European Left and the Fall of the Euro
There are many on the Euroskeptic right who can see a silver lining to a potential breakdown of the European Union as we now know it. Such a view is understandable; having been dismissed as xenophobic, economically illiterate racists for daring to oppose the great socialist European project since the early 1990s, we have finally been proven right. Certainly, we have been right for years, but now it is undeniable.
Europe is in continent-wide debt, the Euro currency is in its death throes, and the financial stability of all of Europe depends on...Greece. Surely no one can deny that the European project as conceived by the socialist left is dead, and that we need to fundamentally rewrite the that project. Right?
Wrong -- for it seems that the left aren't learning from their mistakes. In Britain, the classic example of this is the leader of the Liberal Democrats -- and current deputy prime minister of the British Coalition government -- Nick Clegg.
The Liberal Democrats are the main pro-European force in British politics, and have been the strongest advocates for British entry into the Euro, as it was the only British political party united on the issue. Luckily for the United Kingdom, they failed to get their way, and Britain has retained the pound sterling.
The Euro has been shown to be such a monumental failure that even Clegg -- a strong voice in the pro-Euro camp -- came out as this year's conference and declared that "with the benefit of hindsight, you can say it would have been a huge, huge error" for Britain to have entered the Euro.
This stunning admittance of error is equivalent to a right-wing party concluding that capitalism doesn't work, or a left-wing party acknowledging that the welfare state doesn't help poor families. One would assume that this U-turn on the issue by a major left-wing party, as well as the obvious collapse of the European project as a whole, would lead to massive self-evaluation and a penitential spirit from left-wing journalists and politicians.
Yet, less than a few months later, those on the left in favor of a European superstate are running their mouths again at those who would dare continue to oppose their grand scheme. Socialist business secretary Vince Cable stated at the same conference where Clegg backed down that the Euro currency could still be a success -- although he of course failed to outline how this could happen.
Additionally, left-wing commentators have failed to drop their tiresome refrain that Euroskeptics are nothing but racist weirdos who don't know what they are talking about, with The Guardian's correspondent Polly Toynbee decrying recent calls from British conservatives for a European referendum as luxuriating in "escapist Europhobia" while The Independent's Andrew Grice dismissed Euroskeptics as "dreamers" whose economic arguments are nothing more than reflexive euro-bashing.
Yet the most gobsmacking attacks on Euroskeptics comes from the same Nick Clegg who -- less than two months after admitting that he was entirely wrong on the biggest economic decision in modern British history -- now feels that he is just the man to lecture the people who were entirely right on the issue as to how he knows better.
As the Euroskeptics call for a retreat from the sinking ship of the EU that liberals like Clegg put Britain on, Clegg has responded by condescendingly lecturing the right on how important Europe is, arguing:
It is only by having a loud voice in a united Europe that we can promote the open economy that will deliver growth. Being shoved to the margins, or retreating there voluntarily, would be economic suicide: a surefire way to hurt British businesses and lose jobs.
This hectoring tone becomes more jarring when one realizes that it is the same argument that was used to put Britain knee-deep in the mess in the first place, and it was also used by Europhiles like Clegg to convince Britons to commit hara-kiri by submitting to the doomed Euro currency. It was just as wrong then as it is now, and yet the argument is still being wheeled out by the ideologically blinkered left.
Nick Clegg is of note, as he is a textbook example of the European elite politicians who are currently making the key decisions for Europe's future. Those Eurorealists who were hoping that the last few years would convince the continental elite that a new tactic was required are being too optimistic.
We have seen no sign that the enormous bailouts will cease -- except for the standard promises that no, really, this is the last bailout. There have been no serious proposals for a restructuring of the Euro, or a re-evaluation of who should be part of the currency; and the idea that the politicians may be more open to installing more democracy in the European system was blown apart by the furious reaction to the mere suggestion of a Greek referendum on the issue.
Although a few austerity measures have been implemented in one or two select nations, there are no signs that these represent anything more than mere bookkeeping -- there is no ideological debate about the role and size of government here.
Those on the right who believe that it is impossible for the Europhiles to remain in denial any longer are mistaken. The European delusion has been fighting on in spite of failure after failure for decades. Every bump in the road, every obstacle is seen to be solvable by entering deeper into union and spending more money, and this is not about the change any time soon.
Until true conservatives get hold of power across Europe and dismantle the socialist EU themselves, the bailouts will continue, the size of government will increase, and the spending of other people's money by unelected bureaucrats will carry on as usual. "Keep calm and carry on" was once a famous saying in wartime Britain -- it could now be the official motto of the European Union as it calmly carries on into self-destruction and economic oblivion.
Adam Shaw is an English-born freelance writer currently living in New York City. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @ACShaw.