Long time no postings, apologies to my regular readers (yes I mean you, Bolivian scented candle selling spam bots) Maybe I’ll find time over Christmas to write something about what I’ve been doing instead, if I develop code names for all the people involved and write things very cryptically. I should extend my traditional secular and politically correct christmas greeting to you all. Have a happy non denominational winter season of festivities celebrating the common human spirit of generosity as sometimes seen in the act of giving and receiving gifts which may or may not posess theological connotations. Of course we’re still closer to Hanukkah so I should choose a Seth Cohen style greeting.
All this talk of Cameron’s bull dog attitude has reminded me how thin advocates for the European Project are on the ground. Not only is defending the current state of the EU painful, but advocating further integration seems inconceivable. Not being prone to patriotism myself, much of the Euro bashing rhetoric goes over my head. Patriotism? Those who argue agaisnt further integration or even for complete withdrawal don’t seem to suspect patriotism is involved, no, the term ‘national interest’ has been bandied about quite a lot. The coalition government has from its formation depended a lot upon the argument “yes university fees are wrong, but sometimes in the national interest…”, ‘national interest’ features heavily in any discussion of economic policy, it is used to justify policy more often employment or recovery, becoming suspiciously synonymous with ‘the market confidence’. In the latest Europe spat, the national interest seemed suspiciously similar to the interest of the City. The deciding factor in Blair’s persuading the country to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan was also the national interest. (Suggestions that women’s rights would be protected appeared only retrospectively.)
I’m wary of ‘national interest’ arguments in general, it seems politicians fall back on the phrase when they aren’treally willing to discuss technical detail or deeper ideological issues. When I hear Europe and the National Interest mentioned, I’m reminded of a very alternative view of the National Interest advocated by a British prime minister (a conservative one too)
“We argue about fish, about potatoes, about milk, on the periphery. But what is Europe really for? Because the countries of Europe, none of them anything but second-rate powers by themselves, can, if they get together, be a power in the world, an economic power, a power in foreign policy, a power in defence equal to either of the superpowers. We are in the position of the Greek city states: they fought one another and they fell victim to Alexander the Great and then to the Romans. Europe united could still, by not haggling about the size of lorries but by having a single foreign policy, a single defence policy and a single economic policy, be equal to the great superpowers.
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, who initiated the UK’s application to join the EEC, The Listener, London, Febuary 8, 1979.
Christmas music, how fantastic, my favourites this year are Rutters orchestral arrangement of I saw three ships, then Gardner’s Holly and the Ivy (so jiggy). My all time favourite remains Elaine Paige’s “thirty-two feet and eight little tails”
Fierce cold for that baby jesus in his crib so it is.
A cheeky bottle of Baileys from the wise men.
Wishin’ ye a merry Christmastide.