The Friends of California Libre...

13 March 2005

The European Dream

Greetings, friends,
Here's a nice long one I've been saving up for you. From "whither Canada", I've moved much further away to the shores of Europe. I feel safer there...safer than a judge in the US, that's for certain.

But first, a little Internet amusement...this time, the "Human Clock":

Anyway, I was lucky enough to see another absurd episode of "Mission: Impossible" the other day. Politics were much simpler back in the 1960s. This time, instead of rigging a Third World election (with an Allen wrench), the IMF do-gooders were assigned to keep four Nazi kinder from Argentina (natch) from laying their dirty facist mitts on $300 million in gold hidden somewhere in Zurich, Switzerland. After the usual round of fights, druggings, secret microdots and one hypnotized Swiss bank manager, the gold was traced to a nearby cemetery (which looked a lot more like Forest Lawn than Friedhof.) The American agents followed their Nazi treasure map to a tomb marked "Braun". "Of course!" snapped Mr. Briggs. "Eva Braun!" After yet another gun battle with the Nazi kinder, a few shots at the tomb knock off the exterior marble and reveal that the gold isn't hidden inside, but the tomb itself is SOLID GOLD! WOW!

Holy shit! WHAT! Excuse me, but I thought Eva Braun, after being partially cremated with her boyfriend Adolf, was unceremoniously buried by the Soviets in Magdeburg, and then dug up and cremated for real in 1970. Of course, they didn't know this in 1967. I also would like to note (I am a librarian after all) that $300 million in gold (which was $35 an ounce in 1967) would weigh 267 tonnes, or 242 metric tonnes. That's one f-ing heavy grave!

Whatever. So here's a guy who liked Canada even more than I:
Man caught cold in quest for love

So let me mount my soapbox for a moment...I finally finished that massive tome by Jeremy Rifkin, The European Dream. Although I can't really recommend it to you unless you have a week or two to kill, it's a magnificent work by a true wonk, dense with factoids, heavily researched and yet unabashedly biased, with plenty of deep philosophical arguments to keep you confused. I really enjoyed it, and it gave focus to differences between Europe and the United States. We are not just participating in a different lifestyle. The differences are sharp, deep, and bound to get deeper.

And so I say again: WHITHER CANADA? Will you follow your neighbours in the United States, who enjoyed the same expansionist history, if a bit rougher? America is the pinnacle of 18th century Enlightenment thought, where government serves to protect the rights of all to enjoy their property. BECAUSE that is an Enlightenment ideal; that freedom is autonomy is private property.

But Europe continued to develop beyond the Enlightenment. While we perfected our democracy, expanding into the nearly empty West, Europe was trapped. To them, property was massacre, strikes, revolutions, wars, death on a fantastic scale. And so ironically, Europe was perfectly positioned for the modern age: the age of globalization, the Internet, networks, instantaneous communication. The great political force of the Enlightenment was the nation-state, which guaranteed property rights. The great political force of our global age is the transnational society, the civil society, which guarantees universal human rights. And, Rifkin says, this is the function of the European Union, which will never be a United States of Europe. The EU does not control territory; it protects rights WHICH EXTEND ACROSS THE BORDERS OF NATIONS. If I'm shouting, it's because I had a revelation; this is the future of the Earth. Whether the UN is the ultimate world government or not, the future of the human race is and must be the "civil society"; a set of transnational rules which protect ethnicity, race, color, sex, gender preference; all the things which mean nothing to the fake myths of the nation-state.

And suddenly it all makes sense. The great British Empire was right for its bloody time. And now England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are projected 1500 years into the past, when the concern was not control of property and trade; but the survival of their individual cultures and their contribution to the whole human race. AND THAT'S THE EUROPEAN DREAM! I can't wait to jump right in. I'll see you guys in May, and MAYBE I WON'T COME BACK!

And now, something completely different; thinking back to "The Night Porter", I stumbled upon the adventures of a real-life night porter in Paris:

Yeah, and I thought those hillbilly photos from the last screed were a little suspect:

We're all going to look like hillbillies in this country if we don't get our shit together.
Dollar: The Warning
By Philippe Reclus
Le Figaro

But here's some good news; even if we go down, the other millions of species might survive, thanks (yeecch) to the Russians:
** Kyoto Protocol comes into force **
The Kyoto Protocol that aims to slow down global warming takes effect but the US remains outside it.
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Think it's a joke? Check out the enclosed photos of the Upsala Glacier in southern Argentina.

If the Europeans flex their muscle against the US for anything, friends, it will and should be the Kyoto agreement. We can't worry about putting George Bush on trial for war crimes if we're all under 10 metres of salt-water.
Link to article:

Not even all the Europeans know exactly what to do to comply with Kyoto; but at least the questions are being asked.
** Germany split over green energy **
Germany's ambitious green plans - including phasing out nuclear power - could trigger an energy crisis, critics warn.
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The United States pretends to be very powerful, but short of invading a country or dropping an H-bomb on them, we don't have much moral influence any more.
A Less Super Superpower
By Jonathan Schell

That honour now falls to the transnational model of the EU:
Speakers paint rosy picture of 'United States of Europe'

Of course, George Bush and his Christian friends think that the End Times are upon us, so Europe is just a puppet of the Anti-Christ that means nothing. Think I'm exaggerating? You need to watch more of the evangelicals on TV. It's truly amazing what these people believe.
** Differences define allies' rhetoric **
President Bush's European trip may have been a diplomatic success, but divisive issues do remain, says Paul Reynolds.
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Yeah, George's trip to Europe went great. If only we could all get along so well.
Bush Threatens Reprisals over EU Arms Sales to China
By Stephen Castle
The Independent U.K.
Bush and Chirac Reopen Wounds
By Roland Watson and Anthony Browne
The Times U.K.

As The European Dream stated so eloquently (and at such enormous length), two visions of the world are at loggerheads; the linear, direct forward "progress" of the Enlightenment, and a spatial, networked and sustainable human society:
Europe - United States: The Two Universalisms
By Pierre Rosanvallon
Le Monde

Not to mention, Europeans have sexier ways of living. Look at the Finns, who I discover have been basking by hot rocks for over two-thousand years:
The Finnish Sauna Society
History and information about the traditional Finnish sauna, including a recommended sauna procedure, the development of the Finnish sauna, and brief information about other types of sweat baths. Includes illustrations. In English and Finnish. The Finnish Sauna Society is "a cultural association founded in 1937 to foster the heritage of the national bath."

And they have modern innovations, like this wolf-proof doggy suit:
Wolves in for a Shock

Seriously, we're seeing a friendly game get a lot nastier. Suppose Europe started playing all their friends in the Third World off against the United States? Oh, yeah, they're already doing it:
Link to article:

The Russians tipped the scales for Kyoto, and they're tilting it in favor of the Europeans, regardless of their difference over the Baltic states, the Ukraine and Kaliningrad:
Link to article:

Although I'm not sure even I agree with this article, they make Vladimir Putin out to be not such a bad dude:

Still, he's stiff compared to the European leaders:
Could Tony Blair have been a rock star?

Seriously, the EU is at a crucial point; in a century, when George Bush is hopefully a footnote the likes of Millard Fillmore, the EU constitution will be the turning point of civil society at the opening of the 21st century. The first votes in favor are already coming in:
** Spain voters approve EU charter **
A clear majority of Spaniards vote in favour of the EU constitution in a referendum, but with a low turnout.

And there are plenty of countries waiting right behind; there are the new members of the EU, finally starting to realize the depth of the benefits:
'New Europe' renews its links with the old
The Boston Globe
Citizens of Central Europe who once pledged allegiance to the U.S. are now recalling their European roots.

Many other countries are in line for the future:
European Commission approves 2007 EU accession bid by Bulgaria, Romania
The European Union Commission approved on Tuesday the accession bids by Bulgaria and Romania to enter the European Union in 2007, the first procedural step leading to the signature of adhesion treaties scheduled on April 25.

In Belarus and Moldova, hopes for democracy
International Herald Tribune
The popular uprisings in Georgia and Ukraine have raised the morale of the small opposition movements in Belarus and Moldova.
Ukraine Asks for EU Talks by 2007Link to article:

Even the relatively wealthy countries of Iceland and Norway, on their own since World War II, are thinking of joining the union of civil society:
Link to article:

I've been wondering if I might become a personal part of the most interesting accession debate in the near-future of the EU, that of Switzerland. It's a tough place, Switzerland; not for the weak of heart:

But the Swiss are just as goofy as everyone else:
Swiss driver rapped for nighttime speeding spree

The point it, the rest of world is looking forward. The US is making the Bible, a creation story which competes with the Popul Vuh and the Vedas, into a 21st century policy document. All the barbarity inflicted on gays, artists, writers, dissidents, even non-Christians in this country is rooted in the Bible. And while we're happily praying, our neighbours are reaching for the Moon, literally:
CNN .com - Japan mulls moon base - Feb 28, 2005*
** Europe's super-rocket rides high **
Europe's most powerful rocket to date, the Ariane 5-ECA, blasts off from a spaceport in French Guiana.
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Remember the filmed argument between Nikita Khrushchev and Richard Nixon back in 1959? Nixon said (blowing Nikita's mind), "There are some instances where you may be ahead of us, for example, in the development of the thrust of your rockets for the investigation of outer space. There may be some instances in which we are ahead of you; in color television, for instance."

And this arrogance continues:
Sexy Moans for San Francisco Mobile Phones

Oh, that's useful. How about this product; this is a good Christian salve for the sins of the world:
Maximum Pain is Aim of New U.S. Weapon
By David Hambling
The New Scientist

I mean, how cool is the universe that MY God left for us to hike all over? That's where we should be going:
** Mars pictures reveal frozen sea **
A huge, frozen sea lies just below the surface of Mars, a team of European scientists announces.
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Well, nobody's perfect. No German will ever be one-upped by an American for rudeness:
Ageing German crooners hit wrong note with fans

Or a failure to grasp reality:
Neo-Nazis Upstage Dresden Memorial
By Luke Harding
The Guardian U.K.
5,000 people take part in a funeral march to the music of Wagner to mourn civilians killed by the allied bombing raids.
Giant Swastika Carved Near Berlin Airport

Admittedly some European cities, while breathtakingly lovely, also seem ready to fall apart:
Mary Blume: Tidy Paris? Try seething petri dish
International Herald Tribune
Not only does its exceptionally high population density suggest quantities of microorganisms but its shape is as round and as enclosed as a laboratory plate.

But if there's one European country that deserves credit for hypocrisy, I'd have to vote for my ancestors over in Jolly Old England:
Less Swearing on TV, Demands Former Sex Pistol

Vive le screed, and vive l'Europe!

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