Eric Zemmour: Italy Was Prevented by European Jurisprudence From Defending Herself

In the video below, the ever-popular French commentator Eric Zemmour discusses the recent Italian elections and the decline of traditional democratic processes in the European Union.

When Mr. Zemmour objects to what he calls the “Rule of Law”, the phrase does not mean what we would normally expect, possibly due to the difficulty of finding an exact equivalent in English to the French version. He is talking about the hubris of judges, which is sometimes referred to as “judicial overreach”. “Rule by Judges” might be a meaningful equivalent.

Many thanks to Ava Lon for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:

Video transcript:

00:00   Let’s go back to the results of the
00:04   Italian election. For you they are proof that there’s no opposition,
00:08   or that there’s no longer opposition, between Eastern Europe, which is hostile
00:12   to immigration, and the more open Western Europe? —Listen, the elections are accumulating
00:16   and the results are always the same: Germany, Italy, Austria.
00:20   After Brexit, all those countries, their elections, are centered
00:24   on immigration, and the people have decided. In the same sense that the eastern leaders did.
00:29   In fact, in the European alliance we were being told that Europe was cut in two: East and West.
00:32   The Eastern societies have no ancient democratic traditions, so it’s for that reason
00:36   that they have such “populist” reaction, as we call it today.
00:40   And then the West, old societies that are democratic, multicultural, and so on.
00:44   All that was already digested in the West. No! The people in the West agree
00:48   with the Eastern leaders. The European reconciliation is here! Except that it’s
00:52   being done at the cost of the Western leaders and the EU leaders. —Because for you
00:57   the key today is the opposition between the people and the nations when they vote democratically,
01:01   and what you are calling “European Values”?
01:05   Well, it’s an inextricable problem:
01:09   since 1945 we have been haunted by the Hitlerian trauma.
01:13   So our Western countries — we can see it in the case of Germany, and also France and Italy —
01:17   created for themselves what we call “Western Values” or “Rule of Law Values”,
01:21   meaning that in reality every norm,
01:25   every political action, has to be supervised by a judge.
01:29   Now, it makes political action impossible, and in particular in the framework
01:33   of the migratory wave that we are undergoing now. —Why? —Well, simply because —
01:37   Let’s talk about Italy: we’ll be concrete. We say that Italy was abandoned by
01:41   Europe, and all those people are flooding her borders. No! She wasn’t abandoned.
01:45   She was prevented by European jurisprudence
01:49   from defending herself. It’s worse. It means that European jurisprudence,
01:54   in its decisions concerning Italy, precisely, forbade to Italians to
01:58   send the migrants back, forbade them to send them back collectively,
02:02   meaning that they have to be sent back one by one. It forced them to go and pick them [migrants] up
02:06   from the moment they were on the Mediterranean Sea, forced them
02:10   from the moment they were in the boats, to the great joy of the smugglers, in short:
02:14   European jurisprudence forbade Italy to stop that migratory wave.
02:18   You have to understand that it’s not the same thing. And why? Because it’s a philosophy.
02:22   It’s a philosophy of the “open society”, it’s a philosophy of the lack of borders
02:26   it’s a philosophy of disposable / interchangeable men, so men do not
02:30   have their roots, their culture, their ethnic group, their skin color, and so on…No!
02:34   They are consumers and producers. That’s all. —You mention the Rule of Law:
02:38   you don’t want to question what we classically call
02:42   the Rule of Law, meaning in fact, democratic rules? — No. It has nothing to do
02:46   It’s a… a… How to explain?… You are, you are…
02:50   You have been fooled by the dominant narrative since
02:54   1945: the Rule of Law and democracy have nothing to do with each other. Democracy
02:59   is the rule of the people, by the people for the people, all right?
03:03   The Rule of Law is a 19th-century theory, from Germany, which
03:07   makes… which — as I explained before — which spread after World War 2
03:11   in Europe, first in Germany, with the famous Habermast, the philosopher —
03:15   and then to all of Europe, which says that every political action has to be
03:18   controlled by a judge. What does it mean? On the one hand
03:21   we have democracy, the rule of the people; on the other hand
03:24   we have the Rule of Law, the rule of judges. They have nothing to do with each other.
03:27   Especially if the judges… — The judge decides based on principles, no? So we can consider
03:31   that they are superior to the democratic vote? —Ah, no. That, is NOT democracy.
03:35   This is called Judicial Aristocracy. The Judicial Oligarchy.
03:39   Democracy means that nothing is above the people. It doesn’t mean that there cannot be law.
03:43   You understand? It doesn’t mean that, but the rights are expressed by the law
03:48   which was voted for by the people’s representatives. And the judge —
03:52   even Montesquieu says it — is only the mouth of the law.
03:56   The Rule of Law is not the same thing. It’s the judge who decides, depending on
04:00   principles which he is interpreting by himself, based on vague texts of Human Rights Declarations,
04:04   with which he does whatever he wants, and he says: “Voilà, we have to do this or that.” No!
04:08   This isn’t democracy. It’s the Rule of Law. I think that this is going to be the true Gordian Knot
04:13   of the future; meaning that we will have to choose between democracy and the Rule of Law.
04:16   Merci, Eric Zemmour.

15 thoughts on “Eric Zemmour: Italy Was Prevented by European Jurisprudence From Defending Herself

  1. Elena Kagan makes it clear that the law means whatever the judge says it means. That completely ignores the intentions of the people and lawmakers. That is the dictatorship of judges, which we must overthrow. We must make it clear that lawmakers have precedence over judges in law interpretation. Lawmakers know what they meant. Judges can always find something vague somewhere, call it sacred, and do with the law whatever they want. This is not what it was meant to be.

  2. It’s also called “judicial review”, an American concept, but Zemmour had in mind “Rechtsstaat” (Rule of Law, or Legal State) , going back to Immanuel Kant, a system, based on a constitution, that was supposed to counter the “Polizeistaat” (Police State), which was absolutist.
    How did the Rechtsstaat turn into tyranny ? I don’t know.

    • How did the Rechtsstaat turn into tyranny? I don’t know.

      The road to the hell of tyranny is paved with Good Intentions. Usually, centralized “good intentions” created far from where they will be implemented. That’s how the EU became toxic.

      • And of course this creates the question of how to tell those “good intentions” from genuine generosity, genuine goodness. The first element is that the “well intentioned” acts following the rule: the end justifies the means. It’s taking that muddy shortcut that makes one a do-gooder rather than a philanthropist: self absolving, because The Cause. That’s the individual. How about the system? Can a reasonably constructed system be turned into a tyranny? Apparently yes, just like an absolutist state can be blessed with a good king. Bad people will break well oiled machinery, good people can make function an outdated idea. It’s all in the personal honesty and personal responsibility. Ideal would be to combine good ideas with good people. I know: it’s such a cliché.

        • I have to disagree with you, Ava, about the necessity for good people to make a good system function. The framers of the US Constitution did not have the slightest illusion that a leader would be good, or have benign intentions. They crafted a system designed to compensate for the inevitable corruption and venality of leaders. In my opinion, the greatest contribution of the founding fathers was not representative government, but the separation of powers.

          Separation of powers was like the “paper, rock, scissor” game: the legislature makes the laws, with or without the consent of the executive, the executive executes the law, the judiciary makes sure the executive actions follow the law, and the legislature disciplines the judges through the power of impeachment.

          Nowhere in this system of oversight and checks and balances is the assumption that people are good. Quite the contrary.

          The system of rule by judges has a real name: kritarchy. In a kritarcy, judges interpret laws however they wish to, and issue orders accordingly. Think of federal courts in the US issuing stays of implementation when the Trump administration attempt to resume acting according to the law, on issues for which the Obama administration literally made its own law. Think of a federal judge blocking the Trump administration from cutting off immigration from terror states, even though the statues involved directly and explicitly gave the President the power to do just that.

          The natural remedy for kritarchs is impeachment: a judge that ignores the legislated law should be removed. Unfortunately, due to immigration diversity, the US Congress is split almost 50-50 between the Republicans, whose constituency however poorly-represented, is European Americans, and the Democrats, whose constituency is black and brown identity groups and cultural-Marxist-influenced whites. There is almost no overlap in values or outlook, making impeachment of any judge literally impossible.

          In other words, the US is susceptible to kritarchy, even though the Constitution is structured specifically to prevent that sort of power override.

          The only way to avoid kritarchy in these circumstances is for an administration to directly ignore the ruling of lower courts, and perhaps higher courts. This would constitute a Constitutional crisis, but may be necessary, as the Constitution is not being followed anyway.

          In Europe, of course, the lines of enforcement are more purely power: power of the military and power of the purse. The Europeans do not have the concept of separation of power and checks and balance, the the EU bureaucracy can enforce its diktats through economic pressures. In the near future, the EU will have a military component with which to threaten its recalcitrant members. I’m sure the plan was to use NATO in that role, with a compliant President Clinton, infinitely flexible as long as there is money in it for her.

          Italy, like the other EU countries, will have to decide if they value deficit spending more than national identity.

  3. The mob rule of democracy can be actually far more toxic than the rule of law, when what the mob wants fails to address what is needed. The current South African parliament is the perfect example. When people subvert the law for political purposes, you have obvious problems. I come back to the Italian video that was on here a while back where the subject stated that what is needed is rule through the “ethics of responsibility vs. the ethics of good intentions”.

    • A constitutional republic is probably the closest to the ideal that we can get. A system designed with checks built into it against the accumulation of excess power by any part of the state, and especially with strict limits on what the majority is enable to enact against the minority.

      This is what the United States was intended to be (and actually WAS, for a few decades). But maintaining a constitutional republic requires an informed citizenry. If people do not understand what it is they have, why it is important, and what they must do to keep it, then they will simply let it lapse. Then the greedy power-hungry cynics, opportunists, and would-be tyrants gather to feast on the corpse of the constitutional state. Which is where we are now in the USA.

      • The Supreme Court is taking up a case now that shows how far we have strayed from our original Constitution–owing to subsequent interpretation, both by legislatures and courts: Sveen v Melin. Its easy to see how this evolved too.

        In 1998 Mark Sveen named his wife Kaye Melin primary beneficiary of a life insurance policy. The couple divorced @ 10 years later and then Sveen died in 2011. He hadn’t changed his policy. Now the wife’s daughter (or the wife if she is alive. I forgot which) wants the dough, naturally.

        But in 2002 Minnesota passed a law that automatically removes a spouse as a life insurance beneficiary if the couple divorces…despite a Constitutional clause that says “No state shall pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts….”

        This clause held firm until @ the late 19th century. But then the courts began ruling that the clause did not apply to a state’s police power over health and safety and morals. E.g. in 1934 the courts upheld states’ moratoriums on mortgage foreclosures imposed in the Great Depression. This was an easy altruistic call, but you can imagine the watershed it caused.

        The courts began saying to themselves that it was Ok to mess around with contracts if there was 1. no substantial impairment in contractual rights 2. does it advance a significant and legitimate public purpose? 3. Are we being reasonable and appropriate?

        The thinking is that the SCOTUS now feels we have wandered too far afield from the original Constitution–and that it may give the money from the policy to Melin or family.

  4. The laws ideally should be fair simple without contradictions, which is not always the case. The judge, in theory, should only be a state employee who applies the rules, not a free interpreter of his own feelings and ideas on matter of justice. The EU is not the only international bureaucratic organization with rules and regulations in contrast to the state sovereignty. The UN for example is just another one, which can cause problems in the counter measures to the african invasion (refugees). Between the many rules and regulation which makes no sense at all today, and Italy should promptly reject, or simply stop to apply (there is no need of formal rejection in my opinion, Italy wanted to follow these 2 prescription because the left[ist]s in the government and institutions who waited for an international action to solve their problems):
    – the declaration of human rights
    – the Geneva Convention

  5. The expression may be translated as «Republic of Judges», a twitch of Plato’s «Wise’s Republic».

    So, now Res Publica is ruled by an aristocracy that no one elected.
    Judges are coopeted to high ranks by their peers and above public scrutiny. It is completely different from the US.

  6. The law lays down as what is right, it is a moral code created in part by the past experience of circumstance. However at its crux it relies upon the punitive use of force, or its threat, to intervene in human dispute. Law does not asign rights in any absolutist sense, we as people do not need to be given rights, as we are free – the creation of rights is a compromise by those that claim forceful authority that they will use it with respect within the managerial position the law they enforce provides for.

    There are national rights, which are considered the result of the sentiment of a people and their wish to protect themselves from outside interference… but there is no true forceful international court able to judge their choice of position, and hence pragmatically a border delineates the realm of one set of laws from another-even if the other is a person and not another country. After all “countries” do not invade, people do.

    Jurisprudence concentrates on the rights of people as individuals though, in all societies. It has to be this way or the law would not be accepted by its population. There are no countries, only people and their differences.

    The differences between nations are matters of state, decided by politicians supervised by their own national legal framework.

    When politicians cede national authority to foreign entities, such as to EU, it is done so in the name of the people of that nation, legally – as far as legal counts in this discussion.

    However no country or its people is obliged to remain under foreign tutelage, and its interpretation of the extent of jurisprudence due, especially regarding foreign nationals . National law starts and ends at the border.

    So it is no good blaming EU jurisprudence for Italy’s state of affairs, that is apologist.

    No, if Italy wants to control its borders it must decide to do so, and if that means rejecting EU and its law then that is how it must be.

    I understand what the author is saying, and might only tell him that it is the jurisprudence of his own country that has failed – it has ceded its position of national distinction that prioritised its own citizens to an international body that has a very different agenda, and one where being Italian in Italy means very little.

    • If we look at how national law is created nowadays, we will find that usually there exists some kind of founding constitution, charter, or ancient dogma, within which all new law must fit. That base constitution is inevitably a national product, forged during the process of creation of a country itself. Only religious and common law supercedes that in age, and before that simple societal understandings that were a step up from the law of the jungle.

      Democracy, the least dirty shirt, is also in effect subject to jungle law, but with the simple acceptance that whoever puts together the biggest gang at vote wins. That acceptance is also persuaded by the presence of available force to maintain the format by legal dictate if necessary.

      Those that are, by whatever means, elected during democratic process become the lawmakers. They write and change the laws, with the understanding that at least a simple majority approve. We know this is not true – voters are given a choice every four years and have no say on what happens, what laws or decisions are made, in the intervening years. However this is the cloak of legitimacy used, and if a country chooses to renounce its national status by this means, it is considered to have only itself to blame.

      The other arbiter of national law is the judiciary itself. It is charged with ensuring that new law fits in with constitutional law…that the base values of the nation, including its power structure, are not corrupted, and according to the pre-existing constitutional charter.

      I know the story of UK from the turn of the 20th century, all kind of manipulation was made to allow the transfer of power out of the country. It would be considered treasonous if viewed plainly, except there existed the complicity of royalty and judiciary and government, under whatever coercion and enticement that came to be, that gave the semblance of national approval.

      The average person however was misled and was given little or no say.

      I expect something similar occured in Italy, and that is why I say Italian jurisprudence failed – it did not act to protect the wellbeing of its own nationals, within the parameter of what the status and associated proclaimed rights of being a national mean to an individual.

    • There are two comments or corrections I’d like to make.

      As far as the US, we do not have democracy or absolute court oversight over the laws.

      We have a constitutional republic with checks and balances and separation of power. Theoretically, this provides a very heavy flywheel on the vagaries and impulses of a democracy. The courts do not simply oversee the laws, but are themselves subject to constitutional constraints, legislative limitations, and impeachment. Unfortunately, through the process of diversity,which our founding fathers never thought would be embraced as it has been, the legislative part is almost paralyzed for its part in the oversight process.

      The second comment is that Italy, despite the natural rights of national identity you cite, has gotten itself into a jam through deficit spending and consequently being in arrears to the EU and its international financier beneficiaries. He who pays the piper calls the tune and all that. No country chronically engaged in deficit spending can be independent.

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