Sunday, August 14, 2011

30th July 2011

The EU, cobbled together in Brussels for ideological purposes, is fast turning into a creaking alliance of rather disenchanted member states. Let us see if we can help little Herman Achille Van Rompuy, the EU’s current president, to rally his besieged troops in Brussels with a Periclean speech.

In summer 430 BC Athens [Brussels] was having trouble with Sparta [its interest rate policy] and had just been struck by a murderous plague [collapse of the banks]. Since it was Pericles [van Rompuy] who had insisted on this policy, which would enable it to keep a grip on its empire [the EU member states], Pericles came forward to remind the Athenians [EUcrats in Brussels] that they must not falter. The following is extracted from Thucydides’ account of that speech.

Pericles makes three basic points. First, he is cleverer than all of them. That is why they agreed to his plan in the first place, about which some are now having doubts; and he could not be expected to have foreseen the plague [banking collapse]. So, no U-turns.

Second, they must not listen to the nay-sayers. Their city [Athens-Brussels] has the greatest name among men for its refusal to yield to adversity. It will be remembered for all time that it held the greatest power over any empire. Hatred and resentment have always been the lot of the brilliant: if that must be incurred, incur it in the name of the greatest aims which will bring Athens [Brussels] present glory and future fame to endure in men’s hearts for ever.

Finally, ‘you cannot shirk the burden without abandoning the pursuit of glory. If you lose your empire, there is danger from the hatred towards you that it engendered. So you no longer have the option to abdicate from it. The fact is that the empire you now possess is like a tyranny. It may have been wrong to acquire it, but it is certainly dangerous to let it go.’

And then, van Rompuy will go on, Thucydides commented that, on the death of Pericles, policy was changed, with (as he had foreseen) disastrous consequences. There! EU know it makes sense.

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