Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"In Praise of Euroskeptics"

Sure, the title piece by Robert Taylor is an "I told you so" gloat.  But it's also much more than that.  It's bedrock Political Science 101.
Europe's problems may yet spin us towards a depression, but at least they offer a sweet catharsis for "euroskeptics" -- those of us who have always thought the euro a misguided project.
Euroskeptics have been through it, both in Britain and elsewhere. The haughty laughter, the insults, the patronizing comments, like "little Englander," suggesting both stupidity and insularity. Despite the fact, or perhaps because, Margaret Thatcher was the biggest and most famous euroskeptic of the lot, "euroenthusiasts," among them Tony Blair, took every opportunity to suggest that our argument was based on emotion rather than reason.
In fact the reverse was true. Euroskeptics realized that it was crazy to have a single exchange rate and interest rate applied to somewhere as massive and diverse as the European Union. For unlike Americans we Europeans share no common loyalty to our Union. There is no sense of European nation, and therefore no intrinsic acceptance that our own countries within the Union should be prepared to accept economic hardship for the wider good. Quite the reverse; each country is in it precisely for what it can get out.
To ignore this self-evident reality was Europe's big mistake, even if it took more than a decade to show just how big. Simply, economic union requires political union. And you can't sustain that without the will of the people.
A successful political union is so much more than a successful alliance, so much more complicated, so much more mysterious (yes, mysterious) and, as a result, so much more unlikely.  When it has happened, it seems almost to have just, well, happened.  But this stubborn fact of nature has not for a minute stopped generations of technocrats and cosmopolites from confusing the two nonetheless, such is their conceit, such is their Utopian dream.

Or should that be "nightmare"?

Taylor's finish is foreboding.
Now European leaders are poised to decide whether to forge fiscal as well as monetary union. If they do so, thereby saving the euro, the world will no doubt sigh with relief as short-term catastrophe is avoided. (my emphasis)

The drive towards ever-closer union has already caused one crisis. The next could be even worse. 

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