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September 24, 2009

Ireland's Lisbon Referendum

And Why I'll Be Voting NO Again

Last year, Ireland went to the polls to vote on ratifying the Lisbon Constitution (misleadingly referred to as a "treaty") for the European Union, that would commit the nation to giving up its sovereignity by becoming a province of of a political federation, subservient to binding laws and statutes that would overrule Ireland's own constitution in the event of a conflict. The voters rejected it by a significant margin, as had those of France and the Netherlands previously. Now, I always thought that the way democracy works is that government implements the wishes of the people as expressed by a majority vote. Yet on the very morning that the count was taken, the Irish Taoiseach (pronounced "tee-shok" = prime minister) and the foreign minister told the other EU governments to ignore their own people's vote and to continue with ratifying Lisbon. That's right. Astoundlingly, not getting the answer they wanted, the powers that be refused to accept what the people clearly said, and have now ordered them to vote again on the same issue this coming October 2.

The main reason I'll be voting No again, I suppose, is a generalized gut-feel that arises from the fact that all the people and interests that I don't trust and don't believe want me to vote Yes. But beyond that, while I don't object to the notion of European political unity in principle, I do have reservations about the particular kind of entity that we're being asked to become a part of. The larger continental countries, who would get the deciding say, have a historical tendency toward centralized, authoritarian rule that puts them at odds with the respect for individual rights and freedoms enjoyed under traditional English liberalism (in the original sense of the word, before American politics changed it to mean anyone who thinks private capital should be accountable to the public and doesn't support illegal wars of aggression), which despite Ireland's differences with England became the foundation for its legal system too. In short, I'm suspicious of the kinds of laws that the Europe-as-is would seek to impose. A few specifics:

  • Eight or so European countries have passed so-called "Holocaust denial" laws, making it a criminal offense to disagree with or question certain aspects of recent history that the state deems to be true. (The term is a misnomer, designed to mean essentially anything within a broad range that an accuser wants. Nobdy denies that a lot of people were brutally treated and many died. Historical Revisionists--a more accurate term--are quite specific as to the particular issues that they challenge, and why.) Revisionism has always been an essential part of historical, scientific, and legal research, whereby beliefs are amended in the light of new evidence. Governments have no business dictating what shall be accepted as truth in such matters. I don't want to move politically closer to a system that allows such blatant violations of the principles of free inquiry and expression that it claims to uphold. (Click here for earlier postings on the subject.)

  • Whether the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has to do with their refusing to hand over Bin Laden (Does anyone still believe that? In any case, why should they have, when their not unreasonable request for evidence of his guilt was ignored?); limiting drug production (I doubt it); challenging Russia's domination of the region's oil; or part of a long-range move to strategically encircle China, we have no business being there. I'm against a Europe that obediently sends forces to participate in these provocations.

  • While the December-January onslaught against Gaza was at its height, the European parliament voted favored-trading-nation status to Israel. I have nothing but contempt for the professional invertebrates who are unable to stand up to the pressures that would cause them to condone the atrocities in this a way, and show such disregard for the plight of the Palestinians.

The current issue of an independent Irish newspaper, The Sovereign Independent, giving more history and background, and setting out the case against Lisbon in detail can be downloaded from here

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