Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Emotional Over Europe. 18th June 2003.

I find it hard to get worked up about the European debate these days. The argument has so long ago been won, the Euro-fanatics are so impervious to reason, there is so little we can do, that I no longer see why I should take risks with my blood pressure. That may change if the Government surpasses its own previous Stalinism by ignoring the result of the Daily Mail referendum, but, for the time being, I have little to say.

There is one thing, however, that I will comment on, and that is the claim, made sometimes by Euro-fanatics over here, more often by foreigners in vox populi clips, that the British are terribly “emotional” about the single currency & the European Constitution, & about European questions generally – a claim invariably made in a patronising tone, with a pitying, bemused expression that cries out to be wiped off the face with a fist. The Europeans, it is implied, are more hard-headed & grown-up.

This, I am glad to say, still makes me angry. I am angry just thinking about it. It is just SUCH UNUTTERABLE CRAP. Let me explain why, in terms simple enough for even a bemused Euro-fanatic.

There is nothing wrong with being emotional. Here I have in mind a rather greater “European” than Valery Giscard d’Estaing, namely Aristotle, who pointed out that all emotions had their appropriate objects. It is right to feel love for one’s children, pride in good work, anger at injustice. Emotions are wrong only when they are felt about the wrong things. Feeling the right emotions about the right things, far from being a sign of immaturity, is a sign of being grown up. There is no absolute dichotomy between emotion & reason: on the contrary, those who are never emotional about anything must often be missing the point.

The question is whether British Euro-sceptics are emotional about something that merits it. From the point of view of the dishonest kind of Euro-fanatic who pretends that the single currency is purely an economic issue or the Constitution a tidying-up exercise, then of course the answer is, “No.” But the dishonest Euro-fanatic is obviously wrong: participants in the single currency give up political control over their interest rates & public spending, and signatories to the Constitution give up political control of their laws & foreign policy, among other things. These are worth getting emotional about: they are questions of independence, of freedom, & we are right to be impatient of limits on our freedom. Most countries have a better idea how to govern themselves than any foreign country has; few know how to govern foreign countries well. If we want to be as well governed as possible, we must, therefore, concentrate on governing ourselves & forget about governing others. That means getting out of the E.U.

If reason is on our side, then it must be against the Euro-fanatics – which prompts the question why they think as they do. When they are forced into making a positive case, it becomes clear that they cleave to a sentimental vision of European brotherhood, invulnerable to argument, indifferent to national interest, heedless of history. They are, in other words, guided by emotion, & inappropriate emotion at that.

So, all you smug Eurocreeps out there who look down your noses at us – whom are you calling emotional, punk?


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