Mont Pelerin Society General Meeting Speech: We Are Not on the Winning Side by Václav Klaus

Vaclav KlausI already had a chance to say earlier this week how pleased I am and we all are to host the Mont Pelerin Society General Meeting here in Prague. I hope you have been enjoying your stay.

More then 20 years ago, two years after the fall of communism in this country and this part of the world, we had here the MPS Regional Meeting, in which some of you participated. At
that time, we were in the crucial moments of our radical transition from communism to free society which was in many respects based on the ideas connected with the Mont Pelerin Society. This meeting gave us important moral support and helped us in our efforts to get rid of the past and to build a free society in a MPS sense.

Since then, we have succeeded in changing the country substantially in this direction. As you may see, the Czech Republic has made a visible step forward. Yet, it would be inappropriate to declare victory.

For someone like me, who after the fall of communism actively participated in preparing and organizing radical political and economic changes, the world we live in now is a disappointment. We live in a far more socialist and etatist society than we had then imagined. After the promising beginning, we are in number of respects returning back to the era we used to live in in the past and which we had considered gone once and for all. Let me stress that I do not have in mind this country only but Europe and the whole Western world.

Twenty years ago, it seemed to us that right in front of our eyes a far-reaching shift was taking place on the “oppresion vs. freedom” and the “state vs. market” axis. It was a justified feeling. It was reinforced by the fact that our Velvet Revolution had taken place at a time of the historically unique era of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Thanks to them and in the world of ideas thanks to Hayek, Friedman, Stigler and a few others, we believed that capitalism, at least for a certain period of time, succeeded in defending itself against global socialism. People like me knew that these individuals were exceptional and unique, but we did not expect that what they achieved would be so quickly forgotten. We erroneously hoped that the changes that had been taking place at that time were irreversible.

Today, many of us no longer have this feeling; at least I certainly do not. Once again,
almost invisibly and in silence, capitalism and freedom have been weakened. My friend Pascal Salin, a former MPS President, must have had a similar feeling when he in his presidential address in 1996 in Vienna made the following remark: “We are not the winners
of the present time”. In 1996, the fact that we were losing did not seem as obvious to me, as it does today. The system of political freedom and parliamentary democracy was established quickly, thus replacing the former authoritarian, if not totalitarian political regime; the market and private ownership instead of planning started to dominate the economy and overall liberalization, deregulation and de-subsidization took place. The state radically receded in all its roles and the free individual got to the forefront.

Our optimism was based on the strong belief in the power of principles of free society, of free markets, of the ideas of freedom as well as in our ability to promote these ideas. Today, at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, our feeling is different. We ask ourselves: Did we have unreasonable and unjustified illusions? Did we perceive the
world in a wrong way? Were we naive and foolish? Were our expectations mistaken?

These questions deserve serious answers. We could, and may have been wrong, there is no doubt about it, but it was not because we were under any illusions about the West, in particular about Western Europe, about the EU. People like me were not misled by any illusions about a possible convergence of capitalism and socialism, very popular in the West starting in the early 1960s, or by dreams about possible third ways. We rejected those without any hesitation.[1]

We saw a number of things already then, and thanks to our life in communism, we saw them more clearly than some of our friends in the West including those sharing the same political and ideological ideas. Let me start by indicating what we were aware of and afraid of as regards the future already in the communist era.

1. We knew that socialism, or socialdemocratism, or “soziale Marktwirtschaft“ is here, is here to stay and – due to its internal dynamics – will expand.

2. From the turn of the 1960s and 1970s, that is from the establishment of the Club of Rome and its first reports, I became afraid of the green ideology, in which I saw a dangerous alternative to the traditional socialist doctrine. It was evident that it was another radical attempt to change human society. The alleged depletion of natural resources and the so called population bomb were merely a pretence. At that time it was not possible to see the Global Warming Doctrine that arrived later, nor the power and dangers hidden inside it.[2]

3. Even during our life under communism, people like me were aware of the leftism of intellectuals[3] since we had the chance to see for ourselves that it was the intellectuals or their vast majority who served as the main driving force behind communism and doctrines close to it. Authentic representatives of the working class, that is Marx’s proletariat, have never been true believers in communism. Already at that time, I followed with great concern the “excessive production of under-educated intellectuals” that emerged in the West as a result of the rising university education for all. One of its implications was and is the superficiality of public discourse that has reached extraordinary dimensions.

Intellectuals are to a great extent socialists because – as Hayek put it – they are convinced that socialism is a “science applied to all fields of human activity” and thanks to that, it is a system created “exactly for them.” “Intellectuals feel they are the most valuable people”[4] and that is why they do not want to be evaluated by the market, since the market often does not share their high self-evaluation.

4. Socialism (or rather communism, as we say today) has from its very beginning been based on an apotheosis of science and on a firmly rooted hope that science shall solve all existing human and social problems; that is why it is not necessary to change the system. It suffices to make it slightly more enlightened. Our communist experience tells us that this idea is absurd. It did seem to us back then that the West believed in the same fallacy.

We did not believe in the technocratic thinking, in the belief in the rightfulness of science and technology to organize human society. I was not able to appreciate Herman Kahn, Jay W. Forrester, Alvin Toffler (and recently also Max Singer and his book “History of the Future”[5]) because I felt the risk that stems from underestimating social or systemic characteristics of human society by those people and from their unjustified technological optimism, which actually did not differ much from the Marxist doctrine. In this context, I have always had Aldous Huxley and his unsurpassed “Brave New World” as a warning memento in front of my eyes.

We learned a lot from Hayek’s seminal article “The Use of Knowledge in Society”.[6] Whilst socialist ideologues (in the East and also in the West) regarded nothing else but science and other organized and organisable learning as knowledge, we – in line with Hayek – unterstood that the most important knowledge was practical knowledge dispersed within society that people use in their everyday life, and not just write books about. The nowadays so fashionable notion of the “knowledge economy” is empty. Each and every economy in the past has been based on knowledge, what mattered was how the people managed to use it.

These were the main problems I was aware of, but there are issues – as we see them now – that we underestimated or did not see. I will name some of them.

1. We probably did not fully understand the far-reaching implications of the 1960s. This “romantic” era was a period of radical denial of the authority of traditional values and social institutions. As a result, generations were born that do not understand the meaning of our civilisational, cultural and ethical heritage, and are deprived of having any compass guiding their behaviour.

2. We underestimated certain problematic aspects of a standard, formally well– functioning democratic system that lacked an underlying set of deeper values. We did not see the power of the demagogical element of democracy that allows people within this system to demand “something for nothing”. We did not expect that the political process will lead to such a preference of decision-making that brings “visible and concentrated benefits” at the price of “invisible and dispersed costs”, which is one of the main reasons for the current Euro-American debt crisis.

3. Already in the past, I feared the gradual shifting away from civil rights to human rights, which has been taking place for quite some time. I feared the ideology of human-rightism, but did not anticipate the consequences of this doctrine. Human-rightism is an ideology that has nothing in common with practical issues of the individual freedom and of free political discourse. It is about entitlements. Classical liberals and libertarians do not emphasize enough that the rights interpreted in this way are against freedom and the
rational functioning of society.

Human rights are in fact a revolutionary denial of civil rights. They do not need any citizenship. That is also why human-rightism calls for the destruction of the sovereignty of individual countries, particularly in today’s Europe. Positive human rights also contributed heavily to the present era of political correctness with all its destructive force.[7]

4. Related to human-rightism and political correctness is the massive advancement of another contemporary alternative or substitute for democracy, juristocracy. Every day we witness political power being taken away from elected politicians and shifted to unelected judges.[8] “Modern judicial activism is in many ways an expression of the old belief that democracy must be tempered by aristocracy” (p. 17), in other words that democracy without a certain “chosenness” (i.e. unelectedness) of this judicial aristocracy cannot function well. It is also worthwhile to realise that “the main method how this judicial activism is implemented is the path of rights” (ibid.), yet it is not the path of civil rights, but rather human rights. All
that is a part of an illusion about potential (and desirable) abolition of politics, in other words of democracy. Juristocracy is another step towards the establishment of a post- political society.

5. Likewise, I did not expect the powerful position that NGOs (that is civil society institutions) would gain in our countries and in particular in the supranational world, and how irreconcilable their fight with parliamentary democracy would be. It is a fight that they are winning more and more as time goes by.[9] Institutions such as NGOs, which are the products of organised groups of people who in an apolitical manner strive for advantages and privileges, bluntly deny the liberalisation of human society that had taken place over the past two centuries. I do not recall where I first came across the statement that those institutions represent a new re-feudalisation of society, but I consider it to be a very good one.

6. We lived in a world of suppressed freedom of the press for too long, and that is why we considered the unlimited freedom of the media as the necessary prerequisite for a truly free society. Nowadays we are not sure about it. Formally, in the Czech Republic as well as in the whole Western world there is almost absolute freedom of the press, but at the same time an unbelievable manipulation by the press. Our democracy quickly changed into mediocracy, which is yet another alternative to democracy, or rather one of the ways to destroy democracy.[10]

7. In a closed communist world, in which we opposed, due to the tragic experience with the imperial policy of the Soviet Union, everything supranational, i.e. coming from Moscow, we failed to see the danger of the gradually ongoing shift from national and international to transnational and supranational in the current world.[11] In those days we did not follow European integration very closely, perhaps for understandable reasons. We tended to see only its liberalising aspect rather than the dangerous supranationalism that destroys the democracy and sovereignty of countries.

8. I also did not expect such a weak defence of the ideas of capitalism, free market and minimal state. I did not imagine that capitalism and the market would become almost inappropriate, politically incorrect words that a “decent” contemporary politician should better avoid. I had thought that something like that was only some kind of a compulsory coloratura of the Marxist or communist doctrine. Only now do I see the real depth of hatred towards wealth and productive work, only now do I realise the role of human envy and of a completely primitive thought that other person’s wealth is solely and purely at my expense.

9. I did not expect such popularity of public goods, of the public sector, of the visible hand of the state, of redistribution, of wisdom of the anointed in comparison with the wisdom of the rest of us. As an economist who has for decades, in fact from the mid-1960s, carefully followed Western economic literature, I did not expect that the ideas of monetarism would be so quickly abandoned, that people would so quickly forget that the word regulation is yet another expression for planning, that social policy would not differ much from communism, that people would forget that the market either is or is not, since it has to be formed spontaneously, that after a radical removal of grants and subsidies of all kinds we will be – by means of a new re-subsidisation of the economy – once again forced to introduce them, that such mistakes would be made in the economic policy, in the establishment of monetary unions, etc. We did not expect that people would be so unwilling to take on the responsibility for their lives, that there would be such fear of freedom, and that there would be such trust in the omnipotence of the state.

Why have we as MPS members allowed this to happen?

I do not think that we failed analytically. There are other reasons. There is certain recklessness, if not laziness in our thinking and behavior. There is insufficient personal courage involved, fear of standing alone with one’s opinions. Even we have failed in the sense that we are not being heard loud enough, that we no longer actively promote freedom, that we no longer have any Milton Friedmans among us. Even though it is important that we address one another at meetings such as this one, I fear that we are not being heard outside of this circle. We are pleased that we publish one another’s articles in our own journals and newsletters, but we have to strive to enter the “other” journals – journals for “the others”. Even though ideas promote themselves, they do so only in the very long run, and that may already be too late.

Likewise, we have to concede that we are not producing serious empirical, descriptive, positive socio-economic analyses. What prevails are pieces of partial analyses and shallow normative ideological papers. What is missing are non-declaratory texts, a deep “anatomy” of the current situation.

I would be glad if I were wrong. I would be glad if it showed up that the robustness of capitalism was such that all that would be corrected. Even though it will eventually happen, it will certainly not happen spontaneously. Hayek rightly argued that “freedom cannot endure unless every generation restates and reemphasizes its value”. Now it is our turn. Our generation and the generation of our children have to do it. And we should start doing it before it is too late.

Václav Klaus, Mont Pelerin Society General Meeting, Prague Castle, Prague, September 7,
2012

[1] More about this topic can be found in my address at the MPS Regional Meeting in Vancouver in August 1999 “The Third Way and Its Fatal Conceits”, published in a book “On the Road to Democracy”, NCPA, Dallas, 2005. Even today in various countries around the globe, I am constantly confronted with people recalling my statement from January 1990 made in Davos that “the Third Way is the fastest way to the Third World”.

[2] I refer to my book “Modrá, nikoli zelená planeta” (“Blue Planet in Green Shackles”), Dokořán, Prague, 2007 and its publications abroad (it is already available in 18 languages).

[3] Friedrich von Hayek: “The Intellectuals and Socialism”, The University of Chicago Law Review, Spring 1949. Available at http://mises.org/etexts/hayekintellectuals.pdf.

[4] Robert Nozick, “Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism”, CATO Policy
Report,Washington, D.C., No. 1, 1998.

The Debates in British Parliament

Most politicians, if not all, know exactly what the European Union is to turn into, for it is written clearly enough in Hansard. It is only the ordinary people of the Country that these politicians of yesterday and today didn’t see fit to enlighten. Yet these ordinary people trusted them, they voted for them to look after them and this their Country.

As I take words from Hansard, and to mean anything at all, they have to be the words taken from before we actually joined the European Community or Common Market as we were told. My one difficulty is, there are so many words to choose from on this subject it is difficult to choose which ones to set down for you to read. I have put the dates and column numbers for your own confirmation.

Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, 31st July 1961 (column 928)

This is political as well as an economic issue. Although the Treaty of Rome is concerned with economic matters it has an important political objective, namely to promote unity and stability in Europe which is so essential a factor in the struggle for freedom and progress throughout the world.”

Mr Fell, same day (Column 935)

Is the Prime Minister aware that this decision to gamble with the British sovereignty in Europe, when 650 million people in the British Commonwealth depend upon his faith and his leadership, is the most disastrous thing that any Prime Minister has done for many generations past?”

On 2nd August 1961 (column 1478), a Mr Silverman is restating that on the 28th June he moved a Motion about the European Common Market in the following terms, “That this House, being gravely concerned at the pressure to make this country enter a European Common Market and the consequent threat to subject its independence, its membership of the Commonwealth and its right and power to plan its economy in its own way, to a political union with Germany, France, Italy and Benelux, as well as a threat to the survival of the Commonwealth inherent in

these proposals, urges Her Majesty’s Government not to enter into any negotiations concerning such entry until expressly empowered so to do by a conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers and by this House.”

Later on that same day (column 1480) at 3.42 pm, the Prime Minister Harold Macmillan:

I beg to move, That this House supports the decision of Her Majesty’s Government to make formal application under Article 237 of the Treaty of Rome in order to initiate negotiations to see if satisfactory arrangements can be made to meet the special interests of the United Kingdom. Etc, etc”

Later on (column1491), he states,

This problem of sovereignty, to which we must, of course, attach the highest importance is, in the end, perhaps a matter of degree.  I fully accept that there are some forces in Europe which would like a genuine federalist system. There are many of my colleagues on both sides of the House who have seen this at Strasbourg and other gatherings. They would like Europe to turn itself into a sort of United States, but I believe this to be a completely false-analogy.”

 Mr Gaitskell then reminds the Prime Minister (column 1498) what Macmillan said in 1956, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, which was,

Finally, we must recognise that the aim of the main proponents of the Community is political integration. We can see that in Article 138 of the Treaty, which looks towards a common assembly, directly elected. The whole idea of the six, the coal and steel community and Euratom is a movement towards political integration. That is a fine assertion, but we must recognise that for us to sign the Treaty of Rome would be to accept as the ultimate goal – to accept as the ultimate goal– political federation in Europe, including ourselves.”

Later on (column1501), Mr Gaitskell says,

“There is the question of a common currency, which is mentioned in various quarters as something to which we must look forward.  In my opinion, it is idle to speak about a common currency until there is a common government, and the idea of not being in control of our own currency, and having it subject to a supranational or international gathering, would be quite wrong, and I hope that, equally, will be made abundantly plain.”

On 3rd August 1961 (column 1735), Mr Shinwell continues his words after having read out a part of the Treaty of Rome, ending with

reinforcement of the European Parliament through direct elections and widening of its powers and, finally, a European Government. That is the intention. That is their object and that is what they are saying on Hon Members can talk until they are black in the face about the Rome Treaty and there being no provision for federation, but there is no doubt that from the declarations made by some of the most influential people – M.Spaak, Professor Hallstein and others who have indicated that there is a definite intention and that once we accept the economic provisions of the Rome Treaty – and it looks as though this government might – they are on their way towards complete political integration.”

I wonder what this place will be like during the course of the next ten years? There will not be 630 Hon Members. There will be no need for more than 150 or so. It will be like—“

Mr A. C. Manuel, A Council.”

Mr Shinwell, “I was about to say a Parish Council, with the authority of some kind delegated to it by the European Parliament and dictated to be a European Government. To that we are being led.”

On 16th November 1966 (Column 446), I quote just a couple of comments from the then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr George Brown, on the subject of joining the EEC,

The issue today is not do we join Europe – (who does he remind you of?) we have always been there. The issue is can we play such a role that from here on the continent shall be unified and we shall be effectively a leader of it?”

And a little later on (Column 488) he says,

We could clearly play a much greater role from within the Community, in influencing these affairs than we can play from outside”.

 I now turn to Sir D.Walker-Smith, snippets from his speech on 16th November 1966 (Column474)

On the constitutional side, the agricultural position shows clearly under the Treaty of Rome we would no longer be masters in our own house and that the powers of decision would pass from Parliament.  For many years this country has practised a system of price support. It may or may not be the best system, but it has operated for 20 years with the assent of both sides of the House, etc, etc.”

But the constitutional question is clear. It would not matter if not one Member wanted to change the system.  That would be irrelevant because, under the Treaty of Rome, if we join the Community the power of decision passes from this House.”

I now turn to the political and constitutional aspects, of which there are two. First, there is the immediate affect of adherence to the Treaty on British sovereignty, and secondly, the future question whether membership of the Community carries any implied or inescapable commitment to political federation in the future?”

On the second of those matters, the position is clear as far as it goes; but our range of vision is necessarily limited. The Treaty, of course, carries no express commitment to future federation.  But the difficulty is that as time goes by, if we join the Community, the decision about federation would not be one of our own choosing so much as the will of others, because our arrangements would be so inextricably involved with those of the Community that it would be difficult to the point of impossibility in practice—though not impossible in theory– to dissociate ourselves from a supranational federation if our partners decide that they want it.” Etc, etc.

I come now to the other question relating to the political and constitutional aspect-the immediate consequences of signing the Treaty of Rome.  Here we can see the position much more clearly.  Two truths are apparent—first, that over a wide range of our national life there would be an immediate abandonment of sovereignty and of our constitutional principle of the sovereignty of Parliament. The second truth is that, so far, the British people have very little idea of what is involved.”

(Column 478),

It is clear that Article (189) in respect of those Regulations this House can be nothing but a conduit pipe.  That will be its role. We cannot reject of even vary any of the regulations which are at present pouring out from Brussels.  The collective law of the Community would bind the individual British citizen, and Parliament and Courts alike would be powerless to intervene.  That would be a heavy price to pay for Membership of the Community.”

The British people may, in the event, pay it.  I do not presume to prophesy about that, but I do know that they should not be asked to pay it in ignorance.  It is a mistake to assume that the British people are interested only in the economic bread and butter aspects of this matter.  It is a mistake to assume that they are not interested in these great political and constitutional matters.  I know, of course, that terms like “sovereignty” are not part of the every day idiom of the British people; but the represent things which are long-established and cherished.  They are like the air we breath – little noticed in its presence but valued beyond price in the event of deprivation.”

 There is therefore, a duty on the Government of explanation and instruction, a duty not to gloss over these political and constitutional consequences.”

Mr Stanley Orme, 16th November 1966 (Column 489),

I want first to consider the European situation. At a private meeting in the House, M. Spaak, who was prominent in the setting up of the Community, explained his concept of what the European Community should be and what it should entail, and his explanation sent shivers down the spine’s of some of my Hon Friends who are very pro-European.  M. Spaak’s political concept is that of many statesmen, particularly among the five, excluding France, (General de Gaulle, who wanted a Europ des Patries) It is the political issue which we must seriously consider.”

M. Spaak is against the entry of any neutrals. He regards the Community purely as an extension of the militarily based N.A.T.O. a further extension of a military alliance.  I do not attribute those views to all of my Hon Friends who favour entry, but I do know that there are many Hon Members on both sides of the House who are interested in the Community not just as an economic unit but as a political unit too.  They regard it as a supranational authority of which Britain should be a part.”

Page 492, still Mr Orme,

It has been said that the British people do not fully understand what is involved in our entry to the Common Market.  This is true, and I am hoping that the continuing debates on this matter will get the facts across to our people.  It is not just a matter of an increase in food prices, serious as they may be; it is not simply the effect on the economy, the distribution of our industry and our future development, or our social services.  It has also to do with how the Community is operated and controlled.  The Community is undemocratic.”

Mr Jennings, 16th November 1966 (Column 495),

I cannot bring myself to assume that there will be no political and constitutional connotations if we sign the Treaty of Rome.  It is historically illogical that this should happen, that one step will follow another, and that from economic union there will follow political union.  I have no objection to economic arrangements, even a negotiated economic union, provided we get certain safeguards.  But I am horrified when I am told that I am as British as ever because I do not want to be a European first.  I want to be British first and European after.  Is there any shame of disgrace in wanting to be British first?  It is therefore the implications and consequences of economic union of which I am frightened.”

We know quite well that five or six years ago, when we debated the question in this House, the sentiment in most of those who supported going into the Market was eventually for a political alignment and a politically united Europe. They do not deny it. They are quite honest.  Even Members who are here tonight are nodding their heads on agreement.  They know that this is what they want.  That is what frightens me.”

The question of sovereignty or loss of sovereignty and political union in a political union in a federal United States of Europe has been swept nicely, beautifully and quietly under the carpet.”

It is almost a sin to talk about it.  Apparently we have got to get into the Community, because of the mess we are in, in order to live as a nation. ‘Oh thou of little faith’,. Have we lost faith in our own selves?  Have we lost pride in our own ability even to stand alone?”

Page 497,

“My Rt. Hon and leaned friend the Member for Hertfordshire (Sir D. Walker-Smith who five years ago most expertly, throughout the country and in this House, exposed what the loss of sovereignty would be, has touched upon it and given us the gist of it this afternoon. But the ordinary man in the street has no conception of what he will lose in rights and privileges that he now enjoys, even in a denigrated Britain, which is the attitude that many people tend to adopt.  I mean questions of social services, benefits, rates of contributions, the position of the trade unions and all that sort of thing. How much loss of sovereignty of this House will there be?”

It is easy to talk glibly about going into Europe. That is the way that it is put over to the electorate.  “Let us go into Europe”. Is the theme.  We never attempt to say what we mean by going into Europe, but just what do we mean?  Do we mean trade?  Is that all?  Do we leave the other sort of things, the unmentionables? Under the carpet or push them under the bed, or where?  By going into Europe, do we mean in addition to the trade negotiations a form of federalism in which Britain would become a State in a United States of Europe, or part of Europe—what I have described as the rump of Europe?”

I am not in favour of a federal United States of Europe or binding ourselves in any direction like that.  I would look more kindly on a confederal system, if we had to have something like this.  The alternative is what is called federalism.”

I am not prepared to sign a blank cheque that would denude this House of its powers; nor can I support a central Parliament to which we would contribute electorally, a central Parliament in Europe. I ask the Rt Hon Gentleman who is to reply to this debate, if this question of sovereignty and all it means does not arise, will he tell us quite clearly, and if he does, will he tonight, or his Rt. Hon Friends tomorrow night, tell us how much loss of sovereignty is involved?”

16th November 1966 (Column 510), Mrs Renee Short,

I must add my view that many of those speaking in favour of going into the Common Market are tending to gloss over the problems and difficulties that would face us as a Nation.  This is not really being fair to the public outside this place whom we represent and who rely on us for leadership in this matter, and in connection with all the other important problems with which we as Members of Parliament have to deal.”

My own view on this issue of entering or not entering the Common Market we have been brainwashed for a long time.  I do not go along with this emotive phrase, Going into Europe”. As my Rt. Hon Friend said, we are in Europe; the question is what sort of Europe are we going into?  Enormous pressure has been exerted, not only by big business, which has obviously vested interests for going into Europe, but by the Press.” Etc, etc.

 Page 518, still Mrs Short.

“It is no use saying that if we go into the Common Market we should accept the Treaty of Rome as if it is written, with all the small print—most of which I find extremely alarming, including many articles which were referred to by the Rt. Hon and learned Member for Hertfordshire (Sir D. Walker-Smith), which refer to the power of the Commission to issue directives to Member States as to what they should do about their economy.  There are many of these articles (Interruption) Oh yes, there are. There are at least a dozen.  The Rt. Hon Gentleman gave some of the numbers.  They lay down clearly that the Commission can issue directives to Member States.  In the event of economic difficulties the Commission can issue directives about taxation, aid to nationalised industries, and many other matters which affect the economies of nations.”

It is no good saying, “It is all right.  We can accept this and when we get inside we shall be able to change the machinery.”  This is barking up the wrong tree.  If we go in we shall have precisely the same voting power–no more and no less, as West Germany, France or Italy, based on population. We shall therefore be faced with the possibility of being out-voted if three or four or five, of the existing Members decide to vote together on any issue.  We shall be able to speak and raise our voice, but our vote will not be decisive.”

 16th November 1966 (Column 530), Mr. A.J.Irvine,

“It will be found that there is strong opposition in this country and, I think, on this side of the House, to federalism, and I share that opposition.  There is certainly strong opposition to an excess of federalism, to any loss of identity of this Parliament, to any loss of sovereignty affecting foreign affairs, defence or certain aspects of our industrial and economic planning.”

The most interesting single feature of the Community at present is that, as I understand it, in our dislike of the federal solution we have a supporter in the President of France, and in the outlook of the French Government.  The President’s objections to federalism, which I share and which are enormously influential inside the Community, might in some respects neutralise his objection to our special relation with the United States.”

16th November 1966, Page 535, Sir Legge-Bourke,

The only respectable basis upon which anybody could be in favour of Britain’s entering the Common Market is by being at the same time entirely confederalist or federalist for Europe as a whole.  A study of the Treaty of Rome shows straight away that inevitable it will involve political changes of a federal kind.  How far and how fast and exactly how federal or confederal will be worked out as the years go by, but it is wrong to suppose that the Community can survive without a customs union being followed by a single currency, and it is wrong to suppose that the countries of the organisation can keep alive the vigour with which they started— and all credit to them— without developing politically with all this.  To make that supposition is to fail to face what is in the Treaty, or is deliberately to deceive the people.”

 I believe that the Treaty was conceived in a spirit of high federalism.  It was soon apparent to Europe that Britain was not overkeen on that idea, but Britain had to be brought in by the architects of the document. And so the whole thing was trimmed and as the negotiations developed, the emphasis was more and more on economics and less and less on the political side.”

I have long believed that the most important economic freedom for nations is the one freedom which was left out of the four Atlantic freedoms—the freedom of choice to do business with whomsoever one will on mutual beneficial terms.  In other words, this is the right to discriminate in trade.  This right was taken from us particularly by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which was signed by the first Labour Government after the war.  Again, I do not want to hark back over what happened after that.  I deeply regret that when it was returned to power the Conservative Party did not exercise the full rights which it had reserved through the mouth of Oliver Stanley and reassert our rights to alter our preferential tariffs and so on.”

8th May 1967 (Column 1088), The Prime Minister, Mr Harold Wilson,

I should like to deal before I come to the political issue.  One of them, on which certain anxieties have been expressed, is that the constitutional and legal implications for this country if we join the European Community.  Here again, our examination of the Treaties and the other law emanating from the European Institutions, but even more of the way in which member states have been applying Community law, taking full account of realities prevailing in the member states, has greatly reassured us about the possible implications for Britain.”

It is important to realise that Community law is mainly concerned with industrial and commercial activities, with corporate bodies rather than private individuals.  By far the greater part of our domestic law would remain unchanged after entry. Nothing in the Treaty would, for example, materially affect the general principles of the law of contract or tort or its Scottish equivalent, land law, the relations of landlord and tenant, housing, town and country planning, matrimonial law, or the law of inheritance.  The constitutional rights and liberties of the individual such as habeas corpus and the presumption of innocence will, of course not be affected; not in any material sense will our criminal law.  The main affect of Community law on our existing law is in the realms of commerce, Customs, restrictive practices and immigration and the operation of steel, coal and nuclear energy industries.”

8th May 1967 (Column 1109), Mr Turton,

The debate is historic, to follow the remarks of my Rt. Hon Friend, Sir Alec Douglas-Hume) It is historic because, if we join the Common Market, under Article 189 of the Treaty of Rome, NO Hon Member will be able to get up in this House and protest and vote against regulations which affect the economic or social welfare of his constituents.  For many of us that is the main reason why we take the view which we hold on this issue.”

Last November, I and many of my Rt, Hon Friends asked for a White Paper on the constitutional issues. We felt that they were what all the country should know about.  We have never had it.  We have never had a White Paper on the economic issues.  We have only had an article, a very fair and, I thought, damning article in The Times of last Monday.”

 (Column 1114),

I believe that acceptance of the Motion would lead to a betrayal of the Queen in Parliament, would be disloyal to our Commonwealth Members, and would put unendurable burdens on the British people.”

8th May 1967 (Column 1154), Mr Erec S. Heffer,

I also want us to go into the Community because I believe that a United States of Europe is absolutely essential, and I want to see a Socialist United States of Europe. That is the prospect.  I believe that we can get a socialist United States of Europe.”

Finally, I will finish with Mr Peter Shore (as he was then) on 22 February 1972 (column 1164),

When we consider the net effects of what we pay out and receive back, these arrangements are little short of a national disaster.  No Government in their senses could have agreed to terms so clearly against and detrimental to our interests.  It is difficult to imagine a system of taxation, a tax mix, that could impose a heavier and more disproportionate burden upon us than the particular tax mix that has emerged as the permanent tax system of the Community under the “own resources” rule.  I do not say that was the Community’s purpose, but they have been extremely blind in not recognising the grievous effect this is bound to have upon us.  Indeed, I cannot recall another example in history of a free country, without compulsion from outside, entering upon an arrangement so damaging to itself.”

Apart from being disastrous and unfair, these arrangements, as the Financial Secretary has made abundantly clear, constitutes a direct challenge to the most important power of Parliament, our exclusive control over taxation. As the Ways and Means Resolution makes clear, we shall permit the Community to tax the British people. We are acceding not just to the Treaty of Rome but to the Treaty of

Luxembourg of April 1970, which specifically authorised the Community to have its own resources and to receive the yield of the three taxes to which I have referred.”

That agreement was a major development in the Community and I found it extraordinary that, in our debate last week, neither the Solicitor General nor the Prime Minister had anything to say about it.  The Solicitor-General amused himself greatly by quoting from the 1967 White Paper on the legal and constitutional implications of Britain joining the Common Market but, in his efforts to show that the constitutional innovation of the Communities having directly applicable law in the United Kingdom was known in 1967, he totally, and to me surprisingly, omitted to mention the second and even greater constitutional innovation which occurred in 1970: the right of the Communities to tax directly the Member States.”

For the Prime Minister to say, as he did last Thursday, that the constitutional position has not changed in any single respect since the negotiations of 1961, when it was fully discussed in the House time and again, is stretching the truth to the greatest possible extent.”

This is a major development in the Communities, as a consequence of which there is a major intrusion into the sovereignty of Parliament.  The strongest of all our constitutional principles is that Parliament, and in particular the House of Commons which represents the people of this country, alone has the right to levy taxation.  That has been the basic constitutional doctrine.  Because Parliament three centuries ago insisted on this right, we gradually brought the Crown and the Executive under the control of elected representatives.  As we were reminded recently, Parliament made the supply of money to the Government conditional on the remedying of grievances.  That was the way in which control by the House of Commons was brought about.”

There should be no doubt about what is intended here.  It is not proposed that we should make a contribution to the Communities, which we can alter if we think it is too much or too little.  It is not a contribution at all.  The right to levy taxes, which are specified, is to be ceded to non-elected institutions of the Community without the further consent of Parliament of the British people. As the Ways and Means Resolution puts it, we shall be, giving effect to any charge to taxation of those Communities” That is quite unacceptable to us.”

There are more, many, many more pages of these debates; for the debates on our entry into the Community cover a great many number of years. I hope I have proved, without a shadow of doubt, that most, if not all Members of Parliament knew what the Community was eventually, step by step, to become.  Many Members of Parliament wanted to join, many did not. Again without a doubt, the truth of what the Community was to become was kept from the people of this Country. This was a complete betrayal to ALL in this Country.  Today’s politicians can find out the true facts of our history regarding this County’s entry into the European Community in exactly the same way that I have.  It just takes time and patience. It is all recorded, every sordid detail, (Britain’s shame) in Hansard.

No matter how long ago these events took place, the Members of Parliament that are still alive, should and must be made accountable for their actions, in the same way that ‘today’s’ MPs will surely be.

The EU and Your Child, a concerned parent’s guide

One of the hallmarks of civil society is an insistence that citizens, and in particular schoolchildren, should be encouraged to make up their own minds on important social and political issues. While most responsible parents would agree that children should be taught about the rival political or economic theories of our time, virtually all would also agree that controversial issues must be presented in an even handed way – as indeed the law of the land requires. Neither side should be presented as ‘right’ and the other ‘wrong’ – nor should only one side of the argument be presented to the exclusion of other points of view.

It is, in fact, the absence of this balance which is a defining characteristic of totalitarian states. Adolf Hitler famously observed that it did not matter if the Nazis faced opposition from adults, because their children would be bound into the system forever. The result was the creation of the Hitler Youth and an all-pervasive indoctrination of children from birth. The Soviet Union and other Communist states adopted practically identical systems.

Today, in Britain, the European Union (EU) is engaged in educational programmes aimed specifically at children which are blatantly in breach both the law and the principles of even-handedness.

In this pamphlet we will cite examples of deliberate distortions and outright lies contained in EU educational literature. More common even than these, we will demonstrate areas where the European Union simply refuses to accept that alternative views exist, while failing to substantiate its own assertions. Finally, we will suggest what concerned parents can do about this situation.

It is not our purpose to debate whether propaganda aimed at children actually works. Fortunately, children are naturally robust in their views (as every parent knows!) and this may provide some level of protection against indoctrination. It is, nevertheless, important that a level playing field in the presentation of ideas is maintained.

Although inevitably there are lapses of judgement on the part of individual teachers and education authorities, Britain has for the most part an enviable record in this area. True, fierce debates take place over the role of, for example, sex education, or issues of ‘political correctness’, but the fact that such discussions take place at all indicates the rightful sensitivity of parents to the suggestion that their children are not being given both sides of the story.

Lest we ourselves be accused of bias, let us state our own position. The authors of this paper are supporters of the Campaign for an Independent Britain – assisted by contributors to the Eurofaq internet discussion group. Campaign for an Independent Britain believes that a negotiated British withdrawal from the European Union is both feasible and desirable. We should also state that we have no objection to the European Union seeking to promote its policies and activities. Indeed, we welcome such a debate. But what cannot be tolerated is one-sided misinformation presented as fact, without the fair possibility of correction or challenge. It is at this point that ‘information’ becomes ‘propaganda’. We believe that point has been reached in much of the material now being distributed by the European Union in our children’s schools.

Why target our children?

The European Union traces its history to the creation, in 1957, of a Common Market comprising six original members – Germany, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy. Britain joined at the beginning of 1973. The original defining
treaty is the Treaty of Rome. Subsequent treaties – most notably the Maastricht Treaty and the recent Amsterdam Treaty – have vastly extended the scope of the European Union’s fields of involvement in our national life.

Britain’s membership of the European Union has always been highly controversial. Currently, a sizeable minority (44% of voters) favours outright withdrawal from the EU. A majority of Britons are hostile to further moves towards a centralized European state. Equally, upwards of 60% of the UK population is opposed to the next major step towards European integration, Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), which would result in the scrapping of the pound sterling and its replacement with the European single currency, the ‘euro’.

Although ‘Euroscepticism’ is often portrayed as a purely British phenomenom, the fact is that groups opposing the current direction of European integration exist in every EU member nation. A majority of the citizens of Europe are opposed to further moves towards integration.

At one level, it is therefore quite clear why the European Union should seek to alter public opinion in the UK (and elsewhere). The European Union’s institutions and policies are deeply unpopular. Naturally, the EU wishes to change that perception. And let us state again that they have every right to do so. What they must not do is present their case as though it is impartial fact, rather than part of a fierce and ongoing political debate.

It should also be noted that the British Government is unfortunately not neutral in this respect. In 1997, the Government launched, without any apparent consultation with parents and teachers, the ‘Partner in Europe Package’. This was backed by an EU grant of up to £2,000,000. The cost to the taxpayer was estimated as between £224,000 to £309,000. Amongst its proposals are the solving of mathematical problems in euros and the introduction of French folk dancing into PE classes. The package includes a section for teachers and administrators entitled ‘Managing the European Dimension’. This includes the statement that “a European dimension in education is not an explicit part of the inspection framework [but how] European policy and plans contribute [are to be] reported on in inspection.” In other words, schools will be judged on their willingness to include the ‘European dimension’ even though it is not a legal requirement of the national curriculum.

The current government also favours entry into Economic and Monetary Union as ‘soon as the time is right.’ This is a barely coded euphemism for ‘as soon as we can win a referendum.’ Since today’s 15-16 year olds would probably be old enough to vote in such a referendum, they can be regarded as a valid target for influence.

There is a broader context. The European Union has become increasing paternalistic in its view of Europe’s youth and open in its belief that indoctrination of the young is a permissible activity. In the weird and somewhat sinister language of official European Union documents “it is strategically judicious to act where resistance is weakest… Mother Europe must protect her children.”

In 1988, EU Education Ministers called upon member states to “strengthen in young people a sense of European identity; prepare young people to take part in the economic and social aspects of the Community; make them aware of the advantages of the EU; improve knowledge of the Community.” These objectives clearly go far beyond merely providing neutral ‘information’ about the EU. They seek positively promoting the alleged ‘advantages’ of EU membership and actively inculcate ‘a sense of European identity’ (as defined by the EU). As such they fall outside the requirement of the Education Act 1996 requiring impartiality in political education.

 The legal position

The Education Act 1996, Article 406, says that:

“The local education authority, governing body and head teacher shall forbid:
(a) the pursuit of partisan political activities by those registered pupils at a maintained school who are junior pupils, and
(b) the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject in the school”

Article 407 states that head teachers must ensure that “where political issues are brought to the attention of pupils they are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views.”

The legal position is thus quite clear. Not only are school teachers required to refrain from partisan political activities in the classroom, they are under an active obligation to prevent other individuals and groups (including schoolchildren themselves) from engaging in such pursuits. The direct responsibility lies with the governing body and the head teacher.

Governing bodies and head teachers have two alternatives, therefore, if they wish to remain within the law. Either they must prevent the introduction of European Union literature into schools, or, where it is allowed, permit the circulation of reasonable alternative material, provided the latter is non party-political in nature.

It is not a defence to claim, as is sometimes done, that EU material is simply ‘information.’ By its repeated inclusion of unsubstantiated and controversial assertions, European Union literature quite clearly falls short of such a definition. Indeed, by no stretch of the imagination can Britain’s relationship with the European Union – one of the most hotly debated questions of our time – not be considered a ‘political issue’.

How the EU targets schools

Culture, education and the arts are not mentioned in the Treaty of Rome which set up the original Common Market. Nevertheless, this is a field which Brussels has added to its agenda in recent years.

According to the European Union, “forty years of working together has made Europeans increasingly aware of their common culture, the importance of their cultural diversity and the immense riches of their cultural heritage” – in itself a highly contentious observation. This made it “almost inevitable” that the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht), which came into force in November 1993, should contain passages on cultural and educational policy.

The European Commission’s main educational initiative is called ‘Socretes – The European Union Education Programme’, the aim of which is to ‘help schools and colleges to enhance the European dimension in the curriculum’. Cultural exchanges and foreign languages are among its core activities. Some aspects of the EU’s cultural and educational programme are indeed relatively innocuous, such as its support for the European Union Youth Orchestra and the European Union Baroque Orchestra. Many others are considerably less benign.

A Guide for Students and Teachers issued by the European Commission, sets the standard for accuracy and impartiality which we will encounter throughout our analysis of the EU’s educational material. The document states that: “As a European Citizen you should enjoy higher living standards, improved opportunities for career development, better health and safety conditions.” Leaving aside the careful use here of the word ‘should’, this is an entirely open ended statement. Do teachers enjoy higher standards of living as a consequence of being a ‘European Citizen’? How are these measured? If so do they unequivocally arise from Britain’s membership of the EU? These questions are left entirely unanswered.

The 1997 Classroom Guide to the European Union, aimed at 11-14 year olds, claimed that “The EU is like a club. Our Ministers decide; the EU does not tell each country what they should produce and how.” Compare this quotation with the conclusions of the 1996 House of Commons Select Committee on European Law, which stated that Westminster no longer possessed an effective scrutinizing ability in matters of EU law. The Committee said: “European law accounts for a large and increasing proportion of the law of each member state, yet it increasingly seems to be made in a private club.”

 Specific EU publications and programmes

A number of EU projects are aimed primarily or exclusively at schoolchildren, and it is these which mainly concern us here, particularly as in most cases any semblance of political impartiality is discarded. In addition to numerous pamphlets, CDs, and booklets of general application, examples of EU educational programmes include:

Let’s Draw Europe Together This is a colouring-in book aimed at primary schoolchildren and produced by the EU’s Information Directorate in Brussels. The supporting documentation for teachers describes it as “a call to schoolchildren as well as to all of us to commit ourselves to achieving European unity” – a manifestly political objective.

This book includes colouring games for children but with a heavily ‘loaded’ text covering such weighty topics as ‘Toys and the Single Market’ – hardly the stuff of playground conversations! It is also riddled with inaccuracies. It states, for example, that from 2002 “your savings will have to be in euros.” In Britain’s case this is, quite simply, untrue – it ignores the fact that Britain (and Sweden and Denmark) are not currently joining the euro zone. It almost certainly is not true either that “in five years time, if you are working, you’ll be paid in euros”. Both these comments seek to present the euro as a good thing and as inevitable. This ignores not only the controversy surrounding the euro in Britain, but also the near certainty that a referendum would have to be held prior to its introduction in this country.

The Raspberry Ice Cream War Subtitled “A comic for young people on a peaceful Europe without frontiers”, this is a glossy 29 page comic book in full colour. It is produced in every official EU language.

The booklet includes such claims as “border controls … went out ages ago” and “we’re even going to have the same currency soon as well. It’s called the euro.” Neither statement is true in respect of Britain. The peaceloving European Union is contrasted with a Europe living in the dark ages. One figure, Paul, observes: “Frontiers and barriers everywhere and people fighting wars for the stupidest reasons … Kind of weird.” Presumably ‘Paul’ would regard, for example, the defeat of Nazi tyranny as at worst ‘stupid’ and at best a ‘kind of weird’ motive for fighting a war.

The inaccuracy and political bias in The Raspberry Ice Cream War may have proved too much even for the London offices of the European Commission. Despite being provided with 75,000 copies from Brussels only a handful have been distributed.

What Exactly is Europe? Produced by the European Commission, this book is described as “a classroom guide to the European Union”. It is aimed at 11-14 year olds and has been distributed to 30,000 schools. Like Let’s Draw Europe Together it is littered with unsubstantiated assertions presented as fact, without any attempt at qualification. It also seeks to present the view that everything good to have emerged from ‘Europe’ throughout history is somehow the work of the European Union. There is also an openly party political endorsement of New Labour: “thanks to the new Labour Government the UK will participate in all those actions [ie the single currency and further European integration].”

Euroquest This booklet is aimed at primary school children. It includes quizzes and question and answer exercises about various aspects of ‘Europe’ – which the authors clearly see as synomymous with the European Union. The whole thrust of this book blandly glosses over the fact that the European Union is simply one political institution within Europe (albeit the most most powerful) and that EU policies, far from being neutral and automatically desirable, are highly contentious political issues.

A common theme throughout these books is an attempt to make the concept of the European Union entirely interchangable with a positive view of ‘Europe’ – we shall be returning to this theme later.

Captain Euro This is a web-site and a cartoon strip featuring a ‘super hero’ – Captain Euro – and his assistants. Their opponents are a group of villians led by ‘Dr D. Vider’ who, for no discernible reason, engage in random acts of terrorism across Europe. The whole effort is unsophisticated – it is essentially a pastiche of American comic book characters such as Spiderman or the Power Rangers. However, as the ‘good guys’ are transparently agents for the European Union and their opponents are patently ‘Eurosceptics’ – and terrorists as well! – Captain Euro amounts to political bias of the worst order.

Captain Euro has been widely condemned by anti-racist organizations for its clichéd presentation of the ‘super heroes’ who are blond and blue-eyed, while their enemies have swarthy Jewish or East European features.

The comic strip was launched at a press conference chaired by a European Civil Servant and endorsed by the President of the European Parliament, who also contributed a ‘star interview’ to the Captain Euro website. Following public condemnation of the project as propaganda and, potentially, racist, European Union spokesmen have asserted that Captain Euro is merely a commercial franchising opportunity. The creators of Captain Euro are, in fact, an organization called Twelve Star Communications – a name that surely reveals their own political orientation. Twelve Star Communications lists the pro-Brussels European Movement and the European Parliament amongst their clients.

The Mobile Information Centre (MIC)

The MIC is, in the EU’s own words, “a high profile exhibition vehicle that carries a broad range of information about the European Union, its policies and programmes to the education sector, business people and the general public, both in the United Kingdom and other European Union states.” In fact, it is deployed virtually exclusively in schools.

The EU also asserts that “after six years of operation it has become a prominent feature in ongoing regional campaigns that aim to raise awareness of European Union policy and development.” Note that its aim is to promote policy: again this clearly goes beyond merely an information role.

The MIC carries general information on the European Union in varying formats aimed at pupils of all ages. It is staffed by two Information Assistants who can “offer talks on the European Union, answer general questions and guide students to relevant information both on board the MIC and in their local area.”

Following widespread protests by anxious parents the Mobile Information Centre appears to have been withdrawn.

 The EU’s methods – information or propaganda?

“All elephants are pink”

An important characteristic of European Union literature is its use of subjective assertions presented as impartial facts. Time and again the reader is assured that “the European Union creates jobs;” ‘the European Union promotes youth activities;” ‘the single currency will support economic growth.” These statements are then used to substantiate further contentions. All European Union literature, without exception, falls well short of the academic rigour which we would demand of, say, a school history textbook.

This failure by the authors of European Union literature to include any meaningful analysis is so consistent that it is difficult to believe that this is not a deliberate policy. Certainly, the authors are extremely reluctant to provide proper, authoritative references. This might either be because no such sources can be found to support their position, or, more probably, because subjective statements are almost inevitably open to alternative interpretations.

This amounts to what is called a ‘closed value system’. How this works can be demonstrated by considering the statement: “All elephants are pink. Nellie is an elephant, therefore Nellie is pink.” Taken in isolation, this statement is both logical and internally consistent. It collapses, of course, the moment the author is challenged to provide any independent proof that elephants are pink, and, worse, is confronted with evidence that they are, in reality, grey. European Union literature operates in exactly this fashion, and is barely more sophisticated.

History rewritten?

One assertion is worth examining in more detail, simply because it occurs with monotonous regularity in EU literature. This is the claim that the European Union has ‘kept the peace in Europe.’

This claim is, of course, entirely subjective. There is no way of telling whether the risk of war in Europe would have been greater, or less, had the EU never existed. Furthermore, the EU’s claims to European peacekeeping are invariably made without any reference to NATO, to the massive American military commitment to western Europe, or to the ‘balance of terror’ and the Cold War division of Europe which prevailed until the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. All of these factors have more genuine historical claim to have contributed to the peace of Europe than the EU, which has no military or defence dimension.

The European Union’s purposeful ignorance of NATO and its deliberate – some would say insulting – omission of reference to the US involvement in Europe’s defence (or  that another key NATO member, Britain, did not even join the EU until 1973) betrays a lack of any historical objectivity. Indeed, it borders on historical revisionism.

“Europe is ours!”

It is also perhaps worth noting that many Europeans in, say, Bosnia or Kosovo, would disagree with the EU’s assertion that war has been prevented in Europe. This brings us to a related issue: the tendency of EU literature to deliberately confuse the European Union and its institutions with ‘Europe’ as a geographical, cultural and historical whole – despite the fact that a majority of Europe’s nations are not part of the EU.

In some cases the result is absurd as when, for example, the European Union tries to co-opts long dead Europeans, such as da Vinci and Beethoven (whose views on the EU, were they alive today, can only be guessed at) and seeks to present any positive social, scientific and cultural progress in Europe as being part of an historical process of which the EU itself is a culminating part. Even fictional characters, such as Tintin and the fairytale characters of Hans Christian Andersen have been pressganged for the cause of European integration. (Although this is patently a dishonest technique the EU can perhaps be forgiven for delving into the realms of fiction to establish its authority since actual historical advocates of European unity – such as Hitler, Napoleon, Himmler and Stalin – are uniformly unattractive!)

Any positive cultural or social pan-European endeavour is readily enlisted. In a document aimed at youth some years ago the EU cited the Eurovision Song Contest (sic) as a positive example of a pan-European cultural event, conveniently ignoring the fact that many Eurovision members – Israel, for example – are not remotely part of the EU. More recently the EU has sought to suggest that successful football teams are somehow part of a common ‘European’ effort on the sporting field. Yet neither Eurovision nor UEFA (the governing body of European football) has any institutional connection whatsoever with the European Union.

In its attempts to bathe itself in the reflected glory of European achievements to which it has not contributed, the European Union consistently seeks to imply that it, and it alone, is the repository of the European political and cultural tradition. The reader will struggle to find reference to other pan-European bodies such as the European Free Trade Area, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or the Council of Europe. Europe, it seems, belongs exclusively to the European Union.

Meanwhile, the world outside Europe might as well not exist: EU ‘educational’ material routinely excludes any substantive mention of world organizations such as the United Nations or the World Trade Organization.

It is not the role of this pamphlet to examine the debate regarding ‘multicultural’ schooling, and the claims that our education system undervalues the culture and traditions of pupils from Asian, Caribbean, or other backgrounds. Suffice to say here that, if education can be accused of being ‘Eurocentric’, the literature produced by the European Union is amongst the worst offenders. A newly arrived reader from Mars would be left in no doubt that human habitation of this planet, or at least civilization, ends with the borders of ‘Europe’. This is utterly inappropriate in a country such as Britain, where innumerable children have global family ties to America, India, Canada, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere.

What you can do

Many parents have expressed alarm at the activities of the European Union in schools. Your approach can be made on several levels:

  • to your child’s class teacher
  • to the head teacher
  • at PTA meetings
  • to your school’s Board of Governors
  • to the Director of Education for your area.

In all cases it is worth emphasising the legal position as set out in the 1996 Education Act (see above). If the school in insistent about using EU provided materials, you in turn should require that material presenting alternative views on European development should also be available.

Some schools maintain that EU literature is ‘just information’ and is provided by the Government. Many teachers will simply be unaware of the issues raised. The examples quoted in this document – particularly the instances where the European Union literature itself makes clear its political agenda – refute this suggestion.

The Myth of “Government by Fax”

Extract from an open letter to David Cameron from David Phipps, a consituent 4 January 2013

“….Let us deal with this assertion that Norway and Switzerland have to obey all the rules of the single market but don’t have any say over what they are…. You are fully aware that your statement belies the way most single market legislation is made. It is well known that most proposals, by the time they reach the Council for a vote are…unable to be changed: consequently the voting issue is the last and least important part of the process. Not least, a huge amoung of technical legislation is formulated at a global or regional level, in bodies such as UNECE (on which Norway is represented), and then handed down to EU institutions as “Diqules” which cannot, in substance, be changed. Thus Norway…has a considerable say in the nature of regulation, long before it gets to the EU.

You are also aware that as members of EFTA both Norway and Switzerland are represented on over
200 EEA committees which assist in the framing of Single Market legislation. You are also aware that, as members of EFTA, those nations have the abilitiy to refuse to implement any Directive that the European Commission produces; something that Norway did in respect of the 3rd Postal Directive, one which this country has to implement via the Postal Services Act 2011. You keep talking about “influence”….yet you know damn well that with the steady gravitation to Qualified Majority Voting, the UK’s influence in the EU is being diluted to nothing…”

As a full member of the EU, Britain had to accept the Postal Service Directive which is ruining our Post Office and Royal Mail services. Norway was simply able to say “No thanks”. Yet the mainstream media allowed Mr. Cameron to get away with “I don’t think it’s right to aim for a status like Norway or Sweden where basically you have to obey all the rules …but you don’t have a say over what they are.” Not one broadcaster or newspaper challenged him – but the informed internet does!

 FREE TRADE VERSUS THE “SINGLE MARKET

We sell about 10% (and falling) of our Gross National Product (GNP) to EU countries. We sell
10% of GNP (and rising) to the rest of the world. The remaining 80% is purely domestic. Yet we have to apply “Single Market Rules” to 100% of our economy for the sake of the 10% (and falling) which we sell to the EU. The EU itself calculates that the cost of those rules amounts to
5% of all our GNP. Other countries which are not in the Single Market do have FREE TRADE agreements with the EU and do not have to carry this cost on the trade done internally or with countries not in the EU.

LORD STODDART OF SWINDON submitted a written question about free trade negotiations between the EU and Japan, Canada and Singapore. He asked, if like the UK, those countries had to adopt the laws governing the Single Market before they would be allowed to sell in the EU.

Replying for the government, LORD GREEN responded “It is not the case that as a result of these trade negotiations the countries concerned will have to adopt all the legislation and regulations that apply to EU member states.”

LORD STODDART commented “The genie is out of the bottle here. For decades the apologists for EU membership have parroted the tired argument that Britain must be a member because it would otherwise have to accept all the legislation and regulations from
Brussels without having a say in how they are developed. This answer, once and for all, blows that argument out of the water.”

Britain’s Suicide Note

Britain is to cease to exist as an independent nation and this has come out on a voluntary basis.  In other words, we, as a nation, are effectively committing suicide.

What have we given up?

  • We had the greatest empire the world has ever known and, having turned it into a Commonwealth with The Queen as its Head, we subsequently turned our backs on its 54 countries with a population of about a billion people, by abandoning Commonwealth preferential trade, in favour of the so called advantages of local trade in Europe.
  • We have also given up on our own sovereignty, or the right to be an independent nation with its people choosing their government, when necessary.  Instead, about 72% of our laws come directly from Brussels and are incorporated into our legal system without us being able to do anything about it.

Our Politicians call this “sharing sovereignty” which is nonsense, as, like virginity, sovereignty cannot be shared!

We have given up our democratic right to govern ourselves in favour of governed by permanent, unelected and unremovable bureaucrats, deciding our future from their headquarters in Brussels.

We have given up our financial independence and even sold two thirds of our gold reserves at $280 per ounce and switched into Euros, to show solidarity and loyalty to our new masters, the European Union.  We now pay about £50m per day to those bureaucrats for the “privilege” of being governed by them.

Why did we do this?

Because our own British elected politicians did it for us without telling us what was happening, and hoped we did not notice until it was too late.

When did it start?

After the Second World War when we saved France and the rest of Europe from Germany under Hitler.

 Who now governs us?

The EU, which is now run by France & Germany since the Treaty of the Elysee on 22nd January 1963, whereby they agreed to be the heart of Europe and have acted together ever since.

What was the starting point?

The European Coal and Steel Community in March 1951 — a single market amongst six countries in Europe, including Germany and France.

Next there was The Treaty of Rome in 1957.

This set up the European Economic Community (EEC), known as The Common Market.  The Common Market sounds like economic co-operation only, but the treaty set up all the machinery of a single super state, including Council of Ministers, an executive Commission, a Parliament, a legal system based on continental law and headed by a European Court of Justice, a Central Bank and a tax system called VAT.  There was also a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), although fishing was not yet included.  There was no way of changing any parts of the treaty unless all signatories agreed to do so.

The European Court of Justice was set up to give judgements which must always be in favour of closer political union.  This court had little to do with “justice” and much to do with “Integration”. It should have, more accurately, been called the European Court of Integration.

This treaty, and all the others following, were drafted in accordance with the “Acquis Communitaire” system, “that which is acquired by the Community.”  It means power, once handed to Brussels, is never returned, and cannot be renegotiated.

The European Communities Act of 1972

In 1972 Edward Heath pushed through Parliament the European Communities Act.  This Act was not an international treaty, but an Act of Parliament deciding that it no longer was the supreme authority for lawmaking in this country.  This Act was passed in conjunction with Britain applying for membership of the “Common Market” or European Economic Community (EEC).  The public were never told about the consequences of this Act.

In the famous ”Metric Martyr” High Court judgement 29 years later, in the spring of 2001, Judge Morgan ruled that because of this Act “We are now living under a new legal ORDER.  Parliament surrendered its sovereignty in 1972.  The doctrine of the primacy of European Law holds good. European laws have over-riding force with priority over our law.” This judgement was confirmed on appeal.

Britain joins the EEC on January 1st 1973

Unbeknown to the British electorate, Edward Heath, in order to gain membership of the EEC, had made a deal in 1972 with the EEC and gave away British sovereignty of our territorial fishing waters.  Up to that point fishing had not been included in any treaties, but was later added in the Maastricht Treaty under Articles 38-47.

Our Referendum in 1975

Harold Wilson, after campaigning in the 1974 General Election on the basis of wanting to renegotiate our terms of EEC entry, gave us a referendum.  The referendum was on whether or not we were happy with the “renegotiated terms” to approve Britain’s 1973 entry into the EEC under the Treaty of Rome.  In fact there were no changes at all to the terms of entry, and the treaty itself was unchanged

 He strongly advised the country to vote YES, giving so called “trade” reasons, and directly reassuring us that there would be no loss of sovereignty. This we did, on a low vote of only 47%. There has never been another referendum in the last 35 years.  Now, nobody below the age of 53 has ever had the chance to vote on a referendum on how this country should be governed.

The Single European Treaty of 1986

This treaty was signed by Margaret Thatcher who later said that she had been tricked into signing it. But Article “A” says the purpose of it was “ever closer union”, which is in line with the earlier Treaty of Rome.

The treaty changed the Common Market or EEC to the European Community, with the word “Economic” left out.  It also removed the national veto in certain areas by the principal of Qualified Majority Voting in the Council of Ministers.  It also introduced European control over lawmaking, employment, regional development, environment and foreign policy.

The Merchant Shipping Act of 1988

This was not an international treaty but a normal Parliamentary procedure which went through the House of Commons and the Lords and received the Queen’s Royal Assent.  This act regulated amongst other things, the allocation of our reduced fishing quotas in British waters to British registered trawlers at the expense of the foreign fleet.  The Act was declared illegal by the European Court of Justice and Britain was fined, and also had to pay compensation to Spanish trawler owners, at a total cost to this country of £100m.  The conservative Government meekly paid up, with taxpayers’ money, without a murmur, so as not to alert the public what a disaster we faced.

The Maastricht Treaty of 1993

The official name is: Treaty on European Union. Agreed by John Major, it changed the European Community to the European Union.  Article 8 made all citizens of the United Kingdom citizens of the European Union, including Her Majesty the Queen, and could be deemed as an act of treason by any who signed it, including Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, and Francis Maude who both formally signed the document.

Indeed, a citizen’s charge of treason was taken out against them by Norris McWhirter, of Guiness Book of Records fame.  This was successful in the magistrates’ court, but the case then had to go to a higher court.  At this point, the Attorney General in the conservative government exercised his power to take over any private citizen’s right to go to law, and having replaced Norris McWhirter, he failed to take it any further, thus ending the treason procedure against Douglas Hurd and Francis Maude.

The treaty created obligations of its citizens to the newly created European Union, or, EU, but did not state what they are.  That was left to the European Court of Justice to decide.  The ECJ was officially given full authority by the treaty, to be the Supreme Court of Europe, under articles 169-172.

 The Maastrict Treaty introduced regionalisation throughout Europe, whereby the whole of the EU is split up into Regions to be directly governed by Brussels, bypassing Westminster through the secretive Committee of the Regions.  Britain is now just 12 regions in Europe, and both British local and parliamentary government is being gradually replaced in power and influence.  London, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are 4 of the 12 regions, with England broken up into 9 separate EU regions.  You will have noticed how services such as health, ambulances, planning guidance and now policing are now being regionalised along these lines.  The treaty officially confirmed the creation of the EU fishing waters, although by arrangement with Brussels, Britain had already had agreed that EU fishing boats, the vast majority of which are Spanish, could fish in British waters.  From then onwards British waters holding over 70% of Europe’s fish stocks became EU waters, with Britain being allocated, under the new quota system, about 12½% of the annual catch, devastating UK fishing.

The introduction of regulations was provided by the treaty.  Regulations issued by the European Commission have immediate effect in all countries, without being debated in any national parliament.  An example is Regulation 3760/92 which decreed that from 1st January 2003, EU fishing boats would be able to fish right up to our shores, thus abolishing our 12 mile limit. Directives, on the other hand, are notionally debated before being incorporated into UK law, after being adjusted or “gold plated” by the government.  The break up of the Post Office is because of EU Directives 97/67/EC and 2002/39/EC which have undermined the Royal Mail, and EU state aid rules which have lead directly to the closure of 2,500 Post Offices in this country.  The government and opposition politicians, apart from an honourable few, hardly ever mentioned this in their arguments over the current problems facing the Royal Mail.

Regulations will gradually replace directives as more power goes to Brussels.

The treaty also introduced the notion of a Common Defence Policy and a single currency.  We all know about the currency, but have you noticed the BBC talking about the European Navy patrolling the seas of Somalia, when the ship doing so is clearly a Royal Navy frigate acting under orders from its HQ in Brussels?  Are we prepared to fight for a European state?

In the early 1990s Britain entered the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) in preparation for joining the Euro single currency.  However, we entered at the wrong rate, and in attempting to maintain a fixed rate for the pound we suffered, in the following years, high interest rates reaching 15%, unemployment rising from 1.5m to 3m, and 100,000 businesses going bankrupt.  To avoid total monetary collapse and the loss of all our reserves to the speculators, Britain was forced to leave the ERM and float the pound.  The pound has been floating happily ever since.  However, the European Commission intends that Britain should be in the European currency, because there cannot be full political union without monetary union.

The Treaty of Amsterdam of 1999

just an amending treaty,” Tony Blair.

Signed by Tony Blair in Rome, it place EU control over further areas of British law, and established Europol, the EU state security service, which, is above the law, and cannot be sued, whatever damage they do in the exercise of their activities.  Vladimir Bukovsky, the Soviet dissident, makes the point that even the KGB did not enjoy this immunity.  Europol comes into being, with full authority as an EU agency, on January 1st 2010.

 Treaty of Nice in 2001

Signed again by Tony Blair, giving up another 39 vetoes on areas of British life.  It introduced Corpus Juris which was an interpretation of continental law, to replace British Law such as Habeas Corpus, whereby a person cannot be held in custody for more than 96 hours without being charged. Under Corpus Juris, a suspect can be held in custody for up to six months without charge, and then a further three months in custody without trial.

The concept of the accused being assumed to be innocent, unless proved guilty in a Court, will go. Already in EU civil law, the responsibility has fallen on the accused to prove his innocence.  The entitlement of a person charged with a criminal offence to be tried by a jury, will also go.

Under the EU Arrest Warranty, any citizen can be extradited to another EU country on suspicion of committing an act which is not an offence in this country.  He can be put in prison while waiting to be charged or to be put on trial by a magistrate or judge.  308 UK citizens were extradited in this way in 2008, according to the charity Fair Trial International.

Article 191 grants the EU power to withdraw or prevent funding, private, state or at EU level, for political parties deemed “unsuitable”.  This means that the EU can suspend or ban a political party if it so decides. This could first apply to EU-critical parties and is associated with the laws of a police state.

The European Constitution Treaty of 2004

This was signed by Blair and was intended to be the second Treaty of Rome and the last treaty necessary to give Brussels full control of Europe with the creation of “The United States of Europe”.

The new state would have its own entity as a country, with its own Foreign Policy and its own embassies throughout the world.  The member states would cease to exist as such and would end up as mere regions within the new state.  In other words, the EU’s Foreign Office will not be at the service of the nation states, but will supplant them. This is now being enacted through the EU’s Brok Report and with its new Foreign Minister, Baroness Ashton.

The European Commission would take full executive powers for itself, would choose its own members who could not be removed.  Furthermore, the Commission, if it so decided, would be able to change or “amend” any existing arrangements in the same way as Hitler did with his Enabling Act in 1933.  In other words, the Commission was effectively given the powers of a legally appointed dictatorship.

The European Council, representing the heads of all the member states and acting as a form of trustee for the EU, would become merely a Senate, or talking shop, with no remaining powers.

Tony Blair was eventually persuaded to agree to have a referendum on the new constitution to ratify his signature.  This forced France and Holland to do the same, and as they were likely to vote yes, this would persuade Britain to do likewise.  To the horror of the politicians, both France and Holland voted decisively against the treaty and this killed off the project for the time being.  It also let off Mr Blair from having a referendum in Britain.

 Meanwhile in the General Election of 2005, two months before the French referendum, all three main parties in the UK promised in their manifestos, that if voted into power, they would give the voters a referendum on a constitutional treaty.

The European Reform Treaty of 2007 (The Lisbon Treaty, now a Constitution)

After the demise of the constitutional treaty of 2004, the European politicians gradually recovered from the shock of the French and Dutch reversals and set up the Lisbon Treaty which, they said, was not a constitutional treaty at all.  It was instead, merely a “tidying up exercise”, to help the European Commission be more “efficient” in governing the enlarged Europe of 27 nations.  The Eastern Lib Dem MEP and avowed federalist, Andrew Duff, co-wrote this treaty/constitution.

In order to be more “efficient” in governing, it does help to be a dictatorship.  A dictatorship does not have to use uptime and energy in consulting or listening to the people, or ever risking a general election.

The word “reform” was put into the treaty to enable the previous treaties to be reformed or adjusted, and more importantly, to make it look less like its predecessor of 2004.  The actual wording of the European Reform Treaty is very difficult to understand because it keeps referring to previous treaties, and the reader has no way of really grasping what it means without the help of an experienced constitutional lawyer.  Few ordinary Members of Parliament could master what it really meant.

However, the experts who did understand what it was about, included Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the ex French President and author of the “dead” constitution of 2004, who said it was virtually the same.  Indeed, out of 250 articles, only 10 were different from its predecessor.  The key self amending clause was retained in the treaty under article 48.  This is extremely dangerous as it allows EU Ministers to amend the treaty behind closed doors with no further need for parliamentary approval of referenda.

The main differences were the lack of the word “constitution” in the name which was replaced by the word “reform”, the removal of the 12 star national flag and the EU “Ode to Joy” anthem from the text.  The two latter items have already been added back to all EU procedures currently taking place.

The Irish were required by their own constitution to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and this took place in 2008.  Again, much to the consternation of the politicians the Irish voted NO in their referendum.  However, in the summer of 2009, Brussels again presented to Ireland the same referendum on the unchanged treaty with the “invitation” to vote again.

The Irish voted YES this time around, and once Poland and the Czech Republic reluctantly followed Ireland, without a referendum, the treaty was finally ratified by the politicians (but not by the peoples) of all EU countries and became law on December 1st 2009.

Meanwhile, Britain was denied the right to vote on the Lisbon Treaty, affecting the entire future of this country, by Gordon Brown, the leader of the Labour Government who denied that the treaty was the same as the constitution treaty.  He was aided by the leader of the Liberal Democrats, and both of them instructed their parties to vote directly against what each party had promised in their 2005 manifestos, namely, to have a referendum on any constitutional changes affecting Britain. Between them, they broke their election promises and forced our Westminster Parliament to vote its parliamentary sovereignty into oblivion, or into the hands of unelected bureaucrats to govern us without us being able to remove them.

 The Lisbon Treaty does include virtually all the terms of its predecessor, the 2004 Constitutional Treaty, which has been described earlier, and will be the last treaty required.  There will not be any need for further treaties because the European Commission has now acquired all the powers it needs.  The Commission has become a legally created Dictatorship although the way it was done leaves very serious doubts about the whole concept of a truly United Europe.

How did the politicians get away with it?

Because it was done so slowly, we did not notice.  It was so boring and complicated that we ignored it.  The politicians lied to us all along, yet we believed them. This was just as Jean Monnet had planned in the 1950s.

The future

The Conservative Party have gone back on the now infamous “cast iron guarantee” and have told us that they will now not hold any referendum.  They will merely try to stop further powers going to the EU in the foreseeable future, and seek to negotiate aspects of treaties.  However, this is impossible as there is no prevision for it under EU laws.  We must see what happens if they get into power in our Westminster Parliament. They will find themselves up against European law which they must obey if they wish to remain in the European Union.

Two perfect examples of this will be: First, when we are required by the Commission to give up the pound and enter the euro money system.  This is a requirement of both the 2004 Constitution and more importantly the Lisbon Treaty.  One of its clauses states that “the currency of the Union shall be the Euro”, and you cannot be more plain than that.  There is going to be a political explosion when it happens.  The Conservatives can do nothing about it except make a decision to join the Euro against all their promises to the electorate or take the opportunity to make a final break and leave the EU, which any country can still do under the terms of Lisbon.  The second example could arise if the Commission “requires” Britain to change over to driving on the right, which the Commission can do as it has dictatorial powers over us, and from its point of view, is the logical thing to do. After all, you can hardly have part of a single country driving on the left, with the rest driving on the right.

You may think that this is an exaggeration and the whole thing is becoming farcical.  But it is no more farcical than a previously sovereign country, such as ours, committing suicide, which Britain seems to have done.

If you wish to embarrass your MP, ask whether his or her loyalty is to the Queen or to the new President of Europe.  After all, the Queen is now a citizen of the EU.

Did you know that the Commission has appointed 7 ex-communists, including Mr Barroso, the current Chairman?  Mrs Merkel, from East Germany, is another.

Did you know that the terms of the Lisbon Treaty introduced the death penalty in certain circumstances?  The terms are tucked away in an obscure place (a footnote attached to a footnote) and have not yet been noticed by the Labour or Liberal Parties who voted for it.

What is a wasted vote?  A wasted vote for a party with those policies you do not agree.  Anyone who does not wish to be a part of the EU and votes for any of the three main parties is wasting their vote.  For those who do not want to be governed by the EU, it does not matter which party they vote for as each of those three parties will keep us in the EU and under total EU control.

If a Europhile tells you that three million jobs in Britain depend on the EU, just remind them that four million jobs in Europe depend on exports to Britain.  80% of Britain’s trade is generated internally, with 20% being exports and imports.  Of this 20%, only about 9% is with countries in the EU and 11% is with the rest of the world.  As Britain has a large trade deficit with the EU, and its single largest trading partner, it is hardly likely that trade would suffer if we left the EU.

Switzerland and Norway are in Europe but not in the EU, and are two of the richest European countries per head.  The benefits of trade with the EU can be retained by a free trade agreement – the EU has such agreements with many countries and the Swiss francs are spared import tax in theirs.  Their own government found that being outside the EU cost 600m Swiss francs but saved 3.4 billion francs each year.  The EU needs Britain for trade more than we need the EU trade.

Vladimir Bukovsky, the Soviet dissident who spent 12 years in a gulag said, “Remember, I have lived your future and it does not work.”

We have been warned.  We have just begun to live in a totalitarian regime, although many people do not yet realise this.

Can we leave the European Union?

Yes We Can!

Under the British Constitution, no Parliament can bind its successors, so a new parliament can quickly overturn all the EU treaties signed to date and repeal the European Communities Act 1972, which gave parliamentary approval for joining the then EEC.

The Lisbon Treaty for the first time defines a mechanism for withdrawal in Article 50.2. However, the terms would be set by the EU to make things as difficult as possible   for the applicant state.

The likely arrangements for leaving would be:

  •   The UK Parliament would rescind all previous EU treaties under the basic rule of our constitution that “No parliament can bind its successors.”
  •   Parliament would therefore repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and all subsequent EU legislation, thereby returning to the people the power to appoint our government.
  •  Having repealed the European Communities Act of 1972 the British Government, being sovereign, would inform the European Commission that Britain is leaving the EU immediately and would henceforth no longer be subjected to any EU directives or regulations.  This action would no doubt cause considerable fury and dire threats from the European Commission but it could do nothing about it as Britain would no longer be a member.  Any action such as imposing tariffs would be illegal under World Trade Organisation (WTO) guidelines.

Having officially left the European Union, Parliament could at last govern this country as it was elected to do.  Probably its first task would be to negotiate a trade deal with the EU from a position of strength and independence.

Parliament’s next task would be to unravel all the unnecessary directives and regulations from the 120,000 laws imposed on us by the European Commission.  This would release an enormous amount of energy and enterprise that is stifled by current legislation.  It would get Britain going again, and allow considerable cuts in red tape on businesses and lower taxes for citizens and businesses alike.

Result

We would be a democratic, deregulated, competitive offshore haven, with lower taxes, less bureaucracy and very much richer too.  It is never too late to do the right thing.

by James Carver

CRISIS ATHENS: How austerity is destroying those who would compete with multinational power by John Ward

Greece 6

Greece 5

These pictures are of a main Athenian thoroughfare, Stadiou. Think ‘Tottenham Court Road’, and then imagine every kiosk, stall, shop and indoor precinct closed down, every small shop empty and impossible to rent, and the once-bustling pavements half empty.

The Greek media that care run endless stories about starving children, lack of medication, old people dying because they cannot afford heating, and huge cuts in welfare relief. These are all worthy topics for anyone still unclear about the catastrophic social effects of repayment-focused austerity in ClubMed. But if nobody buys in shops, eats in restaurants, sits in cafes or furnishes homes, businesses die in very short order.

Greece 4

In three short years, the banks of the world, the bureaucrats of the EU, and the Central Bank of Mario Draghi have wiped out Stadiou. Like the American South after the Civil War, it is a culture gone with the wind. All that remain are kids shooting up in the darkness of formerly thriving alleyways, and bill posters advertising things nobody has the money to buy.

 Behind much of Athens’ attraction as a tourist centre lies another layer of self- sustaining business: the wholesale trade. This above any other is small family business, where honesty, trust and quality are the basis of commerce. It too has been decimated, as both domestic and tourist consumption of goods plummeted after 2010.

Greece 3

Everywhere are grills, graffiti, parked scooters, litter, and locks. Nowhere is any business being done. An entire sector of the City’s economy has been surgically removed. But nobody bothered to stitch up the open wound afterwards.

What you can see in Athens is the death of independent small business competition, the desecration of families that depended on it, and the reassuring certainty for the fat cats that in future, where once there was community liberty and self-reliance, there will before too long be imported global goods produced by multinational companies, cheap property ready to be torn down by developers, and the State enjoying control over a demoralised population totally dependent on it.

 Greece 1

 

Greece 2

 

The Far Right is getting 1 vote in 8, and the Radical Left looks like having the largest number of Deputies after the next election. Both have reached these positions from having been tiny (<4%) Parties three years ago.

But now at last, the focus is beginning to move away from corrupt old Parties and polemic ideologues towards a sort of patriotic pragmatism that no longer wants the euro. I spoke to several business people during my stay in Athens; most of them were not politically radical, but they recognised the need for a radical change to the economic model.

“The austerity programme is counter-productive because it destroys economic consumption in order to pay off State debt,” said a middle manager in a larger foreign-owned Greek furniture business, “this is like asking Berlin to pay off French municipal debt. It is resented, but more importantly it is sacrificing recovery to the lenders’ needs. The lenders may get their pound of flesh, but afterwards the patient is paraplegic.”

“The euro is the problem, no doubt,” said the co-owner of a medium-sized hitech business, “but if Greece were to go it alone and quit the euro, our business would be destroyed by a loss of credit confidence internationally. People like us want the euro to fail completely, so everyone will have to start again”. 

His partner agreed. “The biggest problem we have right now is liquidity with which to expand, and credit so we can close deals with customers. Every week we work more and more to make less and less”. 

“These fantasies of the Troika,” one CEO of a rapidly-growing political lobbying consultancy began, “they are all bullsh*t. The New Democracy and Pasok go along with it because they are weak and corrupt. But now things are far too serious for this to continue. The threats to Greek business and national sovereignty will get worse as the lenders’ demands get more and more crazy. We have to elect commercial people now who will gain public respect, and say “No” to the EU.” 

Resentment towards the State sector and powerful bureaucrats is every bit as visceral as the disdain felt about the Troika. Said one small entrepreneur, “These Troika people, so well dressed, such nice attache cases. They stay in the Hilton at Greece’s expense. None of them has any idea about business – only debt and repayment schedules. Now they insist that 150,000 civil servants be fired. Hah! That’ll be the day. Now they try to retire them off with fat pensions, but still they demand that the empty desks are filled with young recruits. They will cling onto our skin until we are all dead.” 

There is a lot for the body politic to change here. The attitude to the euro, the weak resistance of Troika demands, fear of the bureaucrats, and the development of under-appreciated export businesses such as olive oil and wine. Nobody I met thinks the current crop of MPs is ever going to be capable of it. But there are endless scenarios in play as to how drastic change might come.