by Charles Whitaker (1944-2021)
A European Atlas of the not-too-distant future may well . . . show these once famous islands, balkanized into provinces and regions, as nothing more than nameless offshore possessions of a new and dreary empire.1
"There'll always be an England." That is what they used to say. But, "If the United Kingdom continues to unravel, the word 'Britain' may become as obsolete as 'Soviet' is in post-1989 Russia."2 This "unraveling" is creating no end of difficulties for the United States, which has for decades predicated her Atlantic Alliance on a partnership with a militarily strong Britain that occupies a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and has "no psychological inhibitions about accepting the realities of American world leadership."3 The problem is worse than many think.
Today, few, especially in the United States, realize that [the United Kingdom] has already ceased to exist, and that its fragments are about to be rearranged in an utterly different form. However, in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland the first shock of dissolution has already passed. . . . The process of disintegration is likely to accelerate in the near future. . . . [T]he outward appearance of things remained roughly the same, as did the institutions. . . . [Scotland and Wales] already exist as administrative "regions" of the new Europe—while England, far too large to be fed into the Euro-blender in one piece, has been divided into several such regions, whose inhabitants mostly do not yet know that they exist or what they are called. The EU's plans for a "Europe of the Regions" do not acknowledge the continued existence of England as an entity.4
Ephraim's current troubles highlight a decisive difference between the European and American brands of globalism. That difference is important because it represents an irreparable breach, a permanent schism, which will yield eventually to economic rivalry and armed warfare. This article looks at the roots of the differences.
Is not globalism simply globalism, and that is that? From the perspective of a third party—let us say Japheth—all globalist ideas and policies appear to be tarred with the same Shemitic brushes of capitalism and democracy. Japheth perceives only an East-West cleavage, the old dichotomy of Orient versus Occident, nothing more granular than that. Abiding right now "in the tents of Shem" (Genesis 9:27), Asia finds any differences between the European-built tents and the American-built tents to be of no essential consequence.
But in fact, not all of Shem's tents are the same—far from it. The traditions and practice of American democracy, as well as the model of her capitalism, are quite distinct from their European counterparts.5 As a consequence, America and Europe each have their own "brand" of globalism. To understand the nature of the deep cleavage between the American and European visions of political order, we need to assess
» Europe's tradition of religious unity;
» the strength of the promise of integration in the European consciousness; and
» the exceptionalism of the American Constitutional system.
We will discuss these in this order.
The Catholicity of European Tradition
Europe's many and brutal internecine struggles belie her catholicity, a deep-seated universality and commonality of her nations, wrought by a common religious heritage that predates the Medieval Period. Off and on over the centuries, European monarchs—in the main, beastly fellows—have been able to tap into this deep-seated universality, deftly exploiting it for their own purposes. For example, the Europe of Charlemagne's empire (c. AD 800) was a united Europe in so far as local identities became submerged to the ethos of the Roman Catholic Church. Up until the eclipse of the unilateral power of the Catholic Church, the individual states of Europe had comparatively little trouble (with major exceptions from time to time) submerging their national sovereignty for the sake of wider religious causes, such as the Crusades.
Although many commentators miss the point, it nevertheless remains true that Europe's overall catholicity of religious tradition has proven instrumental to the building and maintaining of today's European Union in the face of the continent's huge diversity of language and ethnicity. It is not an accident that the taproot of many of the Union's laws sink deeply into Catholic tradition. For example, member nations must disavow and not implement capital punishment under any circumstance.
As a result of this tradition of religious unity, individual European states "may well be able to accommodate their national aspirations within the context of the European Union."6 Looked at this way, religious unity is an element that has served the architects of the Union remarkably well. For,
over the past fifty years, the European states have come to accept increasing limitations on their sovereign rights, to the point of permitting significant elements of their foreign and domestic policies to be formulated by the European Union's bureaucracy in Brussels rather than by their own elected national legislatures.7
The Beast's Promise
However, there is another element the architects of the European Union have used successfully to garner support from its various constituent nations. This is a needful element indeed, because, for all its strength, Europe's religious universality—historically resulting in a series of unified continental empires—is not capable of melding today's Europe into a single unit. Current Europe is extremely secular, far too much so to be captured by ancient dreams of religious conquest.
Recognizing this reality, the architects of the European Union have combined Europe's religious catholicity with a powerful inducement calculated to capture the hearts and minds of even the most jaded citizen in Europe's "plain of irreligion": The promise of prosperity and peace through economic and political integration. Captured by this promise, Europe's states have come to value "efficiency over equity, competitiveness over solidarity."8 Western Europe's citizens are coming to be increasingly willing to sacrifice national distinctions to economic interests. Consumed by consumerism, the language of almost all European peoples "is the universal discourse of commerce, which proceeds in terms of consumers, not citizens."9
The power of the promise of peace and prosperity through integration is almost unbelievable. It has led European nations to build a number of "virtual states." A virtual state is one that voluntarily limits its domestic productivity and its sovereignty for the sake of gaining entry into world markets and acceptance into the "global community." Incredibly, such a state has "emancipated" itself from its own territory, freed itself from the land.10 It is clear that "the 1991 Maastricht Treaty has de facto ended any hopes of saving" the world order of sovereign states.11
In a nation where people are consumers rather than citizens and where territory is no longer an imperative, what is the role of the individual sovereign state? One nation's 1998 parliamentary record answers that question: "More than 60 percent of German legislation had its origin in Brussels."12 Europe's national legislative bodies devote most of their time to little more than formalizing into local law the "directives" which come from the Brussels' bureaucracy. While some European states "cling desperately to as much political authority . . . as they possibly can, . . . they also seem prepared (and are occasionally coerced) to relinquish their sovereignty as the price for remaining geopolitically relevant."13 Someone, please, give the legislators a rubber stamp.
Europe's religious universality—in fact an ancient tradition of distant hierarchy and authority, combined with the blinding effects of her people's commitment to the materialistic promise of globalism—have resulted in the European Union of today, a highly undemocratic structure of governance, one quite different from the American Constitutional system.
The American Exception
The third factor underlying the differences between the European and American implementation of globalism is the exceptional—that is, the unique—form of American government.
Like the ten kings of Revelation 17:13, who "give their power and authority to the beast," Europeans, noble and subject alike, have by-and-large voluntarily relinquished their input into their nations' governance in exchange for a piece of Babylon. In the pay of materialism's promise, they have surrendered their prerogatives of self-government to "an unelected, Brussels-based bureaucracy that is sapping decision-making powers from . . . national parliament[s]." This explains the dissolution of Great Britain into administrative regions. In truth, this is not done in a corner, for "The EU . . . makes no secret of its desire to develop political and legal institutions that would obliterate the serious sovereign differences between nations for good."14
The American government system, on the other hand, simply demands American sovereignty. Jesse Helms puts it in language anyone can understand:
[A]ny attack upon the principle of sovereignty threatens the very foundation of American democracy. . . . Any limitation on sovereignty as an organizing principle . . . is an abdication of the right of the citizens of the United States to be governed solely in accordance with their Constitution, and by individuals whom they have elected and who are ultimately accountable to them.15
The concept of the "virtual state," mentioned earlier, illustrates the depth of the chasm between American and European thinking. As a practical, viable concept, the "virtual state" leaves many Americans confused and, indeed, incredulous. "To overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us," as O'Sullivan defined "our right of manifest destiny," was a dream which attracted millions of Europeans and Asians to American soil.
The American asks: "How can a rational people or their constituted government voluntarily divorce themselves from their land?" So essential is the land to the preservation of human existence that it is inconceivable for Americans to imagine a state without land of its own. Such a people are a slave people—the children of Israel dwelling in Egypt, Judah captive in Babylon, landless serfs in a feudal time.
From the perspective of true Christians, it is inconceivable for us to imagine Abraham without God's promise of the land. Without that promise, God's children would be "kings and priests"—of nothing.
The greatness of America certainly lies at one level in her exceptional (or unique) governmental system, one that places policy determination firmly in the hands of the governed, with institutionalized checks and balances to maintain separation of powers. Americans have little understanding of, or tolerance for, Europe's government structures, where majority rule, backed up by institutions that ensure the dispersal of power and the protection of the minority, are essentially lacking. As a result, many Americans see in the European version of globalism, with the European Union as its driver, a threat to the "American way of life."
No, not all "tents of Shem" are alike. Some are irreconcilably different. "Americans are different from Europeans in several crucial respects. . . . [They] are much more individualistic, religious, and patriotic than the people of any other comparably advanced nations."16 European nations, while "advanced," are "statist, thoroughly secular, post-patriotic, and concerned with group hierarchies and group rights in which the idea of equality before the law as traditionally understood by Americans"17 is totally lacking.
Does this European version of "undemocratic" globalism threaten American interests? Next month, we will look at a "case study" which answers in the affirmative. The darkening shadow cast by the incipient International Criminal Court (ICC), should America allow it to fall on their soil, portends the end of American sovereignty.
I Peter Hitchens, "The View from the Margins," The National Interest, Summer 2000, p. 115. Mr. Hitchens' comments appears in his review of Norman Davies' book, The Isles (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999). Mr. Hitchens is a commentator for London's Daily Express and the author of The Abolition of Britain.
2 Raphael Samuel, Island Stories, (Verso, 1998).
3 Robin Harris, "The Rise of English Nationalism and the Balkanization of Britain," The National Interest,Winter 1998/1999, p. 40. Mr. Harris was a member of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Downing Street Policy Unit.
4 Hitchens, ibid. (emphasis added).
5 Christopher Caldwell, "Europe's 'Social Market,'" Policy Review, October/November 2001, p. 29. Mr. Caldwell, who serves as a senior editor at the Weekly Standard, cites Michel Albert's definitive 1991 book, Capitalism Versus Capitalism in his discussion of the differences between European and American models of capitalism and globalization. Albert identified two models of capitalism:
» Rhineland capitalism, which exists today in Germany and Japan. "In Rhineland capitalism, a company is an institution. It serves anyone who 'holds a stake' in its operation, specifically: clients, suppliers, employees, stockholders, and the surrounding social community—in that order."
» Anglo-Saxon capitalism, a much newer form of capitalism, practiced today in America and, to a lesser degree, Britain. "Anglo-Saxon capitalism serves shareholders—period."
6 David B. Rivkin, Jr. and Lee A. Casey, "The Rocky Shoals of International Law," The National Interest, Winter 2000/2001, p. 35.
7 Rivkin and Casey, ibid., p. 42.
8 Peter van Ham and Przemyslaw Grudzinski, "Affluence and Influence: The Conceptual Basis of Europe's New Politics," The National Interest, Winter 1999/2000, p. 81.
9 van Ham and Grudzinski, ibid., p. 83 (emphasis added).
10 Richard Rosecrance, "The Obsolescence of Territory," New Perspectives Quarterly, Winter 1995. See also his "The Rise of the Virtual State," Foreign Affairs, July/August 1996.
11 van Ham and Grudzinski, ibid., p. 81.
12 van Ham and Grudzinski, ibid., p. 83 (emphasis added).
13 van Ham and Grudzinski, ibid., p. 82.
14 Hitchens, ibid., p. 120 (emphasis added).
15 Rivkin and Casey, ibid., p. 38.
16 John Fonte, "Why There Is A Culture War," Policy Review, December/January 2001, p. 15. Mr. Fonte is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.
17 Fonte, ibid., p. 31.
Inset: European Government 101
Here's a brief "civics" lesson in the European Union's government. The Union has
a central bureaucracy in Brussels (the European Commission) that elaborates new regulations. And it has a central court in Luxembourg (the European Court of Justice [ECJ]) that directs courts in the member states on the application of EU law. With the ready cooperation of national courts, the European Court has assumed the authority to hold even the acts of national parliaments invalid when they conflict (in the ECJ's view) with regulations of the Brussels bureaucrats or other requirements of EU treaty law. So half a continent is now governed by a curious collaboration of bureaucrats and judges, loyally supported by specialized interest groups that lobby the bureaucrats for favorable policies and then litigate before the judges to ensure their implementation by national governments.i
The "specialized interest groups" are in fact Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), such as Amnesty International. Although their spokesmen do not readily admit it, NGOs are private organizations, accountable only to their own board of directors, not to the public. More than that, the Brussels' bureaucrats lack accountability to the electorate. They represent a budding aristocracy. Says one writer:
The legal protections bureaucrats enjoy from being outside accountability place them in a privileged position similar to the one formerly occupied by aristocrats. A defining characteristic of the largely self-contained aristocratic world was that its members were shielded from the enforcement of laws applying to the rabble of the general public. Thus, the bureaucrats may be seen to constitute a "new aristocracy."ii
Little wonder that one commentator terms "the European venture . . . an elite-run project, carried on in the face of popular hostility or indifference."iii
Any American high-school student will quickly recognize the basic difference between the United States' government and that of the European Union. What is missing from the EU government, "if indeed it can be called a government,"iv is a strong executive power answerable to a popularly elected legislative body. The leaders of the NGOs, as well as the EU's bureaucrats and judges, are not elected officials. The European Commission, which holds the authority to make decisions, "lacks democratic legitimacy."v By virtue of that fact, the NGOs, the bureaucrats and the Commissioners all lack accountability to the governed.
The European Union also has a European Parliament, which some pundits tout as an institution that applies "democracy beyond the nation-state."vi Does it? Says one analyst:
I am convinced that the European [Parliament] ... was an afterthought when the Treaty of Rome was drafted in 1956. It had no real function, and since that time has only gradually acquired further rights, though even now these do not include the right to determine its own seat, or to raise funds for its own budget, or indeed to pass legislation as a sovereign representation of the people of the Union. It is directly elected, but sovereignty remains elsewhere—in the nation-states, in the executives, in elusive spaces beyond the grasp of the people.vii
As presently constituted, the popularly elected European Parliament has only advisory powers; it is not empowered to create laws, appoint judges, or appropriate funds. So lacking in function is it that about "fifty of its members never show up."viii
It is plain to see that European Federalism is neither representative of the people, nor accountable to them. In fact, one analyst suggests that this "democratic deficit"ix may be "one crucial aspect of the rising disaffection with globalization."x
Beneath its thinly veneered aristocratic elitism, dangerous as that may be, lies a more self-destructive element, the moral problem of hypocrisy. It does not practice what it teaches. The EU has established, as one analyst puts it, "very serious tests of democratic virtue for so called accession countries,"xi nations seeking admittance into the Union. The analyst continues:
If, however, it applied these tests to itself, the Union, the result would be dismal. It is not just a joke to say that if the EU itself applied for accession to the EU it could not be admitted because it is insufficiently democratic.xii
It is not hard to guess this commentator's conclusion: "The decision-making process of the European Union is an insult to democracy."xiii Indeed, the EU has institutionalized a system that does not even seek, much less permit, the consent of the majority while respecting the rights of the minority. The Union's government provides neither the checks and balances, nor the separation of powers, to protect individual liberty under law. In the main, the constitutional system of the EU does not contain the machinery for separation of powers or of checks and balances. It does "not so thoroughly separate judicial from executive powers, just as [its] parliamentary systems do not so thoroughly separate executive from legislative powers."xiv
Where, in the face of national states' widespread abdication of their sovereignty, does Euro-Federalism leave European democracy? Up a creek, without a paddle.
How can democratic citizens [read, "consumers"] now enter into any sort of relationship with "the EU" to discuss the merits of its policies? And how can they hope to "throw the rascals out" when they are seriously displeased? ... [I]t is just not possible.xv
What we are witnessing is the rise of "a new and dreary empire,"xvi a monolithic aristocracy that will ultimately and finally be interested only in preserving its own powers and prerogatives.
i Jeremy Rabkin, "International Law vs. the American Constitution: Something's Got to Give," The National Interest, Spring 1999, p. 30.
ii Jacques Ellul, The Technological Bluff (1990) as quoted by Hans Sherrer, "The Inhumanity of Government Bureaucracies," The Independent Review, Fall 2000, p. 249.
iii Owen Harries, "The Anglosphere Illusion," The National Interest, Spring 2001, p. 130.
iv Rabkin, ibid.
v John Van Oudenaren, "E Pluribus Confusio: Living with the EU's Structural Incoherence," The National Interest, Fall 2001, p. 23.
vi Ralf Dahrendorf, "Can European Democracy Survive Globalization?" The National Interest, Fall 2001, p. 17.
vii ibid., p. 20.
viii ibid., p. 21.
ix Richard Falk and Andrew Strauss, "Toward Global Parliament," Foreign Affairs, January/February 2001, p. 212.
xi Dahrendorf, ibid., p. 20.
xiii ibid., p. 21.
xiv John R. Bolton, "Courting Danger: What's Wrong with the International Criminal Court?" The National Interest, Winter 1998/1999, p. 60.
xv Peter van Ham and Przemyslaw Grudzinski, "Affluence and Influence: The Conceptual Basis of Europe's New Politics," The National Interest, Winter 1999/2000, p. 81. See also the argument of Dahrendorf, ibid., p. 17.
xvI Peter Hitchens, "The View from the Margins," The National Interest, Summer 2000, p. 115.