Back in 1992 I believed in the concept of European Union. When my fellow Englishmen muttered about loss of culture, I’d suggest that the Spanish, Italians and French were probably quite keen to hang on to theirs too.
I could happily live with the idea of a massive Brussels bureaucracy, because employees all over Europe were being awarded long-overdue rights. Alongside those came Human Rights, recognition of the needs of children and women, and a Court of Human Rights.
I was seduced by the humanitarian wrapping paper, which promised so much compassion.
Now I’m beyond disappointed to discover that inside the box was a raging behemoth, blinded by greed and avarice, burdened by cowardice and its own amorality.
This EU now trades filthy promises of visa-free travel with Turkey’s corrupt regime, so that refugees who have risked their childrens’ lives to reach free soil can be sent back on boats to Turkey, whence they fled.
I want nothing to do with any organisation that officially traffics the most vulnerable, visiting yet more terror upon them.
If that is the best solution the mighty European Union can come up with, they and we should be ashamed of ourselves. Imagine how we might perceive the US today if those two million Irish had been sent back to starve in the famine?
Supposedly a proud defender of democratic values, one might hope that at least this conglomerate of nations is eager and able to offer peace and human rights to their own member states. Yet the EU has utterly failed to protect sovereign Ukraine from invasion by Russia.
It poured scorn on the democratic wishes of Greek people, just as it ignored Irish voters’ rejection of both the Nice Treaty and the Treaty of Lisbon. It does nothing at all to defend basic human rights being trashed by recent right-wing regimes in Poland and Austria.
Imposing war-level austerity on Europe’s weakest and poorest, the EU sanctioned debt relief for billionaire speculators, while forcing poor uncle Colm in Carrick-on-Shannon to cough up for a 500% increase in the price of each prescription item.
A year ago all my instincts would sing of the UK voting to remain. Brexit will rock asunder both the currencies in which I deal. It will damage Irish trade and industry and yet now I know that really, it makes no difference.
Over the last four decades power has drifted from nations to corporations. Once governments lead from the front, or ‘governed’ as it used to be known. Now all they can do is react to outside forces.
There’s no room for ideology when it’s all about responding to the markets, the price of oil, the arenas of war and anything and everything that makes you and me feel detached and unheard.
Add to that process the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and you realise just how profoundly we now live in a post-democratic world.
Originally an obscure trade agreement, TTIP will have a massive impact upon our lives. Creating the world’s largest ‘free trade zone’ it will open Europe’s public health, education and water services to privatisation and sale to US companies.
EU standards on food safety and the environment will resemble their US versions, where 70% of all processed foods sold in supermarkets contain GM ingredients, grown in poorly regulated US industries.
Jobs will be lost, along with Trade Union rights, but even more disturbing, corporations will have the right to sue countries for loss of profits. As reported in this colyoom months ago, we already have the obscene example of Swedish energy company Vattenfall.
After the terrifying Fukushima disaster in Japan, the Germans decided to cut plans for building nuclear power plants. For this eminently sensible and democratically popular decision, the German government are now being sued for billions of dollars, for loss of future profits, by an unelected private corporation.
This is how the world works now.
While Boris and his band of Brexiteers cry passionately about sovereignty, they love the markets and capitalism more, so while bemoaning the UK’s loss of influence in the EU, they sign up, with dribbling anticipation, for a treaty allowing fundamental changes to be made without interference from any pesky democratic process.
As old-style Western Democracy twitches in its death throes, unable to reinvent itself, the people of the Western World struggle to feel represented by our leaders, seeking the comfort of ideologues such as Sanders and Corbyn, and the rhetoric of demagogues like Trump and Johnson.
The days when a charismatic President, Prime Minister or Taoiseach sat astride a united and visionary government that imposed progress and improvement on its own people are gone.
Trump is the vanguard of a new and unhappy marriage between profit and parliament, which will inevitably be visited upon us too one day.
The time has come for governments to better reflect this brash new corporate world. Our human rights, now called ‘Customer Service Pledges’ will be enshrined in constitutions henceforth known as ‘National Mission Statements.’
Then we each can be given our own customer helpline number and feel a part of the process of government once again.
©Charlie Adley 22.05.16.