nor china are 'friends of the EU', the trading bloc will always come a dismal third at the global table; and in the meanwhile, individual states could probably find better ways to survive on the scraps from the table.

the EU is just as full of its own bluster as any nationalist movement. i am depressed by the brexiteers. they do not seem to be engaged with reality, burying themselves away in ww2-era kitsch. but i don't think the pan-european smooth-talkers are really reckoning with reality, either. the simple fact of the matter is, without merkel and rapidly approaching another widespread economic recession (if not a disaster-depression), the EU will be thrown into the doldrums. the post-merkel EU is not at all necessarily going to be the beacon of hope, economic prudence, and cool rationality that it has preferred to present itself as up to now. good luck selling those tough fiscal packages to the south when the people selling them are no longer united behind merkel-macron, and instead look like a bickering bunch of nationalists themselves.

the people with the most collective will to see the EU succeed are the formerly marginal and newer states with the least to contribute and the most to gain from it. the dutch and danes are fairly sick of it. large portions of germany are fairly sick of it. france has been in a state of nonstop social unrest and protest for years, mostly directed at macron the neolib-EU poster boy. the UK, mortal enemies as we now are, was a huge part of its lifeblood. we're gone and we're not going to pay the tab. the EU's leadership and will are evaporating.

tough times are ahead.

and remind me what the EU did for italy and spain when they were the early forerunners in the epidemic, again? there was almost zero collective will to do anything. about a pandemic. on their own doorstep. the response was so shabby and piss-poor that the EU offered an official apology to italy for leaving it on its own to struggle with a collapsing health system. so much for all that bonhomie, eh? is the EU's only form of 'crisis response' getting the rich northern banks to reluctantly loan money to devastated states long after the fact? no thanks.
I'll reply on this drawing from my own experiences. I probably have had more frustrations with the EU than anyone here or anyone you know, particularly considering my field is crisis management and defence. The CSDP was created in 1999 and 21 years later we are nowhere close to anything even remotely resembling 'strategic autonomy'. You see initiatives come and go and inevitably fail again and again, only adding to the complexity of the whole environment with every new leader believing he or she needs to reinvent the wheel or just in an attempt to try and do things differently. Meanwhile not a single goal has been achieved beyond bloating the bureaucracy and it's been 21 years.

Having said so, the inaction and inability to organise has directly contributed to growing insecurity and political instability on the continent. In the middle east we failed in the face of the Iraq war, allowing the US and the UK to completely destroy that country through misguided interventionism and even worse strategy. All the resulting refugees did not come to the US - surrounding countries and the EU had to absorb this. In Afghanistan the US too was the driving force behind strategic decision making, and knowing the results it's a foregone conclusion that the Afghan government is set to fail again despite 19 years of war and sacrifice. The war created refugee streams towards the EU and more are certain to come. In Eastern Europe US aggression towards Russia allowed the Bush administration to install a missile defence shield in Poland (against Iran remember), after which the Russians started to develop new short-medium range nuclear missile launchers, undermining the INF treaty and leading to its expiration last year.

Then there was Libya. An intervention undertaken on the initiative of the UK and France, with US support, but in which it became clear that neither country or any EU nation had the means necessary to actually enforce the planned no fly zone. At first the whole thing almost failed because Germany refused to participate and grounded vital NATO AWACS systems because German military personnel manned them. When it finally commenced, the US 'leading from behind' brought over half of all military assets and fired over 90% of all cruise missiles to knock out air defences, the UK the other ~5% and everyone else 0. Within 4 weeks allied forces ran out of ammunition for bombing raids. Military airbases in Europe also didn't have enough air traffic controllers to manage the daily sorties, the US having to fly in extra personnel to help manage the situation. All that the intervention ultimately achieved was the destruction of the Ghadaffi regime, and as we know the country was plunged into chaos thereafter.

So now we get to more recent and probably better memorised instability and wars - the Arab Spring, Syria, ISIS, eastern Ukraine. Each of which had great impact on the security and political stability of the EU and in none of which it appeared possible to do much at all. In the south, failing regimes in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Somalia and everything in between is barely being contained. Explosive population growth, climate change and brewing conflicts are presenting a cocktail that will produce refugee streams so enormous anything experienced in 2014-2015 will pale in comparison. In the east Russian oligarchs are buying up most media in eastern European countries while the Russian government is engaged in daily cyberwarfare against most EU nations, also violating the physical sovereignty of neighbouring countries whenever it pleases.

The instability is not only producing refugee streams helping far right tendencies emerge within the continent, it is also of great impact to economic stability. For one because we depend on many of these countries for natural resources which we cannot trade / access if there's (trade) war, driving up international prices. Shipping lanes also move along their coastal areas, and in Somalia for example we're barely able to counteract piracy there. Flights have to be rerouted as it's unsafe to fly over certain countries, as we've seen in Ukraine. Beyond political stability and economy, the breakdown of trust in institutions like the UN and the inability of western actors to uphold the international law and agreements they created is contributing to more anarchy around the globe, destabilising our position of power, further affecting stability and economic prosperity.

All of these aforementioned problems are of impact to all European countries. Not just south, east or north. No country is able to address them on their own. Yet despite the EU not being able to act so far, it is principally for this reason that I remain pro-EU, as I know that there is no reasonable alternative to dealing with any of the aforementioned issues. The EU also has a great deal of potential especially with regard to crisis management in northern africa, as it has all the civilian crisis management capabilities at its disposal NATO doesn't have and can't call on. Be it helping other countries in managing judicial systems, police forces, economic development, democratic reform, setting up civil societies and so on - there's tens of billions of euros and hundreds if not thousands of experts that can readily be thrown at these problems. Its dependence on a council of 28 countries, while making it almost immovable most of the time, also makes it less susceptible to political short-terminism or radicalism in its member states. It can maintain engagements and relationships for very long term periods of time, 20+ years easily, which is necessary if we're talking stabilising and reconstruction in failing states or post war societies.

Does the EU need reform? Absolutely, the examples above give plenty reason to be dissatisfied. A practical issue is that I can't for the life of me understand why a country like Cyprus is allowed to block any cooperation with NATO because of its conflict with Turkey. Or vice versa, why Turkey is allowed to perpetually block any cooperation with the EU in NATO because of its border conflict with Cyprus. It's but one of many roadblocks. The principle of unanimous decision making only allows for compromise on the lowest common denominator or the least ambitious / impactful path. Nationalist governments can and do sabotage decisionmaking in the entire union, to the detriment of the whole. Paradoxically they're also required to do so - as a national government must protect national interest and as soon as any proposal may negatively affect part of their voting base or its decisionmaking autonomy, it will be fought tooth and nail.

That's also why crisis is the only moment the whole thing can move forward, as exclusively in those moments compromise has to be forced and foisted upon the parties that normally blocked it. It also explains to you why the EU may be 'not inspired' or showing little leadership. I can tell you very ambitious, intelligent, impactful plans are formulated in the EEAS or EC, but as soon as they reach the council these will be mangled until all vision is stripped from them. I don't have all the answers to solve these issues, but it must change. However, what can't be allowed to happen is the dissolution or disbanding of the EU as a whole. Not just for the reasons listed above, but because it's integral to daily life on many more levels than people know or realise, which I may highlight in other posts.

Last edited by Larssen (2020-05-16 04:23:11)

Larssen
Member
+45|646

KEN-JENNINGS wrote:

We left the age of colonialism because social mores and pressure meant that we couldn't justify pillaging lands for resources, or to "civilize the savages". In this regard, yes, technology has played a big factor, because now the people who occupy areas where we want resources are more than just words in a book, spectacles to gawk at in tomes about the far east. I see neoliberal policy as a way to circumvent the social pressure - we aren't trying to civilize the savages any more, we are trying to open up their economy so that they can prosper. Lift up the global poor! But the end result is the same.

I take issue with the western heuristic of international relations, if that isn't already obvious.

I also have a degree in International Relations, by the way. We can do the dick-swinging if you want.
Well, I take issue with it as well. It's only applicable in a limited context. For much of the world IR falls short to explain anything and you'll be far better off turning to sociological analysis & conflict studies. This is especially true for countries engaged in civil war or in most of Africa where there's little centralised government to speak of. But this also applies to the application of IR to history. One thing that irked me in my IR postgrad is that they're all too keen to overlook the principles of historiography to create their theories. I believe it's very irresponsible to draw direct historical comparisons across epistemes/paradigms in human history, or to ignore context and only focus on systems of government when they came into being or when they collapsed. I can understand tracing the field back to 1648 and taking that moment as a starting point, or to read Machiavelli and extrapolate from those writings to modern times, but that is also only really applicable in a European context. What I can't so easily agree with is for example a comparison between the EU or the hanseatic league. Or the notion that 'all international cooperation/organisation' is broadly similar through time. No sir.

I don't see how you can say that the end result is the same if there's been measurable progress because of the shift in attitude. The changing social mores have managed to motivate decolonisation and highlight corporate human rights violations. It still happens of course, but we're slowly getting there. Meanwhile there's far less people in abject poverty than there were 30 years ago, and far less unnecessary deaths than there were even a decade ago. Things are moving forward, and the global poor can and do live better lives than in times past.

Last edited by Larssen (2020-05-16 04:46:01)

Pochsy
Artifice of Eternity
+696|4302|Toronto
Larssen, this is in response to your first post.

You point out that there are several EU failures in recent history on the international stage that have resulted in regrettable domestic policy consequences. You then point to your own position as being to essentially 'double down' on the EU and try to work through some 21 years of impotence and make the vision work. To play devil's advocate (I don't live in Europe, and am not directly invested), I think a good number of the countries turning towards isolationism through populist leaders are not ready to 'double down'--they're instead ready to cut their 21 year loss record short and call it a failed attempt.

I think what Uzique is rightly pointing to is that unless the EU value proposition changes in a big way, the card house is coming down. That can be policy change, that can be administrative change, that can be an economic order change. But something, something substantial, needs to change for people to have any of the needed trust to move past a 21 year loss record.

Last edited by Pochsy (2020-05-16 04:58:40)

The shape of an eye in front of the ocean, digging for stones and throwing them against its window pane. Take it down dreamer, take it down deep. - Other Families
uziq
Member
+348|2211
i will respond to this at some point in the future, i'm reading in the garden at the moment and squinting at a screen.

but larssen, several things strike me about your defense - which seems admirable in many ways, taken at face value.

first is that you are overly concerned with the EUs outward interactions with the world. with conflicts in the middle-east. with supporting development in north africa. with ensuring global trade and commerce. but this makes most of the anti-EU denizens groan. brexiteers don't want to throw billions at development in africa, full stop. the people protesting against macron in france are not protesting because they want more, or better effective, interventionism abroad. most countries want to deal with the imminent refugee crisis by putting up walls and setting up camps, not committing to paying the bills for the world's catch-up development.

which leads me onto second, that as a result you're totally ignoring the internal tensions and complaints of its member states. namely the huge economic asymmetries, unequal shares, and ultimately disruption to sovereignity that arises as a result. the simple fact of the matter is that not all EU member states are equal, even if their votes are. there is a widespread perception that x-y-z takes the brunt for a-b-c. there is growing resentment amongst the workers and lower-middle class of the richer nations that they are paying for other's gain and development; that their own growing inequalities and stagnation are not being addressed by their governments, who are committed to a neoliberal orthodoxy within the EU (chiefly in the form of the common labour market). people in the richer countries are feeling squeezed, hopeless, with little possibility for advancement; and the EU isn't helping them. meanwhile everyone seems to view the southern states as leeches, parasites, layabouts; the french disdain for the spanish is legendary.

the neoliberal economics of the EU seem to me to be the biggest cause for concern and griping, from the left and right alike. but you don't address it at all. you seem to envision the EU as something like an extension of the UN peacekeeping force.

whether or not this is even necessarily accurate and cashes out as true, the perception is there, as is the very real sense of begrudgement. are shipping routes and fly-zones high in the minds of anti-EU protestors? about as important to them as tibet is to your average worker in guangdong, i imagine.

Last edited by uziq (2020-05-16 05:30:06)

Dilbert_X
The X stands for
+1,709|4865|eXtreme to the maX
The Brussels elite became out of touch, overbearing and obsessed with their own ideological agenda, a self-powered engine, which the actual countries in europe didn't really care for especially not the ones which the Franco-German cabal disadvantaged.

I would have probably voted remain to solve the problems from within, but the total refusal of the EU to give any quarter to Cameron might have tipped me the other way.

Anecdotally my father spent a lot of time working in the CSCE, which was later the OSCE, I shook hands with the KGB General who supposedly disposed of Hitler's body.
Epstein didn't kill himself
Jay
Bork! Bork! Bork!
+2,003|4117|London, England
Wasn't the fact that they kept forcing votes on the Lisbon Treaty until they got the result they wanted the tipoff that they didn't give a fuck about the people?
"Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don't you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough."
-Frederick Bastiat
Pochsy
Artifice of Eternity
+696|4302|Toronto

Jay wrote:

Wasn't the fact that they kept forcing votes on the Lisbon Treaty until they got the result they wanted the tipoff that they didn't give a fuck about the people?
Are you thinking of the national ratification processes in Ireland and the UK? I wouldn't quite call that forcing a treaty through ratification. Like 25 of the countries agreed in principle and signed almost immediately. Wouldn't it be more backwards that Ireland, a tiny portion of the EU, had that much sway in a continental treaty? It'd be the equivalent of Delaware deciding national policy in the US.
The shape of an eye in front of the ocean, digging for stones and throwing them against its window pane. Take it down dreamer, take it down deep. - Other Families
Jay
Bork! Bork! Bork!
+2,003|4117|London, England

Pochsy wrote:

Jay wrote:

Wasn't the fact that they kept forcing votes on the Lisbon Treaty until they got the result they wanted the tipoff that they didn't give a fuck about the people?
Are you thinking of the national ratification processes in Ireland and the UK? I wouldn't quite call that forcing a treaty through ratification. Like 25 of the countries agreed in principle and signed almost immediately. Wouldn't it be more backwards that Ireland, a tiny portion of the EU, had that much sway in a continental treaty? It'd be the equivalent of Delaware deciding national policy in the US.
The idea of being asked to vote again in order to “get the
answer right” provoked media and public outrage.6 Yet, the
Lisbon Treaty was not the first occasion on which an EU Member
State was asked to hold a referendum for a second time. No less
than three times in the history of the EU, a Member State whose
population had voted against the ratification of a new EU treaty
in a constitutionally binding referendum opted under pressure
to rerun the referendum in the hope that the negative result
would be reversed by the second vote. The first occasion involved
the rejection by the Danes of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992,7
while the second involved the rejection by the Irish of the Nice
Treaty in 2001.8 The only two such popular “no” votes against an
amending treaty that did not result in the holding of a second
referendum were the votes of the French and the Dutch
electorates on the ratification of the Treaty establishing a
Constitution for Europe in 2005. On that occasion, the impact
and significance of the double-no was considered to signal the
death of the Constitutional Treaty, and to render the prospect of
a second referendum undesirable.9
The fact that an EU treaty ratification referendum has been
rerun under external pressure upon the Member State in
question, not once but three times within fifteen years, suggests
that it has become something of a European Union (“EU”)
practice, and the curious and controversial nature of this practice
calls for closer scrutiny.
https://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu
"Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don't you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough."
-Frederick Bastiat
Larssen
Member
+45|646

uziq wrote:

i will respond to this at some point in the future, i'm reading in the garden at the moment and squinting at a screen.

but larssen, several things strike me about your defense - which seems admirable in many ways, taken at face value.

first is that you are overly concerned with the EUs outward interactions with the world. with conflicts in the middle-east. with supporting development in north africa. with ensuring global trade and commerce. but this makes most of the anti-EU denizens groan. brexiteers don't want to throw billions at development in africa, full stop. the people protesting against macron in france are not protesting because they want more, or better effective, interventionism abroad. most countries want to deal with the imminent refugee crisis by putting up walls and setting up camps, not committing to paying the bills for the world's catch-up development.

which leads me onto second, that as a result you're totally ignoring the internal tensions and complaints of its member states. namely the huge economic asymmetries, unequal shares, and ultimately disruption to sovereignity that arises as a result. the simple fact of the matter is that not all EU member states are equal, even if their votes are. there is a widespread perception that x-y-z takes the brunt for a-b-c. there is growing resentment amongst the workers and lower-middle class of the richer nations that they are paying for other's gain and development; that their own growing inequalities and stagnation are not being addressed by their governments, who are committed to a neoliberal orthodoxy within the EU (chiefly in the form of the common labour market). people in the richer countries are feeling squeezed, hopeless, with little possibility for advancement; and the EU isn't helping them. meanwhile everyone seems to view the southern states as leeches, parasites, layabouts; the french disdain for the spanish is legendary.

the neoliberal economics of the EU seem to me to be the biggest cause for concern and griping, from the left and right alike. but you don't address it at all. you seem to envision the EU as something like an extension of the UN peacekeeping force.

whether or not this is even necessarily accurate and cashes out as true, the perception is there, as is the very real sense of begrudgement. are shipping routes and fly-zones high in the minds of anti-EU protestors? about as important to them as tibet is to your average worker in guangdong, i imagine.
In our globalised world of course I am concerned with our interactions with what lies beyond Europe. Global trade and security demonstrably depend on stable regional dynamics. So far I've also written very little on upholding human rights - will we stand by and watch in the next refugee crisis, 'rwandan genocide', or when another al qaeda esque organisation forms? I know that Brexiteers and internal opposition want nothing to do with these issues, yet their main draw with the population is ironically regional issues. Migration, economic stability in Europe, the effects of globalisation on internal markets - all of these are regional or global issues and require regional or global solutions. What can the Brexiteer or other sympathetic parties offer as a way forward relying only on their national means, IF they attain power? Pretty much nothing. There is no better deal, there is no magic border security, and freeriding on the idea that others will fix regional issues for them or that it's none of their concern is sure to increase internal tensions even more.

As to the economy, I know. But again I'm very doubtful of solutions that involve either turning our backs to the EU or splitting the union. If every country reverts to their own currency, it will only mark the return of political friction over nations inflating or deflating their currencies at will without informing one another. It will again make internal cross-border trade much more complicated. Without the economic union, individual EU countries are again left to the pressures of outside political forces who believe USA #1, China #1 or Russia #1. Even moreso as we know that a lot of critical production is outside the EU yet the constituent countries would no longer be united in pushing their interest if necessary. Again, like with security, this will only increase anarchy in the system.

The average voter does not think about this at all because their political awareness is still stuck at their national borders and identities. It's a hopelessly outdated view of the world which has a very hard time reconciling itself with the political issues of our time, with the fact that their lives are very much affected by everything that happens beyond their borders. This is not to say that cultural identity must be abandoned, but the notion of the nation state in Europe being the guarantor of one's prosperity or even singularly able to solve cross-border problems really needs to go. Especially in a multipolar world.

Pochsy wrote:

Larssen, this is in response to your first post.

You point out that there are several EU failures in recent history on the international stage that have resulted in regrettable domestic policy consequences. You then point to your own position as being to essentially 'double down' on the EU and try to work through some 21 years of impotence and make the vision work. To play devil's advocate (I don't live in Europe, and am not directly invested), I think a good number of the countries turning towards isolationism through populist leaders are not ready to 'double down'--they're instead ready to cut their 21 year loss record short and call it a failed attempt.

I think what Uzique is rightly pointing to is that unless the EU value proposition changes in a big way, the card house is coming down. That can be policy change, that can be administrative change, that can be an economic order change. But something, something substantial, needs to change for people to have any of the needed trust to move past a 21 year loss record.
I'm banking on two things:

1. The emergence of a crisis that will force reform in these areas.
2. I've written before about the salience and entrenchment of ideas through time. Through its international agreements and ambitions the EU could become a normalised part of life and is contributing to a growing notion of 'European identity' atop national or local ones. Given multiple generations the awareness of this identity may become commonly accepted, from which a more effective union can grow. Of course that's only theory.

Apart from these, I've been clear that I do not see any workable alternatives to EU cooperation. However much the public and nationalists dislike the regional problems facing them, they can't wish them away by retreating ever more within their borders. Even in the event the EU does collapse, they will still be required to formulate a solution of sorts or face the consequences. Much like covid-19 in a way...

Last edited by Larssen (2020-05-16 08:50:58)

Larssen
Member
+45|646

Jay wrote:

Wasn't the fact that they kept forcing votes on the Lisbon Treaty until they got the result they wanted the tipoff that they didn't give a fuck about the people?
The EU constitution was rejected by referenda. After which came the Lisbon Treaty, which isn't a 1:1 copy of the constitution.
Dilbert_X
The X stands for
+1,709|4865|eXtreme to the maX

Larssen wrote:

The average voter does not think about this at all because their political awareness is still stuck at their national borders and identities. It's a hopelessly outdated view of the world which has a very hard time reconciling itself with the political issues of our time, with the fact that their lives are very much affected by everything that happens beyond their borders. This is not to say that cultural identity must be abandoned, but the notion of the nation state in Europe being the guarantor of one's prosperity or even singularly able to solve cross-border problems really needs to go. Especially in a multipolar world.
...
Apart from these, I've been clear that I do not see any workable alternatives to EU cooperation. However much the public and nationalists dislike the regional problems facing them, they can't wish them away by retreating ever more within their borders. Even in the event the EU does collapse, they will still be required to formulate a solution of sorts or face the consequences. Much like covid-19 in a way...
It would have been great if the EU had sold this message, instead of spending its time on incestuous internal activity forcing the worldview of the Franco German cabal and a few of the sycophant states onto the rest of Europe, especially Britain, as a mixture of ideological 'progress' in a narrow and weird neo-socialist way and punishment for not being European enough.

What did they actually do to advance the interests of Europe as a whole?

Last edited by Dilbert_X (2020-05-16 17:04:31)

Epstein didn't kill himself
uziq
Member
+348|2211
i have quite a few friends from barcelona (a lot move to and from bristol for short-term catering and hospitality work; the cities are very similar, historically and culturally, etc). their views on the EU are more food for thought. not only in terms of the catalan/basque struggles for recognition, but also in terms of the affect of EU-wide neoliberalism on movements such as Podemos. well, you can spend all day apportioning blame for the left's failures (it's a professional sport within the left), but the simple fact of the matter is that many identity groups within the EU view it as an overweening power.

personally i can't get away from the EU as an institution that enforces a very limited economic orthodoxy on the whole region, much to the frustration of national and sub-national groups.
SuperJail Warden
Gone Forever
+408|2478
When is the Labor party going to expel the anti-semites like Jeremy Corbyn?
Dilbert_X
The X stands for
+1,709|4865|eXtreme to the maX
Jeremy Corbyn wasn't an anti-semite, he was pro-Palestine which actually isn't the same.

This was unacceptable and so the jews got rid of him, now they have a practically jewish candidate leading the labour party.

I hope Johnson stays PM forever.
Epstein didn't kill himself

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