Return to Tony's HomePage
This article has been posted on European Union USENET groups.
(c)tony goddard, belfast 1996
FUTURE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
Many people wonder what politicians and beaurocrats are
talking about when they discuss Europe. There are some
(1) The war in former FY/J is at the heart of Europe.
(2) Nationalism, ethnicity and unemployment are rife in EU.
(3) Movement towards a common currency is way behind schedule.
There are also some obvious advantages which are not
(1) EU is a migrant destination (survival/economic reasons).
(2) EU is region of high per-capita income.
(3) Rich cultural heritage including stolen artifacts.
Various predictions are made about a common currency,
especially those pertaining to the distribution of labour. Jobs
may shift with large scale migrations to areas where jobs can be
found. It is also possible that jobs may just be lost outright in
a bid to keep inflation down.
War and excessive unemployment make economic planning
very hard. Since central planning became a dirty word, currency
union as a step towards planned economic integration is not
But the prosperity of much of the EU has depended on
semi-colonial relations with the rest of the world. The last
aggressive move to protect its resource base was Gulf War II on
CNN. Big arms contracts by Britain and France filtered down to
many sub-contractors Europe wide. The rich tapestry of separate
languages and traditions provide a fine smoke screen to hide
dubious financial transactions.
Drug dealing has also proved very attractive. According
Narcotic drugs have become one of the biggest items of
international trade, with the total volume of drug trafficking
estimated at about $500 billion a year. The OECD estimates that
$85 billion in drug profits is laundered through financial
markets each year, of which $32 billion passes through the United
 UNDP Human Development Report 1994 Box 2.5
Other recent items in the UK media seem to show the
gravity of the problem. A recent meeting of policemen put the
figure at only a few billion, something like $2.5 billion, for
London. So even senior police officials ignore the level of
The colonial relationships can be delayed when there is
a local war. Sanctions against Serbia do very well to bolster the
profits of institutions specialised in money laundering and false
documentation. Weapons and drugs are standard means of conquest,
and in the absence of strategic planning economic competition
will degenerate into bloodshed.
Monetary union takes time. But with a credit card,
monetary union is already here. The banks charge for the service,
and generally win. They are the managers of a sort of casino
where wrong guesses on exchange rates can land men in jail.
Thieves and those with jobs already enjoy plastic money. But
plastic money is unknown to many. Trans National Corporations
(TNCs) are often able to operate more effectively than
governments, because their information needs are more tightly
controlled. Credit card companies are already much more powerful
than governments in their ability to check out suspicious
Europe requires more information integration, before it
comes down to a common currency. Indeed the easiest way to
introduce a full common currency would be to change to electronic
banking. Every welfare recipient would get a free computer to
update the cash card. There would obviously be some choice of
computers. One of the features would be a magnetic card slot. The
user puts the card in the slot, signs with an electronic
signature that something is needed, and the computer will write
an authorisation for the transaction on the card, which can then
be used in a machine.
Cards like these could serve as identity cards. While
compulsory, it should be possible for people to have personalised
ID cards, with jokes, or words of wisdom written on them. The ID
cards could also serve as EU Lottery Cards, so that people
remembered their number. Each week, a few winners would get
$5000. This would be a good test of the security of the system.
EU ID CARD
DATE OF BIRTH Public
PLACE OF BIRTH Public
BANK ACCOUNT NUMBER Private
CONTACT NUMBER Private
Technophobes beware. The New Europe is still neutral at
this stage. There are benefits as well as drawbacks from such a
(1) Equality of social rights.
(2) Common currency in at least one account.
(3) Job creation in building infrastructure.
Of course the EU ID card is also a key to participatory
democracy. It can be used as a telephone card to certain
government departments. There could be user changeable parts of
the card, although the card remains the property of the issuing
Civic access computer systems will allow the EU ID card
to be used to log on and send hate mail to various government
departments. Abusive language would generally not be tolerated,
and various sysadmins would probably ban some people from access.
This would be a microcosm of crime and punishment which would be
learnt by school children.
All citizens would have access to things rather like
USENET groups, and since the well behaved ones would not get
thrown off the system, they would perhaps become addicted, which
is even worse than using bad language. Friends and family would
suffer while the victim went and participated in committees to
solve the problems of poor housing, unemployment, crime and all
Normal voting for political parties would be
facilitated by the card. Some people would object that it would
be easy to record the vote with the card number, and that would
compromise the secrecy of the ballot, but in practice many people
do not even bother to vote.
Privacy would be treated lightly. The full lists would
be available on civic computer terminals everywhere. People with
unique names in the EU would stand out, while those with common
names could hide in a crowd. Every month the list would appear on
CD-ROM or whatever the fashion was.
All of this could be done in a couple of years, well
before conventional monetary union. In UK they were able to hook
all the newsagents shops together for the national lottery in a
very short time. It would be quite easy to give law enforcement
officials some EU wide ID card, just by making them pay for it.
Normally they would just get what is accessible to any other
member of the public and no more. What they would really like
would be details of fines and other things.
SCHENGEN INFORMATION SYSTEM (SIS).
The Schengen information system (SIS) is a collection
of databases to try and make the Schengen Agreement look
convincing. Anyone who expected open internal borders on 1992
knows just how many unforeseen problems have come into being. It
should also be added that predictable problems were ignored from
the start. The new french president, Monsieur Chirac is very
angry at the Netherlands policy on so called 'soft-drugs'.
Most EU countries now have their own separate privacy
laws. It is very difficult to arrive at common agreement as on
implementation details of their computer systems.
Here are some details of what the police are allowed to
get from the SIS.
A SIS information report for the police on an individual
can include only the following items:-
* identifying physical features
* date and place of birth
* whether violent
* whether armed
* reason for report
* action to be taken
Ref: Will SIS be Europe's "Big Brother". Martin Baldwin-Edwards
and Bill Hebenton. University of Manchester
Some people oppose ID cards, because they remember, or
at least try to make other people remember, the Gestapo, the
Stasi, the KGB, and so on. However, all of these were instruments
for a state to operate coercive measures by exploiting secrecy.
Local vigilante committees operate in the open. There are areas
within Europe where both forms of policing co-exist. In fact
there are many quasi-police forces (private security agencies)
who have their own data-bases, and these generally do not have
interest in some person's ID card. They tend to act first and
If tax payers are willing to pay for the police, then
they should be willing to see the police have what tools they
need. Many are, since they think obvious 'enemies of the people'
such as rapists and murderers should be incarcerated. But the
police will do what they are told, and if they are told to arrest
everyone whose serial number is odd, they may do so as long as
they don't have to arrest too many of themselves. Generally an ID
card could be made universal, but voluntary. Non EU nationals,
while on holiday would be issued ID cards with tourist numbers.
That would be no problem.
The police could pay people to look for crime once ID
cards were used a lot. It would be easy to hire thousands of
people like the old stalinist beaurocracies, and the pay would
come from forfeitures of contraband goods. Any of those wretched
communist command economies required a black market really, to
create crimes from subsistence.
Although the politicians hold up their noses and
pretend that it does not happen here, there are also clandestine
economies within the EU itself. Patterns of spending are of
public concern, so it is quite likely that accounts of companies
should be audited in public. Any laws which require disclosure of
information, should make a provision for that information to be
available on a public access computer system. This applies to the
accounts of major companies and banks. Anyone will be able to
find out who makes arms and explosives by public data base
An ID card will merely be a proof that the bearer
volunteers to be part of a data-base. The role of the state will
be that of a supplier of last resort. It is easy enough to
require several credit cards, because of non payment of debts,
but an ID card would still be an option. The state would never
require the return of an ID card. The strong state will also
exercise control over the providers of the EU ID card. Firstly
they will put the primary data-base in the public domain: that is
no private company can own the names and birthdate info. Credit
reference agencies, and others which use this data will pay some
sort of tax. State law enforcement agencies could pay at a lower
rate, or be exempt from tax, but not necessarily libel law.
LAW ENFORCEMENT OBJECTION
The stalinist economies of East Europe collapsed for
various reasons, and one of these was an unreasonable obsession
with secrecy and censorship. Although government spokesmen beat
their chests and deplore organised crime and drugs and
prostitution, and the traffic of illegal immigrants, in practice
they are often reluctant to share or use information about their
own criminals. It may be ok for spanish or english security
forces to monitor the telephone conversations of their monarchs,
but they certainly don't want to share this information with other
police forces, and neither do they want it to move far in the
hierarchy of command. The whole concept of policing may well have
to change with the existence of high access computer networks,
and for that matter cellular mobile telephones. Eventually one of
the harshest acts of law enforcement will be seen as shutting
down most communication systems. This has already happened in
Karachi where the government, besides closing down most of the
press, has tried to restrict the operation of mobile phones and
pagers in order to restore law and order. This has had an adverse
effect on business as well as the opposition MQM (Mahajir qami
A socio-economic measure The Al-Haq HDI uses literacy rates.
In fact the World Bank normally uses illiteracy as the
measure, and then subdivides by sex: female, then total. This
type of rating says nothing of the degree of literacy of the
Because Al-Haq and the World Bank attach so much
importance to literacy, the economic scientists could consider
the derivative of the literacy rate: dL/dt. Sudden or gradual
changes could be better indicators of well being than just the
The access of people to text depends on several
factors, some of which may be quantified. Illiterate people can
access no texts. However, texts have been used to project power
for millennia. Literacy has always been desirable for social
control, but sometimes the old texts lose credibility, and then
there will be periods of the destruction of texts.
HDR COMMUNICATIONS PROFILE
The HDR communication profile tries to quantify, using
several quantities or ratios. These are:-
Radios per 100
TV sets per 100
Cinema attendance per person
Daily newspapers copies per 100
Book titles published per 100000
Paper consumed: tonnes per 1000
Post offices per 100000
Letters posted per capita
Telephones per 100 complete coverage
Motor vehicles per 100
(c) UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM.
Figures collected early 1990s.
IDN Population Telephones
Austria AT 7.8 64
Belgium BE 10.0 59
Denmark DK 5.2 88
Finland FI 5.0 76
France FR 57.1 61
Germany DE 80.2 59
Greece GR 10.2 49
Italy IT 57.8 57
Luxembourg LU 0.4 53
Netherlands NL 15.2 66
Portugal PT 9.9 31
Eire IE 3.5 27
Spain ES 39.1 40
Sweden SE 8.6 80
United Kingdom UK 57.7 48
End (C) UNDP
OWNERSHIP:: Religion | Government | Commerce
DISTRIBUTION :: Government | Education | Religion |
CENSORSHIP :: Moral | Political |Religious |Commercial
Further analysis is required, because there have been
spectacular collapses in literate societies. Nazi Germany, Israel
and the former Jugoslavia spring to mind. Also the Al-Haq HDI
needs further testing by backwards estimation of literacy rates.
There are also great divisions between people on the availability
of books. Many african nations cannot afford books or paper
anyway while in the North people receive junk mail often
describing complex financial services which neither the writer
nor the reader are really meant to understand. Literacy rates may
fall, as well as rise. Where statistics are subject to political
manipulation this may not be immediately apparent.
Literacy rates depend on other things besides cash
investment in teaching. The language may be too difficult for
many, like chinese, or bengali. Literacy in more than one
language is a 'tail' phenomenon: that is it only affects a very
small percentage of the population. But multi- literacy is
influential for a nations' commercial and imperial relations.
Pol-Pot's Khmer-Rouge showed zeal in killing literate
people. There have been many historical instances of book
burning, and even the burning of writers themselves. Clearly some
ruling classes saw literacy as a mixed blessing. The mere fact
that people can talk of 'THE DUMBING OF AMERICA', shows that a
possible reversal in literacy rates is a widely appreciated
Modern advertising campaigns encourage 'literacy by
slogan'. This has continued to inflame passions since ancient
times. Governments invented monumental architecture with
description of victories carved into rock. Fortune tellers also
started writing texts including prophesy.
Armies went in for literacy so that a communications
network could be established. So many people learnt their
schoolday words from the dispatches of soldiers, even if in the
guise of 'war poetry'.
Much of this militaristic thinking pervades education
to this day. Many countries taught their pupils about a great
patriotic war, and a generation later there is indeed a new war.
The old independence struggles are replaced by a bloody civil war
waged by a new generation brought up on an idealised version of
struggle written by the recent victors.
This happened in Algeria, and the former Jugoslavia.
One of these was more literate than the other (Algeria 55 43, YU
12 7). Both countries were labour exporters, and both were
traditional victims of imperialism.
Observations on HDR (UNDP 1994) : Communication.
The statistics for newspapers, telephones etc. may come
from either government or commercial sources. By aggregating the
UNDP moved the figures from the commercial to the public domain.
Almost total response for the telephone figures is interesting.
Sometimes there is little difference between a stalinist-style
government monopoly or a transnational corporation: neither are
Rather than indicating deliberate censorship the
figures point either to extreme waste or extreme scarcity. The
countries with more radios than people are mainly those with high
vehicle ownership. It should be noted that these second radios
often feature in opportunistic crime. High consumption of paper
is also a crime in its way. Educated people are often the
perpetrators of the last. For example the legislatures of
industrialised countries often turn out anti-crime bills year
after year. Harsh treatment of the poor is the only issue which
can unite the demagogues. Stalinist governments and
transnationals seek to wage war by slogans. These make up for too
much wasted paper.
The Saudis forbid the destruction of print which
contains the word of god. Since invoices start with 'bism allah
al rahman al raheem' and newspapers contain regular islamic
advice columns, the people are taught to revere the written word.
Think of the forests which could be saved. Print media abuse is
an excess which serves no one well.
Literacy acts as a sort of caste system. Knowledge of
classical languages was often reserved to elites. Those who are
multi-literate can be co-opted to exert power. The HDR figures
say how much, but do not tell who owns the information, unless
subdivisions are made.
Data protection acts imply ownership. They are
unnecessarily restrictive. The various lists should not hold
names and addresses, but rather pointers to a publicly accessible
data-base. Access to written material is made more even. Equal
access to information is a new egalitarian goal. When Newt
Gingrich advocates lap-top computers for the underclass, everyone
asks "who pays" ? Maybe it comes from holes in the science
budget. The underclass can get grand opera and works of art
besides constructive and destructive games, via the possible
connectivity of their lap-tops.
Of course the lap-top computers have limited potential
without connectivity. Any government program of distribution
would put data on the machines. This should include certain
hardware checking and diagnostic programs. Stuff that the
commercial providers wish to keep secret perhaps.
A powerful government should have the right to put
certain information into the public domain. This can be an issue
bigger than Mossadegh's Oil Nationalistion which caused a middle
east crisis in the 1950s. China has shown its government is not
yet strong enough to either control its own capitalists, or face
a prolonged confrontation with the USA on this issue.
Any government or group which seeks to reform the
existing order needs to extend the concept of public ownership to
information. It may seem that governments already do control
information, but most of this control is in fact purely negative.
They try to stop information coming in, and often put out
distorted stories of their own success.
But supposing Newt Gingrich gets his way, and some of
the science budget got spent on giving out lap-top computers to
the poor, instead of bureaucrats ? The machines would break down
quickly, and unless some sector of the economy could develop in
servicing the machines, the project could fail. There are still
problems in using the technology in extremes of temperature and
The Newt Gingrich idea is still better than giving
welfare recipients food stamps alone. Info stamps enable people
to get real information instead of the often idiotic leaflets
produced every so often to show people they are entitled to more,
while giving them less. The bureaucrats defend their position by
producing ever more memos and instructions. Why not move to a
cheap price information economy, rather than a propaganda economy
Eventually lap-tops will enable the poor to get hold of
the names and addresses of the rich from stand-pipe data-bases.
People just plug in the laptops and download whatever they want.
These are relational databases: car license plates and owners, or
bank balances and people. It means that the evil can be tracked
down by the just. Life lists and death lists form part of the
data. Write and keep your transactions, as commanded in the
koran. That should include more of the waging of war, so that
crimes are not just accounted by the government agencies which
are often useless, but by other organisations.
War crime lists and war plans need to be put in the
public domain. Trotsky was well aware of this when negociating
separately with the Germans in 1917-18. Military secrets form the
apex of a heirarchy when it comes to strong states. Commercial
secrecy and copyright or information ownership form the corner
stone of modern power structures such as banks and trans-national
corporations or TNCs.
USES OF LITERACY
Mass literacy started with compulsory schooling which
was perhaps a nineteenth century invention. Already human rights
are infringed in a certain sense. The state has a bureaucracy to
enforce school attendance. This is very helpful when people want
to introduce linguistic conformity. Koreans could be forced to
learn japanese, or the irish to learn english. The thai
government discouraged chinese schools. Literacy becomes a tool
SKIN DEEP ID CARD
While it is well known that the nazis tattooed ID
numbers on concentration camp inmates, it is perhaps not so
evident to modern day beaurocrats that some people very much want
a racial, or tribal, or even violent/none violent identity. Some
people have facial scars from Africa, while others may have
machine guns with garlands displaying their political affiliation
tattooed on their body. Regulations on ID cards should take this
into account, and allow those who wish, and can pay for it to have
their ID cards surgically implanted. Enthusiastic researchers in
the USA are already working on 3D holographic memories for vast
fingerprint databases. Brain-wave scanning is already under
consideration. If the banks and credit card companies had access
to this technology, then certain cash machines could simply
perform a test on the user, rather than a transferable piece of
plastic. It is quite likely that insurance companies would start
to insist on this surgical implant technology.
It would also be good for electronic tagging. The felon
has an explosive device injected, which may be activated on
violation of the bail conditions. As an alternative to boot
camps, chain gangs or amputation this may seem cruel and unusual
punishment, but then the electric chair was used in disputes over
the relative merits of AC or DC power. Westinghouse and Simians
did not really object, although the method never really caught on
in Europe. The German chemical industry provided the answers when
large scale executions were proposed as the solution to Europe's
The fact that England wants to give the police a DNA
database is mind boggling. They must of course share the
knowledge with the rest of the ECU partners, or at least with
Ireland. There are already drag-net operations where people are
rounded up and offered compulsory tests after horrific sex
killings. Of course the availability of do-it-yourself test kits
would save the police a lot of time. They just announce the DNA
profile, rather like a lottery number, and wives and mothers can
do the test. In fact a genetic ID is being registered on the
data-base or maybe the samples are kept for real, in sealed
A virus in that sort of computer system would lead to
many miscarriages of justice, and only people with an addictive
mind will pursue such a crime fighting policy. The fact is that
administrative confusion will create many victims.
Despite enthusiasm for DNA testing, it is the extension
of local watch schemes which is likely to catch criminals and
terrorists. While the Internet may be used by pornographers and
child abusers it is ever easier to catch them. A policeman in
Minnesota or Denver may initiate an arrest in Liverpool or
Birmingham, without ever leaving his chair. Pornographers happen
to want to advertise themselves, in what they hope are private
networks. En Nazis and racists also advertise themselves on the
Internet, while the richer ones use normal TV and Radio. But a
civic net would give the place for people to find out if various
convicted criminals were living in the area. This is where civil
rights groups argue: once a man served the prison sentence, then
the offense is forgotten. But is this really the case. The answer
is often no. The criminal will re-offend when let out of prison.
Another victim of crime, because prison served no
purpose. The prison guards failed, so every individual needs to
be a prison guard. One of the forgotten triumphs of communism was
the East German SATs. They managed to provide jobs for enormous
numbers of people. Probably there were bars and nightclubs which
could not have existed without the bribe money from the secret
police. Enormous numbers of people worked for them spying on
friends neighbors and family. Rather than giving everyone a gun,
just give them enough information as to who the criminals are.
Anyone should be able to check out anyone else on the civic
data-base. Pupils would know the salaries of their teachers, and
also those teachers who had committed crimes. They might even
start to learn that not everything on the computer is true.
Given access to such information some of the school
children would probably try to falsify information about their
teachers. They might invent horrid crimes to go into the files of
their teachers, or try to inflate the salaries of their friends.
Other things which could be made available to the
general public are a persons' medical history, and the doctors
that treated that person. This would save a tiny amount of
fraudulent use of health resources, but it would also enable
anxious would be sexual partners to determine from an independent
source the last recorded HIV status of the person.
FAILURE OF THE STATE
Since the late 20th century is full of weak states, with
the possible exception of China, and strong Tics and elite
billionaires there are serious failures in most state accounting
systems. It may be pensions in the West, or embezzlement and
corruption in the Far East but there is great disillusionment on
the part of the public.
Some see the solution to this problem in stronger local
government. This would be OK unless countries dissolve into
warring stateliest, waiting to be re-unified by a stronger power.
Despite these problems, residents of Singapore see theirs as the
way of life for the 21st century. It is certainly true that some
small city states have prospered as international financial
centers, but others, such as Bahrain, have had problems. However
their seems no real reason why the number of international
finance centers should not increase.
In order for the expansion of financial institutions to
be a success much tougher policing is required. Many states have
either failed to control of crime at the top, or even denied that
the problem exists. South Korea and Italy are taking steps to
prosecute their old leaders, while in many other countries the
judiciary is investigating the activities of the leaders.
Because finance has become internationalized it is no
longer sufficient for the central banks of former colonial powers
to control trading and currency exchanges. Recent events show
that in fact control is not exercised: all the banks are allowed
to get away with damaging practices, and misuse of the system for
currency speculation and insider trading is widely established.
An international framework for such laws is required,
but in the absence of such a system US law is often preferred.
Criminal law was advanced by war crime trials in the 1940s and
1950s when the former leaders of Germany and Japan were arraigned
for expansionist and aggressive behaviour, and waging unsuccessful
In fact the international financial community can only
be effectively policed if there is strong international pressure
from an organisation such as the World Trade Organisation. Since
many of these international organisations are used as tools by
strong countries, this is unlikely to happen quickly.
What is perhaps required is the same sort of
international cooperation between police as that currently used
for copyright violators, drug dealers, or terrorists, but not yet
international arms dealers and shippers. Unfortunately for the
Singapore style of big city life some sort of police presence
from outside the city state may be required to investigate the
arms trade at a later date.
Singapore could probably avoid most blame by simply
coming clean, and releasing its own deals to the public. This
could enfeeble many states, and even TNCs if their dealings were
The european Schengen agreement is a first tentative
step in this direction.
(c) tony goddard belfast 1996
Return to Tony's HomePage