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Isn’t the British Trojan Horse a Short-Sighted Animal?

Trojan Horse from ‘Troy’ movie. Fair use

[Update: today 4/9/11 the conversation, about the Britons as EU's Trojan horse, goes on here together with a few dear blog buds from Canada, the UK and the US]

ψ

Let us consider two articles, one appeared in Newsweek (last Feb 4), another in the Financial Times (March 19, 2007).

I. Newsweek (original article):

The American economy is slowing down (I am summarizing here and there) and while the United States is sneezing, the rest of the world won’t probably catch a cold. In other words, and for the first time, “the rest of the world will cushion America’s slide (…) . The fastest growing big economies in the world – China, India, Brazil – appear set to continue their robust growth – argues influential American columnist Fareed Zakaria – (…) and this will help the United States” also because of the U.S. dollar’s decline which makes American exports cheaper and investments and tourism in America more attractive.
[That is to say, while first the Americans were helping the world in moments of crisis still buying foreign goods thus helping foreign economies, now the contrary is true, this being the first time such a thing happens; Man of Roma's note].

These and other trends represent a great change in the global economic order. “Power is moving away from the traditional centres of the global economy – the Western nations – to the emerging markets. To put it more bluntly: the United States is in the beginning of a period of relative decline. It may not be steep or dramatic, but the fact that it’s happening is clear. Even if one assumes a slowdown – Fareed Zakaria continues -, the other big economies will still grow at two and three times the pace of the West. Over time they will take up a larger share of the global economy – and the United States and Western Europe will have thinner slices. This is not defeatism. It is math.”

II. Financial Times (whose unsigned comment sheds light on the situation, and relative economic weight, of the European Union; original article):

If the European Union weren’t there “there would be less trade among the nations of Europe, more macroeconomic instability; Spain and Ireland would probably not have achieved their spectacular economic transformation (…) one of the most striking images of European integration is the sight of motorways full of trucks from countries such as Romania and Lithuania. Air travel liberalisation has perhaps contributed more than any other policy to bring the people of Europe closer (…) The EU is currently the world’s largest economy, a position it is certain to lose over the next 50 years due to the rise of China and India. Size in this instance does not really matter. But what would matter hugely is if the EU became so lacking in ambition and purpose that it lapsed into genteel decline.”

The article provides some advices on how to better face future challenges: more economic integration, more globalisation and aperture to emerging markets etc. Strangely enough, a tighter political union – which would seem ideal to get over this pernicious (according to FT) “lacking in ambition and purpose” – is one of the advices not offered (and unsaid) by FT to the Continent … ;-) .

 

Now my question is: in the context of this overall foreseen decline of the West and of these huge transformations ahead of us (India and China alone are maybe 40% of the entire world population), is this divide et impera policy (or divide et vive, divide and survive) towards mainland Europe – traditional in UK and much understandable until a few years ago – still valid today, still forward thinking? I mean, this subtle (not too subtle sometimes) action of hindering at all costs the making of one big European nation, is it still corresponding to the British (and American) interests themselves?

Aren’t the British (and the French) lost in an opiate dream that they can still play a world role of some importance (America being different, of course) and does this dream justify the demolition (or even just the delay) of a European nation? Tending to condone the French – I told you I’m unassuming – not only out of sentimental weakness (they have been a lot pro Europe together with the Germans, after all), and given for granted that the guys at the British Foreign Office are more intelligent than Man of Roma, could anyone then help me to understand why this British Trojan horse isn’t a short-sighted animal?

Italian version

About Man of Roma

I am a man from Rome, Italy. I’m 60 and a Roman since many generations. In my blog, manofroma.wordpress.com, I’m writing down my meditations. The idea behind it all is that something 'ancient' is still alive in the true Romans of today, of which few are left.

28 responses »

  1. Man of Roma – I’m disappointed! I was expecting something a little more, how can I put this…aggressive!?

    I wish I could disagree with you, but I can’t (You picked the wrong Englishman!)

    As I mentioned in a recent reply to one of the comments you left on my own blog, there is an odd feeling of superiority in the UK. You, spit, spit, ‘continental types’ are unruly, and disorganised, and are not progressive enough. (And the French eat garlic. The blighter’s!)

    Well, I think that this perception that is one of the reasons for the traditional distrust of mainland Europeans – not the garlic! The other reason is that island people, for some reason, always feel superior to their mainland counterparts. Aren’t the Sardinians a proud people?

    The UK does not consider that it is part of Europe. Partially because it thinks it is better, and partially for historical reasons. The idea that the French and the Germans can have a hand in running ‘Great’ Britain, does not sit too well with the British.

    As for the old western economies being overtaken by the likes of China and India, this, I believe is inevitable. Although I’m not all that sure what effect this change will have on Europe.

    America is a conundrum for me. I understand why it has become so powerful – it was the largest free market economy in the world, but I don’t really understand where it finds all the money from to go around being an international protector of what, in their eyes, is right. Indeed, I heard that it is China which is funding the US war effort(s).

    What I can see is that in the not too distant future the US may well lose it’s number one spot in the world. But the US is innovative and flexible, so it will always stay close to the top. Europe, for example, I think may be too divided both culturally and linguistically for it to maintain the top spot for long. However, competition from emerging economies could help unite Europe, if for nothing else, out of self defence.

    British Trojan horse! Interesting idea. But I’m not sure they (we) will come out fighting and slaughter everyone in their sleep. However, the British, although quite apathetic, are pragmatic and practical and when things get really bad, they get down to sorting things out.

    Are things in the UK as good as many make out? I’m not so sure. Many Britons feel as though they are losing control of their country from the inside – mainly due to the fact that minority ethic groups are being prioritised over the countries traditional residents. (Do you remember the recent proposal by the Archbishop of Canterbury that Sharia law should be introduced in the UK? – Caused an uproar)

    The UK (Britain, England, etc) is not without its problems – violent crime, an impoverished sub-class, racial tensions, too many ‘do-gooders’, a poor education system, arrogant politicians, and the awful weather.

    I actually left the UK partially because I was disillusioned with the place. I did not vote in general elections because I did not like any of the politicians at the time – too much marketing and not enough substance.

    I’ve already written too much!

    But I do like to hear what others make of my compatriots – I find it intriguing and potentially very useful.

    Kind regards,

    Alex

    Reply
  2. @Alex
    I have to say my aggressiveness has been tempered a bit by the idea you might read this post ah ah ah. Well, I am kidding (only partially). I know sometimes I have a bad temper, surely not mitigated by advancing age (I dedicated one whole *post on anger* where I also talk a lot about UK). Also when I commented on your blog about stereotypes I realised (to my discontent) I had been too … abrupt (brusco).

    I like the Britons, even if, as you say, they feel superior to continentals. They (you) have been the most successful European nation for more than two centuries, so some grounds are there to feel superior, plus, as you say, Brits are islanders.

    Of course people on the continent are not always enthusiastic about this British attitude: how could it be differently? Continental people feel that winning a game (the Big Game of power) proves one is provided with certain qualities, while being a superior people on the whole is another matter. The Romans won the Big Game of power too, but certainly weren’t superior on the whole to the eastern Mediterranean civilizations they had conquered.

    I personally have a sort of love-hate relationship with the UK – I said it in many posts – but generally I do not only admire its qualities (most of which are certainly lacking in Italy), I also love them. I have downloaded a TV program showing Tony Blair’s day of resignation. I didn’t like his backing the war in Iraq (neither our Berlusconi’s) but this guy fell with a sense of dignity not deprived of greatness. Hats off!

    My grudge is the UK is delaying a more united European Nation, which I can understand, but I consider this policy not progressive, since a European nation is in my view crucial to face the terrible challenges ahead of us. In this sense, Trojan horse is a metaphor (non invented by me) which I believe it means two things: action of destruction of a tighter political unity (like the Greeks destroyed Troy) and the fact that UK sometimes acts with all possible means, including some guile (the Greeks used in fact guile). One example: the UK always backed new members to join EU, no matter how many (or how far). Isn’t this in the hope it would create difficulties and disunion?

    The UK does not consider that it is part of Europe
    I can understand this feeling, but it doesn’t totally correspond to historical reality, in my view. We are children of the same history. Pardon my Roman-centric view. Rome has deeply marked Europe by unifying it a long time ago, first spreading Greek-Roman culture, then Christianity. And most of Britain – romanized for a period longer than the British empire: 400 years – doesn’t seem to be out of the picture.

    The same concept of Europe comes from the Roman empire, whose unifying idea, even when this empire had gone, has obsessed the Middle Ages. Constantinople was called the second Rome, Moscow the third Rome. We also had the German (and later the Austrian) Roman holy empire etc.
    And today? As French Braudel put it, “today’s men who want a unified Europe of peoples and cultures, don’t they aspire, knowingly or not, to a pax romana?”

    I know the British masses love the Romans more than they like the Europeans. The two things though go a bit together and the contemporary mania of many Britons for their Roman heritage (plus the fact that ‘the times they are a-changing’) make me hope. Having lived close to the Colosseum, I’ve seen how many of them behave. Allow me one last anecdote.

    One man from Bristol told me: “I know I have Roman blood, I am Roman like you, no doubt about it.” His wife looked at him half mockingly, then told me sighing: “He is so crazy about these Roman monuments he will disappear only to show up at the end of vacation.” They went away. She looked a bit disconsolate.

    All the best

    Man of Roma

    Reply
  3. Dear Man of Roma,

    “I have to say my aggressiveness has been tempered a bit by the idea you might read this post ah ah ah. Well, I am kidding (only partially).”

    Let your aggression fly! Don’t worry about me – I don’t know where you live anyway!

    As for the ‘Continentals’ not being overly happy with us, this is true, but then France and Germany do not always see eye to eye either. Although, it is true that at times the UK does feel as though those over the Channel are ganging up on us.

    It all comes down to our being the products of our environments, and, of course, our environments are the products of our histories.

    Mankind seems to have an elephantine memory which leads it towards dwelling on the past a little too much at times, I think.

    The best thing to do is to learn from the past, and try to avoid repeating errors. History is just that, history, the past. The future is much more important.

    One of these days we, Britons, Italians etc will finally realise this, and when such time comes, the idea of having a united Europe, followed by, I hope, a united world, will start to appeal.

    The UK, as you say, enjoys blocking European unity from within (Trojan horse!), which shows that, in my opinion, it is not as progressive as it likes to think it is.

    As for the mania for Roman heritage, I do not suffer from this, although I cannot deny that the Romans did incredible things in their time. And the English when they ran an empire (on very similar lines to the Roman empire, I might add) also did the incredible. The Romans did an enormous amount for civilisation at the time, everyone, including myself, admires this, however the British empire did not do as much.

    To sum up, everyone in Europe really needs to grow up, and work as one, instead of grumbling and grouching. Modern business practices are uniting us anyway, and a form of universal culture is emerging, and will continue to do so.

    Whether this is a good thing remains to be seen, but it is inevitable.

    As you may know, I do have Italian blood in my veins, and I find places like Pompei stunning, but I don’t feel as though I am a part of those behind it.

    I would, however, like to see foreign committees working within each country in the world – this I feel would ensure that we can all benefit from the good, and use a fresh pair of eyes to identify the bad.

    Kind regards,

    Alex

    Reply
  4. Wow! This was news to me… Thanks for sharing this piece of information! :)

    Reply
  5. @Nova
    Dear Nova, I am glad you popped in and I am happy if this post was of any help. My best regards to you and all your sweet Indian friends!!

    Reply
  6. @Alex
    Dear Alex, you say: “Let your aggression fly! Don’t worry about me”. Well, I do not see why I should be aggressive with you. You seem such a nice person

    The best thing to do is to learn from the past, and try to avoid repeating errors. History is just that, history, the past. The future is much more important.
    Allow me to disagree. History is the story of the past, true, and future is more important, ok, but if we know something about our past it is easier to understand the present, thence
    it is easier to build our future. In other words, it is this past-present relationship which is enlightening in my view, not only to try to avoid repeating errors.

    It seems we agree that UK is not progressive in its action of “blocking – as you say – European unity from within (Trojan horse!).”
    I wish your countrymen were of your opinion as well lol, since I cannot forget how The Guardian expressed, more than ten years ago, the British reluctance to wholly join the Continent since this meant mixing with people “useless, vainglorious, spaghetti-eating, no-hopers”.

    By the way, Trojan horse in the sense of blocking unity from within: it is well said, and it is what lacked to my explanation of Trojan horse.

    Finally, since you said you like to hear what others make of your compatriots, I will end up by quoting a Roman (of course) journalist and writer, Corrado Augias (I segreti di Londra, Mondadori, 2003), i.e. his comment on Great Britain and its capital:

    A place pulsating with the life of the world, great even if splendour and earlier wealth have gone, inhabited by people one cannot love so easily but capable of collective behaviours often admirable, in which meanness and greatness, irritation and tolerance, melancholy and humour mysteriously coexist.

    All my best regards,

    Man of Roma

    Reply
  7. Dear Man of Roma,

    Sorry for taking so long to get round to continuing our discussion.

    “You seem such a nice person.” Thanks, I am, generally!

    “Allow me to disagree. History is the story of the past, true, and future is more important, ok, but if we know something about our past it is easier to understand the present, thence
    it is easier to build our future. In other words, it is this past-present relationship which is enlightening in my view, not only to try to avoid repeating errors.”

    Disagreement accepted. And you are right – but I did say that we should learn from the past, so, in principle I do really agree with you.

    “I wish your countrymen were of your opinion as well lol, since I cannot forget how The Guardian expressed, more than ten years ago, the British reluctance to wholly join the Continent since this meant mixing with people “useless, vainglorious, spaghetti-eating, no-hopers”.”

    As I said before, I’m not a typical Englishman – that’s why I’m living abroad. And the Guardian article demonstrates just how well the English understand those who live on the Continent – I think a lot of it is pure envy. Italy, for example, has better food, better clothes and better weather. Only the beer lets it down! (and the sausages!)

    And as my dear Italian other half has observed, quite rightly, British TV is full of programmes about English people leaving England! So the UK is not as wonderful as some would like to make out…

    And finally, that except from Corrado Augias’ book is actually a rather accurate summary of modern Britain. Very interesting. I shall have to get hold of a copy of his book.

    Many thanks for going some way towards satisfying my curiosity as to what others make of Britain and my fellow compatriots.

    And thanks too to you for such an interesting exchange!

    Jolly good stuff!

    Very best regards,

    Alex

    Reply
  8. @Alex

    Dear Alex,

    let me tell you I really enjoyed this discussion with you on politics and the relationship between Italy and Britain, so I’m the one who has to thank you! Things like this make blogs such a beautiful tool, really (I am a newbie blogger). Yes, Augias is a great writer and journalist. He has also written: I segreti (secrets) di Roma, I segreti di Parigi, I segreti di Londra e i Segreti di New York (the only one I still have to buy). And I like the idea (of course lol) that he is a true member of the Roman bourgoisie, if I am not wrong.

    It is interesting this envy you are mentioning felt by the Britons vis-a-vi the Continentals. Well, I think it is reciprocal in some way. Indro Moontanelli, the Tuscan journalist and writer, envied (in a good sense) the qualities of the British we Italians seem to be deprived of.

    I also think the Brits do not understand us (us continentals, but especially us Italians), and I talked about this a bit in this post of mine, from a morality-amorality angle, a much more complicated topic, naturally. And of course, I agree on the excellence (and superiority) of UK beers. Like Byron (I am unassuming) I have no objection to a pot of beer, once in a while.
    Sausages? Well, I do not know ah ah ah. I think it is only a question of taste and habit.

    Really all the best to you and to your Italian other half.

    Man of Roma

    Reply
  9. Pingback: Force & Anger. Ghosts in the Mind « Man of Roma

  10. Hi MoR,

    Well, you asked me to contribute although this post is not the same, in any way, to mine. I recently read (I say ‘recently’ whereas it actually took me two years to read it – it was so heavy) The Shield of Achilles by Phillip Bobbitt.

    From that, you are both right and wrong in your perception of the British.

    Have you not noticed, in recent years, within the EU and, even within Italy itself, the desire among small groups of people (I say small when in fact they can be quite large) to become self-determining; to seperate themselves from other (current) fellow countrymen?

    There are a number of factors for this: 1) a sense of being secure within the EU (Scotland, Wales would be good examples); 2) a feeling that, if others can do it then so should we (the North of Italy, Belgium, maybe?); the change of the statehood to the new ‘Market State’ as espoused by Bobbitt.

    The Market State allows exactly this kind of seperatism. The ability to belong to a looser federation for certain, agreed, objectives and a different federation of states for others.

    Sure, Britian does not really want to truly belong to Europe, only have Europe as a friend and occasional lover; to pick up and put down when Britain desires; not to become to tied to whatever these foreigners might decide but this same debate that is going on within the UK (concerning only the UK peoples). People in the UK feel that, for example, the Scottish people should not have any say in the UK parliament and, certainly, for those laws which do not affect them, as they now have their own, semi-autonomous parliament which is, to some extent, self-determining.

    The emergance of the Market State to replace the Nation State (or is it State Nation, I forget now which, although I think I’ve got it the right way round) will split the former States into smaller ‘states’ and even allow for several ‘states’ to be formed which overlap (the new states being not necessarily split on geographical lines). This will, as every change (from the Princely States formed in what is now Italy all that time ago to the State Nation through to the Nation State) has been, be a bloody, long battle.

    The English, Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish already have some easy splits to make (although there is also talk of Cornwall going it alone) but the key players (and winners) are likely to be those groups (new states) who can work within a Federation of such states (since that will give them the power so beloved by the leaders of any state). For this, Italy, that has being trying to make itself a real Nation State since it was formed only a little (in terms of other Nation States) while ago, may be left behind whilst it hangs on to the dream of something that is already dissolving.

    There! A little heavy I suspect and, when I have read it through, probably less comprehensible than I would like.

    In short, I agree with you with regard to the current idea of the EU and the states within the EU that Britain represents the short-sighted Trojan Horse but, in the context of the new Market State, it may be ahead of its time (although even it is trying to cling on to the Nation State status – after all, no-one wants radical change at all, do they? Especially the leaders so famed for telling one ‘how they will change and make better’ the Nation for which they are fighting for control).

    Reply
  11. @Andy

    Well, you asked me to contribute although this post is not the same, in any way, to mine.
    I know, but the ‘conservatism’ we were talking about in your blog could have been inserted here as an element of discussion (and eventually difference?) between Italy and UK.

    Have you not noticed …the desire among groups of people …. to become self-determining …separatism ….the change to the new ‘Marekt State’ and not the Nation State
    Yes, this desire of separatism seems widespread, but in my opinion a push towards a very loose federation (= little political unity) would make this part of the Western world weak. Economics is not all. We need a common will to face the challenges (common army, common foreign politics etc.) or we count zero and the big world decisions will be taken without (and against) us (Europeans), so far the richest area of the planet (not for long).

    Britain does not really want to truly belong to Europe, only have Europe as a friend and occasional lover.
    Ah ah ah, I loved that. Nothing against a British lover, quite the contrary, only this lover should not stop me from marrying who I like. I know that this thing, for a lover, is hard to accept …. but for me it is a question of survival. We need our European wives!!! ;-)

    I agree with you with … that Britain represents the short-sighted Trojan Horse but, in the context of the new Market State, it may be ahead of its time
    This is true in my view, UK is ahead of time as far as market policies, regulations, know-how (it has almost always been), only, I will repeat, economics is just the body, needing a head, which is politics.

    A little heavy I suspect and …probably less comprehensible than I would like.
    No, not at all, what you say seems very clear. Only it further clarifies that you, UK blokes, do not feel European, and this worries me a bit…. :-(

    Ciao e grazie
    MoR

    Reply
  12. @MoR,

    I’m sorry, but again, this is a long reply. Perhaps I should write in poetry only to sharpen up the thought process and become less rambling! :-) Except I’m not really good at that.

    Anyway, here goes:-

    “…but the ‘conservatism’ we were talking about in your blog could have been inserted here as an element of discussion (and eventually difference?) between Italy and UK.”
    Yes, I do see what you mean but my post was really to say that the British should not expect Italians to be like the stereotype they have in their heads. I, too, suffer from the easy generalisation when something happens that is frustrating or annoying. It is easy to say ‘ that’s the Italians for you’ rather than realise that we (British and Italians) have much in common as well as many differences.

    “a very loose federation (= little political unity) would make this part of the Western world weak.”
    Ah, but here I disagree on two counts. The first is that a very loose federation = little political unity. I’m not entirely sure this is true. A very close bond can be developed, politically, within the federation. The second is that it would make the Western world weak. This entirely depends on where you are viewing it from. Yes, it may be weak in some ways but stronger in others. The main problem here is that your view of ‘how the world should be’ is based upon the model of Nation States that we, in the Western world have had as a stable background for more than a century. As Bobbitt explains, the ‘Great War’ from which the Nation State became the superior model has been running from the first World War until the end of Communism in the late 80’s. Within this model of Nation States, the idea that the world will be weaker without strong allegiances and a federation is justified and true – but only within this model.

    “Economics is not all. We need a common will to face the challenges (common army, common foreign politics etc.) or we count zero”
    Well, Economics is, in fact, the most important factor. Now with prices for fuel and food going through the roof, the challenge for the governments of the Nation States is to maintain the status quo (which, I suppose links to my post about the conservatism, even here, in Italy). Wars are now being fought, in the main, for purely economic factors (take Iraq as the most obvious example). It has been many years now where the ‘land grabbing’ war on the part of the Western world has ceased. We did all that prior to the first World War. After that it was, in the main for the purpose of establishing the Nation State so was more about ideology than anything else. Since the end of the Cold War when the superiority of the Nation State emerged and ‘we’ were victorious, the Western world realised that economics was the crucial factor. A rich man can do almost anything he wants – the poor man is resigned to finding enough just to feed himself.

    and the big world decisions will be taken without (and against) us (Europeans), so far the richest area of the planet (not for long). “
    And there’s the rub. The current, superior Nation States are already fighting for their lives – but not as Nation States but rather the Market State. The ideology from the other side is, of course, epitomised by the Muslim world. Bush, et al may refer to it as the ‘war against terror’ but that is only to give the people a tag to hold on to (much as the Cold War was the war against Communism). The reality is that it is the emerging Market State that is fighting to be the superior ideology for the new status quo. The decision by the other, apparently, emerging Nation States of China, India, etc. will be the side on which they decide to sit. Will they choose the idealistic Muslim vision for a State or the Western world’s template for the new Market State. If they choose the all-new-improved Market State then the Western world will include them (because they have to in order that the Market States remain the richer and, therefore, the more powerful) in the federation of Market States. This is a delicate time. Decisions have to be made (and not by us, as we are already moving to becoming the new Market States) which will be based upon how well we spread the word of the new utopia.

    “but for me it is a question of survival. We need our European wives!!!” Ah yes, but in this brave new world, the alliances will be more like lovers and less like wives. The federations will not be so simple and well-defined. Holding on to the ‘old world order’ of Nation States will mean you lose it all! The new federations are more likely to based on a single idea or a similarity between groups. Each Market State will belong to many different federations. It will be more like the current craze for town ‘twinning’ where you look for the friends that are with you for a single issue. Then, for the next issue, you look for friends, who may be the same friends or maybe not.

    “economics is just the body, needing a head, which is politics.” Thank you for your kind words about Britain but I’m afraid we are behind. The US is leading this Market State and we are merely following, like good children, trying hard to understand the new world and the consequences and importance of our drive to achieve the new Market State. And it is true that the body of economics needs the head and also true that the head will be a form of politics but if you look at the real controllers of the new Market State, it is rarely the politicians. They follow like a herd of sheep. The new masters are the people who control the masses. One example of which is the media. Now, when the media (certainly in the UK) take something and run with it, almost certainly, within a short time, the politicians follow and suddenly we have new laws. The Dangerous Dogs Act, ABSO introduction – these all started with Media campaigns. Politicians are not leaders now, in this new state, but rather they react to the will of the people (which is determined by the Media).

    Only it further clarifies that you, UK blokes, do not feel European, and this worries me a bit” I’m sorry about that. For me, it would be nice to feel European. And I do try to fit in here as much as possible but my nationality does, for good or bad, define who I am and what I do. I may have escaped the islands and don’t, particularly, want to go back but, I have found, I simply can’t let it go, however hard I try. There are, however, occasions when I do feel European and it makes me feel good. Even better when friends (Italian) say that I am becoming more and more like an Italian!! I’m afraid that the British Isles were never and, probably, will never be truly European. We are a much-conquered people in a place that is not connected (by land) to any part of Europe. We are a people full of Viking, Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and, yes, Roman blood; as well as, over the last two hundred years or so, the blood of hundreds of other races round the world. We can only define ourselves in terms of those small islands that are separate from everyone else. We like to think we took the best of all our conquerors and conquered and improved it all!

    Reply
  13. @Andy
    Wow, what a long comment (I like long comments). It will take some time to reply. Hope you don’t mind if I italicized your quotations from my text to make it easier for readers. Ciao

    Reply
  14. @Andy
    I am afraid we still are – as I said in your blog – like two pilgrims that meet but speak different languages … ;-)

    One should get technical here, and I am not an expert, so the risk of saying stupid things is higher than ever.

    I didn’t read this book you are mentioning, but as far as I can tell (from what you’re saying and from a few passages I have read in the Internet), this Philip Bobbitt’s argumentation seems a bit abstract to me.

    The nation state is something tangible, real, springing from hundreds of years of history and it cannot be erased in a snap with a sponge. Well, we are observing its decline because of globalization, this is true.

    But which nation states are actually declining? The tiny European nation states like France, Belgium, UK etc. are declining. They were at the centre of world power only a few generations ago, with colonies and all, but now they have no weight any more. This is why I am saying we need more doses of Europe (not to get back colonies, no, no, lol).

    On the contrary, states like Russia, Usa, China or India are not declining, and they are behaving exactly like the nation states we had in the past (hoping that nationalism, the dark soul of the nations, will not lead to disaster again).

    (Bobbit is American: don’t Americans keep on saying over and over that they will accept – and do – anything in the name of their national interest?)

    Some of these nation states are so huge that even if we’ll have an American economy slowdown – I said in this post – they will continue to prosper just selling their goods to their internal markets, made of hundreds and hundreds of millions of people.

    This is why in my opinion we need a more effective political entity in this side of the planet. EU is already a free market economical entity. We do not need THAT much. We just need a possibility of taking decisions. We just need that these (tiny) nation states that are together (27, if I’m not wrong) can take decisions for example in the Council of the European Union in a qualified majority voting (and not a unanimity voting) – when there is not total consensus. Something, if I am not wrong, that UK has always opposed, in a way that leads (and has often led) to paralysis.

    I am generic – and maybe not exact – above and here, for lack of precise information: is this foreseen in the treaty of Lisbon, that was hindered (btw because of UK)? I’ll have to check.

    Summarizing, am I still reasoning in the conceptual framework of the nation-state? Yes, to a large extent, since I believe this is not only an ideology: it is more than ever solid reality shifting to new huge entities that will radically change the world. In the next 25-30 years, probably (analysts say).

    PS
    This doesn’t mean I do not understand UK. This discussion with you and Alex has instead helped me understand a bit more about you islander – and non European (sigh) – blokes :-(

    (the emoticon meaning I am worried, because you UK guys have still some power of intervention – as Europe’s Trojan horse, of course)

    All the best

    Man of Roma

    Reply
  15. @MoR,

    Sorry, I am really busy at work today. I shall respond properley when I can tomorrow.

    Regards

    Andy

    Reply
  16. @Andy
    Do not worry.
    All the best

    Reply
  17. And once again, I have to apologise for my delay. The weekend got out of control and work has started on a really heavy note. Will get back to you asap as I do have things to say, especially regarding the Irish vote on the Lisbon treaty!

    Reply
  18. @Andy
    Ok, do not worry. Take your time. I am also late with a couple of readers lol.

    Reply
  19. MoR,

    I had prepared something last night at home and it needed a final few touches today. Unfortunately, it seems the file I sent through to my work email became corrupted so this is not the prepared reply! lol.

    Mainly I wanted to say something about the Lisbon treaty. This is the classic example of the democratic reality taking place. The Irish have voted ‘No’. this will, in spite of the assertion by some EU members to the contrary, mean the death of the Lisbon treaty as it stands. Of course, the EU members will now look for an alternative way to impose their required ‘ideals’ in the same way that the Lisbon treaty was the remnants of the Maastricht treaty (rejected by the French and another – not the UK).

    If the EU were truly democratic, it would put this referendum to all the people in the EU. But the politicians know that the majority want MORE democracy, not less and more local democracy at that. They hang on to the ideal of making the EU a federation of Nation States – doomed to failure in this fast-changing world.

    When, and only when, the politicians and governments realise and get to grips with this change in the type of state, will a suitable solution be found. There must be less bureaucratic nonsense, there must be greater flexibility, less red-tape; it is the only way that the Market State can flourish and flourish it must or we are all in danger.

    This gives more freedom to the people but also much more responsibility for their own welfare – they too must be more flexible and less stuck-in-the-mud. I watch things happen here in the ‘modern’ North of this wonderful country and know that it is only by the magic of Italian design and flair that it survives. It saddens me as, with the right flexibility and attitude, this country could be (should be?) a leader within the EU not trailing behind as an also-ran.

    And, with the death of the Lisbon treaty, the Italians (and others) should be looking at what is actually required rather than trying to get the old, stale dream inflicted on us all.

    I will write more soon (I hope) after I return to Italy (from, surprisingly, the UK – since I don’t go back these days if I can help it).

    Cheers
    Andy

    Reply
  20. @Andy
    This post’s comments are devouring me and we cannot go on forever lol (altho I liked this discussion a lot and I thank you for that, you UK guys).

    You, Andy, appear to me to take this Market State as a Totem etc. (of course there is some truth in this vision), plus you talk of stale ideas inflicted … Also the common Euro was considered a lunatic ideal, but it proved real (and winning).

    In the same way I do not think this dream of a tighter unification to be so stale. The truth to me seems lol you UK guys do not like the ideas of being ruled by the French and the Germans. I can understand. But then, why don’t you step out (instead of playing the blocking-European-unity-from-within Trojan horse?).

    I agree that there must be less bureaucratic nonsense, there must be greater flexibility, less red-tape. I agree that with the right flexibility and attitude Italy wouldn’t be stuck in the mud and would play a greater role, I recognize that you UK people are better as far as flexibility compared to us, plus I thank you for your appreciation of my country (which is heartily returned).

    As far as the Lisbon treaty, I think it is not very democratic that this treaty be buried now by 1% of the European population (the Irish). And it is ironic (and typical) that these islanders – the Irish are islanders too – who most profited from Europe are now letting it down.
    (Even if you add the French and the Dutch, the people saying NO to the Treaty correspond to a small minority of the EU population)

    If some people do not want a tighter Europe – let me stress it once more – it would be fair from them (who do not feel European) to let those who like it (and feel more or less European) to proceed on their own. I think we could go on forever and ever like this ah ah ah.

    Thank you for participating in the discussion, Andy (and feel free to add whatever you like in the future).

    All the best
    from Southern West

    MoR

    Reply
  21. @MoR

    It is fair comment to say that the Lisbon Treaty hopes have been dashed by a small minority and that is not true democracy. The problem is that, I believe, if the vote were to be by the whole of the EU (the people, not the governments), there would be a close vote. THIS would be true democracy.

    Unfortunately, the politicians, from most of the EU countries, know that it would be a close vote and don’t wish to risk it – rather they would impose their wish on their peoples – and that is what is wrong. The Irish (as the French and Dutch before them) speak for many of the people in the EU. (And, for a moment, let’s take the French – probably more pro-EU than most, since they have gained so much from it, and yet the people there voted against the previous treaty).

    I think, to put the onus of the Trojan Horse on only the British is a little unjust. Why not the Irish, the Dutch or, even, the French? The UK government has, in recent years, given up so much to comply with the wishes of the EU, much to the consternation of the people of the UK.

    For me, I would prefer the UK to adopt the Euro (for selfish reasons, I admit). I would prefer that the UK didn’t have the stupid passport controls and pet controls (which have little real effect anyway). I want the EU to become a strong state since that is the way to compete with the huge states such as the USA, China, Russia, etc.

    It’s just the type of state that will be important if we, as the EU, are to compete.

    However, now I think we may have exhausted this, here. Thanks for being so gracious with your responses and for tolerating this old, die-hard, British man who really wants to be here in your wonderful country.

    All the best
    From the North West

    Andy

    Reply
  22. Pingback: The Decline of the Western Roman Empire « Man of Roma

  23. @Andy
    I also agree we have exhausted what we could say on these topics. I didn’t have to tolerate this die-hard British man, not at all, since I like the way you Brits are, these various types (the British, the French etc.) making the richness of Europe …. oopsss…what am I saying? … of this part of the planet…. ;-)

    This discussion has been a pleasure (and forgive this Italian man that likes joking a bit too much)

    All the best

    MoR

    Reply
  24. Pingback: Us and the Hyperboreans. 1 « Man of Roma

  25. Much water has passed under the bridge since this post, Giovanni, and the fault-lines in the EU are now apparent.

    The British feel neglected by Europe. We feel treated unfairly as as though we are a caricature of ourselves and that our pioneering contributions to European culture, democracy, justice, law, science, industry and peace are sidelined, misunderstood or even ridiculed. Our expectations, despite our massive sacrifices and investment in Europe over the last 300 years, and particularly over the last 100 years, bear hardly a consideration, as evidenced by the fact that the recent British vote rejecting the EU as it now is will make hardly any difference to our voice in Europe.

    I myself have not lost hope in the European project, but believe that nations require their identity to be returned to enable them to be heard and to retain what is familiar to them so they may prosper together. Rightly or wrongly, there are those who reckon that some in Europe hope to win some sort of long-term cultural war through the medium of the EU, when there need be no war at all. This fear is behind the current crisis in the Ukraine.

    Adaptability of form and purpose is the key to a united Europe, no less in its central organisation than in its constituent parts, and a willingness to abandon obsolete “visions” and obsessive “principle”. That headlong idée fixe has acquired a separate existence detrimental to the ideal. Real lessons can be learned from the UK and how it maintained many of the practical traditions of the constituent nations. In many ways the UK can be seen as a Scottish take-over as well as an English one. I know that we face the real possibility of Scotland’s severance, but it is a union that has lasted for 300 years, not without its difficulties, for sure, but of great mutual benefit, not only to ourselves but also to Europe and the world, by and large. It is significant that many true Scots who play such a large part in the running of the UK have no vote in the forthcoming referendum because they live in England. Our cultures are closely intertwined and most of us in England feel as one. I myself have Scottish antecedents on both parents’ sides and I am a Presbyterian – of a most liberal and broad-minded kind, I hasten to suggest.

    Thus, a European Britain need not be a lost cause.

    Bigger is not necessarily better and if an organisation is unwieldy it is more likely to lead to unfairness, authoritarianism, disruption, rejection and, in the worst analysis, bitter conflict, than it is to peace. It is freedom to be ourselves, and at the same time to enjoy a bond of friendship and progress, that counts.

    Reply
    • Awesome, Richard. I have to reflect.
      Thinking of a dialectics post where many voices can bounce & rebounce, as it is the habit, here and elsewhere, in our little slice of blogosphere.

      I had started a discussion on a similar theme with Andreas Kluth, aka Hannibal. Andy the Milanese Englishman, a few Italians (the Jurist Giuseppe Di Gaspare? Extropian Scerir? Roman Piero & Andrea Boitani? Piedmont’s guys?), Christophorus & Pavlos & TCommentador, our Canadians, Chaerie the Faerie Queen of fair America and the mighty legion of USers (Sled the Amazon, Lichanos the Vast Mind from NYC-NJersey, Rosaria from Oregon, ZeusIsWatching, where the heck is Mr Crot…tycccrty from, Douglas, Dafna, Jenny real deal woman from Mid West; the French; the Germans.
      Who, btw, in that same open air cafe before the Gladiators’ arena are now screaming with us and toasting at the Coloseum looming looming over us …..

      Reply
      • Now I really do feel neglected in my drizzling quagmire as you revel in Mediterranean decadence. :)

        Reply
      • You will never be. Read my reposted post from LadyBug. The journey in space and Time is starting again, Richardus. Stay tuned.
        Manius
        (Just choosing the appropriate Alma Tadema detail image)

        PS
        Btw, there’s no Mediterranean decadence, sodalis. Only light, sodalis.

        [Tranquillo sitis animo atque metum expellite, sodales. Quid mirum praesentio blah blah blhhhrrarghhhwaaammwhack! o_O ... ]

        Reply

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