Europhiles truly believe the EU's mess is Britain's fault
Former French PM Michel Rocard says everything that is wrong with the EU is, wait for it, Britain's fault. He's lashing out because the Europhiles have been exposed as a bunch of donkeys: analytically and intellectually weak
If you have read former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard's latest piece in the Guardian saying that the European Union is failing because of Britain and telling Britain to leave the European Union before we "wreck everything", there's a danger I want to alert you to.
Whatever you do, do not make the mistake of thinking that these are the rantings of some loopy, fringe, ideologue representative only of himself. Take it from me. Having lived most of my adult life in continental Europe and having bumped into it many times, this is the thing itself.
I once got into a scrap at a conference with a particularly aggressive and obnoxious former German ambassador to the EU at the height of the euro crisis who, curling his lip and all but shouting at me as the only Brit in the room, charged that the reason why things had gone so badly wrong in Greece was because Britain had not joined the euro.
I know. I know. It doesn't make sense. But if you really want to understand what the European Union is all about these days, you're going to have to get to grips with this.
These people have almost literally lost the plot. Your best guide to what is going on is not so much a manual on the internal workings of the Brussels machine as the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders -- the gold standard across the world for assessing psychiatric problems and pathologies.
So, when Rocard blames everything that is wrong with the EU on Britain's longstanding reluctance to move towards much closer integration and crowns the pile of rhetorical garbage he has just constructed by saying, "You want to break the process by which a more democratic Europe could emerge," you need to be careful to avoid asking the question you so desperately want to ask at this juncture: "Can he really mean it?"
Wrong question. Wrong place to look. Rocard's words are not designed to have meaning, and reason is the wrong paradigm through which to view them.
For people like this, the European project is something more like an extension of their personality. They are emotionally attached. Effectively, they are in love. And however weird that may sound, if you view it like that it will help you understand a whole host of things about the EU that may otherwise escape you.
This, for example, is why they simply cannot bear to hear criticism of the EU. I have been to utterly useless conference after utterly useless conference on Europe where the organisers have specifically designed panels so as not to have any criticism of the European project. Eurosceptics are simply not allowed to speak.
The norm across continental Europe is a panel of four to discuss the EU... composed of four europhiles. And they think it's perfectly normal. Of course they do. You don't promote pluralism with regard to what people think of your girlfriend, do you? There's only one right answer; it's yours; and you'll have no problem starting a fight if anyone demurs.
There is of course another side where meaning and reason can in fact help in explaining the Europeanists' behaviour. Rocard and company are lashing out because they're staring humiliation right in the face. They talked and acted for decades as though there was some kind of inevitability attached to European integration.
It wasn't necessary to debate the matter. Opponents were wrong-headed and primitive: "Europhobes", "Xenophobes", and even "racists". Or, in the words of the head of one well known think tank (in Britain, incidentally) "Eurosceptics are ignorant".
Well, the Europhiles look like a right bunch of donkeys now, don't they? Pretty much everything that those of us who warned against the dangers of the integrationist project -- from rising far-Right groups to the disastrous social consequences of the single currency -- said would go wrong, has gone wrong. The Europhiles have been exposed as analytically and intellectually weak. And it hurts.
I didn't always believe that we should leave the EU. I had hoped that reason and democratic principles would prevail. But they won't.
Michel Rocard is wrong that the failings of the EU are attributable to Britain. But he is right about one thing: Britain should quit.
Robin Shepherd is the owner and publisher of The Commentator
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