The Confederate States of America, 1861-65, advocated the preservation of individual states rights, including state tariffs, within a federal system. Although opposed to international slavery and slave trading, it included the right to hold slaves within each state. (Just in case there is any doubt, this writer does not support slavery in any form—and never has.)
On June 29, 2005, a group of Neo-Confederates formulated a new Confederate Constitution that advocates a return to the importance of individual liberty, on which the republic was founded in 1776. These founding principles have long been superseded by what is in reality an American Empire. In the case of Europe, something similar to this new Confederate Constitution could provide an alternative to the increasingly oppressive European Union. Such a European Confederation would enhance individual liberty and give the right to its component states to operate selected tariffs (Greece please note) in place of the existing “Empire” of the European Union.
Today in the USA, the states still maintain more power than the counties of Britain or regions of France to legislate different taxes on many goods—notably fuel, drinks and tobacco—and laws governing driving and marriage licences, for example. In Europe we must not forget that Germany, a Federal Republic, is still made up of 16 states, of which Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia are the most important. Again, unlike Britain, many retain some powers that are similar to those of the individual states in the USA.
It should not be overlooked that Great Britain is already heading towards a United Kingdom Confederation with more powers increasingly being given to the Scottish and Welsh parliaments and the Northern Ireland Assembly. However, it is the example of Switzerland that could provide a working template for the development of a European Confederation, not least because it has shown that people who are German, French and Italian have learnt to get on with each other, plus the small number who speak Romansh.
Switzerland is a Confederation of 26 cantons which enjoy some degree of autonomy. An aspect of its democracy is expressed in its regular referendums that enable ordinary citizens to propose a change to the constitution as long as it is supported by 100,000 votes of the approximate 3,500,000 total. Referendums have gone through that restrict the number and heights of mosques in Switzerland. Others have helped to control immigration numbers.
Retain Different Currencies
Much of the depth of the economic depression that has hit all Europe, but particularly the South, is down to the common currency of the Euro. Surely logic dictates that the abolition of the Euro would allow each nation’s currency to find its own exchange rate against each other, as opposed to being in reality pegged to what is best for Germany’s exchange rate. It would not come about overnight but with reduced exchange rates Greece, Spain and Italy, for example, would find a rising demand for their goods and services: machine tools and cars for Italy, and a marked rise in tourists for Greece and Spain where holidays would become cheaper for those coming from north of the Alps. We could also mention the advantages to Spain’s own overlooked modern manufacturing industry.
Therefore, a Confederation would keep its individual currencies where this was most advantageous to the nation concerned. Spain and Portugal might decide to use a common currency. The Irish – who have been commended for their hard work and resilience in overcoming their fall from euroland grace – might decide to go back to the pound, even if they wish to call it the punt.
Retain National Armies
Because of the reduced size of the British Army the last 30-40 years has seen the disappearance, mainly through amalgamations, of many of the former county regiments – e.g. the regiment from my county, the Suffolk Regiment, has been absorbed in the Royal Anglian Regiment. Most military analysts and historians believe that the removal of strong ties to the local area reduces competitiveness between units and also reduces the desire of soldiers to achieve “hero status” within their own communities, thus reducing the fighting effectiveness of units.
Although Robert E. Lee was the Confederate Army’s most brilliant and effective General in the American Civil War, he was only the General of the Virginian Army. All the other Southern States had their own armies which, of course, worked closely with Lee.
French hegemony over Western Europe in the 18th Century was finally overcome by an alliance of separate national forces from Britain and the German states under Marlborough and then the downfall of Napoleon by the alliance of the Duke of Wellington’s army, Dutch soldiers, and the invaluable help of Blucher’s Prussians at Waterloo.
Thus history suggests that we should still retain our national forces within a Confederation but working in close co-operation. That is already being seen with future plans for the British and French navies and the limited joint ‘strikes’ made by British and French aircraft in the recent Libyan campaign (not that I supported this interference in Libyan affairs).
Finally in this brief outline of how a European Confederation would function, we must avoid a common police force. We do not need some imitation of the FBI but rather an Interpol that is upgraded with the tools of the electronic age. It could become more useful in tackling illegal immigration into Europe, particularly by destroying people-smuggling gangs.