The European Convention is meeting to draft a Constitution for the European Union. The already 18-page draft isn’t so much a constitution as it is a laundry list for every special interest group imaginable. It is a document that virtually ensures irresponsible governance. Edward Rothstein has some very astute observations on the EU Constitution in The New York Times. He notes that the continental birthplace of such thinkers as Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Montesquieu have chosen to ignore their advice.
This is not the Jeffersonian language of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," with its allusions to the Enlightenment, nor is it the language of the Bill of Rights, which limits government power. This is the language of interest groups, which, enshrined as constitutional rights, will end up guaranteeing the ruling bureaucracy its right to daily bread.
The reason why the US Constitution is such a brilliant document is that it is designed specifically to limit government. The US Constitution is a product of Enlightenment thinking which placed the emphasis on individual autonomy over the oppressive yoke of the state. The ultimate authority in the US Constitution is not found in any of the three branches of government – the legitimacy of the government of the United States is contained solely with the people, and they have the right to reclaim their authority if they wish.
The EU Constitution’s sense of liberty is based in the concepts of statism, in which the state is the sole fountain of authority. It is a step backwards to statist feudalism in which the state guarantees everyone certain benefits, not rights. The EU is not at all interested in maintaining the "life, liberty, and property" of the people, but in expanding the centralized authority of the EU superstate. The laundry list of "rights" virtually require the state to create two classes of citizenry – the donors and the recievers. The donors will see their political economic rights slowly stripped away in the name of "fairness" while the others receieve the benefits of government redistribution – becoming serfs to the state.
Not only is the European Constitution a document an entirely misguided focus, but it is also a bureaucratic nightmare. It bans using body parts for financial game – meaning that blood and plasma donations would be banned and many organ donations would be made illegal. It offers right for children to "express their views freely" and to have those views "taken into consideration" which means that telling your kid to stop whining is now a horrendous violation of the Rights of Man. Except it wouldn’t be the Rights of Man anymore – gender equity is also mandated – except in the case of the government’s right to take pass rules creating "advantages in favor of the underrepresented sex." It’s an almost Orwellian conception that we’re all equal – except that certain groups are more equal than others.
The big question is how would the EU guarantee such rights? Rights are worthless without the ability in which to exercise them. How would the EU government guarantee all these new "rights" without taking control of virtually every aspect of life in the EU? The short answer is that they will have to – and that’s the point. This is a document that ensures that Brussels will have its hands in every aspect of the political and social life of member nations – and that gives plenty of opportunity for corruption, graft, and arbitrary executions of power.
The European Constitution is a document that sends the EU onto what F.A. Hayek called "The Road To Serfdom" – a path of increasing government dependence that strangles the liberty of the people. It places a blank check into the hands of the Eurocrats in Brussels and assumes that such powers will only be used for good. It is an assumption that the long and bloody history of Europe shows to be foolish and best and suicidal at worst.
In his brilliant and seminal work Reflections on the Revolution in France the 18th Century British statesman Edmund Burke praised the American Revolution for being born in an atmosphere of liberty while scolding the French Revolution as being a revolution that would destroy the fabric of society and lead to bloodshed. Burke’s predictions were proven correct in the bloodbath of the Reign of Terror as the Revolution turned into a mob. The EU is now making the same mistake as Revolutionary France – turning their backs on liberty and limited government and embracing the kind of statism that quickly leads to strangling bureaucracy at best or totaltirarianism at worst. The EU Constitution must be scrapped and rewritten, or the EU will find itself reliving the mistakes of the past.