Skip to comments.Europe's Dirty Little Secret
Posted on 06/01/2005 4:18:44 PM PDT by quidnunc
Whatever you think of European integration, there is something inspiring about 20 million people who, having been told what to do by their most respected politicians and after listening attentively, then do the exact opposite.
This weeks referendums in France and the Netherlands are probably the most significant event in European history since the end of the Cold War. As in Germany after its citizens found that they could smash symbolic chunks out of the Berlin Wall with impunity, everyday life in Europe may go on as before, but nothing will ever be quite the same. But dont expect to hear much serious debate about the significance of this popular revolt against the idea of Europe for many months. The first reaction will be to pretend, or even to believe sincerely, that nothing much has happened.
In France, where I am this week, the referendum result has created a media cottage-industry of dismissive rationalisations. The most popular and reassuring for Europhiles is the idea that the referendum fiasco was nothing more than the latest instance of Jacques Chiracs notorious inability to read the public mood. President Chiracs perverse relationship with public opinion took another bizarre twist with the appointment of Dominique de Villepin as Prime Minister. M de Villepin is seen as the alter ego, almost a clone, of the President. His appointment is a direct, provocative rejection of voters demands for a new kind of politics.
But while M Chirac may make a perfect scapegoat for the French media, his unpopularity cannot be blamed for the vote in the Netherlands, nor for the anti-EU sentiment in Denmark, Sweden and Britain. The political establishment must therefore move on to its next excuse: people are not voting against Europe, but against globalisation and market economics.
Most Europeans might be socialist and left of center but they are smart enough to realize the disasterous consequences of glaobalism and multi-culturalism (illegal immigration) and the devestating effects on their individual countries (read Netherlands).
The EU was a civil war waiting to happen.
Remember: it is better to not get married in an ugly fashion than to divorce well.
It would be interesting to see a referendum in the USA regarding NAFTA and GATT. I'd bet the farm that they both would fail.
I've always liked this guy, his stuff is pretty good.
I'm afraid the London Times puts the NY Times to shame. They may have plenty of liberals, but everyone knows how to present a reasoned argument.
Just last year it was in the news that the french had a dirty little secret: they were admitting that working hard was not bad, and they were ridding themselves of the 35 hour work week, and opting for 40 hour weeks.
If I were Chirac, I'd watch my back.
But the EU elites in Brussels believe they can dictate 35 hour work weeks and how you wipe your a$$. This is what the folks dislike. Brussels wants to micro-manage Europe into non-significance and Islamic hell...SSZ
I don't think The Times of London is really all that liberal. I believe it is owned by Rupert Murdoch.
Writing about Europe's future is like writing about the future of the Western Hemisphere.
Let us focus on France.
There are many good signs in France.
Here is one: since the introduction of the Euro, and with more flexible lending available from the expansion of banks and competition from across Europe, real estate values have surged dramatically. That means that the private wealth of individuals in France, where 62% of people own their own residences, has grown quite significantly.
Now, France does not yet have the suppleness of mind that allows the French to comfortably take out second mortgages on their homes and use this money to start businesses (or to speculate in more real estate). This is an American phenomenon. The French objective is, and is likely to remain, the ownership of one's own home unencumbered by debt. French people dislike debt rather intensely, when compared to Anglo-Saxons, and for this reason there is less leverage in the overall economy.
Nevertheless, Euroization has had a dramatically good effect on the personal wealth of French people, by expanding the value of their homes.
Therefore, the Euro will not be going away.
The "Non" on the referendum prevents an undemocratic European bureacracy from gaining more power, but it does not destroy the Euro.
The Euro will remain. France will keep that which the French consider to have been useful: the Euro, but reject that which has not been favored: closer political integration under bureaucratic control.
There are other good signs in France. The center-right government has been unpopular, but it has reformed labor law, allowing for flexible hours within the contours of the 35 hour limit. Overtime is also allowed more flexibly. The 35 hour rule stands as a symbol for the socialists, but the government has enacted a regime of derogations expansive enough to provide business and workers the sort of flexibility they both have said they desire.
The government has also increased the co-pay regime on health care, bringing the national insurance system into better alignment with fiscal reality.
These things are all good, because they change things at a structural level.
French population growth continues to be robust, and growing populations both make the social charges of the future easier to bear, as well as allow the economy to expand.
A paradox of the political paralysis that will descend on France now is that the subsidiary sources of national movement: businesses and families and private associations, will have greater room for maneuver. This will further the progress towards a supple economy, even as everyone complains and worries that things are falling apart because the government is weakened at the center.
Taken altogether the French future, seen through the haze of confusion and political turmoil looks cautiously optimistic.
That assumes that you have a farm left to bet.
"President Chirac's perverse relationship with public opinion."
That is the funniest thing I've read yet about this toad.
I think you have that wrong.
They were protesting in the streets by the 100s of thousands because of the change in the law to longer work hours, as well as shorter vacations.
I have a different take. The swing vote here was from the far left and they were voting to protect their social benefits while the center seemed to be voting the immigration issue. Anything that jolts the dimwits out of the social welfare blues will be a good thing for Europe. They need a massive upheaval.
The future of the Western Hemisphere lies in the hands of the New World, not Old Europe, whose inevitable fate is to become Eurabia.
<< Vicomte13 wrote: Writing about Europe's future is like writing about the future of the Western Hemisphere.
The future of the Western Hemisphere lies in the hands of the New World, not Old Europe, whose inevitable fate is to become Eurabia. >>
Perhaps 6.5% of the population of the Republic are of Muslim origin (which is not the same thing as being Muslim).
Of them, most are born in France. They are French. And most are only of Muslim origin, and vaguely Muslim. They are secular with Muslim traditions, just as many millions more French are secular with Christian traditions. There are almost as many blacks in France as people of Muslim origin, and the blacks are mostly Catholic in origin, and are growing at the same rate as those of Muslim origin.
France's population is expected to grow from approximately 59 million to approximately 75 million by 2025. Of this 16 million people, perhaps a fifth will be immigrants from other European countries and their children. The other 80% will be blacks from the DOM and Africa, or people of Muslim origin. People of Muslim origin will constitute only 40% of the growth of 16 million, which means 6.4 million, increasing the share of the population of this origin from perhaps 7.5% to perhaps 15%. The blacks will grow by the same numbers, however. And most of these people of Muslim origin will be secular and French by culture, not Islamist fanatics.
Already, the population of the United States is 11% black and 13% Hispanic, and this will increase much more rapidly than the percentage of people of Muslim origin in France.
And yet no-one speaks of America becoming Mexico Norte.
There will be more Muslims in France, to be sure, but there will even more secular people of Muslim origin in France. And they will not be interested in creating Eurabia.
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