Instigating a new theme to this blog: Cod philosophy.
Why should I be obliged to care?
1. A nation state is two things. As a nation it is a collective ambition for the society ‘we’ want to live in. As a state it is a vehicle to achieve those ambitions. None of us can avoid the latter, we are bound in consequence to the dictates of the state. The former, however, is different, for there is zero moral obligation on any of us to subscribe to the collective ambition that represents society today. Just as some are horrified at the notion of the uk as the fifty first state of America, others are horrified at being the 28th collectivist region of a country called “eu”. If you don’t recognise the collective ambition that is the ‘nation’ then it rather colours your view of the following two points.
2. Where does power reside, and is that power appropriate to the level of collective ambition we ascribe to the institution. A century earlier Gladstone termed this the power of the purse, I.e. who determines on whom we tax and how punitively, and who is the beneficiary of this largess by way of public spending. His point being that a parliament that does not enjoy the power of the purse does not have sovereignty. In the hundred years since you could argue that regulation has become nearly as powerful a tool as taxation. Today, large swathes of taxation and regulation power are being accrued by the ECB, using the tools of the EBU, and the decision making is morphing from national veto to QMV, at the same time that UK vote weight is being reduced. Worse still, the ECB intends to manage consensus of eurozone nations, a caucus if you will. If you do not accept a collective european ambition, you have a rather definite view on how much power Brussels should wield.
3. There is nothing untoward in weighing the value of an institution on its merits, and you could do worse than to judge it on its accepted mission statement; peace in europe. The purpose of the EU is not to create institutions that subsume national sovereignty, it is to encourage the cooperation and collaboration between the nation states of europe, such that it maximises the welfare and well being of the peoples of europe. There is a reasonable case to be made that the EU has confused the means with the ends, indeed, that its myopic focus on building institutions is working directly counter to the welfare and well being of the peoples. The eurozone and schengen being good examples. Does anyone believe that the EU is maximising the cooperation and collaboration between Germany and Greece? Or that the ESM/ESF bailout mechanisms combined with austerity provide the maximum welfare and well being for the Greek people, (as opposed to French/German banks)?
Again, if you subscribe to the collective ambition of the eu as a nation, it may permit you to look more leniently on its failings as a state; the price is worth paying…
To conclude, should a person who sees the EU as nothing more than an institution – rather than an emotional identity – be expected to die in a ditch defending the indefensible?