Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lethargy as Lifestyle

Potential candidates who can’t be bothered to run. Potential bloggers who can’t seem to make themselves notice what is or isn’t going on. Welcome to the human warehouse that is EUtopia.

We know we have got it wrong when our senior European politicians prefer to serve in the non-elected commission, or even in national government, rather than in the currently anodyne European Parliament, even though that body is (theoretically at least) the second most important legislature in the world.
A people leaders are loath to actually trust, and a people unmoved by the tediousness of those in political life. It’s a perfect storm – a kind of ghetto mental complex on a continental scale.
Why should we need to "boost interest and participation in" the European elections at all? Why do we fear that turnout in some countries will be so low as to threaten the democratic legitimacy of those elected?

It is because politics in Europe and debate in Europe has simply become so stultified and dull, extinguished by the well-meaning and ordered hand of bureaucracy.

Politics was always about people and will always be about people, because ultimately we place our trust and our judgement in people.
While always willing to get jumping mad at someone an ocean away, and seem to want to chisel Senator Obama’s head onto Mount Rushmore before he’s even taken office, the lecturesome ways of these great Euro-minds seems to wander off when the subject at hand is their own behavior, initiative, or demonstrative value to civilization.

George Bush? They have a “lesson” for us about George Bush! Barack Obama? They’re all ”for” Barack Obama for a plentitude of recorded reasons they’re willing to recite verbatim. Themselves? Themselves? Hello... Is there anyone in there?

Mark Mazower, author of Dark Continent: Europe’s 20th Century, and other interesting criticisms that look into the heart or heartlessness of the Ur-European notes evidence of this retrograde nature and social lethargy – all the while imagining that their passivated actions are equal to the endless complex of sneering at others over mushy, irrelevant “good to do” notions things one tries to call virtues:
It is not so long ago that Austria’s rightwingers used to campaign on the slogan: “Vienna must not become Chicago”. They were not the only Europeans to become more xenophobic with the end of the cold war. But they were perhaps the only ones to link their detestation of the new immigrants from the Middle East and eastern Europe to hoary images of race riots and organised crime drawn from America’s bad old days.

Now that an African-American from Chicago is set to become president in Washington, not everyone in Vienna is happy. In an extraordinary on-air outburst, Klaus Emmerich, the veteran Austrian television pundit, declared: “I would not want the western world to be directed by a black man.” When invited to retract, Mr Emmerich stood by what he had said, adding that “blacks aren’t as politically civilised” and pouring fuel on to the fire by hinting that Mr Obama’s “rhetorical brilliance” and ability in organising a movement made him comparable to infamous demagogues from the past. America’s choice, Mr Emmerich concluded, was as misplaced as a Turk becoming the next chancellor of Austria.

His comments were greeted by a storm of criticism, just as Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi’s “joke” about Mr Obama’s “sun tan” had been: two elderly men betraying their generational prejudices, one might think. Yet the underlying problem goes deeper. A comment such as Mr Emmerich’s would be political suicide in the US; in Austria it earned little more than a slap on the wrist. How is it that while both places have their fair share of racism, one finds such contrasting public and political responses?
I guess there’s no place like Utopia.

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