With the EU-court ruling against Poland, there is one thing becoming clearer by the day. The EU is in the fast lane on the road to ancient Athens. Not, however, the Athens of the idyllic democracy so widely cherished. Because, as Thucydides wrote, Athens built its democracy on a colonialist empire. 

Building an Empire

After defeating the Persians at Marathon and Salamis, the mission for Athens to also liberate its (former) colonies in Ionia remained. To that purpose a league was established on the holy island of Delos in 478 BC, hence the name Delian League. The League was financed through sharing resources.

Within 20 years the League grew into an Athenian empire which would threaten its member to take away the right to vote, it confiscated finances, invaded resisting member states and forced them to ‘bend the knee’ to Athens. Recognize a pattern? The only difference is that in Europe the EU tries to achieve the latter part through legal and judicial means. It is ironic that this period of Empire coincides with Athenian democracy, which is seen as the historic gold standard for our own contemporary democracies.

How to finance one’s own demise

If history were to repeat itself, the end of the EU is going to be quite interesting. Despite technological advancements and superficially converging European cultures, the deeper differences between the peoples of Europe who make up the European culture are still too prevalent for the EU to diffuse.

It was after Naxos (in 471 BC) and Thasos (in 465 BC) were forced to its knees, that Athens truly started its rule. Slowly all (former) member states became fiscal, administrative, and military Athenian colonies. Cities were directly taxed in the – formerly independent – cities, ‘ambassadors’ had to represent Athenian interests, Athenian garrisons were quartered in or near cities of the League in order to maintain effective control on the ‘members’.

Ironically, these members had paid for their own demise. Their contribution, either financial or in ships, was subsequently used to pressure them into aligning themselves with the interests of Athens. These practices are very recognizable within the EU today.

EU: Empire instead of Democracy

The same situation is developing within the EU. In every capital, there is a representation of the European Commissionkeeping a close watch on the national budget. In the meantime, financial contributions to the EU are becoming less and less voluntary. There are embassies for the EC, houses, museums, a university, all to tell the tale of the benevolent EU. There is an EU army in development, and with some cynicism, Frontex can be seen as an embreyonic EU-navy.

Frames for direct taxation of citizens of member-states are being discussed, as well as an EU civil and criminal law Code. Yes, these last two developments are in its infancy, and as far as they are operative, they are voluntary.

This is a tried method both in commerce and government. Once the populous is addicted to the ‘free stuff’, people need to pay much more for the rest of the product, which has slowly become the only way to utilize the initial free stuff fully.

Openly demanding submission

The last step concerns the actions against Poland and Hungary, and to a lesser extent the actions towards the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Austria. It concerns the force-feeding of the EU-perspective of the world into the social fibres of the various nation states. Not the content of the Polish argument is the subject matter, but the threatening language. Threatening to take away the right to vote is one such example.

It has been seen before, namely in the Athenian Empire.

This entity, the EU, is an Empire. An Empire in open rebellion against its member states. Many of these member states can’t do – and don’t want to do – much against this situation. Member states have been drained of talent and will, the political structure has undergone a complete re-orientation towards Brussels. Once again, member states of a ‘League’ have financed their own demise.

Poland and Hungary are the old continent’s Thasos and Naxos. Interestingly, the period of the first Athenian Empire coincided with the period which is hailed as the birthplace of modern democracy. How bitter it is that our period of democracy seems to coincide with such an exact empire of an oppressive Empire.

Willem Cornax