In a setback to the best laid plans of Leftward men, Irish voters rejected the Nice Treaty 53.87% to 46.13%.
Predictably, the bureaucrats of the European Union are not happy:
Yesterday’s result was greeted with shock in Brussels and dismay in the capitals of candidate countries seeking EU membership. Mr Romano Prodi, Commission President, and Mr Goran Persson, Prime Minister of Sweden, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, issued a joint statement expressing their disappointment.
"We are very disappointed at the result of the referendum in Ireland. None the less we fully respect the outcome of this democratic process," they said.
It’s good that Prodi and Persson noted that they respect the outcome of the Irish vote. Quite recently, when Austrian and Italian voters bucked the bureaucrats in Brussels, the EU called for economic sanctions to punish those who dared to vote their own way.
Despite all this rhetoric about "respecting the democratic process," however, the E.U. has declared that the Irish No vote will not stop the inexorable march to deeper and wider European integration. "The EU Enlargement Commissioner, Mr Guenter Verheugen, said the referendum result could not block the enlargement process," notes the Irish Times. The German government has also declared that the show must go on.
In which case, why vote at all?
The reason is that democracy is no longer a check on the tyrannical power of government, but a means for giving a stamp of approval to the machinations of the politicians who scheme behind closed doors. (In that regard, see Paul Gottfried’s After Liberalism).
Despite the rhetoric about "respecting the democratic process," the EU has already made open threats to deprive Ireland of agricultural subsidy payments:
An early test of…attitudes will come next year when spending on the Common Agricultural Policy comes up for a mid-term review. Germany wants to overhaul the farm subsidy system and France has hinted that, once next year’s elections are out of the way, it may be willing to do a deal.
Failure to make the right alliances could cost Irish farmers millions of pounds and lead to a deal that would place Irish agriculture at a disadvantage.
So much for respecting democracy.
Breaking down the vote,
Just two constituencies, Dún Laoghaire and Dublin South, voted by a majority in favour. These two constituencies — traditionally the most liberal [i.e., Left-leaning] in referendums on abortion and divorce — also had the second and third-highest turnouts in the State, the highest turnout occurring in Dublin North Central.
You can tell a man by the company he keeps. The same is true of political allegiances. Setting aside discussion of politics and economics, it is possible to judge whether the EU is a good or bad thing by looking at its supporters: those who favor the legalized killing of unborn children, those who favor divorce, and those who favor government control of the economy. In short, the EU is favored by the Left.
Before one attempts to paint those Irish who shot down the Nice Treaty as "mean-spirited," consider that the same voters also decided to abolish the death penalty (62%) and to ratify the International Criminal Court (64%).
But of course, the defeated Left has already painted No voters as "mean-spirited" (see the quote from Bertie Ahern below). Much as the American media in 1994 portrayed those who voted for Republicans as "angry white males," Fintan O’Toole claims that the No voters are "angry" and "cynical." Worse — God help us! — many were from "the largely disenfranchised Catholic right," notes O’Toole. How dare traditional Catholics continue to exist in the third millennium…from the birth of Christ. Maybe the government should force all these No voters into mental institutions and medicate them until they learn to think the right way.
the Louth Fine Gael TD, Mr Brendan McGahon, said the No vote "showed the huge amount of ignorance of political affairs in this country and underlines the need for politics to be taught in schools."
Thought control, anyone?
He added: "I think people are totally politically unaware and are more interested in watching Coronation Street or Fair City and are not living in the real world. It is a classic irony that a country which has benefited most from Europe denies the opportunity to other less privileged European countries."
How dare anyone wish to live their life in peace without devoting all their free time and hard-earned money to the pet projects of conniving politicians who seek to brainwash children (remember, this is the guy whose preferred remedy to votes he does not like is "to teach politics in school;" if that is not a call for official government brainwashing, then nothing is).
By the way, those "poor Eastern Europeans," who will now apparently die without EU welfare benefits, are not exactly without fault where their alleged poverty is concerned. After dumping Communism in name, they have not dumped communism in practice. Poland, for example, prohibits foreign ownership of land. As reported in the Telegraph, eight German farmers who dared to buy Polish land for farming — and for producing more food to feed the hungry masses of the world, as if farmers did anything else — were convicted as criminals. (The Telegraph, by the way, misstates history in reporting that the land in question was "under German control for centuries." The reason it was "under German control" is that the land was populated by Germans).
At least one Polish politician has of course claimed that the Germans were invading, as if buying land were somehow equivalent to warfare (politicians, whether Polish, Irish, or American, you see, have no shame). Hungary and the Czech Republic — which expelled ethnic Germans after World War Two, killing millions — have similar laws.
Dick Walsh, writing in the Irish Times, contends that the Left had
Nothing…to match the No campaign’s threat that with a vote for Nice "You will lose power, money and freedom".
What power, money and freedom might be lost was not explained. But the beauty of such slogans is that where people are afraid of immigrants, competition or change you don’t have to be specific: all you need is to encourage the growth of fear.
Walsh is utterly wrong here. Allow me to explain what might have been lost — and what still may be lost if there is another vote — to the E.U.
First, the power that would be lost is the power of national independence, also known as liberty: the ability to decide for oneself how to live and behave. The question of independence is simple: shall Irishmen decide how Irishmen are to live, or shall every man and woman in Europe together decide how Ireland is to be governed?
Second, the money that would be lost is the greater wealth which Ireland is on the path to producing, thanks to its relatively free-market policies (as compared to the rest of collectivist, socialist, Europe). The EU tried to tempt Ireland to abandon their own successful economy with promises of tax-funded handouts. It speaks well of the Irish that they did not make such a foolish exchange.
For those who might doubt that the EU comes down to handouts, consider the following item from the Irish Times:
As late as Wednesday night, one senior EU diplomat was astonished that the result could be in any doubt.
"The Irish will say No? After all the money we’ve given them? You can’t be serious," he said.
Say, has the EU been attempting to bribe the people of Europe into voting for the EU by giving away "free" money? Of course, this money is not free. It is money extorted at gunpoint through an exercise known as "taxation." Don’t pay, you go to jail. And the EU pretends to be your rich uncle.
Third, the freedom that would be lost is the freedom of Irish men and women to govern Ireland as they see fit. As should be obvious from the preceding paragraphs, freedom is connected to independence. The Filipino writer Jose Rizal famously declared that "There can be no tyrants where there are no slaves." Irishmen, despite their long domination by the English, cannot be accused of having a slavish mentality. Instead, they are an independent-minded people, whose struggle for freedom has made them wary of a European Union that seeks to outlaw criticism of itself.
Predictably, the politicians are considering "voting again," kind of like Al Gore in Florida (and like Denmark, which has twice rejected EU measures, in part because of concerns over national sovereignty).
The biggest factor leading to a No vote was the growing pro-independence sentiment documented at the outset of this article. This outweighed the influence of any of the specific aspects of the Nice Treaty measured in the poll. However, several of these also had an effect.
In order of magnitude and coming some way behind the pro-independence sentiment, these influences were opposition to participation in the Rapid Reaction Force and the unacceptability of the provisions on the commissionership and the reweighting of votes.
The Irish, it appears, may not have entirely forgotten the tremendous struggle for independence. That is a good thing.
The Irish Times reports that
The Tánaiste [Deputy Prime Minister], Ms Harney, said…that voters shared her concerns that "there should not be a United States of Europe or a European super state". However, she said she thought enlargement "will guarantee that Europe remains a union of independent nation states".
The concept of a "union of independent nation states," of course, is an impossibility. In order to enter into a "union," if that union is to be more than a union in name only, some measure of independence — hard-won liberty — must be sacrificed. There are clear parallels in American history. As the "independent nation states" of Europe wade into the swamp of the European Union, then, their liberty must of necessity be taken away.
In campaigning for a Yes vote on the Nice Treaty, the Irish Taoiseach (in English, the "prime minister"), Bertie Ahern, tried to convince Irish voters that they had a "moral duty" to vote to expand the powers and geographic scope of the European Union.
As the London Telegraph reports, Ahern stated that
"We cannot, in conscience, pull up the ladder behind us. It would be mean-spirited in the extreme to deny the applicant states the right to share in the benefits." But the appeal is falling on deaf ears, not least because the Amsterdam Treaty already allows for five new countries to join the EU without any further treaty changes.
Poor Bertie Ahern. Now his friends — his fellow European heads of state — are upset with him.
Ahern’s statements display a misunderstanding of the nature of politics and economics. They also show that the Left is the Left the world around.
Just as the Clinton administration repeated brainless sound bites on every issue to come into the media — "old news," "I’ve said I’m sorry," "I didn’t inhale," "I did not have sex with that woman…Miss Lewinsky" — so too the Europhiles of Ireland have their song and dance routine down pat. Remember the brainwasher — Brendan McGahon? He, Ahern and the anonymous E.U. bureaucrat all made the same remark — No voters don’t want to give welfare benefits to Eastern Europeans (as if taxation and government programs were the path to prosperity, as opposed to hard work, saving, and investing).
What is meant by Ahern’s comment that Irish voters should not "deny applicant states the right to share in the benefits"? If that sentence is to have any meaning, Ahern must be referring to the precise tax-funded handouts known as government welfare benefits doled out by the E.U. That is the theme of the defeated Yes side. Certainly, Ahern cannot be referring to the economic prosperity of the Republic of Ireland — which any nation can emulate, if only it chooses to do so, by giving people back their freedom, and thereby freeing the market.
Perhaps, however, one should not be too hard on Bertie Ahern:
Ireland’s EU Commissioner, Mr David Byrne, called for a close examination of the reasons behind yesterday’s result.
"I believe there is considerable confusion about the Nice Treaty, what it means and more particularly what its implications are. This is not unique to Ireland," he said.
As if understanding the Treaty would automatically cause men and women to agree with the Treaty in its entirety. Contrary to Mr Byrne’s claims, if more Europeans bothered to read the documents to which they have been bound, support for the E.U. would likely evaporate even further.
Finally, the Irish Times adds that
Mr Ahern and his EU counterparts will discuss how best to lay the ground for what will almost certainly be a second referendum on the treaty before the end of 2002 deadline. However, prominent No campaigners last night rejected the idea of another poll, with Mr Anthony Coughlan describing such a suggestion as "shameful".
Of course it’s shameful. But politicians have no shame — or else they would not endure life in the public eye as they do.
Three cheers for Ireland.
Mr. Dieteman [send him mail] is an attorney in Erie, Pennsylvania, and a PhD candidate in philosophy at The Catholic University of America.
© 2001 David Dieteman