March 7, 2013
We are living interesting times. That is a certainty. But as much as they are interesting they are perilous.
I have spent the better part of this week reading and listening to all sorts of execs and politicians – EU wide, with a larger quota of Romanian politicians and execs since I happen to live here, and I am bombarded with such info.
The EU is under attack – all across the union voices of nationalism are rising. Messages of hate have filled the public space recently. I take this term from the movie “V for Vendetta” – in the movie this line was used on the public television to denominate the actions and messages of the character known as V. But what was once a fictional depiction of a lesser future is slowly turning into everyday live.
Romania and Bulgaria’s admittance in the Schengen Area has caused a lot of ink to be spilled, in Romania at least, and a lot of TV time has been directed at the subject. But what has transpired among these debates is much more worrying to me than the Schengen admittance in itself.
What I noticed was a rebirth of the national discourse, with big words such as national dignity and pride. Whilst the latter can be directed in good directions, the obvious utterance of terms like national dignity worries me. Because it is the herald of bad attitudes, of infatuations with what was once the nationalistic agenda promoted by the national communism of the Ceausescu years. Prevalence of such views in media has also increased. And adding to all this, I’ve started seeing mainstream politicians using stereotypes and foul language at the expense of other MS’s.
I am afraid that the values I uphold will soon become undesirable, and in the not so distant future a cause for concern.
Many have told me that this too shall pass and that in 5 years’ time nothing of this will have survived. History cautions me to be less easygoing on such themes. Ever since the primavera dei popoli such themes and attitudes have always managed to find their way in the public discourse, successfully or not. But they have always been there.
Marie le Pen calls for a referendum in France to decide on staying or leaving the EU. Movimento 5 stelle in Italy advocates for a similar agenda. Extremist factions in Greece have also called for a distancing from the union. There are those in Romania which would like this to also happen here, albeit public support for something like this is not really there. The UK has turned this alienation from the EU into something close to public policy, including the referendum PM David Cameron announced within this decade.
Is the EU falling apart or are MS’s seeing a rebirth of nationalism unrivaled in the past 50 years?
I would call on the second – economic crisis has always brought upon the world a rebirth of rather extreme and intense ideals. The need to put the blame on someone has always been comforted by denominating that someone as someone not indigenous. Whether this turned onto other states or ethnic groups within the national territory is a whole different debate. This time around it was the bankers, but in recent developments this has turned from bankers to the EU.
Which is much more curious – if in the case of bankers & banks you can put the blame on profit quest and banking policies that were indeed put together by a select number of few, in the case of blaming the EU this whole accusation does not stand. And it does not stand because as it is the case today with top level decision making there is nothing imposed, and most decisions are negotiated to the bone. Of course, we need to factor in the local politicians. It’s easier to approve something in Brussels and then come home and claim you we’re bullied into accepting and that this or that measure is actually wrongfully imposed.
But beyond that, what really worries me is public response.
Grooming electors is a continuous process. After one election is won, the next is to be considered, and then the next and so on. Usually most people assume that an elected official will worry about his re-election only a year ahead of elections. But that is most likely not true. Whilst you can change voter base during time in office, no politician ever alienates voters at any time during the mandate. Unless he has no choice in it, or she/he is a responsible politician (haven’t seen too many of those at late).
But if let’s say 4 years in a row you bitch and moan about the EU, tell everybody how the EU is unjustly imposing this or that on the people, disrespect EU legislation and then accuse the EU that it imposes sanctions without cause – what will the people vote after those 4 years I wonder?
And this is quite possible – people are less aware of EU legislation or modus operandi than you might expect. And in some respects it is the fault of the EU administration in part. Because the way information campaigns are funded and directed is pale and unworthy in comparison with the time and press space awarded to a European Council meeting for example.
And in some respects the EU is just not down to earth enough to actually cause dialogue with the average citizen.
I am afraid. I’m afraid for my future. And for the future of my ideals and expectations.