Saturday, 5 February 2011

Monnet, Schuman and the myth that it was the avoidance of war that motivated the founding fathers of Europe

A significant fallacy that surrounds theories as to the founding of Europe is that it was done by its chief architects to avoid war. Quite on the contrary, Monet (left) was an amateur economic theorist who, for most of his life, believed that co-operation led to a more effective production capacity at the time of war, not peace. He learned, during his time as a traveling salesman, of benefits of getting access to resources of other states for the benefit of France. Robert Schuman, the other key figure in the founding of the European project, was an analyst of corruption and efficiency in the French steel industry. Both men, particularly Schuman, would have been aware of the lagging of French industrial growth in comparison to both Britain and Germany by the start of the 20th C. Hence economic co-operation for the mutual benefit of both Germany and France, but particularly the latter, seemed like an interesting concept and one worth pursuing. The benefits of raw materials for the production of steel, and steel itself are useful in the stimulation of a manufacturing center to provide economic growth and employment. This was particularly so in an era where developed economies were not significantly service industry driven.

The Second World War gave the opportunity, and the catalyst, to realise these nascent ideas of economic co-operation to re-engage manufacture based industrial growth. The sentiment of avoiding war, was a useful political and rhetorical device for selling the project. Neither man would have been daft enough to believe that the mere signing of a treaty (of co-operation) would avoid war, in fact everything that had occurred during their lives would have lead to the opposite being true. Political support from other capitalist states was extant to avoid the spread of communism.

The reversal of purpose by pro-European integrationists, that political integration in Europe has been designed to avoid war, is one of the greatest lies both in our times and in the times of our recent forefathers. Those economic integrationists who also wish for a Federal system, must look at the U.S. Civil War for an example of conflict that can arise. The biggest admonition here comes from the fact that the U.S. Civil War occurred despite a common constitutional settlement existing, one that does not exist for Europe. Common consensus of political values is still a lie propagated at the start of each successive re-drafting of European Treaties.

So why do pro-integrationists and Federalists continue to propagate the lie of the avoidance of war? It is not immediately clear. There was no war in Europe from 1945 to set-up of the European Economic Community in 1957. Thus the existence of peace cannot be co-dependent on the existence of a political Union or a common market. Yet this simple fact is ignored on so many European politics courses at Universities, for the sake of furthering ideology based on personal sentiment of the course convener. Many of these are quasi-socialists, who understand that if the all the states of Europe were to shift to significantly to the left, the possibility of a quasi-socialist overlord based on redistributionist economics would be possible. The supposed virtue of this is based on an economically blind belief that the best way for a society or person to become wealthy is to be given the wealth of others rather than to create it for itself or himself. This is why there was the creation of the social chapter for the European Union, and the welfare competence granted to the EU under Lisbon. This is to pave the way for control of EU law-making by a redistributive consensus, being very feasible considering that this is the predominant political ideal in most European states.

The usefulness of this lie of avoidance of war is clear. It engages one of the worst parts of our psyche: fear. We have to stay in the project for the fear of our lives, and the numerous emotionally susceptible and politically misled fall for it. It is also a common currency for lazy thinking, amongst both undergraduates and post-graduates, at Universities I have taught in. A broader reading of history suggests that what really is to fear is continued integration without consent. To realise that the entering into of Lisbon with a false second referendum in Ireland, and the absence of one in the UK, is an affront to democratic decency. In 1648 a political device was created to free men from the tyranny of a supra-national overlord, constituted primarily by the diet regime of the Papacy. This device was the nation-state, a vehicle for expression of identity, which is not only linked to but as important as individual liberty. Three-hundred and fifty years later it is at threat from disingenuous machinations of those in search for power and control based on their personal ideology as much as that which dogged the Catholic church and the Hapsburgs in their lust for European power centuries earlier. Those political machinations, including lack of local representation and closed door decision-making, led to the bloodiest war in human history (the Thirty Years War) through which almost 70% of the population of Europe was wiped out.

Copyright Abhijit P.G. Pandya 2011
Copyright Birkenhead Society 2011.

No comments: