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 Antiquity and the New Europe

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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Mon Nov 24, 2008 7:36 pm

Squire wrote:
Indeed, but time to move on, and raise our sights and ambitions. With a cogent set of principles and philosophy we could become a beacon in the decades ahead. We tend to knock the EU, but there are many outside who would dearly like to be part and that aspiration is not solely due to economic consideration.

Absolutely. To start with an economic union was an inspired idea, but it needs to be built on. If all europe means to us is economics then if the economic side loses its incentives the union will unravel. The cultural side should also be encouraged.
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Tue Nov 25, 2008 4:34 am

Hopefully - without going completely off topic - John Waters had an interesting and thought provoking comment in the dreaded Irish Times last week which caught my eye - funnily enough it hasn't been mentioned at all by the partisans of both the pro and anti lisbon camps - probably because in a way - it cuts to the chase in a way that does not come down this way or that on Lisbon.

I thought it was good - make of it what you want

Quote :

It might be wise to heed Ganley's aspirations

There is no charisma in the Lisbon Treaty, nothing that tells us what the EU is all about, writes JOHN WATERS.

DECLAN GANLEY'S suggestion of a new European constitution of 15 or 25 pages seems to have received short shrift at Tuesday's hearing of the Oireachtas Subcommittee on Ireland's future in the EU. The Libertas chairman said that the Lisbon Treaty is dead and should be replaced with a document that would make people "stakeholders in a democratic project of Europe". Given the difficulties involved in arriving at the consensus that paved the way for Lisbon, it would be understandable if those on the defeated Yes side were to shrug off as pious aspiration Ganley's assertion that the referendum result provides an opportunity for a "reinvigoration of the European ideal". But since Ganley is widely regarded as having "delivered" the No vote, it might be wise to listen up.

Since the referendum, there has been a tendency among those who supported the treaty to see the outcome as simply inconvenient and wrong-headed, an
error of judgment rather than a solemn democratic verdict. This may be counter-productive. It would surely be better to contemplate now the challenge Ganley poses, rather than have its logic forced upon us following a second unsuccessful attempt to sell Lisbon to theelectorate. Last week, the Government suffered the ignominy of an invited head of another European state using an official visit to promote opposition to Lisbon. There was disquiet in official,pro-Lisbon circles about the public encounter between Vaclav Klaus and Declan Ganley, and about the Czech president's provocative statementson Lisbon. But perhaps it is time for the Government to think the unthinkable: that Klaus and Ganley are not entirely wrong.

Perhaps it is indeed time for a fundamental reappraisal of the direction of the European project, and perhaps the impetus for this should start here. In considering last June's outcome, there may be a tendency for those on the Yes side to miss the wood for analysing the trees. At first glance,the result seemed to reflect a hotchpotch of unrelated sentiments deriving from mutually exclusive positions, embracing the entire ideological spectrum. Undoubtedly, there seemed to be elements of perverseness in the attitude of some voters, with many asserting their opposition on grounds that were, objectively speaking, baseless. But rather than seeing this as evidence of obtuseness or cussedness, perhaps we should be looking for some deeper element. This much
we know: the Lisbon Treaty failed to satisfy the desires of many Irish people in respect of their continuing relationship with the EU. There
is no reason to believe that this sentiment is changing. It might be possible to hustle through a slightly amended treaty, by picking off a handful of minority concerns, or by scaring enough voters about the consequences of Ireland being cut adrift. But this approach is risky and, anyway, would just sweep the deeper issues under the carpet. Klaus has been dismissed as a reactionary Eurosceptic at odds with his own government. But finding pejorative pigeon-holes for those withdifferent perspectives does not dispose of the issues they raise. And the concerns raised by Klaus and Ganley are not wholly the preserve of
right-wing ideologues. I am reminded of some observations of the immediate predecessor to Vaclav Klaus, Vaclav Havel. In a 1994 speech to the European Parliament, the great Czech dissident, writer, philosopher and president spoke about his response as an enthusiastic Europhile on reading the Maastricht Treaty. He came to the treaty as someone who believed closer integration was essential, not least to countries like his own. But his zeal was dented by the text he encountered. "Into my admiration, which initially verged on enthusiasm," he said, "there began to intrude a disturbing, less exuberant feeling. I felt like I
was looking into the workings of an absolutely perfect and immensely ingenious modern machine. To study such a machine must be a great joy to an admirer of technical innovations, but for me, a human whose interest in the world is not satisfied by admiration for well-oiled machines, something was
seriously missing. Perhaps it could be called . . . a spiritual or moral or emotional dimension. My reason had been spoken to, but not my heart." Every supranational entity in history that has enhanced humanity, said Havel, has been buoyed by a charismatic quality, out of which its structures grew. To be vital, such entities had to offer some key to emotional identification, an ideal that spoke to people and inspired them, "a set of generally understandable values that everyone could share".

It would be untrue to say that the European project has lacked such ideas. But it is certainly true that, here in Ireland, where European integration was largely sold on the amount of funding to be drawn down, there was little communication of a guiding vision. The most urgent task facing the union, Havel concluded, was"the recreation of its charisma", and the first step in this process was the formulation of a "single, crystal-clear and universally understandable political document that would immediately make it evident what the European Union really is".
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PostSubject: In defence of dullness.   Tue Nov 25, 2008 4:45 am

Quote :
Every supranational entity in history that has enhanced humanity, said Havel, has been buoyed by a charismatic quality, out of which its structures grew. To be vital, such entities had to offer some key to emotional identification, an ideal that spoke to people and inspired them, "a set of generally understandable values that everyone could share"

Interesting, attractive, but probably false. Charisma appeals to humans at a non-rational level, and humanity's non-rational level is just as much about burning you at the stake as helping your neighbour.

The incredibly dull, EU well-oiled machine has succeeded in raising living standards, abolishing death penalties, removing a thousand arbitrary restrictions, preventing conflicts...the list goes on, while people's eyes glaze over.

While I would like to see a "common European soul", a vision founded on a common set of European values rather than the dry mechanics of trade and regulation, any such set of values are going to be exclusive of somebody, since otherwise they will be so broad as to be meaningless. I prefer the EU without such a set of values, and without any corresponding need to exclude anybody.

The EU is dull, and that's a good thing. It has no real internal momentum or dynamic, and that'Is a good thing too. A charismatic EU fits into the category of simple and obvious answers that are also wrong.
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