A few of the lovely people we nowadays call trolls took exception to my column on Tuesday, in which I reported the despair felt by Greek people at the austerity being inflicted on them by bigger, richer countries in Western Europe. In saying Athenians want their economic sovereignty returned from Paris and Berlin, I was apparently being Eurosceptic. It's long overdue we interrogated that now-cliched term.
I love Europe. Italy gave us Ferrari. French cuisine is my favourite. Germany has produced philosophers of greater historical significance than any other country. Prague has wonderful trams. Sweden's school system is super, by most accounts. Denmark gave us The Killing. Bosnians are gorgeous. In Barcelona, football has reached new moral and aesthetic heights. Portugal mothered Brazil. I love Europe. What I don't love is the EU. This is an undemocratic, wasteful, bullying institution whose original function, which was to stop French and German people killing each other – something they'd shown great proficiency in doing for centuries – long ago was fulfilled. It has now mutated into a sclerotic affront to nationhood and the rule of law, necessary for diplomatic and trade accords but in urgent need of reform and humility.
I cannot improve on the analysis of David Brooks of the New York Times, who described the EU as "an attempt to build an economic and legal superstructure without a linguistic, cultural, historic and civic base". It is therefore a project that cannot succeed. The suffering inflicted upon the Greek people – for which the despots and fraudsters who have for so long reigned in Athens must of course take their share of the blame – means the EU is now pursuing a policy of blatant cruelty. And as for the euro – well, let's not go there, shall we?
So don't tell me I'm Eurosceptic. If you care to introduce EUsceptic to our language, be my guest. And while you're at it, help me out with this question. Why are so many people on the left determined to defend the EU, and attack its critics? Other than a soft, unconsidered internationalism, I really can't see the reasoning. I guess it's a residue of Lady Thatcher's opposition to Brussels, and a kind of "my enemy's enemy..." cast of mind. But if the left should believe in anything, it is sovereignty: the assertion of human subjectivity and the quest for the consent of citizens.
It ought not to take a great leap of the imagination to recognise that sovereignty and the EU aren't getting along very well right now, but try telling that to the trolls.Reuse content