The EU In Perspective

Paul Johnson is one of world’s most important living scholars, and Mitch Berg points out his latest piece on the future of the EU. Johnson makes many good points on why the EU as a political experiment is not a particularly good one – because it is based on a rejection of common sense:

One thing history teaches, over and over again, is that there are no shortcuts. Human societies advance the hard way; there is no alternative. Communism promised Utopia on Earth. After three-quarters of a century of unparalleled sufferings, the Soviet Union collapsed in privation and misery, leaving massive Russia with an economy no bigger than tiny Holland’s. We are now watching the spectacle of another experiment in hedonism, the European Union, as it learns the grim facts of life.

The EU is built on a fantasy–that men and women can do less and less work, have longer and longer holidays and retire at an earlier age, while having their income, in real terms, and their standard of living increase. And this miracle is to be brought about by the enlightened bureaucratic regulation of every aspect of life.

The EU is all about the lie that people work less and the economy will somehow stay afloat. It’s basically about as naive as someone hoping to pay their bills by having a wad of cash fall from the sky. The only way an economy can expand is by increasing productivity, maximizing investment, and ensuring that people are willing to take risks to reap the rewards – in other words, a system of dynamic capitalism.

Instead the EU wants a system in which everyone has everything they could possibly want, without all the bother of having to work for it. They want to take the risks out of capitalism, which is a fool’s quest. You cannot expect to grow your economy while having less people do the things that actually achieve that end – unless you’re willing to degrade a significant part of your labor force to utter slavery in order to carry the burden of the rest.

This is exactly the nightmare scenario envisioned by the Austrian economist F.A. Hayek in his seminal work The Road To Serfdom – a society in which the nomenklatura get their free health care and public education on the labors of an underclass who by necessity must lose their political rights in order to achieve socialist utopia.

It is this reason that the experiment of Communism turned every single nation that tried it into a hell on Earth. The EU may not be going as far as Lenin did in trying to create a worker’s paradise, but the end they will achieve will be all too familiar. One would think that a continent that prides itself on its history would have learned its lessons better.

8 thoughts on “The EU In Perspective

  1. Another of the infinite number of GOP contradictions is the family values vs. increased productivity conundrum. At one end of the conservative argument of convenience spectrum is the “respect for family” issue. The institution of family, they tell us, has been disrespected by absentee and/or indifferent parents who “should have been there” to notice problems in the lives of their children that ultimately led them to a life of street violence, drug abuse, school shootings or whatever the issue of the month is. Currently, they claim, we’re being oppressed by the post-feminist mindset that fails to recognize the importance of family and values personal success more than the collective good. Better for society to revert back to the good old days where dad worked 9 to 5, mom stayed home and cooked a hearty breakfast of pancakes, bacon and eggs each morning and had warm chocolate chip cookies ready for the kids when they got off the school bus. Both parents were home as much as possible and whenever young Jack or Jill had a problem, they could sit on mom or dad’s lap and get all the advice they would need to nip it in the bud.

    On the other hand, “not enough people are pulling their weight.” We must work harder and harder and harder to ensure perpetually increasing rates of worker productivity. This will keep us ahead of the curve in the global economy, particularly up against those lazy Europeans who spend far too many hours with their family that could be better spent at the office. The classic model of the conservative workplace is (or rather was) Enron, where workers who put in less than 70 hours a week on the job were very unlikely to stay on the payroll when their next “review” came up. If your kid needs to be picked up from volleyball practice at 4 p.m., that’s your problem, buddy, not ours….now get back to your desk and make the company some money.

    Kind of presents a conflict of interest doesn’t it?

    Granted, Group A fits the Pat Robertson wing of the Republican party and Group B fits the Jay Reding wing of the GOP, and the two probably don’t have that much in common. I have more respect for the first group, since they are usually motivated by something other than gratuitous greed. Group B views the human population as little more than pieces on the free market chessboard, serving the Earth in no other way but to be warm-blooded “profit vessels” whose destiny is to make more money for others at whatever cost necessary to their health, their family and society. The ideological contradictions of these two groups represent an impending crisis for the Republicans. The Jay Reding wing of the party is clearly winning the culture war, much to the disadvantage of the social conservatives and their family-oriented worldview. Can these groups continue to co-exist within the same political party, especially as the free-market slave drivers chastise Europe’s “culture of leisure” which is much more representative of a pro-family culture than the “work till you drop” culture America is trending towards at the hands of Jay Reding’s mentors?

  2. Communism promised Utopia on Earth
    What about your Bushist neocons utopia?

    (…) the Soviet Union collapsed in privation and misery, leaving massive Russia with an economy no bigger than tiny Holland’s
    Actually Russian GDP is close to Belgium’s. And if the USA had a tiny percentage only of Dutch brilliant qualities, the World would no doubt be a better place.

    Your jealousy about the EU is breathtaking. A very good reason indeed to keep on recruiting new members & accelerate closer integration.

  3. Your jealousy about the EU is breathtaking. A very good reason indeed to keep on recruiting new members & accelerate closer integration.

    …only hastening the inevitable collapse. It’s like someone on the scaffold about to be hanged saying “I’m going to jump for it!”.

    With attitudes such as that, no wonder Europe is falling apart economically and socially.

  4. Oh and Mark, has anyone ever told you that brevity is the soul of wit? If you want to start debating at an adult level, I suggest you do better than bat around tired old straw men and start supporting your arguments with real facts. If you were in one of my debate classes, you’d be flunking right now.

  5. I have pointed out one of many legitimate contradictions in the poorly-crafted GOP dogma and snared you in the process. It’s much easier to chastise my debating skills than to address the points I made. I guess it’s a form of damage control since you know full well that you’d make a bigger fool out of yourself attempting to justify how the human population can simultaneously work more hours to “increase productivity” and still be there for their families, so you resort to attacking the person who made the comparison. Your utter incompetence in effectively justifying your disgusting worldview is not going unnoticed. This is just the latest example of your self-made undoing, and it’s a pleasure watching you destroy yourself.

  6. Yes, all Republicans think that women should just stay home and back cookies, and we all want people to work a minimum of 70 hours a week.

    Those are called straw men, gross exagerations of someone’s position used as a debating tactic by people who can’t defend against the real argument being made.

    Unless you can make a real argument – something backed up by facts that can be independently verified and without resorting to infantile debating points I’m not going to waste my time picking apart arguments that have no rhetorical value.

    And furthermore, your entirely argument hinges on the idea that increasing productivity can only be achieved by increasing the number of hours worked. That is obviously fallacious, considering that only a few decades ago a massive chunk of the population worked from dusk until dawn as farmers to feed the country. Considering that 100 years ago the idea of a 40-hour workweek was only for the super-rich it is clear that technology has ensured that the value of goods and services produced per labor hour are far greater than the were even a few decades ago – meaning that while working hours have decreased productivity has increased. QED.

  7. “The EU is all about the lie that people work less and the economy somehow stays afloat.”

    Ouch! The slap of your own words coming back at you like a boomerang always stings more than anything the hand of your opponent could inflict. That statement directly contradicts your retort to me and infers that economic gain is directly proportional to hours on the clock at work. If the aforementioned statement applies to Europe, how can it not apply to the US in kind? Why must Europe work more to promote its own growth, but America can continue “improving the value of goods and services produced per labor hour” through technology?

    I knew you’d play the “everybody used to be farmers working from dawn till dusk” card in response to the reality that hours in the workplace are dramatically rising in America circa the modern era that we currently live in. Whatever merit there is in pointing out that the agrarian economic model of the early 20th century required more working hours per capita is discounted by the entire premise of the “family farm.” The Norman Rockwell values realized by family units in this setting are what modern conservatives hold up as the model most worthy of replication. The 19th century farm economy’s strenuous work requirements fails to justify rising work hours in today’s economy where most parents work outside the home, particularly in defense of the conservative “family values” utopia.

    The 40-hour workweek didn’t shift from being a “luxury for the super-rich” as a simple result of Americans moving from the farm to the factory or office as your post falsely suggests. Farmers have not constituted a majority in American society at any point in the last century. The irony is that the 40-hour workweek that inspired the closest-knit family units in American history was made possible for the majority of Americans because of unions, those horrible institutions that conservatives, and Americans in general, have disowned in recent years. They celebrate the family values that unions helped inspire, but now think they’re too healthy to take the medicine that cured the disease. Thus, it seems as though the social conservatives who wish to make family a bigger part of the American social fabric may be investing in the wrong party, since everything to do with the modern-day GOP is about disempowering unions and other institutions that could help people spend more time with family instead of their bosses.

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