For all the talk about cooperation in the context of this grand European experiment, the system as it has been set up clearly was not designed to serve as a means for collaboration. It is, however, a perfect instrument for top-down decision making. After all, if this was all about collaboration why would Brussels have to impose its will on 500 million people? That very notion is fundamentally non-collaborative; it is in fact oppressive.
At the root of this, then, it’s worth doing a little thought experiment by asking yourself this question: what gives a bunch of bureaucrats the right to tell people what to do or not to do with their bodies and property? Accepting that state of affairs relegates your status to that of a slave with those paper pushers as your masters. As long as no aggression is committed against another individual or property you should be free to live life as one sees fit. This is, in short, the argument of natural rights or natural law; the understanding that rights are not gifts from government but have been here as long as humans have lived and are way older than governments.
So what are the practical ramifications of this line of thinking? Rather than wander off into a debate of “limited government” versus no government, which could add several thousands of words to this article, let’s focus here on the decentralization of power. As it turns out, historical examples of this phenomenon are rampant, whether it take the form of outright secession or something a little more mild. Just consider the U.S. War of Independence, or in more recent times, the Irish’ fight against the British just a few decades ago. In 1905 Norway peacefully seceded from Sweden.
This concept has not been confined to “the West” either; the Koreans and Chinese fought off imperial Japanese forces in different eras, and Singapore peacefully seceded from Malaysia in 1965. Consider also the breaking up of Latin-America into many different nation states after the Spanish were defeated, or the plight of the people in Georgia and Chechnya battling an army that way outnumbers them to defend or gain their independence.
Though perhaps easily overlooked, contemporary examples of decentralization abound, too; Belgium is divided into Flanders and Wallonia, Spain has Catalonia, Basque Country spans parts of Spain and France and four different countries make up the United Kingdom – at least for now, while we await the Scottish referendum on independence.
In the United States talk of secession has been going on in different states including Maryland, Colorado, and Texas in recent years. Just over the border in Canada, Quebec has a more autonomous status than other provinces and in Asia Hong Kong, Tibet, Taiwan, and Sri Lanka come to mind. It all goes to show that decentralization of power has stood the test of time and is supported in different cultures across national borders and continents; not just some pie-in-the-sky idea dreamed up by a bunch of idealists.
A favorite among tyrants and statists alike, EU apologists will undoubtedly use the perceived threat of foreign aggression as an excuse to keep supporting the beast that is devouring our liberties. This kind of attitude was especially prevalent in the wake of the NSA scandal, fueling the argument that “we need a European superstate to defend against other super powers” like the United States. Never mind the fact that Dutch, German, and British intelligence agencies were caught exchanging data with the National Security Agency! Who wouldn’t feel safer if those agencies merged to form one giant European surveillance system that could track our every move?
Another oft-heard argument in defense of the European Union that stems mostly from misinformation and fear-mongering is the idea that it has brought peace. In making this argument it is conveniently forgotten that one of the leading causes of many a war, including the two World Wars, is economic nationalism. While it is true that we have not seen military conflict inside EU borders, this observation is not nearly enough to establish a causal relationship. After all, not every century saw massive military conflicts that left millions dead, and a major reason for that is the free circulation of goods, free offering of services, free movement of financial capital, and free migration that prevailed before the dawn of economic nationalism and socialism. Europe’s most peaceful century, between the Napoleonic Wars and WWI, was one characterized by free trade and one in which passports as used today were virtually unheard of (they didn’t start circulating until the early 20th century).
Given the interdependence that naturally resulted from such (economic) ties that went beyond borders, it only made sense for people to want the kind of stability only peace can bring. Yet today’s EU apologists would declare this impossible on a continent so “divided” it would allow for many independent cities (in Flanders, Germany, Northern Italy), small kingdoms (Bavaria, Saxony) and republics (Venice)! Nonetheless, their lack of historical knowledge and understanding should not keep the rest of us from making the case against the European Union.