I’ve taken part in three events by the European Youth Parliament, and it seems that although these conferences, sponsored by the European Commission favour the incentive to find an increasing number of government solutions, there is also something in for libertarians.
For those reading this article who don’t know what a session of the European Youth Parliament consists of: young people meet in Europe and discuss important topics for the European Union while being split up in the same committees that also exist in the European Parliament. Every committee works on a resolution which is then voted on the in the General Assembly on the last day. The EYP has this one requirement that everyone in the General Assembly stands firmly behind their own resolution, meaning that he must have previously agreed on every single clause, excluding entirely that the committee proceeds to voting. Here is where it gets interesting.
The average voter is very keen on expressing his view that in today’s political sphere all parties are the same. He’s right in the sense that political parties have an added incentive in appearing to what we consider to be ‘moderate’, but also in the fact that compromise and what one might call preemptive compromise (entering a negotiation with already weakened positions) seem to be a political necessity. I think it’s not. Compromise means that I depart from the intention of making you give up on some of your own positions, just because we want to pass legislation. Coalition means that I work with you on the things we are passionate about and agree on.
By not giving EYP participants the ability to vote in their committees, they are being taught something the European legislative procedure ironically is missing at the moment. Our parliamentarians are not driven by philosophy anymore, but by mere pragmatism for the sake of sustaining the status quo. Those members who are driven by philosophy – although that term cannot be applied to everyone – are all too often those who are the most ignorant and envious of power. Instead of working together on their principles with members that hold the same view as them, they prefer to compromise until all of their electorate feels betrayed and dismissed.
Now, ‘No compromise!’ surely sounds controversial, because lack of cooperation is considered to be a weakness. Let me give you a practical example: compulsory acquisition. In all of the EU member states, the government has the possibility to dispossess you of your land if he considers it to be of a necessity for the national utility or because a big company might be able to produce something on your land which would then effectively lead to more tax income then the amount of taxes you pay. As much as I would never be willing to compromise on your freedom of speech, I’m also never going to compromise on your property rights. If it’s your land, no government action should be able to take it away from you.
Now imagine in a committee that such a situation might pop up, and the possibility to vote would be given. In this case we would experience mob rule, democratic yes, but still mob rule. A (quite utilitarian one might add) majority would probably place the necessity to immediately build a motorway, over the the individual property right, since the individual doesn’t have his place in the purely democratic process. But under the exclusion of the possibility to vote, the only thing a participant has to do is to raise his voice, and if it involves some gritted teeth and bitten nails and also the possibility of no solution whatsoever, than that is the concession that today’s so interfering democratic process needs to do to individual liberty.
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