Thursday, May 17, 2012

Europe, Quo Vadis? (or: how could things go so wrong?)

after being away for 2 weeks on an island in an almost news-free environment, the stream of ongoing breaking news now finally got to me. and after the time of open easy skies, the weight of this world feels scarily heavy.

the main news here in Europe this week still is: Europe, or rather the Euro, and its foundation that seemed so stable, and now keeps tumbling. Greece in ongoing turmoil, and no solution in sight. Spain is tumbling, too, together with other countries. right now, Greece is practically out-of-government, with people pulling their Euros in cash from the banks, afraid of what might come.

one of the odd things of this crisis is that on one hand, it's all over the news, and on the other, it's almost abstract: the Euro in your hand looks like it always looked. the twin ghost of it, the turmoil it is in, is not directly visible.

in all this drama, a smaller news also made it to the front pages: the unemployment rates of the generation that now should be finding their first real jobs and start to build their future. in Spain and Greece, it's around 50%. In Italy, Portugal, Ireland and other Europen states, it's over 30%. France: over 20%. the Zeit newspaper has an article with the diagram that shows how dramatic the structural problem in Europe is, here: Europas abgehängte Generation ("Europe's blanked generation")

how could things go so wrong?

or is it that we all got so convinced by the idea of constant growth - of a new millennium, of Europe as a place of security - that we now stand in disbelief, together with all the experts?

in contrast or in connection to all, a youtube clip spread through the web this week: an animation that shows the changes from 1000 to 2003 in Europe, and with it, shows that the world in time always has been a complex being in constant (yet probalby mostly unexpected) change: Epic time lapse map of Europe


in addition, a note from an earlier post on the same subject, from December 2011:
"the only thing that is continuing steadily since months is the troubled news - one Euro crisis after the other. yesterday, the European Central Bank warned that there's again a risk of a systematic bank crisis, like in 2008. and each month, the amount of money needed to fix credit gaps and to avoid the worst rises. millions and billions here, then there. amounts that are impossible to imagine. where did all the money go? and how long will the money-patrol be able to keep this going?
it's like a ghost - in the streets, life goes on as always. and no one really can imagine how it would look like: the worst. what it would do to everyday life. what the answer to it could be."
- the walking ghost of a crisis


Jean said...

Yes, it's very scary. And so hard to know how to respond with anything more useful than fear.

For so long I've been a convinced partisan of the EU, wholeheartedly behind the social democratic/social christian consensus, whilst not unaware of the bloated bureaucracy etc, and sad and angry that the UK, since the Thatcher governments of my twenties, had opted out of this and for a harsher social and economic ethos.

Now my heart says the EU is the villain, requiring measures that assist only the banks and heap cruel measures on the poorest people. But I truly don't understand enough about economics to know if there could be an alternative.

I don't know if there is any sane response. How do you even begin to change an economic model requiring constant growth, and where growth is based on consumerism and consumerism divorced from need...

Yes, it's scary. I guess we can only try to remain open-minded, humane and questioning. And not be destroyed by a fear whose basis is so very hard to evaluate.

Berit Ellingsen said...

Well said!

It's scary to think that there may become widespread poverty in Europe.

All those millions without work and income...

Jean said:
"How do you even begin to change an economic model requiring constant growth, and where growth is based on consumerism and consumerism divorced from need..."

I think that is the heart of the issue.

Dorothee Lang said...

Yes, the complexity of it. I think what worries me most is that it feels the politicians are as overwhelmed and clueless about a sane response.

Plus the focus is mostly on the current crisis and how to keep the system afloat in the next weeks or months, which takes so much energy and resources that there isn’t much space left to discuss the larger questions Jean put in words: how to begin to change an economic model that brought upon this massive drama that affects so many people now.