It has been a hot summer so far in Europe. Everywhere you go, people endlessly talk of air conditioning , heat, holidays and Grexit. It is indeed the season during which Europeans travel most, fulfilling the middle classes’ need for getaways. I often find myself sitting with friends at some fancy looking cafe in downtown Bucharest complaining about the city, as if we were infested with some kind of local boredom.
‘I wish I’d just leave for another country. Right now, right away. Leave every unattended issue in my life and fly away’ – it’s not unusual to hear these words should you pass by our table. And it’s not the fact that we don’t travel- we actually do: some for business, some for adventure and others just for the pleasure of it. It’s actually the lack of challenges or conflicts in the surrounding environment that allows such narcissistic features to take upon our lives. It’s characteristic of the new European lifestyle, established after WWII with the creation of the EU. I might call it middle class now, but its roots could be found in the ‘bourgeois’ lifestyle.
But do either of us young Europeans understand the enormous privileges of living on the Old Continent? We might at a frivolous level, but deep inside it is impossible to acknowledge that we are truly living in a bubble. Continue reading →
Human nature is one important aspect of any social movement, because it is this feature that no economic forecast or political development could ever control. It is complex, unpredictable and occasionally becomes a destroying force.
Leaving aside the geopolitical circumstances, the European unity & peace project, later called the EU, was created one the basis of compromise and forgiveness. It may sound like a Wilsonian type of phrase, nevertheless, not only that it made sense at the time –after two catastrophic global wars- but it expressed people’s need to be reminded that the Good could prevail. It’s never easy to set aside the nationalistic factor that usually feeds the ego and leads to an escalation of intolerance towards ‘the others’. The ECC that later became the EU was a promise of establishing European values, such as social justice and democracy, that would erase nationalistic ambition in favour of all members of the ‘family’. It was promoted by visionary politicians, such as Schuman, Delors, Mitterand, Schmitt, that have witnessed the ashes left behind by the horrors of the race for world supremacy. It also meant rebuilding Europe also economically, nevertheless, the prospects of deeper integration were thought to be a long term careful process.
Looking back in history, one might conclude that the decision to establish a pan European project after WWII has proven to have been a 6 decade-long success story: economically and socially. The prospects of constant growth, cultural development, free trade and free movement, along with a good standard of living throughout the continents’ Member States seemed to have kept under control the monsters of lying inside human nature.
“The mere fact that Europe faces no major military threat nowadays (ed. note: 2012) could make the continent a victim to its own narcissistic differences”.
Continue reading →