Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Memo to Margot - 1

Dear Vice-President Wallström,

You seem to be getting into trouble with your pronouncements on history, religion, philosophy and politics. May I, therefore, in the interests of international solidarity help you out a little. Here are a few points you might like to follow, with background information further down.

1. Try to speak on subjects you are actually familiar with. Maudlin sentimentality does not make up for ignorance.

2. Make an effort actually to say what you mean. Unless you really do mean that there was sixty years of peace everywhere in Europe, do not say it. If you have no idea what kept the peace in the part of Europe you refer to, find out.

3. Do not try to curry favour by discarding cardinal aspects of your own religion. Christians will be offended and others will despise you. In other words, dear Margot, do not refer to Jesus Christ as a “wandering Jewish teacher [of] 2,000 years ago”.

4. If you are going to quote political thinkers, make sure they did not say anything that can be quoted back to you. As a rule of thumb, Edmund Burke, that great opponent of the French Revolution, supporter of tradition, constitution and democracy is a particularly difficult one from your point of view.

For example, you quote him saying: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Very nice. Well done. There are, of course, people across Europe who quote that one to urge people to fight the European Union and its rather undemocratic nature (Were you elected to be Vice-President, Margot?) but that is of little import.

But have you looked at his other sayings? For example: “But what is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice and madness, without tuition or restraint.”

Or have you seen this: “The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.” You might like to contemplate that one as you look around at the unelected, unaccountable Commission that you so ably participate in.

Or, the next time somebody mentions, the names Jacques Barrot or José Barroso, or enquires too closely about the various unresolved scandals of corruption in the EU structures, you might like to remember the following saying by Burke: “Among a people generally corrupt, liberty cannot long exist.”

5. And finally, dear Margot, may I suggest that you fight your own battles. Do not get the moderator of your rather infrequent blog to defend you. It is not edifying or attractive to hide behind your staff.

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