In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Is the European project really the negation of sovereignty?

Posted by seumasach on December 23, 2011

Cailean Bochanan

23rd December, 2011

Here is another stick with which to beat Europe: the European project is a denial of sovereignty. Is it true?

By definition it involves a sharing of sovereignty and therefore, logically, a conceding of sovereignty. In as far as the EU or , rather, Euroland becomes sovereign, national sovereignty has been, in a sense, superceded. Euroland will become, if you like, a superstate. It is analogous to the process of synoikismos whereby various Greek tribes amalgamated themselves into the City State. This was voluntary but by no means painless and the communities in question were insistent on maintaining their particular traditions and culture. We can expect the various European nations to be also emphatic in their defence of nationality in the face of the new structures of decision-making and administration. It is only right that they should be, doubly so since there is no reason to suppose that the process of amalgamation isn’t, at some point, at least partially reversible. The Greek villagers of antiquity agreed to merge for specific goals or to stave off specific dangers, such as piracy. The nations of Europe are reluctantly being forced into greater centralisation in order to stave off the depredations of latter-day pirates, the hedge funds.  Even as the European nations are absorbed into supranational structures the nation will continue to epitomise our notion of sovereignty. Some loss of national sovereignty, however, can’t be denied- but there is the wider fear of loss of sovereignty altogether, of our subjugation by a New World Order. What is the NWO project and how does a United States of Europe relate to it?

Fukuyama hailed the collapse of the Soviet Union as the end of history but this was a bit like truncating a novel by Thomas Hardy or Flaubert before the various threads of plot came to their denouement ; or a Poirot episode without the climax in the drawing room when all becomes clear. The riddle of history was certainly not solved by entoning the word “democracy”: there was a way to go. Specifically the USA had embarked on a project for an American century in which, as laid out in the 1992 Wolfowitz memorandum, no rival to US hegemony was to be allowed to emerge. However, this was a negative definition. The question remained; What exactly was envisaged? What was the telos of America’s drive to supremacy? What would this NWO look like? What was the shape of things to come?

We’re talking here of dream of world domination such as, we are told, Adolf Hitler aspired to.(Actually it looks like he would have settled for hegemony in Europe, something our eurosceptics accuse Merkel of achieving without mobilising so much as a single  panzer division.) But, rant as we may about Nazis or Bolsheviks, it is to us that falls the honour of having declared openly, and in all seriousness, for a world empire. That has been the goal of our foreign policy, shared with our American cousins in the post-Soviet era and long foreshadowed in the writings of H.G.Wells and other proponents of a Greater British Empire in the late-19th, early-20th century. The question remains how this empire would be constituted.

In other words, how could the problem of empire be solved. This after all , had been the central problem of what we could regard as the epoch of empire. Eventually it must be solved or the imperial project cast aside in favour of another form of organisation for our world. The latter is, in my view, greatly to be desired but for the moment let’s try to see the problem from the point of view of the imperialists who, obviously, haven’t yet given up. I assume that at the level of imperial elites there has been a degree of continuity sufficient for there to have been a learning process at play. From Dante onwards into the sixteenth century there was a desire to replicate, to return to the glories of, the Roman Empire. But that project had failed- why would any new empire not meet the same fate?

“Age, thou are shamed! Rome thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods”

Such, as Shakespeare would have it, was the cry of the Roman oligarchy against Julius Ceaser, and equally would have been against the empire of Augustus. The Roman Empire evolved from a “republic” into something akin a to a nation state: the  German historian Mommsen celebrated it as such. But “the breed of noble bloods” didn’t give up and from the reign of Commodus worked to dissolve it’s structures which so constrained them. The massive accumulation of private wealth and power eventually tore apart the empire. It would appear the senatorial elite of the fifth century opposed the great military leader Stilicho as their forbears opposed  Julius and Augustus. He met his death, likely at their instigation, as did the other great Late Roman military leaders, Aetius and Rimmer. If Rome was to survive it would have been as a populist military dictatorship. The Late Roman latifundist  would concur with Brutus who “had rather be a villager than to repute himself the son of Rome under these hard conditions as this time is like to lay upon us.” The senatorial elite sought their salvation in the dissolution of the empire, of the sovereign body. They sought to replace in by weak Gothic kingdoms which they could easily dominate. (Their mistake lay in their contempt for the “barbarians” who they believed the could patronise and divide in perpetuity. The empire makes the same mistake today believing it can divide peoples  along ethnic or religious grounds whereas they continue, as in Iraq, to reconstitute themselves as a nation.)

The New World Order, a New Dark Age, would have as its starting point, its very foundation, the negation of sovereignty. Other conditions would also have to be met to solve definitively the problem of empire or of oligarchical power, which amounts to the same thing, but the dissolution of the nation state on a global scale would be at the heart of it. It would be replaced by a series of administrative entities lacking independence and democracy: a series of mini-oligarchies like Kosovo, for example. The destructive wars unleashed by the fall of the Soviet Union bear eloquent testimony to the nature of this project. As the Americans put it euphemistically: they don’t do nation building.

It is in the face of this assault that the nation state seeks defence in amalgamation with others. This is a generalised, global phenomenum, not just a European one. We have the Bolivarista project in Latin America, Putin’s Eurasian Union, ASEAN gravitating around a re-emergent China and we can confidently predict a resurgent African Union in spite of its momentary decapitation with the murder of Gaddafi and the the attempted division of Libya. If the Eurozone was the negation of sovereignty it would be supported by Anglo-America, not reviled. The European nations are pooling their sovereignty in order to defend it. Where does that leave Britain?

The “independence is sovereignty” line of the Brit nationalists is a sham. Firstly, we are not independent of the USA: our elites are joined at the hip. As an example, we have recklessly accumulated over 300 billion in Treasuries and sold our gold reserve for a song in order to defend the dollar. But, more importantly, the empire’s drive to dissolve sovereignty applies a fortiori to the heartlands. We have lost the foundations of our sovereignty: our industrial and agricultural base has been largely destroyed, our institutions brought into disrepute and our demos languish in ignorance and indifference. The irony is that we, more than any, need to work in concert with others to rebuild a viable political system. Must we be dragged kicking and screaming into Europe?

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