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An interesting thought

Posted by Helen Monday, January 31, 2005

Obviously, we, on this blog, do not know how many of our readers bother with Sunday newspapers and to what extent. There is even a split in our own ranks as to what constitutes the most interesting part.

My colleague devours the news sections, reads the business reports and discards the rest. I concentrate on the reviews, then the business sections and glance perfunctorily through the main part, having already read any interesting news on the internet. And, at times, like yesterday, realize that what Sunday journalists consider news had been blogged a week or ten days previously. (The British media has not yet woken up to the possibilities of the internet and the blogosphere.)

Thus it came about that I read Lord Lawson’s review of Sir Samuel Brittan’s collection of essays, Against the Flow: Reflections of an Individualist. Some wag of a sub-editor entitled Lawson’s piece Brittan stays in Europe.

Lawson is largely positive but cannot understand how a clever economic and political writer, who, moreover, sees clearly the disadvantages of Britain joining the euro, can possibly go on supporting the project.

“Why Brittan should ssume that any future European Federation would be likely,let alone guaranteed, to be based on limited government and effectively functioning markets is baffling.”
After all, points out Lawson, the nation state and the market economy grew almost simultaneously, and that is not an accident, though, wisely, he does not apportion cause and effect.

Lawson’s explanation is that for some reason Brittan considers the alternative to a European Federation, “separate self-governing nation states” as unenlightened. If true, and there is no reason to disagree with this analysis, Sir Samuel has clearly fallen into the structures are more important than content trap.

There is another problem with Brittan’s analysis of the wider political situation. He writes robustly on the need to stand up to the terrorist threat but does not face up to what has been described as “Americans from Mars, Europeans are from Venus” attitude.

Lord Lawson writes trenchantly:
“… the real reason is surely that ‘Europe’ is doomed to be Venusian, for while people can be persuaded to fight and die for their country, they will never do so for Europe.”
It is entirely possible to think that it is quite a good idea not to try to persuade people to fight and die for anything particular. That would be a rational though unrealistic point of view.

However, that is not the “European” attitude. It is part of the project to build up a defence and, indeed, attack structure that will rival and, if needs be, oppose the Americans. This they want to do sans money, sans proper equipment, sans any kind of emotional support. It is, as Lord Lawson rightly points out, doomed to a costly and dangerous failure.