"What we need now is an intelligent synthesis between the market and the state . . ."

Thus spake European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso on Saturday, urging EU leaders to "turn a crisis into an opportunity." The "crisis," of course, is the resounding rejection of the proposed EU constitution by voters in France and the Netherlands. But what does Barroso mean by his "intelligent synthesis"?

Actually, Barroso explained: "It is vital that we use the present moment to forge a new consensus. It is the role of the Commission to facilitate this consensus ... and to avoid a confrontation between the different models or perceptions of Europe."

I see. Barroso's message, as Reuters transmuted it, was that Europe "must avoid an ideological war between free-market capitalism and the welfare state." The wire service added helpfully that Barroso "voiced confidence that the EU would emerge stronger from the crisis, but gave no clear details of how."

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Rick Gaber||

    I like the way Perry de Havilland put it:

    Wrong. An ideological war is exactly what we need and it is long overdue...

  • gaius marius||

    and i'd take anything from samizdata with a shakerful of salt. most people who post there want nothing more than to shoot someone for an idea. look at the fucking weapon laying on the books, for gods sake! what more message need they send? why even write anything?

  • R C Dean||

    gaius, unless you are a pathological hoplophobe/pacificist, you know that weapons are morally neutral. Saying, as you do, "look, they have a picture of a gun on their website! I can now safely dismiss anything they have to say" places you firmly in the camp of people who are not serious about fundamental human freedoms, which rest on right to personal security.

    What matters is how and why weapons are used. Serious people can have a discussion about this, and we frequently do at samizdata. We tend to believe in a robust right of self-defense, as do most frequenters of this website.

    Unserious people run around with their hair on fire whenever they see a picture of a gun.

  • ||

    Besides, it's a Sig, which says to me that serious people are talking there ;)

  • ||

    That said, I agree with gaius to an extent. The third way runs from 'what is the maximum welfare state we can afford?' to 'what is the minimum welfare state we can offer and still be re-elected?' The argument is over scope these days.

  • ||

    Um, yes, there's a picture of a gun on their website. Thus, I can safely draw the conclusion that they support the initiation of violence.

    "Genuine 'social responsibility' means not imposing your will on others by force [...]"



    Wait a minute! It could it be a reference to a kind of "knowledge is a powerful weapon" meme...? Nahhhh, they're just crazy gun-nuts who are a pair of combat boots away from the Michigan Militia.

  • gaius marius||

    lol, mr ligon! 9mm means all business.

    Unserious people run around with their hair on fire whenever they see a picture of a gun.

    you're surely not this dim, mr dean. what do you suppose that image is supposed to convoke? babies laughing?

    now we all know (don't we?) that no one there is shooting anyone. but a gun is a symbol. a book is a symbol. they mean something when juxtaposed, contextualizing one another. neither is ever morally neutral in isolation, and much less in communion. just as much as the words strung together which you type mean things (sometimes), that image means something.

    then contextualize it with their self-description: The Samizdata people are a bunch of sinister and heavily armed globalist illuminati who seek to infect the entire world with the values of personal liberty and several property"

    "sinister", "armed", "infect" -- what do you suppose they're trying to convey?

    and then, "An ideological war is exactly what we need and it is long overdue. Pick up your spanners then go find some gears to throw them into."

    more war and anarchism. then check the comments. the most obvious one is, "perhaps a piece of wood applied to the side of his head in a humane but firm way might help." -- but all throughout there is indulgence in the language of revolt, violence and confrontation in service of the ideal.

    i suspect some humor, of course -- but, as with all humor, a touch of half-hidden desire. these (and, if i my be so bold, perhaps you and many others) are people who would not shed a tear if the world fell into hell if it served the ideal -- another incarnation of the ancient wish of rebirth in death.

    these are the people who end up climbing onto lampposts to shout for war to manifest the noble idea -- only to regret their stupidity (hopefully) when enough people have been killed to no avail.

  • ||

    You know, the Japanese word for "crisis" and "opportunity" are the same..... "crisitunity."

  • R C Dean||

    "sinister", "armed", "infect" -- what do you suppose they're trying to convey?

    That they're mostly a bunch of snarky brits with a dry sense of humor? Just peruse the pictures of their cocktail parties and you might get a little more "context" on just how violent and dangerous these people are.

    i suspect some humor, of course -- but, as with all humor, a touch of half-hidden desire. these (and, if i my be so bold, perhaps you and many others) are people who would not shed a tear if the world fell into hell if it served the ideal -- another incarnation of the ancient wish of rebirth in death.

    While we're playing amateur psychologist here, I suspect more than a little bit of projection in this particular passage. Gaius, let us remind ourselves, is the one who gravitates toward the collectivist end of the spectrum. These are the folks, not the individualists, who did not shed tears as they drove the world into hell to serve an ideal. Granted, it is the leftist collectivists, not the quasi-Burkean romantic collectivists like gaius, who have the blood on their hands, but . . . .

    Gaius is obvously unfamiliar with my postings at samizdata - I personally come out in opposition to the anarchists and other purists, and in favor of an incrementalist approach to political progress using such radical means as voting and compromise. Hardly the rantings of the fanatic that gaius imagines me to be.

  • gaius marius||

    i'm afraid a paragraph of obeisance in millions of words doesn't exactly stand as the final word, mr willaims. you can spend hours looking through samizdata (as i have) and find its language, perspective and symbolism more and more disturbing all along. you don't have to be an expert in hermeneutics.

    of course there are counterexamples within -- there always are. but try to picture the general tone and language and dialogue of that site in, say, a major newspaper.

  • gaius marius||

    collectivist end of the spectrum

    civility only seems close to collectivist when you are seeing it from the distant right, mr dean. :)

    i favor the empiricism of men like locke -- men who understood that freedom -- actual freedom, not destructive idealist freiheit -- is predicated on limitation, civilized order and a community of laws, only within which can productive freedom of action be ensured.

    if that makes me collectivist to you, so be it. i'm unsurprised.

    Hardly the rantings of the fanatic that gaius imagines me to be.

    lol -- mr dean, do you suspect i've never read anything you've written? how often do you post here?

  • ||

    gaius:

    I dunno. I think you are describing a feature and not a bug. Look at the non web comments of a guy like Brad DeLong, then check out his blog posts. It seems to me that people who frequent blogs are being signaled that The Content Herein is Genuiine exactly because language is employed that can't be employed in a newspaper.

  • ||

    Written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.



    ~~ John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963, 35th President of the United States

  • R C Dean||

    gaius, my recollection is that you tend to see individualism as corrosive and damaging in situations where I see the alternative, at least when sponsored by the state, as far worse. Communitarian, collectivist, whatever. You and I probably agree on quite a bit in terms of the role of civil society, but my impression is that you default to the state to fix problems with civil society, and I do not.

    As to whether I am civil or not, I invite you to list examples of intemperate language or on-line behavior on my part.

    gaius, if you imagine that I am the kind of fanatic "who would not shed a tear if the world fell into hell if it served the ideal", then I can only reiterate that you are not familiar at all with my general approach to social problems and their solutions, as reflected in my writings for samizdata.

  • ||

    gm,

    I realize your post wasn't directed at me and thus I hope you'll forgive the intrusion. But my gosh! Do you realize that if one were to swap your references (major newspaper, major blog instead of samizdata) your post reads as the libertarian/conservative critique of MSM?

    Oh, and I'm still looking for the links to your fav history books. Did I miss them, or should I have a look at your site?

    The Other John

  • gaius marius||

    The third way runs from 'what is the maximum welfare state we can afford?' to 'what is the minimum welfare state we can offer and still be re-elected?' The argument is over scope these days.

    agreed, mr ligon -- but it is also traveled well beyond any rational bounds, thanks to democracy. "afford" has entirely fallen out of the political lexicon over the last 20 years. "we'll just print more money! bread and circuses! no problem!..." well, no problem yet.

    i rather think that what's going on at the eu is what would be hoped for. the euro elite are decidedly far more liberal than their electorates; this entire backlash is attributed to public panic over the liberalizing agenda of leadership, isn't it? democracy is shouting for social dependency, while the elite are talking about foregoing dependency for a mere (and affordable) safety net.

  • ||

    Sooooo...you've spent hours and hours scouring some quasi-obscure blog in an effort to ascertain the degree of "disturbance" of the "general tone and language of dialogue"? oooohhhkaaaayyyy...

    Regardless, that kind of hyperbole doesn't really give merit to any dismissal or "grain of salt" argument against that post. Regardless of how much the "tone" of the site "disturbs" you, the post in question should be evaluated on its own...

  • ||

    "That they're mostly a bunch of snarky brits with a dry sense of humor?"

    Yeah, sure. I've read enough of RC Dean's posts to know that he turns into a little girl with pigtails at the first snarky reference to lining the pigs up agains the wall when the revolution comes.

  • MP||

    some quasi-obscure blog

    Hey! I've been keeping tabs on Samzidata for a few years now. Its not that obscure. ;)

  • fyodor||

    "What we need now is an intelligent synthesis between the market and the state . . ."

    And I'm sure someday they'll find it, it's just around the corner, or the next, or the next. After all, we've only recently begun to be "intelligent" about state management of the economy, so all the mistakes that came before don't count...

  • gaius marius||

    your fav history books

    sorry, mr jack -- i wouldn't know where to start. :) run around my stupid page if you want, though.

  • R C Dean||

    Apparently you haven't read, or at least understood, very many of my posts at samizdata, joe.

    I have never once come out in favor of revolutionary change in any marginally functioning democracy, and I find the practices of leftist revolutionaries ("lining the pigs up against the wall") to be particularly repugnant.

    In fact, joe, I challenge you to find one single post at samizdata that advocates armed revolution in the Western democracies. Let's see the link.

    I find it particularly ironic that gaius is urging people to avoid or dismiss posts such as this:

    http://www.samizdata.net/blog/archives/007303.html

    which discusses the proposition that the problem with Western society is too much damn democracy. Sound familiar, gaius? ALthough I suspect gaius may be a little uncomfortable with this:

    "So it is that democratic arrangements create agonies of uncertainty for all ideologues � ideologues being defined as everyone who knows better than the electorate. Democracy is obviously disgusting, because it enables the mob to overturn the rule of virtue and of the virtuous. "

    I might point out, joe, that post also is careful to note that, for all its flaws, democracy beats the hell out of more violent ways to arrange society.

  • ||

    I've never read any of your posts as Samizdata, RC, just your comments here.

    My comment wasn't about your political philosophy, but about your double standard when it comes to violent imagery.

    Which you demonstrate very well, btw, by switching from, "whoa, just a joke, folks" to wagging your finger at me as soon as I made a passing quip about political violence.

    Maybe, just maybe, it's possible that other people don't like being implicitly threatened any more than you do?

  • gaius marius||

    spent hours and hours scouring some quasi-obscure blog

    no different than what we do here, mr williams. :)

    post in question should be evaluated on its own...

    which is fine -- but that doesn't mean the site doesn't have its own personality, which can also be evaluated.

  • gaius marius||

    the problem i find with you on this, mr dean, is that you usually do not delineate along important lines what people think exactly and what inspired the ideas they hold.

    you conflate my philosophy -- which is deeply conservative -- with modernist revolutionism, conflate the social welfare ideas of berkeley with marxism -- conflated burke with romanticism just above in this very thread, in fact, which couldn't be more opposite. it seems to me that you've little historical context for these philosophies, and therefore allow them to run together, mix-n-match, in any way that suits the moment.

    and that yields other problems in talking with you here -- and i'm not trying to make an ad hominem attack here, just observing with the hope of revealing -- notably, that you think you advocate rationalism even when you obviously don't, think you advocate compromise and law even when you obviously don't. i suspect that's because you, like so many in this age, don't understand the basis of the viewpoints you claim to espouse.

    this is a widespread thing in this age, i think, where schools of thought have disintegrated into individualist make-your-own philosophy, which is so tolerant of nonsensical internal contradiction. an example of such tolerance is this

    Democracy is obviously disgusting, because it enables the mob to overturn the rule of virtue and of the virtuous.

    sort of devolved notion of what burkean conservatism is. the author seems to think such criticism of democracy is invariably in the service not of government by law and tradition but of ideology -- which are opposite things often confused in the west today -- and then refuses to understand how libertarianism is itself an ahistorical ideology borne of postmodernist antisocial revolutionism and the individualist heroism descended of nietzsche -- in fact the very intolerance of the limitations of law that he would claim to ridicule here!

    such inconsistencies are difficult to understand for me -- but are rampant nonetheless. this is, after all, an age in which protestant cults are actively conflating nietzschean heroism with christian piety. it's rather a syncretic free-for-all, imo, and symptomatic of the ahistoricism and lawlessness that has become the core of western thought postmodern.

  • ||

    that should be clisitunity.

  • ||

    Sometimes, Gaius, your writing sounds a lot like the Oswald Spengler-pseudonym over at Asia Times. You sure you aren't the same person?
    ;)

  • R C Dean||

    Sorry, gaius - glazed over there.



    you conflate my philosophy -- which is deeply conservative -- with modernist revolutionism,

    Not at all, gaius - in fact, I was careful to distinguish your brand of anti-individualism from that of the leftists.

    conflate the social welfare ideas of berkeley with marxism

    Considering I never referred to either, this strikes me as being a somewhat opaque accusation.

    conflated burke with romanticism just above in this very thread, in fact, which couldn't be more opposite.

    Ah, finally, something I actually said.

    I am quite aware that Burke stood against the romantics of his day. I was merely observing that your nostalgia for the rule of elites is, itself, somewhat gauzy, obscuring as it does the manifest abuses of such rule. I was using romantic as a descriptive term, what the pedants call an "adjective", to try to capture this particular flavor of your thinking.

    Glad to see you engage with my colleague's take on the elitism that opposes democratic institutions, even if I dozed off partway through.

  • gaius marius||

    You sure you aren't the same person?

    lol -- no, but i love the idea of taking spengler's name.

  • ||

    Jose Manuel Barroso

    That boy just don't understand the words "git off my property".

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement