We voted Leave because we believe it is essential to preserve the two things we value most: a democratic political system and a social-democratic society. We fear that the European Union’s authoritarian project of neoliberal integration is a breeding ground for the far right. By sealing off so much policy, including the imposition of long-term austerity measures and mass immigration, from the democratic process, the union has broken the contract between mainstream national politicians and their voters. This has opened the door to right-wing populists who claim to represent “the people,” already angry at austerity, against the immigrant.I don't know that it's right to blame the rise of the European far-right on the EU, since nations outside the EU are having their own problems in that direction. Plus, socialists were arguing for a unified Europe before Hayek was even born. But I agree absolutely that the current structure of the EU thwarts democracy. The dream of a borderless, peaceful world is a powerful one, and I see why the EU is appealing on those grounds. But for me democracy matters more.
It was the free-market economist Friedrich Hayek, the intellectual architect of neoliberalism, who called in 1939 for “interstate federalism” in Europe to prevent voters from using democracy to interfere with the operation of the free market. Simply put, as Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission (the union’s executive body), did: “There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.”
The union’s structures and treaties are designed accordingly. The European Commission is appointed, not elected, and it is proudly unaccountable to any electorate. “We don’t change our position according to elections” was how the commission’s vice president Jyrki Katainen greeted the victory of the anti-austerity party Syriza in Greece in 2015. . . .
The wishes of electorates are regularly brushed aside. When, in 2005, a proposed European Constitution was rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands (most governments did not even allow a vote), this meant nothing to the proponents of the European Project. A few cosmetic tweaks, and the constitution was imposed anyway; only then, it was called the Lisbon Treaty. (Ireland, the only state to allow a referendum on the treaty, voted against it. So Ireland was told to vote again until it got it right. That’s democracy, European Union-style.)
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
The Left Case Against the EU
British leftist Alan Johnson supported Brexit not for anti-immigrant or nationalist reasons, but because he thinks the EU has become an authoritarian state: