Where, What Is Europe?


YES, AZERBAIJAN BELONGS.

***

The Eurovision song contest was held in Azerbaijan. Some have wondered if that country should be viewed as in Europe. Tectonic arguments have been raised: the Caucasus is a plate boundary, Azerbaijan to the other side, relative to Russia.

However the main boundary with the Arabian plate is more than 1,000 kilometers to the south, in the Arabico-Persian gulf… in between, there are a lot of fragmentary miniplates (and another two or three major mountain ranges). So, if one excludes Azerbaijan tectonically, so should one exclude Italy, or Spain, by the same logical token.

So forget tectonics.

Is Azerbaijan in Europe?

What is Europe? Is it the Indo-European civilizational petri dish? Yes, it is.

Is Armenia in Europe?

Well, Armenia was the first state which adopted Christianity as its state religion. For most of antiquity, Armenia was a gigantic state occupying vast swathes of present day Turkey and Azerbaijan (which did not exist yet). Armenia was long allied, or part, of the Roman empire. Ultimately, it was victimized by the invading Turks. Armenia has a territorial conflict with Azerbaijan.

Is Georgia in Europe?

It is a Christian state. It was for thousands of years in the Greco-Roman world. It was a rampart against Islam. A Georgian army helped the Mongols seize and destroy Baghdad, capital of the Islamist Caliphate (OK, there was also a Frankish army in attendance, and because it was a major butchery, and cultural devastation, one tends to overlook these not so neglectable details of history…)

Is Phoenicia in Europe?

That’s where our alphabet comes from.

Is Sumer in Europe?

That’s where the effort of making an alphabet, in association with Egypt, came from. And also the bi-cameral, representative democracy system we use. And Alexander conquered the area, and descendant regimes forever did, except when overruled by Rome.

Is Turkey in Europe?

Well, where the Turks originated, far to the North-East, that’s where the Indo-European languages originated.

Is Egypt in Europe?

Well, much Greek mathematics is actually Egyptian mathematics. For more than a millennia, a full millennia before Greek civilization rose, Crete and Egypt maintained a symbiosis. Crete originated the thalassocracy principle, with democracy and gender equality.  

Are Hungary, Finland, and the Basque in Europe?

They don’t speak an Indo-European language.

Is Iran in Europe?

Well, water in French is “eau” (pronounced “o”). In Iranian, it is “ob”.

The Azerbaijani language is a Turkic language, part of the Altaic family. These languages originated in the exact center of Eurasia, and are spoken there, and in a huge part of extreme north and east Siberia. Some could say, ha ha ha, here is the proof that Turkey does not belong to Europe. However, most of the present Turkish population descended from old, obviously European, Greek and Armenian, not to say Kurdish, ancestry: the Turkish army was at most 300,000 when it invaded the region, a millennium ago.

Moreover, that Turkish army thrived from scavenging elements of the old Greco-Romano-European civilization. It is European engineers and troops which conquered Turkey for the Turks. Constantinople’s walls crumbled under the world’s biggest guns, made by Hungarian engineers, for the Sultan.  

Is Islam something European?

Well, Islam is an obvious modification of Judeo-Christianism, which all too many view as central to European culture. The Franks themselves viewed Islam as a form of Christianism (the Franks called the Muslims Sarasins; Sarah-sins = sons of Sarah… As described in the bible).

The Franks preferred to call themselves “Europeans”, in the non Christian sense… Islam blossomed throughout two thirds of the Greco-Roman empire, and most of the population took centuries to convert. During that time, the Golden Age of Islam, Islam got Europeanized (Caliphs were in the systematic habit of marrying Greco-Roman princesses).

Is Iraq in Europe?

Well, it’s not just that Roman emperors spent quite a bit of time there, more than four centuries after Alexander’s (mostly) Macedonian army conquered the whole area. Genetic studies have shown than both the vegetable and grains found in Italy, and also the people came from the Fertile Crscent, and more specifically the area of modern Iraq.

Where does Europe stop?

Well, Marseilles was a Greek colony, from Phocaea, back in what the Romans called “Asia” (now Anatolia). Marseilles founded an empire, which lasted more than six centuries. Caesar put an end to it (because it had supported his rival). Still the Greek influence perdured, all the way through the 1789 revolution, to this day. The USA, Russia, and Australia are European colonies. So is all of South America.

Europe is an idea. The idea that cultural diversity is wealth. Even imperial Rome had understood that one, and used it to become a universal state (universal is “catholic” in Greek). That idea originated probably in the Cretan and Egyptian symbiosis, and blossomed under the great age of Greece, a millennium later.

Athens’ historical mistake, in the times of the Delian League, was to not respect more carefully the fundamental idea of Europe. An idea to munch nowadays, when the Greeks are treated like dogs, while bankers are treated like lords.

***

Patrice Ayme

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26 Responses to “Where, What Is Europe?”

  1. Old Geezer Says:

    OK, I’ll lead off.

    “Europe is an idea. The idea that cultural diversity is wealth.” – PA.

    We are about to see. Right now, the Germans have their boot on the neck of the Greeks. The Spanish are not feeling too happy about their situation either. You can bet that if Greece stays (is allowed to stay) in the Eurozone, and that is about 50-50 as I see it, you can be sure that Portugal and Ireland will want to renegotiate their bailout contracts.

    Things could get real ugly real fast.

    Cultural diversity as wealth? We shall see.

    OGP

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      dear Old Geezer Pilot: I have made plenty clear in “Merkler” that some in Germany are on the verge of the abyss. The Deutsche Bundesbank came out with an astounding statement about ejecting Greece. it’s as if Hitler had been for naught. Germany has no constitutional or legal power to do anything about the currency the Greeks use. That’s a question for the Greeks alone. Last poll shows more than 82% support, in Greece for the euro.

      Fortunately president Hollande has started to cook Merkel at the sauce Hollandaise. even the Economist is astounded how much things have changed since Hollande was elected. It’s not 1939. The IMF, the OCDE (or OECD), the USA, Italy, and even conservative Spain, have lined up behind Hollande.

      Many, historically most, Germans have not understood Europe as diversity. That is exactly what Nietzsche was already revolted about. Right now, Germany has very little power. france can line up an anti Merkler coalition which can make Angela think twice. she is already dusting off the East Germany (DDR) rescue plan… Which is what ought to be done, to some extent… (Not to the full extent.)

      A lot of things can indeed go wrong. It could be like 1939-1940, all over again. In 1939-1940, France and Britain felt reasonably confident of defeating Hitler. By 1942, the British forces would have reached the power of France, meanwhile Germany was going to run out of rubber, oil. Churchill was pondering attacking Norway and Sweden, to block Hitler’s Iron Road. That would force France and Britain to leave the moral high road. It seemed to be the only serious problem.
      Fortunately, Hitler invaded Denmark, Norway, and then after ravaging the latter, a combined Franco-British force showed the elite of the Wehrmacht that the French Foreign Legion set the standards of ultimate fighting. While the Allies inflicted very severe losses to the Kriegsmarine (those losses would prevent Hitler to cross the channel later). France and britain were all set to invade Sweden and shut down Hitler’s high grade iron.

      But then disaster struck. Hitler attacked neutral Hollande, and the stupid French High Command sent the mobile reserve of seven armored divisions to Hollande. Two weeks later, Churchill showed up in Paris and asked: “”Ou est la masse de manoeuvre?” And was told:”Il n’y en a aucune.” Just two, or maybe even one of these divisions would have been enough to finish the cut that De Gaulle and the Fourth Heavy Armored division had started befing the thrust from the ten Panzerdivisionen of the Wehrmacht.

      War simulations have shown since that the Wehrmacht had nearly no hope to defeat France in 1940… And the Nazis knew that very well, that is why they tried absolutely desperate tactics. Guderian led the crazy thrust, and could not believe they survived. After a few days heavy French thanks, which the nazis could not stop, came within a kilometers of Guderian and his staff, cowering in a forest. But the French did not know they had coome next to the big enchilada…

      Are these the sort of things Merkler wants to see again? Really. This time, though, there are more French youth than German youth (instead of the 2 to 1 of last time). Meanwhile BMW got a heavy fine (156 million Francs) in Suisse for using there the sort of tactic used in… Greece?
      PA

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  2. Martin Lack Says:

    Thanks for picking up my post and running with it, Patrice.

    As I hope you appreciate, I set out to have a bit of fun with geography and plate tectonics – intended as a light-hearted piece of mockery of the Eurovision Song Contest. However, when it got to be over 1200 words long, I decided I had better not go on. But there was much more that could have been said; and you have said it. As ever your knowledge of the subject(s) and ability to express them far surpasses my own; and I am very grateful for it.

    In my defence, I would say that my central point was and is that there is no easy way to define Europe in terms of physical geography; especially if you do not draw the line at the Ural and Caucasus Mtns. However, even if you do so, things get very complicated east of Istanbul and north of the Jordan Rift Valley – as I intimated in my piece.

    As I said, all of the above are merely human attempts to impose order on a chaotic natural world – as arbitrary as any number of political boundaries drawn on maps.

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  3. Old Geezer Says:

    Dear ML and PA:

    I think that while you may ask where is Europe from a plate tectonics point of view, a more appropriate question on the non-geological time line is “Who and what is Europe?”

    What we have is a collection of 27 nations who all speak different languages, have very different cultures and customs, and in many cases really don’t like each other who have banded together for the convenience of commerce and trade, Really, there is no other possible reason. And 17 of them have bound themselves essentially) to use the Deutschmark as their currency.

    I know that sounds funny, but it is basically true. It is just like when Argentina tied its Peso to the US Dollar. It’s wonderful until you need to make an adjustment. Then you are screwed. Argentina reneged on its debt, and while she is doing well today, it is without any help from the international banksters who still want their money back. Greece has not the internal resources of Argentina.

    And Germany is relentless, even though she should realize that she is a passenger on that Euro ship that is sinking. If the Euro project fails, Germany will lose the BENEFITS that nobody ever mentions, namely a relatively cheap currency which allows her to maintain a favorable balance of trade, and hence, an excellent standard of living and full employment. Germany has profited because of the peripheral countries – Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, even Italy.

    But Germany has scars and nightmares. She remembers hyperinflation from 1933, not that this has anything to do with today. And she remembers reunification, which after 2 TRILLION Euros is still not finished (and may never be) but had to be done because the East Germans are blood relatives. So throwing good money after bad is foremost in her consciousness. And the Greeks are not family.

    So there is more baggage on the carousel here than one imagines. How it will all work out is far from clear to these eyes.

    Like

  4. Paul Handover Says:

    OGP/PA – please let me know if you guys ever start classes on World History? Reading this Post and the comments puts into stark contrast just how little I have learnt in my 67 years!

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks for the compliments, Paul!
      Yes, most of conventional history is a big, wide, thick propaganda. Truly, an instrument of oppression! Those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it, under the boot of the plutocratic effect.

      Without American and Soviet oil, Hitler’s panzers would not have crossed the Rhine. Without Standard Oil secret synthetic rubber process, Hitler would not have had tanks, anyway. The royal Navy and the French “Royale” had Germany under a total blockade, and they thought, naively, as it turned out, that Hitler would not be able to build a motorized army. So, they believe, it was just a matter of time before they had ten times more tanks than the Nazis. As it was, by May, the quantity and quality of French tanks was much greater than that of the Nazis. But that fact, well known by all, precisely led the French High Command to grotesque overconfidence, and the Nazis to gamble all on a manoeuver that had a snow ball chance in hell to succeed… As recommended to Hitler by Edward, Prince of Wales, inspector general of British troops… (& ex-king, but still pro Nazi)…

      You should tell Chris Snugs to read all of this, on my behalf, he seems particularly affected by a conventional view of history…
      PA

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  5. Martin Lack Says:

    PA and OGP – I should have said – I saw a fascinating interview on BBC News TV Channel at the weekend with a certain Steve Davies from the right-wing Institute of Economic Affairs think tank in the UK. Being in complete denial about the reality, nature, scale, urgency of the problem of climate change, the IEA is not an organisation I have much respect for but, this Steve Davies fellow made quite an astute observation – He suggested that the solution to the crisis in Europe would be to eject Germany from the Single Currency! (and let the rest find a new equilibrium).

    As for my view, I think the Single Currency was a bad idea, poorly executed, and incompetently policed (i.e. no-one kept to what few rules were defined). It was a monumental folly only surpassed by the somewhat-mythical building of the Tower of Babel. Furthermore, there are now only two solutions, disintegration or fiscal and monetary unification. If the latter option is chosen, I just hope the UK has the guts to stay out of it. Nationalism may have been the cause of wars in the past but, Federalism can only work where you have equality; and in Europe that is still a utopian fantasy – made ever more distant every time it is enlarged by the addition of yet more poor countries who see the EU as a source of help to prop up their own societies (that are even more corrupt, inequitous and backward than those already in it).

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Martin: Lots to reply to in what you said. As many Brits, you claim the single currency is a bad idea, but of course you did not live 10 kilometers from a frontier. I live, when in the Alps, in greater neighbouhood of Turin, and the euro is a huge positive.

      Let’s not confuse the principle of the EMU and the way it was implemented. That way is piece and parcel of the plutocratic problem which is devouring us all, everywhere.

      Ejecting Germany from the Eurozone is a threat that would be very grave to brandish, but Hollande is already doing it. He met with the conservative Spanish PM in Paris, and they trained together to Brussels. A Spanish minister declared that Berlin seemed unaware that, when the Titanic sinks, even the First Class passengers will go down with it.

      Germany is not beyond any suspicion. There is no minimum wage there. States force the derelict to work… For one euro an hour. That’s little different from what Hitler did. Plus Germany’s Internal Devaluation took the others by surprise (!) Finally the rise of the Mittelstand is actually a form of plutocracy, of the style Marx used to vilipend. No coincidence that Switzerland, which views itself as not in Europe (whatever that means) tokk spectacular sanctions against BMW…

      Europe will be Federal, or will be at war. One has to analyze what the concept of “Foedus” means. Right now germany is violating the principle of solidarity hidden in “Foedus”.
      Another sense (obsolete) of foedus, derivative and secondary, is “disgusting”. maybe. But necessary.

      By the way, the UK itself is a federal system. Are you wishing for Scotland to drift away?
      PA

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      • Martin Lack Says:

        The Act of Union is only 300 years old, I will grant you that, but it has served all parts of the United Kingdom well (inasmuch as we have stopped fighting each other). So, no, I do not now want to see it torn apart. But must we, should we, apply the same logic to ensuring peace and contentment across the whole of Europe? Is this not what is called a classification mistake? If European history teaches us anything it is that multi-ethnic, supra-national empires do not work. The Minoans, Greeks, Phoenicians and Carthaginians all had their moment in the Sun; as did the Romans that came to surpass and dominate all others. However, in my opinion at least, the Roman Empire fell apart for the same reason the USSR fell apart: It tried and failed to unite disparate groups be trying to suppress their ethnic and cultural differences.

        Yes, we may have to thank the Roman Empire for turning Christianity into a global religion but, just as none of us would defend the way in which the RC Church originally achieved this, I do not think any of us should seek to repeat the mistake the Romans made because… Socialism is not a religion and any attempt to conquer the world with it will fail because people do respond well to coercion of any kind.

        However, where socialism has failed – and will always fail – ecocentric ecologism (i.e. as opposed to anthropocentric environmentalism) can – and must – succeed. If it does not, environmental catastrophe is unavoidable. However, this new Green Politics will only succeed by convincing people that our current path is a one-way street to oblivion; and that sustainable development is not a Trojan Horse for global socialism; it merely represents common sense and ecological justice.

        The German Green Party gave us the slogan “Greens are neither left nor right; they are out in front!”… I firmly believe this to be true, but I cannot and will not succeed in convincing people of this by force of argument; they must come to believe it for themselves: They must come to see that we have no alternative and that, far from being a subversive new religion, it is just the common sense solution to the reality of limits to growth.

        Such a solution will require egalitarian international co-operation but in order to achieve this goal we do not need – nor should we be distracted by a foolish attempt – to prematurely superimpose uniformity upon radically different economies for ideological reasons. We may have picked a fight with science; but we need not compound that error by now picking a fight with history too.

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        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          dear Martin: In a sense Rome lasted 22 centuries. In another sense, it’s still going on. Multinational empire have existed sometimes for millennia, and thrived. Anyway, what is a nation? France used to be made of many nations… Or was it one nation, a remnant of Rome.
          Scotland was not a part of Rome, ever. Should it still be associated to Britannia? here is a more practical problem! I do not want to be flippant with the dislike of so many in Britain with the European Union, but, instead of worrying about the United Europe, maybe they should wonder why so many want to do away with the united Kingdom. Does this has to do with the City of London/ Is it healthy that so many in Britain think exactly what the financial pirates in the City want them to think?

          How come, if the plutocrats hate transnational unions so much, how come is it that they have achieved a worldwide transantional plutocratic union, propelled by carry trade and quantitative easing?
          PA

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  6. jpgreenword Says:

    “Cultural diversity as wealth”.

    Unfortunately, now it is all about wealth! We are still reeling from the economic crash of 2008. And yet, the only result seems to have been an obsession with austerity. Like conservatives around the world used the economic crash as an excuse to put in place their most rediculous, ideologically driven policies in place.

    The banking system caused the crash yet it is the teachers, doctors and firefighters (and the middle class at large) that are being punished.

    How very disappointing. And discouraging.

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hello jpgreenword, and welcome! Indeed the 2008 crisis was caused by wealth, and, to fight that fire, an ocean of financial gasoline was thrown on it, by the plutocrats servants in government. Indeed, the flames have mostly dispappeared, because the world is getting starved of the life sustaining oxygen of a normally functioning society. Less and less means for the essence of who make society work. In greece the middle class, teachers, doctors, firefighters, even IRS agents, was asked to carry the burden, while the ultra rich (state) Church and shipping tycoons still went tax free.

      But a vast explosion should follow. The demonstrations in Quebec or Morocco are just vague indicators of what could, what should, happen.

      I had a tweet about that:
      So called “austerity”, here, there, and everywhere, is little more than a plot for transferring more money to the richest people, that is, to the very cause of the socioeconomic degeneracy we are witnessing.
      PA

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  7. Dominique Deux Says:

    Old Geezer says

    “What we have is a collection of 27 nations who all speak different languages, have very different cultures and customs, and in many cases really don’t like each other who have banded together for the convenience of commerce and trade, Really, there is no other possible reason.”,

    and thereby proves how foreign he is to Europe and its problems. No offence meant, of course – US problems are Greek to me.

    What you are repeating, OG, is the current talking point of the British and their dwindling coalition of the bribed: “the EEC’s, then the EU’s, purpose is to facilitate trade, period”. They then whine about those clueless fanatics (STATIST fanatics, to make things worse) who dare think of anything remotely federal, denying them any legitimacy.

    Actually, the EU is the latest (but not the last) stage of a very focused process started after WWII. Its clearly stated goal was an united, strong Europe, able to face growing world-scale competition and hostility, and to make intra-European armed conflict a thing of the past. Its “founding fathers” however knew that such a process was doomed if designed and implemented on political lines. So they consciously took the longer path of economic integration, starting with the Steel and Coal Community which really was the hothouse where European cooperation among former hereditary enemies was to be grown and nurtured.

    That was a success story. But the political goal was never forgotten, and never hidden either – the common whine among Europhobes that political union was forced on unknowing, unwilling peoples is just another lie.

    Proof of the above: there was, along with the EEC, a free-trade area, EFTA. British-led, of course. When it failed miserably, the UK applied for EEC membership, very clearly stating through its PM Callaghan that it was aware of the EEC’s political purpose, and agreeing with it. Whether Callaghan was sincere or not is a moot issue.

    Since then, the UK has done everything in its power to derail the project, and has succeeded beautifully, with a three-pronged approach:

    – focus on the united market, to the exclusion of any other development, demanding and often getting exemption of any rule and regulation not having to do with the united market;

    – pushing for extension of the EU membership to countries sufficiently diverse, far away and just non European that political union was made less feasible with each new accession;

    – sending their best and brightest civil servants to staff the EC, where their capacities (and native English speaking) soon gave them a disproportionate weight, which was to be used for HM’s not so secret service first, and to the EU’s service last, if ever.

    All of this is common knowledge, freely admitted by the UK at various times. The above strategy was outlined by the Economist’s Charlemagne in his chronicle immediately following the French and Dutch referendums of 2005, which he celebrated as a British victory, duly reminding his readership of the one unmovable central goal of English diplomacy and warring for the past five centuries: prevent any centralized Continental leadership to come into being, at any cost.

    I am not blaming the UK, any more than I would blame a scorpion for stinging me. I even admire its unflinching gall when it reminds the hoi polloi that, really, old boy, the thing was never meant to go beyond a free trade area. If anything, I blame the Continental politicians which either were blind to the trick (through lack of historical culture) or gleefully went along, out of fear of a dominant German-French axis (a genuine issue).

    But I could not leave your assertion go unchallenged. Please don’t fall to Downing Street/Canary Wharf propaganda!

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Dominique Deux: Inasmuch as it would hurt me to offend Old Geezer, I do agree with the points you make. It’s not the whole picture, but it pretty much sums it up as far as the Anglo-Saxon axis is concerned. It’s an enormous subject, and the coincidence of American and English aims, and entangled whole. They agreed on one thing, though: suppress Germany (by encouraging its fascism, as early as may 1914, when “Colonel” House was sent to the Kaiser to speak francophobia and racism shared, with the Kaiser, grandson of Queen Victoria), suppressing France (by using Germany and little loud dogs such as Keynes).

      It worked all very well. The boom of the 1920s was deliberately engineered to extinguish British debt from WWI, but all it did was to explode the Great Depression, an occasion for the USA to deploy its muscle by rising tariffs 50%, and causing a pre-war situation the USA could only profit from, being an island continent with the largest, ultra modern economy. Meanwhile, USA plutocracy was supporting the fascist regimes in Europe as much as possible, knowing full well that those enemies of democracies could dismantle the European empires attached to said democracies…

      And so on, and so forth. So here we are. And its thrown in our face; the airport in Washington is named after a nazi, one of hitler’s very important collaborators. But better talk about french collaborators; those amounted to little. The details have hidden the big picture, very successfully so.

      More later, I have enjoined, in no uncertain terms, to participate in the family dinner…
      PA

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    • Old Geezer Says:

      I hope I have not offended you, DD. That is what this discussion is for, I presume. And PA has posted above me here about how the US/UK “special relationship” was very likely the cause of the great catastrophic wars of the 20th century. After all, Germany moved from being a loose confederation of Baronies in the 19th century to a 20th century powerhouse, passing the Brits in the production of steel and (more importantly) battleships. Not a good thing if you are an island empire. So, the UK, France and Russia joined the triple entente, boxing Germany in. Germany also suffered from having lots of coal but no oil. She started to build the Berlin to Baghdad Railway in 1903. This also p*ssed off the Brits who thought they controlled all the oil in the middle east. I believe it was a part of that railway that was bombed in the film, “Lawrence of Arabia.”

      I agree with DD that the EU stems from the Coal and Steel Community, an outgrowth of the Schumann Plan after WWII. Putting (West) Germany and France together was the guarantee that there might be a hope for peace in a ravaged Europe. I still marvel that there has been peace in Europe for 60 years.

      But I stand on my belief that the Eurozone was more of a commercial convenience than a real union. That is why they could never get past the Maastrict Treaty and form a Federal Union, a “United States of Europe” which is what would have prevented the crisis it now faces.

      In the US, the states contribute and receive DIFFERENT amounts of money via the federal tax system. California, where I live, gets about 70 cents for every dollar its residents pay in. Alabama gets about $1.40 for every dollar. Sadly, the money is spent largely on military appropriations, but that is just a political choice – it could also have been spent on highways, trains, or fiberoptic cables. Or even education and welfare. But the federal tax system equalized the differences among the states. Europe lacks this mechanism. And she needs it.

      Keep posting, people. I love to read them.

      OGP

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      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Dear OGP, DD, PH, ML, etc: if one wants to be serious about European unification, one has to go back to, well, at least Europa of old, namely Achean Greece. Or even Ramses II. He tried to extent Egypt throughout, but met the Hittites. He won by the skin of his teetha famous battle, in present day Syria. later, convincingly and magnificently, he made peace with the Hittites. However, relatively soon, those were wiped out by the mysterious “Peoples of the Sea”. Egypt was nearly defeated. Out of that later came the Etruscans, who went all the way West to preset day Italy, then a wild place, where they colonized the savage farmers around Rome. As Rome grew, republic and democracy proved superior to all, until they crashed into plutocracy, that is.

        And so on. Maybe I should write a essay on this, the idea and necessity of Europe. especially nowadays, where the world is about as large as antique Greece. Or maybe Attica.

        It’s not a question of unification. It’s a question of under what regime would that unification proceed. Wall $treet-Krugman-Romney’s Quantitative Easing, all the “monetary base” to the banks, or European broadmindedness? Or still something else? Wall $treet, led by Goldman Sachs, manned by 20,000 hedge funds, is successfully conducting its offensive. it reminds me of may 1940, when a “torrent” (Gamelin gamely said) of German tanks were streaming into France. Do we have enough “masse de manoeuvre” (Churchill) to counter-attack? France just changed commanders, as in May 1940…
        PA

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      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        OGP: The Mas-strict Treaty had lots of ridiculous defects, that’s why it was rejected in referenda by France and Netherlands within a week. I am myself fanatically pro-European empire, however I though Maastricht looked pretty lame. The question unsolved in Europe is how you tie up the minnows together nicely with the super powers (which is what the UK and France are, while Germany is still hobbled in various important ways, some of them subtle, such as its natural tendency to obey orders decisively barked by the powers that be).

        There is a desire for more federalism, in Europe, according to need. The psychology of Europeans about the EU is impacted by the tactic of national governments to always accuse “Brussels” of all unsavory policies they have to embrace. The EU has many aspects and dimensions. The European space and astronomy programs are NOT been gutted as those of the USA ones are. Far from it; they are lavishly financed. A massive mission to Jupiter icy moons (“JUICE”), a super giant telescope, 42 meters across, and where the USA betrayed, now Russian collaboration has been called in to land on Mars…

        As DD said, though, the expansion of many a European privilege to the unwashed back east, has prevented deepening of the EU, as intended by the City of London (you know, that official plutocracy). Another point: every body knew that the Drachma got converted into the Euro at twice its rate. At the time, everybody laughed about the naivety of the Greeks. Laughter has died down.

        Logically, the Greeks ought to become twice poorer to re-establish the balance they desperately seek. Indeed, Greeks are richer than, say, the Slovaks, who, not only have profitable heavy (car) industry, but also have to give money to the much richer Greeks… At the rate things are going, this ought to be promptly corrected, whatever the Europhobic Krugman is howling to the sky about.
        PA

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      • Paul Handover Says:

        OGP, whole-heartedly agree with you about reading the contributions to this Post – just fascinating. Just wanted to add, as well, that last week’s Economist had a full briefing feature on Europe wherein they raised some very uncomfortable questions as to the choices facing the EU and especially the Euro zone.

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  8. Paul Handover Says:

    Again, I sit here in awe at the levels of knowledge displayed. And the ‘I’ should really be a ‘we’ as I have read the post and comments out aloud to Jean, my wife, and she shares my love of hearing such erudite thoughts.

    But (the sycophancy has a price!) then comes the obvious question. Will we see a river of change peacefully flow through our societies in time to prevent what feels like impending global chaos?

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Paul: thank you for Jean’s and your’s appreciation.

      I think that any correct effort to avoid disaster will have to be preceded by thorough appreciation (speaking of appreciation!) of what truly happened. Global chaos cannot be avoided if the forces causing it have not been identified.

      Simple question: why do American Jews tolerate so readily to have the airport of the capital named after one of the most efficient collaborators the Nazis had? Dulles was no collaborator in Marshall Petain’s style. Petain was incensed by French politicians having declared war on Germany, and wanted to avoid further bloodshed. He faced disaster, he thought he was mitigating it. So he negotiated with Hitler.

      The Dulles brothers, representing inside the USA, as lawyers, more than 100 Nazi companies did so to enrich and empower themselves, and by shared ideology. Their careers, collaborating with Nazis, would span more than three decades. They represented an enormous class who saw in Nazism a business opportunity, and milked it for all it was worth.
      PA

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  9. Old Geezer Says:

    Dear PA:

    We USAians have been bitching at our “Brussels” for centuries. We have even fought a nasty civil war over it. And we (speaking for myself) don’t agree with or even like many people in other states (deep south, par example).

    YET, we have managed to work together as a fiscal unit. We Californians subsidize those deep south states (not always with a smile, but always with a signed check) and as a result, America works.

    Europe is new to this game and has not yet figured out that all her members must pitch in, even if begrudgingly, to make Europe work.

    And the cynical side of me would not put it past the likes of Goldman to be trying to financially destroy the fledgling union.

    “BECAUSE IT’S WRECKABLE.” – G. Gecko.

    Like

  10. Dominique Deux Says:

    “But I stand on my belief that the Eurozone was more of a commercial convenience than a real union.”

    Dear Old Geezer, first, of course, no offence meant or felt. Debate in the search of truth is the name of the game. I especially appreciate that, on this specific blog, notions which would be laughed down by the usual ignorant and prejudiced mob are examined for their intrinsic worth by people with very serious historical, economical etc. backgrounds.

    There is no blueprint for the development of the European Union. Or rather, there was no blueprint at inception and for the first decades. So I can only contribute my own memories of what was said and discussed, I am old enough to claim full geezership. I have never been anything more than a foot soldier in those developments which shaped today’s Europe; I did meet and discuss with some of the main actors, such as Giscard d’Estaing and Delors, but the topic was not Europe and I can only say that those two were serious, committed people with an agenda.

    We all know that the testimony of foot soldiers is worth almost nothing when it comes to understanding a battle’s events, as was illustrated by Tolstoy’s War and Peace or Stendahl’s Le Rouge et le Noir. However, it is irreplaceable on one subject – the mindset of the group they were part of, including the storytelling they were hearing about the grand events they were part of.

    For example, allowing myself a digression, when there was that silly rift between France and the US about Iraq, there was a thing I was completely sure of: the French people, of its own decision, in its majority rejected the WMD spiel as preposterous and did not want France to take part in the invasion, in stark contrast with its support to the earlier Gulf War. So France’s stance stemmed first and foremost from this very deeply-felt popular feeling, which ran contrary to Chirac’s own (documented) intentions to boost his own popularity through the common device of parading in military laurels, as Mitterrand had done and as Sarkozy would do. A consummate demagogue in dire need of popular support, he made an U-turn just in time and was amazed at the success of his new stance, as his popularity shot up even among foreign countries. Instantly insults flew about the French being bribed cowards. My point however is that, as a simple French citizen, I knew with absolute certainty that our stance came from people who had not been bribed or cowed, France’s citizenry.

    In the EEC/EU’s case, I can similarly affirm that the ultimate goal of a real, organic Union was at the heart of all EEC/EU initiatives until 2005 or so. Not a word about it in formal agreements (although preambles to treaties were easily deciphered), The absence of a blueprint was mentioned several times, always with the idea that it was the condition of success. But the political goal was quite clear, and PM Callaghan acknowledged it (and agreed to it) when he pushed through British adhesion.

    That approach was vindicated by the EEC’s early successes, and a contrario by the derailment which occurred after Maastricht, when blueprints were at long last drafted and provided. As feared by the Founding Fathers, they were the source of intense bickering, We know the outcome. Giscard, once a young reformer, had turned into a decrepit geezer (sorry) with delusions of grandeur, who, entrusted with drafting a technical treaty, would not deign to write anything but a Constitution. Catastrophe followed, as the text’s many unsavory elements (not always the same for everyone) were feared to be ‘engraved in stone’ rather than mere technicalities to be adjusted or deleted as majorities shifted in the Union’s elected and executive bodies. A bit like a situation where the US Constitution would include an Amendment to the effect that only the Democratic Party could field Presidents!

    That catastrophe left all “federally focused” elements of the EU’s construction firmly mired, while the extension of the Union and the deepening of the single market were free to surge ahead. This was a godsend to the British, possibly even an engineered one. They pushed relentlessly in those two directions, all the while repeating (in that courteous, smug, sanctimonious, and commiserating way which has been polished over centuries by the Foreign Office) that this was the original, unadulterated nature and goal of the EU: a well-functioning single market, period. That after-the-fact, most convenient storytelling is not the prevailing one in the English-speaking world: it is the only one – one wonders why.

    That does not make it true, though.

    Sorry for the sermon – those issues tend to bring out the worst in us Euros.

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear DD: I agree basically with all you said. A point about the Euro. President Mitterand (who started his political career at a high level of the Vichy Junta, and thus in direct contact with the Nazis), offered a bargain to his gut Freund Kanzler Helmut Kohl: in exchange for French support on German re-unification, abandonment of the Deutsch Mark, and replacement by the Euro. Kohl agreed, and he is not amused by the shenanigans of his ex-protegee, and dauphine, Merkel.

      There is little doubt that Merkel has been strongly influenced by her DDR background, including her provincial approach. If the French socialists win, the legislative elections, she will have no choice, but to surrender to a growth strategy.

      A distantly related point; in Anglo-Saxonia, the propaganda agaist the Euro is relentless. And headed by Krugman, and a thousand hedge funds, which see blood in the water, seconded by the Wall Street Journal, thus demonstrating that a lot of the American liberal wing is just plutocracy in liberal clothing (to dissimulate their girth).

      It all makes sense, as both W$ and Krugman find New York City incomparably beautiful, especially when continually showered by the infinite wealth of Quantitative Easing.

      Put a world wide finance transaction tax, and start public banks to invest in the real economy, and all this beautiful flower of evil, will shrink.

      But nowadays, another evil seems to be blossoming, namely in Syria. It’s also apparently fostered by Putin, the Russian Czar. As this is increasingly confirmed, we face another front against the principle of democracy. It also has to be adressed. The blossoming of so many drastic problems at once is no coincidence. As in the 1930s, as in the invasions of Rome, evils unadressed encouraged other evils to try their luck too.
      PA

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  11. Paul Handover Says:

    Dear DD, just finished reading your comment above slowly with 100% focus on your words. What a fascinating depth of history you display.

    Which brings me to another reflection – the majority of my comments on this Blog seem to demonstrate an appalling lack of understanding of my roots and history. (Born a Londoner, I still see the world as an Englishman first, despite now being a resident of Arizona!) That lack of understanding may show me as an eccentric idiot but the truth is that 99% of my background is business and entrepreneur based.

    Which is why reading your words is so illuminating. These times do come across as increasingly stark in the contrast between what so many peoples of so many countries know what needs to be done for a sustainable humanity and our leaders actions – funny old world!

    Like

  12. Old Geezer Says:

    PH- Thank you for all your kind words.

    DD – The only benefit of geezerhood is that we have all seen and lived through a lot. I am 70. The same history that used to put me to sleep in college is now starting to make sense. Such is life.

    The Brits and Americans may, in fact, want the Euro project to fail. That said, the only way for it to succeed IMHO is for them to form a political union, which they all seem to want to avoid because it relinquishes some sovereignty.

    Granted. But the Eurozone countries have about 3 Trillion E in debt, but only about 1.2 Trillion in backstop money between the ESF, the ECB and the new fund whose name I don’t recall. THAT IS NOT ENOUGH.

    The international banksters (AKA the “markets”) have much much more. And they will destroy each sovereign government one at a time.

    Because they can, and there is profit to be made in doing so.

    To think that a tiny country like Greece, which accounts for maybe 2% of EU GDP could be the straw that broke the camel’s back. If you had suggested this 5 years ago I would have laughed. Hell, 5 years ago I had German bonds (denominated in E) in my retirement account.

    How things have changed.

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear OGP: Amen to all you said. A currency expresses the will of a state. That state does not exist in Europe. Does the will exist? Without either will, nor state, the currency looks imperilled, indeed.

      The plutocrats see also a threat in the EU, not just an opportuity for profit. True, as OGP says, when they are finished with Europe, they will come for the USA, and ask for rent too. Then Krugman will see interest rates explode up. But no doubt he will have another funny story to tell why it should happen…

      The French, especially the French socialists, have been the true drivers of Europe. We have to see if they are going to win the legislative elections. At this point, this is the most important factor, by far. If they do, we know that Hollande has already made an ally of Spain (ultra conservatives) and italy (technocrat-conservative-progressist). Merkler will have to surrender to such a coalition.
      PA

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