The Irish have stopped the momentum for the new Europe. But they weren't the first to do so. In the psychology of European democracies the rejection two years ago by referenda in France and Holland is like trench in the highway, well, in the highway to Brussels. And the only reason to go to Brussels is to buy lace and see that bronze statue of the boy pissing in the street.

Of course, politicians intent on getting around the judgement of the demos subvert the democratic ethos which is really the only characteristic that defines Europe. That gone, the idea of Europe is a sham.

Yes, maybe the Brussels aristocracy will get around the disaster of the Irish plebiscite on the Lisbon treaty. Procedurally. But not philosophically. And also not really practically.

For an explanation of why Europe has run its course, read a dazzling op-ed by Charles Wyplosz (an economist at the Graduate Institute in Geneva), published on Thursday in the Financial Times.