Is the European Union “socialist”?

The short answer is ‘no’, but first, Justin Raimondo writes:

The EU is a failed socialist experiment that exists to fund a huge (and hugely arrogant) bureaucracy and impose a bloodless ideological abstraction over and above the authentic nationalisms it seems to subsume. It is deeply authoritarian in that it provides no mechanism for member states to withdraw, and its super-centralist model is a prescription for tyranny if ever there was one. When a referendum is held on EU membership, and the results aren’t to the pro-EU side’s liking, the election is simply ignored and the Eurocrats mount yet another campaign until the “right” result is achieved.

I thought I’d highlight this paragraph for a couple of reasons:

1. It explains the tensions inherent in the EU from a nationalist viewpoint (as opposed to the internationalist view most often espoused on this blog), and the tensions between defining the place of centralized and decentralized power in a society. Although Raimondo’s hyperbole might cause some of us to blush, I think it actually adds to the depth of the nationalist argument as it better captures the sentiments of these factions. That is to say, I think the nationalists in this debate are a bit more boorish than the internationalists and as such Raimondo exemplifies their arguments despite being an American.

2. It shows why facts are important and in the long run much more valuable. Socialism, by definition, is the state ownership of the means of production. Is there anything about the EU that suggests it wants to “nationalize” industry? Anything at all? Of course not, which is why you often find populists – even of the “libertarian” kind – to be hyperbolic, arbitrary and vague in their arguments (for a better treatment of populism, see this old piece here at NOL). In the long run getting these definitions right is important. Slandering a faction or an organization you don’t like as ‘socialist’ (or ‘bourgeois’) may earn you a couple of brownie points from the peanut gallery, but you are very likely to steadily lose influence in the arena of ideas by peddling such drivel.

The EU is a confederation of states (much like the pre-Civil War US) and entry and exit are entirely voluntary. The EU, more than any other institution save for perhaps the US military, is responsible for the unencumbered peace throughout Western Europe since the end of World War 2. To suggest that the EU is somehow ‘socialist’ not only confuses younger, more susceptible readers but it also weakens one’s own arguments. If, for example, Raimondo is going to label the EU as ‘socialist’ when it clearly is not, what should I think about his arguments when he labels Israel as ‘fascist’ or Russia as a ‘defender of national sovereignty’?

Foreign policy is an important component of libertarianism, and if we continually allow our arguments to be defined by populist organizations like Raimondo’s then I fear libertarians will continue to be (rightly) ignored in the more traditional venues of foreign policy discussion.