The Corner

Being Beastly to the Germans

The euro continues to bring Europeans together, mainly in their attempts to bully Germany to open its wallet still wider and, while it’s at it, throw away what’s left of its sovereignty.

Writing in Spiked Online, Bruno Waterfeld notes how “recently, the left British magazine the New Statesman decided to liken contemporary Germany to its Nazi-era predecessor. ‘[Chancellor Angela] Merkel is the most dangerous German leader since Hitler.’”

That’s childish nonsense, of course, but Waterfeld argues that thinking of this sort runs through a lot of contemporary criticism of the Federal Republic, and indeed was some of the motivation (Waterfeld maybe exaggerates how much) for the renewed drive for a single currency after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

But these two points are key:

The EU is far more dangerous than a straightforward expression of German hegemony because its political culture is common to all Europe’s elites. The particular character of the postwar German state, long dictated to by foreign powers hostile to reunification, means it has become more bound than any other nation to EU statecraft and institutions. Germany is too weak, not too strong; Berlin is too slavish to the EU. Historically, monetarist austerity is the independent institutional form – through Maastricht’s Stability and Growth Pact – that the EU has taken. Europe’s policies are not German but rather result from the European ‘method’: to ensure that questions of interest are defined by the EU’s bureaucratic statecraft and not political contest or [national] self-interest. . . .

[T]the EU’s crisis stems from a destructive attempt by Europe’s elites to save out-of-date institutions. Greece has been sacrificed to that aim. Now, to sacrifice Germany on the same altar will not only intensify an economic spiral that is leading to a crash; it will push European states father away from principles of democratic accountability. Over the past year, the destruction of the demos in Greece heralded a new and dangerous trend in European politics. The campaign to make Germany give up self-determination to the bureaucratic EU order represents an even more perilous moment. Those of us who supported, and continue to support, Greece in the face of the universal demands, including threats made by Germany, that it submit to the EU order, need now to be consistent in defence of self-determination. An EU strong enough to snuff out the politics of self-interest in Germany would be a formidable structure pitted against the practices of democracy and self-determination that Europe needs in order to build its future.

Well, yes.

Under the circumstances, reading this report (from the Independent) of an attack by the EU Commission president (a former Maoist who has lost the beliefs, but not the authoritarian mindset of the wannabe commissar that he once was) on proposed amendments to the Hungarian constitution can (regardless of what one may think of those amendments) only raise the hollowest of laughs:

The European Commission attempted the flex its muscles again on Friday, with its President, José Manuel Barroso, calling Mr Orbán to urge parliament to address concerns over the amendments “in accordance with EU democratic principles”.

Quite what “EU democratic principles” are was not made clear. Then again, how could they be? They do not exist.


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