The United States also has a myth. Theirs is that they are a freedom loving nation keen to help foreign people defy their oppressors. Yet even at the height of the cultural rebellion of peace and love in 1967 the United States was propping up oppressive dictators all over the world.
I guess the lesson is that leaders have a tendency to arrogance and disconnection from the people over which they hold power and therefore strong democratic institutions are required and this brings me to another topic that has been in the news recently: The European Union.
I have been in two minds about the idea of greater integration of the states of the EU. I am quite attracted to the idea yet I can see that the EU is not democratic and is, to a great extent, corrupt. The fact that auditors have not been able to sign off the EU accounts should ring major alarms bells yet politicians such as Neil Kinnock have dismissed this as unimportant.
To my mind democratic rights and institutions are won from those in power by bitter struggle and it is far easier to give them up than it is to regain them. For this reason I am becoming more sceptical about the EU. The people’s of the EU were given the chance to vote on a constitution and they rejected it. This constitution was itself a nonsense as it was far too long and complicated. Citizens of the EU cannot be expected to understand this kind of bureaucratic waffle. A constitution should be more akin the The United States Bill of Rights. Short and simple. Something that the common people can understand and support.
The peoples of the EU rejected the constitution but this was not accepted by the leaders who rewrote the constitution as a treaty and tried to push again. This is corruption. This is the leaders of the EU forcing their views on the people. If they are willing to do this kind of thing then how can we trust them?
Were the EU to democratise then perhaps the EU could be trusted but the problems with making the EU more democratic is the vested interests of the existing governments. British Eurosceptic MPs may criticise the EU for it’s lack of democracy but they make no efforts to democratise the EU because this would mean a dilution of their own power.
We’re back to the same themes.
- Leaders love power and cannot be trusted
- The control for this is strong democratic institutions
- Strong democratic institutions are difficult to build but easy to destroy
- The EU does not have strong democratic institutions
- Therefore the EU should not be given power