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 Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?

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nordmann
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PostSubject: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Sun 12 Mar 2017, 11:37

Thanks for the PM, Nielsen, and the excellent translation of Per Stig Möller's review. I purchased the book and wasn't disappointed, Holm's own commentary and summaries are particularly cogent and sensible. As promised, I'll start a thread.

Sir Edward Grey's ominous remark at the outset of the "Great War" is echoed in several interviews conducted by Danish journalist and historian Adam Holm with prominent European intellectuals regarding what recent political developments throughout the EU and Europe in general might signify for the future. His recently published book "Endestation Europa" ("Terminus Europe") reads like a litany of doom and gloom - not just for Europe's political prospects, which are dire enough according to all ten of his interviewees, but for just about every aspect to the communal cohesion, welfare and quality of life its citizens for years have taken for granted, if not always in actual terms then at least as a valid aspiration which might unite a continent.

The expected demons raise their heads - radical muslimism and Putin's Russia chief amongst them - but it is the identification of threats from within that struck me as most alarming, not just because they have a ring of ubiquitous truth about them regardless of which European country is used to exemplify them but because in many of the interviewee's opinions they are portrayed as unstoppable processes, and in the historian Anthony Beevor's opinion almost indeed a cause for rejoicing. In fact Beevor's chapter is probably the most alarming of all - the point of view of someone exultant not only that his country has voted to leave the European Union but that it has kick-started an unravelling process which will bring the whole structure crashing down and lead to a mayhem out of which, Beevor seems to think, a more realistic, if impoverished and war-torn, Europe emerges. Beevor predicts the end of democracy, the end of capitalism, and the end of religious tolerance with a kind of undisguised glee that makes one wonder if he is in fact not too far removed from the religious fanatics themselves who see an "End of Days" as some great catharsis worthy of attaining, the incumbent death and destruction of countless millions of lives a small price to pay for achieving it.

Ironically it is the Russian interviewees who project the most cautious optimism - Svetlana Aleksijevitj , unlike the historian Beevor, actually draws historical parallels between Europe now and in the 1930s, not to point out the inevitability of disaster but to illustrate how eminently avoidable such disaster is through simply understanding the processes whereby a European Union came about at all.

What struck me as most disconcerting, though not unexpected, were the huge disparities between the different interviewees' interpretations of the character, make-up and purpose of a European Union, ranging from Bernard-Henri Lévy's rather utopian assessment to Beevor's plainly incorrect one which, as far as I can see, can be boiled down to that the EU is simply a conspiracy aimed against Britain and run by the Germans. How many British share that view (a disturbingly large amount I suspect) and quite understand just how flabbergasted and even offended many Europeans feel when confronted with it?

I suppose any discussion here would have to centre on Holm's own rhetorical question regarding what history itself can contribute to this debate. Are we, as Beevor insists, heading into some new and uncharted maelstrom of death and destruction bringing the end of all politics as we knew it? Or are we witnessing yet again a cyclical event, as Göran Rosenberg suggests, in which the thin threads of democracy's seams are stretched to snapping point but this time in a fabric robust enough to withstand the strain and recover form? Like you, Nielsen, I found the ambiguity between the EU and Europe a little disconcerting, though this was mainly down to the ten diffuse opinions expressed rather than any confusion on one interviewee's or Holm's part. However the consensus was that these processes, including Beevor's gleefully anticipated demise of the EU, would have implications for the continent as a whole.

Here is Nielsen's translation of the book review for those whose Danish is maybe not up to speed:


Nielsen wrote:
Adam Holm: Endestation Europa. Omstigning til et kriseramt kontinent
A review of the book by Adam Holm: Terminus - or destination - Europe. Change for a continent in crisis.
Facts on Adam Holm:
Ph.d. in history from the University of Copenhagen working as a freelance reporter.

By Per Stig Møller
Former Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs (Denmark) and chairman of the Danish Conservative Party.
The European train is slovenly heading for its final destination, and we are neither changing direction nor laying out new tracks ahead.
Just one out of ten people interviewed in this book, the war historian Anthony Beevor, seems happy with this development, as he’s lost faith in this Europe: “As far as I’m concerned, the thought of the Union is a gigantic illusion”, with the misfortune primarily being the Euro instated “without having political union prepared”.

Quote by P S Møller: Some very thought provoking interviews by a number of very relevant European intellectuals, done by Adam Holm.

As a loner he [the author] is looking into what’s going wrong in all of Europe: The growth of in-equality with “the small minority, who’ve taken the large profits are doing fine, while everybody else become further downtrodden”. The sinner being capitalism being too greedy and now “finishing itself off”. A reasonable analysis to be taken serious in a Europe facing serious problems, inwards as well as outwards.
Putin’s Russia
Which is what most of the interviewed are concerned with. Here it is especially valuable what the Belarussian Nobel laureate Svetlana Aleksijevitch as well as the exiled Russian author Mikhail Sjisjkin say.
They warn heavily against naïvely repeating 1938 by handing Ukraine to a Putin, who is enriching himself and telling the Russian people that, once again, they are surrounded by enemies: “The Russian of the future understands, from the moment he’s able to talk, that he must fight, and that the world is a dangerous place”, explains Aleksijevitj. Putin is a crook, “but a dangerous crook”, agrees Sjisjkin, who points out that on the surface Russia differs from the Soviet Union, “but basically the same mechanisms are at work”.
A leadership without visions
The inner problems of Europe are the lack of visions among all of the European leaders, ensuring that decisions are short-sighted, with no long term strategy to bring Europe from the crisis into the future.
This being why populism and anti-EU right parties are to be on the move forward at elections. Here the Swede Gören Rosenberg points out how these referenda undermines representative democracy as a system:
“An election being characterized by people voting, and then heading back to their homes, and leaving the responsibility to those elected […] Representative democracies depend on the electorate to participate actively. Populism, be it right- or leftwing, never takes responsibility for the solutions it prescribes. It is extremely light minded”.
Yes, while the electorate on Election Day make the representatives responsible for their mistakes, the people cannot blame anyone else, when the people is wrong.
The collapse of Europe
If the EU and democracy shall survive, we must consider both seriously.
Considering the EU, timidity is widespread. “I actually fear a European collapse”, says a leading French intellectual, Bernhard-Henri Levy, whose singular hope appears to be Denmark. That’s a tiny place in which to raise ones hope, but Denmark is “a country for which I have great esteem, as, in spite of your lack of size and small political power, you have always signalized that freedom of speech, and popular right to self-determination are considered serious issues”.
Levy researches into European lack of actions in the Middle East, and condemns the passivity of President Obama regarding Syria. Europe has not supported the democratic forces in the Middle East properly: “We have let the fascist values in Islamism grow strong and almost unsurmountable at the cost of the groups, with which we ought to identify. […] Honestly, I’m rather pessimistic regarding North Africa and the Middle East.”
For him the race seems to have been run. Not quite so for former EU parliamentarian and ’68-activist Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who think that a solution to the main problem in the Middle East may be reached by an agreement “among Sunni and Shia, as well as between their two protectors and rivals, Saudi Arabia and Iran”.
Such a one is looking very far into the horizon, which is clear to Cohn-Bendit, as ”the radical religion scourging the Middle East and showing its ugly face here will not disappear for many years to come. Perhaps comparable to our own 30 Years War – or the French-English 100 Years War? Just these two are looking to the Middle East as the main alien threat to Europe. To the rest that threat is Russia.
A night without dawn
These threats may only be countered by a united Europe, where the major problem appear to be the growth of dissolution tendencies within the EU, which have not mastered the problems with the refugees, the Euro – dividing the EU into creditors and debtors, and, as Beevor phrases it, haven’t addressed the raise in in-equality nor found a solution to “handling the challenges of globalisation constructively”, as put by Cohn-Bendit.
As mentioned, these are rows of very thought-provoking interviews with a number of very relevant European intellectuals, done by Adam Holm. He’s put in a prelude and a postlude, framing the lack of illusions with the final words: “It’s hard to look ahead, but there may be some comfort in the fact, that the night is always darkest just before dawn”.
Alas, those words make me think of the poem ‘Requiem’ by the Russian lyricist Akhmatova, ending with the prophesy: “and a night will come / which will be without a dawn”. Yet, it is still up to our own minds to ensure that the lights don’t go out again over Europe.


Adam Holm: Endestation Europa. Omstigning til et kriseramt kontinent

Notes by yours truly:
1.    The content of the above appears to equal the EU with a geographical Europe, this is a popular illusion by many pro-EU people.

2.    This translation was done in haste, during what I consider the importance of the contents, my apologies to the author of the book as well as to the where I have translated badly or misrepresented their intents. Per
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Sun 12 Mar 2017, 17:15

Some quite profound stuff there. I hesitate to directly address the comments raised by the contributors to Adam Holm’s book, as I find that attempting any meaningful analysis of contemporary events is so often fraught with subjective variables from a historical point of view. It's the Zhou Enlai syndrome as it were. What I can agree with, however, is the following:

Per Stig Möller wrote:
The content of the above appears to equal the EU with a geographical Europe, this is a popular illusion by many pro-EU people.

This is a phenomenon similar to people equating the political UK with the geographical British Isles. Needless to say that such casual conflation has led many Irish people (particularly in southern Ireland) to reject the term 'the British Isles' entirely. This is a pity although understandable. There are also Canadians resentful of being confused with Americans and also New Zealanders sighing when taken for Australians. In the case of the former example, then I've even heard some Canadians (presumably as some kind of reaction) refer to the U.S. as 'North America' which is a bemusing (and not to say highly ironic) use of geographical terminology.

nordmann wrote:
the historian Anthony Beevor's opinion

I have to say that I’ve always been underwhelmed by Beevor’s work and have never understood the fanfare which precedes the publication of his books. Take his 2002 book The Fall of Berlin 1945 for example. Even in the relatively narrow terms of a British-military-historian’s-take-on-the-battle-for-Berlin-from-the-perspective-of-the-German-defenders, then his research is nowhere near as thorough as, say, that of Tony Le Tissier whose 1988 publication The Battle of Berlin 1945 still sets the benchmark and is written by a genuine expert on the topic.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Sun 12 Mar 2017, 20:45

My Danish is non-existent! I'd have to read through the comments slowly and thoroughly a few times to try and take them on board. However, when I clicked on this thread I had mistakenly thought it might refer to the lights literally going out. I was thinking what if post-Brexit the utilities supplies the UK obtains from other EU countries are rationed - I remember hearing that some electricity supplies are bought in from France though I don't have any facts and figures - or a source for the statement, it was something I heard in the news - oh quite some time ago. I suppose other countries supplying utilities to the UK may be glad of the UK's custom - but it's possible they'll hike up the prices. Will have to wait and see I guess.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Sun 12 Mar 2017, 20:57

LadyinRetirement wrote:
My Danish is non-existent!  I'd have to read through the comments slowly and thoroughly a few times to try and take them on board.  However, when I clicked on this thread I had mistakenly thought it might refer to the lights literally going out.  I was thinking what if post-Brexit the utilities supplies the UK obtains from other EU countries are rationed - I remember hearing that some electricity supplies are bought in from France though I don't have any facts and figures - or a source for the statement, it was something I heard in the news - oh quite some time ago.  I suppose other countries supplying utilities to the UK may be glad of the UK's custom - but it's possible they'll hike up the prices.  Will have to wait and see I guess.

Lady they all try to frighten us to the outmost...some UKIP source or their counterparts...?
As a quick and preliminary answer to Nordmann and Per:
http://historum.com/european-history/124211-european-union.html

 Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Mon 13 Mar 2017, 09:06

Hi Paul - that Historum discussion doesn't throw much light on the subject at hand, I feel. A lot of ad hominem remarks and people stating whether they are either pro or against "the EU".

Sticking to a more historical angle I would suggest a key to understanding attitudes towards the EU culturally has a lot to do with how previous European Unions were regarded by those who partook in them. The EU is only the latest in a long tradition of unions and alliances between nation states in Europe, its peculiarity being that up to recently it wasn't intended to have a military purpose, or at least one that should overshadow its primary aims of an egalitarian economic structure enveloping all its members and a consequent disinclination to aggression between member states. Its precursors, the military alliances of old, were much more utilitarian in design and purpose, and those historically used to such utility working in their favour seem now those most vociferous in their dissatisfaction with the EU producing a similar return. But in fact these are a minority of nations. Most never developed such a purely utilitarian view and therefore the views expressed from within these states today tend to contain more analysis and less emotional rhetoric related to identity, I notice.

The German attitude is therefore key to the whole thing, I reckon. In fact I would go further and say that without German involvement the whole concept of a European Union is null and void. This is not only because Germany, of all post-war European nations, had most ground to regain economically and most damage (to its self-regard, polity and relations with others as much as to its infrastructure) to repair. It is also because union lies at the very heart of Germany itself - a country forged out of a largely voluntary union of small independent and semi-independent nations which in its formation represented a rather huge experiment in its day. Few outside of Germany at the time predicted success for the venture, the reasons put against its chances being often quite contradictory (Prussian dominance would breed resentment among the rest - lack of complete autonomy for Prussians would breed resentment in that quarter and they would secede in time). Britain, only a short time earlier Prussia's strong military ally in what had been arguably the strongest European Union founded up to that point, was most vociferous in its condemnation of Prussia and gloomy about its chances of success, to the point that its diplomatic objections to the new "Germanic" Union drove it into alliance with their previously most deadly enemy and the whole reason for the previous union in the first place, France.

What is most significant about the German Union however was its ability to contain with relative ease the sizeable section within it which abhorred this development and therefore achieve "strength through a display of strength" (Stärke durch Anzeige der Stärke). As long as it looked united the actual economic benefits of being united accrued anyway. This above all else kept the nay-sayers in check and allowed a rapid industrialisation and economic growth which could ignore the boundaries the nay-sayers would have reimposed. So effective was its show of unity that it came as rather a shock to outsiders when the country's traumatic defeat in 1918 led to a plethora of separatist sentiment and action which immediately threatened to tear the whole union apart, most noticeably in Bavaria and Prussia but to a lesser but no less significant degree degree throughout the entire Reich. To many Germans this still represents to this day the most significant event which contributed to their sense of being German - it was a democratic principle and structure which won the day, still a matter of huge pride in Germany, and with this came a sense of patriotism and unity so strong that it could in fact be exploited by less well meaning politicians later.

So Germans, thanks to their own history, are intimately acquainted with union - its benefits, its pitfalls, its mechanics, its upkeep and its aims. Most importantly they are aware of what happens when a union of this nature is threatened or exploited - both of which can have catastrophic effects of an unpredictable and unmanageable nature.

For me therefore, having read Holm's interviews, I am struck by how essentially differently these intellectuals regard the concept of the EU, per se. The Russians, quite understandably, see it as an external and abstract concept - one with real political implications but one which as a concept is open to interpretation and even therefore open to subversion from external sources (not excluding Russia itself, whose administration seems to regard all external systems and processes as fair game in this regard). To a lesser extent the Swedish and Danish view also shows some detachment from the concept in analysing it, though tempered with a requirement to work within its parameters. The British view as expressed by Beevor is so detached that it can afford almost to ridicule the EU as a giant misadventure for everyone concerned, an exaggeration of what seems always to have been the British general attitude towards membership in the EU anyway, having only ever partially "bought into" the concept from the beginning, having never made concerted efforts to explain the process to the electorate nor include them much in it either (evidenced by the fact that European elections in the UK have always showed uncannily similar political and social demographic expression as displayed in local elections), and certainly always having been distrustful of the value of membership as well as of the ambitions of the other members, this opinion often being voiced at the highest political level in no uncertain terms. However the prevalent German view, and to a certain extent the French view, just cannot contemplate Europe without union at its core, the only dissenting opinion in these quarters belonging to extreme nationalists whose default separatism debars them from such congress in any case.

There are of course many deviations from these general views within each state, but if and when the issue of continued union comes to a crux - as Beevor insists it will - I think we will see these disparities not only become much more vociferously evident, but even to the extent that they may lead to a strong ideological divide within Europe - the emergence in fact of a Union Bloc along with a proliferation of several peripheral "separatist" nation states whose economic and cultural identities will in fact diminish rather than grow through being in such close proximity to this Union and on the wrong side of such a lop-sided balance of power. Britain seems intent on being the first to almost self-sacrificially implode in this manner - it will be interesting to watch its progress over the near future.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Tue 14 Mar 2017, 21:41

Nordmann, thanks for the interesting reply. I have already prepared some comments, but busy for the moment on the French forum about the Russian revolution and a "Blut und Boden" thread...
See you later...

Kind regards and with esteem for your always thoughtful messages, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Tue 14 Mar 2017, 21:46

And perhaps to start with:
http://premier.fgov.be/en/benelux-summit-joint-communiqu%C3%A9

And among all the controversy of the EU thread on Historum although this:
https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2017-euro-breakup-or-saved/


Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Fri 31 Mar 2017, 10:09

Thank you to all who've contributed to this thread.

Just after having pm'ed Nordmann, I requested the book from my local library, alas, they haven't brought it yet, so so far I am only able to comment on the review.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Fri 31 Mar 2017, 21:33

Nielsen wrote:
Thank you to all who've contributed to this thread.

Just after having pm'ed Nordmann, I requested the book from my local library, alas, they haven't brought it yet, so so far I am only able to comment on the review.


Nielsen, and I have yet to start with my contributions... Wink
Sorry for not attending too much due to a "heavy" workload...and still three times four hours at the kidney dialysis each week, waiting now for "my" (in fact one else's from an elderly dying) donor kidney seemingly in the foreseeable two, three years...

Kind regards from your friend Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Sat 01 Apr 2017, 22:06

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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Sun 02 Apr 2017, 14:32

Just "some" of them, Paul?  Smile

I was hoping this thread wouldn't get bogged down in a "good thing/bad thing" debate about specific EU policies, especially the freedom of movement within the EU of its members' citizens. The truth of the matter is that this is not actually where antipathy to the EU is rooted, as is evident from the interviews in the book, and in fact as is evident from reading practically every edition of a British newspaper in the last year or two.

Take Britain, and in particular take the UKIP stance on "mass immigration". In fact take just about any Brexit supporter's view on immigration. While the extent of their approbation for ending current levels of immigration varies considerably from "stricter control" to "outright ban", where all their analysis falls short is in understanding the history and nature of immigration per se, and even that of just their country (in fact "their country" is also something many of them fail to successfully grapple with as a concept, as they are about to find out too).

The truth of the matter is that the EU, while facilitating freedom of movement, is - in British terms - in the ha'penny place when it comes to influencing the immigrant demographic of that country. In fact if one analyses post-war immigration patterns in Europe, guess which country emerges as the first to not only facilitate but encourage mass immigration, has been the most consistently high recipient of immigrants in a European context for at least forty of the sixty years since it pioneered the policy, the first therefore to notice and experience the consequences of failure to integrate large immigrant populations, the first to attempt to rectify that situation with political policies specifically designed for that purpose, the first to then have to deal with the political fall-out from when such policies backfired and even from when they succeeded, the latter leading therefore to the UK being the first to have to deal with a small emerging vociferous far-right polity within its realm concentrated on immigration as its principal bugbear ...

Britain was engaged in all this long before it even applied for EU membership, don't forget. And its successes and failures in accommodating immigrants follow cycles of political skill and ineptitude, the patterns of both having been established long before any EU directive regarding freedom of movement was thrown into the mix, and neither of which will change one iota with Britain having abandoned its membership of the EU.

However, obvious and all as this may be, and for all the current debate about "getting to grips with" spiraling uncontrollable immigrant levels etc etc, what the Brexit debate has so far succeeded in doing is actually disguising the real history behind why Britain's demographics are currently what they are, an essential thing to understand if one is to even attempt to predict what will happen in the future. Brexit, in short, is the wrong answer to an equally wrong question, the real question now rarely heard at all. But then the real question is rather a tougher one to get to grips with - striking as it does at the very core of what it is to be a citizen in a country in which the people actually have no say by right, and one in which the accommodation and integration of immigrants has therefore substituted in debate terms for the very real question of identity and function that British subjects are not even invited to participate in. The right wing media's present approach to the Scottish first minister's attempt to politically challenge this status quo at least as it should apply to her own compatriots is telling. There is little or no political logic pitted against Sturgeon, but lots of ridicule.

Getting back to the book, what struck me about Beevor's interview in particular was how such sloppy and self-serving "analysis" by the reactionary right within British society has somehow won the day as the most often expressed analysis up for discussion, not just in political terms, where the disastrous consequences of having essentially "dumbed down" what was in fact quite a complex issue will be immediately evident (they already are, in fact), but also in social terms, where the even more disastrous consequences will emerge probably a little more slowly but will be none the less catastrophic for that, as a society is forced to experience the consequences of a decision it was barely qualified to contemplate, let alone decide. A people who accommodate a lie, especially a big lie, because it is too difficult to think about the truth, are generally only headed in one direction. And it's not a good destination.

That much about the book's title was correct in my view. But it is not "Europe" which is headed to this gloomy terminus. It is far more likely to be the countries which couldn't, or wouldn't, keep up with what is in effect a complex procedure being conducted at pan-European level to address complex issues which will only become even more complex as time goes on. Intransigence, even if adequately explained by a population who can be quite forgiven for failing to grasp such complexities, will indeed force a crisis, as Britain seems intent on proving too, but I reckon it is a crisis within which they are the ones that will prove to be most vulnerable.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Sun 02 Apr 2017, 21:45

Nordmann,

just entered only 9 and a half PM and had first to visit all my fora for eventually new messages about my interest. And as such too late to start a complete elaborated reply.
That said, nevertheless a first approach to your reply.

"especially the freedom of movement within the EU of its members' citizens. The truth of the matter is that this is not actually where antipathy to the EU is rooted, as is evident from the interviews in the book, and in fact as is evident from reading practically every edition of a British newspaper in the last year or two."

I didn't read the book and from the summarry I find it a nearly doom scenario book. A bit as reading the internet where every some pages the dead of the EU is predicted.
I don't read the British newspapers and have only BBC world as information from the British side and the news about Britain and the US that I gather with a critical view from the internet.
Can you inform me, if the immigration and labour movement from the continent is not "the" problem for the British population, what are the problems then?...economical? as the jobs go to the continent? I don't believe that...

And yes, if you read the links that I provided, you see that the UK was in the time more open and that they perhaps as such recognized earlier the problems from free citizen movement. Problems that the continental countries of the EU now start to reckon with more and more. Migration of poor workers from the South and from the East to the "rich" countries. But that is not the problem IMO, as those migrations from Greece, Italy and Portugal is going on for decades. The main problem in my humble opinion,as seen by the general population is the discrepancy between the growing militant Maghreb population, even within the EU born ones and the national populations, "les Européens de souche", and now the Turks start too, with their new dictator Erdogan, asking the European Turks to make many children to achieve a big minority to direct their own policies...that are of course fairy tales, but it are not the narration to calm down the national European populations...what are the attitudes of the British to that problem?

Yes, I wanted to make that immigration as the core mover among the English for the Brexit Wink

Some preliminary thoughts...and if you want to read my links first...?

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Sun 02 Apr 2017, 22:52

I read your links before I wrote the above, Paul.

You wrote:
Can you inform me, if the immigration and labour movement from the continent is not "the" problem for the British population, what are the problems then?...economical? as the jobs go to the continent? I don't believe that...

It is certainly one of the major problems identified by the Brexit supporters, who in fact do not generally distinguish between immigrants from the continent or elsewhere when warning of invasion. But that is not the point, or at least it is less important than what is revealed when one examines the rhetoric used to explain it on their part, or, as is often the case, to fail to explain it. As I see it this rhetoric is both vehement and vague - vehement in how it is expressed but completely vague in why it merits vehemence, and even vaguer if one tries to ascertain a common stance amongst all the hues of opinion which does not simply boil down to a xenophobic antipathy towards "foreigners". A typical "Brexiteer" thinks nothing of, on the one hand, stating "they" should all go back where they came from etc etc, while on the other hand exempting "foreigners" of personal acquaintance from that view. It's as thought-out a political view as in Germany eighty years ago when, in turning a blind eye to the fate of the Jews in their society for years, individuals suddenly were shocked that their nice neighbour, or accountant, or employee, etc, was suddenly "vanished". If this is a political "view" it is not a view which requires sight, it seems, at least not foresight or insight (though history teaches us that hindsight may belatedly play its tragically inept role here too).

My point is that they are failing to address the very issue that has obviously animated them to the extent that they now wish a complete divorce from "Europe" (as they see it - "EU" being an organisation never really understood in Britain on the whole), mistaken as they are in believing - with admittedly no great depth of analysis behind that belief - that effecting this rather drastic political manoeuvre somehow brings them closer to solving the many dilemmas accommodating a substantial immigrant population brings with it. In Britain, as you say, these dilemmas became apparent before many other countries in Europe. But that is not to say that Britain has been necessarily the best equipped country to tackle those dilemmas nor quickest therefore in going about it. I would go further and say that Britain's "unwritten constitution" and the inherent lack of responsibility held by the people for the legislation by which they are governed has in fact seriously inhibited the very measures which require to be taken to properly integrate immigrant communities. Just as it also ultimately has manifested itself in the disjointed logic of the Brexiteers as I already outlined above. They are not only failing to address the actual root cause of their perceived dilemma, they in fact have no ready means to recognise such a thing any longer at all. Insight and education may not be obviously interdependent, but they can definitely both fail catastrophically and spectacularly in tandem.

Where successful integration has occurred in Britain, almost without exception it has been largely down to the people themselves sorting out their differences and learning to live together, and in fact has not come about from any great ideological initiative expressed as practical political policy by any government during that long period. Educators, working as a sector, played a large role in this, mostly it must be said of their own volition over the years. The health service also led the way, largely by example as the propensity for individuals to realise their personal health was increasingly in the hands of "immigrants" forced many to re-evaluate any lingering antipathy to their presence. But other than these two large networks the rest of the progress was achieved piecemeal, in tiny increments, over many decades, and by millions of individuals each more or less making their own minds up on the matter. Now we can see that perhaps those minds had not been as decided as all that after all, or at least not quite as many as had been assumed when no one was actually asking the electorate what it thought at all.

This is what makes the Brexit vote so doubly tragic. When any hope for positive integration lies firmly with the voluntary good will of the people rather than with any hope of effective political leadership within the state, and where the ideological impetus for continued integration at any political level comes therefore almost solely from the EU, then the removal of both this good will and recourse to EU policy guidelines places immigrants in Britain in a twofold state of jeopardy. Threefold, if you also count the threatened deportation of those who will now find themselves bereft of any right to live there at all - a threat given voice and substance by the very politicians who, as a class, failed to build that framework of protection for the same people over many decades and who now are poised to compound that stupidity with something much worse.

Whatever you may think about the existential threat posed by large immigrant communities in any country, you must surely agree that any solution to this threat is not to be found through further alienisation of those communities by those countries, and definitely not through declaring their presence illegal and their existence a criminal offence, as is now threatened in Britain.

And, you will notice, all of what I have just said above has little or nothing to do with the EU's policy of freedom of movement for its members' citizens. This may add to problems in some countries. It may even solve some problems for others. But it is not the root cause of the problems in Britain, either of the integrationary failures of the past or the xenophobic stance of a sizeable proportion of the British public when given the rare opportunity to express it in a political forum. These all predate that development, and will still be there when Britain is no longer a member state of the EU.

Brexit supporters speak of "splendid isolation". There will be nothing splendid at all about the isolation of the many within its society who now find themselves in a land which has officially rejected their right to be there at all, having also cut them off from the one political body which up to now had at least conferred rights on them which, if not inalienable, were at least interpretable as guarantees for the future.

If one really wants to resolve the complex and often painful challenges of integration, then Britain has just shown everyone else how not to do it. At least the lesson will be all too visible and straightforward in its point as Britain proceeds deeper into the mess it has created for itself. Let's hope therefore that at least it will also be seen, understood and learnt by others who presently are courting sallies into xenophobia as a cure for their ills, so that we can say some good came out of it.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Mon 03 Apr 2017, 09:07

The lights may go out over Europe (although we all hope not), but they won't go out here. The fascists are not taking over in England - and won't while we can still laugh at ourselves and at the rest of you.

But thank you for your concern for us and for your detailed analysis of the mess we find ourselves in. We shall, however, muddle through somehow - we usually do. And Europe will do very nicely without us - we, along with our ridiculous system of government, are not that important to anyone.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Mon 03 Apr 2017, 10:09

Your reassurances should well be directed to those who most need them now. Muddling through and laughing is of poor benefit to these people.

Croydon, the latest high profile case ...
... in a trend measured back in February at 14,000 incidents already since the Brexit vote

And nor is it helping those who find themselves suddenly unsure that they even have a place in your society any longer, who really would prefer to have rights than an obligation to wait for muddling people's laughter to reassure them they have a future in Britain.

The system of government in Britain is not ridiculous. It is dangerous. And it is important to many outside Britain - surely you can see why when you address that remark to an Irishman?
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Mon 03 Apr 2017, 10:24

nordmann wrote:
Your reassurances should well be directed to those who most need them now. Muddling through and laughing is of poor benefit to these people.

Croydon, the latest high profile case ...
... in a trend measured back in February at 14,000 incidents already since the Brexit vote

And it is important to many outside Britain - surely you can see why when you address that remark to an Irishman?


As I was typing my post I was wondering whether to mention the Croyden attack as I knew you - or someone else here - would. Hate crimes are happening everywhere in Europe, not just in some God-forsaken part of England. What we must address is why. What is the real cause of all this hate? Are grievances and fears justified? The rage of the powerless is to be feared; it cannot be ignored or dismissed. People must be listened to: I have always said that - all my life. No doubt I'm learning now that I have been wrong all my life. But all of us can act and speak in an ignorant, stupid and intolerant way and words, despite the teaching of the old rhyme, can break more than bones.

It is impossible to discuss anything political with an Irishman: the hatred you have for us - always denied, of course - runs far too deep. You will never forgive us - indeed why should you? But please leave us to our own misery now.

I am very angry and very much in despair about it all: arguing - or attempting to argue - with you - or others like you - is futile: you are all waiting to see us fall flat on our faces and how you will rejoice at the splatter. But, as already pointed out, who can blame you?

I am incoherent (as you have no doubt noticed) with rage and misery. Trying to laugh at the ludicrous is the only way to cope here at the moment; but I would hope that you and others on this site know me better than to suggest that I would ever laugh at other people's physical injury and/or emotional hurt. That is not what I meant, as you well know. To suggest otherwise is offensive in the extreme.

Over and out.


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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Mon 03 Apr 2017, 10:58

This is no time to be incoherent. I most definitely do NOT view Britain's travails with schadenfreude and have no "hatred" for anyone based on their nationality.

Temp wrote:
What we must address is why. What is the real cause of all this hate? The rage of the powerless is to be feared. They must be listened to: I have always said that - all my life. No doubt I'm learning now that I have been wrong all my life.

Based on your comment above you probably do not believe it, but this echoes my own sentiments entirely (though unlike you I doubt that I am wrong on this one).
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Mon 03 Apr 2017, 22:15

Nordmann again too late to start an elaborated reply.

Just two points to start however.

When I read your Britain panorama it is as if I see exactly the same on the continental Europe club of the "rich" countries the founding fathers of the Benelux, Germany, France and Italy (where in Italy it was especially the North, which was important (even in Italy an inland migration from the South to the North))

Seemingly is the movement of the citizens (the fourth freedom of the EU) in the core of the discussions at the start of the negociation even before speaking about economic matters? What with the existing millions UK residents in the future EU less Britain and what with the EU citizens in the UK?
http://www.euronews.com/2016/06/23/what-would-brexit-mean-for-eu-migrants-to-the-uk-and-british-expats

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Tue 04 Apr 2017, 08:29

"Rich" is obviously a comparative term, Paul. If you actually look at the GDP and GNP of the "founding" EU members at the time of the establishment of a common market agreement they were ridiculously poor by today's standards. Call me old fashioned, but that in itself vindicates the original intention, I feel.

Regarding your question, I think you are asking the wrong person and your query should really be directed to a Brexiteer. The UK news this morning is leading with a story that the British prime minister should explain what she means by "no deal is better than a bad deal", which I assume (since the notion that "no deal" is a viable alternative has just been foisted on everyone through this story) means that Britain actually expects to carry out a purely fiscal bargain with "Europe" and not have to discuss or negotiate its stance on economic migrants first and foremost. At this moment in time there are over 3 million EU nationals living in Britain who are not British, and around 1.5 million British citizens living in the EU member states, as your linked article also points out, and the truth of the matter is that all these people's futures are hostages to fortune thanks to Britain's rather strange attempt at behaving constitutionally last year. What is missing from most current analysis of this disaster of course is an acceptance that Brexit does not physically remove Britain from a European environment and the real issue which will have serious consequences if not addressed isn't so much economic welfare (which is of course important) but civic status and the devolution of power to citizens (as Temp also rightly pointed out earlier to be the key issue). I do not have great optimism for Britain in this regard - its track record on this issue with its own subjects speaks for itself.

But I will resist offering a view on this beyond that which I have already stated - I do not want to offend British sensibilities further, what with being an Irishman who "hates" Britain and all that.

Temp, you have edited your last remark on the thread to include an unnecessary defence against a non-existent accusation that you engage in schadenfreude.  Since I never made such an accusation, and since it was you who actually made it against me, I will charitably assume that this is simply a case of "over thinking" the issue on your part and let it rest.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Tue 04 Apr 2017, 21:46

Nordmann

thanks for the reply. I read it with interest.
This evening I wanted to comment to Temperance, Priscilla and ask for the opinion of Vizzer and Normanhurst. But was a bit too long on the French board and now again too late to elaborate...
Will instead try to give a quick respons to Caro about her Magelaen message... Wink

Kind regards to all the contributors of this thread, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Fri 07 Apr 2017, 21:44

Nordmann,

perhaps you are right about our own sensibilities. Therefore I want to put only my opinion overhere about the European Union and it is a point of view of pro-European. In the Historum thread I met a Portuguese, who after a whole life of working had only about 250 Euro pension, my partner (she worked only half time) has 1100 Euro, but the life in Belgium is not four times more expensive than in Portugal. And I spoke about solidarity, but he said that the European funds were diverted to projects beneficiant to the politicians and not for the economical increase of the life of the common man. And then a German said that there was control of Europe about their investments, but the Portuguese said but not enough on the local politicians. And yes some Portuguese think still about the time of the colonies, when Portugal owned half of the world and they could live on their empire.
What I mean that with all its flaws the EU is still an entity where there is solidarity. But the member states have to stick to certain rules to integrate their economies, while economies generates also social opportunities. Sane economies in sane social environments. And the goal is to come to an equilibrated economy between North and South Europe to the benefit of both.
And it don't help if UKIP says Europe is doomed. If everybody says and works towards to a Europe that is not doomed then it is not doomed. Better to look where the flaws are and try to better them.

If the free movement of people is a problem for Britain as it is seemingly also for many other EU countries, then it was better to try to produce an agreement, even if it was temporarly. Perhaps they could also have negociated some "special" rules for Britain? Negociations are always better than a rupture. Perhaps it is now time to do it in these two years?

And while we are on the EU question. About Scotland for Ferval. My opinion: I understand the Scottish animosity about the English Brexit. And I understand the animosity towards the English. In my lifetime I saw the socalled Flemish "emancipation struggle". But many Flemish of today forget to say that it was more an emancipation from their own Flemish Francisized elite to form an own Flemish elite, they forget also that the American investments went more to Flanders than to Wallonia, a shift from the inland Belgium towards the harbours which lay all in Flanders, while the products for the economy came now most from oversea. Thus a better economic position within Belgium and now they are lamenting that they have to support the Walloons for the time being.
But with all these flaws of the English-Scottish relationship I nevertheless think it would be better to stay in the British union. It is perhaps an opportunity to push England to a more pro-European point of view in the Brexit negociations...?
No in my humble opinion separation is never a good path, as for Catalonia from Spain, as North from South Italy.
And I know we can't integrate the whole world on the same standard, but at least we can create in Europe an entity where it is good to live in. And once that done we can start to look elsewhere to better the life circumstances from other parts of the world? Or is the Brazilian Indian in the middle of the inland better let alone with his own customs and beliefs...?

Kind regards, Paul.
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Dirk Marinus
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Sat 08 Apr 2017, 21:43

Due to the increased tension and latest incidents in the Syrian crisis is it possible that the whole issue of Brexit will have to be negotiated/discussed totally different than what it was originally thought?

Somehow I doubt if the British government had a set plan to start Brexit in the first place and if they  had that plan will now have to be changed drastically.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Sun 09 Apr 2017, 12:11

I think you have answered your own question, Dirk. A plan that does not exist cannot be changed, drastically or otherwise.

Even if there had been a plan of campaign, and even if it was one likely to be influenced by international socio-political developments completely outside the remit of the terms of the negotiations to be undertaken, then one would assume that the knowledge that those negotiations would be extremely long would also have inferred acknowledgement that of course certain globally important political events would transpire in the meantime and a plan of accommodation of those events within the negotiation process would already have been set in place. But as you say, that is to assume an awful lot in the face of the more relevant and obvious fact that no such plan existed at all anyway.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Sun 09 Apr 2017, 12:12

nordmann wrote:
The system of government in Britain is not ridiculous. It is dangerous. And it is important to many outside Britain - surely you can see why when you address that remark to an Irishman?

This goes to the nub of the issue. The unresolved (or paradoxical) structure of the UK constitution is very much at the root cause of the political malaise within the UK which resulted in the spasm that was expressed in the referendum last year. Let's not forget that the UK public which voted to leave the EU in 2016 (ostensibly because of feelings of losing political control of their own destiny) is the same UK public which nevertheless rejected electoral reform in the referendum on that crucial question in 2011. The mind boggles.

And the internal geographical structure of the UK is equally puzzling and paradoxical in terms of its constitution. Hence we had the apparently hypocritical stance of some unionist politicians in 2014 championing the right of Great Britain & Northern Ireland to independence from the EU while simultaneously opposing Scotland's independence from the UK.

The relationship between the varying countries of the British Isles and their joint and separate relationships with the countries of mainland Europe has always had profound implications for the constitution of the Westminster parliament and this long predates the advent of the EU. I have always been sceptical of those who claim that the UK's unwritten constitution is the best in the world and is somehow self-correcting in the end. The very fact that southern Ireland chose to leave the UK (and did so violently) would seem to give the lie to this assertion. And the 30 years of troubles in Northern Ireland at the end of the 20th century would further emphasise this. For this reason this Englishman has always valued the opinions of Irish people in terms of providing a critical analysis of the UK constitution both currently and in the past. And it's not just a question of merely welcoming their views and opinions, but such views are in fact essential if any hope of understanding these issues is to be achieved. Far from finding it impossible to discuss the UK constitution with an Irish person I would say that any attempt at such a discussion without such input is in fact a total waste of time.

When one looks at the broad sweep of the history of Western Europe, then the era of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland (1801-1922) can almost be seen to be an aberration. And when one considers things such as the weak response of the 'richest and most powerful country in the world' to the famine of the 1840s and considers that the UK government spent more than 10 times as much money prosecuting the pointless Crimean War in the 1850s (at the other end of the continent) than it did on famine relief in the 1840s (within its own home islands), then one begins to understand that even in its 'golden century' the UK constitution, far from being 'the best in the world' was patently not fit for purpose.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Mon 10 Apr 2017, 22:10

Thank you Vizzer for the enlightnement.
Dirk, I think that the cooperation between Britain and Continental Europe will not be altered, whatever Brexit or not.

BTW where is Ferval, Priscilla, Temperance? I hope there is no friction because of this EU thread?

Kind regards to all members of this forum, Paul.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Tue 11 Apr 2017, 17:42

PaulRyckier wrote:


BTW where is Ferval, Priscilla, Temperance? I hope there is no friction because of this EU thread?



Well, I can't speak for ferval and Priscilla, Paul, but I am afraid I have been having a massive Brexit Huff, even though - and this is painful to admit - I have misunderstood some of the comments here (i.e. those of the charitable nordmann). This is unfortunately such a sensitive area of discussion, although, given other world events this week, our various sensitivities/sensibilities are not really that important, are they? We shall muddle through; and take the EU workers who are now resident in our beloved - if ridiculous -  little island along with us. If they want to stay in Britain they must be willing to learn, after all, not only our impossible language, but also the British art of muddling through - while laughing at the nutters (one British girl's laughing at nutters went viral I believe this week...).




PaulRyckier wrote:
Kind regards to all members of this forum, Paul.


Ah, kindness - and politeness -  they always work, do they not? Well, usually.


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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Tue 11 Apr 2017, 21:59

Just entered the board Temperance. No time to contribute further. So happy to see you back Temperance. Can  we instead to change the subject once discuss tomorrow Winifred Wagner née Williams. What her real motives were to be even after she nearly was in jail for it after WWII still to admire the Hitler figure and the right radical way of thinking. As BTW a Léon Degrelle in Spanish exile till his dead. As if I remember it well from this board also the English Fascist?

Kind regards from your friend Paul.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Wed 12 Apr 2017, 04:36

PaulRyckier wrote:
So happy to see you back Temperance. Can  we instead to change the subject once discuss tomorrow Winifred Wagner née Williams.



How kind you are, Paul - but then you always have been when I have made an idiot of myself. But please do not "change the subject" - do not stop discussing these important ideas. You and nordmann were having an interesting and rational exchange: I should never have intruded on the thread with my emotional outbursts. It is just that, good English (I actually prefer British) woman that I am (albeit with three Irish grandparents), I was stung by the suggestion that we are, post-Brexit, rapidly becoming a violent, fascist nation. The crazy ones, like the poor, are always with us, of course, as they are everywhere; but they are not the majority in England by any means.

Oddly enough, even my beloved Oscar Wilde very nearly upset me yesterday - on the very subject of the nature of the English. I am reading Neil McKenna's The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde at the moment, and discovered that Oscar had, after leaving Oxford, recalled the remarks that John Burgon, Vicar of St. Mary's church in Oxford, had made after the blue china incident. It was, Oscar declared, "the first time the absolute stupidity of the English people was ever revealed to me". Oh dear. But then, having read what the idiotic Burgon had said (it was in a sermon!) about Oscar's joking references to the difficulties he was experiencing in living up "to my blue china", the Irishman's impatience is easily understood. The reference to "first time" was worrying though.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Wed 12 Apr 2017, 12:10

Temp, John Burgon is now the epomymous inspiration for a society of - mostly American - bible "literalists" or, as could be described, the "Jesus riding dinosaur Brigade". In a Britain full of muddlers prepared to laugh at themselves at the drop of a hat Burgon, hat firmly glued on pate, was the antithesis (no muddling or laughing for him!), and Wilde's observation that this particular brand of stupidity became more prevalent in English society the nearer one's scrutiny ventured towards "the top" is actually as true today as it was then, though less biblical in tone of course.

Paul wrote:
Dirk, I think that the cooperation between Britain and Continental Europe will not be altered, whatever Brexit or not.

Your reply to Dirk, Paul, deserves some expansion, I think. The term "cooperation" is where it lapses into vagueness. The UK may, through certain trade and tariff agreements and the like, be deemed to be "cooperating" in the future (though at this point even the mechanics of arriving at such agreement in the future are yet to be defined, let alone decided, explained or understood), as it may also be deemed cooperative through unilateral accordance with other EU initiatives in the future regarding specific measures in the fields of security, humanitarian aid, etc which it has been invited to participate in or for which its voluntary offer of participation has been accepted by the member states. The UK will also retain its membership in other European organisations such as Interpol, the European Court of Human Rights etc, which will mean that it automatically engages in cooperative ventures with pan-European effect through these channels. However, by withdrawing from the EU, the UK automatically loses its ability to launch many such initiatives itself, not because it has lost initiative per se, but simply because it has stepped completely outside the mechanism whereby these initiatives are processed further in a European context and has restricted itself therefore to the role of mere submitter (assuming even that submission survives legal or political challenge at home). Each such policy initiative must henceforth be submitted through individual negotiation with the EU body, after which point the UK has now voluntarily abandoned the ability to influence or decide any resultant policy formation which may transpire at the end of that process.

In practical terms this change of status may not be readily apparent to UK citizens anyway, the history of the UK's relationship with the organisation from which it has now defected having been one in which several past EU administrations have often dismissed Britain's input as being largely "negative", in the sense that it has consistently tried to use its "net contributor" status (an assessment which itself was dubiously arrived at unilaterally by successive UK governments, notoriously Thatcher's) to justify its self-assumed right to effectively veto or seriously delay EU reforms and policy initiatives anyway, something it was becoming less and less successful at in recent years though still prepared to pursue almost as a default approach to EU engagement. British citizens were not used to seeing British initiatives in Europe come to fruition in terms of EU policy simply because such initiatives were practically non-existent anyway, and in fact a far more typical summary of the average British person's viewpoint was that initiatives of this nature were the preserve of "Brussels", were generally "stupid", and something to be derided by a passive British public rather than responsibly shaped and even originated through that country's citizens' input. This negative perception of the EU from the UK's citizenry however was nothing compared to the rather more strongly held opinion based on political experience held by various EU administrations and leaders that it was the UK itself which had always been the most negative element of all in that relationship.

This is why, probably much to some people's surprise in the UK, the immediate reaction as expressed in the European Parliament to the Brexit vote wasn't one of surprise, genuine sadness or shock, but instead a very palpable "goodbye and good riddance", iterated by MEPs from several different countries. A member state which had consistently overestimated its political and financial contribution, had consistently attempted to unilaterally obstruct, delay or reshape otherwise popular initiatives in its own self-interest, and which often eventually used any available "opt out" clause to do just that anyway, even after having forced refinements to legislation it then never adopted, was now unilaterally removing this disruptive obstacle to European policy formation from the mix.

If, as you say, the UK will now "continue" to cooperate with "Europe", there are many within the EU bloc who will wryly reply "great, it's about time they started".

Personally, I see no coherent plan for such cooperation evident in the utterances of any side of the Brexit divide within the UK at this moment. This is understandable - at no point during the 40 or so years of its membership was it ever obvious that anyone in the UK besides occasionally self-interested parties (such as farmers) really took the time to understand what that membership actually entailed and what it actually meant in terms of obligation regarding citizen-investment in European policy. Any such plan for future engagement with a view to cooperation starts with an understanding and acceptance of the principle behind such engagement, and since that principle is essentially the same one that brought the EU into existence anyway, it was already clear that it was one Britain struggled to understand or adopt, and even clearer now that it is a principle the majority of UK citizens have rejected (whether they know it or not), and have rejected constitutionally. Technically this means that no UK law can be drafted which contradicts the constitutionally expressed will of the people, so even allowing for the fact that the UK struggles to define its own constitution this will mean that a myriad legal impediments can now be made within the UK anyway should preparation for any specific engagement with the EU now be tabled legally. "Cooperation" through these channels seems unlikely now indeed, even when it makes sense to do so, unless British "muddling" means turning a blind eye to its own constitutionally declared illegalities in future international negotiations (in fact not at all an unlikely scenario given past performance).

Many countries took EU membership as an opportunity to further democratise their own domestic political structures, some because they direly needed to, some because they were evolving towards a more representative internal polity anyway, and some because, in what could be called a mercenary approach, they valued the very real economic advantages of membership over every other consideration and, as a result of this almost accidental or incidental democratisation of their own domestic systems of government, are actually facing internal political tensions and stresses that this rather ill-thought out approach has given rise to. All of these approaches have occasioned, for various reasons, a hardening and increasingly aggressive rhetoric of a nationalistic extreme right caucus within each state, especially in the latter group of mainly newer member states, though the others should not be disregarded either, as France currently demonstrates.

Britain however falls into none of these categories comfortably. As Temp eloquently phrases it, a largely uninformed and disinterested population "muddled" its way into the EU, "muddled" its way through negotiating its membership as the years went on, and has now "muddled" its way out again. The extreme right within the UK of course always abhorred the country's membership by default. Like in the rest of Europe, this caucus is typified by its abject lack of understanding of what the EU actually is anyway and bases its opposition instinctively on what it perceives as an erosion of national identity and denial of self-determination - neither of which concepts are then intelligently elucidated beyond slogan level and the nature therefore of the stated "threat" to either never therefore actually explained. What distinguishes Britain however is that, unlike in the rest of Europe, those most vehemently opposed to this caucus within the UK, at least among the wider population, have always seemed equally ignorant of the realities of membership of the EU, equally unable to tackle the issues of identity and policy determination, and at this crucial stage where convincing rhetoric was required from that quarter, equally unable to present any. Their standpoint not easily reduced to slogans they therefore lost even the rhetorical battle, such was the level of the rhetoric available to the masses for contemplation and analysis in this crucially important referendum.

Successive administrations in the UK, each as much a product of "muddling" as pedlars of the principle, had ensured this general ignorance pertained (a peculiarly British concept whereby the powers that be persuade the people - and even themselves if truth be told - that their essentially subject status is still ok as the "muddle through" principle is greater than all of them so no intelligent input from the people or accountable governance of the people is required anyway), and now the logical outcome of this "uninformed muddling through" has transpired. "Muddling" works when a critically large enough number of influential people voluntarily keep themselves informed and equally voluntarily work for the common good. "Muddling" becomes disastrous when that critical mass is not attained. This has just happened in the UK - and in fact Brexit is not the only symptom, nor indeed the only political development of potentially long-term detriment to the country's people that is presently transpiring.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Wed 12 Apr 2017, 18:39

nordmann wrote:
As Temp eloquently phrases it, a largely uninformed and disinterested population "muddled" its way into the EU, "muddled" its way through negotiating its membership as the years went on, and has now "muddled" its way out again.



Please don't be so sarcastic, nordmann. Sarcasm makes people frightened to venture an opinion on anything. You have certainly, with that latest post, put me - muddled thinking and all - well and truly in my place. We cannot all be so eloquent as you about this - or any other - topic. Those of us who know nothing about politics should stay out of such discussions - have I not admitted as much? I now feel guilty for having voted in the referendum at all. I did, just for the record, vote to remain.

That said about shutting up, there is one point which is probably not at all relevant, but I should like to raise it: forgive me if I am yet again being embarrassingly stupid. It concerns the huge windfalls which many investors in the UK have received - even folk with tiny portfolios- post-Brexit. The really big and savvy money players must have made an absolute killing since last June - and I mean a killing. This of course has been due to the fall in the value of the pound which, for those holding overseas investments, has resulted in shockingly good returns on those investments. I wonder now if all the "patriotic" supporters of Brexit (not the ignorant and passive working-class masses, of course, who, to repeat Vizzer's apposite word, were simply having a sad and futile little "spasm") were actually "muddling through" or were they, including the powerful - and rich - movers of the whole farce, taking a calculated gamble -  not really a gamble at all because, whatever the outcome, they couldn't actually lose, financially speaking? As I say, just a thought. I voted "Remain" not knowing/understanding anything about this money business, but the director of the firm which advises me financially obviously did. He actually was in the audience on one of the BBC Question Time programmes robustly supporting Brexit - he got huge applause. I was surprised he was apparently supporting our leaving the EU, but think I now know why, although at the time I did not. But perhaps I have got it all wrong.

What a bad business it all is indeed. But then it always has been. The rich get richer and all that...

Norway isn't a member of the EU - why, I wonder? (Genuine question - I'm not being sarcastic.)
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Wed 12 Apr 2017, 19:01

Temp wrote:
@nordmann wrote:
As Temp eloquently phrases it, a largely uninformed and disinterested population "muddled" its way into the EU, "muddled" its way through negotiating its membership as the years went on, and has now "muddled" its way out again.



Please don't be so sarcastic, nordmann

I'm not being sarcastic, Temp. I thought you had phrased it eloquently and acknowledged as much when I paraphrased your earlier sentiment. Being consistently accused of sarcasm, not to mention being accused of "hating" Britain purely because I was born in Ireland, is also rather deleterious to voicing opinion, especially opinion critical of those aspects to British society as it is presently constituted from which its own population are potentially about to suffer.

The rest of your post is very apposite indeed. Those best poised to reap huge financial dividends from a deterioration in Britain's currency exchange prospects were largely based in Britain, whether they publicly endorsed Brexit or not. They most definitely facilitated its passing as best they could, and are being remarkably shy about rejoicing in their good fortune, especially those who have done the more long-term mathematics and who realise that for all the giant windfall aspects to the manoeuvre it was very much a one off - the question of the morality of the cynical manipulation of national sentiment for short term gain in the hands of a few at a giant cost to future generations' wealth, welfare and prospects then coming to the fore, and not a question they feel much inclined should be addressed to them just at the moment in case they should actually have to answer it.

Norway has voted in referendum twice (by slim margins both times) to retain its negotiated EEA status, part of which is an equal commitment to the free movement of EU citizens. Full EU membership would mean that Norway would have to redesign its oil fund portfolio, designed and built up over the years as an independent venture with future proceeds already pre-invested in the country's infrastructure, health service etc. Basically it would require compensation from the EU to alter the fund structure now, and while this is something to which the EU has conditionally agreed should Norway wish to join, the absence of a hard deal in advance of joining is enough to persuade most people here to stick with the current relationship and let the fund continue as normal. Had there been no oil discovered in the 1970s Norway would have joined long ago.


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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Wed 12 Apr 2017, 19:11

nordmann wrote:
I'm not being sarcastic, Temp. I thought you had phrased it eloquently and acknowledged as much when I paraphrased your earlier sentiment. Being consistently accused of sarcasm, not to mention being accused of "hating" Britain purely because I was born in Ireland, is also rather deleterious to voicing opinion, especially opinion critical of those aspects to British society as it is presently constituted from which its own population are potentially about to suffer.

OK, OK - I'm sorry - all right? But stop calling us the "septic isle" - all right?

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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Wed 12 Apr 2017, 19:13

Temp wrote:
But stop calling us the "septic isle" - all right?

I only did that when it was funny. Now that it has become accurate it's not funny any more.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Wed 12 Apr 2017, 19:20

nordmann wrote:
Temp wrote:
But stop calling us the "septic isle" - all right?

I only did that when it was funny. Now that it has become accurate it's not funny any more.

See what I mean? I give up.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Wed 12 Apr 2017, 19:29

Don't go all John Burgon on me! Smile

I'm off to inspect my Blue China for flaws ...

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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Wed 12 Apr 2017, 22:33

Thank you very much Nordmann for your excellent observations. And indeed for lack of a better term I used "cooperation", while it is my "observation" that Britain while it is so tied with Europe geographically, economically, strategically, politically, philosophically, culturally and yes "mentally", that they are nearly doomed to work together, to cooperate on the world stage...
And at the same time it is also an answer to the question of Dirk Marinus.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Thu 13 Apr 2017, 07:35

nordmann wrote:
Don't go all John Burgon on me! Smile

I'm off to inspect my Blue China for flaws ...






I really shouldn't laugh at that, but I did. I'll let Gilbert and Sullivan have the last word...





Anyway, enjoy the Easter break - but do be careful with that china.

PS Sorry, Paul - really will shut up now - and let you all get back to the EU.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Sun 07 May 2017, 14:49

If the lamps are going out, it's worth considering whose hands are on the light switches. I'm sorry just to post links but adequately summarising the argument is beyond my limited ability so I will just quote the opening of the swcond article:

The single thunderous lesson from the EU referendum is that new technology trumps arcane democratic safeguards. Artificial intelligence, algorithms and invisible money sources can overwhelm democratic rules.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/17/brexit-voter-manipulation-eu-referendum-social-media
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Sun 07 May 2017, 19:53

Ferval,

that's perhaps all reality and it matters if the owo opposing sides are nearly equal. But if there is a clear trend, then manipulation don't help? As for instance in the today French presidential election of Macron...
But while we are on the thread of the Brexit and the European Union...it is again a clear message from the general public, as in The Netherlands, that the working of the European Union has to ameliorate and that, as in any country, the Union has there to be in function of the citizens and not the citizens in function of the Union. In my opinion the basics are well made, it is only that the working out is quite miserable. The people from the administration has to work out a better use of there mandats, less searching for the well paid European jobs and to be more useful and effective for the European cause. Less red tape and unnecessary rules and by that a shrinking of the "opulent" corps of money devoring jobs...and yes clearer and less complicated rules and which are at least a surplus value for the European function...and yes perhaps can be said the same evil of each member country of that Union?...perhaps some countries are worser than the others?...perhaps that is also one goal of the Union to come to or work towards a more unified manner of better governing in each country independentely, so that the memberstates can easier contribute in the same style to the bigger Union...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Mon 08 May 2017, 10:16

Well with Macron's win in France some of the lamps are still burning. I'm no great fan of him or his policies but at least he has stopped Mme Le Pen getting into the Elysée Palace. Although even if she had won, unlike with Treeza in Britain, she wouldn't have been able to just sweep away all opposition in the Senate and so wouldn't have easily been able to push through her single-minded policies ... as neither will Macron be able to do. The French system requires negociation and compromise, and although that might be why change in France is often sluggish at best, at least we don't get rail-roaded into having to blindly accept the dictates of the strong and stable Dear Leader.

I also see that Farage's Leave.EU group (one of the spiders in the web of intrigue outlined by Ferval above) has plumbed new depths by tweeting: "The French rolled over in 1940. This time they've saved Germany the fuel and bullets", under a newspaper headline from 1940 reporting the surrender of France. Neither particularly subtle nor likely to go down well in France and Germany, .... particularly as today is a bank holiday in France to commemorate VE Day/Victoire 1945.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Mon 08 May 2017, 16:43

Poor old Nige, an almighty strop because he was wrong on the Austrian elections, wrong on the Dutch elections and wrong again on the French. Anyone could be forgiven for thinking he would have given the predicitions up as a dead loss by now.

As for Tess of Brexitland, she does love a snappy sound byte but unfortunately for her the 'strong and stable' sounds like she has been recently shopping for sex toys or watching too much porn. I can't help but snigger everytime I hear it.

And well done France for rejecting the far right dingbats.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Mon 08 May 2017, 18:46

She still got 34% of the vote (against Macron's 66%) ... with 11% spoilt papers, a massive 25% absentions, and a low turn out (for France) of 75%. It's the same old problem of French politics ... when faced with a choice between a centre-right and a far-right candidate, the far-left would rather spoil their ballot, abstain, or just stay at home, rather than vote for the lesser of two evils. Perhaps more worrying for the future is that about 44% of 18 to 24 year-olds backed the Front National leader.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Tue 09 May 2017, 03:07

Yes still big problems ahead for France and just like us all for that matter, but they would have been far worse with Le Pen at the helm.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Tue 09 May 2017, 08:17

Meles meles wrote:
Perhaps more worrying for the future is that about 44% of 18 to 24 year-olds backed the Front National leader.


Worrying? That statistic, if correct, is absolutely terrifying. What reasons have young French people given for this swing to the far right?

Most young people here are not in the least bit interested in UKIP, and they, like all reasonable and sane people, loathe the BNP. How many candidates from that party are standing for election? Half a dozen or so, who will all probably lose their deposits? UKIP supporters are regarded by most under 25s as mad Daily Mail ranters -  a bit like granddad on a bad day when he hasn't had his tablets. UKIP has in fact been more or less wiped out as an independent party, although older ex-UKIP voters now seem anxious to get into bed with the Tories. That will prove to be a short-lived affair - can't see it blossoming into a real love story, and certainly not if May is in charge.

The young people I know intend to vote Green, although some are reluctantly returning to the Lib Dems. I hope the Lib Dems do well: we really do need an effective opposition.

People here on the whole don't like extremes. We are a woolly nation and find ranters - left or right - ridiculous. Maybe that's why we are a tad wary of the Europeans? Just a thought. I await the howls of derision.


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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Tue 09 May 2017, 08:24

PS In the 2015 election the BNP had eight candidates: the Monster Raving Loony party fielded fifteen.

Ah, Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F'tang-F'tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel - where are you?
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Tue 09 May 2017, 09:46

What the French election, the US presidential election, and indeed the UK Brexit "referendum" all demonstrate is that people, when given crappy choices, make crappy decisions. This has always been the case in the history of democracy, and in a very cynical way one can say that the person who stands to gain the most power through the democratic process is almost always the one who most successfully exploits that tendency to their own end. What we have seen in recent years is that this tendency has been increasingly facilitated by a parallel subversion of intellect in many western societies. The old notion that intelligence and experience were as important as principle and commitment to the pursuit of a democratically representable cause has been replaced with an idea that "intellect" itself is suspect. The more cogent and complex an issue the less likely it is to be translatable into the democratic process any longer, either by those who might wish to explain it or those whose function it is to consider it.

The illusion of access to knowledge without having to "know" anything that the internet has accelerated is now the dominant factor governing the breakdown of the old-fashioned democratic structures and processes. The decisions people are making therefore are as suspect as the data and methods used to inform them.

The 44% of 18 to 24 year-olds who backed the Front National candidate are as badly informed as anyone and in fact probably more so, having grown up with no reference point in their immediate experience against which to judge their own inability to choose. Their "commitment" to Le Pen's political ideology is as dependable as their intellectual application to the choice they made and of which she took advantage. Which is not very much at all.

Welcome to the world of lottery politics - played increasingly as a spectator sport and rife for exploitation by forces even more sinister than Le Pen. US citizens, British citizens, and (almost this time) French citizens are about to reap the whirlwind of this inexorable trend. Others are bound to follow them into the abyss, at least as long as intelligence is so seriously devalued in our society.
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PostSubject: Re: Are The Lamps About To Go Out All Over Europe Again?   Tue 09 May 2017, 10:16

Temperance wrote:

Worrying? That statistic, if correct, is absolutely terrifying. What reasons have young French people given for this swing to the far right?

An unemployment rate of over 20% among the 18 to 24's probably has a lot to do with it. Meanwhile the confortably well-off older middle class, having retired early on good index-linked pensions, and seemingly secure, given France's excellent health and social services, for the remaining 30 years or more of their lives, tend to vote for candidates who will maintain the status quo, like Macron.

The unemployment rate amongst the young is certainly in part linked to problems with the Euro, but it is also a result of France's bureaucracy, heavily unionised workforce and protectionist policies. State employees (fonctionaires), and that means everyone from the highest ranked government civil servant, through all post-office workers and teachers, to the person who answers the phone in the tax or benefits office, effectively have a guaranteed job and pension for life ... unless they get a criminal record they can never be made redundant, they might get moved or redeployed, but they'll never usually be forced to lose their job or its associated benefits. The rest of us aren't so priveliged. Just to work, legally, in for example an estate agent's, you must have all the relevant qualifications, and woe betide should you ever fancy a change of career. And social security payments (which are paid by an employer) are so high that it just isn't worth small businesses recruiting extra staff ... and so small local firms remain small, cannot grow and do not take on any paid employees. It is often said, with considerable justification, that in France it is easier to get a divorce than to make someone redundant however incompetent or dishonest they might be.

Ironically then, giving the above statistic of nearly half young people voting for Le Pen, her policies are very much to maintain this protectionism of French workers, and to shun the very policies that might promote foreign investment, create a more flexible employment environment, promote start-ups and grow small local businesses.

As you say the trend to the right is worrying, and unless Macron can successfully tackle some of the big underlying problems, his period in office might well continue the same inactivity, with the can just kicked further on down the road. But that might well mean, come the next round of elections, that support for the Front National will be even stronger. There's a lot of weighty responsibility riding on Macron's shoulders.

Meanwhile, just a day after his election, not only are the lamps still burning across Europe, but in France so are the tyres and barricades. Comme d'habitude!
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