c h a n g e o f p a c e

990217.2133 tamarisk farm

something a bit different , since you’ve probably got the message by now that a ) i love it out here and b ) i could write more or less endlessly about it .

on page twenty-six of last saturday’s guardian there was a big article headlined < where the jobs will be in the us of e [ that should be a dinky euro symbol , but my mac’s too old to have one in its character set ] > . it proposes that the industrial map of europe will look very different by 2010 ( by which time britain , sweden , denmark and greece are assumed to have joined the euro , naturellement ) . instead of the current messy distribution of enterprises in each member state , it presents a future in which car manufacture is concentrated in germany , domestic appliances are made in italy , pharmaceuticals in britain , chemicals in the netherlands , mobile phones in finland , and so on .

reading this sent a shiver down my spine . just the day before i had been discussing europe with a friend here . until recently i have been unequivocally pro-union . but gradually i found myself hanging back from arguing the case so strongly , without really knowing why . it was only a month or two ago that i put my finger on what was nagging me . it is this : the federal european state off which the dust-sheets are now being pulled is in almost every respect identical to that proposed in the late 1940s .

surely that can’t be right ? that was fifty years ago . can you think of any vision proposed that long ago which does not now seem ludicrously dated and simplistic ?

that initial vision was forged in an understandable determination that another european war must be averted at any cost . the character of the vision was essentially french in its belief that rational bureaucratic systems were the appropriate means to the end . and so the project began , quiet but unswerving . nothing could be allowed to distract or modify it , such was the obsessive sense of mission which filled those who worked for it . public debate least of all .

it seems absolutely clear that a european amalgamation of some kind is desirable , even vital . but possessed as we are of an understanding of society and economy unimaginably more complex and chaotic than that held half a century ago , would we not envision something organic , flexible and dynamic rather than the centralized , bureaucratic , hierarchic union into which our nations have been invisibly coerced ?

the kind of industrial rationalization proposed by the guardian article is nothing new . it was the policy pursued by the french government in the 1950s and 1960s . indeed the article used the very phrase < national champion > usually used to describe the french policy . it is the first time i have heard it used in any other context . one only has to look at consequent behemoths like bull computer and air france to realise the risks of a policy based on such simplistic , rationalist assumptions .

do we honestly trust ourselves to such an old-fashioned future ?

interested to hear anybody’s thoughts . at least two wanderer recipients live in euro-member countries . several live outside europe altogether . so , some different perspectives . mail any thoughts to me at charles@circus.org.uk if you feel like it .

it’s a cold blustery night , perfectly clear . out here where there is no light pollution the sky is filled with stars . cold steel points in a deep black firmament . i shall wrap up warm , collect my tiny maglite torch and walk down to where the surf crashes upon the rocks .

: cH

ps – this just in . i quote verbatim from an official eu bulletin , relating to new legislation ( decision no 276/1999/ec ) to combat < illicit material > on the internet :
The Decision calls for the creation of a network of “hotlines”, or call centres, to which illegal content can be reported. It also includes plans to assess the legal implications of imposing regional restrictions on an international network, and for activities to foster international cooperation in these areas.
better watch those expletives , jim …

: cH


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