Thursday, June 23, 2016

Phrase of the day: “Euro-Tartuffe” (Brexit edition)

[In honor of today's Brexit-vote festivities, herewith a re-post of an earlier essay, originally posted 4 May 2014.]

~   ~   ~

Time was, in this country, and around the world, when idealists used to dream of an End to All Wars -- to be enforced (a necessary codicil, though not spoken so loud) by a One World Government.   Americans were among those in the forefront of this, signally Woodrow Wilson, who garnered a Nobel Peace Prize for his advocacy of the League of Nations (la SDN), the first step towards such a new order, established as the dust was settling from the Great War.   But when push came to shove, Senate Republicans and prairie populists  would have none of it, and Wilson’s brainchild was a prophecy unhonored in its own country.

The ethos of that time  is now impossible to re-experience, though students of history may imagine it.   The Release 2.0 of the League, the United Nations, is mostly a debating shop, for harangues that few heed.   Not a bad thing;  good that it’s there;  but no shadow or echo of the original vision of One World Government (whose aftershadow lives on only in the nightmare imagination  of the prairie populists).


Europe, however, shaken to its foundations by the deeper trauma of the Second World War, which no-one ever imagined to dub “the Great”, and which turned out even worse than our fears, adopted a more regional version of the original vision, one which actually has some teeth to it:  what is now known as the European Union.   The average American has probably not even heard of the thing (indeed, I almost wrote “EEC” by anachronism), but it is very real.   And its existence has no doubt contributed to the one big spectacular fact of the past nigh-on seventy years, what must astonish any student of European history (which has been bloodier at every level, than the non-devotee has any idea):  unbroken peace among nations belonging to that Union.  An astonishment that grows with each passing year of No World War Three.  And if there have, in the course of those decades, been occasional instances of fussy Brusselian bureaucratic overreach -- in one actual, notorious case, regulation of the length and curvature of bananas -- this pales beside the Holocaust (to take one example, hm, at random).  

In time though, the freely adopted multiheaded yoke  has come increasingly to chafe certain individual withers;  and resistance to further EU encroachment has become a key issue in the upcoming pan-European elections:

In part, this swell of opposition comes as a result of actual EU overreach, such as the dismanteling of borders at a time of a great “inwash of the unwashed” (see essays here and here), in part because, from a more zeitgeistlich perspective, the diktats of Brussels have encouraged fresh overreach by, for example, the misandrists of Paris and Stockholm, who mean (and here I write hyperbolically, though only barely) to police and limit (with a ruler, of the sort once used by nuns to smack the palms of naughty boys) the length and curvature of erections.

[Update Memorial Day 2014;  from the NZZ:
Europa und die EU, das sind Klischees über Normen aller Art, etwa diejenige über die Krümmung der Gurke, die zwar längst nicht mehr gilt, aber an Stammtischen unvermindert als Beispiel einer fehlgeleiteten monströsen Bürokratie angeführt wird.

OK, so maybe it was cucumbers, not bananas.  Same idea.

Gurke mit Attitude

Anyhow, the people have spoken, in the Européennes, “un séisme europhobe”, avec percée du FN.]


~ Recommendation posthume ~
“Si j’étais encore en vie, et que je désirais un bon whodunnit,
que lirais-je?"
(Je suis le Président Wilson, et j’ai approuvé ce message)


Anyhow, all that is but by way of dilettante kibitzing;  I am not among those solons such as Thomas Friedman or George Will  who are licensed to pontificate  each Sunday, across from the editorial page.   I do, however, carry an official Linguist’s License, and am a paid-up member of the Global Sociophilological Association (QG:  Genève -- it is actually a subunit of the WDJ).   And hence am permitted to observe this new coinage, reported in this morning’s press:

L'écolo Durand s’en prend aux "Euro-tartuffes"
"Plus forts que les euro-sceptiques ou les euro-béats, voici venu le temps des euro-tartuffes", écrit-il. Soit, à en croire Durand, ceux qui tiennent un discours à Paris et un autre à Bruxelles.

Which, being Englished for the convenience of our obligate-anglophone friends, is no more than to say:  A prominent Green politician has coined a category to join the extant extremes of the Euro-sceptics (those who oppose further EU encroachment), and the euro-béats (difficult to translate exactly:  it refers to those bobo-bisounours, who embrace the Union and all its present and potential works, with a great big smoochy kiss):  the opportunist Euro-hypocrites (after Molière’s character Tartuffe), who, speaking alternately out of either side of the mouth spout one thing in Brussels  and another thing at home:  here to butter-up the goose, there to flatter the gander.

[ Updated here/ Mise à jour ici / Hier auf den neuesten Stand gebracht:]

[Update 25 June 2016] 
So, Brexit it is.    In the feelgood media, there is plenty of scolding against those yokels who voted for national sovereignty, and a paucity of self-examination on the part of those who, like Merkel and the MSM, helped bring this fracture about.
Thus, pursuing its human-interest brand of journalism, NPR goes around interviewing this person and that person in England, whose school or whatnot had been receiving part of its budget “from” the UE.  Unmentioned is the sheer arithmetical fact that Britain has long been a net contributor to the  rest of Europe -- they send out more than they get back;  and what they get back comes with all sorts of Brussels-set restrictions and conditions.
Or again the French.    It is by now admitted that concern over uncontrolled immigration was a principle motivator (probably the main one) of the Brexiteers;  Exhibit A being the euphorically irresponsible cave-in of Germany, Exhibit B (for England) being France, which supinely admitted thousands of illegal intruders from Africa, and -- doing nothing for their integration, which they don’t especially desire anyway -- allowed them to accumulate up around Calais, where for years they have been trying to barge their way into England; uncharacteristically, (with scattered exceptions) Britain stood firm.   French editorialists now put a bizarre spin on this, typical of the mentality that repelled the Brexiteers:  Brexit (largely a vote against uncontrolled immigration) should mean that now Britain changes course and takes all those unwanted Africans off French hands:  their Wonderland watchword for this is, that “the English border should now move from Calais to Dover”.   If by that they mean that England can now be relieved of bearing the bulk of the costs of insuring security in Pas de Calais, well and good;  but the bisounours will be disappointed if they await the dissolution of the white cliffs at Dover.  -- Similarly, French politicians (such as Macron) have followed Erdogan in using unwanted migrants as threat-material:  do as we say or we open the floodgates.   But, all England really has to do in this case is to dry-dock the ferries and shut the tunnel.

Bienvenue en Françafrique ! 

Interestingly, readers are generally not fooled.  From a comment in today’s Le Figaro:

Regardez combien présomptueux sont ces eurocrates vexés, furieux des peuples qui ne votent pas comme ils veulent. L'Angleterre est un grand pays, très grand, et ne se laissera pas imposer une vitesse par des politicards. Pression? Tigres de papier.

Interestingly, readers are generally not fooled.  From  comments in today’s Le Figaro:

Regardez combien présomptueux sont ces eurocrates vexés, furieux des peuples qui ne votent pas comme ils veulent. L'Angleterre est un grand pays, très grand, et ne se laissera pas imposer une vitesse par des politicards. Pression? Tigres de papier.


je suis mort de rire devant les menaces . en fait les dirigeants de l'Europe c'est à dire Merkel et ses valets n'ont pas apprécié qu'un pays les envoie balader de façon démocratique . N'oublions jamais les paroles de Junker : "il ne peut y avoir de choix démocratiques contre les décrets européens ". Au moins c'est clair de ce côté du Chanel on n'aime pas les choix démocratiques et il fallait s'attendre à une volée de bois vert .

[Update 29 June 2016] Jean-Claude Juncker seems to be really getting into his role as the Dick Cheney of the European Union.   After blocking any input from the individual parliaments of Europe, into the proposed CETA agreement with Canada, Juncker sniffed that the whole thing was to him…. schnurzegal. 
That is a very colloquial, even vulgar German expression;  difficult to translate, but at a venture:  “Like I give a flying fuck.”

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