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How could so many clever people get it so wrong? The flaws in the euro project are not just clear with hindsight; they were visible at the outset and were widely pointed out. It was never going to be possible to jam widely divergent economies into a single monetary policy. It was plainly reckless to invite Italy and Greece to join the new currency when their government debt was at twice the permitted level of 60 per cent of GDP. Plenty of doubters said so at the time. Yet, in every national parliament, in every central bank, in every university faculty, in every television editorial conference, there was a collective suspension of disbelief. 

Twilight of the Eurocrats: Angela's valkyries are riding to their doom (Illustration Michael Daley) 

Why? What were they thinking? If you listen carefully to what Euro-integrationists were saying when the single currency was launched, you hear a subtext. It's not so much that they liked the euro, it's that they disliked the people who opposed it. Listen, for example to Charles Kennedy in 2002:

The euro, despite gloomy predictions from anti-Europeans, has proved to be a success. We cannot afford to be isolated from our biggest and closest trading partner any longer.

Or to Ken Clarke:

The reality of the euro has exposed the absurdity of many anti-European scares while increasing the public thirst for information. Public opinion is already changing as people can see the success of the new currency on the mainland. 

For such men, the issue was never really economic, or even political, but tribal. Having defined the question, in their own minds, as a Kulturkampf between sensible progressives and ignorant bigots, they became more or less uninterested in the facts. 

The extraordinary thing is that many euro-enthusiasts are still at it, quite unabashed by how things have turned out. Here, for example, is the historian Norman Davies in the Financial Times a couple of weeks ago:

‘How marvellous,' they chortle in the Tory clubs; ‘the busybodies of Brussels are meeting their come-uppance. After all, those ghastly Greeks who cooked the books to enter Euroland in the first place are sure to be cooking them again with an eye to ever larger bail-outs. Greece will push French banks down the chute first; but German banks won't avoid it, and together they'll finish Italy off. With luck, Italy will suck Spain into the abyss; Portugal will follow Spain, and Ireland Portugal. Just think of it! Those Irish traitors from 1922 will get their deserts! Terrific!'

Then continental banks lock their doors and the cash machines dry up. Minestrone kitchens appear on the streets of Rome. Spanish bullrings house the destitute. The bridges of Paris fill with rough sleepers. Weeks and months pass free of money. Europeans relearn the art of barter. When the cash flow stutters back, machines distribute drachmas again, the franc nouvel and the peseta nueva. Yet Britain's latterday Blimps will still not be satisfied. They hanker for the whole hog; before we pull up the drawbridge, they say, the EU itself must vanish.

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February 14th, 2012
3:02 PM
This is the second time I seem to have been rather late in commenting on interesting articles in Standpoint. Fact is I have only recently discovered this journal. I am surprised that DH is only just realising that democracy is not the name of the game. Try reading some of Noam Chomsky's books. Democracy is the last thing that the US military/industrial complex is interested. Here in UK the establishment has every trick in the book to suppress people power; that is what Tory anti-europeans are all about (ie to prevent Europe meddling in their pond and upsetting their carefully laid scams) so why should EU be any different? If the West ever had democracy then it was brief, and America led the way in toppling uncooperative leaders (eg. Johnson who only served one term); Berlusconi et al clearly upset the power brokers. My question would be who are the real power brokers? I do not buy the suggestion that it is the beaurocrats; they do as they are told.

Granite Sentry
December 25th, 2011
6:12 AM
The Euro project was always about putting bureaucrats in charge of the ongoing creation of socialism over and despite the annoying objections of voting Europeans. Or more succinctly: It was about putting bureaucrats in charge.

December 5th, 2011
12:12 PM
The destruction of democracy throughout the EU is very worrying and has been going on for well over a decade. Britain's unwillingness to take a stand against it is hard to reconcile with its other international trumpetings, eg regarding Lybia, Tunisia and Egypt. Unless the much maligned Euroscpetics in the UK get a fair hearing, we will continue on a path that ultimately could lead to the UK being forced into an integration that will cause widespread public unrest. The British people are slow to anger but extremely determined when their dander is up.

November 27th, 2011
4:11 PM
It has become a globalist "truth" that the rule of technocrats is superior to the rule of the people and the rule of law. Technocrats (communists) are not only beyond the reach of the citizens they rule; they are above the rule of law. Their interests, as they rule, have little to do with the Nations they rule. Globalists call themselves "smart" people and fancy themselves a superior race to the riff raff citizens. Americans and the people in the nations in Europe need to introduce the globe trotters to the concept of Treason and it's punishment.

Jeremy Poynton
November 27th, 2011
11:11 AM
Anonymous Walküre Do we know that Barroso is not still a Maoist? Certainly, his total contempt for the democratic process suggests he still is

PacRim Jim
November 27th, 2011
2:11 AM
Clever people believe in the perfectibility of man and man's institutions, because some book explains how it's possible. Hence they have no need for institutions developed by humans to enable civilization: family, religion, etc.

Anonymous Walküre
November 26th, 2011
8:11 PM
Thank you for a fine article. The Euro was merely the mechanism to force internationalization of European nations into a nation named Europe. In order to do this, lies had to be told, and intermediate mechanisms set up to shoe horn whole nations into the scheme. The dictatorship of the proletariat -- one recalls that Barroso, as one example, was a Maoist -- had to ensue one way or another. As always, these socialists never thought they would run out of liquidity so fast. And as with all socialist "betters" they want to live the lives of the top elite by debauching the currency and the lives of said proletariat in the process. The counterrevolution is well underway, and it is called bankruptcy. The bright boys began with bankrupt ideas, and have nearly arrived to real-world bankrutpcy itself. How could so many clever people get it so wrong? They were socialists in a world where they needed and still need more capital than they can find. Trust is leaking away from them now at the speed of a flood. Their model is dead, a still birth which has been on politico-media life support since its birth. Time for the funeral. The lenders to the bond market will act as pallbearers. Haircuts, indeed! And kudos to your editorial cartoonist, Mr. Daley.

Jim Lewis
November 26th, 2011
6:11 PM
Right diagnosis, wrong case history. Of course the single currency, all at once, was going to be a disaster. But why was it promoted so passionately, so blindly, and with such scapegoating tactics for so many years? Mr. Hannan is simply assuming that the Euroskeptics were to blame. No, the Euroskeptics were scapegoated from the beginning, as a knowing and cynical tactic. Apparently it worked so well that now even Mr. Hannan is convinced that the promoters of the biggest scam in European history were honest and sincere, and that their critics were just too extreme. But you can't be too extreme by saying that Euro Valhalla is a snare and a delusion. It's just plain fact. Euro critics were scapegoated because they stood in the way of a blind ideological thrust that promised fabulous futures for ambitious politicians, journalists and bureaucrats. Who are now long retired or dead. When Tony Blair was attending other monstrosity born of Euro socialism, the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, he blurted out his real motivation: Even if it isn't true, we have to believe it. History buffs will remember Pascal (or even earlier) "Credens quia absurdum est." When your head is stuck in utopian ideology you will lead Europe astray. It's been done over and over again.

Snorri Godhi
November 26th, 2011
4:11 PM
The analogy with the ERM is flawed: the UK did not have lots of D-mark denominated debt when it was forced out of the ERM. (And btw the UK was _forced_ out: I do not see how any country could be forced out of the eurozone.) Of course, once a eurozone country has defaulted, there is no longer any reason why it should remain in the eurozone, but is there any reason why it should leave? And while we are on the theme of forcing out: maybe Mr. Hannan is right to say that Signor Berlusconi was forced out by our Masters in Brussels, but I am skeptical: after all, one important reason why Mr.B resigned is that the most euro-skeptical party in the Italian parliament withdrew its support. It's difficult to see the Northern League as a tool of Brussels.

November 26th, 2011
10:11 AM
Best thing I've read about this crises.

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