Tocqueville, French Elections and EU Bashing

Tocqueville, in Democracy in America, discusses slavery not only from an ethics point of view, but also examines the consequences of slavery on the welfare of the white population. He does so by comparing two states across the Ohio river:

« These two States only differ in a single respect; Kentucky has admitted slavery, but the State of Ohio has prohibited the existence of slaves within its borders. »

And he then goes on to explain the disastrous economic consequences of slavery as a political system:

« Thus the traveller who floats down the current of the Ohio to the spot where that river falls into the Mississippi, may be said to sail between liberty and servitude; and a transient inspection of the surrounding objects will convince him as to which of the two is most favorable to mankind. Upon the left bank of the stream the population is rare; from time to time one descries a troop of slaves loitering in the half-desert fields; the primaeval forest recurs at every turn; society seems to be asleep, man to be idle, and nature alone offers a scene of activity and of life. From the right bank, on the contrary, a confused hum is heard which proclaims the presence of industry; the fields are covered with abundant harvests, the elegance of the dwellings announces the taste and activity of the laborer, and man appears to be in the enjoyment of that wealth and contentment which is the reward of labor. »

Two presidential candidates campaign against the EU, a convenient scapegoat to the very real troubles of France. Both Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon want us out of the EU.

We have in Europe our own Kentucky and our own Ohio ; after the fall of the Soviet Union, Poland joined the EU, democracy, rule of law, free markets and Ukraine stayed under Russian influence. And here what has happened to their economy since:

If Le Pen and Mélenchon had to “sail” and choose to become Polish or Ukrainian, what would be their choice ? And would they really choose to exit the EU if they were not planning to live safely in the golden luxury of the Élysée palace ?