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Wednesday, May 22, 2002

End Times or Free Market Revival?-Just got back from Wednesday night service. Russ Williams, the founder and "Pastor Emeritus" of New Life Vineyard (he teaches Wednesday nights when he isn't snowbirding in Palm Springs, CA) is a decided pre-millenialist and is the sort common in evangelical circles that think that Christ's return is just around the corner. He said he's about 70% sure Christ's coming back this fall, but he added the caveat that he's been 70-80% sure that each year would be the year for many years. Me, I'm not so sure. From a theological perspective, I await the Lord's return, but PoliSci Guy says that things aren't quite ripe yet. I'm keeping my eyes open for the conditions to be ripe for an Antichrist to emerge to take power and I don't quite see it being feasable right now. Years from now, maybe, but not months. Many of the recent moves in Europe would make the emergence of a powerful EU less likely. Free-market oriented parties have made gains in Holland and Ireland this month. This throws a few sprinkles of cold water on a ever-growing EU that could become the cornerstone of a world government. Prophesy geeks of the last few decades have focused on the EU as such a beast. However, this piece gives me the shivers. EC president Prodi's pushing for a more centralized EU with centralized taxing authority. The picture of Prodi with upraised hand looks vaguely autocratic, like something you'd see at a Eastern Bloc May Day parade. I'm not saying that Prodi's the Antichrist, but I get a sulfuric whiff of Ol' Sloughfoot in his vision of a centralized, big-government Europe. We might see a shuffling of the EU in the years to come, as socialists lean towards a bigger EU and free-marketeers wanting to break away. The wild card will be the classic parties of the right in Europe who are statist in nature, conservative in the status-quoian sense and not in the free-market sense. These old conservatives might well go the way of the dodo as they have seemed to have done in Italy; Berlusconi's Forza Italia party looks more like the GOP than the Christian Democrats it replaced in Italian political ecology. This would be the big fight I see brewing in Europe, whether the paternalistic parties of the right will be replaced by more libertarian and/or American-style conservative parties, either by having their market share eroded by emerging parties of the right or by transformation from within. If the paternalistic parties hold the right end of the spectrum, then we could see a quicker integration of the EU. A conservative bloc in the south, with free-market friendly governments in Spain, Portugal and Italy may embolden free-marketeers elsewhere. A likely Christian Democrat-led coalition in Holland would likely include the libertarian-leaning VVD and List Pim Fortuyn parties, thus adding another member to lean against a centralized EU. Add a rather skeptical Britain to the list and we could see an alternative bloc to a centralized EU spring up. I'm looking at two possible scenarios for the future of the EU. If free-market fans get in control of a few more governments, then the EU can be scaled back, giving autonomy back to local governments and move more towards a free-trade zone rather than a US of E. The attitudes of a new German government might be the key. CD leader Edmund Stoiber is described as a mild Euroskeptic here. If the weight of the German government is added to the list described above, then the centralization of the EU may have seen its high-water mark. However, there could be a schism in the EU if Germany stays committed to further centralization. A Franco-German big government block could cause a number of current and prospective EU members to back out and form an alternative grouping (possibly a revamping of the old EFTA) rather than face a big-government EU. The next few years will be fun as socialists will move to set up such a centralized EU in order to lock in their gains.

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