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Depicting Europe as a neo-liberal economist's wet dream and unthinking lackey of the United States.
September 19, 2007 1:40 PM   Subscribe

Depicting Europe, an essay in The London Review of Books by UCLA history professor Perry Anderson, criticizes the European Union as a neo-liberal economist's wet dream and unthinking lackey of the United States.

"Today’s EU, with its pinched spending (just over 1 per cent of Union GDP), minuscule bureaucracy (around 16,000 officials, excluding translators), absence of independent taxation, and lack of any means of administrative enforcement, could in many ways be regarded as a ne plus ultra of the minimal state, beyond the most drastic imaginings of classical liberalism: less even than the dream of a nightwatchman."

[...]

"[As] the second report to the Council of Europe – released in June this year – by the courageous Swiss investigator Dick Marty, has shown, a stepped-up programme of renditions must have been high on the list. Once Afghanistan was taken, Baghram airbase outside Kabul became both interrogation centre for the CIA and loading-bay for prisoners to Guantánamo. The traffic was soon two-way, and its pivot was Europe. In one direction, captives were transported from Afghan or Pakistani dungeons to Europe, either to be held there in secret CIA jails, or shipped onwards to Cuba. In the other direction, captives were flown from secret locations in Europe for requisite treatment in Afghanistan."

1st and 2nd reports of Dick Marty.

I swear I didn't post this because of the pun in the essay's title.
posted by Kattullus (21 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Uh, am I missing something? Last time I checked there were anywhere from 2 to 4 more levels of government between a European citizen the the EU proper. Those levels spend most of the tax money and are hardly "minimal states". Maybe I'll read the essay.
posted by GuyZero at 1:47 PM on September 19, 2007


The problem is that the EU isn't the only governing body within Europe. Does this guy realise that within the EU there are still 27 independent states?
posted by knapah at 1:53 PM on September 19, 2007


Having read (ok, skimmed) the essay, my conclusion is that Anderson needs a better editor.
posted by GuyZero at 1:53 PM on September 19, 2007


Saillant for a dutch voter:
Merkel has moved successfully to circumvent the will of French and Dutch voters, but was in no position to accomplish this on her own: for that, governments in Paris and the Hague were necessary.

Very interesting article.
Very long too. I'll have to come back to it.
posted by jouke at 1:53 PM on September 19, 2007


the futurologist Jeremy Rifkin – American by birth, but by any standards an honorary European

The author is quite obviously another fine example of a Europhobe.
posted by knapah at 1:55 PM on September 19, 2007


uh knapah, what in that particular sentence makes you say that? I'd consider that one to be perfectly true as truth statements go.

I'm with guyzero: the article needed to be cut down by half...
posted by stratastar at 2:05 PM on September 19, 2007


I read it as being a (not very well) veiled criticism of Rifkin, perhaps I am being too sensitive.
posted by knapah at 2:12 PM on September 19, 2007


What I mean is that Rifkin's support of the European Union is viewed as a betrayal by certain American commentators.

I'll stop commenting now. I need to re-read the article and digest it.
posted by knapah at 2:14 PM on September 19, 2007


News flash: American Marxist historian, having finally come to grips with his own social irrelevance and inability to forestall the conservative takeover of American politics, bravely lashes out at the comparatively progressive and enlightened European Union for failing to repudiate its bourgeois roots. Film, with additional essays, at eleven.
posted by googly at 2:24 PM on September 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


I need to re-read the article and digest it.

Good luck with that second part. The article is all over the map, literally and figuratively.
posted by GuyZero at 2:24 PM on September 19, 2007


Well at least it doesn't have anything about "brown hordes" for a change.
posted by Artw at 2:28 PM on September 19, 2007


GuyZero: While I said I'd stop commenting, I have to post again just to say that I agree completely. I've read it once, I'd probably need two or three more goes through it to get it all in.

Then I'd probably want to get rid of it!
posted by knapah at 2:30 PM on September 19, 2007


I don't get how any of this relates to sending scots to Nova Scotia. The article title is very misleading.
posted by srboisvert at 2:32 PM on September 19, 2007


An annoyingly dim article. F'rinstance:
So far, the pay-off for EMU has been even more disappointing. Far from picking up, growth in the Eurozone initially slowed down, from an average of 2.4 per cent in the five years before monetary union, to 2.1 in the first five years after it.
Because apparently there were absolutely NO other factors affecting the economy of Europe between 1999 and 2004.
much depends on the degree of European interconnection with, or insulation from, the US economy, which dominates global demand.
Not European demand, which is dominated by other European countries, in the same way that American demand is dominated by other Americans.

Overall the view appears to be that your top-down elitist dogma is awful, but my (Marxist) top-down elitist dogma is self-evidently true.
posted by athenian at 2:37 PM on September 19, 2007


I didn't make it past the hamfisted first sentence.
posted by Falconetti at 5:34 PM on September 19, 2007


"News flash: American Marxist historian[...]"

From his bio: "Born in London in 1938, Anderson moved to China where his father was stationed while in the employ of the Imperial Maritime Customs. After spending the war years in the United States, the family returned to the south of Ireland where he was raised."

Marxist historian is unquestionably true, though.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 7:02 PM on September 19, 2007


Poor UCLA-- my alma mater is doomed to be a laughingstock. The tasing, Senator Ted Stevens, and now a history professor who likes to flap his limp diction in public. I say we castrate his vocabulary-- Basic English only! We'll see how beguiling his epiphanies are when he has to assume a clarity he never before possessed.
posted by Fimbaz at 7:08 PM on September 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


He does go all over the place, but his last few paragraphs make an interesting point:

The paradox is that when Europe was less united, it was in many ways more independent.
....
an enthusiast can find no higher praise for the Union than to compare it to ‘one of the most successful companies in global history’


This mirrors some of the anti-globalization arguments you often hear these days.

I always thought that Bush's total non-cooperation with EU (from day one with the Kyoto treaty), and overall incompetent global power-play politics would make Europeans want to band strongly together within the EU in defiance. I was wrong. There may be a kernel of truth buried in his writing.
posted by eye of newt at 11:34 PM on September 19, 2007


The fundamental structural problem of the EU (speaking as an actual resident) is not neo-liberalism (where did that come from? the EU is all about re-distribution of income and stupid pie-in-the-sky programs like the delusional Common Agricultural Policy) but that its opaque to us, its citizens.

The EU mechanism (Commission, Parliament) indirectly legislates much of the member-state laws: membership mandates that member country laws cannot go against EU directives. Therefore, the EU directive mechanism has been a proxy for unpopular or far-reaching schemes that the various governments want to pass, w/o proper democratic debate (as EU Parliament elections are again proxy fights for local politics, not for EU ones).

So, basically, we elect a Euro Parliament based on our local grievances, then that Parliament and its executive counterpart (the Commission, which is a compromise of member governments) get to act as yet another proxy for unpopular laws passed down to the populace.

In the end, there's little EU citizens can do to express displeasure with European laws other than referendums for ultimately side-issues, like EMU membership and the constitution.

I wouldn't call this a liberalist state by any stretch. It's not quite federalist, and it's not quite central-planning either. It's a weird compromise/mixture that mostly works, mostly all the time. And that's more that you can say for a lot of systems...
posted by costas at 4:28 AM on September 20, 2007


"Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century declaims the title of a manifesto by Mark Leonard, the party’s foreign policy wunderkind.2 ‘Imagine a world of peace, prosperity and democracy,’ he enjoins the reader. ‘What I am asking you to imagine is the “New European Century”.’ How will this entrancing prospect come about? ‘Europe represents a synthesis of the energy and freedom that come from liberalism with the stability and welfare that come from social democracy. As the world becomes richer and moves beyond satisfying basic needs such as hunger and health, the European way of life will become irresistible.’ Really? Absolutely. ‘As India, Brazil, South Africa and even China develop economically and express themselves politically, the European model will represent an irresistibly attractive way of enhancing their prosperity whilst protecting their security. They will join with the EU in building “a New European Century”.’

Muahahah. I laugh my balls off. Over-governed, overtaxed, overregulated and overaged Europe, sickened by eurosclerosis, is going to rule the world!

Yoyo, a European eurosceptic
posted by yoyo_nyc at 8:36 AM on September 20, 2007


Marxist historian is unquestionably true, though.

His book, Debates Within English Marxism, is a rather good survey of the Althusser/EP Thompson spat of some twenty or thirty years ago.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:45 AM on September 21, 2007


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