Brexit Logs, Part 2: On Europe, Nationalism & European Identity
Part 2 in a series exploring the post-Brexit fallout. I am Paolo, and I've Broken Europe.
ABOUT EUROPE. Here is the ghost of Schumann, primary maker of European unity, explaining in Strasbourg, 1949, the Europe project:
...We are carrying out a great experiment ... an organization putting an end to war and guaranteeing an eternal peace ... conscious of belonging to a cultural family ... a willingness to serve that community in the spirit of total mutuality, without any hidden motives of hegemony or the selfish exploitation of others ... Our century, that has witnessed the unending clash of nationalities and nationalisms, must attempt and succeed in reconciling nations in a supranational association. This would safeguard the diversities and aspirations of each nation while coordinating them in the same manner as the regions are coordinated within the unity of the nation.
It looks like things veered off, or maybe not: Schumann was flaunting his best ethical tone, blessing a creature called European Coal and Steel Community. Not Cooperation and Stability, culture and development. Coal and Steel—Cola and Pepsi, sounds to me. They weren’t the sponsors, but the very players. Later it was joined by the European Economic- and European Atomic Communities: money and weapons management. Some people write speeches, some make business. Ah yes, and they work together, along with people making laws. That's free market, baby. Schumann was a practical man, one of two Christian Democratic that, with a banker and a rich socialist tennis player, worked on the financial friendship called Europe. But the very name was a quiet admission that the world wars came out of big money fights riding on nationalism, not vice versa. If we see in the wrong way, we continue the game.
About nationalism, this evil foe of EU: I am far from nationalist for a dozen of reasons. Having three continents in my blood helps, but mainly it’s because I love few things at a time. I love people and landscapes, both piercing through borders. But to love a whole country is not like me. I would rather love the planet as a whole than a single country with capricious borders. Then, if by the way it is the country where you are born, that seems a big lack of fantasy. And if, on top of that, it leads you to dislike more all other places, then nationalism is simply idiotic. In a border I see as much divide as a bird does. For these reasons, bad with churches, with alcohol and borders, I am the worst football fan, apart from being firmly convinced of violence's unhealthiness. But maybe I am a bit biased if I think that people fond of football are well represented by hooligans. And this is what the mainstream media strongly suggests these days about Brexit hooligans, nationalists, racists: that they represent half the UK. They hijacked England, correct the optimists sitting at the closest table.
Still I venture that nationalism is not a first rate problem, for how very unpopular this idea can be. Is it not nationalism that ruined Athens? But after ruin came out the ultranationalist groups. Nationalism is always the seedling of uneasy times, before which is just called football, vodka, scotch, moon landings, and such labels. But when a nation invades or denies or suffocates another, then it's naive to call it nationalism. Better labels are aggression, imperialism, colonialism, war, slavery too, up to genocide. These take a lot of money to start and produce a lot of money for few, because behind these labels the main scope remains robbery. And if you want to know who the robber is, don't follow the labels; follow the money. The same Schumann discovered the massive corruption in postwar steel companies, untouched by shame and solidarity, only few years before greeting this Coal and Steel association. Also the Krupp's story of impunity for war crimes should be a bit more discussed, being a column of this Europe unendingly building weapons. The steel patron who armed Hitler was condemned for slavery and plunder to 12 years of prison and to give away 75% of his firm. After 2 years he walked free and had back all his company. Power of agreements?
Over the Coal and Steel sound foundation many other agreements have been dealt; bigger are coming. The last called TTP, terrifically tipped by Obama, still secret on its main part, is already famous as a pox on European agroalimentary differences that should bow to USA bad standards. Italy is a country that I cannot love as a whole, still it has some defendable values, for instance 160 types of grain, whereas the US, the world’s #1 producer has 6 types. Not to say about US meat standards, let's read Foer to have proper nightmares. To avoid TTP people cannot rely much on the EU which was welcoming it until some discontent in the streets of Europe appeared through the prim blinders of media, a quarter of million on Berlin streets. Of the 3 million signatures presented to the European Commission against TTIP, half a million are British. This is not mentioned nowadays.
So the EU is a commercial union, that attended the failure of Iceland caused by English banks, that helps day by day Mediterranean countries to fail while blind to record unemployment and corruption in Italy, blind to police excesses against its citizens, ignoring Portugal's clear success in drug liberalization experiment. The EU is an invisible market always tuned to the robotic voice of the bank. Far from ever debuting as a value, EU succeeds after few decades as an antivalue. Ever ready to rescue banks, but wary in recognizing other realities, now reluctant to express common sense managing the immigration that European weapons are pushing into Europe, where the same weapons dealers work to put the EU under security, as is well showed by the Transnational Institute.
Why should one prefer the EU to the larger WTO, through whose agreements the US, Japan, China and the same EU trade? And maybe supporting local production as well.
On the First Day a.B the stock market suffered, not surprisingly, since the united heads of stock exchange ached for the opposite result. After a few days more Draghi suggested that the EU should take into consideration its exploding complaints box. That is an achievement of Brexit, I dare to say.
About European Identity: I never once heard that from the mouth of a European citizen. Never, just in political palaver.
My work of thesis was about ethnic and national identities related to the media, so I learned how identity can be achieved in many ways and from different sources. Australian, for instance, must give a certain weight to Nicole Kidman and Crocodile Dundee to stir up their national pride. But by no means does European identity exist. No Italian is proud of Depardieu, Mozart or John Lennon, but he can be very proud of a guy from Mongolia or from the moon if a team buys him and he plays well, that's it. Some people think the French stink, some deem the Germans stingy. Some can’t stand English people. Some think that Italians are slightly undependable. Many think that Japanese are great. And when Europeans see blue they first think of Facebook: behold the European feeling.
Berlin is the most European city. Its open people in these days feel hurt in their natural confidence, but if you ask them if they prefer a European to someone coming from Myanmar they would probably smell some staleness in the their Wifree air.
European, until 5 days ago meant simply a championship which fuels the very opposite feeling to being European: all against all, bringing the very worst parts of many crowds crashing together around a sponsored match. You have to give people a game, if not a war, or a disaster to capture the majority’s interested in making something bigger than their own life.
But a few days ago a miracle happen. Without war, without disaster and despite the European Championship, a majority of citizens woke up European. Je suis Shakespeare, Homerus, Goethe, Cervantes, Harry Potter and Hercule Poirot. Not just in socials people are mourning Europe. That is a great achievement of Brexit. Isn't it?
You need to lose something to grasp its value, I told myself, and finally felt my misery as a part of a bigger plan.
I have still one doubt, is it the right way to combat nationalism only to look for larger borders? Larger nationalism (Russia, China, or the US) is safer than that of Corsica or Catalunian?
Stay tuned for Part 3.
By Paolo Tacchini