Dead Men Left

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Ringtones, liberal xenophobia, and the EU constitution

Unsettling how quickly the terribly cosmopolitan and sophisticated British Europhiles have taken to the xenophobia their erstwhile opponents on the Eurosceptic Right have peddled for years. I've noticed the sneery references to "Gallic tenets" before; columns in the guardian of liberal Europhilism rail incomprehendingly against the "fearful" French; and, scraping the bottom of an evidently large barrel, two cartoons in the Blairite's house journal, The Observer, referred to the French as frogs - crazy frogs, in fact, substituting national slurs in the absence of wit or creative thought. Too many liberal Europhiles would, it seems, rather adopt the gutter rhetoric of Robert Kilroy-Silk than face up to the crystal clear verdict delivered by the French no: a verdict based, unlike the mystical appeals to "European unity" in the service of European capital, on actually reading the bloody document. The Apostate Windbag demonstrates exactly why this paen to the free-market masquerading as a constitution should be torn up:

1. Articles 111-69, 70, 77, 144 and 180 all identically repeat that the Union will act 'in conformity with the respect for the principles of an open economic market where competition is free.'

2. There are numerous clauses that specifically correspond to demands made by certain employer organisations.

3. The ECT demands unanimous voting for any measures that might go against corporate interests. This is the certainly case for measures against tax fraud, or taxation of companies. Such legislative movement in this regard requires a unanimous vote as, above all, "[it is] necessary for the functioning of the internal market and to avoid distortion of competition." (111-63). Thus, any future proposed duty imposed on corporations would be subject to unanimous voting - something the Ouistes regularly trot out as being reduced under the ECT.

4. Shockingly, the ECT demands all states' subservience to NATO: '[M]ember states shall undertake progressively to improve their military capacities.' (1-40-3). Article 1-40-2 says that European defence policy shall be compatible with members' NATO obligations, a direct recognition of the superior judicial status of that military organisation. Furthermore, the article continues with even greater precision that "participating member states shall work in close collaboration with NATO". Even in situations of "internal serious disturbances affecting public order, in cases of war or of [...] the threat of war", member states are obliged to work together in order to avoid "affecting" the functioning of the "internal market"! (III-16)'

5. Perhaps most disturbing in the ECT is clause 17 of the third section, regarding the question of the break-up of public services: It is permitted that a member state can be in favour of maintaining a public service. But public services have: "the effect of distorting the conditions of competition in the internal market, [and] the Commission shall, together with the state concerned, examine how these steps can be adjusted to the rules laid dawn in the Constitution. By derogation of common law procedure, the Commission or any member state can apply directly to the Court of Justice which will sit in secret..." (III-17)' Thus the constitution from the start commits member states to the ultimate elimination of public services.

Jonathan Steele, as so often almost alone amongst the deluded ranks of liberal commentators, gets it right:

With the leaders of the two main political parties and every national newspaper and TV channel ranged behind the yes vote, the no campaign revolted against that monolithic pensée unique in the political elite of France and Brussels that implied that anyone thinking of rejecting the constitution was a freak. It was a shout of defiance at intellectual Stalinism, masquerading as liberalism, which recognises only one side of an argument as respectable and pays serious attention to no one but those it already agrees with...

The left was looking forwards and outwards. It called for a different, more "social" Europe in which the forces of international competition would not create a race to the bottom and a Europe of the lowest common denominator, in which the social rights won during a century of political struggle would be whittled away.