Refugees from North Africa are flooding Lampedusa, Sicily

[read the previous chapter]

Libya, a Critical Situation

“Thousands of people, mainly from Tunisia, but also from Libya and Egypt, have arrived on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa in recent weeks” (BBC).

“Since January Italy is facing an exceptional flux of immigrants, with over 22,000 landings mainly from Tunisia… from Eritrea and Somalia via Libya on the island of Lampedusa.” (Le Monde)

Lampedusa, between Sicily and Tunisia

The situation in Libya is more critical. According to Le Monde anti-Gaddafi rebels have no military experience, despite arms and support arriving from Egypt and Nato intervention. The port city of Misrata in north-western Libya (130 mi to the east of Tripoli, see image below) seems now to be the hub of the crisis.

Gaddafi is ready to conquer it and there are rumours of tortures suffered by the unfortunate who in Misrata fell into the hands of pro-Gaddafi forces. BBC mentions use of “human shields in the war-torn town.”

Libyan uprising main cities. Via Wikipedia. Click to enlarge

According to one of Gaddafi’s 5 beautiful Ukrainan nurses, El Rais’s health is that of an iron-man 🙄

Is the Ukrainian nurse’s evaluation accurate? Well, a desert raider like him might get extra boost from ‘fight’. Berlusconi is similar but he is not a desert man

France who first led to the intervention now fears that “we are likely to get bogged down in Misrata” (as French foreign Minister Alain Juppé’s put it). France also fears too many immigrants are coming from Italy. Italy protests France is against the Schengen agreement and says Europe should help to contain the human flood.

More British war planes seem ready to begin ground attacks (instead of just no-fly-zone checks.)

Gaddafi has sent a message to Obama yesterday. Today H. Clinton dismissed it saying he must resign and go into exile. Anti-Gaddafi rebels complain that bureaucracy is causing “Nato to take too long to respond to calls for air strikes” (BBC ) [not to mention the fact that Nato has killed quite a few anti-Gaddafi protesters by mistake!]

Berlusconi and Sarkozi will meet in Rome on April 26th. By the way Italy has finally recognised Libya’s rebel National Council.

Berlusconi was hesitant given his personal ties with Gaddafi. Now that all is more or less in the hands of Nato he looks happier.

Moscow, Berlin and Turkish Ankara seek a role as mediators. Ankara has sent Ambassador Omur Soledin to Libya.

ψ

These the recent facts. Allow me some (Roman) rambling now.

Lost in their Opiate Dream

Women of Algiers
Women of Algiers by Eugène Delacroix, 1834, the Louvre, Paris. Click for a wider view of this great but a tad decadent painting (this is just a detail) and for credits

Aren’t the French and the British lost in an opiate dream that they can still play a world role ‘of their own’? I am for a EU tighter unification, it is clear, and any prima donna or Trojan horse trying to dismantle such process from within really rails me.

The Britons are famous in their efforts to obstruct any real unification of ‘the continent’ – from Napoleon’s (was it good?) and Hitler’s (it was good) until today.

And the French? Are they pro EU only when they can play a grandeur role in it?

[Gosh, when at times they pronounce this word (France) I cannot but think of De Gaulle (my father imitated le Général not without fidelity and humour) who used to say he had ‘une certaine idée de la Fraaaance‘.]

Of course I can understand their opiate dream, their greatness belonging to only 4-6 generations ago, a short span of time. But aren’t their imperial souvenirs damaging this region, Europe, the richest of the planet (not for long) but the weakest politically?  With the huge challenges ahead of us (ie Bric) is it intelligent? Is it forward-thinking?

[See a presumptuous post of mine on EU Trojan Horses]

Braudel observed:
“Sicile-Afrique? Fondamentale”

Italy, the eternal loose woman, is reclining herself on the middle of the Mediterranean.

Fernand Braudel:

L’Italie, avec la Sicile et la Tunisie coupent la Mediterranée en deux … Est et Ouest. La liaison Sicile Afrique est fondamentale”.

This centrality favoured the Roman conquest of the Mediterranean.

Carthage (today’s Tunis) had the same central position in the Med though reversed (from South northwards). Rome though won (but … read here)

Italy and Tunisia cut the Mediterranean in two. Wikimedia. Click to enlarge

Among the European nations Italy is perhaps the most popular in North Africa and the whole Med area (some grudge left in Libya, of course.)

We eat the same food, they sing our songs (and us theirs but we’re not aware of it,) they watch since the 1950s our now horrible TV, they get consoled and excited by our III-World South which they can understand.

Tunisia in the last 100 years always looked at Sicily (and Italy) as a beloved guiding light and its greatest inspiring model (“les Italiens pour nous sont comme des dieux”, “Italians are like gods to us”, a Tunisian manager once told me. You may like this post.

This role of Italy – its Mediterranean centrality over the millennia and our today’s persisting cultural and economical influence – is responsible in my view for a certain succession of events:

Berlusconi –> Ben Ali –> Mubarak …. then the rest of the Arab Spring.

A theory of mine perhaps. So let’s now test it.

All North Africa is exploding. Arab protesters in Paris. Click for credits and to enlarge

Arab 2011 Revolution.
Are all MED BIG MEN resonating?

1) Berlusconi began to wobble …

… and while the entire world was cheerfully chatting about it (lots of fun stuff) the Tunisians were watching closely...

[Some mysterious harmony vibrating in the Mediterranean …]

They couldn’t but notice this North MED(iterranean) BIG MAN about to fall, and they know he being not terribly different from many other modern-day MED BIG MEN all over coastal Mediterranean.

[A darn tradition of ours. Let us mention: a majority of tyrants in Greek city states, Alexander and the Hellenistic monarchs; the Roman well balanced republic later superseded by Julius Caesar, Augustus & other emperors; Louis XIV le Roi Soleil; Napoleon; Napoleon III; Mussolini il duce; Hitler son of romanized Austria-Germany;  Engelbert Dollfuss in Austria; Francisco Franco, the Caudillo; Salazar his neighbour; De Gaulle le général; Italian Umberto Bossi il celodurista (I got it hard!) and Silvio Berlusconi il Cavaliere]

Of course our PM is not Bel Ali, Gaddafi or Mubarak. Italy is democratic.

But Italy (unique in the West) has this patriarchal-paternal figure (Papi his girls called him) whose de facto powers go beyond democracy. Berlusconi can influence voters being the richest tycoon and media owner in our country – as if President Clinton and Murdoch were the same person!

Now our PM has though less constitutional power than Clinton and our usually sage President of Republic counts too in our charter. Magistrates are independent and tough, and people are not stupid. Which all is saving our ass from media fascism I hope.

So Berlusconi is something Tunisians could understand. Ben Ali controlled almost all Tunisian media via his family (I worked for a Tunisian Internet company owned by Ben Ali’s daughter or wife, I forgot.)

ψ

2) … so Tunisia blew up. Also plagued by unemployment etc. Tunisia rebels against Ben Ali’s well-organized fascism. I am witness to black-clad secret police guys’ total ubiquity. Mediterranean resonating empathy I’ll repeat.

After Berlusconi wobbles Tunisia begins to blow. Click for credits and to enlarge

A small country Tunisia, one might say. Ok, but Tunisia’s rebellion infected Egypt.

Now THIS changed things entirely.

The Land of Pharaohs Wakes Up

Egyptian protests. March of the Millions: Tahrir Square. Click for a great night view

2) Egypt gets infected. The Arab world and beyond is following.

Well, given its ancientness & importance when Egypt sneezes a whole piece of the planet may catch pneumonia. Egypt is the most respected Arab state of all, beyond a doubt.

Digression. According to the Indian-British Indologist A. L. Basham – A Cultural History of India, Oxford 1975 p. XXI- “there are four main cradles of civilizations [on this planet]: 1.China. 2. The Indian subcontinent [probably the most influential in the very long run imo, MoR]. 3. The ‘Fertile Crescent‘ [ie Egypt, Eastern Canaan-Syria-Phoenicia, Mesopotamia ie Iraq, MoR]. 4. The Mediterranean, especially Greece and Italy.”

THIS was perhaps Cleopatra – found on the Esqulinus hill, one of the 7 h. Well …

[I’m starting – some scholars are starting – to suspect a North-Europe Hyperborean cradle too. Read here if you dare 🙂 …]

Egypt is at the head of num 3 region (even though Iraq invented writing.) The Greeks totally recognized Egyptian and other Eastern influences.

[But some scholars in-between 1800s-1900s  – mainly German but not only – wanted ALL colonizing West’s knowledge to be derived from an abstract ‘pure’ Greece in order to justify the exploitation of the lower-races. Winckelmann (1717 – 1768) earlier and Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) bear a foundational responsibility among the rest for this gloomy error]

Pythagoras (Πυθαγόρας) who spread a scientific-religious cult all over South Italy – which will affect Plato, ALL West science & the core of Christianity – travelled long years in Egypt, in the Middle East and Mesopotamia perhaps too: he was permeated by African and Eastern wisdom! Herodotus (Ἡρόδοτος) surely spent years in Egypt. Just 2 examples, the former being the greatest of them as for the future of Western culture.

Btw, the story of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Gaius Octavius and Cleopatra – do you remember it? (see above how sexy might have been Κλεοπάτρα, the last Pharaoh of Egypt; read this post)

Now all is getting dangerous  – but also promising let’s hope for humankind.

ψ

So let us laugh a bit. Berlusconi-owned newspapers barked against France who dared enter Mare Nostrum ie the Med:

“Beyond the Alps they should remember once in a while that in their history they don’t just have Napoleon, they also have General Cambronne!” (ineffable Georgio Mulé)

Filippo Ceccarelli’s comment on the Roman daily Repubblica:

“Imagine which weight will be given, in that place of sheer humility that is Paris, to this saucy invitation from George Mulé.”

A wild laugh, that gave me a half hour of oblivion.

ψ

This whole Arab thing is dangerous but I am fascinated that many of these countries are more ancient than Italy or Greece.

It is important to understand that Syria, Egypt etc. are not only Arabic: they are much more (and earlier) than that (read 1, 2 – delighful Diana Haddad! – and especially 3)

The more ancient a country – pls be patient – the greater its reverberations in large parts of the world.

Hadn’t Islamic revolution started in Iran, former ancient (non Arabic) Persia at the head of a thousands-year-old Empire, great model for Alexander and later Rome?

Which also explains why Fascism, invented by the Italians – a complete and rich State theory & practice – was so influential in the world despite Italy’s negligible economical importance at that time.

Which applies even more to today’s Egypt. A whole piece of the world is now boiling because of the land of the Pharaohs.

ψ

As French Fernand Braudel loved to say – “civilizations are not mortal.”

Related posts:

Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria etc. Arab Spring Revolutions seen from Rome (1)

The Southern Shores of the Mediterranean

Mare Nostrum, Patriarchy, Omertà. 1

Mare Nostrum, Patriarchy, Omertà. 2

Permanences. Rome and Carthage

Love Words from Egypt

Echoes from the Mediterranean. Part 1


Echoes from the Mediterranean. Part 2

Folks of the Mediterranean Sea

106 thoughts on “Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria etc. Arab Spring Revolutions seen from Rome (2)

  1. We in the West should encourage the liberalization of the Arab world but not intervene. I no longer get the French-British-American (and to a lesser extent Canada and Australia) “White Man’s Burden” mentality. The argument goes, they must secure those places for their own domestic security. I’m not so sure anymore.

    France in particular is interesting. While Italy has had the grace to just accept its fate (a function of A) having its time and B) being a political minnow in the post-Treaty of Westphalia era), the French just can’t seem to let go. They no long matter. The Americans matter in the larger context of Western civilization. Britain is just riding America’s coat tails.

    I’m interested to know why you’re for more integration. The greatest criticism against the EU is the concentration of power in Brussels thus leading to the eradication of regional autonomy and the possible extinction of local customs, dialects, languages etc. Centralization is a tough gig.

    As for the Arab world’s antiquity and ancient heritage. Just studying Iraq alone is a marvel. How many great civilizations can one place have!

    I think it’s great for humanity to watch the Arab world awaken itself.

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    1. I think it’s great for humanity to watch the Arab world awaken itself.

      Yes, it is.

      I no longer get the French-British-American (and to a lesser extent Canada and Australia) “White Man’s Burden mentality”.

      This mentality is gone safe for a few (or more than a few) maniacs that are still around.

      States / Nations *are* all about power / survival – no matter the size.

      Libya has OIL. The ‘White man’s burden’ has been so far that of pillaging ‘lower races’ resources. If you think it another way, you are naive.

      If American (British, Canadian, French, Italian, Indian etc.) statesmen preach about ideals (like Bush did) they are hypocrites. Wikileaks didn’t surprise Italians at all. I think on the whole Americans are doing not too bad internationally although the moment is one of the toughest ever.

      I’m interested to know why you’re for more EU integration.

      Italy and other EU continental nations are culturally linked: *We-Are-Europe*.

      This cultural unity was created by Rome – we still use Rome’s alphabet don’t we lol.

      But, in order to survive on a planet scale we need to take decisions centrally quicker. I lack the details, but if the Britons, being islanders (ok, understandable), don’t like further continental integration, they may leave the EU … hey, I wonder why they joined it if they think it is so bureaucratic 😉

      Some concentration of power in Brussels, even bureaucratic (Europe doesn’t fear a ‘heavy’ state like the US does), some French and German telling us what to do – I accept because the benefits are greater than the flaws and most of all for the sake of medium-period survival man.

      The Big Picture. Times, they are a-changing since 50% of the World population (BRIC) is developing fast. This has to be nailed into our heads. Is North America too big, insular and rich to comprehend? I hope not.

      Of course, Europe and the US (plus the UK) may have different geopolitical interests. Americans were not happy when we created the Euro (not to mention the UK). This, again, is Realpolitik. But let us all do the favour of calling a spade a spade. Besides, there are more things that unite us after all – or so I like to think (here I may be the naive one).

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      1. “I think on the whole Americans are doing not too bad internationally although the moment is one of the toughest ever.”

        Therein lies my prevailing attitude towards the Americans as a Canadian. Relative to its immense power, the Americans are rather docile compared to past empires and mighty nations.

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        1. @Commentator

          It is morning. Going for a walk. But first – that times are changing fast is also shown by small details such as this – I want you to read this passage by Mario Calabresi (a Calabrese like you btw) who on Turin’s La Stampa *wrote* a few weeks ago:

          “In silenzio – translation following -, senza che quasi nessuno se ne accorgesse, lo scorso anno i turisti cinesi hanno speso in Italia più di americani e giapponesi, nostri storici visitatori. Un milione di persone, ognuna delle quali ha lasciato qui, in media, 869 euro.”

          [“Quietly, almost without anyone noticing it, last year Chinese tourists spent in Italy more than Americans and the Japanese, our most numerous visitors historically. A million Chinese people, spending here an average of 869 € each.”]

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    2. In a way, I am pleased to see France taking a more active role, even a more active military role, but it is clear that Western Europe still needs U. S. muscle to achieve whatever aims (humanitarian, political, petro-dollars) that are important. That France is pulling the rest of Europe, and the United States into places like Libya (not yet into Ivory Coast) doesn’t bode well for anybody, including France if it isn’t careful.

      That U. S. support (for all of Western Europe)comes with a big price tag, and this American is growing tired of having our military used as something of a mercenary force. Mr. Sarkozy should get off of the phone with Secretary Clinton and hire some Hessians.

      Seriously, I am no isolationist, but I think that North Africa (ultimately all of Africa) will see the U. S. as the gorilla sent in by Western Europeans. The ancient, and new bonds that can be established around and beyond the Med will be distorted, or extinguished at infancy. Obviously, the U. S. will not gain from this either.

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  2. @Commentatorio
    @Paul

    I am bit tired for too much company stuff and too much writing / thinking. I also need to digest readers’ reflections and myself. When not knowing what to do, I’ll take a nap.

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  3. Kleopatra! Was she not after all a Macedonian Greek? (One of those redheads, possibly…)

    As for Gaddafi’s rude health, if that is the case why does he need five Ukrainian nurses? He looks awful, but these superannuated, fading strongmen can be erratically powerful, I admit.

    I’m more distracted by the prose of the letter to Obama released by the AP this week.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/qaddafi-obama-letter-2011-4

    As often as it is remarked that “the West” suffers from a lack of understanding about the realities of life in the Arab world, there is the additional question of people with great power and clout — like Gaddafi — lacking any real understanding of the political realities in the West, to say nothing of the daily experiences of European or American lives. Isolation breeds delusion.

    I remember that Hitler believed the death of Roosevelt would send the morale of Americans crashing and lead to our retreat. And these were two countries with strong mutual bonds, but distinctly different political spirits.

    Who knows what Libyans may imagine we are thinking or doing, and what they will choose to do in reaction to what they imagine.

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  4. I’m rather puzzled by this Libya business. Another dictator that many governments were happy to deal with in better times, when he was compliant, is now the Great Satan. (cf. Hussein, Noriega, Marcos, etc. etc.)

    Great if he goes, all the best to the Libyans. He is a crazy and cruel tyrant, but I wonder about why the USA is so involved. Why this tyrant, now? And what if he hangs on?? I am also wary of French goals – they seem to care more for their world-posture than anything else.

    Not sure what the best course is for any actor here, but I am very wary and cynical.

    What are the contemporary ties between Italy and Libya?

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    1. Another dictator that many governments were happy to deal with in better times, when he was compliant, is now the Great Satan. (cf. Hussein, Noriega, Marcos, etc. etc.)

      You forget Bin Laden who was not a dictator but …

      I am very cynical too (ie I am not, just trying to understand the rules of world politics a bit).

      Ruling through corrupted elites was a common practice among the Romans, the later European colonizers, and now the US or any power big or small. A corrupt elite is weak and can be blackmailed, hence it assures stability. Horrible (and perhaps short-sighted) but true.

      Why this tyrant, now?

      Because Gaddafi is uncouth, rich with oil (he possesses a modern private army), is a terrific soldier and will never give up.

      Clearly the West is interested in his oil, and cynicism having limits when Gaddafi started bombing civilians with plane fighters… so now we have both a good cause and the final prize for ‘goodness’: controlling a region soaked with black gold. The problem, again, is Gaddafi will fight to the death.

      In my explanation chain (Berlusconi, Ben Ali, Mubarak and then the rest) I didn’t mention Gaddafi because culturally Libya is zero. A part from the Cyrene area in the east (which gave problems to the Italian colonizers and where in the famous ancient Greek town – Κυρήνη, pls look at *this* picture! – Aristippus preached sheer pleasure) Libya is just desert raiders who plagued the neighbours from the Pharaohs’ times onwards. Gaddafi lives in a tent not only as propaganda.

      Of course the much more civilized Tunisians, Algerians, Egyptians and Moroccans spend their time cracking jokes on the Libyans.

      PS. As for the economical ties between Italy and Libya, read the article proposed below by the Commentator (especially from paragraph 9 onwards). I don’t agree with parts of it, but on the whole it is interesting. One thing: even if Libya’s next government doesn’t respect economic agreements with us, Italian economy will not be shattered. Obviously we don’t need this in such moment of general crisis.

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        1. I love all, except the fact that, maybe, he’s not a first-class writer. In Italy we are spoiled by people like Croce, Paratore, Mila, Gramsci, who were historians and also excellent writers. Especially Croce and Gramsci, among the best we ever had.

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  5. @ MoR “…The Britons are famous in their efforts to obstruct any real unification of ‘the continent’…”

    The popular conception among Britons is that over the years we have paid in far more than we have ever got out of Europe, that Europe seeks continually and undemocratically to interfere in our daily lives and that our legal system is constantly in dispute with European traditions.

    True or not, rational or not, contrary to the great European ideal or not, that is a fact which cannot be ignored, yet no allowance seems to be made for it all all. Britain is constantly conceived as some Jurassic has-been, whereas in reality we have been a mainstay of European institutions with precious little credit.

    Anyway, federations do not have a great record for averting war.

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    1. Richard, pls read *my reply* to the Commentator above. I speak my mind as usual. One thing. You are islanders, ok, but we are the Jurassic dinosaurs, not you.

      the popular conception among Britons is that … we have paid …more than we have ever got out of Europe, that Europe seeks continually and undemocratically to interfere in our daily lives …

      If this is the popular sentiment in the UK (more problems than benefits), and if you are a democracy, which I think you are (the best in the world possibly together with the US) I think you should leave the EU Richard.

      Allow us to build a federal state like that of the United States. You’re too smart to sink. We will sink instead. We need a European nation Richard, we really do.

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      1. Do you say that when I voted for Europe in the UK referendum in 1975 it was misplaced youthful idealism?

        In the period 1997 to 2005 the UK’s net contribution to Europe was £44bn. For the same period the trade deficit was £72.5bn: £26.1bn in 2005 alone. For the first three months of this year it stands at £1.87bn.

        Do you really mean that the UK should leave? Many here still nurse the European ideal, but it is beginning to wear thin. Many others have been calling consistently for another referendum for a long time.

        As you well know, economic disgruntlement is a dangerous touchpaper.

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        1. Richard, i am at an irish pub. Replying with my small phone. ALL 50-year-old Irish women around. They are embarrassing me (they are not). Call Philippe pls. i want to know his opinion. red (and then black) guiness is making me blurred.

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        2. The current polarization of the US often whiffs to me of the relics of that civil war.

          My father was from Nebraska and my mother from Georgia. I was born and raised in the shadow of the national capital, and was almost a teenager when I saw (in the 1960’s) that my Georgia “relations” lived in a mythology of injustice and oppression that paralleled that of groups like the IRA. I literally saw a first cousin’s eyes fill with tears as he carried on about Sherman’s March.

          It’s been half a century but there is still a sense of oppression by the “Federal government” that, in its worst manifestations, whiffs of the South bent on rising again.

          The Puritans came here because England differed with their desire to oppress people guilty of religious thoughtcrimes. The Confederate states objected to being told they could no longer own human beings as chattel. O cruel domination of a central power!

          And so to this day America has to deal with bullies who holler “Bully! Bully!” when someone interferes with their bullying.

          I am not sure we have anything like unity.

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          1. “The Puritans came here because England differed with their desire to oppress people guilty of religious thoughtcrimes. The Confederate states objected to being told they could no longer own human beings as chattel. O cruel domination of a central power!”

            The first murdered a head of state and put an oppressive dictator in charge of their country. The second group tried to destroy a state, and they also, if too late to save their evil cause, murdered a head of state, to preserve their petty, dying slavery reliant “way of life.”

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        3. It did not have to be that way, but the die was cast in the “Kansas Wars”. Hotheads and violence prevailed 150 years ago.

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      2. @Richard

        You talk of British right or wrong common sentiment. Well, exhausted as I am from studying too much ancient Britain I am not in a position to offer counter data in support of what I believe to be the common (right or wrong) sentiment here in Italy, France, Germany and those countries that do care a bit about a European federation as a source of identity, salvation etc.

        As far as I know such right or wrong ‘spread sentiment’ is that the UK is taking instead all she can and giving so little. But this is not THE problem for us Continental, we are not very practical. The problem is the systematic (overt, non overt) obstruction of a European nation.

        The UK is subtle and there are many ways of dismantling a process: favouring second-rate figures (Barroso, Prodi) as presidents of the powerful Commission; imposing a totally ineffective British woman as EU foreign minister; applauding to loads of new members joining the EU, which of course creates havoc.

        I am sure that, say, in another parallel & identical universe, if 100 new states wanted to join the EU, the UK would cry at the top of her lungs: YEEEEES!

        Moronities of the day being said I well understand the reasons of such obstruction (you may read an extensive discussion *here at my blog* on this topic).

        My point is, in a world radically changing, such reasons may not be valid any more (for the Britons themselves!). In short – I am never such – I see America too sure of her superpower, and the Old World – UK included – unable to react and basically doing Hara-kiri, Seppuku, you name it.

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        1. “I see America too sure of her superpower, and the Old World – UK included – unable to react and basically doing Hara-kiri, Seppuku, you name it.”

          But is the United Europe model as it stands (barely, I think) the only way? I’ve no problem with a United Europe of some sort. The Libyan War might actually be telling us, however, that the current attempts need revising.

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          1. Yes, the Libyan War proves we are weak if not united. Some ex powers’ memory is too long lol.

            I have said somewhere here what is just my opinion:

            Without a Unites States of Europe (ie a real progress towards such a thing: the Lisbon treaty ‘is’ that progress but a few things escape me, went wrong, I don’t know) this region of earth is screwed in the medium run. And it is a pity. Europe is also America’s primeval roots btw.

            And America shouldn’t fear multi-polarity, since it favours stability, balance. The Indians and an Chinese are sage imo.

            Of course, America and Europe may have (or have) different geopolitical interests. I think we are adult enough to grasp that and not fall into silly acrimony on a personal level. It is how the world goes. As Paul said. Yes, like he said above.

            [America may dream about the ‘American century’. America is today powerful and will continue to be tomorrow. But the American century (2000-2099) is a dream in my view. The American century was 1900s. It is not defeatism – a conservative American columnist once wrote on Newsweek – it is math]

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  6. Since the very first group of primitive hunters/gatherers had to split the bounty there have been wars. It all boils down to a very simple thing: those who have want to keep it, those who have not want to get it.
    Since there is no real political, nor social for that matter, will to share we will keep being at each others throaths for the foreseeable future.
    This most simple tenet explains all and any current situation wherever men are. It is a reminder that, although at a superior stage of evolution than the others, man IS an animal.

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    1. Paul, mon ami, je pense que tu touche comment je voie les choses. Dans ce concepte, c’est pour quoi je suis cynique avec les taxes excessives pour la societe. At one point, it ceases to help people and moves on to enabling them. Human nature, at its roots, is not that different from a croc in dry season.

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    2. Paul, your comment is perfect and I endorse every single word you say. This by the way well explains the Machiavellian laws of politics.

      J’ai l’habitude de lire le wiki français qui est clair, cartésien.

      Realpolitik entry: “Nicolas Machiavel dans son ouvrage Le Prince en 1532 établit que le seul but d’un prince (when governing a state) devait être la recherche du pouvoir, indépendamment des questions religieuses et morales. Le cardinal Richelieu appliqua ses théories lors de la Guerre de Trente Ans et inventa l’expression ‘raison d’État’.”

      À mon avis ceux qui considèrent le Machiavellisme comme immorale sont un peu naïf et ne prennent pas en compte ce que vous dites, à savoir la nature bestiale de l’homme (même si je préfère énoncer que nous sommes une espèce de prédateurs)

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      1. Machiavelli merely described the behavior and relationships between the men of his day. Since human nature has changed not a bit, while not the only perspective, or voice that should be heeded in understanding statecraft, or other human relations, he is still quite insightful.

        The Cardinal Minster of France also wrote a “Testament” I have a translation around the house. The First Minister’s work is more about how he thought a King of France should govern, and it was written with a specific time and person in mind. It is an interesting, and fairly straightforward read, but not nearly as useful as the anything Niccolo penned.

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  7. This is a most interesting posting, filled with ideas that can be subjects for separate debates.

    Your notion of Berlusconi’s troubles as the Ur-cause of the current rebellions in Arab lands, is an interesting one. You believe in the Butterfly Effect, perhaps? A butterfly flapping its wings can be the Ur-cause of a tornado on the other side of the world?

    The proximate cause of the Arab rebellions could, though, be no more than that the percentage of under-25’s in most Arab lands has reached a Tipping Point. It’s so easy to forget that the high percentage of under 25’s (the Baby-Boomers) was the proximate cause of the ’60’s rebellions in the Western countries.

    In any case, the Arab peoples won’t for ever be content to live under the yoke of Western neo-colonialism. They will inevitably slip its manacles. Now is as good a time as any.

    The boatloads of Libyans arriving at Lampedusa highlight the general issue of people from Third-World lands wanting to better their lot by migrating by fair means or foul to First World lands.

    This is a moral issue that affects all of us who live in First-World lands, who proudly proclaim our humanitarian ideals. Do we not do violence to these humanitarian ideals by saying “no” to most of the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to be free, who wish to improve their lot by working in our First World lands?

    If it is our current philosophy, as enunciated by Davos Man, that Goods and Capital be free to move anywhere, why does this not apply to Labour? How many of us know that until the early part of the 20th century, people could pretty well settle in any part of the world they wanted. Today’s ever-more stringent restrictions on migration represent a loss of a freedom which our forebears enjoyed.

    If Britain is obstructing European unification through not becoming more a part of the EU, this may come out of the 22 miles of water that physically separates Britain from Europe. But for this 22 miles of water, Britain could not have acquired a worldwide English-speaking empire, which in turn created a British mindset that was different from that of Europe. And – courtesy of this 22 miles of water, and unlike any of the major European powers – Britain hasn’t been invaded and occupied by a foreign power for 1000 years, or had an internal revolution in over four hundred years – the sorts of events that turn everything upside down and create entirely new mindsets.

    Unlike with Europeans, Britons don’t have to speak a foreign tongue in order to get along in the world. In Britain today, budgets and resources for foreign-language learning in schools and universities are being significantly cut back. Given that learning a foreign tongue does create a less isolationist mindset, the British disdain for learning foreign tongues doesn’t foster a feeling of Europeanness.

    And it is the English language that creates Britain’s uniquely strong ties with the likes of the United States, and consequently strengthens the feelings of otherness from Europe.

    Hence, if Europeans are to have more political integration, it’ll likely have to be without Britain.

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    1. Tomorrow Phil, I’m an early bird (and thank you).

      Excellent contribution yours in any case and I’ll say that your last sentence is exactly what I was telling Richard.

      Britain, if she’s consistent with her nature and history, should leave the EU and let us build our new nation in peace. If she stays, it is only for controlling the process in the direction she likes.

      Les continentales, ils sont des cons, il est even too vrais. Mais quand même il y a des limites à la connerie.

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    2. I agree with this last point too. I think the Continent and Britain will actually have a better working relationship, and both a better relationship with the U. S. if political integration in Western, and some of Central Europe, does not also directly include Britain. It is not a matter of discarding the ideals of the 1970’s, but doing what is practical and appropriate for 2011.

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        1. I think that might be the case in a few people’s minds (in the minds of the American neo-cons I believe), and obviously that is not good for many reasons.

          In another place you speak of a multipolarity. I agree, the U. S. should not fear this at all, particularly if this allows U.S. foreign policy to go forward with less frequent involvement militarily.

          In fact, this could spur economic development. Again, I believe we should be looking at what is appropriate for 2011, and a multipolar world is probably the best approach. What is happening in Libya, suggests to me that a multipolar system is increasingly not only desirable, but needed.

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      1. @Zeus
        It’s interesting to note that in the EU today the new members (eastern bloc) prefer to use English as their main language and not both English and French. The strain for employees has always been the competition between the two at meetings. The EU is currently surveying and studying conflicting issues among employees on the shades of power of these two main EU languages within the institution.

        The EU also reasserts national, cultural and ethnic identity in Europe and plays a central role in international politics. The EU and the US are forming more and more ties since globalization. To suggest that the UK leave is to sideline her influence worldwide. This would not be a good thing. Also, it seems ungrateful.

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        1. The UK and the rest of Europe should work together in whatever way is best for them all of them. That is all I am saying.

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          1. My second paragraph above was meant to be general and not directed at you, Zeus. Sorry.

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    3. @Phil

      “It is the English language that creates Britain’s uniquely strong ties with the likes of the United States, and consequently strengthens the feelings of otherness from Europe.”

      Excellent point, since language, as Zeus and I said *below*, is such a big part of a culture.

      And, the “22 miles of water that physically separates Britain from Europe” is an excellent point, that has been confirmed by all the Britons that popped up at this blog.

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  8. So. Language DOES significantly matter?

    I’m not surprised. The American-Commonwealth-British alliance is as natural as Britain being in the EU. Tough but good bind for the UK if you ask me.

    It’s like a baseball team with five excellent starters to choose from.

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    1. Tomorrow, dear Commentator. And, I think languages do matter, in many ways.

      Update: I have replied to the language thing below making use of ol’ times Italian philosophy 🙂

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    2. What is contained in the relationship of language is also very important. There have been uniquely Anglophone developments in law, philosophy, art, even in music that have been profoundly influenced by cultures speaking other languages (the U. S. love of all things French for example), but the Anglophones have some unique ways of looking at things that are, I think embedded in our language. This is no doubt true for any linguistic groups.

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      1. Extremely interesting. You are mentioning the relationship between language and culture.

        My mentor used to make us understand this from the single person level up to an entire linguistic group level, which is a big part of what we call a ‘culture’.

        In his ol’-times conceptual Italian he used to say (something that seems obvious to me now but at 24 it sounded terribly mind expanding):

        Language basically implies culture and philosophy, both personal and collective, id est a Weltanschaung. At the limit one could say that every speaking human has a language of his /her own, ie a culture of his / her own that is his /her own particular way of thinking and feeling.

        [if he were here he would in turn look at you directly in the eyes and say: Zeus’, Sled’s, Cheri’s culture …]

        Therefore a language (American English, British English, German, Italian) is nothing but ALL these personal multiplicities combined, that make up a big part of a culture (its art, legal codes, as you say Zeus, since people have a diverse social background, do different jobs, may have different roots etc.).

        [He went on, but I cannot continue now]

        Terrific. We were spell-bound.

        Also because of his voice and eyes!

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  9. See how this issue divides even those who love each other, MoR. My Angel in England voted “No” to Europe in 1975.

    It does not do for Zeus (and I know he does not mean to offend) to dwell on past atrocities. Extremists carry the undiscriminating in their wake. Remember, too, that England soon restored her monarchy and lessons were learned on both sides.

    Britain has sacrificed too much blood over the centuries, shared too much culture, surrendered too much sovereignty not to be committed to a better future for continental Europe. You do my country a grave injustice. The European Union mortally divides our people and canny politicians astutely avoid the question wherever possible. It is your help we need here, not your derision.

    If the EU fails to recognise member nations’ sensibilities, it is a danger to the Great European Project, for a dictatorship touches a raw nerve among ordinary people. Maybe Europe is too introverted, maybe not. Be sure that unless we live together in peace and goodwill, we are no example to other regions of the world.

    The term “United States of Europe” was used by Winston Churchill in his speech at the University of Zurich in 1946, should you be in any doubt about our true interests.

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    1. What a great speech Richard, what great ideals! Winston Churchill was an enlightened cultured man of humanities. He understood what Europe is.
      Also Boris Johnson, your Mayor of London, is a man of great classical knowledge and I like ALL of him (I was hit when I read his ‘The Dream of Rome’, which basically speaks of European ideals.)

      Richard, let me tell you I love you and I love all the British and the idea that Britain can join us in a tighter unification excites me (but will make the US cry on it perhaps, accordinf to Zeus). Thank you also for letting me know how torn you people out there are (ties with the US, the Channel as Phil well explains, the island thing that makes you different and proud, like a much much bigger Sicily). I am ready for any decision the UK will democratically take. I will understand.

      I am sorry if I sounded derisory. I am not. I just try to make my posts readable, and am eccentric.

      The problem now with the new generations (in any European country) is a certain pettiness of ideals. Europe, as an ideal or goal, is not attractive any more. They lack the big picture, since, let’s face it, it is very practical, either we become tighter or we quickly decline.

      This small-mindedness reminds me of the population of Constantinople, head of the East Roman Empire – pls allow me lol. While they were progressively falling to the Ottomans in 1400s all people cared for was betting for their favourite team!

      [If I disliked you people out there I wouldn’t be studying 526 CE Ancient Britain to distraction – such a beautiful topic btw! -, not only the Roman side of it but especially the much more exotic to me Celtic and Anglo-Saxon sides]

      Let us well hope for the future of the new generations dear friend, in any part of the world.

      But Bric countries are not like the Ottomans I think (who were a great civilization in any case).

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      1. If tighter union means conformity, as it seems to in the EU, it cannot last. The strains prove too strong.

        It may be of passing interest to note that the union of England and Scotland (so fragile now but once a true and happy unity) accommodated two different legal systems, each taking pride in the other. Pride as a feeling of fulfilment, of course, rather than boastfulness, which is a;ways short-lived.

        The opposite is true, culturally and legally, in the relation between Britain and other member states of the EU.

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        1. I understand this point of view, from a person from the British Isles. But I am continental. I see things differently Richard, which doesn’t mean ‘in a better way’, ‘I know better’ etc. Just differently, and can’t help it, exactly like you 🙂

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          1. Dissent …I don’t see the problem Richard.

            Since dissent is foreseen in any democratic state (the majority rule I guess).

            [Of course peoples are free to join or not join such entity]

            I’ll tell you, we can have different views – a kinda rule, opinion diversity, in my readership lol -, but this is what I do feel (I’ll talk generally, there are political solutions for all this, and the Lisbon Treaty has potentials):

            A *Europe of cultures* is imo modern, useful today (Scottish, Irish, Welsh, English, Lombard, Roman, Sicilian, Bavarian etc. cultures), while a *Europe of nations* (of course they would stay tho federated) attached to their proud past successes in whatever field in a petty (or non petty) way – THAT had a function in the past but such nationalism is today outdated imo, non useful, I’d add dangerous for our survival given the big changes ahead (3.5 billion developing fast!)

            Why don’t you people start frequenting the Indian blogs? Millions of young people with ideas fresher than ours, and averagely more mature, intelligent, dedicated, serious and passionate, than our EU youth. Don’t you feel Richard such immense crowd of Chinese, Indians, Brasilians arriving? They smile. They still dance with pleasure. We don’t smile and dance any more mostly and are depressed despite our wealth, our families are dismantled, while they still have huge clans where there may be problems but love still circulates, you can feel it if you go there.

            Besides, if India, with possibly 500 ethnicities and languages (with huge caste religion ethnicity poverty problems) did create a huge federation & democracy (thanks also to the Victorians of course) and she is despite the problems an undeniable success case-history – I don’t see why the much more homogeneous Europeans shouldn’t make it as well.

            Unless one fears such unification Richard, such as it seems the case of many in the UK. Ok, understandable, traditional UK thinking. Also some people in the US fear this European state, but the US is far, and not 22 miles only away.

            So my point is, this whole thing is, this fear, from a Western point of view, is very short-sighted I’ll repeat.

            For Godssake, can the irresolute, the fragmented, the Lilliputian survive (Italy + France + UK = 160 millions only!) in what is becoming a Bigger Game where we’ll just play the part of the mosquitoes? What’s the end of an annoying mosquitoes? Whack! 🙂

            Therefore the future is in the hands of both the Britons and the various European families, which will decide in the course of the next years.

            Let us all be able to choose freely. Some nobility, ideals & Big Thinking is required here Richard, exactly like during the times of Churchill.

            So, no Trojan-horse games lol pls. They just create resentment and would only delay what is already written in the stars (since I believe Europeans won’t choose nullification in whatever form – decline, progressive poverty or worse.)

            [All this is my subjective view]

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          2. I have to admit that the idea of a culture full of big family clans gives me the blind staggers.

            There is a big family clan on one side of my birth family and I have never seen anything I so wanted to get away from. No one is allowed to be himself or herself, all is subordinate to the gravitational pull of this big amoeba called a family, which is a word I can’t even see or pronounce without queasiness.

            There may or may not be some similar feeling on the part of people who don’t want to be in a big EU Federation or who don’t have a positive reaction to Indian, Brazilian and similar cultures. I have no answer where politics is concerned, but there does need to be a place in the world for those of us who don’t like having relatives.

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          3. There is a big family clan on one side of my birth family and I have never seen anything I so wanted to get away from.

            Is this statistically relevant? A big family – pros and cons, allright – has always been a factor of happiness. Why do you think Colombia ranks higher than the US (or Italya) as for happiness? Because they can buy more and better cars?

            But this is more crucial in my view: our species may be, say, hundreds of thousands years old, maybe more. In a small fraction of the world population (North America and West Europe), since the last 50 years only, clans have stopped existing. You think WE are right and ALL OF THEM DAMN WRONG? ALL of them, for 500,000 years or more? (or less, I forgot?)

            Do you think in 526 ancient Britain they just had, say, sad, monotone, boring, silent families with 1-2 kids maximum? Like WE have here now?

            Where the hell are my grandchildren? They will never arrive because of this darn Western world!

            🙂 🙂 🙂

            [by the way, the Goddess didn’t like children … do you mean ….Gosh]

            :mrgreen:

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    2. Sorry if that came across wrongly. There is zero desire to dwell on the past. In fact, my belief is that we do well to avoid any move that takes us back to the past, and indeed lessons were learned. I think we should be very flexible, and willing to make changes in our relationships to avoid being pulled into more intractable wars.

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  10. @READERS

    I will try to reply to all other comments, Zeus, Sled, Phil etc.

    I am working on Manius and Ancient Britannia next chapters, so I’ll do what I can. I am slow paced.

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  11. Instead of berating themselves for their failures, Europeans should, perhaps, give themselves a pat on the back for what they have achieved in political, social and economic integration over the last sixty years. Think only of the creation of the Euro, which was a remarkable achievement, and which is, arguably, the strongest world currency today.

    Europe hasn’t fallen apart because most continental Europeans know that having the EU, and having the Euro, is the only way to go in today’s world. Also, denizens of the EU may now realise that they have more values in common than with anyone else.

    How then to create a tighter, more cohesive EU? One way – which is also essential – is through having an official common working-language which first among equals, is neutral, and which all Europeans should feel the need to speak without resentment. It would seem that English fits the bill. Not having a common tongue is inherently fissiparous, as the Belgians are finding out.

    No doubt knowing the fissiparousness of not having a common tongue, is why almost all the former colonies of the European empires adopted the language of the former colonial power as their common working language which no-one resented because it was the home language of almost no-one in that former colony. This may be why almost none of the former colonies – whose boundaries, artificially created by the colonisers, cut across natural linguistic, ethnic and tribal lines – have split up.

    While, as most commentors to this posting agree, Europe doesn’t need Britain in a tighter European set-up, Europe does need Britain’s language, English. This is all the more reason for Britain not to belong to a tighter European set-up, since Britain’s participation would mitigate against the English language’s neutrality in Europe.

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    1. I’m not sure everyone would agree about the Euro, Philippe. I’m no economist but, as far as I can work out, The ECB guarantees Greek, Irish and Portuguese securitised bonds at an overvalue, reminiscent of the the banking crisis when too much was loaned on securitised assets. Furthermore, the Euro prevents weaker economies from devaluing themselves out of a crisis. Let us hope the Euro survives this – it is in Britain’s interest that it does.

      I should like to know what you have in mind when you speak of a “Tighter European set-up” and how this will avert the fissipariousness (I had to look it up) of which you speak, otherwise than by oppressive curtailment of national freedoms, which is not really what the GEP (Great European Project)is all about.

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  12. Yes, it was quite the remarkable achievement this Euro currency. However, here is my concern: European nationalism in many member states remain strong. This can post problems in the future. The other thing is militarily. Scoff one might at this but it is an important component of independence. I know there is talk of a European army eventually but until then it is riding on America and her military to secure European interests.

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    1. Friend, having strong military forces is not such a big deal. Were it true the EU is still the richest place on earth, once you have a tighter political unity (I btw prefer a federation to a confederation, which is radical, I understand) buying arms and training more people – and having a precise foreign policy since you’d have an effective European government – will just be the natural consequence, altho I don’t like the idea at all, but, well, some military power, at least as a deterrent, is necessary.

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  13. @Richard – “Tighter set-up” is, admittedly, a clumsy term. By it, I meant giving Brussels more real power, in the way that Giovanni spoke of in an earlier comment. Hence Europe becomes a genuine federation or confederation, whose government speaks with one voice in, say, foreign policy, economic and military matters, as sovereign governments do.

    To bring this about, the people of Europe need to feel more European than they feel German, French, Italian or whatever. Hence a common language is needed, which all Europeans are conversant in, and which becomes Europe’s prime official language, and therefore the language of government and business. This language would, almost of necessity, be today’s unofficial lingua franca, English, which would play the same unifying role in Europe as it does in multilingual lands such as India and South Africa.

    The introduction of English as Europe’s official lingua franca would partially look after the problem of one-size-fits-all interest rates which a common currency demands, since having an official lingua franca would make it easier for people rendered jobless in one part of Europe to move to another part where the jobs are. People affected this way, and already speaking English, wouldn’t need to learn another language in order to find work in the new location.

    The development of a feeling of being more European than feeling French, German, Italian etc, will take time. It will be the new generation of Europeans which will grow up with this feeling of Europeanness. They will be of a new globally sensitive generation, to which almost none of the commentors (including me) on this blog belong!!

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    1. I agree with every single word your said Philippe. I am sorry for the French – being a bit French after all from my father’s side – but English is our lingua franca and, no minor detail, is easier than French imo.

      The development of a feeling of being more European than feeling French, German, Italian etc, will take time.

      Yes, and perhaps it is starting a bit already, since at least:

      1) the birth of Irish low-cost airline Ryanair and its business model’s success after the deregulation in air flights in Europe from 1997 (something perhaps incomprehensible to US and Canadian people, that flights were so dear here), and

      2) the Erasmus Project starting from 1987 – a EU University student exchange programme allowing students from any EU country to spend one officially recognized college year in another EU country – the young Europeans are starting to feel closer.

      [*L’Auberge Espagnole* (The Spanish Apartment) – you might have seen it – is a 2002 French film about Xavier, a French graduate student studying for an ‘Erasmus’ year in Barcelona. Excellent and very funny. Spoken both in English and French. Xavier ‘grows up’ with a group of students from ALL Western Europe and falls in love with an English student (a woman).]

      Yes, it is not our generation lol.
      All this is counterbalanced maybe by a certain flatness of ideals as I said. Hard to say, it may be the usual ‘O tempora o mores!’ of the old.

      @Geraldine

      Ireland has given a great contribution to Europe. Low-cost flights and literal invasion of Irish pubs everywhere in the EU. I profit from both 🙂

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  14. @Philippe

    It is unity that is needed, not unification, variety not monotone, consent not coercion. Otherwise we simply repeat the mistakes of the past.

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    1. @ Philippe,
      I agree with you that unity is needed. The EU continuously works to find new solutions for new and old issues. It is also funding programs/scholarships in some US universities to enhance understanding of policy conficts/overlaps between the two continents to prepare the mindset of future leaders.

      So much is happening…it’s fascinating.

      @MoR
      I’m happy you profit from low-cost flights (lol) and Irish pubs (lol). There’s much more to discover regarding our contributions, though!
      😉

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  15. oops, I meant to answer Richard not Philippe. Pardon.
    Richard, I truly believe our countries belong in the EU.

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    1. I know too well I am a charmer Richard.

      *COME* *WITH* *ME*
      *COME* *WITH* *MEE*
      INTO THE *HAPPY*
      US OF *EUROPEEE*

      (hope hope hopee-pee)

      I’ll make you and your Angel
      quiver with delight,
      we’ll sip good Limoncello
      at the sound of a cello.

      Under the Roman sun?
      Rather the Tuscan sun?

      [I’m John]

      It’s up to you

      Gloo gloo

      End

      Like

        1. Of course. Wait, Giorgio, or Richard?
          As for myself you know too well ALL comes from my shower sessions, where I also sing and dance. Floor is made of mosaic, as expensive as a plain shower floor, which is handy so I don’t break my neck.

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          1. Richard hasn’t given us a sample of his shower mix yet, has he?

            I’m afraid I mostly take boring showers — in quick, out quick, no waiting. Perhaps I would understand European politics better if I spent more time in there.

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          2. Cold showers would put anyone off for life no matter what the company.

            Was this parsimony, or some nod to the troublesome libidinous potential of smelly pubescent schoolboys?

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          3. Penury rather than parsimony, Sled. And I don’t think the masters were in the business of quelling libidos.

            There was one in particular who believed in mass punishment. If he took against a class, he would line them all up in the gym, half naked, have them face outward, bending over, and thwack them all with a large bat which I don’t think was used for any other kind of game. Afterwards in the shower he would supervise us as we ran in line first through the hot side of the shower and then through the cold side. Each of us had a mighty red patch where the punishment had been applied. It was in those days I began to dissociate punishment from transgression.

            Perhaps you might adopt some of these ideas for your clients?

            That same master taught us Scottish dancing. Not so much a study of vernacular arts, you understand, but as another medium of punishment.

            I recall the high-pitched orders “Side the back the front the back – toe heel toe heel,” of the highland fling and the “Pas de Basque – Pas de Basque ” of the sword dance. Followed, of course, by the hot and cold mandatory naked dowsing.

            Now you mention it, I think some of my contemporaries may actually have enjoyed it all.

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          4. Some of my contemporaries themselves became thwackers. Others drew solace in study or from religion or else rebelled. The world is composed of thwackers, academics, the religious and the rebellious.

            The EU will end up being run by thwackers and set progress back 500 years unless it wholeheartedly embraces dissent.

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          5. @Sled
            @Richard

            Well, well, this is not the kind of shower activities I had in mind. And I don’t understand whether you are talking about punishment /discipline or sadistic sex, or both.

            In any case the British (and the Romans and the US, heirs of both) are / were famous for their ‘discipline’ methods in schools. Here in Italy even in the 1950s (!) if schoolchildren were whacked parents would have called the police. Not to mention today! Even a parent, Gosh, slapping hard a son daughter (from 16 to 23 of age) risks the child go to the police. Don’t ask me about laws in Italy. Police might probably laugh at kids’ complaints. Just trying to depict the climate.

            Now one pedagogical question arises. Is it the reason Italian people are at times disgustingly soft, the fact that they are not whacked? (to be honest Italians are certainly soft in some kids-pampering regions – Rome a bit, parts of the South terribly, tho other South areas they are old fashioned and not tender with kids much -, while in Central & North regions they pamper much less (they may whack and slap occasionally), not to mention my father’s Piedmont, Italy’s Prussia (or Serbia) a bit, to whose iron will they add Italian North West mean subtlety.

            They for ex. need no frequent paddling since parents can annihilate a child with a remark said calmly and gently (which, if you think of it, annihilating with gentleness, is a very high level of perversion); in any case added to such ‘calm’ remarks (dad) I had to suffer my rear being striped with a belt (dad) or bruised with a shoe (mum) quite a few times. Despite this, I am still soft, which demonstrates how …pedagogy is a ‘hard’ science – in every sense of the term 😉

            What I mean is ‘paddle on butt and similar’ discipline bad or good? Big deal theme, won’t get into that or *Manius and the witch* will never meet again in fantasy land 😉

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          6. Swinburne escapes me (there are 4-5 of them) but not T.E. Lawrence, so I perhaps understand what you mean. But what counts more, is that we are all toasting to you dear Sled being very much relieved!!

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          7. Swinburne’s poetry includes titles like “Our Lady of Pain.” I think I cited his homage to Sappho around here recently.

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          8. @ Man of Roma – …What I mean, is ‘paddle on butt and similar’ discipline bad or good?…

            I’m glad to say that the UK has now pretty well caught up with Italy in this regard.

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  16. @Richard

    Richard: “The world is composed of thwackers, academics, the religious and the rebellious.”

    Interesting reflection. I aspire to become at least three of them. Guess which.

    MoR: ‘Paddle on butt and similar’ discipline: bad or good?… here in Italy in any case even in the 1950s (!) if schoolchildren were whacked parents would call the police.

    Richard: “I’m glad to say that the UK has now pretty well caught up with Italy in this regard.”

    MoR: You made me laugh, altho whether good or bad it remains to be seen. The answer may be blowing in the wind of course.

    Richard: “The EU will end up being run by thwackers and set progress back 500 years”.

    MoR: In fact we are preparing canes, paddles. We’d adore … oh those pale buttocks … Freaking gods!! I’ve revealed part of my riddle!!

    Like

    1. You know, once, when I was 9 or 10, my father took the slipper to me very lightly. I had upset my mother badly. I feigned unconsciousness. He dropped the slipper and stood back in alarm and horror. He never raised a finger to me again.

      He was badly hurt, dear man – I felt nothing.

      Like

  17. @Sledpress

    Perhaps I would understand European politics better if I spent more time in showers.

    That is certain. In any case European politics is very simple. States / folks living together for soooo long they’re totally neurotic with one another, to an extent possibly not comprehensible by young states such as yours.

    How silly of me. Simple = complicated. Not even WHOLE morning showers would help.

    Like

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