Saturday, October 03, 2009

Irish Ideals

[Dublin General Post Office]
Sixteen months ago the Irish electorate soundly defeated the proposed European constitution. As I understand it, the persuasive argument was that it could lead to equalization of tax rates throughout Europe, which could have meant higher taxes in Ireland.

With profound questions of constitution and polity before them, of the meaning of Europe and of Irish identity, of man and society, rather than think about it, the Irish sold themselves for a few quid. (Yes, I know they use euros now, but quid is more insulting.)

Now the constitution - which the business class wants and the public doesn't (judging by the string of plebiscites it has lost) - has recrudesced in the form of the Lisbon treaty. The premise is that since the business-controlled governments could not get the peoples to cede portions of their sovereignty to Brussels by plebiscite, they would do it themselves in the guise of a multilateral treaty.

A multilateral treaty was credible and reasonable when the subject of the treaty was regulation of economics, manufacturing standards, safety standards. Each government had plenty of right and power to regulate those subjects themselves. So regulating them in unison made perfect sense and was perfectly legitimate.

That is quite different from creating and agreeing to be governed by a new executive authority outside the country. It is quite different from agreeing to a nation's foreign policy swallowed up by a common foreign ministry. Those are not things well within each government's power. Those are self-conscious usurpations by governments knowingly flouting the will of the people about the most serious possible constitutional subjects.

There are competing sayings that "diplomacy is war conducted by other means" and that "war is diplomacy conducted by other means." Whichever one agrees with or both, from a common foreign policy to a European army is just a matter of waiting for the other shoe to drop. To adopt one is to assure the eventual adoption of the other.

Divesting the nation of its sovereignty is not something business-controlled governments can legitimately do without the consent of the governed. The cheap trick of calling it a treaty when it is a profound and irreversible (as we demonstrated in our civil war, 1861-5) change to national constitutions. It is not something that can be done without the consent of the people, without a vote.

Yet 24 of the 27 EU governments decided to go ahead with the ruse and ratify the revamping of their constitutions without consulting the people. Only Ireland, Poland, and the Czech Republic are putting the Lisbon Treaty to a vote.

Poland is expected to vote overwhelmingly for the constitution masquerading as a treaty. Consider the context. The European army will mean the final end of national sovereignties because the monopoly on the use of force is what defines national sovereignty. Almost everyone fears it, but no one will talk about it. But Poland doesn't fear a European army - they hope for it. For more than two hundred years their country has been either annexed outright by Russia or closely controlled by it through the Communist party and Red Army occupation. So they are quite willing to ratify the Lisbon Treaty. A European army will mean their not facing the Russians alone ever again.

The Czechs are less sanguine about the "treaty". Most of their history they have been occupied by the Austrians and the Germans. Large portions of their country were taken over by Germans (the Sudetenland - the borderlands of Czechoslovakia and Germany) from which they were not expelled until 1945.) A European army would mean German soldiers in the streets of Prague again. The vote on the Lisbon Treaty is expected to be close in the Czech Republic.

Compare the long memories and deep concerns of the Poles and the Czechs with those of the Irish. Since the vote on the constitution, the Irish economy has imploded. Having ridden highest on the boom economy of the past few years, the bust there has been the worst in Europe. The Irish economy is kept from collapsing yet further by subsidies from the EU. One good argument for why the vote went the opposite way this time is that the Irish were afraid that voting "no" would endanger the continued flow of euros from Brussels.

Compare the consideration of the Poles and Czechs for the future freedom and even safety of their countries in the face of powerful neighbors, with the pandering of the Irish for EU gold. Once again the Irish have sold themselves for a few quid.

If they change their minds in a few years it will be too late. This time, if they try to seize the General Post Office on an Easter Monday, the European Army will mow them down and that will be an end on it.


  1. Anonymous2:57 PM

    Poland recently completed a museum dedicated to the Polish underground army and the warsaw ghetto uprising. Germany caused all that and Russia did not help the Polish underground army keep the Nazis at bay. They have been attacked on the east and west for years. why would they want to join forces with either of their enemies? must be economic.

  2. Because the Germans came for six years and the Russians for two hundred years? Because the Poles are antisemitic bastards and see the Germans as having rid them of the Jews? And given a choice between the standard of living of Europe and that of Poland left to its own devices.....

  3. Christy5:15 AM

    I have read a lot of American musings on the irish vote on Lisbon, but this is easily amongst the most innocent, poorly informed strings of piss I've yet come across.

  4. Curiously enough it is also what your own newspapers are saying, ya Fenian oxpecker.

  5. Christy6:38 AM

    Which ones? And whats an oxpecker? (You need to brush up on your 19th century based anti Irish racialism - we don't take offence to being labelled fenians and I really don't think we've been called anything like it for at least 50 years (Taidhg and Paddy and 'Shinner' have replaced the term long ago)

  6. All the better. If one can't be original it is almost as good to be antiquarian.

    An oxpecker is an Afrikaans word for little birds that pick insects off South African cattle. But it is a great-sounding word. Try roaring it at the next person who annoys you. It is wonderfully satisfying to shout. Precede it with a dubious or irrelevant adjective for maximum effect.

    Roar at a driver who comes too close that he is a Liverpudlian oxpecker. He'll flatten your nose just for the sound of it.