David Calling

European Illusions

The level of unreality created by the masters of Europe is reaching new heights. It is like hallucinating to observe the politicians driving in expensive cars to meet one another, inspecting guards of honor, arranging for ministerial get-togethers, and all the while the construct that put them into office is collapsing all around them. These same politicians chatter extensively about saving the euro and the European Union, about bailouts and firewalls and fiscal pacts, as though words were deeds. No satirist could do justice to the sight of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and newly elected French President François Hollande shaking hands and vowing to work together to save the union and its currency. Insofar as this pair has any coherent ideas, they disagree. All they have in common is the precariousness of their position. Just trounced in local elections, Mrs. Merkel and her party are well on the way to joining the gathering crowd of electoral rejects. As for Hollande, he believes that growth comes from higher taxes and hundreds of thousands more state jobs, and all in arch-protectionist France. It can’t be long before such socialist illusion comes back to haunt that country.

Our satirist will also find it comic that the masters of Europe blame the Greeks while determined to ensure that the Greeks are rescued to carry on regardless. I cannot hold it against the Greeks. Entry into the EU was their opportunity as rather poor people to enrich themselves on other peoples’ money. Who would refuse such a gift? Of course they want to go on free-loading so pleasantly. It’s all part of the joke that they have voted for a politician called Alexis Tsipras, who in his well-honed Communist style believes that Greece should continue to pocket other peoples’ money. There’s consistency! But Greece came up with the wrong answer in its general election, and the masters of Europe may well make it vote and vote again until they have the right answer — though nobody can tell what that might be.

Ordinary people everywhere recognize reality, and now do not believe a thing they hear from the masters of Europe. The last world war and the Cold War survive in folk memory, and everyone is hunkering down for the hardships and injustices now brewing — defaults, conversions into new currencies, runs on banks, mass unemployment, everything that Mrs. Lagarde of the IMF in her elegant French salon way calls “messy.” Not forgetting violence. Fascist parties are rising once more. The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party did well in the last Greek election and will do better in the next. The other side of it is the climbing suicide rate, especially among retired professional people who are defenseless as their pensions are cut.

In 1940, a book with the title “Guilty Men” became a historic marker by naming and shaming the democratic politicians whose ineptitude had allowed the Hitler catastrophe to unfold. What’s wanted now is an onslaught of just that kind to excoriate and drive out of the public arena the politicians whose fantasies about power, lack of insight into human nature, and refusal to acknowledge mistakes, have brought Europe to another perilous pass.

David Pryce-Jones is a British author and commentator and a senior editor of National Review.

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