Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Response to Vincent Browne

Vincent Browne's lament for lost sovereignty - invoking Rousseau in the process, who was born three hundred years old this week - adorns this morning's Irish Times.  It's an aspirational piece, without resolution and reactionary.  The language of what he would see as European neo-imperialism is versed in words like sovereignty and democracy, and this requires an examination of those principles.  The article is to be lauded for that.  But let's look at some of the themes - "freedom", the "arbitrariness of market forces", and the "common good".

First, on the notion of freedom, and man being born "free".  There is no such thing as absolute freedom.  Thomas Hobbes, a predecessor of Rousseau, argued famously on the state of nature that mankind was in before political order took hold.  The life of a man in that state of nature was "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short," Hobbes wrote in his magnum opus, Leviathan.  Man is born dependent on mother, then family, then society.  His existence is relative, and social.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Eurocrisis: Sovereignty, Federalism, and Choices

Funny, nein?
The current travails of Europe are not new.  A group of countries bound by proximity yet separated by terrain, for thousands of years the continent has been dominated by war, conquest and turmoil.  Today, we see her once more tearing herself apart as the unequal distribution of resources sets itself against capitalist economics and nominative socialist leadership.  While the things that bind us together – the Monnet and Schuman version of a shared heritage, the fledgling institutions of the European Union, and an increasingly pervasive English language – remain, the smaller things that separate us become exacerbated.  Even the recently held European Football Championships, or before that the Eurovision Song Contest, tend to reinforce the more serious political and economic rivalries within the Union.  Greece versus Germany was billed everywhere as David versus Goliath, Coloniser versus colonized, Merkel versus whoever the current Prime Minister of Greece was.  Some Irish fans hoisted an Irish tricolour with the words “Angela Merkel Thinks We’re At Work” emblazoned across it, an image that made the front cover of Bild and other news media around the world – the distinction was clear, Merkel and Germany was “them”, and Ireland was “us”, there was no such thing as a European.