Saturday, June 14, 2008


The Irish rejection of the EU's Lisbon Treaty is a notable people's victory in one of the most under or badly reported stories of our time: devolution vs. consolidation of global power. As military force proves an inefficient way to control places and people, power seekers have increasingly turned to other solutions such as the World Trade Organization, NAFTA, the EU and so forth. Each one of these changes has reduced local power and democracy and strengthened the position of a tiny global corporate-political elite.

NY TIMES The defeat of the treaty, by a margin of 53.4 percent to 46.6 percent, was the result of a highly organized "no" campaign that played to Irish voters' deepest visceral fears about the European Union. For all its benefits, many people in Ireland and in Europe feel, the union is remote, undemocratic and ever more inclined to strip its smaller members of the right to make their own laws and decide their own futures. The repercussions of Friday's vote are enormous, for Ireland and for Europe. To take effect, the treaty must be ratified by all 27 members of the European Union. So the defeat by a single country, even one as tiny as Ireland, has the potential effect of stopping the whole thing cold. . . "Europe as an idea does not provoke passionate support among ordinary citizens," said Denis MacShane, a Labor member of the British Parliament and a former minister for Europe. "They see a bossy Brussels, and when they have the chance of a referendum in France, the Netherlands or Ireland to give their government and Europe a kick, they put the boot in," he added in an interview, referring to earlier defeats of similar agreements in similar referendums.

IRISH TIMES - "Ratification will continue and either Ireland votes again or we try to come up with a new text, something on which 27 countries will simply not be able to agree," said a senior government source. . .

Sources close to Mr Sarkozy said there were only two solutions: for the Irish to vote again, or for an as yet undefined legal mechanism to bind Ireland to EU institutions if Ireland does not ratify the treaty.

While Dr Merkel was conciliatory, her coalition partners, the Social Democrats, were more blunt. The party's foreign minister, Frank Walter Steinmeier, said the result was a "severe setback" while a party colleague called it a "catastrophe".

"With all respect for the Irish vote, we cannot allow the huge majority of Europe to be duped by a minority of a minority of a minority," said Axel Schäfer, SPD leader in the Bundestag committee on EU affairs.. . .

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano was equally critical, calling for states obstructing integration to be left out of the EU. "Now is the time for a courageous choice by those who want coherent progress in building Europe, leaving out those who despite solemn, signed pledges threaten to block it," he said in a statement.

One of the leaders of the No campaign, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, said the Taoiseach now had to go back and renegotiate. Ireland was "the only state that allowed a referendum and that's to our credit", he said.

SAM SMITH, SHADOWS OF HOPE, 1994 - If one wishes to find a real Clinton foreign policy, such places as Bosnia, Somalia and the UN are the wrong places to look. The real Clinton foreign policy is simply this: there are no foreign countries any more, there are only undeveloped markets. The slogan has become "Make quarterly earnings growth, not war!" Trade has replaced ideology as the engine of foreign affairs.

At one level this should be celebrated, since it is far less deadly. On the other hand, this development also means that politics, nationhood and the idea of place itself is being replaced by a huge, amorphous international corporate culture that rules not by force but by market share. This culture, in the words of French writer and advisor to Francois Mitterand Jacques Attali, seeks an "ideologically homogenous market where life will be organized around common consumer desires."

It is a world that will become increasingly indifferent to local variation. Marshall Blonsky, writing of the Disneyland outside of Paris, notes the absence of Babar. And when Attali speaks of American influence he says:

"We have to build a word which would be 'New York-Hollywoodization.' because we are not Americanized in the sense that we are not going to be closer to St. Louis, Mo., or some place else. These countries are far from us and we are far from them. They are less in advance, less influencing than New York and Hollywood."

Here is a world in which Babar loses out to Mickey Mouse in France and where a sophisticated Frenchman speaks of St. Louis -- but not Hollywood or Manhattan -- as a foreign country. It is the world of what Blonsky calls International Man.

International man -- and he is mainly just that -- is unlocalized. He wears a somewhat Italian suit, perhaps a vaguely British regimental tie, a faintly French shirt and shoes -- says international man Furio Columbo, president of Fiat USA -- "with an element of remembering New England boats and walking on the beach." As Blonksy puts it, "You self-consciously splice genres, attitudes, styles."

International man thrives in Washington. At the moment you call, though, he may well be in Tokyo, Bonn or London sharing with colleagues who are nominally Japanese, German or British their common heritage in the land of the perpetually mobile.

It is this unnamed country of international law, trade and finance, with its anthem to "global competition in the first half of the 21st century," that is increasingly providing the substance and the style to our politics. It is their dual citizenship in America and in the Great Global Glob that characterizes the most powerful among us, now more than ever including even our own political leaders.

International man dreams of things like NAFTA and GATT and then gets them passed. And he knows that he, as a corporate executive or licensed professional, will pass quickly through Mexican customs in his somewhat Italian suit and shoes with a hint of a New England beach because the agreement he helped to draft and pass has declared him entitled to such consideration. The union worker, the tourist from St. Louis, are, under the new world order, from far countries and so it will take awhile longer. It is the policy of International Man, a policy that brings Mexico City ever nearer and starts to make St. Louis a stranger in its own land.


At June 14, 2008 1:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Irish voters opposing the globalization agenda are being met with the same vituperation and scorn that Ralph Nader's supporters have dealt with. It's quite revealing how little respect the elite hold for democracy, when the people vote against the elite agenda. Call it "Democracy for Bullies." Here are a couple of comments from Irish voters on the matter:

-Yes brilliant result.
I couldn’t make it home to vote, (and Ireland won’t allow it’s citizens to vote at an embassy while abroad), but managed to persuade my mother to go and vote no. Seems like Barroso, Sarkozy and Brown are saying nothing has changed and are still trying to plough ahead with other countries ratifying the Constitution / Treaty. The Bilderberg agenda won’t take no for an answer.

-Just listening to Irish radio online; the whining and vindictiveness of the YES losers is just breath-taking. For all cant about “European Democracy”, they have a thinly veiled - make that unveiled - contempt for the NO voters. And they affect surprise at the result……

-This is a great result. However, we also voted NO to the Nice treaty. The government’s solution? Ten months later, they ran the referendum a second time, this time winning a YES vote. Apparently it takes EU supporters a bit longer to get out of bed in the morning. I expect a similar tactic this time.
You wouldn’t believe the debates on Irish radio about this - I endured more than my fair share. Yes supporters would throw up multiple strawmen, ad hominems and assorted fallacies, while many on the NO side are far-right or far-left kooks. One of the most pathetic arguments for YES was the idea that Ireland should “be grateful to Europe”. So much for the brave little booming country, finally taking its place among the great nations. Our politicians are still just a bunch of creepy, forelock-tugging peasants.


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