‘The Tainted Source: The Undemocratic Origins of the European Idea’ by John Laug

  • 0 Replies
  • 250 Views

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

*

Offline the leveller

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • 4111
  • +75/-0
This is the first part of a two part essay.
‘The Tainted Source: The Undemocratic Origins of the European Idea’ by John Laughland was originally published in 1997 and has been out of print for the past eighteen years. Edward Heath described the book upon publication as ‘Preposterous… A hideous distortion of both past and present’. Rereading it after nearly a decade and in the run up to the referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the European Union has led me to believe a reissue is now long overdue. Laughland’s work is a superb synthesis of politics, law, economics, history and philosophy. Nevertheless, Laughland remains very readable as he hammers home his core thesis that the rule of law and democracy is under threat by an ideology which posits that nation-states are an anachronism incapable of governing modern societies while ignoring the necessity of a national community in facilitating political discourse that sustains a liberal constitutional order. Laughland thoroughly demolishes this perverse, and to my mind highly eccentric, European ideology and argues that only a return to law, democracy and sound money will halt and reverse the continent’s relative decline.
The withering away of the state gives way to the administration of things wrote Friedrich Engels; and these words have been heeded by the proponents of the European ideology. This is the essence of the crisis in European politics, the attempt to obviate political discourse, to replace dialogue with monologue, by abolishing the nation state. It was thus when Laughland wrote ‘The Tainted Source’ in the 1990s and it remains so well into the second decade of the twenty-first century. Instead of public participation in politics, the essence of the parliamentary system, society is to be administered by unseen specialists. Independent nation states are after all in this view a nineteenth century anachronism which inevitably lead to chaos and destruction and must be submerged by a supranational saviour. That the elites might make the wrong decisions and frustrate a people with an inherent desire to be free thereby creating tension and unrest is not countenanced by those dreaming of a post-national future. Laughland attempts, and successfully does so, to unpick the European ideology, that is to replace politics with administration, and explores what the consequences of the idea are when applied and what they might be in the future. Laughland observations have been eerily pertinent two decades later as we shall see.
Perhaps the most controversial and contentious of Laughland’s assertions in the ‘The Tainted Source’ is the link between the European ideology and fascism. Disputing the claim that European integration was born out of necessity after the Second World War, he asserts that it has much darker roots, going back to fascist thought in the 1930s. German wartime propaganda insisted that Germany was the best governed country in Europe so other countries should adopt its superior political and economic model and therefore integrate forming a single political unit. This pan-Europeanism was not simply a convenient front to justify German aggression. Fascism hated pluralism because multiplicity implies disorder which chimes with the supranational administrative ethos. Furthermore race transcends national boundaries so nation states are superfluous in the racialist viewpoint. Thinkers such Werner Daitz therefore popularised the notion of völkisch sovereignty over national sovereignty. The idea of grossraumwirtschaft or ‘great space economy’ was promoted by Daitz amongst others on the basis that economic activity should proceed in a self-contained area in contrast to the idea of global economic interaction. The idea of large integrated economic blocs remained popular with the founders of the European project after the war such as Paul-Henri Spaak who wrote favourably of Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s. Laughland also mentions that Robert Schuman, another of Europe’s founding fathers, served in 1940 as a minister in Pétain’s Vichy government. It is important according to Laughland that the fascist roots of the European ideology are exposed because it demonstrates how the rejection of the nation state has severe illiberal implications. Laughland concludes therefore that to be in favour of European integration is not necessarily a default progressive position.
Germany lies at the centre of Europe and because of her sheer size she is in a position to dominate the European continent. Laughland argues that peace in Europe has always depended on a balance of power. Whenever the equilibrium has been upset the cause has been a quest for hegemony. Laughland cites thinkers such as Cardinal Richelieu and John of Salisbury who asserted the organic link between the rule of law and the balance of power, because hegemonic powers have no interest in obeying the law one cannot have the former without the latter. This is in sharp contrast to Jean Monnet who wrote ‘Yesterday Power, and ‘Today, the Law’ in the belief that balance of power politics created friction between nations resulting in war. In Monnet’s opinion therefore, a pan-European legal and administrative structure should replace diplomacy between nations. Laughland describes this as a fatal misunderstanding of geopolitics and the preconditions for the rule of law. Laughland also provides a broad sweep of German history in the third chapter, from France’s rivalry with the Holy Roman Empire (of the German Nation), to the Treaty of Westphalia which divided Germany and produced over a century of peace, through the nineteenth century which saw German unification followed by the World wars. Throughout recorded history Europe is at peace when Germany is weak, which is when power is balanced owing to the absence of a hegemonic power. Germany has throughout her history attempted to break loose from the constraints imposed by balance of power politics. The consistent pattern which emerges is that she is thwarted by force of arms so attempts to consolidate via economic integration. The Zollverein, a Prussian led customs union, subverted the German Confederation imposed after the Congress of Vienna and spearheaded the drive towards German unification. The European Union mirrors this attempt to impose German hegemony on the continent without military means. Why should Germany attempt this though? The answer according to Laughland is in the German conception of the state which is a result of Germany’s unique political history. Unlike England or France, Germany has never been a nation state, i.e. where the state’s territory is congruent with the nation’s borders. Therefore the German states that have emerged throughout history have universal rather than national or territorial aspirations of sovereignty. These ideas underpinned Charlemagne’s monarchy, the Kaiser’s dream of Mitteleuropa and Hitler’s quest for Lebensraum. The irony is that the post-nationalist European ideologues who declare that national sovereignty is a relic of the past are setting a rather dangerous precedent.This is the second part of a two-part essay, the first part is published here.
ns power. It means no such thing and it has not historically been described as such, indeed to do so, as Laughland writes, is absurd. Sovereignty is merely political authority which is validated by constitutional independence. Laughland dismisses the European ideologues who talk of subsidiarity as irrelevant to the debate. The question he maintains is not at what level power is exercised but by what authority it is exercised.  Indeed the concept of subsidiarity implies that the state administers society from top to bottom. In contrast, in a unitary state where the law is centralised and justice is maintained, the people are left alone to organise their own social and economic affairs in what Laughland terms intelligent association.
Another absurd notion touted is the pooling of sovereignty. This is complete nonsense because, as
Review of ‘The Tainted Source: The Undemocratic Origins of the European Idea’ by John Laughland, Pt II
Posted on June 4, 2016 by Robert Stephenson in Europe // 0 Comments
 



This is the second part of a two-part essay, the first part is published here.
Laughland describes the ideology behind the European project as having two main motifs. The first is hostility towards the nation state and the concept of sovereignty which are erroneously referred to as relics of the nineteenth century by proponents of the ideology. The second is what Laughland refers to as economism; the idea that the principal purpose of the state is to undertake the administration of society composed of uniform economic subjects where nationality is irrelevant and borders are dissolved. Ultimately the European ideologues wish to replace political life of debate and democracy with technocracy.
Their first assertion, that sovereignty is merely a nineteenth century concept is obviously false. The idea of sovereignty is ancient; it can be found in the Old Testament. The problem is that the ideologues seem to believe that sovereignty means power. It means no such thing and it has not historically been described as such, indeed to do so, as Laughland writes, is absurd. Sovereignty is merely political authority which is validated by constitutional independence. Laughland dismisses the European ideologues who talk of subsidiarity as irrelevant to the debate. The question he maintains is not at what level power is exercised but by what authority it is exercised.  Indeed the concept of subsidiarity implies that the state administers society from top to bottom. In contrast, in a unitary state where the law is centralised and justice is maintained, the people are left alone to organise their own social and economic affairs in what Laughland terms intelligent association.
Another absurd notion touted is the pooling of sovereignty. This is complete nonsense because, as Laughland reminds us, sovereignty is absolute. Similarly it is argued that international treaties, such as NATO which commits armed forces, represent a loss of sovereignty. This is more nonsense because Britain, amongst others, signed the treaty of which her sovereignty was a perquisite. It is equally absurd to assert that the global marketplace limits national sovereignty because sovereignty is not the same as absolute power over human behaviour. Furthermore this idea betrays a dreadful misunderstanding of the market. The market is after all the consenting interaction of peoples under a legal system. The state simply exists to uphold the law and not to direct the economy.
What the European ideologues reveal when they argue that states are no longer sovereign in the modern world is their desire for an omnipotent super state protected from the reality of the world market. Indeed this was the motivation behind the single market which was portrayed as a free trade area but is actually designed to be a self contained economic space.
Laughland is scathing in his critique of modern central banks which debauch currency as their stated objective through inflationary policies. Central banks do this in part because of the erroneous notion that money is the creation of the state. In fact money is a store of value which is determined by the market, not by state fiat. Monetary debasement is nothing new though; the Emperor Diocletian clipped coins in the fourth century when the Roman armies could not be paid.
Sound money is vital to a liberal order because inflation is effectively a hidden tax which amounts to theft of people’s property when the value of the money they earned decrease year on year at an unspecified rate. Laughland provides a potted history of the international monetary system from the classical gold standard to the interwar exchange standard, the post war Bretton Woods system and its breakdown in the 1970s. This was followed by the European Monetary System aimed at creating a single currency to prevent monetary nationalism marked by competitive devaluations and rampant inflation.
However, the architects of the Euro, Jacques Delors et al, misunderstood the correct role of money and believed it to be something created by the state. The establishment of a European Central Bank is a constitutionally dangerous development because it gives power of inflation without legislative oversight or restraint. Laughland therefore calls for a return to a gold standard to depoliticise the monetary system and provide stability.
Expanding the European Union eastwards, and with it NATO, has brought inimical relations with Russia but Laughland describes how in the 1990s the European elites were impervious to the potential conflict that would inevitably ensue from this policy. The elites thought that following the Cold War a new age had dawned and so they confidently eschewed Realpolitik. Driven by the belief that nations in themselves cause conflict the drive to integrate all the nations of Europe under one administrative state would, they thought, usher in an age of peace and prosperity.
Russia outwardly embraced the European ideology using the language of European integration to resurrect the Soviet Union or at least a non-communist successor to it. Laughland writes of Russian desire to create a Eurasian union which did (of sorts) eventually come to pass with the Union State of Belarus and Russia in 2000 and the Eurasian Economic Union in 2014, now composed of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. The post-national idea has therefore been used as a fig leaf for Russian expansionism in the Caucasus, Transnistria and so on in the name of protecting national minorities. However, Laughland seems to suggest that there was a Brussels-Moscow axis in the 1990s to promote European integration. If there was then, this certainly is not the case in 2016. In the years that followed publication of this book the European Union backed by the United States would collide with Russia over Kosovo, Georgia and the Ukraine.
Laughland’s key point though is that supranational institutions increase the influence of powerful countries rather then reduce it; this is gained at the expense of weaker countries making them weaker still. The practical result of this is not a world of peace where national loyalties disappear but a new age of imperialism where a few great powers dominate and clash with each other, the exact opposite of the idealist intentions. A realist could have predicted all along that high concentrations are inevitably abused and the end result is a world changed not for the better but for the worse.
Laughland concludes that the continent is in decline with falling birth rates, growing unemployment, low economic growth, spiralling social security costs, declining competitiveness owing to overregulation and political corruption. European integration is being used as a device to shield Europe from the changing world. The European Union merely reproduces Europe’s problems at a supranational level rather than at a national level. In order to break free from the stifling bureaucracy the nations of Europe must embrace accountable government, the rule of law and sound money. The alternative offered by the European ideologues is a polyglot chaos with an overbearing authoritarian state apparatus.
How much of Laughland’s book is still relevant nearly twenty years after publication? Unfortunately nearly all of it because the European project is still going on headstrong despite the catastrophic results it is has caused with its proponents showing no signs of remorse. Perhaps the only hope is for a British exit from the European Union which if seen through will encourage others to exit. If not then it is highly likely that events will continue as before with Germany dominating the European Union and Britain’s influence diminished as long as she remains there. The whole structure will continue to run roughshod on small countries such as Ireland and Greece who have effectively had their own governments overruled in recent years. This after all is what the European Union is designed to do as per the ideology behind it.
Laughland’s ‘The Tainted Source’, which brilliantly exposes and disproves the fallacies behind the European Ideology, therefore deserves to be read widely.
===================================================
 
Hope Not Hate are still UKIP Bashing
4 Comments on Review of ‘The Tainted Source: The Undemocratic Origins of the European Idea’ by John Laughland
Bob // June 4, 2016 at 10:43 pm // Reply
The “Coudenhove Kalergie Plan” is from the early 1920’s.
“Relay of Life” “From Nuremberg to Brussels”.
Both articles explain much about the unelected and undemocratic EU, the destruction of sovereign states, mass immigration and much more.
john timbrell // June 3, 2016 at 4:49 pm // Reply
I would go further than Pamela and state that it began before WW1 but in my view to explain it in the necessary simplistic terms for UK consumption I believe it is best to start with the first illegal(don’t use the word treasonous. People will laugh)treaty signed by Edward Heath against the written advice of the then top law officer, the Lord Chancellor Lord Kilmuir. Without meaning any offence to Robert Stephenson, Pamela and Tom Welsh, and anyone else reading this do you honestly believe that the confused British public will become more enlightened reading such as the above. Now, at present, what is needed is to get the simple message out that can be stated in a few simple sentences. If you want your country back, understand that all the UK treaties with the EU treaties are illegal. If you are caught doing something illegal you have to stop. It really is that simple. Forget the Lisbon treaty that is also illegal and designed to keep us in.
Don’t knock the referendeum even though it’s a con and relief valve for the public. Use the interest created by the referendum to expose our government’s corruption covering up the fact that all the treaties are illegal. Forget the EU corruption for the present. Concentrate on our governments since 1972 lying to us. Keep it simple because it’s the one subject that actually fits into short soundbites without the loss of facts.Viz-:”The treaties are illegal. The Kilmuir Letter has been hidden from you.You can see it here.With this knowledge which way will you vote in the referendum.? Would you mind signing this petition to get parliament to explain why they hid the Kilmuir letter from you.”.
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/122770
Pamela // June 3, 2016 at 3:00 pm // Reply
It is true that the idea of the EU did not arise after WW II, but I disagree that it arose from fascist ideas from the 1930s. It actually began after WW I via Jean Monnet but didn’t begin to see the light of day until after WW II. Also, I don’t know about your side of the pond, but here in the U.S. The Tainted Source will be available in kindle format as of June 9.
My understanding is that the idea of ‘nationalism’ was blamed for both wars. As an American, I can testify that I suffered years of abuse as a ‘nationalist’ from EU supporters. It was seen as inherently aggressive. I don’t think people really know if they want the nation-state abolished or if they prefer it simply be superseded by the EU.
Personally, I never thought the erasure of nationalism was a reasonable goal, human nature being what it is. People hold on to their cultures and there isn’t a Frenchman on the planet who is going to subsume his cultural birthrights for anybody’s ‘greater good’. There may be a Europe, but there is no Europe w/o France as France and Germany as Germany.
Another book I would recommend on the subject is Christopher Booker/Richard North’s “The Great Deception: The Secret History of the European Union”
Interesting piece, Mr. Stephenson, thank you.
Tom Welsh // June 3, 2016 at 10:50 am // Reply
“Throughout recorded history Europe is at peace when Germany is weak, which is when power is balanced owing to the absence of a hegemonic power”.
Only true since Germany came into existence as a single nation in 1871. Before that there were centuries of ferocious war that had nothing whatever to do with Germany. The 100 Years War between England and France, for example. I mention this, not because I want to quibble, but because the claim “Throughout recorded history” is grossly exaggerated. Recorded history takes us back to 500 BC at least, and Germany has existed for only the last 5-6% of that period.


SOURCE ---UKIP DAILY





 


























Send
Discard










Deleted. Ctrl + Z to Undo.


 
Share this topic...
In a forum
(BBCode)
In a site/blog
(HTML)


SMF spam blocked by CleanTalk