Whilst we watch with impotent concern the descent of many of our neighbours into economic chaos we may reflect on the affliction that has brought this about. It is a disease that has crippled political thought here at home and in Europe. It is the curse of wishful thinking – so deep as to drive political leaders into defending as virtuous conceptions notions that are destroying the very basis of their paramount political philosophy.
Mr Cameron lectures the Eurozone as if this was an economic crisis with economic solutions. The truth is and always has been that the Euro is a fatal extension of the delusion that political union of ancient States may be extorted from their peoples by deception without their consent. But those peoples are by wishful thinking also complicit in their fate. France wished to be at the high table with Germany as a ‘great power’ with Italy trading its culture for political dignity. Germany wished to atone. Greece sought to turn from the Muslim East to the ‘civilised’ West. Belgium, Holland and Luxemburg sought shelter in the shadow of a benign Germany. Portugal and Spain escaped from the shadow of their dead dictators whilst Eastern Europe attained immediate democratic respectability without the years of experience needed to develop it for themselves.
All of these deep seated motives governed and still govern this ‘project’ and continue to justify the otherwise insane adherence to a single currency that is bringing down so many of the economies caught in its grip.
Yet here at home we suffer as much from this scourge of wishful thinking. It is this that blinds our political elite to the truth about the education that almost all parents have to accept for their children and about the NHS for almost every one of us that suffers in health.
The 1948 socialist experiment was intended to ensure that those who could not afford the cost of medical care would not suffer thereby and that a good education should not be the preserve of the rich. But beyond these laudable principles lay another and insidious notion which was that the State alone was virtuous and that private enterprise was tainted by profit and advantage. Thus it was necessary for the State not only to pay for these services but also provide them. This is the dominant and continuing cause of the failures in health and education.
The State can never be an efficient provider of services or goods. It is unaccountable, weighted in favour of the producer, grotesquely inefficient and expensive. One has only to think of having a monopoly National Food Service to realise what a disaster State management of vast enterprises has been. The State alone can raise taxes and it is for the State to help with its revenues those who do not have the means to choose and pay for these essential services. It is simply wishful thinking to confer on the State the monopoly of such provision. Nothing will change until this is acknowledged.