Saturday, June 21, 2008

Can the Irish Leave the EU?

By Bernie Quigley

6/21/08 – for the Irish Echo

The Irish have sent the EU into a tail spin because they voted to oppose last week’s referendum on EU reform, which would have demanded that Ireland follow Europe’s dictates on abortion, military intervention and taxation. Pundits say it has crippled the EU, perhaps for good, unless Ireland can be coerced into changing its vote. One analyst says Ireland should find a way to leave the EU.

But can the Irish "find a way to leave" the EU? I doubt that the Irish or anyone else in Europe has fully considered that the American Civil War came about because of different philosophical outlooks between the pastoralists in Virginia and the industrialists in New York City and that these opposing outlooks are inherent in federalism.

In the United States in 1776, no one but Thomas Jefferson had fully thought through the possible consequences of federation. But within 20 years of signing, the perceptive Jefferson began to understand that the North would invade the South when it developed the economic and industrial power to do so.

In Europe today I see no Jefferson. And as far as I understand it, there is no exit clause for Ireland or anyone else in the EU.

The American federation first began to crack when President John Adams – who could well be seen as George W. Bush’s role model in his cavalier attitude toward Constitutional responsibility - removed civil liberties with the Alien and Sedition Acts just 22 years after the signing, and Jefferson and Madison began writing secession papers for Virginia and Kentucky in response. Jefferson knew then that the New Yorkers would not allow them to leave the federation even though he had written an exit clause in the Virginia Constitution at the beginning. He expected a northern invasion of Virginia as early as 1797.

The dye was already cast in 1794 at Jay’s Treaty when George Washington broke with his fellow Virginians and joined with Adams and Alexander Hamilton, the New Yorker, who had created the model of a universal industrial state with one center, in opposition to Jefferson and Madison. Those were the first two steps from which all of American federal history has since descended.

Ireland suddenly finds itself today in the early phases of Jefferson’s dilemma. Now that the Irish pastoralists begin to face philosophical differences with their big industrial masters, Germany and France in particular, they will find the same issues.

Commentator Carlos Alberto Montaner who lives in Spain, says there is no such thing as Europe.

“There are French, English, Italians, Spaniards et al, but the inhabitants of the Old World still have not shown anything resembling a common soul and probably never will,” he says in a recent Washington Post article.

He also cites Argentine writer Mariano Grondona who says the same about MERCOSUR, a Latin American body conceived in the manner of the European Union

“I know many Argentines who would be willing to die or kill for Argentina, but I don't know a single one who is ready to do so for MERCOSUR,” says Grondona.

Their commentary suggests the United States prior to federation and shortly after as Ulysses S. Grant described it in his memoirs; a land made up of small communities with localized idioms. The Civil War changed all that.

Lincoln and Grant had to bring in the Irish landing in a horde in New York (including my great grandfather) to suppress the Virginians and the southern pastoralists when the inevitable crisis erupted. Perhaps in time the EU federalists will have to pull in its people in all those Eastern Bloc and Orthodox Christian countries and the Turks and Muslims on the far edge of Europe who so want to participate to suppress a new Irish insurgency.

There is a process or arc in the life cycle of federations which have grown so rapidly in the world since the mid-1800s. These are not traditional empires like China, Russia or the rise of England under Elizabeth I. They are Instant Empires. Their longevity is still up for debate. They are ad hoc groupings of related areas forming together for an immediate purpose; usually defense or economic betterment.

In the United States it was a case of the strong industrial regions dominating the pastoral regions by brute force in the Civil War. We are taught constantly here in the North that this war was fought to fight slavery but letters home by Vermont soldiers show little interest in liberating slaves. Almost all say they entered the fight to prevent the South from seceding from the federation signed on to in 1776.

Europe today is on precisely the same path. The Irish may have seen an opportunity to transcend British cultural dominance by joining the EU. But now it must wonder how it will fare as a German substate, as the new Euro core is largely France/Germany; Sarko's France the submissive yin in full cooperation with the dominant and stronger yang force next door. (Did somebody say Vichy?)

How should Ireland find its way in this world?

It shouldn’t.

When the Irish left home, where did they go? Germany? France? No. They went to Manchester, England, until they had enough cash on hand to make passage to New York and Boston. If Ireland wanted to be a substate to anyone, it should be the free world on this side of the Atlantic which it helped create.

But Ireland now has the opportunity to lead the world out of the soulless and generic mentality of one-size-fits-all federalism to find its own nature again and find its way as a free state and a free people in a free world, beholding to no one on moral issues or any other.

2 comments:

Edmundo said...

You should ask Grondona to go beyond his exclusive social circle, and his nationalist and bourgeois mentality. His "many Argentines" would be businesspeople, large landowners, military officers, Catholic priests. In fact, most of Argentines are not aware of the benefits of MERCOSUR for them, but there is a significant segment who would be well diposed to share their destinies with Brazilians, Uruguayans and Paraguayans.

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