A Blog by Ugo Bardi

Collapses are the way the universe gets rid of the old to leave space for the new. It was noted for the first time by the Roman Philosopher Lucius Anneaus Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE) and it is called today the "Seneca Effect."

Sunday, December 18, 2022

The European Non-Union after the Qatargate: Was it Designed to Fail?

 

The European Parliament building in Strasbourg, France. I don't know if they consciously designed it to look like the Babel Tower, but it may follow the same destiny: collapse. It is a typical "non-place" inhabited by tribes of people who don't care about each other, don't talk to each other, and don't even understand each other. In these conditions, it is not surprising that crime and corruption prosper, as we learned in the case of the "Qatargate." Was the Union designed from the beginning so that it would fail? 


You probably know the concept of "non-places." The hall of a hotel is a good example. It looks like the living room of a home, but it is not the same thing. It is a place where people stay for brief periods of time, but do not interact with each other. They don't know each other, they don't even understand each other's language. The Babel Tower was a good example of a non-place, but nowadays non-places are common. In addition to hotels, you have airports, train stations, shopping malls, waiting rooms, and many more examples. 


Non-places are the ideal kind of places to engage in illegal or hidden operations. For instance, hotels are the typical place where you can meet your secret sexual partner, discuss illegal deals, or give or receive a bribe in cash. That doesn't mean, of course, that all the customers of a hotel are criminals. It just means that non-places provide the anonymity you need for certain kinds of transactions. Anonymity makes you also vulnerable to attacks that can take the form of "character assassination," as it happened to Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2011.   

The European Parliament provides a special kind of anonymity owing to its multinational organization. Each national delegation is jealous of its national language and its members would feel offended if they were asked to speak in English (*), and many of them would be unable to do that, anyway. That's why the Union has 24 official languages and, consequently, the "Alcide De Gasperi" room in the palace of the European Parliament in Brussels has 24 translation boots, each one with at least two official interpreters. (theoretically, each boot should have 23 translators, but they would not fit inside, and I suppose that the translations are made first into English and then translated into the other languages). 

Given this organization, you understand the fragmentation of the European Parliament. A few years ago, I was there, and I noted how it looks mostly like the hall of a large hotel, a typical non-place. Throngs of people moving up and down, but very little interaction among those who don't speak the same language. Even outside the parliament building, I found that the Italian delegation had a coffee shop that served Italian coffee, where everyone spoke Italian, and where you would feel like being in Italy. I had the impression, and some Spanish friends confirmed it, that the whole central area of Brussels is a non-place: each national delegation had its coffee shops, restaurants, etcetera. Maybe the whole European Union is a non-place. A Non-Union.

It is not difficult to understand how easy it must be for lobbyists to engage in shady deals with national representatives in the European Parliament. Imagine an Italian company that wants to obtain a favorable contract from the EU. It will lobby an Italian MP who will probably feel that it is his/her duty to support an Italian company. If that involves a little personal gain, well, it may be deserved. In other words, in the best mafia style, each delegation jealously controls its own turf. Then, no surprise that the European Parliament has become a business network, losing all interest in promoting the interests of Europe as a whole -- for instance in terms of defense. It shows: Europe is the only example of a large state organization that doesn't have an independent military force.  

So, it is not surprising that lobbying (that some call simply "corruption") is rampant in Brussels. That doesn't mean we should take the current "Qatargate" scandal as an excuse to criminalize any or all the European MPs. I can tell you that I personally know some of them who refused to be corrupted and always acted for the good of the community. And we should not exclude the possibility that the Qatargate is a case of psyop-based character assassination (**).  Nor we should think that national parliaments are much better -- even there, representatives have their turf to defend. Yet, it is clear that there is a corruption problem in Brussels. A serious one, at all levels. 

Of course, there are ways to fight corruption by tighter controls, more severe regulations, and the like. But the problem is that no organization can function if it uses 24 different languages and gives equal status to all of them. Even worse, no organization can exist for long if its members have the only purpose of getting a larger slice of the pie for themselves. That's the business of diplomacy, but politics is a different story. 

You surely heard that the art of diplomacy consists in convincing everyone that they got the largest share of the pie. Instead, the art of politics consists of an equitable distribution of the pie. Without such a purpose, without an understanding that the organization exists to promote the common good, we don't have politics, we only have the law of the jungle. And everyone acts according to the fundamental principle of plundering mobs that states, "grab what you can, when you can." The European Union never was one. 

From "The Secret of Nimh" (1982)

So, the question is, was the European Union designed from the beginning with the idea that it should fail? The founders were surely people with lofty ideals of peace and collaboration, but as the organization grow, it soon became a modern version of the Babel tower. Maybe it was unavoidable, or maybe some external forces pushed it to become what it has become. It doesn't matter. Like the Babel tower, at this point, the EU has no other destiny in sight than to crumble. Perhaps we'll be able to build something better on the ruins, but it will not be soon. 



The collapse of the Tower of Babel" by Cornelisz Anthonisz, Etching, 1547

(*) One Union, One Language

The multilingual structure of the European Union raises the question of whether it would have been possible to design it differently. We may wonder what could have happened if the founding fathers Adenauer, Monnet, De Gasperi, and others, had stamped their feet on the ground and insisted on the principle of "one union, one language.

One possibility could have been English -- why not? It is the most diffuse international language in the world, and it is the common language used in India, even though the Indians have reasons to be unhappy about having been invaded and dominated for a long time by the British. Of course, different countries speak (and mangle) Ingliss in various ways, but the important thing is that these versions are mutually understandable. More or less. 


It would also have been perhaps the last chance to select and diffuse one of the "synthetic" languages, like Esperanto, that could be defined as modern Creoles. It would have had the advantage that Esperanto is a language close to several modern European languages. Esperanto never reached a wide diffusion but, who knows? Estus ankaŭ eble la lasta ŝanco elekti kaj disvastigi unu el la" sintezaj " lingvoj, kiel Esperanto,

Another possibility was to resurrect an extinct language and make it the official European Language. Latin could have been a good choice since it is still used in some scientific fields, and it had been "the" language of European intellectuals up to the 19th century. Greek could have been another interesting choice, without the "Fascist" ring that Latin had gained with the Italian Fascist regime. It was the solution chosen by the founders of the modern state of Israel when they decided they would resurrect ancient Hebrew and make it their national language (before, Jews would speak at least six mutually not understandable languages). Alia possibilitas fuit linguam exstinctam resuscitare et facere officialem Linguae Europaeae. Latine bene electio fieri potuit quia adhuc in quibusdam campis scientificis usus est et "lingua" intellectualium Europaearum usque ad XIX saeculum fuerat. 

Unfortunately, what was not done then, can't be done now. It was a lost chance, possibly lost forever. Maybe "Googlish" will come to the rescue or, maybe, we'll all speak in a new hieroglyph-based language that uses emoticons (Yandex offers translation of any text into "Emoji"). Or, maybe, we'll follow the majority rule and decide to speak Mandarin Chinese. Who knows? 🔣 🤔 👫 👫 👤 🚫 🤔 🔠 🎏

(**) The "Qatargate" scandal may have a political meaning that escapes those who are not insiders to the complicated power balance of the European Commission. Was it a character assassination? It may be related, as usual, to the energy supply to Europe as argued in a recent article by Michele Marsiglia, president of the Italian Federpetroli.


6 comments:

  1. Ugo, you do not answer your own question: was it "designed to fail"..."the founders" who were the founders? I know I sent you something earlier on the Dulleses and the oligarchs and the fact that they never would have allowed an EU to be designed to succeed and challenge the direction/orders of the US Empire. I don't remember the piece I sent to you... maybe later. I am certain the EU was designed to fail. The question deserves an open and courageous answer.
    C.

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    1. Sometimes, to ask a question is wiser and more informative than to answer it.

      At others, it is imprudent even to pose the question.....

      The EU seems to have been calculated to create the mere appearance of strength and unity, without the reality.

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  2. Power gas turbines cannot be scaled up to multi GW a piece, for instance - due to Limits of Physics...

    Political systems cannot be scaled up to cover the whole world for very long - owing to Geography, among others - aka Physics, too...

    This is even if you kill all Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis, Libyans, Ukrainians, Russians, and residents of Shanghai for their fossil resources - 100 time over...

    Europe must start telling Europeans and the masses worldwide the truth....

    "Energy, like time, flows from past to future"

    Wailing.

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  3. In view of the looming energy shortages worldwide, it seems likely that future empires will look like 18th century empires, with poor communications and great local autonomy...

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  4. The USA has always had the same problem. Each state wants to bring in federal money or protect their economy; they (the politicians) fight each other over it (in some cases literally). This is what led to the US Civil War. The South wanted legal slavery; many in the North wanted abolition. It ripped the country apart because each state really wants what's best for themselves rather than the country. It's a general failure of democracy.

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  5. Oh boy, now that they've shown you the small fish which really doesn't threaten the system, lets see them look into Urusla whats her name her bribes from Pfizer and Moderna!

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