Now everything from cheeses to condoms is regulated. The German word for all this is “Gleichschaltung,” meaning to bring everything and everybody into cooperation, or at least conformity; the French word is “dirigisme,” from diriger, to direct. The English word is bossiness.
In 1988, in Bruges, Belgium, near Brussels, an unapologetic British nationalist denounced efforts to “suppress nationhood and concentrate power at the center of a European conglomerate.” Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher continued: “We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them reimposed at a European level.”
America’s tea-party impulse — a recoil against the promiscuous growth of government — could have fueled a third party, but a major party has managed to accommodate it. If Britain’s Conservative party had remained Thatcherite, or if a major French party had espoused Charles de Gaulle’s vision of “a Europe of nations,” the sensible anxieties of millions of Europeans about Europe’s intensifying statism and disparagement of nationhood could have been channeled into more mainstream parties. Instead, it has fallen to minor parties to insist: What more than a millennium of distinct national evolutions have put asunder, the EU should not presume to put together.