But first some history. Despite the clamor for Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité, the French Revolution was neither motivated by, nor fostered, liberty. Instead, the central tenent was the elevation of reason above other human traits. And the majority of philosophes and revolutionaries believed reason was confined to the elite and necessarily refuted religion:
- The radicals embraced Rousseau's "General Will." Oft misunderstood as majoritarian, the General Will wasn't determined by vote, but rather, pace Plato (and later influential among totalitarians), by the sovereign seemingly through osmosis:
[T]he Sovereign, being formed wholly of the individuals who compose it, neither has nor can have any interest contrary to theirs; and consequently the sovereign power need give no guarantee to its subjects, because it is impossible for the body to wish to hurt all its members. [Social Contract, Book I, Ch. 7]
[T]he general will is always right and tends to the public advantage; but it does not follow that the deliberations of the people are always equally correct. [Id., Book II, Ch. 3]
Gertude Himmelfarb concludes that Liberté bears little relation to Anglo/American liberty: "The moral sense and common sense that the British attributed to all individuals gave to all people, including the common people, a common humanity and a common fund of moral and social obligations. The French idea of reason was not available to the common people and had no such moral or social component." [The Roads to Modernity, at 170]
- Believing that faith was un-provable by logic, most revolutionary leaders despised religion with "studious ferocity." So they terminated religious freedom:
A decree dated 18 March, 1793, punished with death all compromised priests. It no longer aimed at refractory priests only, but any ecclesiastic accused of disloyalty (incivisme) by any six citizens became liable to transportation. In the eyes of the revolution, there were no longer good priests and bad priests; for the sans-culottes every priest was suspect.
But suddenly the false freedom of France has a sequel, the proposed EU Constitution. It's 191 pages long (excluding 3 dozen protocols and a couple of annexes). I haven't bothered to count provisions--suffice it to say that the last one is numbered "Article IV-448." In contrast, the U.S. Constitution is 34 pages when displayed in about 20 point type. The Euro proposal is an uninspiring joke. The most optimistic view I've heard is Richard Bartholomew's, who proclaimed it "a managerial and bureaucratic document." Recent opinion polls suggest French voters might reject the draft EU Constitution (despite it having been drafted by former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing).
The concern is warranted. Particularly alarming is the fact that no more than half of the EU member states will put the Constitution to a vote. Vladimir Bukovsky and Pavel Stroilov's focus on the death of democracy in a recently published, scathing critique, tellingly titled EUSSR. NRO's Jay Nordlinger quoted the book's preface:
For anyone even remotely familiar with the Soviet system, its similarity with the developing structures of the European Union, with its governing philosophy and "democracy deficit," its endemic corruption and bureaucratic ineptitude, is striking. For anyone who lived under the Soviet tyranny or its equivalents across the world, it is frightening. Once again we observe with growing horror the emergence of a Leviathan that we had hoped was dead and buried, a monster that destroyed scores of nations, impoverished millions, and devastated several generations before finally collapsing. Is it inevitable? Is the human race bent on self-destruction and doomed to repeat the same mistake time and again until it dies in misery? Or is the EU, indeed, simply a clone of the USSR imposed upon reluctant nations of Europe by the same political forces that created the first one?Other opponents include Christopher Booker and Richard North, authors of The Great Deception, a recent history of the EU. David Pryce-Jones summarizes the book in the current National Review (on dead tree, subscriber only):
They show how decade after decade a small self-selected clique of politicians has worked single-mindedly to create a supranational Europe. In their own eyes, these politicians are visionaries, but they have always known that they could never carry voters with them, and therefore they had to conceal their goal: Deception was implicit, even structural to the project, according to Booker and North. The intention was to confront people with a fait accompli about which they could do nothing — and that is what today’s constitution is designed to finalize irrevocably.Bukovsky’s says it's hopeless:
The Cold War years divided Europe into one half under Soviet rule, and the other under the protection of the United States. The consistent ambition of the Soviets, and the many Communist parties subservient to them, and fellow-traveling Socialists as well, was to weaken the American presence, and if possible, remove it altogether from the continent. One way or another, the EU has taken up where the Soviets left off, and is proving more successful.
it remains to be seen what kind of Gulag the EU will create. [But all utopias end the same and] the EU will collapse very much like its prototype; . . . in doing so it will bury us all under the rubble.For the record, I'm not troubled by competition between America and a larger EU. I'm concerned about Europe itself. My question: Why? Why the hell do Europeans tolerate a return to aristocracy? Why would anyone favor rule by, for, and composed of, faceless and unelected bureaucrats? Why backtrack to the French Revolution? Where are the protests?
Maybe the whole continent's out of coffee and Viagra. Would a renewed Lend-Lease help?
MaxedOutMama reacts in a link-filled post.
Bloggledygook.com looks at the country most likely to reject the Constitution--France.
More and More:
Bloggledygook has further thoughts, including a link to a TechCentralStation article called Little USSR containing a one sentence summary of the problem: "France has no interest in promoting free trade."