Austrian Chancellor: Anglo-Saxon economic model has failed
And he bemoans a ‘distributional quandary’ that ‘lies at the heart of the capitalist system’, which he defines as ‘never-ending competition fueled by the drive to maximise profits’. In such a world, he pontificates, there is no room for a social conscience.
And his solution is the State, which, like the Word in the Gospel of St John, becomes the author of not only all that is good, noble, right and true, but of everything. It is the State which must ‘fill the gap’, for while the market creates the wealth, only the State can ensure social justice. And so the Roman Catholic Chancellor of Austria lauds the social doctrine of ‘Europe's social-market economies’ (by which he means ‘continental’ Roman Catholic social doctrine) and decries the Protestant ‘Anglo-Saxon neo-liberal model’, which has failed badly, manifestly for want of a social conscience.
According to Chancellor Gusenbauer, only states may resolve this crisis, and these in turn need to be guided by cross-border regulation, which must itself be subject to the global government of ‘the international community’. He says: “A start needs to be made at the European Council meeting of the heads of state and government in Brussels in mid-October. It is crucial that the European Union accepts the challenge of the financial crisis at the highest level, draws the appropriate conclusions, and takes the logical next steps.”
As he lauds the EU – the mother of states - as our saviour, he states unequivocally that stronger regulation means ‘legally binding, globally applicable rules and standards. While important areas of economic policy are subject to rules that allow penal sanctions, the financial sector has a special status that is no longer acceptable’. Central banking in the UK (and in other ‘Anglo-Saxon’ nations) is a servant of the market. In continental Europe, however, central banks have a much more political function; they are centres of power and not mere facilitators for private markets. There was no doubt that the European Central Bank as defined by Maastricht would be the sort of beast that would need to override any ‘inconvenient’ oscillating electoral preferences. It had to be in the controlling hands of powerful financial philosophers.
All of which shows the absurdity of the Chancellor’s calls for ‘a democratically legitimised world finance organisation’. He does not articulate how his global system would ever be democratised, and he conveniently forgets that not only does the EU lack such legitimacy, but the ECB itself is immune from the inconveniences of democratic accountability. He refers to the need to expand ‘public financing for pensions, nursing care, and health insurance’ through a ‘European economic stimulus program’ because ‘Europe's nations (must) act in concert’.
This is global Socialism – unadulterated, unrelenting, unaccountable and undemocratic. It is the global advance of the continental notions of autocracy, cohesion, and corporatism, which are antithetical to the Anglo-Saxon right-wing philosophy of free markets, liberty, tolerance, and a sovereign legislature. Corporatism is an expression of Roman Catholic social doctrine, advocating enforced co-operation between employers and workers, with the State overseeing wages, working conditions, production, prices and exchange. It has been a recurrent theme of continental leaders that the eradication of the ‘dog-eat-dog’ world of Anglo-Saxon competition and the ‘selfish’ Protestant work ethic will promote social justice and order.
Catholicism and interventionist statism dominate on the Continent. The Conservative Party, which developed out of and alongside a Protestant Christian ethic, deliberately eschews denominational links and espouses free-market liberalism. When Disraeli referred to the Conservative Party as the National Party, it was essentially because of its defence of the nation state. If Britain ceases to be a state, the Conservative Party would be deprived of its raison d’être. This is the philosophical tension which lies at the heart of David Cameron’s promise to remove his MEPs from the EPP. While both may be ‘right wing’, they are separated by a religio-political gulf.
We see in the Gusenbauer plan a certain Euro-introspection, and this is defined - as the EU has ever been - by an antipathy towards some ‘other’; more by its antagonisms to the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ world than by its structures for advancing the interests of member nation states. François Mitterand confirmed this when he said: ‘France does not know it yet, but we are at war with America. Yes, a permanent war, a vital war, a war without death. Yes, they are very hard, the Americans, they want undivided power over the world.’ His successor, Jacques Chirac, similarly stated: ‘The object of a European defence identity is to contain the United States.’ The theme was picked up by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who said: ‘Whining about US dominance does not help, we have to act.’ These comments lend serious weight to the perception that the EU project is about the creation of a new state – not only adorned by anthems, flags and mottos, but conscious of the need to forge a distinct cultural identity which can be defined only in terms of what it is not; that to which it is antithetical.
As Margaret Thatcher observed, the EU is about Socialism ‘by the back Delors’. It is a tragedy that the front door has now been opened to it, and that it finds a warm embrace in a country which is not only now ignorant of centuries of Protestant liberty and reform, but has so quickly forgotten the imperative of the relatively recent Thatcherite reforms also.