The European Union is an embryonic supranational political entity. What does this mean?
The first thing to notice about the term supranationalism is that it involves the concept of nationalism. In other words, it is rooted in collectivism. Unlike internationalism, however, supranationalism does not hold that the solution to the friction between national collectives is a co-operative association. It advocates the institution of an overarching, subordinating political authority that sacrifices the goals of the smaller national collectives to a larger organic entity, in this case Europe.
Perversely, the advocacy of this position is rooted in the recognition that collectivism kills. Whether it is nineteenth century French or Austrian imperialism, or twentieth century German National Socialism, Italian Fascism, or Russian Communism, the result is the same: war, conquest, oppression. Supranationalists are willing to accept the overwhelming historical case against national collectivism, however they see it as a problem of scope, not of substance. To them, the implementation of collectivism along national lines does not subsume the individual to a large enough collective to prevent him from engaging in his natural, predatory “selfish” behavior. In fact it seems to facilitate it, by providing those with unharnessed predatory proclivities with the national instruments of war.
To stop man’s supposedly innately destructive character from actualizing itself, the supranationalists propose a broader and stricter form of collectivism. Internationalism, in their view, is too lax. It doesn’t have the mechanisms necessary to force aggressive regimes to sacrifice their ambitions to international consensus. This is especially so because it doesn’t have a way of coercing those nations which pledge to stop agressors to do so on a purely altruistic basis. Supranationalism, by contrast, involves such a mechanism — a coercive apparatus that penetrates and overrides national governments.
At the present time this mechanism is in its infancy. The European Union budget is about 1/8th that of the British Government, and about 1/20th that of the US government. And half the budget is dedicated to agricultural subsidies to boot. So it’s a “small” government. Still, the European Parliament has representation by population, rather than by country, and it has growing legislative power. It is also has an expanding executive power as part of the European Common Foreign Security Policy–which aspires to supplant NATO (if only!). The European Court of Justice in 2005 ruled that EU Law takes precedence over national law for member states.
It’s hardly surprising to find that national politicians are often at odds with the EU, and especially its courts. Nor is it surprising that a major issue relating to the latest round of attempts to expand EU power has been the question of secession. For a “United States of Europe” to come about, a new allegiance has to develop more fully in people’s minds: Europism.
(Continued in Part 3.)