Sunday, February 14, 2010

There is no such thing as Europe

How many times does one have to keep repeating that? All right, let me clarify that statement. Of course, there is a Europe as a geographical concept – it is a subcontinent of the huge Eurasian continent. There is also such a concept, though it is hard to define, as European culture, which melds into European history and European thought. One gets into serious difficulties with it as European culture and European thought are so varied in themselves.

What there is not and never has been is a Europe as a political concept. There is no such thing as European politics, though there is, obviously EU politics, a completely different concept, often alien to European history and traditions. Therefore, there can be no such thing as a European Tea Party Movement. Not if ever so many people join the group on Facebook; not if Real Clear Politics or Glenn Reynolds write about it.

It would be pointless to talk about tea parties as a political concept in Europe even if such a thing as Europe existed politically speaking. No-one would understand it. In Britain tea party (as in vicarage, for instance) means something quite different; on the Continent it means nothing at all. In fact, history tells us that on the Continent tax or bread riots tend to have further reaching consequences than the American tea parties have done so far.

The biggest problem, however, more or less understood by David Ignatius on Real Clear Politics is that each country’s problems are separate and different, even though they all share the understanding that the government’s role is to spend, spend, spend, an understanding they share with most other countries in the world. One suspects that, like Henry Kissinger, David Ignatius would feel happier if there were one European fiscal authority – easier to draw parallels, presumably.

What would a European tea party movement oppose? The European Union? Maybe, but it is hardly the biggest spender; its role in the destruction of the economies of European countries is a little more subtle: it used control and regulation to further integration.

Individual governments? Why would a European movement care about individual European governments? I see no point in going on a demonstration that would demand fiscal conservatism from the French or Greek governments. Let the people of those countries worry about that, as long as we do not have to pay.

All this talk of European this, that and the other or European elites, as Glenn Reynolds writes, comes to the same conclusion: we need some kind of a European political entity, a concept many of us radically disagree with. But the truth is that we cannot have a European tea party movement unless we have a European state, a European government and a European polity. People who support or call for a European tea party go along with the notion of a European state.


  1. You are right, what more can I say? French cars in France; German cars in Germany; Italian in Italy - you just know the EU will fail.

  2. And Japanese cars everywhere. Its relevance to the political structure of the European Union and a European polity is....? Oh wait, there is no relevance at all. People buy cars. They also buy wine and cheese and clothes. From all sorts of countries. Doesn't mean they think of themselves as European or partake in European politics.

  3. Either you did not understand my comment or I definitely don't understand yours.

    The relevance of my comment about the cars usually seen on the streets of the EU countries mentioned is that the population are clearly voting with their cash for nationalist products. Otherwise there would be an even mix of German, French, Italian etc cars throughout the EU. Hence the populations don't think 'European'.

  4. I clearly did not understand your comment. Sorry. Nevertheless, what people buy and why has no relevance at all to their political thinking. I doubt if anyone will buy a car just because it is German or Italian. In any case, what of other countries that do not produce cars? I think we agree on the main point but disagree on how it manifests itself.

  5. Anyway, US commenters do as a rule not understand the EU (or Europe as they call it). But then again most political pundits in the EU countries do not understand the EU either so what can one expect?