Euro-vision

4.0.05

The famous singing contest brings continent together by indulging in nationalism.
I imagine Europe with a vision different from television.

This text was written by author cherishing liberal society, as much as the right for individual's self-alignment with his/hers natural predispositions, the right for expressing ones identity, the right for choosing ones lifestyle, author concerned about minorities struggling with prejudices (being a member of couple of minorities myself). Especially I do value the right for scrutinizing any subject of interest and importance from multiple perspectives, even the unpopular ones, without it meaning taking sides or accepting labels. My rede is "do what you want, if it concerns yourself and does not harm the others". I do not worship multiculturalism, I like the idea of multiculturalism, to certain extent, I'd like to ensure its survival, I attempt to preserve the better of it. Please do not judge this article by first impression, nor by penultimate paragraph. Please do not get infuriated by words, sentences or chapters - rather try to grasp the message of the whole complex work. As odd as this preamble reads, as odd the authors feels about feeling obliged to write it, nowadays.

Natural examples of "unity in diversity" - cooperation in specialization

An image to mediate upon: Specialization of cells allowed for complex organisms to evolve. Like human body. With its thinking-capacity, will-power, high-culture in some cases. On the other hand, cell can survive only within the body framework, thanks to the other highly-specialized cells. No cell or organ can live on its own. Brain will die without heart and that will die without stomach. If some individual cells rebel, it is called cancer. Kills the whole body. Conservativism argument. :) On the other hand, little cellular experiments allow for adaptation and evolution - a key to survival. Basics of genetics, primary school. It is always weird/queer/misunderstood/outcast/rebellious talented individuals that drive progress! Not the "normal" "conservative" people who go to office, raise children and wave the flag with a flock. Liberalism argument :) I hope everyone sees that both arguments are valid - in balance with each other.

Jordan Peterson is considered an archdevil by many contemporary liberal-left activists. (Even if the label may sound controversial.) It is true, that conservatives and various obscure self-made right wing activists often like to quote him, or even misquote him, although Peterson does not consider himself conservative or right-wing. He thinks of himself as a centrist and a liberal in classical terms. He voiced a similar position on need for liberal/conservative or right/left balance.

Liberals generate the ideas. Were it only them, chaos would prevail - everything would constantly change, without stable ground, without reference points, without continuity - which are important values for some people (not liberals often, who enjoy chaos). Conservatives implement the ideas. Whatever new and functional invention liberals come up with, conservatives make it into practice and "proven tradition". They believe in it, follow it, repeat it, multiply it, get stuck with it for some time. Were it only conservatives, world would stop at one stage in development, "good old times" for some, unbearable staleness for others.

Right supports markets, which ensure efficiency (not wasting), lean bureaucracy, innovation, generation of wealth. Left supports regulation of market's excesses, amelioration of wealth disproportion, creating social safety net, more environmentally sane public services, all under the roof term of social cohesion. Both are important - to allow entrepreneurs to create something to give from in the first place - and not forgetting to give to those disadvantaged or unsuccessful on market (because they played the game too and allowed the winners to be winners).

Strong federation of equally weak

Another balance to consider is between national or regional identity (which itself comprises polarity of desires of being unique and distinct and in the same time to "be like" others, to fit in, to belong) versus shared values, shared goals, the strength of the big whole. Europe is an absurd concoction of micronations and states too big in local scale, separatism and assimilationism, nationalist narratives resisting the globalization but in the same time suppressing inner diversity and un-sympathetic to sovereignty aspirations of the others. Nation-states revolted against being annexed into bigger wholes (empires, unions) but in the same time use soft and violent power to subdue the nations within and project their own national identity upon them. With a question of solidarity of richer and poorer regions playing into the mess and complicating matters further. What if we gave them a choice regularly, let's say once a hundred years, to determine what entity they want to join into, what state and union they want to be part of?

The post-cold-war world naturally formed into blocks of comparable power. Power as a complex term combining multiple factors that on its own would seem in imbalance. Europe or US have several hundred million people, China and India have a billion each, Russia only hundred thousand. Chinese economy is differently structured than the one of US or EU. Some are more democratic and participative, some totalitarian. More-or-less they are self-sufficient in terms of food and basic resources, though trade between blocks benefits all. Military autonomy combined with self-sufficient economy, distinct resource pool, population and its market production, culture identity and darker forms of political pressure define them as distinct blocks.

It is clear, that discussion between Malta and United States, even if formally considered to be two nations - will never be of an equal with an equal. Likewise for let's say Slovakia and Germany, or Vanuatu and Russia. The diplomatic definition of sovereignty and the nation, based on series of historical coincidence, is ridiculous at some common sense perspective. It's straight male territories, with pee-marked borderlines. On the other hand the blocks have comparable political strength in negotiation with each-other. Specifics of resources and advantages compel them to trade in the market but also to act with dignity, sovereignty and self-confidence in geo-political debates. That was the idea of multi-polar world. However, it worked out a bit more bitterly than expected. Some blocks are voluntary unions (EU) - so far, some are federations in theory (USA, India), some barely on paper (Russia), some not even in fantasy (China). In some, people delegate power (at least symbolically), in some power is over the people. Some are cooperative, some are hostile - in different contexts and different situations.

So we have question of how block plays with the other kids, but also how the block is structured internally. Disproportions work against the cohesion and at the end cast a wrong impression outwards as well. European union, however voluntary nominally, is an assembly of micro-nations, average countries and post-colonial, post-imperialist super states, that still show colonialist affections towards its nominal or historical constituents. Some are diverse and some homogeneous. Some are language based, some ethnicity based, some religion based. Some have nationalist narrative, some offer shared civic identity. The cooperation of this museum of ideologies and identities is a miracle by itself, could be perceived as inner liberal strength, but under the carpet it hides tensions that work ultimately against it. Would there be any chance to reorganize it as a confederation of somewhat equal units, defined along the most prominent cultural distinctions, with flexible and re-draw-able borderlines actually?

Small nations have no chance to be arrogant. They have to join and cooperate, pragmatically, with the whole of the block. No one has disproportionate power over the others. The block is more diverse but in the same time more consistent. Some services can be organized more efficiently (transport and communication infrastructure), with less national(ist) redundancy and self-centered pseudo-diversity ("my technical norms"). Some make sense actually on block level (defense - more focus on outer borders than the inner ones, army deployed to defend the block and not to suppress civic protests inside). The education system can be properly focused on regional identity (preservation of cultural heritage in terms of languages, folklore) without monolithic nationalist anomalies and in the same time to create awareness of the whole (European identity). Only through genuine liberty (Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, UK) it can be an example of voluntary - and therefore more functional and successful - union to the others.

In between extremes

I'm by nature opposed to extremism. I favor balance - between conservative thinking (preserving what's working, safety) and liberal one (innovation, progress); market (incentive) and social (cohesion, solidarity) aspect of economy; technology (progress) and environment (conservation); needs of individuals (whom I love, how I live) and needs of the whole (safety, shared immunity).

Good example of the extremes are on one side USA (on the individualist side, often on behalf of the solidarity, compassion) and on the other side China that believes "health" or "harmony" or "progress" of the whole society stands above individual rights ("Here and there you exterminate some rebelling cells." )

Both of these countries have explored going far to the extreme of its ideology ... as much as coming more to the center. There, in the center, they thrived. Communist China allowing for some individual property and liberties stimulated its development. USA having stronger social feeling (often under Democrats) is always happier and saner place to live in and live with.

As different as they are, still - just imagine, how USA could still exist, if Idaho fought with Ohio on some federal security topic? Or if one Chinese province vetoed another one's stance on Chinese foreign policy?

Blocks of the blocks

Face it, the world is shaped in blocks of more-or-less equal power (even if that power can be differentiated - money, military, technology, human numbers, natural resources).

USA, Canada, Russia, China, India ... the only equal and dignified partner to them I can imagine is EU as a whole. Ideally, as efficient (closely-knit) federation as the other ones.

No nation in Europe is a colonial power owning half of the planet anymore. You think Trump will talk to ... Belgium? Where is it? Or Putin will care about what Austria thinks? Why?

Of course, the other large blocks would have stronger position, if they negotiated with individual & individualistic petty European "Nations", weakened by their fights over brands and titles. EU is stronger and safer as a whole.

Identity and unity, sovereignity and the awareness of whole

A decade ago, before all the crisis erupted, I was writing concerned articles regarding how artificial no-taste euro-pudding pseudo-culture in toxic cocktail with no-debate hurray-to-Europe abandon-the-identity politics can cause a backlash. How individual, regional identity and culture should be preserved - in meaningful way - or it will all come back perverse-d. Today, unfortunately we already live it. As an example, ironically: Environmental motto "consume local products" (because you spend less energy and cause less pollution by transport; because you give jobs to your neighbors; because you preserve unique local varieties of plants) has turned into "eat Slovak potatoes", because with local state symbol engraved by laser on its skin, wrapped in national tricolor package - "it tastes better, it is healthier and you get warm fuzzy feeling of being patriotic"... That's the perversion I speak about. From meaningful regionalism to empty nationalism.

Folklore, language, identity diversity is the great asset of Europe. On the other hand it is its worst pitfall too. The artificial nation states were coming to existence in 18th-19th century, patriotism (devoted faith in almost personified homeland) just replaced previous religious devotions of the same quality. All those (not only European) borders and Nations are quite recent inventions in history! That sort of "modern", stupid, artificial, meaningless patriotism (tricolor? flag? coat of arms? local folk costumes? national dish? most beautiful girls in the world? most macho hockey players?) has caused both WW1, WW2 or even Yugoslav wars. We got already so far in understanding this and so we created EU (imperfect as it is) - now we voluntarily dissolve it?

We need to re-imagine Europe as a body, its different regions (differently suitable for various economic specializations) as organs, that thrive closely working together. If I dream big, I see Europe as a federation - but not of nation states with odd shapes and sizes. Rather regions, ideally self-defined - freely, unthreatened. As a start - EU of Scotland, Burgundy, Euskada, Carpathian Basin, Sardegna - and whoever wants to call itself a "region". Not a "diversity" of artificial great-monolithic-nation identities schizophrenically suppressing their own inner diversity. We can't have mega-countries holding together by force and in the same time tiny principalities with sovereignty coming from who-knows-where. This relict of doublethink is somewhat absurd nowadays. Everyone has self-determination right (even the smallest) or no one (even the biggest).

Think sane: country of size and economic power like Germany - being equal partner (in sense of sovereign nation) of ... Estonia? Slovenia? Malta? it's just artificial boasting boys playing on "states". Territories marked by animal instincts. So that machos can fight over something. Painting their faces in national colors, waving flags and yelling at stadium. Humanity must one day eradicate this, or it won't get far.

I imagine also that small regions or countries or territories would not have these cocky dreams of living on their own. They will all need United Europe. Everyone will have similar negotiation power. At the end, one day, maybe, there won't be any artificial need for nation states anymore. What will be left is just a practical decentralization, in most technical sense of the word.

Where does the East head - east or west?

You just don't imagine how sick and tired I am of local Eastern European political mafia using the EU as a cow for milking (money) and scapegoat for all the blame in the same time.

How horrible is it to see them implement their "illiberal democracy" (Hungary), catholic-patriotic democracy (Poland, already close to fascism) or their own "national flavor of democracy" (anti-queer, anti-green, anti-feminist - like e.g. in all Eastern Europe).

How disappointed I felt when they were knocking on EU's door, though bitterly resisting every tiny bit of 21st century thinking, progressive laws that "bad meddling West" wanted to impose on them, "directly from Bruxelles".

This is why I would definitely vote for pan-European MP, not local (national, patriotic, flavored) idiots, who don't see beyond their own nose. MPs that oversee the health and wealth of the Whole, not just regional greed and nationalist pride.

Of course we need to delegate power, decentralize (it's 21st century) but also we need to balance the individual with common. Each region should thrive and not be left out on periphery (that's how I see the hidden needs and fears behind nationalism), but they all benefit from shared strength, security, cooperation as a big Ensemble. They can't tear the Whole apart. Humanity is intelectualizing over the Empire/Province power-balances already for too long!

These days, EU needs tweaking of course:

-accountability, accessibility, approachability ... self-promotion (not propaganda): To make "der volk" see that EU does not only "normalize shape of bananas" but actually influences every-day life, pushes national governments towards 21st century thinking. Be it gay-rights, employee-rights, customer-protection, environmental consciousness. You can't imagine how big the gap is between West and East in this sense - still today - thanks to "national flavors"!!!
-balance of humanity and self-preservation instinct: security vs. terror, borders vs. openness ... this asks for cooperation again
-balance between centralism and sovereignty: Yes, it does not make sense to decide in Bruxelles on what happens in remote Romanian village. Delegation of power. Regions, districts, municipalities, communes, families. Political basics known since times of ancient Persia. But this independence must be balanced by sanity - if the local petty kingdoms start tearing the whole federation apart - everyone will end up worse-off.
-basic standards: Argentina or Taiwan feels more like European country today (in terms of human dignity standards, political culture, law), than Hungary or Poland! EU can do nothing, because unanimous vote is needed and two gone-rogue states abuse right of veto in favor of each other? What sort of internal structure EU has?