The original version of this post was written in French and published on September 19th 2015 — it was two months after the infamous July 13th 2015; Umberto Eco was still alive.
I have written an English translation following a reader’s request.
I have kept the links — many of my sources are in English.
My English is far from perfect, yet usually rated as « full-professional proficiency ». It’s probably more « globish » than English. When I speak English, my accent is obviously French, with old German tones and recent shades of Russia. Anyway, I just hope this text is readable, and avoids gross misunderstandings.
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Europe is not the EU.
Europe is not the European Union.
Europe is not the so-called « European institutions » — some of whom are actually not institutions, such as the Eurogroup (« Well, the Eurogroup does not exist in law… » ), and some others are actually not European, especially NATO (« Barack is right… » ).
Europe is neither the EU, nor the Eurozone, nor the European Commission, nor the EuroGroup, nor the European Parliament, nor the ECB, nor NATO.
Europe is not the Troika!
Europe is 700 millions human beings, living from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains, from the North Cape to Crete, from Iceland to Sicily, from the Bosphorus to the Strait of Gibraltar.
You’ve got green eyes, you’ve got blue eyes, you’ve got grey eyes
The greatest European country is the Russian Federation. Most of the Russian population lives in Europe, even if most of the Russian land is in Asia. Europe can not define itself against Russia — otherwise it’s not Europe.
Europe is peoples, nations, territories, languages and Histories. It’s strata and scars. Some can be traced back across millenia, some others only across centiuries, all are much deeper than the UE — whether you consider only the UE as defined by the Maastricht Treaty (1992), or the EC of the Rome Treaty (1957), or the organization of the Paris Treaty (1951).
Europe is about memories. Europe is about the long term. The EU is pitifully short term.
Das Leben ist zeitlos
Life is timeless
One of the brightest phrases I’ve heard in recent years is from Umberto Eco:
La lingua dell’Europa è la traduzione.
La langue de l’Europe, c’est la traduction.
The language of Europe is translation.
The motto which the European Union had chosen, in 2000, and which sounds so ironic in recent tears, and which even sounds sometimes ludicrous when the « President of the European Council » proclaims he is « afraid of ideological contagion », is:
United in diversity
Europe is more than 700 millions of human beings, who, in my humble opinion, do not feel represented by the « European institutions », their posturings, and the dubious characters who fill them. Many Europeans are now ashamed of what is being done « in the name of Europe », for example in Greece, or in Donbass. Many Europeans are now ashamed of what is done on their behalf, « in the name of the Europeans ».
The national sentiment is as noble as the national sentiment. No more, no less. I am French and European. I am French, hence I am European. One does not exclude the other.
However, in my humble opinion, the European sentiment, the feeling to be European, the belief in being European as much as being Czech, French, German, Italian, Belgian or Bulgarian, has regressed in the last thirty years. The drifts of the « European institutions », the garbage done « in the name of Europe » especially in the last five to fifteen years, have triggered a relative fall of the European sentiment, and a retreat to national sentiments.
The EU soils Europe. The EU soils the European idea. The EU discredits the European hope.
If being European means, standing for the stupid « Eastern partnership », inspired by NATO and assumed by the European Commission, which led Ukraine to chaos, well no thanks.
If being European means, accepting the liquidation of the national economies of many European countries, of the welfare states, of industries, of agriculture, for the sake of the « free and undistorted competition », on behalf of « competitiveness » , for the selfish, cupid interests of oligarchies, well no thanks.
If being European means, accepting that life expectancy will decrease so that profits can increase, and declining living standards in the name of austerity, well no thanks.
If being European means, being represented by crooks such as Jean-Claude Juncker (LuxLeaks) or Mario Draghi (Goldman Sachs), well no thanks.
If being European means, endorsing the crimes of the bastards from the Eurogroup of the ECB — the destruction of Greece in June-July 2015, the coup in Cyprus in Mars 2013, the coups in Italy and Greece in November 2011, the hostage taking in Ireland in November 2010 –, well no thanks.
Non merci. No thanks. Nein danke.
Pas en notre nom. Not in our name. Nicht in unserem Namen.
όχι. όχι. όχι.
The « European institutions », as they have evolved in the last five, ten, fifteen years, as they have been hijacked, have left Europeans disgusted by Europe.
The « Eurozone », as it has been built and tinkered with through the last crises, has left Europeans disgusted by Europe. And, as many authors have already explained, including François Heisbourg and Jacques Sapir, the euro is sowing the seeds of civil war in Europe. The Euro does not unite, it divides, especially opposing « creditors » to « debtors », and opposing « the core » to « the periphery ». The euro is pitting peoples against peoples. Europe is peace. Europeans want peace. But the euro means war.
Can the « Eurozone », the « European institutions », the EU and NATO be reformed? Can the system be changed from within?
I won’t answer that, but I refer to two interesting recent materials:
On the one hand, a series of insightful posts from the essential French blogger Olivier Berruyer, titled « Démocratie Kaputt ». Here’s juste one of the conclusions of the seventh post in the series, published on September 18th 2015:
Many utopians do not realize that building « another Europe, social and democratic » is almost as credible as building « another fascism, democratic and humanist ». (…)
If you meet one such utopian now (…), please don’t let him talk about « negociations », as, on the very day after his election, the ECB will starve his banks, Greek-style, hence he must have a solid solution to offer. (…)
As there will never be one European people, there will never a one European nation, hence no European democracy.
On the other hand, the « Plan B for Europe » co-signed on September 11th 2015 by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Yanis Varoufakis, Oskar Lafontaine and many others:
The euro has become the tool of economic and governmental dominance in Europe by a European oligarchy hiding behind the German government, delighted to see Mrs Merkel doing all the « dirty work » other governments are incapable of undertaking. This Europe only generates violence within nations and between them: mass unemployment, fierce social dumping and insults against the European Periphery that are attributed to Germany’s leadership while parroted by all the « elites », the Periphery’s not excluded. The European Union has thus become an agent of an extreme right wing ethos and a vehicle for annulling democratic control over production and distribution throughout Europe.
It is a dangerous lie to assert that the euro and the EU serve Europeans and shield them from crisis. It is an illusion to believe that Europe’s interests can be protected within the iron cage of the Eurozone’s governance « rules » and within the current Treaties. President Hollande’s and Prime Minister Renzi’s method of behaving like a « model student », or in fact a « model prisoner », is a form of surrender that will not even result in clemency. The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said it clearly: « there can be no democratic choice against the European treaties ». This is the neoliberal adaptation of the « limited sovereignty » doctrine invented by the Soviet leader Brezhnev in 1968. Then, the Soviets crushed the Prague Spring with their tanks. This summer, the EU crushed the Athens Spring with its banks.
If the EU does not want to face the fate of the USSR, it must start its Perestroika as soon as possible. Yuri Andropov and Mikhail Gorbachev arrived too late, far too late. Is too late for the EU? I don’t know. When will it be too late? I don’t know.
The EU is not Europe. Europe has seen many other artifacts. The Europeans have faced many other situations — but at what price! History is a tragedy. Let me quote once again Philippe Séguin, refusing the Maastricht Treaty on May 5th 1992:
One cannot play with peoples and their History without penalty. Any political chimera will crash sooner or later on historical realities. Russia ended up swallowing communism like a piece of blotting paper, because Russia had more historical substance than communism, but at what price?
The Galactic Empire is not the Galaxy. The Galaxy has seen many other artifacts. Yet it would be better to be equipped with a Seldon Plan, in order to reduce the inter-regnum as much as possible. A Plan B. And, ideally, a Plan B wrapped in the Plan B
Take my advice, Hari! If the time comes when you are able to set up some device that may act to prevent the worst from happening, see if you can think of two devices, so that if one fails, the other will carry on. The Empire must be steadied or rebuilt on a new foundation. Let there be two such, rather than one, if that is possible.
We shall overcome.