Today on Facebook: I recently researched a quote attributed to Jean Monnet, a quote repeated so often that it is blindly accepted as being true. It is perhaps, the conspiracy theorist and peddler of myths David Icke that I should thank for prompting me to research this particular ‘fake news’, but then Fredrick Forsyth is certainly not considered (at least by readers of The Daily Express) as a ‘conspiracy theorist’ and peddler of myths.
The latter link is an example of the spreading of ‘fake news’ by those who want to propagate it as being true (even if they know, or suspect, that it is fake). Here I must confess my own inclination to believe that a politician (in this case Jean Monnet), is likely to reveal such a thing in a moment of indiscretion. Researching this quotation shows not only the plethora of fake news on social media sites and those — who may be regarded as ‘credible’ contributors propagating it — but also how easy it is to dupe people.
Fake news is not new, there never was a time when “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” was ever a feature of the media, but this is particularly true of the social media where the truth can be whatever you want to make it — propagated to those whom you know will accept it as being true.
Jean Monnet, founding father of the ECSC, has often wrongly had the following apocryphal lines attributed to him:
Europe’s nations should be guided towards the super-state without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation.
In fact these weren’t Monnet’s words at all but those of the Conservative politician and author Adrian Hilton, who wrote them in his book The Principality and Power of Europe , which was published in 1997.
Even though Monnet never wrote or said those words is almost by the by. That so many have ascribed the quote to Monnet (despite it being ‘fake news’), is because so many want to believe the attribute, especially those that are disenchanted by what the European project has since become.
OK! But what about the EU?
Has the apocrypha attributed to Jean Monnet been realised?
Time was when — until around the mid-1980s or so — much of the British left favoured withdrawal from the then European Economic Community (EEC), while the Conservative Party was split. So much so that pro-European Tory MPs and ministers, infuriated by Margaret Thatcher’s mounting antipathy towards the European project, brought the Iron Lady down in 1990 for reasons which now appear bizarre. After her fall, the whole issue of Europe would poison the party, root to tip; while the highly Europhile New Labour grasped the political nettle. Even entry into the euro seemed likely at one point.
The publication of M. Monnet’s Mémoires is, therefore, something of an event – all the more so in that there is no very easily accessible record of his utterances and opinions. Despite his influence M. Monnet has remained a somewhat shadowy figure, and this book, with its forthcoming translation into English, should do much to make readers in other countries than France – particularly the younger ones – more aware of what he has achieved and how he has achieved it.
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