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Surreal Europe: bottoms-up from the tops-down

Tuesday, 15 May, 2012

There are times, and these are indeed such times, when Europe appears to be the set of a surreal soap opera directed by the ghost of Luis Buñuel. In the latest episode, some of the original supporters of the utterly reckless common currency experiment are now proposing a rescue plan. Topping the bill among the cast of former stars, we have Jacques Delors, former President of the European Commission and mad genius of the euro idea, Helmut Schmidt, the chain-smoking former German Chancellor, and Javier Solana, Spanish socialist and former Secretary General of the Council of the EU. These are but three signatories of a bizzare letter entitled “Let’s create a bottom-up Europe“. Coming from those who helped create a top-down technocratic model of European amalgamation, this is simply too rich for satire. Their manifesto contains such gems as: “We, the undersigned, wish to provide a mouthpiece for European civil society… as a counter to the top-down Europe, the Europe of elites and technocrats that has prevailed up to now and that considers itself responsible for forging the destiny of the citizenry of Europe — if need be, against its will.”

The surreality of this becomes apparent when one realizes that Delors, Schmidt, Solana & Co. were the architects of a system that allowed Greece and Italy to cook the euro entry books. “Europe is also about irony; it is about being able to laugh at ourselves,” say the signatories, realizing, perhaps, the absurdity of their new-found religion.
Europe is also about imagination and it was Luis Buñuel who said: “Fortunately, somewhere between chance and mystery lies imagination, the only thing that protects our freedom, despite the fact that people keep trying to reduce it or kill it off altogether.”

It will take a great feat of imagination now to protect freedom from the top-down hypocrites who were for elites and technocrats before they were against them.

 Luis Buñuel


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