Sunday, June 26, 2016

It's not about the end of history - it's about the beginning of history with every generation

Note:  The blogster cannot claim to "know", which is kind of important to know.

Sometimes, in a rare moment of introspection, the blogster wonders if its* recurring upset about "the end of history" has developed into a full fledged obsession. A number of world events have triggered the "fuck it, what about the beginning of history with every generation" response.

The Brexit referendum triggered it, too.

As signaled by the expletive above, the blogster can get quite worked up when it perceives, rightly or wrongly, history being shoved aside or simply forgotten. The frustration is not about events and life in the distant past but about what happened mere decades ago.

Brexit is a case in point because various strands of influence, power and perception are tightly interwoven, yet still discernible because living memory covering those decades is not extinguished yet.

For each and every human, history really begins when we are born, or technically a few years after that. Everything before that is even more vague than our own grasp on reality, a succession of stories and frequently hard to understand "things our parents and grandparents lived through and did".

Nowhere does this become more evident than when second or third generation descendants of immigrants, often illegal by today's standards, go xenophobic and nationalist.

The organizations who seem to understand this best are religions, the military-nationalist complex, and dictatorships. All of them have consistent policies aimed at the new generation of children through "getting them young".

Of the many aspects of Brexit that made headlines, the immigration and xenophobia angle has been extremely prominent. So, what do we say when - thanks to the internet - a timeline of polls over the past 50 years regarding British views on the number of immigrants shows that fewer UK residents today agree with the statement that there are too many immigrants?

We can ask if this fact has been published in the run-up to the referendum. We can state that actual numbers and perceived numbers are easily divorced and that politicians know and exploit this all the time.

The blogster takes the series of polls to mean something different: expectations and the frame of reference in which they exist.

It can appear that the old joke of the British when talking to Germans "don't mention the war" was taken too literally when the six founding members of the EU drafted the Common Statement of 25 June 2016. The closest we get to any mention of the war is "the longest period of peace on our continent in modern times".

Read the accounts of those who lived through the second World War and went to live in a recent "enemy country", and you can understand that the EU was a practical means to help people. Like the former journalist who wrote this article in Der Spiegel, there were people who wanted to live in another European country and who wanted peace.

Of course, it is easy to say that the current generation of leaders is taking peace, free movement, and a free market for granted - which amounts to being ungrateful and to not giving the EU the esteem it deserves.

This focus on the present crop of the powerful fails to take into account that the EU was not a unanimous project, that wanting to live in peace did not mean you needed to support the EU in the administrative incarnation it had.

To make matters worse, some began equating the European Union with the geographical entity called Europe, firmly implanting the term Eurosceptic, and setting the stage that allows ostracizing a country that declines to join as "anti European". 

For the past half century, European citizens have seen a parade of governments
proclaim the value of the EU with fervor while, at the same time, stoking xenophobia and envy towards newcomers to their own country.

Obituaries praising staunch advocates of a united Europe always leave out what those dead people said at home:
They come for our jobs.
They come for our social security.
The come for our women.
Brussels made me do it.
We can only do <it> through Brussels.

To the "elites", Europe represents a playground, with summer houses and free movement. To the rest, we are constantly being asked to justify our presence in a "Union" country.

Who is the audience of the Common Statement of the six?

Why would you claim "It has reunited Eastern and Western Europe"? Extending it to Eastern Europe is "reunite"?
And "it has brought about the longest period of peace on our continent in modern times" is unfalsifiable. Correlation we see, but causation?
 A "historically unique and indispensable framework"? Sure, you only say it remains your "firmest belief", not that it is a fact, although in diplospeak a firmest belief, as opposed to merely a weak firm belief, is considered a fact. 

But, hey, "it has been a driving force to bring the people of Europe together" does look like a case of cart before the horse.

Haven't you taught generations of Europeans that the will of the people created and drives the EU?

In terms of "ensuring the security of our citizens in the face of growing external and internal threats", nobody has looked at the terror statistics of, obviously.

Don't forget that Germany established "a stable and cooperative framework to deal with migration and refugee flows" by getting the famous Dublin agreements done, neatly punishing the less powerful countries at the edge. The "non-existent" borders of the Schengen area are still better controlled than any borders, European or other, before World War I. If you don't believe it, talk to an honest law enforcement expert. Note honest.

As for the blogster, it feels this would be a good time to figure out a way to live another four or five hundred years. Yes, despite the possibility that it would need to share the planet with Dick Cheney, but one can hope.

The blogster wouldn't mind pointing at Europe in four hundred years and be able to say, well done Europe, you finally outperformed the much less advanced Romans, who had a stable Europe for that long.

* Gender neutral we are, Yoda says.

In memory a German citizen: As the son of a Russian WWI prisoner, the young man was drafted by the Nazis and fought in Russia in WWII.

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