Democracy doesn't work. Don't ask me what would work, as Man is, depending on one's beliefs, an evolutionary mistake or created in Satan's own image; the system that would work for humans hasn't been invented yet. It is not, in any case, the modern Western democracy, just over a century young and being touted to countries worldwide as the panacea for all social ills. This system has allowed the rise to power of highly questionable political leaders, including Macholini, Swastika Man, the Soviet Bolshies (supposedly voted by a majority, hence the nickname "bolshevik"), a whole list of semi-anonymous political scoundrels who have caused less obvious damage and, of course, papa and sonny Bush, who just may go into world history as the people who brought about the long-awaited Third World War. Not that humanity owes such people specifically to democracy; human history is one long list of dictators rising to power through violence and trampling the common people. Democracies don't so much trample their commoners as make them accomplices in the trampling of others. Modern democracies tend to finance banana republics and corrupt, defunct monarchies and even have a use for any totalitarian regime that escapes their control: it becomes a frightening example of what happens to those who don't respect Democracy. Considering that "democracy" means "government by the people" and that the average democracy restricts input of the people to voting events and will otherwise ignore even huge petitions from the population, I'd say no current democracy respects Democracy - but that's just my wicked lack of democratic norms and values. I am so lucky to be allowed to vote, whatever government is in power can claim "Well, you voted for us" although in most cases I didn't, and whenever a government wants to cajole its subjects into collaboration, the strategy is: "Let's make them vote for it!" And that is how, one day, the Dutch population was presented with a national referendum whether the Netherlands should accept the European Constitution.
In typical democratic fashion, the people were given directions on what to vote. The actual document containing the details was reputedly upward of 20 pages, so the common people were given the gist of it in one of those brochures that, in a democracy, may not be called "propaganda". For a better Europe! this brochure shouted. At the moment, animal abuse and social injustices were rampant in the various member states of the European Union because the EU didn't have the authority to make them sit up and behave. The European Constitution would solve all that and set quotas to improve its members' productivity and make a strong, united Europe, better able to compete with America (the monopolist, protectionist US of, obviously) and track criminals across borders to more effectively fight crime, and all that without giving up our Dutch cultural identity! (The one thing I would be overjoyed to give up is the Dutch cultural identity.) What are you waiting for? VOTE YES NOW!!!! For the sake of democratic appearances, every voting post, typically with VOTE YES NOW posters pasted on doors, windows and billboards, included a No button beside the Yes button, for those meanies who clearly didn't want a safe and better future and who were, according to polls in the media, primarily anti-social Dutch white foreign leftwing neo-fascist working-class dissident immigrant labourers. Who are gay, hate fluffy kittens and never go to church on Sundays. None of this stopped a majority from voting NO.
Again for the sake of appearances, the government couldn't very well forbid the NO-sites and predominantly NO-forums on Internet. The Internet is three steps away from being declared a cancer to Democracy for its unpleasant ability to allow large numbers of humans to surf porn, lure minors into sexual harassment situations, publish nonsensical hate pages and conspiracy theories and, incidentally, allow the odd exchange of information. Like the fact that the real document detailing this constitution was so thick that reading and understanding it alone would take more time than most people have, ie. the vast majority of the voters don't even know what they're voting for. The simplified version delivered door to door contained obvious contradictions, such as, less animal abuse and better working conditions, and at the same time, higher productivity. It is precisely the drive towards higher production that's causing so much misery in agro-industry, so these claims sound like a Dutch government's claim concerning the expansion of airport Schiphol: "There's going to be more air traffic, resulting in less noise and air pollution." Yes, and a glass gets emptier the more water is poured in it.
The claim that the new and united Europe would be a match for mighty America makes clear what this new Europe is really about: more mass-production, more profits disappearing into the pockets of bigwigs. The added suggestion that the new Europe will also match America in power, ensuring that no future version of Ronald Reagan will be able to use the Netherlands as launchpad for his nuclear missiles, makes me laugh. The same political figures who peddled the European Constitution to their subjects are happily joining America in wasting the taxpayers' money on international terrorism, sorry, "war-on-". A "united" Europe just means that the next Reagan only has to pressure one organization instead of a jumble of differently aligned governments. Europe is far better off divided.
How international crime-fighting is going to make a better future for us all is uncertain, given what some oppressive governments and lobbies consider a crime. Fortunately, these oppressive institutions would not rob us of our progressive, Dutch liberty! What defence we have against them is not specified, we are simply assured that our liberal, enlightened legislation overrules international legislation. A promise of easy dismissal that conflicts with the claim that the European Constitution will have the power to impose on its member states those general laws necessary for a better future. What am I told to believe: if the immensely humane Netherlands wants the European Union to impose a law to forbid bullfighting, Spain will swallow this, but if the devoutly Catholic Spain wants to impose a law that no woman will at any time undo more than one shirt button in public in the interests of chastity, the Netherlands can dismiss this with "Come on, this isn't the Middle Ages." I'm afraid chastity and the bullfight would win. The new system would be hugely abused either way, and a better future for us all would not be one of its outcomes.
Those were the more glaring points which, in combination with the pressure applied - the prime minister made a special appearance on TV to explain why we should all vote Yes on the referendum - made it clear that, no matter what the exact specifics, this referendum stank. That alone would have been enough for a no-vote, although I had better reasons. Not that every no-voter was well-informed. A site listing myths believed by no-voters included a reference to the Turkey-phobia that has existed ever since Turkey asked to join the European Union. The site stated that the European Constitution had nothing to do with Turkey. Nor does it have anything to do with Europe, more on that below. Apart from the Turk-phobes, there were the general xenophobes who were terrified that their money was going to be drained away by poorer member countries, in other words, that some Albanian was going to buy a big fat car using their semoleans. And of course there were the idiots terrified of losing their Dutch cultural identity, compounded of French fries, pizza, shoarma, Chinese restaurants, American soaps on TV, Thai prostitutes, Polish brides, coarse stupidity and a bunch of funny clothes that nobody wears in daily life. However, there were also very well argumented pleas for a NO, as opposed to the YES side whose only argument was a weak "we should at least take up the offer of a better future". The YES-ers were asking the nation to trust politicians. Po-li-ti-cians. Even those YES-ers who were clearly aware what a scam this was. Because the xenophobes had half a point. Not some Albanian, but some politician would be buying a big fat car using their semoleans. When their political career in their own country is over, European politicians tend to seek their fortune in Brussels. The bigwigs want to create cushy jobs for themselves where they can rub shoulders with other bigwigs and soak up the efforts of all taxpayers in every country in the EU, at the same time making sure there'll be plenty to soak up. That is why the Netherlands and every other EU member where this referendum was held - if it was held at all - had to vote Yes to the European Constitution. A bright future for the suits and ties is worth a little deception.
Because the European Union, as the European Economic Community is called these days, has no right to draw up a European Constitution. A European Constitution is a basic set of tenets on which every legislation in Europe should base itself. The EU doesn't cover all of Europe, while it will admit countries outside Europe. Admitting non-European countries isn't bad, as the original EEC was a jumble of post-war peace treaties and trade agreements, so anyone who trades with EU member countries has a right to join, although in that case the EU should drop the now incorrect qualifier "European". While the strongly USA-oriented EEC was being formed in western Europe, its USSR-orientated counterpart, the Comecon, was formed in the part of Europe behind the Iron Curtain. This Communist Countercommunity was to prevent honest, decent Communist countries from falling prey to evil Western imperialism. Imagine the absurdity of the Comecon drawing up a European Constitution!
Ah, said a colleague at work, but it's not a Constitution, it's a Constitutional Treaty. The prime minister was careful to consistently use the term "constitutional treaty" during his TV performance. That's funny, said I, the state propaganda calls it a constitution. What gives? Laws are set down in language; if politicians can't get their language straight, how can they expect support for their laws? Even as a constitutional treaty, it stinks. A constitutional treaty should be a basic set of tenets on which all subsequent treaties should base themselves, not a thick book of inaccessible print. Supposedly, a set of clear guidelines is needed to simplify the mess of treaties the Union now has to deal with. So far, so good. If the governments had used that argument and produced these clear guidelines, they would have had my blessing. Instead, they produce something illegible and try to get it approved by deliberately misapplying terms. Germany's government didn't even bother to get it approved: it publicly declared "our voters have granted us their confidence and approval by their votes in the elections", which translates to "ha ha, you voted for us, suckers". One Dutch forum-poster further defended Germany's government by saying that the common people can't understand these complicated matters, therefore the government shouldn't let them make decisions; for their own protection, as it were. But if something is too complicated for the majority of a population to understand, it's not fit to be constitutional. And if something is a constitutional treaty, it shouldn't be called a constitution, least of all of a continent it doesn't cover. And if a government can't let the people decide because the people are too stupid and would make the wrong decision, then that government shouldn't be called democratic.
These referenda provided good examples of just how democratic the various governments of European democracies are. I don't have them all listed, but know the following: Germany didn't have a referendum, which pissed off the Germans no end. France voted NO, The Netherlands voted NO, as a result the British government, fearing a "wrong" answer in their country too, were thinking of scrapping their planned referendum. How that ended, I don't know: suffice it to say that modern democracies have NO respect for Democracy. These supposedly democratic members of the EU just tried to fool their subjects by touting a false constitution in the same way that they tout their false democracy: as the panacea for all social ills.
In fact, the resemblance goes further: I can see why the Dutch government, at least, went with the lie of a European Constitution. The EU has its own flag, a ring of stars on a blue background. Now this flag could simply be a logo on a stick, telling the bigwigs from Brussels what building to gather in and where to park their cars. But a cheesy futuristic Japanese cartoon from the seventies has a scene where a crowd of "gajins" (official meaning: foreigner, practical meaning: modern Western white) welcomes a VIP from another country by waving EU flags. In reality a shakily united bundle of trade-related organizations, the EU presents itself to outsiders as an internally coherent nation. Its members are creating a fake nationality in the way that the UK created the fake nationality of the Commonwealth. The EU has its own flag, now how about its own anthem: "For our holy Constitution, my life I'd gladly give. It's due to our great Uuuu-nion that we have a right to live. More blessed by God than A-me-rica, we stand united and whole. I dedicate to Euuuuurope my money life and soooooooul." What makes the joke bitter is that I can see this happening. Democratic regimes have to grant their subjects a nominal co-rulership in the way that Communist regimes have to pretend they support the working classes. This weakens them considerably, but not to worry; when democracy loses its grip, in comes nationalism.
For those who think that nationalism is simply love of one's country: "Nazi" is the abbreviation of "Nationalist Socialist". The extremely dirty war in former Yugoslavia was caused by manipulated nationalism. The problems in the Middle East center on misplaced nationalism: Israel is a fake nation created in biblical times and revived after the Holocaust. The incorrectly named "America" is another such fake nation, where nationalism is even more rabid and destructive than in countries which developed an identity gradually, rather than having one imposed from above. Even more fake is the pan-Arabic national identity created by Islamic religious extremists; and the list goes on. Communism is the only excuse for tyranny I can think of offhand that isn't rooted in nationalism, but even Communist dictators have applied it. So, what can nationalism do for democracies? It can be used as a crudely sentimental appeal to support "our wonderful democratic country" and blind people to the blatantly undemocratic behaviour of that country's government. What can nationalism do for the EU? It can force a vote for "our glorious European Constitution" by distracting people from the fact that this European Constitution has no legal validity whatsoever, in fact: it can make them believe that the EU is Europe. Most importantly, it can help modern democracies to do what they usually do: fool the common people into becoming accomplices to their governments' dirty tricks.
I like to think that, this time, the common people didn't buy it.
PS. Looking up "European Constitution" in the Wikipedia to see if the UK had had the courage to go through with the referendum (answer: no) I was shocked to see how many countries had already joined the EU and, of those, how many had not held a referendum. This EU had better shut down fast or return to being a trade-coordinating organization, or it will become a second USA. Which I suspect is its intention. Under "Quotes" I found this:
"Our Constitution ... is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority but of the greatest number." (Thucydides II, 37.) This was the first sentence of the preamble of the draft treaty establishing a constitution for Europe in the version of the European Convention. The Heads of State and Government deleted it during their Intergovernmental Conference.
PPS. Speaking of bitter jokes: the EU has its own anthem, and probably had it when it was still the EEC (European Economic Community). It's an adaptation of an ode by Friedrich Schiller, fortunately without lyrics, although Latin lyrics have been proposed to reflect the anthem's international nature - because, no matter where you're from, we all speak Latin! If they're going to use a dead language anyway, may I suggest one that is actually still in use: Modern Classical Arabic?
PPPS. A good friend to nationalism is religion: apparently efforts were made to
sneak "God" into the Constitution, in recognition of Europe's religious heritage.
A good idea, and on the same grounds let's include Thor, Freya, Lugh and Cernunnos;
in fact, since Christianity was imported by the Romans, let's also honour other
Roman adoptions, like Mithras and Cybele. And since Satanism is an offshoot of
Christianity, how about a paragraph for Old Nick? A name symbolizing beautifully
the demonizing of pagan deities by the missionaries, an important part of
European religious history. In short: why worry about fundamentalist Moslems
when the good ol' Church is still trying grab power where it can? We almost
had a new battle cry for the upcoming world war: "For God and Continent!"