Populists, Xenophobes, anti-Europeans and euro-sceptics

I heard a member of the European Commission talk disparagingly about populists, xenophobes, anti-Europeans and euro-sceptics. He seemed to believe that such folk who held some or all of these views were both evil and stupid. It was an odd way for an educated person to talk and an even odder way for an education person to think. 

Populism is not a bad thing in itself; it can be used wrongly, and so can any such concept. We have seen how even great ideas have been used in ways which the originators of them never intended and would be appalled to learn about. Populism is no different. It is no more than the feeling of many people focused upon an idea. Politicians never trust the people, but the instincts of the mass of people are usually better for the common good than the instincts of the politicians that are supposed to serve the people.

Xenophobia is a perfectly rational way to live. It is expressed in different language in many respectable concepts – such as the precautionary principle. It is right to start with caution when you meet something foreign and unknown. As you get to know the thing so you learn about it and can no longer be said to be xenophobic about it. You might be prejudiced one way or the other about the thing, but you will not, once you know about it, be xenophobic.

As far as anti-European (if there is such a word) I suppose that is no more than disagreeing with people like the politician who talked about it. This is no more than the crude and dangerous concept that George Bush iterated before the start of the Iraq War  to the effect “if you are not for us you are against us”.

Finally, what is Euro-sceptism? It is perhaps no more than a a belief that small is beautiful originally made popular by E E Schumacher, combined with the belief that those from a common culture know best how to govern themselves.

The words that politicians use betray their real feelings and when they mis-use respectable words in order to argue their case, it usually indicates that they cannot make their case using words in their proper meanings.

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