As I've written before, I don't think that the long bloody history of Europe has been put safely into the past. Democracy is a thin veneer over a deep current of tyranny, war, and a killer instinct. The European Union, I fear, is the start of a new dictatorship that will create a potential enemy in fifty years.
This article argues that the EU is Europe's attempt to get beyond their bloody past:
Europe (particularly in the incarnation of Mr Chirac) does not have a deep commitment to democracy, at least not in the sense that the English-speaking tradition understands it.
The American Constitution may have borrowed much of its frame of reference from French revolutionary ideals, but the historical outcomes parted company pretty quickly. The United States ended up with a federalised system and an iron-clad Bill of Rights while France was descending into the Terror. We do not have a shared reverence for the robustness of democratic institutions because, in continental Europe, democratic institutions have been anything but robust.
That is why the EU is busily moving away from the idea of government being directly and transparently responsive to the popular will.
The monstrous global crimes of the 20th century - the collective guilt which is still the motor force of European political consciousness - were all thought to have been generated (or at least condoned) by popular will.
The political instincts of the people are far too inflammable and mercurial to be trusted. Better leave the serious business of law-making and governance to a professional class of administrators, an enlightened elite who will not be subject to the whims and volatile passions of the mob whose vicissitudes have brought such disgrace on our countries.
Public opinion manipulated by national political leaders has to take the rap for the hideous events of the two world wars and the Cold War that followed them, and so they will all be cut down to size. Democracy is all well and good in its place but the power of the people must be sieved, regulated and heavily supervised if it is to come to the right conclusions.
It may sound apocalyptic, but I do believe that the democratic experiment in continental Europe, begun just over 200 years or so ago, is coming to a close.
The European Union is creating what it hopes will be a benign oligarchy. Real political power will reside once again within elite circles (as it does already in France) which will conduct their business in the corridors rather than in the assemblies.
The EU elites believe that the public led them to slaughter each other again and again? In Europe's long history of warfare, do they really think that too much democracy was at fault? Even if you restrict the case to the 20th century, counting the World Wars and the Cold War, is this analysis correct?
In World War I, only Britain and France of the initial belligerents were democracies. Germans, Russians, and Austro-Hungarians lived under autocracies. While the public enthusiastically answered the leaders' call for war, was this really about the public pushing the leaders to a war they did not want? Hardly. The public, unaccustomed to war after a century of relative European peace, was ready to fight. But it was the leaders who called for war.
In World War II, the aggressors were all militaristic despots. Public opinion in the West did not push the democracies toward war. Opinion delayed war until it was too late to squash the threats in their infancies.
As for the Cold War, a communist dictatorship pressed the West and Western public opinion was barely kept in support of containing the Soviets.
So just where is this rabid public opinion that the elites blame for pushing the poor European elites to war again and again?
It is pure rot, of course. The elites are pretending that the public is bloodthirsty and that only erasing democracy in a smothering European bureaucracy can prevent future bloodshed.
Imagine that, the Europeans looked to their past, noticed that the rulers of Europe often rallied their publics into repeated wars against each other and the rest of the world, and concluded that the key failure in this is their own public that failed to stop the leaders! Never mind that it was the leadership that led Europe to fight. I just want to know how putting an elite that has been prone to war back in complete charge will end European wars? Isn't this recreating the Europe of divine right rulers that created the bloody swath that Europeans cut across the globe?
I sometimes think I am too pessimistic when I have written that in 50 years we could be fighting an EU dictatorship. Reports like this do not make me sleep better at night. When we are pushing freedom and democracy to forestall threats from the Islamic world, Europe goes its own way back toward their violent, aggressive, and unfree past.