Number 1 (January 2006)
The vote is fixed. If
the “no” side wins the day this time, they will make us vote again
(as in Denmark and Ireland) until the “yes” wins. We may as well
vote yes right now.
We are free to wonder
though, at the upsurge of the no side in April and the reasons for
this tenacious, silent dissent. This was a remarkable event. The
bounce back of the yes side was nothing more than an inexorable
return to normality (only the no is a mystery). This no is not what
its official proponents say it is, as the arguments behind it are as
inconsistent as those advanced by the proponents of the yes. A
politically inspired rise in the no is impossible to sustain and it
is this politically inspired support for the no which recedes under
the return of the yes.
The most interesting
and exciting thing in this trompe l’oeil referendum is the no that
hides behind the official no – the no that is beyond political
rationalization – the part of the no that represents resistance. It
must be very dangerous to mobilize the enormous powers and energies
which have assembled to defend the yes. Such panic points to a
skeleton in the closet.
This no is an automatic
(instinctive) reaction to the ultimatum this referendum has
represented from the beginning. It is a reaction against the
coalition of good conscience, to divine Europe, and to the
pretensions of universality and the infallibility of a position
(yes) that its supporters did not imagine would ever be challenged.
This no is not a no to Europe, but a no to the unquestionable yes.
No one can stand the
arrogance of a victory which has been declared in advance – whatever
reasons are given (in this case for a Europe that is merely
virtual). The outcome of the vote has been decided in advance and
all that is sought is public consensus. Yes to the yes. Behind this
banal formulation rests a terrible mystification. The yes itself is
no longer really a yes to Europe, or yes to Chirac, or yes to the
liberal order. It has become yes to the yes, to the consensual
order, and it is no longer the answer to a question – but the
essence of a question.
What is being put to
the test is Europositivity. The unconditional yes has generated an
equally unconditional no – a reaction against pride and assumed
consensus. It is a great mystery why there has not been an even
stronger reaction in support of the no against yes-ification [oui-trification].
The reflex to support the no does not have to be politically aware:
it is simply a backlash against those who presume to usher in the
universal Good while consigning their opponents to the darkness of
history. What the forces of the yes failed to anticipate were the
perverse effects of what they understood as the Good – a kind of
unconscious understanding that allows one to know that those who say
they are right are not. Since Maastricht and April 22, the forces of
political correctness on the left and on the right have not wanted
to know about this silent dissent.
This no, which comes
from the depths, should not be understood as a work of negation or
of critical thought. It is simply the response of defiance against a
hegemonic principle descending indifferently from a great height for
the consent of the people. Virtual Europe – this carbon copy of
world power – must be protected at all costs from the masses whose
role is to serve as an alibi for the project. Those in power have
good reason to be suspicious of referenda and any kind of true
expression of political will which, in the true context of
representation, might turn against them. And so Parliaments are left
to validate the process and make Europe quietly.
But we are well
accustomed to this misappropriation of public opinion and political
will. It is only a short time since the War in Iraq took place led
by an international coalition of power against the massively and
spectacularly expressed will of all the peoples. Today this serves
as the model for building Europe. It is surprising that the no camp
has not made more of this complete distain for popular will of the
All of this goes well
beyond the current referendum episode and it reveals the bankruptcy
of the very principle of representation as representative
institutions no longer function in a democratic manner – of people
confronting power – now they operate in exactly the opposite manner
– by fake consultation and the trick of a question and answer
charade where the yes answers only to itself.
At the heart of the
political then rests the breakdown of democracy. If the electoral
system, already riddled with non-voters, is to be rescued at all
cost (even before answering yes, the categorical imperative is to
vote), it is by functioning as the reverse of true representation –
as imposed decisions taken in the name of the people (even if
secretly the people think otherwise).
Like a world power, Europe grows by
annexations. Behind the abreaction to the yes the no represents a
refusal of this kind of Europe which forebodes more than the mere
intrusion of supranational institutions and global market forces:
the liquidation of true representation, leaving to the people only
the figurative role of extras – saying yes to foregone conclusions.
As for the outcome of this referendum, there remains some suspense.
Given that the insolent
hegemony of the yes has led to a resurgence of the no – one may
expect that the recent outburst of the yes campaign will lead to a
further strengthening of the no. But can this no, which surfaces
from the depths of the silent majority hold against the intoxication
of the yes? It is a good bet that we will return to rule by
consensus under the spiritual authority of those in power.
No matter what the
outcome, caught between the yes and the no, the binary 0 and 1 of
calculation, this is but one episode on a more serious outcome: the
end of collective sovereignty. Already we can see the formation of
something other than the passive or manipulated citizen with the new
image of the hostage-citizen, of a citizenry hijacked by those in
power. Such hostage taking has become the very form of terrorism
today – a democratic form of state terrorism.