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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

The UK’s EU Referendum: A choice between democracy and technocracy

All the issues of relevance that have been discussed over the past few weeks are largely views on what might happen if the UK decides to break free from the EU. This is the reality of this type of debate for none of us know the future, although the past seems to suggest what the future may be, especially as we are discussing Europe!

So we are left in a position choosing between what looks like the certainty of the status quo, and the uncertainty inherent in leaving. To stay or to go is probably the hardest question than any electorate in the UK has ever been asked to vote upon, made so by the fact that it is a single issue, unlike in a General Election when we vote on just about everything. It is however a single issue that will shape our country for decades to come, and will, potentially, involve our participation in events that British people will not want to be part of – the future may be more certain than people realise given that we are discussing here – Europeans.

I want now to give people an insider’s view, having been involved with Brussels for 30 years. But first a quote:

“In earlier times, anyone who thought of universal history, because of the narrowness of his horizons, constructed a unity at the expense of restriction; amongst ourselves, for instance, he restricted himself to West, in China to the Central Empire. That which lay beyond had no part in it and was regarded as a life of barbarians, primitive peoples, which were certainly an object of ethnological interest, but not of history. Unity consisted in the presupposition of the tendency to cause all the still unknown peoples of the earth to participate, stage by stage, in one – namely one’s own – culture, to bring them into one’s own sphere of order.”

These are the words of the German philosopher Karl Jaspers (in his book The Origin and Goal of History), writing in the aftermath of the National Socialists, the Second World War, and the Holocaust. These words very accurately describe how the European Commission thinks and operates; this organisation is very European in the most negative sense of the meaning of such a phrase.

I first became involved with Brussels, namely the European Commission (EC), in 1986. I did so because I knew that the Commission were not pursuing the right research agenda in relation to manufacturing industry. It is a long story, but now here in 2016, 30 years on, the same issues are still there, which is one of the reasons why I am now starting to break my connections, and to withdraw from all involvement with the EC. In the process I have come to call these people Prometheus and sometimes also Narcissus, along with those that gather around the EC (the Emperor’s Court). Everyday they just reinvent themselves in the same form they were the day before, but have so fallen in love with themselves, they are unable to see this.

As for the other reasons for my withdrawal:

They say that power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely – the EC is the case study that demonstrates the first to be true, and may, if we do not do something about this monster, prove also that the second part is also correct. What it will take to prove the latter is the creation and the alignment of the sort of social, political and economic conditions that lead people to look for simplistic ideologically based solutions – the type of conditions that the modern world is now busy bringing about. This simplistic ideologically based thinking is already taking shape in the EC and in the wider EU.

The problems with the EC started at its inception back in the 1950s because it was created around a 19th century bureaucratic model: thus the perception of the EC as a bureaucracy. But the problem with the EC is worse than this, for it was also founded on elitism and dirigisme. Here in 2016 the EC is as bureaucratic, as elitist and as dirigistic as on the day it was born.

The EC is a technocratic organisation. It believes that it can intervene in matters complex, in business, in economy, in research, and so forth, and worse, that it actually knows what those interventions should be, hence they largely work top-down, rather than bottom-up, and most often fail, as is demonstrated by the fact that Europe has the lowest economic growth rate of any continent.

The EC has vast powers delegated to it by the various treaties and the money to pursue its technocratic fantasies. It has also become the target of the priestly caste of technocrats called scientists, technologist and engineers, who are now working behind the scenes to gain power and influence. This is in addition to powerful corporations who are increasingly, as the European economy continues to weaken, exerting their influence. The two – science and business – are closely allied with each other, as science is now primarily perceived as an activity to be pursued for economic reasons (which is also why we are now seeing a ethical meltdown in the world of science, technology and engineering). Hence the appeal to the EC, which has been desperately trying, and failing, for 30 years to deal with the economic decline of Europe. The EC is unable to understand that it is part of the problem.

The scientific technocrats are advocating a form of reason that is not grounded in humanity, common sense, instincts, and emotions – there is no room for the subjective and for soft knowledge. Richard Dawkins is one of their high priests, but there are others, who all hold in contempt anything that is not grounded in the scientific method and quantification. They are seeking what I have come to call Scientific Government and in the EC they find a willing partner in this madness. It is a marriage made in Hell. It is also a relationship founded on the elitism of Ancient Greece – free people think, slaves work.

Some years ago, under the reign of the previous President, the man concerned decided to take unto himself a person to be his Chief Scientific Advisor. The appointment was done in secret and there were no independent vetting processes. The advice delivered was given in secret and never subjected to public or parliamentary scrutiny, or that of the wider scientific community. The appointee used (abused) her position to advocate that science was so important that scientists needed to have a seat in government. Many in the world of science support her views. All of them have conflicts of interest and they all, along with their institutions, stand to gain financially from this. The conflicts of interest of the Chief Scientific Advisor were never independently established, nor were any disciplinary actions taken against her, for what in a democratic setting would have been seen as an abuse of a public appointment.

She was condemned by a number of MEPs. She herself, who in her post was just a mere employee of the EC, felt that it was within her power and her right to take these elected representatives to tasks for their views, and she used these people to further the case for her argument which reduces to this statement: in our system of government, politicians are told what to do and how to do it, and any improvement made to the instructions given to them is fatal to success, and if they deviate from what we instruct them to do, they must tell the people that they are doing so. Elsewhere one can also find people saying that policy decisions of a scientific or technical nature, e.g. those relating to the use of GM crops, should be taken out of the hands of politicians! Juncker it seems was not prepared to inherit this troublesome high priestess and she was discarded and not replaced. Instead, an internal person, who is also caught-up in the idea of Scientific Government, was appointed as an innovation advisor. This is just a foretaste of the totalitarianism that could come about in Brussels, as the EU’s economic circumstances deteriorate further.

We are dealing here with scientists and technologists who have become ideologues. They have taken a valuable means of knowing the world (science) and turned it into a perverse ideology that consumes the mind, just as the Soviets did with the works of Karl Marx, right-wing free market extremists have done with the works of Adam Smith, some Christians have done with the Bible, and some Muslims are now doing with the Holy Qur’an. These are, to use Hayek’s words, the “totalitarians in our midst” and this is a one hell of an ideological conflict that you are in the process of creating.

Some may have read Hayek’s book The Road to Serfdom. The European Commission has already built The Road to Serfdom, and it uses the money that it takes from us, via our National Governments, to keep the serfs in line. It has created a dependency culture, whereby it decides what it will do, and then it seeks experts, all of whom will benefit from the Commission’s proposals, to support these plans. Then it often uses these experts to confirm that the money has been well spent. Dissenters are not tolerated and are sent into exile – i.e. they are dismissed as suffering from some deficit and never invited back. ICT-ART CONNECT – the STARTS Platform – is a prime example of this form of technocratic corruption, and my forth coming book (STARTS – Science, Technology and the Arts: The Artistic Voices that DG CONNECT Silenced) explores this.

The European Parliament is aware of these problems but is largely powerless to do anything about it. People like Juncker are themselves elitist and dirigistic, so will do nothing to put an end to this madness.

What people do not understand is that the European Commission is, in effect, an unelected government, not a civil service. We have not shared sovereignty, but instead transferred sovereign power to a body over which there is no democratic control. When they fail, as they do, we cannot evict them from office, nor is anyone punished for this failure – no-one resigns in disgrace, no departments are exposed for wasting public money, and no officials are disciplined. The failures are covered-up so that you, the people, never learn about what goes on behind closed doors, in Brussels, at your expense. They, the EC, act with impunity.

As a government, the EC has diplomatic representations all around the globe. The President of the European Commission is treated as a Head of State. The Treaty of Lisbon gave the EC power over foreign policy and the European Commission now has a foreign policy. It is one that is best described as cultural colonialism. So we have an unelected government preaching and lecturing to the world about European values, and seeking in an imperial way to project these values on to the non-European world and to enforce these values through trade and cooperation agreements. So why are you thinking that the China is more likely to prioritise a trade agreement with the EU over one with an independent UK that is not bound by the EU’s colonial dogma?

And the EC seems to be genuinely surprised about the backlash that has come in the form of the non-European world (the barbarians in need of European civilisation) contesting this colonial EU foreign policy, and taking their own steps to project their values and beliefs onto the world. The seeds of conflict are being sown!

It can be said that in this very traditional European policy there is no recognition of the genuinely different and legitimate interests of other societies. This is the fate that awaits Turkey and all from outside Europe who want to join the EU – they will have to become European and this will probably create a violent response against Europe, which will just reconfirm the European view that those in the non-European world are barbarians. Hints of this have already been seen in the aftermath of the Paris and Brussels attacks. People in Belgium actually referred to the Brussels’ terrorist as barbarians. Two days after the Brussels bombs, in The Hague, a man was sentence to 41 years in prison for war crimes and his part in the genocide of 8000 Muslim men in the Srebrenica enclave. No one called Radovan Karadzic a barbarian – he was one of us so he is a war criminal.

Let us be clear – when you start calling people barbarians, you separate, classify and begin to dehumanise them. And in doing so you are preparing people for the eventual outcome, which you will reason your way towards, because the sort of reason that is now becoming dominant in the Europeanised world is one that is devoid of any humanity, compassion and common sense. This is a path that only has one destination – it is a very European destination and you know what it is!

Efforts have been made to reform the EC, but the monster is very adept at finding ways around these reforms. The European Parliament and the Member State politicians seem to be powerless against the EC and its power grows with every new treaty that is signed.

The EC already has a currency, which is in effect the German Deutsche Mark, which is partly why the EU is now dominated by one nation – the Germans. The EC will one day have a fiscal policy under its control. It will one day have a police force under its control. It already has the beginnings of such in the form of its internal security department which investigates leaks of confidential information from EC officials. There also exists a fraud investigation body. It will one day have an army under its control as well. By that time, the National Governments will have been reduced to something similar to what in the UK we call Local Authorities, and will not have the power to resist the final step, which will be a European State, with an unelected government. Once a government with a police force and an army comes into being, that is not subject to democratic control and accountability, and which lacks a democratic ethos, it has the means to do what it wants to do – you cannot resist such a government! What will have been created is a totalitarian system that practices state control of society and economy. It will be a Union of Subservient State Republics run by an elite class of technocrats. Then the means of silencing their opponents will no longer be limited to exile.

Back in the early nineties, there was idealism in Brussels. People talked about integration, working together, about a social Europe. There was also a rejection of the idea of a Europe based upon a melting-pot where many cultures are mixed into one: people spoke about strength in diversity and they celebrated the vast cultural differences across the Member State nations. No-one has any idealist visions any more. Social Europe is dead. The idea of diversity has been abandon in favour of the meting-pot notion of a single culture. Everything now is about money, about the economy. Many people (including academics and artists) go to Brussels to gain power, influence, and to get their hands on public money, and will resort to disingenuous means to do so. The EU now pursues a neo-liberal agenda, and has abandoned the people of Europe to the power of money, just as the US government has done with its people.

I get the feeling that the people of Europe are sleepwalking once more into yet another one of those very European nightmares.

It may be that the only hope left is that China and India will find a way to balance economy and science with humanity and nature and that they will be the ones providing the future model for civilisation. I have come to the conclusion that the days of the West are drawing to an end, and that the future lies in convincing the Chinese and the Indians to walk a different path to the European world by looking to their cultural heritage as a source of new inspiration. And this is what I will now be dedicating my efforts towards, because what Europe offers is just the past masquerading as the future.

The European Commission is an affront to democracy. It is becoming a threat to democracy, liberty and the right of people to choose. The only way we can remove the European Commission (meaning Juncker and his College of Commissions and all the bureaucrats that work for them) from our lives is by voting to leave the EU. This is the circumstance that people such as Schuman and Monnet have bequeathed to us. The irony is that by seeking to avoid the past, they may have laid the foundations for the past once again to become the future, which is Europe’s history in a nutshell.

We cannot predict the future, but history does provide us with powerful lessons that we seem not to want to pay attention to. Back in 1933 if anyone had predicted what was about to happen in Europe they would have been dismissed as a lunatic. Yet knowing how Europeans have behaved since the time of the Roman Empire, and all the worst aspects of Ancient Greek beliefs that are still deeply embedded in European culture, what happened between 1933 and 1945 can be seen as the past reinvented, but on a far more destructive scale.

“Probably it is true that the very magnitude of the outrages committed by the totalitarian governments, instead of increasing the fear that such a system might one day arise in this country, has rather strengthened the assurance that it cannot happen here. When we look at Nazi Germany the gulf which separates us seems so immense that nothing that happens there can possess relevance for any possible developments in this country. And the fact that the difference has steadily become greater seems to refute any suggestion that we may be moving in similar directions. But let us not forget that fifteen years ago the possibility of such a thing happening in Germany would have appeared just as fantastic, not only to nine-tenths of the Germans themselves, but also to the most hostile foreign observers however wise they may now pretend to have been.”

The words are Hayek’s, written in 1944, and taken from the book that I have already mentioned.

Already it seems we have forgotten this recent past and are now willing to trust our future to a dictatorship of technocrats in the belief that this will not happen again. It will, but in a different form.

Now is the time to take steps to prevent this.

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