martedì, giugno 29, 2004

Forza Europe.

I was just reading an old story in the Guardian by Larry Elliott, the Guardian's economics editor, about Europe - the contention being that it isn't working. The story gives three possible reasons for working together in the single cohesive group that the EU is supposed to represent. The need to tackle the 'problem' of the USA - secondly, to deal with the 'problem' of US capitalism - thirdly because the rest of Europe is far better served with services, such as roads, railway, hospitals, dentists, etc - and finally, in order that the spectre of a future possible war in Europe be diminished, if not entirely extinguished.

My own feeling is that the Guardian has followed the path set by a great many people before it and have restricted their view of the world to a remarkably parochial one - the kind of view that is propagated and fostered by football (sorry!) and other sports with roots back into warring history. With such a blinkered view of the world - ignoring the fact of our shared humanity being something which all of us share a common root in - how can we resolve the issues of power and independence which are used as the basis for the arguments against a single Europe? Now, I'm not a "federalist" at all as I would prefer to see a limitation on the individual power that anyone may take upon him or herself. That is the surest way toward yet another war between differing groups of people, I believe. But, I do see a great deal of sense in sharing our common beliefs and ideals, which is something the various people of Europe have had in common for the past 2000 years, at least.

So long as we continue to see Europe as a "them" and refuse to actually recognise ourselves as being a part of Europe, we will maintain our isolation from people. I don't just mean the English here, of course, as Le Pen, together with many other extreme right-wing politicians, has tried to use the argument of 'splendid isolationism' in order to bolster his personal status and power amongst the less intellectually inclined. Football actually becomes a very good example of the kind of isolationistic (or, if you prefer, nationalistic) thinking with the mindless support and the rabid attacks on those perceived to be 'against' ones own 'team'.

Perhaps it is because of the very many wars we have had amongst ourselves in Europe that we feel so strongly about our own village, our bell tower, our own 'race'. A completely irrational viewpoint as the national boundaries have changed so many times in Europe that it would be next to impossible to actually define a racial group in any of the individual countries now. I have my roots in Wales - which is the final bastion of the original Celtic inhabitants of Britain. Does that make me any more entitled to throw out the Picts, the Angles, the Jutes or the Saxons - or any of the subsequent invaders of Britain? The Anglo-Saxon majority would present a strong argument against that, of course. But the fact remains that my racial background would seem, by the nationalistic rules used by the Europhobe lobby, to give me a greater right to be in Britain than, say, someone whose great-great-great-great grandparents immigrated to Britain from Holland in the 16th century. Well, does it? That is the argument for national identity and separatism that keeps the political extremists in business. I believe it is simply wrong. I would suggest that our racial identity is fundamentally European, givenh our shared religion and common language roots. Our physical and psychological characteristics are similarly shared, with the same motivations guiding our actions in all that we do.

But, back to today. Britain's strength was built on its position as the foremost manufacturing power in the world - quite a while ago now. This was because of the raw materials being readily available for industrial manufacturing purposes such as iron and coal, without which Britain would have lacked the hard cash to actually trade and create its empire of trading partners around the world. Britain finds itself in the position of not having raw materials at its disposal any more because they are, largely, exhausted now. The long lost network of foreign trade and cheap materials sources has, similarly, long dried up, leaving Britain nowadays a shadow of its former self insofar as being a world leading nation. Britain nowadays only has the intellect and skill of the people that live there for its future strengths, there can be little argument about that statement anymore. However, there has long been a so-called 'Brain Drain' operating which has attracted the most bright, the most able young people to move and work abroad - mostly in the USA - for far higher salaries than would be possible in cash-strapped Britain. Without a suitable marketplace for any manufactured or value-added product, the amount of available resource for paying our own, intelligent, qualified and highly able people to work and live in Britain - what possible motivation would they have to remain? What would that situation leave Britain with then? What position of strength would it be able to call upon to continue to position itself as a world power then?

This then lends a kind of opaqueness to the view expressed in the Guardian. A more extreme version of the famous 'rose tinted spectacles' that the British have long been accused of wearing when it comes to seeing themselves in the global context. Without each other, we are as nothing - the main problem is how we see ourselves and who we regard as 'each other'.