Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Hitler, the EU, and the Little Irelanders






The freebie Metro is always good for a laugh.

There has been a series of letters recently, comparing the EU to the Nazis. One comment went “the difference between the EU and Hitler is the difference between consensual sex and rape.” “Omigod!!!!!!!!”, as some of the Metro’s texters might exclaim.

Gombeen Man finds it interesting that, at a time when there are so many going on to third-level education, there has never been so much ignorance openly on display in Ireland. Perhaps the people who express such views - and we may surmise they are generally young – should open up a European history book, or maybe get something out on DVD or Blue-ray on the subject?

If they did, they would find the Third Reich and the Second World War were caused by the kind of petty, chauvinistic nationalism that they themselves espouse. In contrast, the European Project had an admirable political, as well as economic motivation. It was an antidote to the destrucive nationalism that had so nearly brought Europe to ruin.

It’s a bit sweet for the small-minded nationalist Little Irelanders, who obviously subscribe to the notion of one people and one race, to compare the EU with someone like Hitler.

Or Padraig Pearse.



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28 comments:

Bernd said...

Jayzus, Gombeenman, lighten up ... it is all a bit of light-hearted banter, eh?

To be honest, I am fed up by the ignorance both the Erse and the Brits proudly parade when it comes to the Third Reich or history in general. And dragging out Hitler as an argument is usually done by the bigoted yet moronic clueless.

The Garda has no problem in naming a police dog "Rommel" (maybe Himmler would be more fitting, though) and nationalistic Irishmen of past generations had even less problems in accepting Nazi aid (and Nazis into their country, post-1945). Dev even modelled his office along Nazi/fascist lines - taking a leaf out of the Italian and German manuals of statesmanship and translating Duce or Führer into Oirish ... as Taoiseach. This was the same de Valera who personally expressed his condolences on the death of Hitler to Eduard Hempel ... yet did not visit the US embassy upon FDR's death. And the same red-socked rebel who was so neutral that he did not allow Jewish refugees in ...

Don't get me started. Ah, you already have.

The Gombeen Man said...

That's the thing, Bernd. With the Metro it can be very hard to tell what's in earnest and what's in jest! But that one's cropped up a few times now, only without the humour of the statement I quote.

Hadn't heard of that one about the dog. As far as I know, Rommel had some kind of principles and, as a result, might not have been welcome in the Garda. I think Dev would have been a much better name!

;-

Merlin said...

I need to say, that I don`t really understand the meaning of the comment in Metro.

Anyway - I`m fed up of hearing people talking about Hitler an WW II without any background knowledge.
Or knowledge at all, because background seems to be a tall order.
`Cause sometimes it is hard to find out, if it is a "joke" or serious.

A police dog named Rommel. Really funny - need to look at my calender to find time to laugh about...

The Gombeen Man said...

Hi there, Merlin. The Metro very funny "joke" was just one of a series of comments in that paper. It was a follow-up to a letter from a guy (before Christmas, I think - and I'll swear it was in seriousness) comparing the EU with Hitler (on Lisbon).

I hadn't heard about our wonderful police force (reknowned for their intelligence and wit) naming their dog thus, until Bernd - a man who knows his stuff - mentioned it. It's something else, isn't it?

Merlin said...

Hi Gombeenman. I´m sure, it is true, that there is a dog named Rommel in the Garda. Don`t even want to know how many German Shepard called "Adolf" "Adi" or "Blondi"

May anyone be blessed not to live in a world dominated by a man like Adolf Hitler and his kamerads again, just to find out, how the EU is compared to that hell.

Hope you didn`t missunderstood my comment in the first, it was full of sarcasm.

The Gombeen Man said...

No, not at all, Merlin - your sarcasm is entirely justified!

aonghus said...

Scríobh Bernd

Duce or Führer into Oirish ... as Taoiseach

Not really. Ceann Feadhna or Ceannaire would be Duce/Führer.

It strikes me Bernd, that your using the same shallow view of history the other way around in this case! And you have your shirts mixed up a bit. Not surprising. Dev gets a bad press, greatly helped by his successors.

But using the Nazi/Communist/Imperialist/Whatever your having yourself bogey is dreadful lack of thought - on any subject.

I avoid the Metro. I find it's not worth the price.

The Gombeen Man said...

Sure let's not get hung up on Kleinigkeiten such as the correct Gaelic form for Duce/Fuhrer and shirt colours. Haven't we had one-party rule in this country for most of our history!!! ;-)

aonghus said...

And in similar circumstances. With the respectable conservatives thinking the can keep tabs on the rogues better if they put them in government.

However, that's how it is going to stay until we forget what colour shirt people wore in the 1930s and see whose pocket they are in now.

Netgeek said...

Given that Metro is reportedly owned by the “Daily Mail and General trust” Its surprising that they actually regard any alleged similarity between the Nazi's and the EU as a bad thing.

For more info on the UK and Irelands answer to Der Stürmer check out Mailwatch.co.uk or the “Daily Mail” entry on Uncyclopedia.

The Gombeen Man said...

True Aonghus. Sometimes I see being born Irish as a kind of endurance test though, as I can't help but feel that it's mainly rogues voting the same chancers in, no matter what they do!

Thanks for those links Netgeek. Very interesting indeed. The Daily Heil... oven gloves... brilliant!!!! It really is a horrible rag. I think I'd have more respect for a Sun reader. At least they don't think they're a cut above!

Netgeek said...

In fairness I reckon most Sun readers are actually aware on some level that what theyre reading is a pile of shyte and only buy it for the football/titties/free telly mag on Saturday.

The Mail and Express are far more insiduious because people tend to believe every word of it.

Anonymous said...

The suggestion I'm going to make will attract derision from some; and there is nothing original in that, may I add.

It's referred to quite a lot above that people are speaking from ignorance. Let me put this to you - we are all ignorant!

The tragedy of the Stalinist counter-revolution, the rise of fascism in Germany and the emergence of a victorious US imperialism out of WWII led to awiping of the historical slate.

All the rich history from the bourgeois enlightenment and revolutions, through the rise of a capitalism in the ascendant and the emergence of a communist workers movement leading to pitched battles between capital in terminal decline and the working class - all that knowledge and experience is largely unknown by 99% of humanity.

We just have so-called histories, raking over the minutiae of the horrors of Nazism, equating socialism/communism with Stalinism, and revering the etrnal God of present borgeois 'democracy'.

So my suggestion is: go to Trotsky and read your history. Read his writings on Geramn fascism.

Politely, very politely, I would point out that in fact we are all 'Sun Readers' in essence, because of the dire banalaties that pass for knowledge to our generation/s.

You can find the writings of classical Marxism, including Trotsky on marxists.org.

You can find the inheritors of Trotsky's struggle at Worl Socialist Web Site (wsws.org)

Kind regards, Gary

The Gombeen Man said...

Hi Gary.

Yes, I often despair when I hear people equating socialists/communists with fascists. Whatever about the monstrous Stalinist dictatorship that arose out of a distorted take on Marxist ideas - socialists never set out with the intention of eliminating a whole race.

Socialists' motivation was for the betterment of mankind. Just a pity it didn't work out though...

Gary said...

Thank you Gombeen Man for providing space for these ideas. I can't think of a more important thing to do given the danger looming for civilization as the world capitalist economy crashes.

I don't see the issue of the socialist project as one of personal motivation. Of idealists striving for a better world.

The absolute imperative to move on from the capitalist phase of our human history is an objective requirement imposed on us. Before, or outside, our thoughts. Firstly, reality exists regardless of any views we have.

Capitalism has transformed the world economy and productive forces beyond the wildest imaginings of people who lived at it's dawn. But now the very economic system that brought about the gains of the present world is offering only despair, destitution and relentless war. It now threatens the end of humanity.

The basic communist theory states that to take the gains of capitalism and progress them beyond OUR wildest imaginings, we must free the world economy from (1) the outmoded organisation of nation states, and (2) the ownership of the productive means by individuals, who seek only personal profit.

That is, we must create a truly planned world economy, owned by the world socialist state, carried out by the worldwide revolutionary movement of the mass of humanity.

This a crude description of one of the tenets of socialist thought.

I referred you to the marxists.org website not because I agree with the political outlook of the people who run it (I don't); but because it makes accessible the writings of, especially, Marx, Engels, Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky. Revolutionaries whose writings represent the most advanced developments of human understanding.

A proud and essential heritage for us today.
My pathetic comments are a sorry substitute for directly reading the program and theory of these greats.

And this struggle has been progressed in an unbroken line leading today to the international Socialist Equality Party, and it's organ, the World Socialist Web Site (wsws.org).

I shall debate these issues if you allow the space; and I promise I won't continuously refer to the above site and party in some tiresome mantra.

However, if you allow I would like to give you this link to an article I believe you should read: (http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/may2008/isra-m16.shtml) - "Israel's crisis and the historic contradictions of Zionism".
This presents a specific socialist interpretation of the very real tragedy that is the Zionist experiment.

I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Gary

The Gombeen Man said...

No problem, Gary.

You'll know my views on the nation state by now, anyway!

Where are you based, by the way? I presume in our wonderful little republic?

I'll have a look at those links when I get a chance. Don't let them grind you down.

Cheers.

GM

Anonymous said...

Hi GM

I'm from the old sod; and like most Irish people have a rather jaundiced view of the four green fields.

I grew up equating the national question with progress; and when I began to investigate socialist ideas still held this idea.

Now I beleive that nationalism is in the final analysis reactionary - regardless of the good intentions of many nationalists.

People under national oppression from a foreign power have an inherent right to defend themselves, and pursue their struggle as they see fit, But that does not mean that their approach or ideology is automatically correct. The fighters in Gaza must be defended against Zionist terror; but that doesn't mean theses fighters have a coherent way forward.

If we live in a world economy, if the poor man has no country, if patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, then these political questions have to be looked at with a cold hard eye. Ni room for maudlin sentiment. But every reason to ahave clear-sighted belief in the future, a planned world economy which will actually free humanity to be more diverse and creative than ever before.
Irish folk culture for instance is alife-enhancing force, inclusive of anyone and respectful of differing traditions, However, Irish diehard nationalists would deny this culture it's true life force and set it in aspic.
I've always been able to hear influences from English folk music in Irish musis; and that seems to me to be completeely rational (Listen to album 'Andy Irvine & Paul Brady')
I was on holiday in Crete once and remarked to aCretan how the Cretan music reminded me of Turkish Music, he was horrified, a Nationalist

Anonymous said...

It is true to say that currently any comparsions of the EU to Nazi facism are ridiculous in the extreme however to say that the European project is laudable compared to national soverignity is also naive in the extreme. The EC is a pseudo democratic institution - where the right of iniatitive or as a house of lords correctly dubbed it the "monopoly of initative" lies with unelected beauracats this power allows the commission and only the commmission to draft and submit laws (directives, regulations etc...) to the parliament for ratification (parliament votes for a law or not but can never create, sumbit for repeal or ammend a law - only vote for acceptance or not - it is a neutered body and the only body which is elected within the EU - power lies with the commission) creation and drafting of laws is handled by the commission this power normally resides with the executive of goverment (The cabinet) and currently the commission has this SOLE right for over 40 policy areas and after Lisbon will have it for over 80. If you think you are far removed from the democratic process this may look tame to what may be ahead. The Lisbon Treaty does not recitify any of the many democratic defeciencies within the EU and in fact widens it in some cases(the above mentioned is only one of many). So while advising people "should open up a European history book, or maybe get something out on DVD or Blue-ray on the subject?" you may do well to advise people to also study the structure and working of the European institutions and decide whether this is the instution (with its currrent structure)we want instead of our gombeen national structures. IMO we may well have a corrupt gombeen goverment but at least it still belongs to us and we are still close enough to it to change it with enough will. This may well not be the case for the EU.

Best Regards

The Gombeen Man said...

Thanks for your comments, folks.

First Anon: yes, I think the best way to develop a healthy distain for nationalism is to see it in the context of a country other than your own. When I lived in England, I saw it in the shape of the NF and the BNP... and it wasn't nice. But even when it's not as virulent, it's generally a pretty blinkered outlook, I feel.

Know what you mean about the folk songs... some people think Dirty Old Town is an Irish song, for instance. Written by a Mancunian, I think, as it happens. Open to correction on that detail.

Second Anon, I respect your points. But (you knew there'd be a "but") at the same time, I can't help but feel the current Irish Euroscepticism is rather unhealthy.

The Commission has existed as long as we've been part of the EU... and now I think that we Paddy's have used up their money we're suddenly becoming little Euro sceptics - ala the UK Ind Party and such reactionaries.

Another point is that national governments appoint the commissioners for five years at a pop, so the don't exist in a void. Also, EU detractors make great play about the Commission being an "unelected body" - but so is our own civil service (the EU commission is its equivalent).

Do we elect our national civil servants? How much power do they have? How much do they contribute to Government policy? How accountable are they? Answers are "no", "a lot", "a lot" and "not at all", respectively.

My personal view - and it is that - is that I'd throw my lot in with the rest of the EU than with our domestic shysters who'd still have us in the dark ages if they could get away with it.

Cheers.

Aonghus said...

aonghus said...
Also, the Commission must be approved by the Parliament.

Last I heard, the General Secretaries of Departments don't.

(Aonghus... I took the liberty of reposting your comment as it got lost when I did an edit. Sorry about that. GM)

Anonymous said...

The key argument is that if we ever decide to elect a government to draft laws to hold civil servants and politicians accountable we can do so - this is not the case for the EC as the commission holds the sole right to create a law etc..- so to compare it to a civil service is incorrect no civil service in the world holds this power, only the executive of government in any other democracy. To allow an unelected body to wield this power is crazy regardless of whether commissioners exist in a vacuum or not (which IMO they do having lived in Brussels for over 10 years and knowing first hand many people working in these institutions) To dismiss an argument out of hand based on an the discourse of your a euro sceptic ala UKIP etc.. seems to me to be in direct opposition to the point you made earlier concerning young college educated people making wild statements without the facts in hand - if you are convinced the EU is good for democracy and good for Ireland maybe an analysis of the structures and changes implemented via Lisbon would be more compelling.

Gary said...

Overcoming national borders with supra-national political organisation is a progressive thing, abstractly. In practice the European Union was only a progressive force so along as the European bourgeoisie considered limited reforms or gains FOR the ordinary person were a preferable method for maintaining the status quo.
Once the post-war boom enterd terminal decline then the bourgeoisie turned the EU into an instrument of reform FOR themselves (de-regulation,lowest common wage deniminator,....)
The EU may have lagged behind the Anglo Saxon monetarist vanguard; European profits and efficiencies may have given them an edge over the US and Britain;but as an institution it's been well and truly up to speed for quite some time now - hence the continual re-adjustments through the various treaties - all because the post-war boom has well and truly eneded for every region of the world and hysterical drive to ratchet up productivity through globalised markets is the only game in town.

Or, was the only game. That frantic speculative adventure has come down around the ears of the ruling class.

So now the only way for them to go is the destruction of all and every democratic right; of all organizations of the working class, of all the gains made since WWII, and before.

This type of rule is called fascism.

Watch carefully as the bourgeoisie move now to whip up a layer from the middle class and backward workers to use to batter down any defence organizations that develop from now.

Hence for instance the attempt to split public and private employee, and as always, of course, town an country.

Also watch closely as all the so-called orgab=nizations of the working class (Unions, Labour, Sinn Fein, 'left-wing' protest groups - work mightily to keep the struggle from developing into it's natural form - an open battle for the future, for socialism, or for fascism. For state power by the mass of humanity and the ending of private ownership of the means of production; or brute capitalist rule and the creation of a modern slavery.

Gary said...

Ewan MacColl wrote Dirty Old Town, as well as the First Time Ever I Saw Your Face; and he was born in Salford.

The discussion above about the EU bureaucracy misses the point in my view, because it does not place the developments of political/bureaucratic tools by the EU in its historical context.

Laws and institutions, and rights, are not eternal. They did not come down with Moses.

The EU apparatus has become increasingly apart from and above the people, and away from democratic control, because that is what the ruling class require, in this time of crisis.

Conversely, the struggle for the rollback of these inroads into the democratic rights of the citizenry, and for the extension of full democratic control to the whole population, is on the agenda. These rights will not fall from above; there is no eternal arbiter to whom we can appeal. They must be fought for.

Ella said...

Hi GM, Anonymous, Aonghus etc. I believe that Ireland joining the European Union has been the best thing the country has ever done. Even on a personal level I feel I have benefited greatly. As a female I didn't have to give up my job when I got married (this was the case in Ireland until we joined the European Union). I can purchase premium bonds in the UK because an Irish woman took a case to Europe as the Irish government prevented her from purchasing them (imagine their argument was that it was a lottery and they were protecting her from this form of gambling), in fact they were protecting their own version of premium bonds, called prize bonds. When I transfer money from my bank in Ireland to any country in the Euro zone I never have to pay more than 50 cent, no this is nothing to do with the generosity of the banks but Commission Regulation. I have plenty more examples where my being a citizen of Europe has been enriched by the powers that be in Europe. Below I have a few details the Commission, Parliament and Council.

The Commission is independent of national governments. Its job is to represent and uphold the interests of the EU as a whole. It drafts proposals for new European laws, which it presents to the European Parliament and the Council.

It is also the EU’s executive arm – in other words, it is responsible for implementing the decisions of Parliament and the Council. That means managing the day-to-day business of the European Union: implementing its policies, running its programmes and spending its funds.

Like the Parliament and Council, the European Commission was set up in the 1950s under the EU’s founding treaties
The European Commission has four main roles:

to propose legislation to Parliament and the Council;

to manage and implement EU policies and the budget;

to enforce European law (jointly with the Court of Justice);

to represent the European Union on the international stage, for example by negotiating agreements between the EU and other countries.

The European Parliament has three main roles:
1. Passing European laws – jointly with the Council in many policy areas. The fact that the EP is directly elected by the citizens helps guarantee the democratic legitimacy of European law.
2. Parliament exercises democratic supervision over the other EU institutions, and in particular the Commission. It has the power to approve or reject the nomination of commissioners, and it has the right to censure the Commission as a whole.
3. The power of the purse. Parliament shares with the Council authority over the EU budget and can therefore influence EU spending. At the end of the procedure, it adopts or rejects the budget in its entirety.
These three roles are described in greater detail below.
The Council has six key responsibilities:
1. To pass European laws – jointly with the European Parliament in many policy areas.
2. To co-ordinate the broad economic policies of the member states.
3. To conclude international agreements between the EU and other countries or international organisations.
4. To approve the EU’s budget, jointly with the European Parliament.
5. To develop the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), based on guidelines set by the European Council.
6. To co-ordinate co-operation between the national courts and police forces in criminal matters (see the Freedom, security and justice section).
I'm not a walking encyclopaedia but have a look at the following website for further details:
http://europa.eu/institutions/index_en.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Commission

Anonymous said...

I agree with Gary on some of the points he has made - while I agree that the beaucracy of the European Union is not the fundamental point at hand when discussing the future direction of the EU I believe it does happen to be relevant considering Lisbon 2 may well be looming. I agree however democracy is not improved through further centralisation of power, in fact my belief is - decentralisation furthers democracy where individuals are in a better position (closer to the decision making bodies) to change official policy which directly impact their lives; one look at Washington DC (the lobbying, chronism, corruption etc) makes Irish corruption look like small patatoes this is the direction I see Brussels going where lobbying groups and vested interests only need to target a select few individuals to have polocies implemented Europe wide.

In Regard to Elas points

"Passing European laws – jointly with the Council in many policy areas. The fact that the EP is directly elected by the citizens helps guarantee the democratic legitimacy of European law"

As I pointed out earlier this is spin just because parliament can pass a law i.e vote for it does not give it any real power and just because parliament members are elected in no way gaurantees the democratic legitmacy of European law.

Finally in response to
I believe that Ireland joining the European Union has been the best thing the country has ever done. Even on a personal level I feel I have benefited greatly. As a female I didn't have to give up my job when I got married (this was the case in Ireland until we joined the European Union)"

I would agree that the European Union in many respects has improved the lives of citizens through out the community in its current guise but this is not the question at hand - the question is how we want to see this institution delevop in the future and ensure it remains accountable to the public just because it has been in the past does not gaurantee it in the future it serves the interests of joe public rather then the fat cats. I believe the current route the EU is taking will ensure it will be much less accountable to the public

(aside the EU budget spending has not passed its own audit process in many years)

Ella said...

Hi GM, Anonymous, ever heard of the Court of Auditors?
The European Court of Auditors is the fifth institution of the European Union. It was established in 1975 in Luxembourg to audit the accounts of EU institutions. The Court is composed of one member from each EU member state and its current presidentis Vítor Manuel da Silva Caldeira.
Despite its name, the Court has no judicial functions. It is rather a professional external investigatory audit agency. The primary role of the court is to externally check if the budget of the European Union has been implemented correctly, in that EU funds have been spent legally and with sound management. In doing so, the court checks the paperwork of all persons handling any income or expenditure of the Union and carries out spot checks. The court is bound to report any problems in the Courts reports for the attention of other states and institutions, these reports include its general annual report as well as specific and special reports on certain bodies and issues. The Court's decision is the basis for the European Commission decisions, for example: when the Court found problems in the management of EU funds in the regions of England, the Commission suspended funds to those regions and prepared to fine those who did not come back up to acceptable standards.

In this role the Court has to remain independent yet remain in touch with the other institutions, for example a key role is the presentation of the Court's annual report to the European Parliament. It is based on this report that the Parliament makes its decision on whether or not to sign off the European Commission's handling of the budget for that year. The Parliament notably refused to do this in 1984 and 1999, the latter case forced the resignation of the Santer Commission. The Court, if satisfied, also sends assurances to the Council and Parliament that the taxpayers money is being properly used and the Court must be consulted before the adoption of any legislation with financial implications but the opinion is never binding.

I hope the Commission does remain accountable to the public in the future and I do agree that the fact it has in the past does not guarantee that it will in the future. The Irish government has never been accountable to it's electorate and many things in this country have been done on a wink and a nod and only time will tell whether this will change, but me I'd prefer place my trust in Europe (going on their track record)rather than with the Irish government.

Anonymous said...

“the difference between the EU and Hitler is the difference between consensual sex and rape.”

The difference between consensual sex and rape is considerable in my opinion. So does this not mean that the difference between the EU and Hitler is considerable. Am I missing something. I admit that the Hitler reference is cackhanded as well as the rape and sex bit but I think you've missed the point or maybe I have. Anyhoo death to the Oligarchy

The Gombeen Man said...

Yes, mate, you are quite correct - the difference is very considerable to most of us.

I think these half-wits meant that that you'd end up having sex voluntarily (EU) or involuntarily (Hitler), but you'd end up having sex. Or that the EU would ask nicely whereas AH would hope into the sack with menaces, one ball and all.

I know it's not a clever analogy, but if you read the letters page of Metro at all, you'll see that considered observation is a commodity that is notable by its absence!

Agreed! Death to the oligarchy and the builders. One and the same, come to think of it. Here's to affordable housing for the masses!!