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June 30, 2015
As Greece prepares for a monumental decision, there is only one certainty: the European Ideal has been irrevocably damaged.


I am a Europhile. Not only that, I am a product of the Union. I have structured my life around the idea of free movement; my identity around the notion that I can be more than one thing: Mykonian, Greek, Londoner, British, European. For the first time in my life, I am beginning to wonder, whether the European project is now simply too broken to be fixed.

Do not misunderstand me. I am passionate about the notion of a Europe of partners, united around principles of solidarity and trade. I just think we have taken wrong turns. So many and so wrong that I feel very uncertain as to whether we can ever find our way back.

I am not alone in feeling like this and it is not of consequence only with regard to Greece. I have had numerous messages in the last few days from pro-European friends here in Britain, telling me that the way the institutions have treated Greece, have convinced them to cross over to the “out” camp for the forthcoming UK referendum on European membership.

I am not in the deluded camp who think that national sovereignty is a magic bullet that will restore some nationalist utopia which only ever existed in our minds. Governments have been captured by corporate interests, so completely and at every level, that all EU exit changes is the field on which necessary battles must be fought. No flag provides protection from that, however tightly we wrap ourselves in it.

Neither do I want to suggest that the project hasn’t been a success. Before it was captured by this fatal monetarist fever, it achieved decades of unprecedented peace and prosperity, extraordinary advances in working and consumer rights, and a mingling of cultures and populations which has enriched us all. But I know, in my heart, it is now irrevocably damaged.

The choice being presented to the Greek people is a difficult one. Stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea, as they say. On one hand, continuing a programme which has decimated the country and its economy, plunged millions into poverty…

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. Michael Young. permalink
    June 30, 2015 10:28 am

    It’s trite to say it, but “life is all about change”. We have allowed the self interest of a small number of people in the bubble of Brussels to overide the fair expectations of the majority. If Europe is broken we have to rebuild painfully a better relationship between counties, between societies. It won’t be easy and it won’t be quick …

  2. Michael Young. permalink
    June 30, 2015 10:31 am

    Sorry, … countries … not ‘counties’.

  3. June 30, 2015 10:44 am

    I’m a europhile but like you I have grave concerns that the governing elite seem unable to step back and accept that in their Eurozone imposed austerity has failed miserable in this instance. Can they all be so economically illiterate? It would seem so. If we grade up the opportunism of the Pay-Day-Loan businesses to that of the IMF etc. we can see how such economic models are all about profit or debt recovery, they are not about actually caring for a people or persons who find themselves in a financial predicament. The Union started with higher ideals than that, it has lost its way and perhaps the people of Greece just might help it rediscover its soul. I hope so for the sake of people of Greece and the rest of us.

  4. June 30, 2015 11:46 am

    I’m with you here Alex. “multiple nationalists” can see better the destruction caused by those who espouce truth of purely monetarist causes, where the few are causing misery to the many – but this a global issue and can only be tackled in a global way. “divide & rule” still works perhaps?

  5. June 30, 2015 12:12 pm

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  6. hektorsmum permalink
    July 1, 2015 11:37 am

    I too am a europhile but I am also one who voted out in 1975, it was a rich man’s club then and I wanted no part. Over the years Europe has been a force for good, but what worries me right now is this infestation of Liberal Capitalism. I was shocked last year to find beggars on the streets of Cologne, and some were not the usual sort, a well dressed woman with dog for instance.
    Like Janeylee here, I agree that the European Union started with high ideals, where have they gone?. I was educated by various guides during a cruise round the Med and Black Sea in 2013 with regard to the damage done to the various populations of Countries like Greece and Spain people with no more control over things than we have had. The Bankers are still gambling, none have seen the inside of a court far less a prison cell.
    I think we could say that most thinking people in Europe support the Greeks in their endeavour, we may need to resort to the same if they turn on us.

  7. Robert permalink
    July 2, 2015 8:07 am

    I’m afraid Alex the wrong turn started when Greece was allowed to join the EU! Institutionally (financial and finscal sound management) it simply was not ready. We have to be honest. Unfortunately, the morons at the top of the EU, in thier predictable, unaccountable, mad-hatter exspansionist drive at any cost approach, failed in thier due diligence, and the rest of Europe, when they simply stood back and opened the door. Now the entire EU experiment is threatened. All because of political hubris.

    I suspect, however, there will be a last minute deal. There always is, because it isn’t their money they are dishing out and the gravy train has to be kept going. To me there are no heroes in this sorry saga. Both the EU and Greece are to blame for where they are at. The EU for allowing Greece to join and the Greeks for failing to get to grips with its own financial matters.

    I’m a fan of Europe but not of the EU, I hate the waste, cost, unaccountability and the political interference. It was supposed to be all about unity and equality. But I’m being asked to help shore up the Greek, Spanish and other states so that they can all still retire at 55 or 60 but I have to work until I’m dead? Or my children are now forced to take on huge loans for their higher education because our current moronic government chooses to pay the exorbitant EU fees and foreign aid instead of paying to educate its own children. Sorry Alex, no. It’s a step to far. The pendulum has swung to far in the wrong direction.

    Free trade, yes, but let’s get rid of the political union and the ever growing gravy train. It’s one experiment that does not work. The few are now paying for the many. It’s time to get off the train.

  8. Rob permalink
    July 6, 2015 12:32 pm

    I find it disappointing that you felt the need to remove my recent comments to this particular blog article, Alex?

    Only posting feedback comments you like smacks a little of censorship to me. It’s very disappointing. One quick way of loosing your readers.

  9. Rob permalink
    July 6, 2015 12:36 pm

    Alex, forget my last comment – dont post it. My original comments have now reappeared. Have no idea what has happened as it still only showing 3 comments.

  10. tst permalink
    July 14, 2015 9:25 pm

    I obviously feel for the majority of Greek people who had to see enormous falls in their living standards but at the same time. This cannot be easy. However the old adage about that “nations don’t have friends they have interest” is a fundamental truth and is true for the nation states in the EU as it is any other group of nations.

    It simply wouldn’t be in the interest of any nation to socialise Greek debts across all member states of the EU. The poorer nations (and there are many poorer that Greece) have no interest in bailing out the Greeks and maintain a higher standard of living than they can hope to achieve. Meanwhile the richer states can see that putting all of the EU onto an equal footing would put an impossible (and electorial unsustainable burden on them).

    Greece is right now in a tough place, due to its poor economy and being tied to a stronger currency. However we shouldn’t kid ourselves that there are any easy options. Stay tied to that currency and they need austerity leave it and they have signficant inflation (and a different type of austerity).

    Thankfully the worst of the austerity in Greece has been prevented principally due to German government support enabling them to run a deficit. Indeed the German government are really the unsung heros due to the brave stand they have taken supporting Greece against the wishes of their own population!


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