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When smart people go stupid

Okay, so why are the individual nations of Europe hanging onto the EU with white knuckles, throwing the last of their money down this dry hole? Two things underpin it, one sensible and one not.

They are absolutely terrified of another war. The last war still looms over everything here, fresh and vivid and awful in the minds of pretty much anyone old enough to be in government (all of them, when the EU was being cobbled together).

The not-so-sensible thing? A huge number of those people are convinced that what caused both World Wars was nationalism, by which they mean what an American would call patriotism. They are so sure of this, it’s not even an argument; it’s simply obvious to everyone.

They are horrified when Americans chant “USA! USA!” at sporting events. At best, it’s an appalling Neanderthal faux pas (much as if we were screaming racial slurs). At worst, ZOMG! ZOMG! Shut up with the nationalism, you’re going to get us all killed already!

Seriously. They think they can (and must) break people of being tribal. They think they can unite them all behind the United States of Vague Geographic Proximity. The pictures on Euro banknotes are of generic landmarks that don’t actually exist.

This is why Angela Merkel can survey the break up of European project and casually observe that peace cannot be taken for granted. It’s a perfectly sensible remark to her and her kind. This isn’t an economic union to them, it’s survival.

In reality, the technocrats of the EU have not banished human nature. You won’t stop a Brit poking fun at a Frenchman, or a German looking down his nose at a Greek. People who speak different languages, worship in different churches and have been raiding each other’s stuff since the Ice Age will not willingly pull together in harness for long.

Unless maybe aliens land and start shooting up the place.

November 15, 2011 — 10:55 pm
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