Monday, July 18, 2005

Swede's Eye View

The second interview with Mark Styen, by John Hawkins of Right Wing News was as phenomenal as the first. It was conducted via email. In it, Mr. Styen made many astute points, however, one in particular struck me:

John Hawkins: For the time being, the European public seems to have turned against the idea of creating a "United States of Europe." Do you think the wishes of the European public will be respected, will they change, or do you think Europe's elites will push on for a united Europe regardless of what the people want?

Mark Steyn: What we're likely to end up with is backdoor piecemeal imposition of the bulk of the European Constitution. The EU’s so-called "democratic deficit" - the remoteness of the unaccountable unelected governing class - is, as they say, not a bug but a feature. It was set up that way because, after the massive popularity of Nazism and Fascism, the post-war European elites decided that it was necessary to build institutions that restrain the will of the people rather than express it. In the long run, that's merely a more leisurely and scenic route back to where they came in.

It was upon reading this that the situation in Europe began to make sense to me: the structure of the EU & the strident opposition to it by the populace. Therefore, despite not being of John Hawkins caliber, I decided to do my own interview, via email, with a blogger from Sweden, Fredrik, who is much smarter at his age of nineteen than I ever was. As he was kind enough to tolerate me & answer my queries, I have gained much insight into the condition of Europe & the sources of its anti-Americanism. I am confident that you will find his replies to be as thought provoking as I did.

NYgirl: Fredrik, do you agree with Mark Steyn on his views of the democracy deficit in the EU & it's reasons? Is Europe, in general, more wary of democracy than America? What about Sweden?

Fredrik: I most certainly do, EU's democratic deficit is enormous and I really can't understand why Brussels is so surprised that the constitution was rejected. For ONCE EU citizens where allowed to have a say on the EU and answer was quite obvious. The U.S. is in many ways a democratic role model and Europe has plenty to learn, in Sweden for example our influence over larger issues is basically zero. We've had some 7-8 referendums for the last hundred years, which pretty much tells you how our democracy works. We have our say every four years, the same party wins and things go on as usual. Europe might have given the world the word "democracy" but we haven't grasped the concept as much as we should. I've never really felt that Europeans are more different than Americans, it's just that Americans where blessed by their founding fathers whereas Europe wasn't.

NYgirl: Do you think that the party based system common throughout Europe contributes to the disfranchisement of Europeans? It seems to me that voting for a party rather than a person offers more opportunities for political monopolization. Also, do you believe that the socialist economy, with its intimate ties between the state & private sectors, plays a role in this deficit? Have you noticed a difference following the inception of the Internet? Have there been any Rathergate type incidents in Europe?

Fredrik: Well, it's kind of a joke to hear MPs argue since their opinions rarely matter. I've always believed that individuals, not parties, should be given the final call, the power to make decisions. In our parliament they follow orders (this tradition is mostly common on the left) and they rarely object. So you're right, it undermines the democratic process, which indeed is sad. As for the socialistic economies, well, Europeans in general are heavily regulated with few rights against the state so it's not just the economy. It's the overall attitude we have against politics, which I blame socialism for. I don't believe the European model is anything worth saving, whereas I also see that the U.S. has its problems. The main difference is that the U.S. has been a democracy for a lot longer and your experience with the democratic system is far more delicate. Europe is a democratic region, we are, but there is plenty of stuff we could do to improve what we have. The "social model" is the first thing I would like to abolish for example. As for Rathergate type of incidents, there most certainly have been thousands of them but we don't have the same tradition as you have. Most and foremost European media rarely treat facts with much decency. You should have been here during the November election. The European media WAS A PART OF KERRYS CAMPAIN! It was a disgrace, terrible and so utterly wrong to do so, but still none cared, everybody hated Bush just because. No good reason is given - they simply use the word hatred to make things simple.

NYgirl: Yes, I heard of the Euro press support for Kerry. The anti-Americanism shocked me. You said a very interesting thing: "It's the overall attitude we have against politics which I blame socialism for” I read in a book about France that discussing politics at the family dinner table is taboo, thus the spouts of radicalism. What about in Sweden? Also, do you think that the mainstream Euro press is representative of the European public in general? The American MSM has a liberal bias not shared by many, is it the same in Sweden?

Fredrik: You should take into consideration that these are the thoughts of a nineteen year old. I am in no way to be considered a pundit on the subject; I just feel that socialism has forced Europe into some kind of naive attitude towards politics. It is for example completely impossible to have a discussion about the U.S. with most Europeans. They don't know a thing; to them the U.S. is "The Right Nation" with capital R and thus a terrible place to live in. And since we all watch Hollywood movies, which is totally out of touch with the average American we tend to believe the reality Hollywood gives us. This creates a weird picture about American politics and your country in general and when you have a president like George W Bush that tells it like it is Europeans get irritated. Swedes are generally fairly interested in politics even though our political climate is so much different than yours. In Sweden and throughout Europe you serve the party and you only advance if you have proven that you are a loyal servant to your party. Rhetoric’s is rarely an ingredient. I for example have never engaged in politics since I don't like the system, I simply don't feel that individuals can have very much influence over politics in general. Blogging has been my rescue thank God :)As for the European press I would say that they reflect the political nature of many Europeans, one could say they stand in the "middle" between Europeans on the left and the ones on the right. I often blame European press for being very liberal (and studies have shown that 70% of all Swedish journalists vote left), and that fact is specifically true when it comes to the US or for example Israel. Reading articles about Israel is like reading a leftwing blog. Some would say that the press don't share the view by the European public and some would say they do, I say that it's not much of an issue - the press will always be for the elite and there is not much you can do about it. "What man knows, man sees" as Goethe said. The media will always be accused of being biased regardless of where on the political scale you are. Of course I think media gives a leftist perspective that is pretty common among intellectuals to do that but at the same time you can always listen to DailyKos and their angry rants on the "right wing media"...

Please visit Fredrik's excellent blog frihet som frihet?. I would like to thank him for not only allowing me the opportunity to interview him, but also, for consenting to my publishing it at this site.

European government is different from America in many ways. One being the role of the civil service, an elite who subvert government of the people for their own ends. In monarchies such as Sweden, Britain etc., the people are subjects not citizens, it is all part of a conditioning to accept the decisions of the elite. Government by the people is unknown. radio & TV in much of Europe is heavily regulated, and often state owned (like the BBC). The liberal elite dominate these just as PBS is dominated here.
WHAT A GREAT EXCHANGE! Thanks for taking the time to correspond with Fredrik and get a real voice from Europe.
Gret interview, NY Girl. Thanks.
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