Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Federation of Europe

The EU has 2 stark roads to take. It is at the fork in the road.

One road leads to the dismantling of the EU itself, starting with the break-up of the common currency, Euro. It's a bad outcome.

The other road is further integration. The formation of a federation. Or, a confederation.

The second road emerges because of the need for the stronger EU members to support (bailout) the weaker ones.

The second road is consistent with the vision offered by Bertrand Russell many, many years ago. Lord Russell wrote (which I have extracted from his essay, Political Ideals)-

The whole conception of trade, which has been forced upon
us by manufacturers who dreaded foreign competition, by trusts which
desired to secure monopolies, and by economists poisoned by the virus
of nationalism, is totally and absolutely false. Trade results simply
from division of labor. A man cannot himself make all the goods of
which he has need, and therefore he must exchange his produce with
that of other people. What applies to the individual, applies in
exactly the same way to the nation. There is no reason to desire that
a nation should itself produce all the goods of which it has need; it
is better that it should specialize upon those goods which it can
produce to most advantage, and should exchange its surplus with the
surplus of other goods produced by other countries. There is no use
in sending goods out of the country except in order to get other goods
in return. A butcher who is always willing to part with his meat but
not willing to take bread from the baker, or boots from the bootmaker,
or clothes from the tailor, would soon find himself in a sorry plight.
Yet he would be no more foolish than the protectionist who desires
that we should send goods abroad without receiving payment in the
shape of goods imported from abroad.

Our economic system is topsyturvy. It makes the interest of the
individual conflict with the interest of the community in a thousand
ways in which no such conflict ought to exist. Under a better system
the benefits of free trade and the evils of tariffs would be obvious
to all.

Apart from trade, the interests of nations coincide in all that makes
what we call civilization. Inventions and discoveries bring benefit
to all. The progress of science is a matter of equal concern to the
whole civilized world. Whether a man of science is an Englishman, a
Frenchman, or a German is a matter of no real importance. His
discoveries are open to all, and nothing but intelligence is required
in order to profit by them. The whole world of art and literature and
learning is international; what is done in one country is not done for
that country, but for mankind. If we ask ourselves what are the
things that raise mankind above the brutes, what are the things that
make us think the human race more valuable than any species of
animals, we shall find that none of them are things in which any one
nation can have exclusive property, but all are things in which the
whole world can share. Those who have any care for these things,
those who wish to see mankind fruitful in the work which men alone can
do, will take little account of national boundaries, and have little
care to what state a man happens to owe allegiance.

What is to be desired is not cosmopolitanism, not the absence of all
national characteristics that one associates with couriers,
wagon-lit attendants, and others, who have had everything
distinctive obliterated by multiple and trivial contacts with men of
every civilized country. Such cosmopolitanism is the result of loss,
not gain. The international spirit which we should wish to see
produced will be something added to love of country, not something
taken away. Just as patriotism does not prevent a man from feeling
family affection, so the international spirit ought not to prevent a
man from feeling affection for his own country. But it will somewhat
alter the character of that affection. The things which he will
desire for his own country will no longer be things which can only be
acquired at the expense of others, but rather those things in which
the excellence of any one country is to the advantage of all the
world. He will wish his own country to be great in the arts of peace,
to be eminent in thought and science, to be magnanimous and just and
generous. He will wish it to help mankind on the way toward that
better world of liberty and international concord which must be
realized if any happiness is to be left to man.

The principle espoused by Lord Russell, if you didn't catch the drift, is that, in the current context, EU members need not fear the loss of nationalism or local culture as they gravitate towards a federal formula. It is akin to having a sense of being part of a huge village. It's going back to the roots of why people chose to live close to each other in the first place.


Zaidi said...

Dear d m
I guess each federation in its formative stage would have to undergo the necessary turmoil in order to get the majority on board. The present crisis is the necessary evil for the formation of the Fed Europe. With the US, the ideals of anti slavery lead to civil war, in Europe, the debt default may lead to tighter fiscal discipline which may lead to common tax law. I look forward to the day of the big nations. Now countries will have to behave like municipalities. The UK will always stay out because they are part of the US.

Whatever the outcome, it is the small country like Malaysia who will have to find her place among the giants. Dare to think of Malindo?

walla said...

Perhaps it has been said too often that charity begins at home.

Applied to the Germans and Greeks, how would the former react then to the request of the latter for another round of what has essentially been a bailout as with similar cases in Argentina and Brazil on another continent?

The Germans will say to the Greeks, "show me where you have practiced discipline, frugality, hard-work, innovation, focus on important matters, continuous improvement and pragmatism that have led you to your present situation."

The Greeks, Portuguese, Spaniards, and even the Italians can't take that call because they will realize even with those qualities, the Japanese are facing problems.

Yet these remain the qualities upon which the foundation of stability and prosperity is laid. Otherwise Germany would have joined Greece in its dilemma despite knowing MIT's Thurow had once fingered Germany as the nation to succeed the most.

Which comes to the Catch-22 situation painted in the last post. The question to ask is this: what if the next bailout also fails? Will there be yet another borne on the same-boat mentality of the federation? It is easy to sink together under the same challenges but not so easy to swim together if people don't play their part.

Which comes to us. When does using differentials as an excuse end and real honest hard work and personal sacrifice begin? The answers may perhaps be found in the same type of universal virtues that Russell had illuminated in his discourse.

de minimis said...

Welcome back, bro walla!

walla said...

It is very good to read your writings which are always unique, enlightening and important.