Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Exclusive: The danger of Jean Monnet

Jean MonnetFor as long as there have been eurosceptics, there have been arguments that the EEC/EU is part of a grand plan to create a United States of Europe. Why? Well, largely thanks to the dreams of some of the organisation’s founding fathers (from a generation, it should be noted, which had mostly lived through two world wars – but still…)

The founding father most often brought up in this context is Jean Monnet, the first Deputy Secretary General of the interwar League of Nations, and one of the key figures in organising Allied supply-lines in both world wars (not to mention the Chinese railway system, bizarrely). Now, however, he is most often remembered as a key eurosceptic bogeyman for his postwar efforts to bring Europe together – and most notably mentioned in tandem with his 1943 statement of belief:

“There will be no peace in Europe, if the states are reconstituted on the basis of national sovereignty… The countries of Europe are too small to guarantee their peoples the necessary prosperity and social development. The European states must constitute themselves into a federation.”

Ah, the F-word… Federalism to a eurosceptic is like the proverbial red rag to a bull (despite the key attribute of a federation being, erm… the self-governing nature of the component states, with the central federal government’s powers often being highly limited – but sssh!)

The other favourite Monnet quote, of course, is that about “the superstate”:

“Europe’s nations should be guided towards the superstate without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose but which will irreversibly lead to federation.”

Ah! See the devious nature of the European elites, trying to guide us without our knowledge down a path we haven’t been consulted on! How dare they! (The fact that this quote is an entirely made-up load of old bollocks that Monnet never actually said or wrote is neither here nor there… If you repeat something often enough then it becomes true – or at least true enough to enable a justification of the ongoing belief in the veracity of the idea behind the belief…)

Perhaps because many British eurosceptics take a decidedly whiggish view of history – a teleological approach to the world that often also tends towards great man theory, in which providence and inevitability are seen in just about everything (and the Norman Conquest somehow marked the start of 1,000 years of English independence – despite it only being 944 years, despite the royal family being French Vikings from 1066, becoming Welsh in 1485, Scottish in 1603, despite the successful Dutch invasion of 1688, and despite our royal family having been German since 1714) – the fact that Monnet helped set up what was to become the EU more than half a century ago means, of course, that the EU is still headed down the path that he envisaged for it. Despite the fact that he died 30 years ago this week, and the EU is an entirely different beast to anything he had planned for the thing. (Hell – Monnet was a highly effective and efficient organiser, for starters. There’s no way he’d have come up with something as chaotic and inefficient as the current EU system…)

Anyway, even though the “Jean Monnet said it so it must be true” line of argument of the eurosceptic types convinced that the superstate is the EU’s final destination is utterly thwarted by the fact that a) Monnet didn’t actually say most of the things they attribute to him, and b) the fact that if a week is a long time in politics then half a century is an eon… Even though all these assumptions and beliefs about the much-misunderstood and mis-remembered Monnet can be shown to be based on nothing more than personal political prejudice, I can now exclusively reveal that we now have proof that Monnet is indeed a danger.