When I was in Europe I loved the Euro. It made everything so easy. Didn’t have to exchange bills; easy to calculate. I loved it for the same reason I love the plastic card you get at Disneyworld, the one that makes every purchase frictionless. No coins, no bills, just a card proffered, a hot dog received. Of course there’s the bill at the end, which isn’t any fun.

I have to admit: the Eurozone troubles have been fascinating to watch. The entire idea seemed like madness to me. Yoking disparate cultures together into a manufactured political union seemed unwise, but I don’t claim to any foresight about how the lazy cultures would drag down the industrious ones; I was just thinking “if I were a Frenchman, I wouldn’t want to submerge my national identity in some transnational fiction. I’d prefer to be French, merci.” And of course they do prefer to be French. A new generation may grow up thinking “I am a European!” but it’s a cotton-candy construct that dissolves upon contact with the hot water of current events. If I were Canadian, would I approve a Hemispheric America consolidation? What does someone in Quebec have to do with someone in the Yucatan?

Culture divides; history shapes; language binds. This doesn’t mean it has to result in conflict or adversarial stances, but they’re givens in human nature, and the most workable system is the one that recognizes them and accommodates them, not the one that pretends they are tissue-thin wisps of an old order that can be swept away with a shiny new broom. Ever tried to sweep up a small piece of tissue? The breeze of the broom makes it dance.

It’ll probably end poorly. I don’t think there will be civil war in any countries, just weary acquiescence to illiberal forces on one side and ever-constricting forces on the other. An English school considers banning alcohol on campus because 20% of the students are Muslim, that’s the former; the latter is more surveillance, more internet monitoring, carbon audits, and so on. Where the illiberal demands collide with the values of the overclass - say, a Muslim innkeeper refuses service to a gay couple - there will be an assertion of the overclass values and a simultaneous carve-out of regions where it is tacitly assumed those values will not be enforced.

As I mentioned after I came back from Europe, I was struck not by the beauty of accumulated history - that I expected - but by its disconnection from anything. The churches are just architecture; the statuary not a bond with the values of the culture, but a thing to take pictures of, and so on. Life is shopping and cafes and the beach. It has its appeal; if I had to go live somewhere else, I’d head to Majorca, which is damned near paradise. But even so: what’s the point? What comes of it all? What’s next?

Is there any next at all? Maybe that’s the problem: you invent democracy, classical music, and perfect representational art, and there’s not a lot left to match your previous achievements. Europe is a highly successful band that hasn’t had a good studio album in three years.

It was this story that got me thinking about this again today: there’s a plan for a new House of European History, and it’s run into a small problem:

They have been arguing, for example, over diverging interpretations of events such as World War II — which EU enthusiasts risibly call the ‘European Civil War’.

Farcically, it’s been decided to omit any exhibit on which agreement cannot be reached.

And because of their differing views about World War II, the museum will begin with an EU ‘year zero’ of 1946.

If you can’t agree on something, then don’t talk about it - a perfect example of what happens when Consensus is enshrined above all else. I suppose that proves their point. “Well, wasn’t the lack of consensus what caused the unpleasantness in the first place?” I suppose; if everyone had agreed to be run by the Germans, there wouldn’t have been war. Peace is a value equivalent to Consensus; if they made statues today of allegorical figures, you wouldn’t have Truth and Justice, but Consensus and Peace. A continent run by Nazis would be technically peaceful, since the internal repression wouldn’t be regarded as a breach of peace. They could burn every untermensch from the Urals to the Portuguese shore, but as long as one government controlled everything, and wasn’t at war with another discrete political entity, there would be Peace.


Meanwhile, it has emerged that a TV propaganda channel for the European Parliament, which has only 830 viewers a day, costs £7 million a year to run — largely because most of the shows telecast are translated into 22 languages — including Gaelic, which is spoken by just 80,000 people.

How does that work? Is it all in one language, with subtitles, or different languages, with subtitles, or does each language get its own hour, with an hour of morse code and another of Esperanto? I’m surprised it gets 830 viewers.

Everything about the EU has always seemed like play-acting - functionaries and mandarins pretending to rule over a thing that does not exist, yet given the power to tax and regulate the people who live in their imaginary land. WW2 was a “Civil War” only if you believe the continent was a single political entity. It’s like calling the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys “Domestic Violence,” because they belonged to the same species.

Anyway, I don’t know why I felt the need to blather about that, but there was precious little else today; I am a boring man with a boring life, at least this week. I did complete the labor-intensive overhaul of the Curious Lucre site, part of the ongoing and grueling root-and-branch revision of the entire damned site. (Next: searchable index pages for the Motel site so someone looking for a particular place will get a Google hit, and the upscaling and street-view overhaul of the Fargo site, which will be a real jolly batch of joy.) Back to the novel now for the final revision.

Oh! Forgot. A new site, with just a few pages, but more to come. Hotel stationery, just because. Have a grand day - see you around.




















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