13 February 2011

Ashton says we have "deep democracy" thanks to the EU

Unelected - by any constituency, anywhere, anytime - EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, having been turned away by the Egyptian authorities, has laid out her message in a Guardian article.

I hardly need to parse her argument - as you can see from the comments following the article, it was too hypocritical even for the lefties who read the Guardian to swallow. However, it is a very clear expression of the corporativism that is the organizing principle of the EU and as such repays study.
Two principles underpin the European Union's actions. The first is that we in Europe know how long and painful the journey towards liberty can be. Our own path to 20th century liberal democracy was a slow one. The EU itself was born in the ashes of conflicts that reminded us how terrible life can be when democracy breaks down. Add in the mixed record of Europe's empires, and some humility is in order, even as we assert that democracy is the necessary foundation of human progress.

Second, democracy is, of course, about votes and elections – but it is also about far more than that. What we in Europe have learned the hard way is that we need "deep democracy": respect for the rule of law, freedom of speech, an independent judiciary and impartial administration. It requires enforceable property rights and free trade unions. It is not just about changing government but about building the right institutions and attitudes. In the long run, "surface democracy" – people casting their votes freely on election day and choosing their government – will not survive if deep democracy fails to take root.
All very plausible, right? Except that it is a very well-drafted - not to say "deep" - excuse for the total absence of democratic oversight in the EU and for the spurious eminence of an apparatchik like Ashton. Democracy is entirely about votes and elections, and anyone who suggests otherwise is the enemy of freedom.

In the case of the foul Ashton there can be no doubt about it: she was the treasurer of the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament when its main source of funding was the KGB.

P.S. After posting the above, saw that Autonomous Mind had let go a similar broadside. I imagine I'll find a few more as I work through my RSS. Ashton's words, and her history, are compellingly revealing about the nature and intention of the European project. I feel so sorry for the peoples of Eastern Europe who have jumped from the frying pan of Soviet totalitarianism into the fire of Eurocorporativism. Same animal, different stripes. 

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