There are more than a few similarities between the newly forged federal Europe and the former Soviet Union.
It is quite ironic that only 30 years after the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of Soviet communism, a new tyranny has risen, predicated on the same failed centralist political tactics tried and tested in the old Soviet Union. Just ask Russia how that worked out. And yet with the recent debt crisis spreading across Europe, the problem with centralism as a model has been illustrated yet again, since it is now apparent to all watching that a supranational central bank that sets uniform interest rates and controls the liquidity of an entire continent is unable to contain major dislocations and financial disruptions in member states. The financial contagion that resulted from European debt defaults, most notably in the case of Greece, has prompted calls for yet more centralization. Factions inside the European Commission are discussing proposals to make defaulting states “wards” of the Commission, effectively ending national sovereignty for indebted states. Each “ward” would be assigned a budget officer who would oversee spending in the geographical area under his or her direction. How is this to be tolerated on a continent that once prized freedom and accountable, democratic government? American victory in World War II seems overshadowed by the willful acquiescence to despotic rule which now characterizes European political organization. The world watches with bated breath as European nations line up to surrender precious, historic freedom to Brussels. And Greece, the cradle of democracy, is next on the menu.
The parallels between the Soviet Union and the European Union are undeniable.
The unelected European Commission acts as supreme legislator, ipso facto, the politburo. [See the text of the Lisbon Treaty as amended, specifically the provisions dealing with the powers of the Commission]. As a matter of fact, there is no higher power than the European Commission. Unlike the separation of powers found in the political organization of the United States, or the two-tiered system of checks and balances found in the legislative structure of the former United Kingdom, the European Commission can revise, edit, repeal, remake, and remand laws passed by the duly elected representatives of the European people. This process has been allegedly improved with a procedure called “co-decision,” but the wind still blows from Brussels. When all is said and done, assuming the European Parliament is uncooperative, the Commission can simply rule by fiat, and implement policy via regulation, which is immediately binding in all member states.
And far from a traditional democratic body, the European Parliament is a publicity stunt, elected through a “list” system that minimizes poplar choice. People vote for a party list, eliminating competitive elections, very similar to the one vote, one candidate Soviet system. If candidates on the list are not representative of local tastes, citizens will have no recourse but to vote for another party, which presents its own challenges. In essence, the European Parliament fulfills the role of the former Supreme Soviet, backing the policy prescriptions of the Politburo and giving a democratic face to the European Union (EU).
And eerily similar to the Soviet approach of divide and conquer, hundreds of artificial regions have replaced traditional provinces and counties on a host of policy questions, and these abstract constructs answer directly to Brussels, ipso facto Soviet Socialist Republics (SSRs). In point of fact, regional governments can now compete independently of national parliaments for European Union (EU) funds, neutering national sovereignty and creating new financially-driven loyalties that supersede questions of national patriotism.
The centrality of regionalism to the EU agenda is embodied in “Framework” regulation 2052/88 instituted by regional visionary Jacques Delors during his time as European Commission President: it provides a swift means of delivering regulation upon the subject peoples of Europe without the filtering mechanism of national parliaments. As regulations, apart from directives, instantly become law in EU member states without parliamentary scrutiny, it makes sense to have European administrative units that are charged with the implementation of European policy.
The Delors regulation made it lawful in all EU member states for regional authorities, which were a requirement after the Single European Act, to deal directly with Brussels on a host of issues without consulting with, or working with, national parliaments. The Treaties of Amsterdam and Maastricht even gave regional authorities an advisory role in all EU legislation, regulations, and directives. Currently, the EU’s end-run around national parliaments only extends to “structural funds,” which encompasses most economic issues. But as “EU law takes primacy over the law of member states,” there would be little, if any, recourse for national parliaments following new regulations that expanded on the current EU practice of benign neglect.
Joseph Stalin once observed that people will more readily surrender sovereignty to vague regional entities with which they have more in common, than to an abrasive and offensive world authority. In his 1912 essay “Marxism and the National Question,” Joseph Stalin maintained that “regional autonomy is an essential element in the solution of the national problem.” The 1936 Official Program of the Communist International proclaimed:
The world dictatorship can be established only when the victory of socialism has been achieved in certain countries or groups of countries, when the newly established proletarian republics enter into a federative union with the already existing proletarian republics…[and] when these federations of republics have finally grown into a World Union of Soviet Socialist Republics uniting the whole of mankind under the hegemony of the international proletariat organized as a state.
European nations have already been consigned to the ashbin of history with the ratification of Lisbon, which took effect Dec. 1, 2009, but residual national feelings will still have to be contended with. Regional division offers the best hope of defusing national patriotism. And the sky is the limit now that national parliamentary vetoes have been replaced with Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) in vital matters of domestic importance. Even QMV is a joke. See this excerpt from protests held in the supposedly democratic European Parliament in response to the willful disregard of the European people after the widespread rejection of the proposed federal European Constitution in referenda.
Eastern Europe tasted liberty for a brief moment and has been plunged back into the darkness of despotism once more. The tragedy is unbearable. An ideological curtain has descended across the Atlantic. The only question remaining is, does America have the stomach for another Cold War?