The cat i' the adage

"The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement" Karl Popper (1902 - 1994)

Monday, May 09, 2005

Euroscepticism and the Nazis

The threat of a return to Nazi horrors was invoked yesterday by Swedish EU commissioner, Margaret Wallstrom.

A senior European Commissioner marked VE Day yesterday by accusing Eurosceptics of risking a return to the Holocaust by clinging to "nationalistic pride".

Margot Wallstrom, a Swede and the commissioner who must sell the draft constitution to voters, argued that politicians who resisted pooling national sovereignty risked a return to Nazi horrors of the 1930s and 1940s.

She blamed the Second World War on "nationalistic pride and greed, and … international rivalry for wealth and power". The EU had replaced such rivalry with an historic agreement to share national sovereignty.

I suppose you don't get to be an EU commissioner unless you're pretty keen on the project, so it is to be expected that Ms Wallstrom would be broadly in favour of it. However, she completely overlooks the case for scepticism. Is nationalistic pride such a bad thing? Must it always lead to war? If it were replaced with "supernational" pride, would that be very much better? Is the pooling of sovereignty a sure way to avoid future conflict? Why should historic rivalries and suspicions vanish with national boundaries?

Ms Wallstrom makes the mistake of imagining that those who are unpersuaded by her vision of an integrated European state are xenophobes with a latent desire to genocide. She does not grasp that it is precisely in the huge unaccountable monolith of a European superstate that we see the seeds of totalitarianism


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