#2: What does it mean? – “Non” & “Nee”

2005-06-05

Richard Moore

Friends,

In yesterday's posting, I argued that the BBC article was
trying to downplay the real reason for the No vote, which I
characterized as being the neoliberal economics issue. I'd
like to apologize for over-simplifying the situation - I wrote
that piece late at night. There are many other important
issues, besides neoliberalism, that are being intentionally
downplayed - the increased militarization of the EU being
perhaps the most obvious. And upon reflection, I think the
'real' reasons for the rejection are broader than just
neoliberalism.  Before going on to our next sample article,
I'd like to comment a bit further on the material we've
already seen.

Consider the BBC's first suggested reason, "Dissatisfaction
with the current French government", which I characterized as
an attempt to attribute the No vote to "internal French
politics".  In fact, I overlooked here an important theme in
the EU propaganda program. On an ongoing basis, not just in
response to the No vote, the European media consistently spins
the news so as to confuse, in a certain way, the distinction
between EU issues and domestic issues. I'll use Ireland as an
example.

Two problems that concern most Irish citizens are the
under-funding of education, and of health care. Class sizes
are too large; school buildings are deteriorating; waiting
lists in hospitals are too long; patients are often left on
gurneys because no bed is available, etc. In the 'public
debate' on these issues - i.e., the media articles which are
critical of these inadequate conditions - the blame is always
placed at the door of the Minister of Education or Health.
They are blamed for "not solving the problem".

What is not mentioned is that these ministers have no ability
to solve these problems - due to EU-mandated budgetary
constraints. Also not mentioned is the fact that these kind of
'domestic Irish problems' are also problems throughout the EU.
 In other words, what are really EU issues - fiscally tight
budgets and failing social programs - are presented to the
Irish people, and to Europeans generally, as a disconnected
collection of domestic "failures" in each separate nation.

This same pattern of spin applies to all similar situations,
where unpopular policies are compelled by EU laws or
directives - which in turn are often compelled by WTO rules.
Always the blame is focused on domestic politicians. The
politicians play along with this game. They'd lose their next
election for being 'incompetent' sooner than they'd offer
their legitimate excuse: "Sorry folks, but my hands are tied
by the EU."

On the other hand, when policies are popular, as in the areas
of environmentalism or citizen rights, the EU is given credit
for its benevolent influence. Hence problems are blamed on
local politicians, and the EU is associated only with good
policies - that's the pattern the media is spinning on a
day-to-day basis. Thus, even if the French voters were voting
mainly against Chirac, that would still be a reflection of
public dissatisfaction with EU policies - even if the public
didn't realize it. But I think we will find, as our
investigation continues, that the people understand a lot
more than the media wants to give them credit for.

The progress of the EU program has been like the story of the
camel that poked his head into a tent. First the head came in,
and no one complained. Then came the shoulders, etc., and soon
the whole camel was in the tent and the occupants were forced
out. There's never been any real public debate about the EU
program as a whole. Each step has been sold on its own, by a
carefully crafted PR campaign, tailored to the sentiments of
each individual nation at the time.

The general EU population has gone along with the EU program -
partly because there seemed to be no viable alternative on
offer and partly because the PR sounded good - and people have
had little opportunity to express themselves on the matter.
Meanwhile, social programs have deteriorated, unemployment has
risen, national governments are losing power to Brussels, and
economic prospects seem to be cloudy and worsening. It's not
looking very good on the ground; everyone can see that, and
meanwhile the governments and political parties want to push
the bandwagon even faster, into unknown territory, as
specified in an unreadable constitution.

I believe, and this is still intuitive, that the people are
saying, "We've had enough of this flawed bandwagon ride; we
want to stop and reconsider where we're going as a society."
What I suspect is that a Pandora's box has been opened; what
could not be said can now be said. A European can now question
the EU project without being branded a stick-in-the-mud,
nationalist, or racist. Not only that, but the newly expanded
discussion space begins in a context of common-sense
grassroots solidarity, and is imbued with a healthy dose of
skepticism regarding those 'experts' on high who've been
pushing the bandwagon. I consider the overwhelming Dutch "Nee"
vote to be a conscious message from the people to their
'leaders': "If you had any doubt about the French 'Non!',
please append this additional exclamation mark!"

That's my hypothesis, based my general observations, but it is
a hypothesis that has not been substantiated as yet by the
evidence we've looked at. In our next posting I'll bring in
another media article, and we'll see what we can learn about
media spin and about actual public sentiment. My hypothesis
may or may not survive scrutiny, but it will in any case
provide a focus for our investigation.

best regards,
rkm
-- 

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Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland

"Escaping The Matrix - 
Global Transformation: 
WHY WE NEED IT, AND HOW WE CAN ACHIEVE IT ", old draft:
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