Two recent right wing political books have kippers all aflutter at the moment.
The first book is “How We Invented Freedom” by Daniel Hannan – Publisher: Head of Zeus (November 19, 2013) and the second is David Green’s “The Demise of the Free State: Why Democracy and the EU Don’t Mix”, out later this month from Civitas.
I have to admit I haven’t read them personally and would rather not line the pockets of the authors involved buying them. The various UKIP tweeted excerpts, readings and reviews have put me right off in any case.
Following the advice of a follower on twitter I listened not long ago to one of Dan Hannan’s Youtube rants. One where on a visit to Australia he pretty much claimed England invented the concept of democracy single handedly rather than ancient Greece, where I was taught it came from. After all the term originates from the Greek δημοκρατία (dēmokratía) “rule of the people”, so I found that an odd claim from the beginning. Below is an example of Hannan’s grand standing:
Most of the libertarian lexicon was originally English…The English language has been a vehicle and a guarantor of liberty down the centuries.” Inventing Freedom, (pgs. 32-33)
Well one of the things I always admired about early European philosophers is how they not only studied ancient greek and latin manuscripts but somehow read and corresponded with great thinkers across the European continent in different languages. This useful cross fertilisation of ideas seems to have died a death in English speaking countries with the inexorable rise of English as the global lingua franca. The English no longer felt the need to study and teach other languages. One thing is sure though: Montesquieu and Robert Schuman also wrote important things about democracy and the rule of law and they wrote in French!
Now today I was alerted to a another political blog in the the Telegraph entitled: “The Demise of the Free State: Why Democracy and the EU Don’t Mix”, this time by David Green. I wondered: “Did these two conceited individuals by any chance study history under the same crazy professor in Oxford to get these pretentious ideas?
This is how this kind of vile anti #EU propaganda works. Authors start by writing a couple of paragraphs tapping into some current local political scandal, one that everybody in England is up in arms about, to get the reader’s attention. Next they write a few mother Goose and apple pie common sense lines, that no one in their right mind can have an argument with. So with the reader at ease, they are ready to inject the venom:
The style of government favoured by the European Union is very different from the free state that our ancestors fought to develop over many centuries.
Oh really? How did you jump to that conclusion all of the sudden Mr Green? You saw a flash of light, God appeared and told you so? Meanwhile Green’s UKIP followers are already frothing at the mouth like intercontinental who asserts:
The EU is a copy of the Soviet, Communist model.
Power and control is in the hands of the few while the general population is bound by endless diktats thrown down from Brussels.
Anyway if there is an EU style of government it surely is constantly adapting to changing regional and world circumstances just as Dan Hannan’s precious body of ‘common law’? An anonymous commenter anotherview3 voices my sentiments in an admirable way and restored my faith in British common sense. So I will let him finish this week’s UKIP demolition job:
I love the way skilled writers can write fine sounding phrases that are meaningless. Mr Green ties criticism of Maria Miller, a British politician and so one of the Westminster ruling elite into a criticism of the ‘Brussels ruling elite’, whoever they are. They are people from UK, Latvia, Finland, Slovakia and 24 other countries. And they all got their positions by being elected. The fact that there is an electorate daft enough to vote for Farage, (one of the Brussels ruling elite!!) is one of the weaknesses of democracy. To imagine that there is a ruling elite of power mad foreigners determined to grab power over UK is paranoid beyond belief. I suggest that more concern should focus on the Westminster ruling elite. There is obviously a close connection between government politicians, top media people and top London policemen.
Mr Green says, “Along with the peoples of many other countries, we developed what turned out to be the most successful way of life so far discovered: liberal civilisation.” Fine words, and yes, it is quite good here, although you wouldn’t always think so from all the complaints. But haven’t we been under the control of that power-mad EU for years?
The fact of the matter is that Mr Green’s phrase, ‘Along with the peoples of many other countries’ includes the countries of the EU and that is why we gain strength and freedom from our association with the EU. If the EU included countries that harboured or supported the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Putin type dictators then I would join UKIP immediately. As it doesn’t, and as it strongly supports my values then I won’t be.
[Further down] Calm down! The power of rule making lies with the MEP’s and Council of ministers. We will be voting for MEP’s in May. I suggest you vote for someone who will be constructive when he gets to Brussels, not someone like Farage who pockets his EU money and then spends all his time trying to vilify the EU. Our democratic system produces our ministers and they will, hopefully be representing our interests in Brussels in the Council of Ministers. The unelected bureaucrats to whom you refer are like our civil servants all beavering away in Whitehall. We can’t vote them out, either.
The EU writes down all its principles and aims. They seem ok to me and not a bit like your claims.