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t.daeges

Have it your way.

The one thing you never addressed is how you would define "good relations".

If you mean a relationship for Germans which predated 9 11 or do you mean from an American perspective a relationship which predated the fall of the Berlin Wall, then you are hoping for something that will never be.

@t.daeges

Earlier you referred to my comment "We have become "insects" who need no sympathy when blasted by hurricanes because "we had it coming"." and you replied, "Nonsense. I for one know nobody who thinks like that. I subsequently answered by providing the links to articles from prominent Germans/magazines showing that what I wrote about was a major issue in the German media, whether you'd heard about it or not. You did not respond or apologize or further explain your "nonsense" attack.

So now you write, "And what about that stuff that Germans would intentionally stay away from American goods?! That sounds so made-up." and later you refer to the need for "more maturity". I already referred you to a decades long trade surplus that Germany enjoys with the US and you could have replied with countervailing explanations for the export situation, but that's no reason to launch into ad hominem attacks, demanding more "maturity".

But hey, this is the internet and I can handle it as well as dish it out. What I do find unnecessarily churlish in your post is your attempt to present yourself as the aggrieved party. Looking over the replies to your posts, I think you have been met on the whole with respectful comments: I complimented your English, as did others, some wrote reassuringly that they wished there were more like you. However, your writing one piece here denying the generality of an anti-US media bias cannot undo all the counter-examples littering the German landscape. That will take real work, although you seem to be skipping out of here before you've quite started. Now I can understand that no one person, and certainly not you, is responsible alone for correcting the damage, and perhaps after looking at the situation presented here you've realized it's too daunting a task. Fine, I might too. But don't blame us for writing "nonsense", lacking in "maturity", or in general flaming you. That did not happen. You have been treated here with respect.

And no, I am not willing to go to the effort of googling the IMF stats or other sources to show you the long-term trade surplus (excess of exports over imports) that Germany enjoys over the USA. I've come to the conclusion you're not interested in the details, beyond making your point that "I for one know nobody who thinks like that". You're the first German I've met who seemingly denies Germany is an export nation.

-- will naturally continue to read the site as I regard Anti-American-articles as a problem as well and I will also continue to keep an eye on the matter.--


You need to read more than just this site.

You need to educate yourself and discuss it with your friends and get them into the blogosphere talking to US.

Go read Varifrank's blog from around 12/26 right after the tsunami and the response of some Europeans:

http://varifrank.com/archives/2005/01/today_i_was_unp_1.php

...Later in the breakroom, one of the laughing Euros caught me and extended his hand in an apology. I asked him where he was from, he said "a town outside of Berlin". He is a young man, in his early 20's.

I asked him if he knew of a man named Gail Halvorsen.

He said no.

I said "that's a shame" and walked away to find my Hindi friend.


Thorsten, aka t.daeges,

You are right. It is futile for you to try to solve the problem by either rationalizing it away or convincing us that it's not as bad as we think.

Instead, solve the problem at your end - at the source. Write and complain to the papers you read when see bias. Point out bias to friends, family and collegues. Don't perpetuate it yourself. Follow your principles.

Leserin

Thanks Sandy, that was a moving story you linked to. Unfortunately there are all too many cases like that that we all have to endure. Before 911 I used to tolerate it, but since then I've walked away from one former friend after another because of their stories told in poor taste.

Sean M:

<>

I am not going to argue with you about the socialist component in the Nazi ideology, because I (a staunch supporter of liberal ideas) totally agree with you. however, my point which you fail to adress is the nature of nationalism as such, whether combined with socialist ideas or not. i will not even contest your assertion, nationalism is not THE defining feature of facism (it is definitely A defining feature) because nationalism in its continental tradition is not confined to germany and the nazi ideology. in fact, it was widespread throughout Europe for most of the 19th century and the cause of many armed conflicts (wars of liberation as well as of conquest, such as the prussian/french conflict in 1871). it has, there is no denying it, cost the lifes of millions, as in 1914-1918.

I know the american perspective is different, as is the british. but on the continent, confining nationalist ambitions is Europe's ONLY choice. and most of the "neo-national" parties in Europe that I am aware of (Germany: NPD, Italy: Lega Nord, France: Front National) subscribe to anti-liberal, anti-semitic ideas and surely not a free market economy.

prove me wrong.

Pamela:

thanks for sharing your thoughts on the history of socialism in germany and the impossibility of a "democratic socialism". very interesting. now what ?

my point was that continental-style nationalism is "bad" (cf my response to SeanM). i totally agree with you that any totalitarian utopist ideology (you named facism, socialism and islamism) is bound to fail. however, to compare these ideologies with the creation of the "european idea" and the EU is, to put it mildly, very controversial. yes it does involve giving up state sovereignty. what is wrong with that as long as the newly created european entities are democratically legitimated, what they are not always, i know. they should be: we could argue about more power to the european parliament for hours here. in the end the people of europe should elect their european leader and a european government.

american style "soverign" nationalism that is confined to europe's separate countries will lead her nowhere, just like a "californian" or "virginian" nation would lead america nowhere.

I know I am dreaming here, but then it's a free country.

@SeanM:
"And no, I am not willing to go to the effort of googling the IMF stats or other sources to show you the long-term trade surplus (excess of exports over imports) that Germany enjoys over the USA."
"You're the first German I've met who seemingly denies Germany is an export nation."
I don't do that, everybody knows that export is the strongest part of our economy right now - Schroeder is soo proud of it. :-) Where did I deny that?! I just brought export up because someone said it was the only reason why Germans would want a good relationship with the U.S., which is not true.

"I've come to the conclusion you're not interested in the details, beyond making your point that "I for one know nobody who thinks like that"."
Yeah, you know me. Did I mention jumping to conclusions?

"That will take real work, although you seem to be skipping out of here before you've quite started."
No I won't be skipping out - it's just that, after having spent a few evenings typing in English (which doesn't come half as easy to me as it seems when reading it - it takes me more time than native speakers naturally) I have noticed that I was tired at work and that I simply do not have the time to continue like that.

"You did not respond or apologize or further explain your "nonsense" attack."
I did not reply to a lot of posts where I would have liked to, same reason as mentioned above. "Nonsense attack"? It certainly wasn't meant as an attack, I just wanted to state that it's not true, that's nonsense. Maybe that word has another ring to it in English, one that I'm not aware of - just like "arschloch" and "asshole" (as I remember hearing from the Wordnerds (great podcast about language), I should have thought about that before using that word here as well). That is an issue when talking in another language. As for my statement, I really don't know anyone who thinks like that... But there are people who think so apparently (as seen in todays post), so here you go: I'll take the word "nonsense" back, the rest however, is true.

"Looking over the replies to your posts, I think you have been met on the whole with respectful comments:"
And I was and am thankful for that.

"and perhaps after looking at the situation presented here you've realized it's too daunting a task. Fine, I might too."
It would be cowardish to just run away. But I realized that the mind of many people here is set, and some are spin-doctors that try to turn around every word I say. I have a life and a job and I simply needed to step back a bit.

Then there's this via Live from Brussels:

Down with America!
Well know Belgian blogger Luc Van Braekel reports on the newest song by Raymond Van Het Groenewoud, a popular singer in Flanders who's been around for years. The title of this new masterpiece? 'Down with America'.

Here are some of the (translated) lyrics (original Dutch below):

Hamburgers and cola, yeah, you knew that already. But do you also know the cause of the general decline? Shortsighted thinking, talking loud, getting stuck in one-liners. Down with America! Down with those American peasants! Down with America! Down with American colonialism! Down with that ugly, biting English. All that Aglo-saxon arrogance. Yeah, a hot poker in their butt, and that's that. Those foolish machos, oh man, they've been playing cop for sixty years. I'm from the Belgian, the European panel, and I'm asking, clear my channel!

@Toby

If the real cause of the centuries long conflict in Europe is not Nationalism, then forcibly combining many nations into an artificial new Europe may lead to the next conflict being the last.

The subject you raise is vast, and although I'm always unhappy when others do this to me, let me reference a book on this subject that I read recently:

"The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God" by George Weigel (ISBN: 0465092667)

It's a very quick read and I am sure it will help you refine your own opinions; Weigel is a first rate theologian. Amazon.de has it for about 13 euros + shipping.

It is good that memebers of the chocolate summit are in such high spirits these days.

I am very happy for them.

I would say this is just one more reason to disband NATO. They could then turn these building over to the EU DOD and the enlarged EU staff to support it.

Think of the jobs creation this would cause.

@Toby,
I should have mentioned, the book is not about fascism, it's about the question you raised on Europe and nationalism and where Europe is going.

SeanM:

I will see if I can find the time for some extra reading. maybe in the meantime you can help me out:

why do you think Europe is "artificial"?. Why is the federal government in DC not "artificial"? How do you define nation ? what makes belgium a nation, why isn't Puerto Rico one ? what about Monte Carlo, Andorra, San Marino, Lichtenstein?

to what nation do hundreds of thousands of "hungarians" belong to, who live in Romania, but don't speak any Romanian ? what about the german speakung population of the alto adige in Italy ? what about the french speaking minority in the aosta valley ? what about danish in Norther Germany ? what about Germans in Belgium (Eupen/Malmedy) ? what about the basques in Northern Spain ?

what caused the balkan wars in the 1880s ? what the franco-german war in 1870 ? what startet WW I ? why did millions of greeks and turks have to leave their homeland in 1919 ? why did (literally) millions of armenians get killed in 1923 ? What went wrong in Slovenia in 1991? Croatia? Bosnia? what in the Kosovo?

How do you sort out all this shit ? How about we try something new? Why don't we give Brussels a chance ? It's not the Security Counsel, you know...

@Toby,

When I referred to an "artificial" new Europe I meant in the sense that it is being imposed on the people from the top down, not from the bottom up.

The rest of your post is beyond the scope of this thread, and from what I can see, does not lead inexorably to a European centralized state. Before "we give Brussels a chance" and risk an even greater conflict, I highly recommend some serious reading. But isn't this issue a little old? Haven't the French said Non? Or are you just going to press ahead anyway?

@SeanM

Sorry, this is getting OT, but you got me started:

Have you ever heard of the village Kerkrade/ Herzogenrath? It's a hick village in the middle of nowhere but interesting in one single aspect: the German/ Belgium border crosses right through it. Until 1815 the place was collectively referred to as "Rode". It was ONE village, people spoke the same language, had the same religion, etc. then because history had it, the village became split between what was to become Germany and the newly created entity of the Netherlands/ Belgium. now crossing the main street without permission was a crime, people were forced to speak "their" nation's main dialect, they even build a wall through the place. by 1950, when they tore the wall down, people did not speak the same language any more, they rooted for different soccer teams and drank different beer. they were Belgians and Germans now. there are more examples like this along the Swiss/ German, the Swiss/ French, Belgian/ Dutch and other borders, dozens of them.

what does that mean ? it means that for Rode, the imposition of two nations was artificial. that is to say, every nation is to some extent at some point in time an artificial creation. a nation is not a natural disposition, it is created, often by force.

hence, Europe can be created, too. not necessarily by force, i certainly hope.

btw: Rode has recently been reunified, thanks to cursed Brussels. they share one school again, one town hall, one pub.

SeanM,

"The rest of your post is beyond the scope of this thread, and from what I can see, does not lead inexorably to a European centralized state."

well, it certainly proves that the nationalism you advocate may have implications that turn out to be much more dangerous than the Europe, you seem to find so scary. how many lives has Europe taken ?

"Haven't the French said Non? Or are you just going to press ahead anyway?"

Actually, they have not. they have rejected a constitution that would have formalized a lot of what is reality already, anyway, mostly thanks to the ECJ in Luxemburg. why they voted as they did, is a complex matter (the French you know..., well and the Dutch, big sigh.). "Europe" as such was not on the ballot.

"Or are you just going to press ahead anyway?"

I absoulutely hope so.

"When I referred to an "artificial" new Europe I meant in the sense that it is being imposed on the people from the top down, not from the bottom up."

That is a serious point, I agree. which is why i think it is so important to defend the european idea in the public opinion like i do here. opinions do change, sometimes. i hear the idea of independency was not very popular in Boston in 1763.

@SeanM

And finally:

"and from what I can see, does not lead inexorably to a European centralized state."

Then where does it lead to ? What alternative do you have to offer ? Or Mr. Weigel, whom you continously quote as authority ("I highly recommend some serious reading" - I will try to ignore the disrespect in that one)?

--confining nationalist ambitions is Europe's ONLY choice.-- Unless Europe is the nation.

--Why is the federal government in DC not "artificial"?

E pluribus unum - out of many, 1. Europe's still killing each other.


--How do you define nation ? what makes belgium a nation, why isn't Puerto Rico one?--

Because they choose not to be. At this point in time, they still choose to remain a territory. I really wish they'd s**t or get off the pot.


--

TD - alta vista's babelfish is free, type in german translate to english, clean it up and copy. I think that can be done.

Toby, you might find Samizdata of interest.

Toby:
1. >> but on the continent, confining nationalist ambitions is Europe's ONLY choice. and most of the "neo-national" parties in Europe that I am aware of (Germany: NPD, Italy: Lega Nord, France: Front National) subscribe to anti-liberal, anti-semitic ideas and surely not a free market economy.
2. >>thanks for sharing your thoughts on the history of socialism in germany and the impossibility of a "democratic socialism". very interesting. now what ?
3. >>my point was that continental-style nationalism is "bad" (cf my response to SeanM). i totally agree with you that any totalitarian utopist ideology (you named facism, socialism and islamism) is bound to fail. however, to compare these ideologies with the creation of the "european idea" and the EU is, to put it mildly, very controversial. yes it does involve giving up state sovereignty. what is wrong with that as long as the newly created european entities are democratically legitimated, what they are not always,

Hi Toby,

1. The political dynamics in the form of political parties you refer to are appealing to nationalism but are in fact shills for totalitarianism. On the continent it has always been so, and has given nationalism in and of itself a bad name.

2. Those thoughts are not mine. They were written by F.A. Hayek in his book "The Road to Serfdom", first published in March 1944 in England. Hayek was an Austrian economist taking shelter in England during the war years.

Toby, you - and I mean not just you personally but Europe in general - are not clear on the genesis of the ideological current underlying the EU. You - speaking personally now - seem to be of the opinion that it is a response/cure to the root cause of the convulsions of the 20th century which you identify as nationalism. You have misidentified the source because your trackback into history stops short.

Socialism, the first of the collectivist evils to bedevil the 20th century actually began in the 19th century and found expression in nationalism. This is nothing new but it has become dormant, unknown. If you can find a copy of "The Road to Serfdom", it is probably the best condensation of the history of collectivist ideology and its consequences. If you can find a copy of Hilaire Belloc's "The Servile State" (publ 1913) even better. Yes. 1913.

Now to point 3.
>>however, to compare these ideologies with the creation of the "european idea" and the EU is, to put it mildly, very controversial.

No it is not in the least controversial. The EU is by definition totalitarian. One of the most pernicious ideas that gives legitimacy to the EU is that it protects you from nationalistic tendencies, which you have already misidentified as a cultural root cause of war. Therefore, a supra-national political entity would seem a rational precaution.

It is a political entity with less accountability to its subjects (not 'citizens', you will note) and more power over the self-defining abilities of the individual than you can imagine. Have you read the EU consitution? Do you understand the implications of 'competencies' vs. 'subsidiarity'? Of the Common Arrest Warrent? Toby, excuse my language, but you are fucked.

And as far as the economic structure is concerned, show me one socialistic system in which personal and political freedoms have flourished. Just one.

As to SeanM's recommendation of Weigel's "The Cube and the Cathedral". I have recommended that book here before and I will do so again. The subtitle of the book is "Europe, America and Politics Without God". Weigel is a Catholic theologian who wrote the biography of Pope John Paul II. Do not be put off by this if you are not a person of faith. His analysis of the decline of Europe thru the corrosive ideology of 'faith in nothing but the self' is profound.

Bed time.

The depth of knowledge and insight that can be found on the web as always, amazes me! Respectfully, are their ideas about the “Articles of the Confederacy” and the EU constitution?
Thanks
jlwb

jlwb
>>Respectfully, are their ideas about the “Articles of the Confederacy” and the EU constitution?
I believe you are referring to the Articles of Confederation, ratified in 1781.

Yes, there are ideas. The Articles guaranteed sovereignity to the individual political entities, i.e., the States, that were expected to join in concert in areas of mutual concern, e.g., security.
There was no supra-sovereign political construct that could supercede this.

It served its purpose as long as it could during the war, which ended 2 years after ratification.

Then came The Constitution. And with it, the words we live by:

WE THE PEOPLE

Good luck, Europe.

--It is a political entity with less accountability to its subjects (not 'citizens', you will note) and more power over the self-defining abilities of the individual than you can imagine.--

Now, Pamela, they've forgotten, but if they could talk to their ancestors....

I call it "mutated monarchy" unelected 1 (king) unelected brusselsprouts, they haven't changed. The descendents just have a better health care and dental plan.

Sandy P

Yes that is true about health care and dental plans but not for long. Their individual and collective national economies will not be able to pay for it much longer.

Even in Germany where there is universal health care there is a growing number of individuals who no longer can afford healthcare. Their choices are simple to declare themselves wards of the state and become part of the welfare dependent class or to go without healthcare. Many especially the older ones are choosing to go without before they do this. These are the few Germans left who have both a sense of personal pride and a sense of individual responsiblity.

@Pamela:

1. "The political dynamics in the form of political parties you refer to are appealing to nationalism but are in fact shills for totalitarianism. On the continent it has always been so, and has given nationalism in and of itself a bad name."

That's what I am saying. Unfortunately it's the only form of nationalism that Europe has ever known. Which is why it never worked here. Unlike the States. "True"/ "Pure"/ "Real" nationalism (or whatever it is that you are talking about of) does not seem to exist here.

2. "Socialism, the first of the collectivist evils to bedevil the 20th century actually began in the 19th century and found expression in nationalism"

Then by your own words, nationalism is an expression of socialism, and is therefore itself a "collectivist evil to bedevil the 20th century". europe has known no other form of it. personally, i don't really care if nationalism is an evil in itself or just because it is intermingled with socialist ideologies. to me, they are both spectres of the past.

3. "No it is not in the least controversial. The EU is by definition totalitarian."

my, my. I don't know what legal background you possess and i will not lecture you here, but how can you assert that, shall we call it a hypothesis ? just because the EU involves transferring sovereign authority from sovereign entities to other sovereign entities does not mean it is totalitarian. it has a parliament (which should have more powers, i agree, but the fact that it does not is not europe's fault but the memberstate's unwillingness to give up "true" legislative power.

however, all european sovereign power is democratically legitimated, if not through the EU-parliament, then through the council which has the power to control and supervise all its projects and comprises (as you probably know) the democtatically elected leaders of the member states.

4. "It is a political entity with less accountability to its subjects (not 'citizens', you will note)."

Wrong. cf constitution Title II ("Fundamental rights and CITIZENSHIP of the Union". Or EU-Treaty, Title I ("Common Provisions"), Article B: The Union shall set itself the following objectives ... :to strengthen the protection of the rights and interests of the nationals of its Member States through the introduction of a CITIZENSHIP of the Union".

5. "Have you read the EU consitution?"

Yes I have. Many times (cf. supra 4.). Have you ? (cf. supra 4. - your misinterpreation of the EU citizenship).

6. "Do you understand the implications of 'competencies' vs. 'subsidiarity'? Of the Common Arrest Warrent?"

Please clarify your allusion so i can help you clear up further misunderstandings.

7. " Toby, excuse my language, but you are fucked."

Not excused, no comment.

@SandyP

"--How do you define nation ? what makes belgium a nation, why isn't Puerto Rico one?--
Because they choose not to be."

Now here is a little challenge for you to play with: When in 1861 the southern states chose to leave the union (through their democratically elected representatives), why were they not a nation themselves? did they not chose freely not to be part of the undivided american nation anymore ?

what was Lincoln's legitimization for the gettysburg adress ? against the will of the south ?

You see, defining a nation by who wants to be part of it is very complicated even in the US where there were only two contestants to the title. it is impossible in europe where people of one "nation" live in different countries.

@Toby

The thread is long and has wandered widely from the topic and I did not want to ignore you. However I also did not want to 'gang up' against you and I think others above have commented better than I would have written anyway. You have addressed the problem of how a Europe could solve various border disputes, but in my view not adequately considered the possibly greater consequences of a forced union. That's in part why I recommended Weigel (only one example) because it provides a very different perspective to what you've presented above, and perspective is a minimum requirement before disrupting sovereignty. It is never disrespectful to suggest reading, we can all read more.

@SeanM

I will see what I can do as to Weigel, who seems to fear Europe as a source of danger. ok, so you think europe is trouble/ danger/ of grave consequences. i don't. shall we leave it there for the time being ?

@Toby

I do indeed fear greatly for the future of Europe. I have yet to read anything that encourages me. Yes, let's leave it until a more appropriate thread or opportunity arises.

P.S. I don't advocate nationalism, as you wrote, but I do respect sovereign individuals' statehood.

@SeanM

I highly appreciate your concern for Europe's fate. let's hope her future will prove your sorrows unnecessary. and let's bury the hatchet.

@Pamela said, "...SeanM's recommendation of Weigel's "The Cube and the Cathedral". I have recommended that book here before and I will do so again"

I first learned of this book on an internet blog somewhere, although I don't remember which one. I just got a chance to check my Amazon account and noted that I ordered it on May 9th of this year. If you wrote about it shortly that, it's quite likely I first learned of it from your recommendation. If so, let me extend a big thank you. The book was indeed a fascinating read.

Thorston,

I have lived in Germany for a total of 11 years. My experiences with Germans have been great for the most part. The only negative interactions have been in the vicinity of Mannheim. Those negative interactions were nothing worse than I have had with New Yorkers when I visited there in the early 80's.

I have lived in Bavaria for the past eight years and I would seriously consider moving there to retire. I have found Bavarians to be friendly and the salt of the earth. My friends and neighbors have been great. My wife, who is from New Orleans, was buying clothes for her flooded out parents at NKD last week. When she told the sales lady/owner that she was buying them for her flooded out parents the lady started stuffing clothes in the bag and told my wife to not worry about paying for them - true story.

My daughter attended German kindergarten and speaks German with a Bavarian accent. She can spend the whole day playing with German kids and not speak a word of English. I appreciate that German kids still play outside all day in the summer. They aren't terrified of their children getting kidnapped. On nice days little boys only wear a pair of shorts and little girls only wear shorts and a t-shirt. No shoes all summer long. One day I came home and the neighbor boy was sitting on a big decorative rock in their yard with his buddy. Neither one had on a stitch of clothing. I asked his mother, who was sunning in the yard, if we had "Stein Apfen" in Lupburg. That really cracked her up! They always invite us over for schnapps when they are sitting out at night. I bring over Jim Beam, which is a big hit.

After 9/11 I had several Germans tell me that they supported the US in the war on terror and wished us luck. Unfortunately, they also said they hoped we (the US) win because they knew Germany couldn't do anything. Sad.

My neighbor across the street, Peter, helps me clear snow in the morning and I help him carry wood into his basement. Afterward, we drink a beer and he tells me long-winded stories in a Bavarian dialect that I can't understand.

The owner of the Metzgerei always comes out to say hello to me and talks about the weather. My family and friends put together a "Mardi Gras Krewe" every year at Fasching and throw New Orleans style beads at the Fasching Zug in Lupburg. Come down at 1400 on the Sunday before Rosen Montag and you can join us. Our theme this year is "Viva Las Lupburg". We are all going to wear Elvis wigs because "Elvis war in Lupburg" back in the 50's. Seems Elvis stopped at the Maier Backerei during maneuvers in the 50's. We will be the only float throwing out beads.

I have spent many a gemutlich evening at the Sipp'l Stodl drinking Erdinger Weissen and comparing notes. My "Buch Deutsch" is understood by all but I have a hell of a time understanding Bavarian. I throw in an occasional "genau" or "echt" and nod my head. Bock season is my favorite.

I think more Americans need to travel to Germany to really appreciate the land and culture. I read somewhere that approxiamately 25% of all Americans have German roots. I think a lot of this angst about Germans not liking Americans is political and has no true traction at the individual level.

Did I miss something I thought the document which the euros called a constitution was in fact rejected.

Of course, that it is alive or for that matter in effect would not surprise me at all. The euros will just keep voting until the elites get the answer they want.

Then the germans can become euros first and distant themselves even more from their own history. Sounds like a good trade off to me.

@Joe:

"Did I miss something I thought the document which the euros called a constitution was in fact rejected."

Only in France and the Netherlands. It has been approved by most of the other member states, as far as I know. Which means, it is in a sort of limbo. Not fully rejected, not fully approved.

"The euros will just keep voting until the elites get the answer they want."

Yep, that's the idea. Sometimes you have to persist.

"Then the germans can become euros first and distant themselves even more from their own history. Sounds like a good trade off to me."

To me too.

Now be honest Toby: tell Joe where it has been approved in a referendum of the people, and not just behind their backs by the legislature.

"Yep, that's the idea. Sometimes you have to persist."

The undemocratic sentiment expressed therein has directly led to the deaths of hundreds of millions of people in the last 100 yrs. I am not kidding.

Hey Sean,

want to pick it up again ? Ok, here you go:

"Now be honest Toby: tell Joe where it has been approved in a referendum of the people, and not just behind their backs by the legislature."

I was not dishonest. I said "member STATES", nothing more, nothing less. I don't think there have been any other refereda, have there ? I live in NY most of the time, so I lost track of the recent developments. But to tell you the truth: I don't care and it is not to the point of what Europe is all about.

"The undemocratic sentiment expressed therein has directly led to the deaths of hundreds of millions of people in the last 100 yrs. I am not kidding."

I have no idea what you are talking about. 1) What is undemocratic about elected leaders making decisions for their people ? Happens all the time. By your definition, every bill passed in parliament is undemocratic. 2) Europe and its proposed constituiton are all about civil rights and liberties. How can that cost any life at all. And those rights have improved the daily life of people a lot (even though most people seem to forget it - tell me if you want any details). I am not ready to discuss any absurdities like that. give me examples.

Surely, there is a lack of democratic element in how Europe works because the democratically elected European parliament has not enough powers - that is not Europe's fault, though, it's the states that refuse to give up more sovereign rights.

"I am not kidding."

I find that hard to believe.

@Toby
I will not argue with you the difference between a direct referendum where the people vote on one question, voting a decisive NON, and a general election, such as Germany has just witnessed, where the major questions centered around reform and value added taxes. Having won such an election, a government has no mandate to relinquish sovereignty. Most of the readers can tell the difference without my help.

Joe said, "Then the germans can become euros first and distant themselves even more from their own history. Sounds like a good trade off to me."

To which, you replied, "To me too."

I don't know your personal circumstances or nationality and I won't presume. But imagine for a while an ambitious German who has been duely educated to take a leading position in the world but who nonetheless finds his reputation diminished, no annihilated, by his country's recent history. No one in the rest of the world, least of all in the resurgent, dynamic, English speaking countries, will take him as seriously as he thinks he deserves. Well imagine if, rather than wait for the course of time to undo the damage, or better still to actively engage in the world as a force for good, such a person found it convenient to walk away from their nationality in much the same way as Austria has escaped (Hitler was an Austrian by birth). Imagine if, against the expressed individual will of their own people and the will of neighboring countries as made clear via direct balloting, he plotted (is there a kinder word?) with other like-minded elites to erase the nation of Germany from the map and to have its people subsumed into a newly created state called "Europe", a state without a common language but with a belligerent history.

Now such a state might be excellent for our man in question, but only if you don't consider the individual desires of others who in this case happen to be in greater number (as evidenced by the direct vote referenda resulting in NON). So who cares about individual rights - our man knows what he wants, to hell with others. Certainly, citizens acting as individuals might have freely choosen to join with or separate from neighboring nations in alliances, tight or loose. But that's not what has been going on. When given a chance, the people have been saying Non!

From Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom":

"We are rapidly abandoning not the views merely of Cobden and Bright, of Adam Smith and Hume, or even of Locke and Milton, but one of the salient characteristics of Western civilization as it has grown from the foundations laid by Christianity and the Greeks and Romans. Not merely nineteenth and eighteenth century liberalism, but the basic individualism inherited by us from Erasmus and Montaigne, from Cicero and Tacitus, Pericles and Thucydides, is progressively relinquished. The Nazi leader who described the National Socialist revolution as a counter-Renaissance spoke more truly than he probably knew.

It was the decisive step in the destruction of that civilization which modern man had built up from the age of the Renaissance and which was, above all, an individualist civilization."

Can any good come from denying all that Europe really is? It's not just a place to hide, nor is it a geographical region demanding a single government. It has a diverse history and a culture thousands of years old. In a previous post I referenced Weigel, who explores this from a slightly different direction.

Since this is not an argument, but only a statement of position on my part, I won't enlarge on the idea I touched on that the lack of a common language, among other problems, may actually cause the whole artificial project to fail at some point down the track. And not only that but failure in this context could well mean a civil war of incalculable consequences. (Oh please! It's not like Europeans haven't fought one another before, you just assume it was because of nationalism and not because of any of the other possible causes).

So Toby, I do not need to argue with you, that's the job of Europeans who have a horse in this race, although too many times in the past the horse seems to have bolted the course and people as far away as New Zealand have been drawn into the resulting conflict. Many people have said something similar but let me quote Christopher Hitchens who was defending the Iraq war but which I think applies just as well to my position here:

"I shall lose sleep for the rest of my life in reproaching myself for doing too little. But at least I shall have the comfort of not having offered, so far as I can recall, any word or deed that contributed to a defeat."

You can have the last word, make it good because its the reader you have to convince, not me. If you want to help me prevail, start with the mantra "After eradicating nation states, there will be no reason for future conflict". That should work!

Sean,

"You can have the last word, make it good because its the reader you have to convince, not me"

Thank you for the honor. I don't think anybody really reads this thread anymore, but I surely enjoyed arguing with you. You are so not European, and yet spend so much time pondering her future: I find that highly fascinating. Thank you again.

I think your presumptions about possible german motivations to assume a new European identity are probably accurate. Which is why replied to joe, that they would get a good trade-off. so what ? if germans like to think of themselves as europeans for whatever reason, i can't see why that would be bad ? to pick up your example: what is wrong with Austrians wanting to be different from germans ? who has a problem with that ? austria is actually a good example of how arbitrary your concept of independend nations is. Austrians WERE Germans until 1871, they wanted to be Germans in 1919 (the allied forces would not aprove, though) and were forced against their will (there was a referendum) to live in a separate state and today they consider themselves a separate nation. it were not the people who decided in 1919. It was Woodrow Wilson. So what ? The nation of Austria was formed, the people adopted a new identy, that's it. The same could be true for Europe.

Let me correct a few myths about Europe here:

1) Europe is undemocratic. Wrong. Europe has a parliament. Every bit of sovereign power has been transfered by democratically elected leaders, who certainly are empowered, legally and morally, to do so by their general mandate. to say that such a decision required the people's consent per se, is wrong, unless specifically stated in a country's law (e.g. France, Denmark, Netherlands).

2) The EU forces the people to join. Downright ridiculous. The transfer of power to the EU is reversible for every member state (which is why, under german law, the transfer was only possible, cf e.g. the german constitutional court's "Maastricht" precedents). every member state is free to quit any time they want. which means that if the people in that state chose to elect a government that promises to quit, they can do so. it just is not happening. in fact, the wait list to join the club is pretty long.

3) France and the Netherland rejected the EU/ Europe/ The European idea. the referenda in France were not about EU membership but about the constitution in its specific form. maybe that was incorrectly reported in the MSM you follow. the question was not "do we want europe?", it was "do you want it to have this constitution?".

4) Europe means a loss of personal rights. Wrong. Europe has constitutional guaranties for civil rights (cf the constitution or the EU treaty - read those before you refer me to Hayek who died before either one was written). And they are implied in practise. There are countless precedents by the ECJ who protected citizens against acts of their states (ever heard of Francovich v. Republic of Italy ? You might want have a quick look at that one). European directices have introduced comsumer protection, anti-discrimination laws, environmental standards, introducing personal freedoms and rights.

5) Europe is against the will of the people. Says who ? Just because two referenda on specific questions have failed, that does not mean people are against Europe. the reasons for why the French said "non" are probably manyfold, but to say they are anti-european is insulting. they might even change their mind in a new referendum, who knows.

Thanks for letting me have the last word, Sean. I know I will not convince you, but your thoughts were every insightful.

So, I cannot agree with your hypothesis, Europe is dangerous or a source of war. In fact, I think it is a region of remarkable stability. it is not belligerent any more, i think most Europeans, not only germans, despise the use of force to degrees of absurdity.

The really sad thing is, that it is her confrontation with America that has brought Europe's nations closer together than ever before, in ways i would not have thought possible. isn't it ironic ?

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