Those of you with an interest in religion and mysticism, and those of you who have seen the film Se7en, will doubtless be aware of the concept of the seven deadly sins, composed of greed, lust, envy, gluttony, sloth, wrath and pride. In the wake of the upcoming EU referendum I couldn’t help but notice that the European Union embodies all of those. Let me explain.
Brussels is a glorious place for greed. Legions of bureaucrats line their pockets to run a colossal corporatist racket, throwing 42.77% of its budget into the corrupt monstrosity that is CAP. CAP, whose perverse incentives and pettifogging rules have seen millions of euros go to places like Eton, whose contrived standards have retarded the modernisation of British agriculture by propping up the status quo and discriminating against innovations like GM. CAP, that plank of a protectionist leviathan that sees the Third World denied desperately needed trade and Europeans forced to pay so that they can have higher prices and worse services. Obviously, CAP is not all of the EU budget, plenty of which lines the pockets of cronies via other routes. This racket isn’t free. £19 billion of the EU budget is gouged from the UK every year, and even with the scraps we get back, most of which goes to protectionist abominations like CAP (around £3 billion), to cronies and to vanity projects, contributing nothing and less to the public good, we are still £9.8 billion in deficit to them. Their greed directly hurts us, then, as it means we are mugged for more and more; in 2009, our net contribution was only £4.3 billion.
As for lust? It is in the obsession with constantly expanding its sphere of influence and deepening integration that the EU displays it, a lust for power and expansion. Eastern Europe was barely free of the Soviet Union when the EU absorbed it nation by nation, with no time given for the nations to properly establish their place independent of supranational empires. Serious consideration has been and is being given to countries like Turkey as potential members. Countries were allowed to join the Euro without meeting actually meeting the rules for entry, with bureaucrats failing to dig into blatantly manufactured statistics as the lust for power overwhelmed prudence; this would come back to bite Brussels.
The Envy of the EU is most evident in their barely concealed Anglophobia. One barely needs look to find Eurocrats disparaging the United Kingdom, whether as greedy, insignificant or insubordinate. They do this because our culture of individualism, parliamentary supremacy and the rule of law are anathema to them, in part, but more because they envy the success our culture has given us. They envy our strong, well-managed economy, which is why they continue to try and gouge more money out of us. They envy the prosperity of the City, which is why they push policies meant to destroy the financial sectors of Europe, most notably the spectacularly ill-conceived financial transactions tax. They envy the power of our brothers across the ocean, which is why so much talk of the EU as a counterweight, not a complement, to NATO abounds Brussels. This envy serves only to weaken the EU, building resentment in Britain, tearing at the pillars of its prosperity and weakening the vital defensive links with NATO, but envy always has been self-destructive.
Gluttony describes the endless consumption of increasingly scarce resources that has come to characterise the EU. Its budget is over 142 billion euros, having grown almost 4% year on year. This has funded the recruitment of more privileged bureaucrats, on whom 8.52 billion euros is spent annually, and more hand-outs for well-connected cronies, along with the bribes with which Brussels keeps Eastern Europe in the EU, and quixotic fiscal shenanigans to keep Southern Europe in the Euro. And for what? Germany and France are stagnant, Southern Europe is rotting and the EU is actively working against British interests, all while consuming more and more of its vassal states’ resources. The Euro is failing, Schengen is failing, Europe is coming apart at the seams and all Brussels can think to do is spend more. That’s a sign of an eating disorder.
Further, EU policies serve to reward Sloth. The vast subsidies lavished upon Greece gave it a bloated, self-serving, extractive civil service with gold plated pensions starting at 55 that worked with a network of lumbering crony corporations to give the appearance of a prospering nation, an apparatus of indolence that helped precipitate the state Greece finds itself in today. Such, to a lesser extent, is the story in Southern Europe at large. The same pattern of privileged bureaucrats and comfortable cronies defines everything the European Union does. Endless overlapping layers of pettifogging, unelected bureaucrats exists to oversee the tortuous yet predictable decision making process and the wasteful spending programmes that give thousands of pen pushers comfortable work. Big business and other wealthy organizations can lobby themselves special favours, subsidies and protections that would never receive a democratic mandate, allowing them to ignore the laws of supply and demand by parasitizing the people they are supposed to provide a competitive service to, and crushing smaller competitors who could have given the people a better deal. Such is sloth rewarded and diligence drained by the perverse policies of Brussels.
All of this could someday, perhaps, be forgiven were it not for wrath. The federalists in Brussels have no regard for such petty things as consent, and won’t take no for an answer. When Ireland rejected the Treaty of Lisbon the EU made them hold the referendum again so they’d give the ‘right’ answer. Similarly, every nation that has rejected the insane Brussels proposals on migrants is being threatened with fines, tarred as bigoted and side-lined as the EU pushes through its quotas anyway. Such has been the response whenever a new expansion of the EU’s prerogative is rejected. Such a rejection of democracy, sovereignty and consent is all too typical of Brussels’ imperial tendency. Their wrath is such that they are willing not merely to consider but to execute civilian coups to crush dissent. In 2012 when the EU had tired of Berlusconi, a democratically elected leader, they forced him to resign with threats of even greater financial ruin for Italy, and placed Mario Monti a bureaucrat from the Commission, as their viceroy. When in 2011 George Papandreou refused to meekly bow before Brussels he was deposed and replaced similarly, again by a bureaucrat, this time Lucas Papademos, former Vice President of the European Central Bank. The wrath, pettiness and spite have driven the federal dream far, but they have also poisoned it; the people of Europe are increasingly rejecting these impositions, and as the crises facing Europe reach boiling point Brussels may find itself weaker than it imagined.
Finally there is pride. Pride, in that Brussels bureaucrats think they can tear up their promises to us on a whim, most recently over making us suffer for the quixotic bail-outs, and have us remain subservient. Pride, in that they are arrogant enough to believe that they can continue to impoverish the third world, to savage the continent and to tyrannise the peoples of Europe. Pride, in that they believe they should be celebrated for it. Such imperial hubris has served them well thus far, it is true; the European Union has expanded both its prerogative and its boundaries relentlessly since its founding, and it plots to grow both greater still, with an EU army, harmonised wages and a financial transaction tax, among far too many other things, all in the works. The Eurozone crisis and the migration crisis has shown just how weak the fundaments of the federalist dream are, however. South Europe has been hollowed out by the traumatic bail-outs and the crushing burden of the euro, and the cynical attempts of Brussels to use the migrant crisis to deepen integration have sewn division and resentment. The crises will only get worse, not that Brussels will ever admit that until the floor falls out from under them. It makes sense when you think about it; we all know what comes after pride.