Three Points to Remember

February in Paris, 1983. A group of student leaders are ushered into the presence of President Mitterand by huissiers. They stay slightly more than an hour, discussing Marxism-Leninism, youth, and society with the ever-inconsistent, sometimes brilliant, sometimes crooked, sometimes socialist and sometime fascist president. Years later, one of them, Jean-Claude Cambalebis remembers the three questions Mitterand advised him to deal with if he wanted to “avoid becoming Minister of Public Works”.

They were as follows: the first, he said, was Poland, or more specifically that spiritual power had defeated political power there. The second was the way Britain would never be European and would always prefer to maintain ties with its favoured trading partners in the Commonwealth. For the third, Mitterand produced an electronic listening device (un puce electronique) from his pocket and remarked that such things would “turn the organisation of work upside-down”.

23 years down-range from that meeting with the UNEF executive committee at the Elysée Palace, and ten years on from Mitterand’s death, how do those part-predictions, part-suggestions stack up?

More in the geek hole..

Right, now we’re safely below the fold and the skim readers are gone..

Prediction number 1 looks like a banker. Depending on your definition of “spiritual”, secular and political power around the world is besieged by challenges from political Islam, evangelical Protestantism as a political tendency, and that old standby, the Vatican. Take a wider definition of spiritual, and you have to include to some extent a whole clawing, biting mass of conflicts over identity, tribe, belief. In a sense, the end of the Soviet Union was a victory of two forms of spiritual power – religion and nation – over Marxism. How obvious was this at the time? Certainly Catholic influence was at a local maximum with John Paul II at his most active. Shia Islam had put itself on the world agenda with the Iranian revolution, and the mujahedin phenomenon was the toast of the West – but nobody, I think, saw Sunni (Wahabite) Islam coming as the religious force that would have the most impact on world politics. The upcurl of the Christian Coalition in the US was well known, but I wonder how many people other than Margaret Atwood saw it enduring beyond the next Democratic presidency.

Nobody thought that the southern flank of the Soviet Union would go completely, and equally, did anyone else call the pace and depth of European secularisation, which is after all the triumph of a sort of spiritual power.

Prediction 2, though, went bust years ago. Presumably Mitterand was thinking along the lines (shared by some people in the Conservative Party) that the Falklands War marked some sort of swing-back to the maritime tradition in British politics, to preferential access for Australian and New Zealand exports, island bases and carrier groups manoeuvring on blue water. Far from it. Although the rundown of the Royal Navy’s oceanic and amphibious capability was stopped, and some of it restored, the basic direction of defence policy was still across the North German Plain from the BAOR barracks in Osnabrück and Münster, where the British Army had long since built up the sort of ties of local business, families and such that characterised its pre-1968 locations in the Indian Ocean.

Britain, in fact, got a lot more European, and quickly. Despite rebates and tabloid yelling, economic integration went on apace, society perhaps changed a little too…but perhaps the real change in Mitterand’s terms was that Britain’s remaining ties with its “vieux comptoirs” in the Commonwealth went, to be replaced by far greater reliance on the United States?

Prediction 3 is fascinating. We know now that Mitterand bugged the hell out of everyone around him, legally or not, with absolutely no discrimination between opposition politicians, personal staff, lovers and journalists on Le Monde. It’s no surprise he happened to have a bug in his pocket – you get the impression he never went anywhere without one handy. Did he mean electronics in general, or specifically the complex of issues known as “privacy” or “digital rights” or (perhaps best of all) “all that stuff Cory Doctorow bangs on about”? Either way, he was bang on the money, but the significance changes with interpretation. Any fool could have seen the first coming in 1983 – even Maggie Thatcher was in the business of spreading BBC Micro computers. But the second would have been very smart indeed.

A few days ago, someone mentioned on this site (it may have been Ed) that much of French national gloom is accounted for by the arrival of the Internet; suddenly, an industry that had been considered a crown jewel was irredeemably blindsided by the Americans. Mitterand, of course, launched the Minitel, the vast program to give every household a network data terminal hooked into France Telecom’s brand-new fibreoptic backbone, itself a huge Mitterandiste national project. I recall being fascinated by the idea (and being kept away from the things on holiday in France for fear I’d try to reprogram them in BBC Basic). But it was a fatally bad idea – entirely they-control-you technology. You couldn’t own the terminal, still less see the source code, and FTel owned every server.

What if Mitterand had put the funding into giving everyone an Internet connection instead, and subsidising PCs?

25 thoughts on “Three Points to Remember

  1. This proves that the greatest fools are in the highest offices.

    Spirituality in Poland my @$$. Is that why they are the most anti-semitic in the whole of Europe? Solidarnosz (sp?) is one of the rare examples where power came from the people, a top politician will naturally deny that. tsk.

    re Britain, he was right. The whole arch-conservative to backward attitude coupled with opportunism still works.

    re puce electronique etc. Ever looked at the German BTX desaster? Minitel is full rounded commercial success to this day, really. Just look at wikipedia.

  2. The simplest explanation is that Mitterrand was off his proverbial trolley.

    The Poles wanted to be out of the Soviet Bloc one way or another for reasons that are not difficult to unravel. From the early 1980s, Solidarity fostered political opposition in Poland to its status as a client state of the Soviet Union which had signed a Friendship Treaty with Nazi Germany on 28 September 1939.

    Besides progressing mutual interests, the treaty carved up Poland and provided for the friendly exchange of military liaison officers across the new mutual border between German and Soviet occupied territories running through what had previously been Poland’s national territory – for documentation, see Norman Davies: Europe (OUP 1996) p.1000. At the time, Britain and France were already at war with Germany thereby discharging a treaty obligation to Poland to defend its territorial integrity against aggression, namely the invasion of Poland by Germany starting 1 September 1939.

    On contending spiritual and temporal ideologies, look at the comparison from an English perspective. During the mercifully short reign of Mary Tudor 1553-8, a minimum of 287 people were burned at the stake in public as part of the monarch’s policy to restore Catholicism to her realm. In 1588, during the reign of Elizabeth, her half-sister, an amarda from Spain with a papal commission to restore Catholicism to England, unsuccessfully attempted an invasion. On the night of 4/5 November 1605, a group of Catholic conspirators prepared to blow up Parliament the next day at the state opening using enough explosives to devastate not only the Houses of Parliament and all therein but Westminister Abbey as well and a significant part of Whitehall:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3240135.stm

    As a consequence of those events, it is hardly suprising if most of the English became somewhat paranoid about Catholicism through following centuries.

    In due course, under the influence of Adam Smith’s advocacy of laissez-faire, Britain went on to pioneer an industrial revolution and to fend off Napoleon’s planned invasion c. 1804, despite having only half the population of France at the time. If that is all just dead history, how come this: “Dominique de Villepin, author of Les Cents-Jours ou l’esprit de sacrifice (The Hundred Days, or the Spirit of Sacrifice), a recent postmodernist history that laments the dream that was lost at Waterloo (“a defeat which gleams with the aura of victory”), on a battlefield 12 miles from Brussels” ?
    http://www.claremont.org/writings/crb/summer2003/hanson.html

    Nostalgia has its price.

    As for Britain reverting to Commonwealth trading links, the fact is that since Britain’s accession to, as then, the European Economic Community on 1 January 1973, Britain’s trade with Europe has become more important than Britain’s trade with Commonwealth countries. Given the differences in proximity, relative size and affluence, that is not surprising. A far more relevant and challenging issue that has emerged is the superior performance of the English-speaking, anglo-saxon economies compared with the major economies of the Eurozone. By the end of 1995, Britain’s standardised unemployment rate was already lower than that of France, Germany or Italy and its employment rate of working-age people higher.

    On bugging, a few years back, I made reference in an international internet forum to a press report of some years previous about a European state-owned airline which had allegedly regularly bugged its business class seats to pick up snips of commercial gossip that could be fed back to companies at home to exploit.

    I didn’t actually name the airline in my post but shortly after an American ex-pat living in Germany did – and correctly so. It seems bugging became pervasive in Mitterrand’s France long before 9-11 in 2001 changed the balance elsewhere between respecting privacy and improving security.

  3. >But it was a fatally bad idea – entirely >they-control-you technology.

    True, though that clearly wasn’t the only problem with Minitel. Most of all it was ahead of its time, just like it’s German equivalent, called BTX, which, of course, was never even remotely as popular as Minitel. And Minitel did work. I saw lots of porn adverts all over France for minitel sites, some kind of 90s version of spam… And it’s not like the internet as we kow it was always a grassroots movement. Still, the TIA proposing technocrats all over the western world should have a look at the history of the Minitel.

  4. Speaking of Mitterrand’s obsession with bugging his political critics, in Britain’s mainstream media on Sunday:

    “Tony Blair is preparing to scrap a 40-year ban on tapping MPs’ telephones, despite fierce Cabinet opposition, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. . . There has been a marked expansion of surveillance in Britain since 1997. New technology and new laws mean that Britons are among the most spied-on citizens on earth.”
    http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article338691.ece
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/4614122.stm

    Just who are these Members of Parliament who supposedly constitute a security risk to Britain? I think we should know.

  5. On a somewhat more serious note:

    So Sinn Fein’s MP’s weren’t bugged. I really believe that.

  6. “The Cabinet is considering allowing the tapping of MPs’ telephones, Defence Secretary John Reid has acknowledged. ”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4614122.stm

    Fascinating stuff.

    “John Reid comes from Catholic mining stock. His father was a postman and his mother a factory worker, but he broke away from his roots thanks to hard work and a good education. This culminated in a doctorate in economic history at Stirling University: a well-informed and sometimes brilliant analyst, Dr Reid is no dim central belt machine politician.

    “He joined the Communist party in 1973, leaving it to become a professional Labour party activist with close links to Neil Kinnock. He reaped his reward in 1987 when he won the ultrasafe seat of Motherwell North (now Hamilton North and Bellshill). He voted for Tony Blair as party leader in 1994 and by the end of that year was deputy spokesman on defence.”
    http://politics.guardian.co.uk/profiles/story/0,9396,459854,00.html

    What do we make of someone with a doctorate in economic history who joins the Communist Party in 1973 when the excesses of Stalin had been exposed by Khrushchev in speech to the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party in 1956 and after Khushchev had been subsequently deposed by Brezhnev in 1964? Robert Conquest published his classic study of Stalin’s purges during the 1930s: The Great Terror, in 1968.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Conquest

    Conquest had ventured an estimate that Stalin had been responsible for the deaths of c. 20 million civilians, excluding war dead, through political repression. That was roundly dismissed at the time but later researches indicate that it is probably a substantial under-estimate:
    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/20TH.HTM

    In due course, Dr Reid became chairman of the Labour Party in 2002. When he was asked about a donation of £100,000 to the Party from a publisher of adult magazines, he said:

    “If you are asking if we are going to sit in moral judgment, in political judgment, on those who wish to contribute to the Labour party, then the answer to that is no.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2357617.stm

    All very curious but very revealing.

  7. Giving away connections and subsidizing PCs would have been a move away from the whole dirigiste tradition. I just can’t see a change like that coming from M. Grands Projets, pardon my French.

  8. Regarding MP-bugging, Sinn Fein candidates do not take their seats at Westminster (despite accepting salary and expenses), hence are not MPs. Problem solved 🙂

    Re: Troll Bob. Surely it would be more worrying if John Reid had joined the Communist Party *before* Krushchev etc etc etc? And you seem to have missed, sadly, that he’s come out against bugging MPs..

  9. Alex: “Re: Troll Bob. Surely it would be more worrying if John Reid had joined the Communist Party *before* Krushchev etc etc etc? And you seem to have missed, sadly, that he’s come out against bugging MPs..”

    Curious that my post has been deleted – twice. Perhaps readers might judge for themselves or do you intend censoring what they read?

    What is curious is that John Reid should join the Communist Party despite his doctorate in economic history and knowing of the the horrendous death toll from Stalinist terror. And surely you wouldn’t want to stop readers from knowing of John Reid’s position on donations to the Labour Party from a publisher of adult magazines, would you?

  10. “Curious that my post has been deleted – twice.”

    I don’t think anything has been deleted Bob, the issue is that with the MT anti-spam system anything anyone puts up with a link in it needs to be reposted by someone, and at the weekend things move slowly, that is all, I think. Or did you have another comment that has got lost somewhere in the system?

    You are talking about this one aren’t you?

    “The Cabinet is considering allowing the tapping of MPs’ telephones, Defence Secretary John Reid has acknowledged. ”

    Alex is relatively new as a full Afoe member, and I’m not sure he even knows how this part of the system operates. I wouldn’t jump to too hasty conclusions.

    Incidentally, curious how we all get edgy when we are talking about bugging, isn’t it :).

  11. Edward – I tend to have to endure serial problems in several blogs with posts that some evidently deem over- or offensively critical of Tony Blair and his government or his engagement in the Iraq war or because of posts containing links that document the extraordinary extent of crime, bad schools, alcohol abuse and political corruption in Yorkshire compared with other UK regions – I joke not and can readily repeat the posts with their embedded links to mainstream media reports.

    What is novel too in my experience, is to be called a “troll” by a full member of Fistful, presumably because he didn’t happen to agree with a long post documenting biographical details of Dr John Reid, presently the defence secretary, with links to The Guardian, the BBC and the Wikipedia encyclopedia, hardly marginal sources and hardly sources which can be dismissed as unacceptably “right wing”.

    Of course, in some years past I had formidable problems in many places online for venturing to argue as early as 1996 that it would be better if Britain stayed well away from joining the Euro. Curiously, that seems to have become conventional wisdom since.

    Regards,

  12. It’s not just the weird anti-Yorkshire racism posts (although I’d almost forgotten) but also the frankly bizarre, Paisleyoid anti-Catholic stuff, whose relevance to a discussion of Francois Mitterand’s legacy escapes me, as does that of John Reid’s precise role in student politics 35 years ago. Copy-pasting immense amounts of abuse towards one’s political opponents into unrelated threads fulfils any definition of “troll” I can think of.

  13. Alex: “It’s not just the weird anti-Yorkshire racism posts”

    It is hardly my fault if the region of Yorkshire and the Humber has outstanding UK national records in burglary, auto theft, sex offenders, binge drinking, political corruption, increased in deaths from alcohol related diseases 2000-04, failing schools etc etc – all of which can be extensively documented with references to UK mainstream media reports. Mitterrand and his politics appear almost saintly by comparison.

    As for the Catholic stuff, I simply recount the history. Catholics may object but it is well documented in all major history texts and without it there is no satisfactory explanation for eg the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688, the Act of Settlement barring the heir to the UK throne from marrying a Catholic, the Gordon Riots of 1780 or the difficulty the Duke of Wellington had as prime minister in getting the Catholic Emancipation Act through Parliament in 1829. The summer marching season in Northern Ireland famously relates to the defeat of King James II at the battle of the Boyne in 1689, which finally put paid to his fragile hopes of recovering the throne he had fled because of popular opposition to his espousal of Catholicism. It is virtually impossible to understand the course of English history since the early 16th century without considering the extent of hostile sentiments towards Catholicism. It makes sense to examine whether there was a rational basis for it and it turns out that there was. To understand where we are we need to know how we got here.

    As for the current relevance, you may recall recent abortive pressures to introduce religious principles in the draft EU Constitution. It has been said that some in mainland Europe devoutly wish to recreate the Holy Roman Empire that relapsed with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which had brought to an end the Thirty Years War in Europe, a war originally prompted by rivalrous states in Europe attempting to install the “correct” brand of Christianity in neighbouring states for the salvation of the souls of their citizens. There are many uncomfortable parallels with currently prevailing civilization clashes. Some certainly challenge the presumption that Blair wishes to champion of legitimising regime change through armed intervention when regimes are deemed insufficiently concerned to protect the rights of their citizens. The strange irony is that it was the Peace of Westphalia which established the principle in international relations that war to effect regime change was unacceptable. Blair wants to unpick that.

    The connection between Mitterrand and John Reid is straight forward enough. With the recent cabinet discussion on removing the ban against tapping the phones of MPs in Britain, it seems we in Britain are about to follow the bugging practices that Mitterrand introduced into French politics in the early 1980s. John Reid was famously – and accurately IMO – charicatured as Labour’s attack dog by Jeremy Paxman in a BBC Newsnight interview. If we are curious about Mitterrand’s fascist provenance in his connections with the Vichy regime in wartime France, it seems to me utterly extraordinary that we have now as defence secretary someone who joined the Communist Party in 1973 despite possessing all the academic training to know what a despicable, murderous, self-serving tyrant Stalin was and what a dubious ideology Marxism is.

    John Reid loves to dish it out but he and his more dedicated supporters and political colleagues hate for the compliment to be returned. His personal character flaws became even more transparent when he was pressed in a BBC interview to account for his position on the donation to the Labour Party of £100,000 by the publisher of adult magazines. His revealing response was: “If you are asking if we are going to sit in moral judgment, in political judgment, on those who wish to contribute to the Labour party, then the answer to that is no.” We can assess his character accordingly.

  14. Alex: “It’s not just the weird anti-Yorkshire racism posts”

    It is hardly my fault if the region of Yorkshire and the Humber has outstanding UK national records in burglary, auto theft, sex offenders, binge drinking, political corruption, increased in deaths from alcohol related diseases 2000-04, failing schools etc etc – all of which can be extensively documented with references to UK mainstream media reports. Mitterrand and his politics appear almost saintly by comparison.

    As for the Catholic stuff, I simply recount the history. Catholics may object but it is well documented in all major history texts and without it there is no satisfactory explanation for eg the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688, the Act of Settlement barring the heir to the UK throne from marrying a Catholic, the Gordon Riots of 1780 or the difficulty the Duke of Wellington had as prime minister in getting the Catholic Emancipation Act through Parliament in 1829. The summer marching season in Northern Ireland famously relates to the defeat of King James II at the battle of the Boyne in 1689, which finally put paid to his fragile hopes of recovering the throne he had fled because of popular opposition to his espousal of Catholicism. It is virtually impossible to understand the course of English history since the early 16th century without considering the extent of hostile sentiments towards Catholicism. It makes sense to examine whether there was a rational basis for it and it turns out that there was. To understand where we are we need to know how we got here.

    As for the current relevance, you may recall recent abortive pressures to introduce religious principles in the draft EU Constitution. It has been said that some in mainland Europe devoutly wish to recreate the Holy Roman Empire that relapsed with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which had brought to an end the Thirty Years War in Europe, a war originally prompted by rivalrous states in Europe attempting to install the “correct” brand of Christianity in neighbouring states for the salvation of the souls of their citizens. There are many uncomfortable parallels with currently prevailing civilization clashes. Some certainly challenge the presumption that Blair wishes to champion of legitimising regime change through armed intervention when regimes are deemed insufficiently concerned to protect the rights of their citizens. The strange irony is that it was the Peace of Westphalia which established the principle in international relations that war to effect regime change was unacceptable. Blair wants to unpick that.

    The connection between Mitterrand and John Reid is straight forward enough. With the recent cabinet discussion on removing the ban against tapping the phones of MPs in Britain, it seems we in Britain are about to follow the bugging practices that Mitterrand introduced into French politics in the early 1980s. John Reid was famously – and accurately IMO – charicatured as Labour’s attack dog by Jeremy Paxman in a BBC Newsnight interview. If we are curious about Mitterrand’s fascist provenance in his connections with the Vichy regime in wartime France, it seems to me utterly extraordinary that we have now as defence secretary someone who joined the Communist Party in 1973 despite possessing all the academic training to know what a despicable, murderous, self-serving tyrant Stalin was and what a dubious ideology Marxism is.

    John Reid loves to dish it out but he and his more dedicated supporters and political colleagues hate for the compliment to be returned. His personal character flaws became even more transparent when he was pressed in a BBC interview to account for his position on the donation to the Labour Party of £100,000 by the publisher of adult magazines. His revealing response was: “If you are asking if we are going to sit in moral judgment, in political judgment, on those who wish to contribute to the Labour party, then the answer to that is no.” We can assess his character accordingly.

  15. “…some in mainland Europe devoutly wish to recreate the Holy Roman Empire…”

    Like who?

    The closest I can think of is the old joke about Otto von Habsburg’s comment when asked about the outcome of the Austria-Hungary soccer game: “Yes, but who did the play?” I can’t say that this is a serious contribution to political analysis.

    Posing Westphalia as the end of the Holy Roman Empire (and remembering Voltaire’s quote on same) is, to my mind, peculiar. It’s in the middle of the period when the Habsburgs were emperors, but at a time when the office was at least nominally electoral and when being an imperial elector was a sign of great power. (Prussia rising from the lands of the Elector of Brandenburg well after 1648, for example.) So I don’t see Westphalia making much difference in the trajectory of the HRE at all.

    Second, thinking of the Thirty Years’ War solely in terms of its effects on the German lands — or at a stretch its effects on what we now see as Germany, Austria and perhaps the Czech Republic — is to miss its enormous impact east of the Elbe, where Denmark, Poland, Sweden and Russia contended over vast swathes of territory. Westphalia did precious little to entrench sovereignty in this area. And indeed, by most accounts the war began with a Cossack uprising in 1648. Ignoring this history may have made sense while the Berlin Wall still stood, but in the decade and a half since, the time has come for a broader view of European history, one that does not pretend that Europe ends where Stalin’s tanks came to rest.

    Third, the concept of ‘Westphalian’ sovereignty was slow to emerge, with European states overrunning each other on a regular basis from the time of the peace until, more or less, 1945.

    Fourth, the concept of ‘non-interference’ most stringently codified in the UN Charter and, for Europe, the Helsinki Declarations, has been under significant pressure for at least a decade. The European Union is, as is well known, a pool of sovereignty, and thus a challenge to the model at the peaceful end of the spectrum. Humanitarian intervention by the West in Bosnia and Kosovo — to say nothing of the violent disintegration of Yugoslavia — are challenges to the Westphalian notion of sovereignty at the pointy end of the stick.

    In short, I think that Bob’s argument has as many holes as Swiss cheese.

  16. “the concept of ’Westphalian’ sovereignty was slow to emerge, with European states overrunning each other on a regular basis from the time of the peace until, more or less, 1945.”

    Absolutely – and the international objection each time was the infringement of national sovereignty by an aggressor. The League of Nations after WW1 and the United Nations after WW2 were both intended to prevent unilateral aggression in Europe and elsewhere. The League flagged and failed in its mission and the authority of the United Nations is under challenge, not least because of the invasion of Iraq by the “Coalition of Willing” in 2003 without the sanction of the UN Security Council. The legality of the Iraq invasion was emphatically rejected in a letter to The Guardian on 7 March 2003 by eminent teachers of international law:

    “We are teachers of international law. On the basis of the information publicly available, there is no justification under international law for the use of military force against Iraq. The UN charter outlaws the use of force with only two exceptions: individual or collective self-defence in response to an armed attack and action authorised by the security council as a collective response to a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression. There are currently no grounds for a claim to use such force in self-defence. The doctrine of pre-emptive self-defence against an attack that might arise at some hypothetical future time has no basis in international law. Neither security council resolution 1441 nor any prior resolution authorises the proposed use of force in the present circumstances.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,3604,909275,00.html

    The participants to the Peace of Westphalia undermined the remaining rationale for the Holy Roman Empire by agreeing that the internal affairs of a sovereign state were the sole prerogative of the sovereign authority of that state and no other state. Precisely that same principle is invoked by PRC whenever the issue of abuse of human rights in China is raised by other governments. We may regret that but then President Bush appears quite unconcerned whenever other governments object to the abuse of human rights on US administered territories.

    The internal laws of states are regularly infringed by their respective citizens, which is why most states have police forces, courts and trials. The fact that laws are often breached is not usually taken to be an effective argument for having no laws and abolishing national institutions of justice and law enforcement. By implication, the body of international laws, agreements and protocols governing inter-state relations that we have may function imperfectly but it is surely better than having none at all and resolving each emerging issue afresh through force majeur.

    In short, on consideration, Doug doesn’t seem to have made much of a case. (:

  17. Third, the concept of ‘Westphalian’ sovereignty was slow to emerge, with European states overrunning each other on a regular basis from the time of the peace until, more or less, 1945.

    Well, mightn’t it be more accurate to state the principal rule of Westphalia as: An attempt to interfere with affairs beyond your borders is an act of war. War was seen as a fact of life.

    Furthermore, in some cases aggression between states of the Empire was seen as a breach of law. Prussia in its wars against Austria technically also fought the Empire, whose army had shrunk to a few hundred men. That law is sometimes broken is more or less a normal state of affairs.

  18. “So who is it who’s trying to revive the Holy Roman Empire then?”

    I’m pleased to reassure all here that the suggestion made about recreating the Holy Roman Empire wasn’t in any way original on my part. The notion of resurrection was embodied long ago in the institution of the Charlemagne Prize to be awarded to those who promoted the cause of European integration above and beyond the call of duty, so to speak.

    Among recent recipients, Tony Blair was so honoured in 1999 and Giscard d’Estaing, the principal authour of the EU’s draft Constitution, in 2003.

    Jean-Pierre Chevenement, France’s interior minister in Jospin’s government in 2000, was quite explicit in the charge he made: “There is a tendency in Germany to imagine a federal structure for Europe which fits in with its own model. Deep down, it is still dreaming of the Holy Roman Empire. It hasn’t cured itself of its past derailment into Nazism.” Predictably, he came under intense pressure to apologise and retract which he duly did. But besides all that, how come all the pressures there were to embed commitments to Christian theology and values in the EU’s draft Constitution?

    Fortunately, the pressures were eventually abortive but they clearly paraded the intention to revert back from the prevailing European model of the secular state which starts from a presumption that adherents of all faiths are regarded as endowed with equivalent entitlements and responsibilities.

    What of this? “We’ve just witnessed the addition of another ten nations to the membership of the European Union, with the enthusiastic blessing of the pope. The development of this entity has been of particular interest to us because of the Bible prophecies that indicate there will be a final resurrection of the ‘Holy Roman Empire’ which will play a pivotal role in events which will culminate in Christ’s second coming. Will the European Union play that prophesied role?”
    http://www.garnertedarmstrong.ws/Mark_Wordfroms/manews0009.shtml

  19. I have to admit to not following closely – let alone recalling – anything Dr Paisley says. The fascinating insight is that it was a French socialist minister, Jean-Pierre Chevenement, who made explicit claims in 2000 about supposed German ambitions to resurrect the Holy Roman Empire.

    However, long before that I recall jokes from the office about the nostalgia of some avowed Europhiles for the Holy Roman Empire. One of David Cameron’s early initiatives on becoming leader of the Conservatives in Britain was to commit to disentangling Britain’s Conservative MEPs from the European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament.

    I can readily understand his rationale. The EPP is committed to creating a Federal European (super) state, to which the Conservative Party is opposed, and the EPP is also the grouping in the European Parliament for MEPs from Christian Democrat parties around Europe of which we have no equivalent in Britain – one reason being that Christian Democrats tend to have definite Catholic affiliations. Besides that, with Kohlgate in Germany and the trials and tribulations of S. Andreotti in Italy, European Christian Democrats tend to have a lot of surplus political baggage: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3746322.stm

  20. The meaning of ‘sleaze’? Try this for an example:

    “Five people have gone on trial in Rome charged in connection with the alleged murder of Italian banker Roberto Calvi in London in 1982. . . Calvi, dubbed ‘God’s banker’ because of his ties to the Vatican, was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge. . .”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4313960.stm

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