A couple of months ago I wondered if the Netherlands might be the next country to exit the EU. Now, an article in The Express, quotes Marine LePen, leader of France’s National Front, from an interview with the Greek newspaper Dimokratia, Mlle LePen said: “Frexit will be a part of my policy.” A slideshow embedded in the article notes that “A whopping 88 percent of people polled by a top Dutch newspaper said they would be in favour of an in/out vote along British lines.“
Mlle LePen has also proposed rethinking NATO and following President elect Trump in seeking a rapprochement with Russia.
It seems pretty clear to me that two factors are at play in Europe:
- First, the Eurocrats, in Brussels, led by Jean-Claude Juncker, and many politicians in various European capitals have lost touch with the people of Europe who are in a feisty, nativist, populist mood; and
- Second, there are too many “fractures” in Europe ~ North-South or richer-poorer, conservative-liberal, spendthrift-saver, and so on ~ to allow for a “one size fits all” EU solution. The very conservative urge to make one, united, rules based and, generally, social-democratic Europe keeps running up against the very liberal notions of individuality and capitalism and pan-political nativism.
I have suggested, before, that Europe needs to reform it’s political superstructure so that it is less monolithic, more of a “layer cake” with levels that are increasingly integrated, for those that want and can manage such integration and increasingly decentralized for those who want or can manage only some elements of the “common market.” It seems pretty clear to me that, for example, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain cannot be in the same €zone or common currency arrangement as Austria, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands. Equally, it seems pretty clear that the very real, practical advantages of e.g. the Schengen Agreement fail to take account of ordinary people’s (voters’) fears of uncontrolled borders. But this goes back to something I said yesterday. The French are not terribly afraid of Belgians coming to visit, shop or even work, although the British might be more worried about the less familiar Poles or Latvians entering the UK and expecting to stay and work. Both the British and the French people, and the Poles and Latvians and others are
worried about afraid of masses of non-Europeans entering Europe to stay and, potentially, to demand changes to centuries, even millennia old cultural values and customs.
It is, of course, related to the issue that Dr Kellie Leitch has raised: Canadian values.
Europeans are watching as their traditional values, shaped and honed over millennia, are attacked by a combination of bureaucratic efficiency and modernism and imported values from non-European sources. Not all modernization is bad, most of it is, in fact, good; ditto for imported values and customs: some are very good and enrich and flavour our own traditions …
… but others are unwelcome and threaten the very fabric of a society that most Canadians cherish:
Our liberal value of tolerance has, perhaps, gone too far.
We, Americans, British, Canadians and Europeans, used to pride ourselves for tolerating that which, while we did not really believe it was “good,” we understood to be harmless … but then we began to tolerate somewhat harmful things, too. We seemed to think it was OK for orthodox Jewish men to demand that the windows in a neighbourhood fitness club be covered so that they would not have to see partially clothed females. The women were doing nothing wrong; in fact they were simply exercising good judgment and looking after their own good health, but instead of simply telling the men to look the other way we, Canadians, Americans and so on, society at large, actually considered their complaint as a matter of “human rights.” Arrant nonsense, and worse, because once we considered a relatively easy request from one group we were bound to consider more complex ones from others … how long before we are asked to consider misogyny, female genital mutilation and even “honour” killings as “rights,” too just because we pledge to be tolerant?
Kellie Leitch is right, in part. We need to be concerned about preserving and protecting or core values ~ not by saying that they can never change, not by screening potential immigrants but, rather, by enunciating them, in parliament, in the media, in our schools and so on and teaching them to all Canadians and making sure that everyone understands why those core values ~ respect for the rule of law, liberal democracy, equality at and under the law, respect for fundamental rights, equality of opportunity, free markets, and so on ~ are both “good” and worthy of protection. It is, in some measure, because the “elites,” including the Laurentian Elites here in Canada, are ignoring or even casting aside deeply loved, fundamental values that the people are turning towards populists and nativists and other assorted conservatives who they, the people, hope will listen to and understand them.