Sunday, April 03, 2005

It's Not Chicken Little Time

This past week the Establishment Spin Machine geared up to convince the French people that they should vote oui to the national adoption of the new European Constitution on May 29th. TV, radio, press: opinion from the left, persuasion from the right, exaggeration from the center. To hear the politicos and their braying media lackeys - including the fellow-traveling, fawning US mass media - one would think that the world will come to an end should the French reject the proposed Constitution.

Come off it. All the brouhaha should be put into proper perspective.

First: To their enormous and everlasting credit, Jacques Chirac and Jean-Pierre Raffarin have decided to submit the question to the people in a referendum. Bravo. Other EU countries and governments (notably Germany) have decided not to put the issue to a vote by the sovereign people, for their own reasons which their citizens have every right and duty to question. In a world where "Do what I say, not what I do" has apparently become the norm for international relations, France's decision substantially reinforces its influence on and voice in international affairs when it calls for democracy. History shall remember. Other countries should pay attention.

Second: If nothing else, French experience over the past few centuries suggests that in French eyes regimes and constitutions are relatively transient affairs: Absolute Monarchy, Revolution, First Republic, Consulat, First Empire, Restoration of the Bourbon Monarchy, Orleanist Monarchy, Second Republic, Second Napoleonic Empire, Third Republic, (Occupied Vichy Government), Fourth Republic and, today, enfin, the Fifth Republic. Whenever their form of government displeased the French, they went back to the drawing board. C'est normal.

Third: Many, many French people – left, right and center - are just not happy campers today. They're not content with their lot. They don't appreciate (in all senses of the word) the mutations their society is undergoing. Some of these changes come from national policy made in Paris (regionalization, immigration) , while others are directly attributable to the EU (free market economics, weakening of the "social model", too many countries in the EU - and more on the way, including Turkey). Even the French farmers, the beneficiaries of billions in EU subsidies and arguably the most cosseted special interest group in France, are coming out against the constitution (the latest poll shows 69% against). In the past twenty-five years, French society has changed, and not necessarily for the better (par exemple: wealth gap, unemployment, crime, sprawl, pollution) and the French don't like it. The Establishment politicos are trumpeting that the vote is about the Constitution and not about the Chirac/Raffarin government. They've missed the point: the Chirac/Raffarin administration and the Constitution appear to be branches of the same tree, one which many French people would chop down in an instant and turn into kindling with nary a qualm.

Fourth, just what would happen if France, one of the EU founding members and a mover and shaker from the word go, were to reject this Constitution ? The Establishment would have the French believe the France's role in Europe would be diminished, that France's influence would be curtailed worldwide, and that "the European dynamic" would be shattered, since rejection by one country alone is enough to cast the Constitution into the dustbin. All of this "sky is falling" à la Chicken Little nonsense is just that, in L'Amerloque's view. What would probably happen is a) the maintenance of the status quo, thank you very much, and b) the establishment of a new commission to draft another attempt at a Constitution. What harm is there in that ? Wherever is it ordained in EU rules that the initial attempt at a Constitution should be the last ? As a matter of fact, being the first country to reject the Constitution might enhance France and its people, demonstrating that they are lucid enough to recognize an unsuitable tool of progress and that they are patient enough to start back at square one for the benefit of all. France could take the lead in devising another Constitution.

If L'Amerloque were voting he'd vote non unhesitatingly. He thinks the EU is moving far too quickly and not allowing enough time for countries - and, more importantly, their people, of all ages and backgrounds - to adapt profitably to the EU. He feels that European society is being denatured at its most basic level, that its core values are being lost, and that this "constitution"- pages and pages of turgid prose which can put off the more dedicated of Europhiles (if they bother to read it, which is another story) - is not what is needed today to build Europe for Europeans, whatever their race, religion, or national origin.

This morning the French press (le Journal du Dimanche) reports the results of the latest survey of French voting intentions concerning the European Constitution. It's the sixth in a row to show a non majority (this time by 55% to 45%). As it stands today, all things being equal, there's a good chance the French will reject the Constitution. But are all things ever really equal ? The Spin Machine will take a bit of a break this week, what with events at the Vatican, and return with a vengeance after the funeral. Untruths and misstatements will be embellished and repeated, invading the airwaves and the press, while the proponents of non will have a more and more difficult time being heard.

The referendum on May 29th will be historic. By the way, May 29th, 1453 is the day that Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire. Is History sending a message down through the ages ?


Text © Copyright 2005 by L'Amerloque


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