What the E.U. Is All About

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The European Union is about peace, freedom, and greatness. At least according to the official statements of representatives of the union as well as the declarations made by the councils and parliament. It is about peace, originally, through offering a framework within which formerly warring European nations are made partners in a great project on which they are dependent. It is about freedom through the EU’s Four Freedoms: the ability of goods, services, capital, and labor to move freely within the internal market. It is about greatness because the EU, at least to many Europeans, is a way of making Europe a counter-weight to the only remaining super-power USA.

But as is always the case with political projects, the truth isn’t anything like the official story. The European Union is certainly not an exception to this rule.

Peace may be a real aim, but the effect of the bizarre pan-European political project is more likely a total breakdown and perhaps even a European "civil war." The reason is that the EU is trying to increase its powers "on behalf of" (but really "at the expense of") its member nations. This causes friction between the national level political assemblies and the union level dittos. Also, the EU programs cause hostility between neighboring countries simply because a program is interpreted as benefiting "them" while hurting "us," or vice versa. The political game, as we know, consists mostly of losers (only certain politicians win), and therefore it effectuates frictions, hostility, and conflicts.

Freedom has never been a real part of the EU — the so-called four freedoms might as well be called the Four Control Areas. The union is an enormous political entity handing out favors and privileges to whoever plays the political game best (which very seldom is the best actor in the marketplace). In the name of social justice, the environment, employment security, or whatever the EU regulates, taxes, and in any way possible tries to intimidate and destroy non-political actors.

I don’t even have to mention greatness, since the huge socialist machinery of the EU will not ever be able to get Europe anywhere.

So what is the European Union about if it isn’t about peace, freedom, or greatness? The answer should be fairly obvious: it is about power and control. Politicians in the most politicized part of the world (yes, Europe) simply must have felt they needed yet another level of political decision-making through which politicians’ power can be increased further.

Perhaps the politicians were afraid to be unemployed, like the millions of people suffering from the political regulations of the European markets. So why not use the power within reach to create another monster, at an even higher level, that can feed hundreds or even thousands of politicians and be fed by the coerced masses? Friends and family can get high-wage jobs turning papers in the huge bureaucracy (which of course is much larger than any national bureaucracy — it has to present all documents in all languages spoken in Europe) and effectuating the decisions made by the political assemblies.

Let’s take a look at a recent example of what the EU spends time and money doing. This example is not at all unique — it is but the most recent of hundreds of equally silly suggestions and proposals of the EU. And it shows clearly how much of the EU is really peace, freedom, and greatness — and how much is simply a quest for power and control.

March 9 the newspapers reported that members of the European Parliament are pushing for a pan-European ban of light bulbs. The reason is that lit light bulbs use too much electricity to illuminate our houses (and the parliament buildings too, I presume). This electricity is produced in coal-burning or nuclear power plants, both of which are harmful for the environment. The coal-burning kind of power plants, the most common kind in Europe, is the source of enormous carbon dioxide emissions which are believed (by some, at least) to cause global warming. So there seems to be a "real" threat in consuming too much electric power, however far-fetched.

The ban is supposed to come into force in 2010, so before then a few hundred million people in Europe would have to buy low-energy substitutes to the common light bulbs. This is, by the way, what the EU tries to obtain: if millions of Europeans change their old-fashioned (but cheap) light bulbs for low-energy high-tech alternatives the continent’s energy consumption will go down slightly. Yes, slightly. This large-scale change means only a difference in energy consumption on the margin. So why do it?

Well, three days after the news of the likely light bulb ban in 2010 the answer was spelled out by Swedish member of the European parliament Christofer Fjellner, one of the very few libertarians in Brussels, on his blog. On March 12 he wrote: "Imports of Chinese low-energy consuming light bulbs [the kind not affected by the ban] were in 2002 levied with a 66% tariff. The tariff was introduced in order to protect Siemens [German high-tech corporation], despite the fact that Siemens’ production is only 25% of the total European production." According to Fjellner, the "remaining" producers (the ones producing three times as much as Siemens) were opposed to the tariff, a fact that didn’t really bother the politicians.

So it would seem the old-fashioned and rather inefficient but huge corporation Siemens cannot compete with foreign companies. Instead of trying to streamline processes and increase efficiency, Siemens have obviously done what most big businesses do nowadays in the western corporate states (or, in the case of Europe, the corporate super-state): they bought favors from politicians. Siemens cannot have lost much of its former greatness due to foreign competition (yet), since it evidently can afford to buy both the favor of imposed tariffs and even a continent-wide ban of alternative products.

Peace, freedom, and greatness of course had nothing to do with any of this. And the environment was only, as "crises" so often are, used as a reason to increase political influence. Randolph Bourne wisely asserted that "war is the health of the state" — wars allow the state to grow unrestrained. If there is no war, and not even the possibility to start one, a media-driven hysteria or popular belief in an imminent crisis might just do the trick.

Per Bylund [send him mail] works as a CIO/IT and Development Manager in Sweden, in preparation for PhD studies. He is the founder of Anarchism.net. Visit his website.

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