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‘Anti-Europe’ is an accurate term for UKIPpers

There are two possible meanings that the phrase ‘anti-Europe’ can carry.

One is the Fox News interpretation, under which Europe is full of gay, garlic-eating communists, and therefore should be bombed, or at least avoided. The other is the opposition to European political integration, or to the view of Europe as a political rather than solely a geographic entity.

If someone’s from Europe and/or voluntarily in Europe [*] – which includes almost everyone with any interest at all in the debate on European political integration – to describe that person as ‘anti-Europe’ in its first meaning would make no sense at all, unless they were actually an insane self-loather (Melanie Phillips is not a counterexample here).

Hence, people opposed to European political integration who complaining about the use of ‘anti-European’ to describe them are silly. Nobody’s claiming that you hate yourself, football, the Parthenon, black pudding, the English language and motorways. You do, however, hate the concept of Europe as a political entity. And that’s why you’re being described as ‘anti-Europe’.

There is some truth in the complaint, in that there’s a genuine conceptual difference between ‘anti-Europe’ and ‘anti-EU’. While most anti-EU types are also anti-Europe, there are a few people who favour European political integration but also believe that the EU is so hopelessly corrupt and useless that it should be abolished and we should start again. But they’re the only ones to whom that distinction applies, there really aren’t very many of them, and they’re not the people who join UKIP…

[*] a reminder to UKIPpers: the UK is, geographically, in Europe.

  1. June 15, 2010 at 8:45 pm | #1

    Nice try but no:

    "Hence, people opposed to European political integration who complaining about the use of ‘anti-European’ to describe them are silly. Nobody’s claiming that you hate yourself, football, the Parthenon, black pudding, the English language and motorways. You do, however, hate the concept of Europe as a political entity. And that’s why you’re being described as ‘anti-Europe’."

    Much fun was had over the fact that one of UKIP's press bods (ahem) lived in Portugal. How can Worstall live in Portugal when he's anti-Europe?

    But I'm not anti-Europe. I'm anti-EU, anti-European political integration, but not anti-Europe. Yet the claim was exactly that because I am anti- those political things it is absurd (even hypocritical of me) to be sufficiently pro-Europe to actually live there.

    So the distinction is still important, sorry, but it is.

    There are plenty who are anti-monarchy who still live in monarchies after all….

  2. June 15, 2010 at 11:40 pm | #2

    Wasn't the complaint more "how can he live in Portugal under free EU migration when he's opposed to European integration"?

  3. June 16, 2010 at 2:36 am | #3

    He'd have been able to live in Portugal before we joined the EU.

    Political integration has nothing to do with it. There are lots of arguments against the concept of European political integration (not least based on the lack of social, linguistic, legal and political common ground) that an arch Europhile could make.

    Throw in the reality of EU corruption, over-legislation and waste and the debate has bugger all to do with how much you like other European countries.

  4. June 16, 2010 at 3:38 am | #4

    He’d have been able to live in Portugal before we joined the EU.

    Really? I've no idea what immigration arrangements Portugal had at that point, but assuming they adopted the same as the UK currently applies, you'd either need a shedload of cash to invest in a business, a sponsored job, or retirement on a guaranteed pension

    I'm currently freelancing in Australia (whose immigration rules are near-identical to the UK's); I'd like to continue doing so but I can't, because I need a sponsored work visa to stay and work. If the EU broke up and we all adopted the same criteria, that would *utterly suck*.

    (yes, it'd be better if EU + Anglosphere formed a Bloc Of Sensible Countries and allowed everyone free migration and work across them. Problem: the Yanks would never allow it…)

  5. skidmarx
    June 16, 2010 at 3:51 am | #5
  6. June 16, 2010 at 4:29 am | #6

    We're both in favour of the free movement of people – independent of political union. That's the thing – none of this depends on European political union. We didn't need passports before 1914, but there was no EU.

    You're talking about a League of Democratic Nations – which I'd support.

  7. June 16, 2010 at 7:24 am | #7

    What Tim says.

    I'm half German and I like some European countries and I don't like others (needless to say, some of them wouldn't like me either). I'm opposed to the EU when I live in England and I'd still be opposed to the EU if I moved back to Germany.

    Your whole post is like saying "If English people don't like the way the country is run from Whitehall, then they are unpatriotic" which is a completely pointless argument, they are neither more nor less patriotic than people who like the way the country is run; it's purely a difference of opinion over how the country is run and neither party questions the continuing existence of England as a geo-political entity sharing a common language and currency.

  8. June 16, 2010 at 4:25 pm | #8

    I disagree – the analogy is more like saying "if an English person wanted to abolish the government in Westminster completely, and divide the country up into the historical Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, then it would be fair to call them 'anti-English', even though they didn't have any animosity towards English people or culture".

  9. June 16, 2010 at 6:59 pm | #9

    "He’d have been able to live in Portugal before we joined the EU. "

    Indeed I would: the next town over (Silves) has as it's largest building "Fabrica do Ingles". The English Factory (well, largest after the castle). For the collection and preparation of cork.

    And as a quick peek at the port shelf in an offie will show you various English types have been coming to work in Portugal for quite some time. Centuries in fact.

  10. Falco
    June 17, 2010 at 11:59 pm | #10

    Part of any political movement involves the capture of terms designed to make your opponents look like a tit, (see pro choice / pro life). As few people seem to make the distinction between anti-Europe = anti-EU and anti-Europe = xenophobic loony it is important to challenge those using the term in the former manner. I'm sure that some of those using it in the first sense are not trying to tar those with the meaning of the second but I will bet you real existing money that others make this step deliberately.

    It's a bit like making a linguistic link attempting to paint those who support further EU integration as supporters of corruption rather than just viewing that corruption as a price they are willing to pay.

  11. Hugo
    July 16, 2010 at 7:24 pm | #11

    1. Even if we accept that it could be acceptable to call someone anti-EU "anti-Europe", by continuing to use the term "anti-Europe" you are still creating unnecessary ambiguity. What's wrong with "anti-EU"? Why are you resistant to it?

    Therefore,
    2. I agree with Falco. There are plenty of people who will be confused as a result. You are creating unnecessary confusion.

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