Monika Kosinska

Why I believe in Europe

Right now we are in the middle of what my political science Professors would have called a shift in the “world order”, a “change in paradigm” perhaps. A subject that is exciting from the sleepy hazy afternoons of a lecture theatre, where ambitious overgrown teenagers planned to change the world, but gets pretty destabilising when you are in the middle of one, as we are now.

Certainly in Europe, it feels a little bumpy. Job certainty: out the window. Food, energy and housing prices creeping up and a general sense of urgency, austerity and increased hardship. But in Syria, or many other places going through the “Arab Spring”, that dramatic, painful, tortured birth that is the process of moving from autocracy to democracy, is far from “a little bumpy”.

But you see, I have been here before. For many of us Europeans, this seismic shift is not unfamiliar. Not as bloody as Syria, but equally as devasting for some, was the transition from communism to capitalism. It is easy to be complacent about the freedoms and the privilege that we experience and take for granted – we in the Western hemisphere in the 21 century.

Life in 1980s Poland was pretty good too. If you didn’t mind sanctions, food queues, the threat of military police, the fear that your neighbors were spying, the bureaucracy, monetary, and state control, and then things became terrifying with a new world, with new rules and without the familiar, ever-present state support. For many of us Europeans, the Second World War did not finish in 1945. It finished in 2004 when Europe was united once more.

Don’t get me wrong, ten years in Brussels and I can give you a list the length of my arm of things that I would like to work better in the “EU”, but my commitment to the project is unshaking.

60 years of peacetime in a land that had seen millennia of war. For the first time in history, we have had three generations born in peace, who have never experienced famine, who have been free to be educated, to own property, to enterprise, to control their fertility, to choose their partner, to have confidence in their children’s future. 500 million people, crossing languages, cultures, religions, coming together successfully to solve these basic human needs that we have struggled with since time began.

Together, we are stronger, in our diversity are united. War no longer threatens our continent and it is the European Union, its foibles, bureaucracy and stability that binds us in our security and human success. The challenges we face today are no less important, but I refuse to believe that our best days are behind us. This vision in worth fighting for, many millions lost their lives, many more worked hard to bring peace and prosperity to future generations.

Maybe our ails are the sign of age, but with age comes wisdom and perspective. And right now, Europe needs to get back up of her knees, hold her head high and remember that she is standing on the shoulders of men who dreamed of the end of war, famine and discrimination, and she carries is her arms the future. A future that is vulnerable, uncertain and absolutely worth fighting for.

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Comments

  1. I do not mind if your belief in the European project seems to be unshaken, and so on, and so forth. Blind faith cannot replace the stark realities confronting us.And yes, 60 years of EU is just a blimp on History’s computer screen, which, thanks to today’s politicians, might disappear and bring us back to nationalism, famine, pestilence and even war.

    I do not care about freedom, if the freedom we’re talking about is that of going hungry in a continent of plenty, the freedom to be jobless with a reputable master’s degree in your pocket… Journalists and bloggers in Europe are “free” to write without pay and go destitute in the process ! I do not believe that we’re going to make it out of this mess without losing a lot – if not everything – the EU’s founding fathers have stood for.
    But then again, I am a social scientist and I make my assessments based on fact, not faith.

    The article you wrote is a form of brainwash, which is rather sad, but understandable to me. Good luck with your unshaken beliefs.

  2. Unfortunately the stability that we have witnessed in Europe over the last 60 years will not last forever. Humanity is running out of natural resources quick in relative terms with past centuries and many rare elements are locked in places like China (over 60% of those that we predominately need to continue technologically in the West). The US military especially is reliant upon these for their defence/offensive systems. As the world runs out of natural resources (those that we need to preserve the human experience), as the prosperity of the East increases year-on-year, more nations will become insular and for the EU that is not the way things should be. Indeed, this eventual nationalistic mentality to preserve individual peoples will create a major strain on the EU states to keep together. This most probably after an initial gathering together that will eventually wane due to the lack of resources that the combined EU will be unable to command. The EU may go on for a few of decades more, but where due to the restrictive nature of material supplies, it will eventually unravel into smaller blocks within Europe, mini EUs in other words. But where it has to be said that eventually even these will disintegrate due to lack of resources to go round. Even the world’s most influential national security institution based in Washington stated in November 2010 that most probably by mid-century tactical nuclear weapons would be used to protect borders and natural resources. Indeed it is a quoted fact that if everyone in the world aspired to have the same average per capita to that of the USA, we would need the resources of three planet earths and even that would run out in a mere four centuries at our current rates of extraction. We have just one earth and therefore we have approximately only 100 years left.

    Therefore the EU is fine when we live in a stable world that does not materially change, but unfortunately it is and eventually it will disintegrate due to forces outside its control. That is a fact and where we are in many ways the means to our own destruction.

    What we should be doing and politicians never do is to become globally closer together so that all peoples see the need to manage our planet far better together than apart. But there is an irony here that the past can identify as something that may only happen when the writing is on the wall and clear for all to see. When peak oil was first voiced in the 1960s no-one took any great notice and only in the last 15 years have politicians realised that we have a real big problem on the horizon (next 40>50 years or maybe sooner). The problem with ‘all’ necessary world resources is that they cannot be replenished and eventually we are just left with barren land. Wouldn’t it be far better if our politicians now started to get together and work on this one and not say in another 40 years or so when the problem will be far harder to solve? Unfortunately it appears that most leaders and powerful politicians possibly have the same gene that has no empathy with its fellow man – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmAyxpAFS1s

    It could very well be the case and why eventually humankind may not last much more than into the next century if they do not start thinking of the unfolding nature of our planet and begin really thinking holistically and not just of themselves. Without this new holistic thinking we will eventually let down our children and basically ourselves. We have hope but where this is in the hands of all current political leaders and our global corporations. Unfortunately they seem to be not the right people for the job according to Horizon. What hope Humanity you may say.

    Dr. David Hill
    Chief Executive
    World Innovation Foundation

  3. Outstanding post however , I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this subject?
    I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Many thanks!

  4. “But in Syria, or many other places going through the “Arab Spring”, that dramatic, painful, tortured birth that is the process of moving from autocracy to democracy…”

    Obviously the author has not spent much time in the Middle East nor is a student of their history. What is happening is a move from autocracy to autocracy, autocracy to theocracy, and/or some combination thereof (whatever the phony politicians in those countries can drum up – the universality of the hack politician).

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