A few years ago a well-known historian told me that the European Union was a noble undertaking. I replied that surely he had lived long enough to know the dreadful ends to which noble enterprises have come within living memory. Yet he and those who think like him refuse to accept this reality. No matter what the cost, the determination of such people is what keeps the EU going. This is very like the determination that was all that kept the Soviet Union going in the dim and pointless era of Brezhnev when everyone could see that Communism was a busted flush.
The elections in France and Greece have thrown up Trotskyite and neo-Nazi parties. Such extremes pretend to be noble enterprises but are expressions of pure will, disconnected from reality, from anything that people actually want. Even François Hollande’s socialism is an act of pure will. His remedies of taxing and spending by centralized government have been proved time and again not to work. The European crisis, in other words, is opening the way to totalitarians who by definition cannot correct their mistakes and so must make the crisis worse. It’s the 1930s all over again, but fortunately for the time being without a Hitler on the horizon.