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EU Again, Democracy and People Power

5.31.2005

I was scurrying about blog-land yesterday when I came across someone posting regarding the EU constitution and post-democracy. The point they were making is that the EU is seen as a next generation of organisation and government. However I am struck by how willingly our elected leaders give power to an instruction of zero accountability. It is some Kierkegaardian concept of diminishing responsibility. Where many people form in groups, responsibility becomes divided among them and no single person feels or seems accountably for the actions of the many. However responsibility is actually indivisible therefore the group merely destroys all responsibility. The EU ahs the same effect on most national politicians. By using the EU and groups as a proxy for making unpopular decisions in a context of shared sovereignty it is unlikely that any single member will be held to account. People can simply point to the broader EU grouping and blame all or none.
The beauty of this system is that national politicians circumvent democratic safeguards and restrictions on their behaviour. This allows their action to be informed by lobby groups and other unsavoury actors seeking to wield influence. The EU has been a large dose of back door corporatism, which for years has grown unobserved and unchecked. I think that the French no, which came about for its own reason but has large ramifications nonetheless, can begin a trend not necessarily of socialising Europe but of opening and democratising it. To be fair extended power to the parliament is a bit of a fop. They do little more but make broad recommendations and hold budgetary power every so often. The problem with the insular EU is the ease with which thinking becomes homogenised.
The time has come for EU to evolve and for the proud people of Europe to be consulted about the direction of our continent. Many of us are suspicious of the gravy train etc but what we should be more worried about is the degree to which our national politicians can use the EU to make some nasty decisions with relative impunity. No local politician gets punished for EU activity (broadly speaking, all politics is local) however the reverse is true.
We must fight for light to be shed on the working s of the EU and if it hopes to continue running then so must it open up. The EU is a necessity in our times but is has many roads down which it can follow; the crossroads we arrive at is forced on us by many new and varied problems. Europe is clear of the burden of WWII and so the EU now needs a current and real sense of purpose heading into the 21st century. It can lead nations to peace prosperity and equality or it can continue to be a dark and impenetrable entity used by big business to force open markets. I sincerely hope that this opportunity is taken by the left to reform and redirect Europe. It must be reformed to become an extension of the will of the people.
The EU has great potential to be a uniter of people and the bearer of an alternative to or form of capitalism. It will only be this if we direct it so. Ultimately we can control and frustrate Europe until it works to our advantage, how does one unite a 25-country body into consensus? I don’t know. We achieved it once and look unlikely to do so again. Any deal should be informed by a broad European left influencing not only policy but also direction and democratic expansion. If it weren’t so dark a body, a debate on the merits of the constitution would be much easier.
The remaining countries must have a vote. A profound division is opening between people and politicians. They do not overly worry but they should. After sixty years of simple blind faith the people of the EU are looking for some return on their investment. The opening divisions of Europe between politicians who feel empowered by an undemocratic entity and a people who realise that their freedom depends on the strength of their voice looks like a fight from the enlightenment. There will be debate and coercion but the unfortunate truth is Europe must now and forever more be forced to make its case in a fair and clear manner and can no longer rely on peoples blind faith or parliaments simply ratifying anyway. Though it may make the life of Tony Blair more difficult rejection can spark a renewed sense of ownership by the people of their Europe.
Red Rover

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