Acton Institute Powerblog

Gandalf in Brussels?

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French president Nicholas Sarkozy has recommended the formation of a “Council of the Wise,” which would have the task of “elaborating proposals for the future development of Europe.” A recent survey by the Bertelsmann Foundation finds a lot of support for the idea in France, the UK, and Germany. I suppose there are various ways to read this. One, hinted at by the survey story linked above, is that people in the EU are uneasy about the direction Europe is moving and want to establish a counterweight to the politicians in Brussels. More likely, it seems to me, is that this would be one more bureaucratic agency–only this one not actually doing any of the work of government but instead churning out grandiose projects that would gobble up even more of the continent’s tax dollars. All of which leaves aside the at once frightening and amusing title of the group, which calls to mind something out of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Kevin Schmiesing Kevin Schmiesing, Ph.D., is a research fellow for the research department at the Acton Institute. He is a frequent writer on Catholic social thought and economics, is the author of American Catholic Intellectuals, 1895-1955 (Edwin Mellen Press, 2002) and is most recently the author of Within the Market Strife: American Catholic Economic Thought from Rerum Novarum to Vatican II (Lexington Books, 2004). Dr. Schmiesing holds a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. in history from Franciscan University ofSteubenville. Author of Within the Market Strife and American Catholic Intellectuals, 1895—1955 (2002), he serves as Book Review Editor for the Journal of Markets & Morality. He is also executive director of


  • Marc Vander Maas

    Don’t forget about the other creepy group of aging “wise” men & women: [url=]The Elders[/url].

  • Dale Milne

    Good idea. Pretty nice name for the council, though it would certainly feed egos. “Me, what do I do? Why, I’m on the Council of the Wise. I am wise.”

    I’d like to know if Sarkozy’s idea was influenced by the move to establish an additiional council attached to the United Nations, composed of world religious leaders, to advise UN delegates along religious or spiritual lines. Or whether that proposal is a development of Sarkozy’s idea, or whether there is any connection at all.

    As far as I’m concerned, I wouldn’t care whether such an advisory council were composed of the truly “wise” (do we vote on that?), or religious leaders (will they be government appointed?), or some other decent qualification (and who, exactly, is to decide?). Because nothing could make politicians behave any more foolishly and destructively, and any advisors would be better than their own advice.