Saturday 28 June 2008

Anti-EU by any other name

By the way, I have wondered at the widespread acceptance of the ‘Euroscepticism’ as the label people use, whose attitude reveals nothing sceptic. No doubts, no uncertainty, no open minds. After reading a lot of these outpourings, I am beginning to think that the ‘Eurosceptic’ in search of truths has yet to be born.

Thus, the label is woolly and misleading. Let’s call a spade a spade.

The early constitutional history of the United States saw the debate between Federalists and anti-Federalists. Let people who identify with Europe be called Europeans, pro-Europeans or pro-EU, and let the people who want to wreck the European Union be called by the most objective term available: anti-EU.

(Some of them, for reasons yet to be verified, deny that they are anti-Europeans. They are only vehemently against Europe’s common institutions and manifestations)


Another healthy distinction would be to see EU detractors clearly define what they are against (if a viable programme for anything proves too demanding).

Do they want to dismember the European Union completely, or would they be content to see their own country secede from the EU?

If they have nothing against the vast majority of Europeans deepening European integration, these campaigners could redirect their energies towards secession. With a sharper focus they could perhaps improve their chances of success.

Actually, if their ideals are the ‘free nations of Europe’, why not let the other free nations decide for themselves on cooperation and common action, without insult or injury?

Traders (and nations of shopkeepers) want to keep their customers happy and engage in profitable relations with their providers, don’t they?

Why cause a lot of aggravation, if they only want to live happily ever after behind their moat?

Ralf Grahn


  1. No Ralf. You are pro-EU or as we say, europhiliac.

    We are as you say not eurosceptics at all, but EU-opponents, but as the media uses the term eurosceptic, we get stuck with it.

    The idea from our opponents is that we have doubts, are not sure etc.

    We are totally sure we don't want the EU. As you say, the term is wrong.

    But don't play the Europe trick. We are pro-Europe - as a continent of democracies free trading. It is you who are anti-Europe and wish to destroy its current democratic way of life.

  2. If you are so sure that Europeans desire the EU, why do you not permit them to vote on that?

    You are deluding yourself that your programme of EU integration is popular.

    Please understand. In Britain only 29% of voters want the EU as it is. The rest either want total withdrawal as I do, or they want a free trading relationship with no political relationship.

    I am pro-Europe, as it could be - fast-growing, informed, free, confident - not the corrupt and naive structure that hangs around and destroys the way of life of millions of free people.

    I was born free. I intend to die free. That's why I and millions like me are leaving. I will only return if the UK gets out of the EU. Otherwise my children will grow up in another part of the world as free people, not European serfs.

  3. That is an excellent suggestion. I especially like the idea of using anti-Europe as a label for people like tapestry.

    I am only an unimportant guy with an blog nobody reads, but I will try to implement your suggestion.

  4. Tapestry,

    I am glad that you clearly admit that you are anti-EU.

    You don't have to be stuck with what the media choose for you. Label yourself anti-EU long enough and even they are going to notice.

    But if your (only) aim is to make Britain secede, you wouldn't have to use your resources on vituperating the European Union.

    My suggestion, as you may have noticed, is for the citizens of Europe to get to vote regularly on the officeholders and the course of the EU.

    If your pro-Europeanness is only among 'democracies free trading', what is so European about it?


    If I understand correctly, there could now be three of us - almost a landslide in a few short hours.


  5. Good post! Indeed, the label "Euroscepticism" is misleading.

    Not only is it difficult to argue with somebody who is not really "skeptic" but actually "anti-EU"; it is also hard to be skeptical and pro-EU at the same time...

  6. rz, it is you who is anti-europe. I am pro-Europe. You wish to destroy 27 democracies and replace them with one bureaucracy. That will destroy the Europe that could have been.

    But never mind. I don't expect you to understand. Your mind is already closed.

  7. I quite agree, Ralf! Anti-Europeans or Europhobes are the two words I use all the time to describe blogs like The Tap Blog or EU Referendum. I often wonder whether those with such views would rather pull Britain out of Europe and somehow add it to the United States...perhaps tapestry could provide the answer?

    And tapestry, pro-Europeans EMPHATICALLY do not want to destroy the European democracies to replace them with one bureaucracy. We—or at least I—want to create a constitutional government at the European level, so that we have the means to defend ourselves and our way of life from malign foreign powers in the coming century.

    There is absolutely no reason whatsoever why a European Union cannot be a parliamentary federation, with as much—or more, in Britain’s case—democratic accountability than the existing European states. The great task is for all of us to create it. That is a monumental project, but one that should, if we succeed, provide inspiration for countless generations, both young (like mine), and those who come after us...

  8. James Rogers,

    Anti-EU (blog, campaigner, group or whatever) is an exact term, and the one I usually use, too.

    Europhobe or anti-European are a bit more complicated, because it is convenient to speak of Europe, although there are countries outside the European Union and that the geographical boundaries run somewhere along the Urals.

    This is the same phenomenon as shorthand expression America, when we mean the USA, forgetting Canada, Central and Latin America.

    Usually, the meaning is clear enough from the context.

    But I have seen angry retorts from anti-EU writers, who say that they are certainly not anti-Europeans.

    I don't remeber any convincing reasons given for what their pro-Europeanness (or neutrality) entails.

    Perhaps they like continental travel, French food, Spanish Rioja or the sights of Tuscany.

    But since they resist being called anti-Europeans, I have usually respected that wish, although highly unsure of if it is the right choice, given their often vehement rejection of all Europe as a political project and of a common citizenry stands for, in other words the aspirations common to governments, parliaments and in most cases, by the way of accession referendums, citizens of Europe.

    Europhobe and Europhile are opposites, and the reasoning about Europe applies, in my view.

    But it is not easy to be logical. Tapestry, for instance, called me pro-EU or europhiliac, but seemed to resist the notion that he is europhobic or anti-European.

    Should we call this asymmetrical wordfare?

    You take up the central issue of parliamentary democracy at a higher (EU) level.

    It is interesting that many anti-EU campaigners seem to be forced to a) decry the lack of democracy at the EU level, and b) resist every step towards democratic EU level governance.

    Nobody, who has understood anything about European history would contend that the present nation states (and their mixes of populations) were instituted in Heaven.

  9. "... why not let the other free nations decide for themselves on cooperation and common action, without insult or injury?"

    I nearly choked on my tea when I read that!

    Mere governments don't constitute nations! And nations whose governments willfully and repeatedly deny their people a voice are not "free".

    The peoples of both France and Holland "decided for themselves" three years ago and they said NO.
    The Danish people when asked, decided for themselves, and they said NO.

    And the Irish people have decided for themselves" TWICE and have said NO.

    What good has it done them??

    And isn't it also highly likely that were the British people asked to decide for themselves, that they'd also stick two fingers up?

    Why don't you get it? What's so hard to understand?

    The reason freedom-loving people hate the EU is NOT because it is "European" but because it is ANTI-democratic.

    It's simple!

    And it's no good promising to restore "democracy" only IF, and AFTER we all sign up to The Programme. Proper democracy doesn't work like that.

  10. JO,

    I am glad that you survived your morning tea.

    You may have noticed, but you may fail to understand, that I am a proponent of EU level parliamentary democracy, democratic legitimacy and accountability.

    Anti-EU campaigners repeatedly fail to explain their relationship to representative democracy.

    Are you a supporter of representative democracy?

    Are you in favour of direct democracy (referenda)? If so, on which generally applicable principles?

  11. Ralf, how on earth can you have parliamentary legitimacy and proper democracy without a proper mandate from the people?
    You just can't!

    How can it be democratic to force upon the peoples of Europe a parliament which will be working towards a political agenda the people haven't been asked to approve?
    It isn't! It's tantamount to tyranny and it's WRONG.

    I am a passionate believer in proper, effective representative democracy. I don't think that a system of direct .. or consultative .. democracy would work in Britain. BUT .. when it comes to CHANGES in the very MANNER IN WHICH THEY ARE GOVERNED (and there can no longer be any doubt that this treaty DOES have "constitutional" implications) .. then the people MUST give their consent (and most especially when successive polls in Britain, over many years, have consistently shown they are clamouring for it!)

    I believe in the Nation State, Ralf. And the right of a sovereign people to govern themselves according to their own laws made in their own parliament by their own properly and democratically elected representatives; representatives they can kick out after 4 years if they screw up. This isn't "moat-thinking" or "isolationism"; it's a realisation that anything larger than the nation-state simply cannot sustain proper democracy.

    And before I am accused of it, this does not make me a "jack-booted nationalist" .. it makes me a democrat.

  12. The term Euroscepticism seems to imply that people might change their opinion if they receive more information or engage further with the EU.

    Anti-Europe or Europhobe on the contrary seems to imply that people have made up their minds.

    The reason I tend to use Euroscepticism as opposed to anti-EU is because I believe that many Eurosceptics are not actually wholly against the EU. They are disengaged and disgruntled but if we make the effort to engage them then they might start feeling more positive towards the EU.

    It's a bit idealistic but if we call a spade a spade then terms like anti-European as well as Eurosceptic should be part of our repertoire.

  13. JO,

    You have perhaps failed to notice that I accept a pan-EU referendum on the new European Union, based on its citizens according to the principles of representative democracy.

    However, I do not agree with your dogmatic condemnation of the concept of a higher level of democratic rule (EU), when clearly the political challenges have become more international and even global.

    Your arguments could be voiced by a tribal leader against the emergence of the nation state, or conversely be utilised to propagate secession to the tiniest unit imaginable (like an island of one).

    Some thought should be given to the appropriate level to effectively deal with present and future challenges.

  14. Fabian Guy Neuner,

    I admit that there are people who are doubtful of the purposes and practices of the European Union. They can be called Eurosceptics, if they actively search for answers.

    In practice, however, it is misleading to speak of Eurosceptics, when speaking of people who in reality propagate the dissolution of the European Union.

    Better if we and they label them as they are: anti-EU.

  15. Hello Ralf: I agree that ‘anti-Europeans’ may not be the best phrase, regarding accuracy, but it is more powerful rhetorically. Mud sticks, and deploying this term presents people opposed to European integration as petty minded. A similar dynamic is at play with the term ‘anti-American’...many people are not opposed to the United States as such, but rather the American government, or certain aspects of American society. But by branding them ‘anti-American’ they are immediately discredited, and presented as a bunch of lunatics. Really, then, pro-Europeans must become ‘Euro-realists’ (for further integration is the only realistic option) and those hostile to the European Union must be known as ‘anti-Europeans’.

    And in any case, I fear that those opposed to further European integration—and the European Union in particular—are motivated by more deeply rooted fears of the rest of Europe anyway...especially in the United Kingdom!

  16. Why not let the People decide??? That would be too easy.


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