Thursday, July 28, 2005

ECOSY, the French "non", and different opinions

One of the major discussions within ECOSY right now has to do with the way forward for Europe after the French "non" and the Dutch "nee". Our French comrades here were on the no-side, and during one meeting I got bored and translated one of the best columns of 2005 into English. You can read it below, enjoy!

Toasting with coke? Open letter to a French gourmand

I can understand
that the Le Pen-supporter is voting against the EU-constitution because of his or her dislike of the Turk, the fear of the Arab, or the vision of a France where you do not have to pay attention to the ideas of 1789. That is rational.

I can also understand all Trotskyites, Maoists and other –ites and –ists who did realize that their international utopia only could become reality in a national protectorate. A continental democracy will be too heavy to alter upside down.

I can understand how the people who love sovereignty think. They do not want Slavs, Scandinavians or other strange peoples to co-write the laws of France. When they are voting no, they are acting according to their self-interest.

I can comprehend that French manual workers fear the Polish plumber, who seduces their women while they are at work, and steal their jobs while they are at home. (Yes, he is offering his services to a lower price. But only initially. Believe me, I know him). This is justified self-defense, even if it does not go together that well with the empty rhetoric about solidarity.

I can also comprehend the Frenchmen who believe that Europe’s only chance to achieve a higher level of civilization is by following the French example in detail. The proposal for a new EU-constitution was not, and it has been proved, totally French. It was a compromise and therefore these Frenchmen believe that it must be thrown away.

I have more problems understanding the French who want to bully the USA and therefore voted against a constitution that would gather Europe around a common foreign-, security and tax policy. That is not strictly Cartesian.

I have some problems with the Frenchmen who dislike market liberalism, but who is voting against a new order that would start bridling that very same market liberalism. To me that seems somewhat confused.

But for me it is totally impossible to comprehend those Frenchmen who see a historic achievement in more supranational powers, who regard the European parliament as a first step towards a European democracy, who like the social chapters and who does not dislike Muslims, nor fear the Polish plumber, but still votes no since the proposal is not far-reaching enough.

To me it looks like a group of friends having dinner together, who sends back the bottle of wine because the cork has a little of a bad smell. Sure, in politics you do that with proposals every day. “This is not good enough, get back to me with something better.” But this proposal – and excuse me for breaking these news to you – was not about a French street regulation. It was a historic compromise, worked out in sweat by governments and politicians in 25 countries. The process took four years to complete, and it will not start all over again.

Was there no one around to tell the gourmands that the very bottle they sent back was the last one? Now new grapes will have to grow in the sun, be harvested, made into wine, mature in barrels. In five years time at the very earliest, and maybe never, will you have the opportunity to drink something that tasteful again. Until then we will have to do with Coca-Cola. À la santé…

Original text written by Maciej Zaremba, freely translated into English by Eric Sundström [and yes, I checked with Maciej before I translated and published the column, and he said a-ok!]


Blogger Martin Tollén said...

I guess you have discussed this with our French comrades. What do they replay?

29/7/05 18:26  
Blogger Eric Sundström said...

Two things are very important when we discuss this. First, I have the greatest respect for our French comrades, and I love France and the socialist movement in France (Jaures, Blum, Delors, Mitterrand!!!). Secondly, our French comrades and I have more or less the same goal and vision; a red, federal, social Europe.

Where we differ is on strategy, many of our French comrades voted no to the new treaty since they are hoping to negotiate again and get an even better treaty from a socialist standpoint. Personally, I cannot really see this happen in the near future and therfore I am pro the new constitution, with its strengths and weaknesses.

But as I said, naturally I respect the opinion of our French comrades on the no-side and I am very impressed by their activism (as usual they were among the most active delegations during the summer camp). See for example

And Martin, I think you should come to the IUSY-summer camp in Spain next year, we missed you!

1/8/05 19:09  
Anonymous Rémi said...

Thanks Eric for the second message.. I was already ready to write you a furious answer to your first message (the translation of the article) ;-) . Now the no-vote in France is a political fact and we have to move on. We considered this constitution was not able to answer to the social crisis we live today in Europe (see the level of unemployement, of inequalities), neither the democratical crisis (see the results of the populists all over europe, the level of turn out). We also thought it was unacceptable from a democratical point of view to include the content of the policies (the part III) inside a constitution. But now, as i said, we have to move on. From our side, we will fight for a good renegotiation taking into account the will of the citizens. A short text, limited to the values and the institutional framework can be a consitution acceptable by ALL european citizens. We also want a social treaty.
but if you want to now more

Eric, it was a pleasure to see you at the SSU congress. All my regards to the swedish comrades..

Rémi, MJS France

5/8/05 19:11  

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