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Eurosceptic Bloggers

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Tribalism and the EU

Both supporters and detractors of the EU like to compare it to the Roman Empire. In this week’s Spectator, the analogy is held up for analysis:
Whenever the subject of the EU comes up, someone is bound to compare it to the Roman empire. If the comparison relates to the beginning and subsequent development of that empire, it fails. But the end of the Roman empire in the West in the 5th century ad may well offer quite a good model of how EUthanasia will set in.
Unlike the voluntary (on the part of governments) nature of the EU, the Roman’s expanded by force or threats of it. Ok, but the EU does use bully boy tactics, a kind of post modern legion. I agree though, with the basic premise that empire building is about buying loyalty:
To put the issue simply: the empire ultimately depended on there being enough revenue coming in from the provinces to pay the Roman army to suppress any provinces that removed their revenues from Rome by rebelling.
In the Roman case, revenue paid for military muscle, especially by removing the young men from their homes, and thereby turning into Roman Soldiers those who might have rebelled. In the EU, it’s more direct, buying loyalty through subsidies and support budgets.
The question, then, boiled down to one of loyalty: to whom did these peoples feel they owed their allegiance? Rome, or their local tribal leader? More and more, the answer was the latter. ….. They therefore began to refocus their loyalties on their local tribal leaders.
Remove the benefits of loyalty to the emperor, and the local tribal chieftain suddenly looks a lot closer and his men a lot fiercer.
Indeed, the process has started: everything from conditions for joining the EU to financial stability pacts and directives is already routinely ignored. But if Brussels is nothing without voluntary co-operation, it is even less without revenues.
Taking this logic, budget negotiations are of great importance. Remove the umbilical cord from the previous beneficiaries of EU money, and their loyalty will die very quickly.
....the day will come when one of them, observing the disaster visited upon it by its membership and deciding that its loyalty lies with its own people, will secede, taking with it its contribution to the Brussels budget.
Just one stone can start a landslide.
Once one country has gone, others will ask ‘Why not?’ and follow suit. As revenues dry up with each secession, the power and influence so beloved of the EU apparatchik in Brussels and its member states will gradually disappear, and their reason for existence with them.
Its far from a certainty that such a thing could happen, but it’s a scenario that could be well worth fighting for. The first step must be to make sure that we never give up our rebate and that we push for more money to go to the East rather than current recipients. Turning Spain into a bolshie unhappy member would be easier if we withdrew from the CFP as well. But if we could upset the Germans by pushing for a fine over budget rules being broken, that would be the best of all. Without the chief paymaster, the EU’s days would be short indeed.

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