Berlusconi and the shaming of the European Union

Clement Attlee enjoyed the superiority of a postwar Englishman when he dismissed European unity in 1967 with a contemptuous sniff. “The Common Market. The so-called Common Market of six nations. Know them all well. Very recently, this country spent a great deal of blood and treasure rescuing four of ’em from attacks by the other two.” For Germany and Italy, which had suffered under fascist dictatorships, and for France, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg, which had suffered under fascist occupation, there was nothing in the war years to be superior about. The Common Market promised liberation from a terrible past. And continued to promise it.

Greece, Portugal and Spain confirmed their break with dictatorship and reaction when they joined. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Europe expanded its borders by offering the once subject peoples of the communist empire a better life in a democratic haven. Nazis and communists never occupied Britain. Our leaders sold us Europe as a smart investment opportunity rather than a democratic advance and we never felt the idealism behind European dream. Lech Walesa knew better. On the eve of Poland’s accession, he said: “I fought for our country to recover everything it lost under communism and the Soviets… and now my struggle is over. My ship has come to port.”

Europe replaced the terrors of totalitarianism with human rights conventions and peace treaties. It is easy to become exasperated by the monotony of its composite resolutions and interminable meetings. But tens of millions accepted the chance of trading national sovereignty for freedom from the dictatorships of their day.

That deal is no longer on offer.

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3 thoughts on “Berlusconi and the shaming of the European Union

  1. I agree,
    actually the Europe is the moral loser since the current global crisis and the will of the Popular party to hidden what’s happening in Italy is proof of inability to control what’s happening into the european borders.
    The european lack of modesty and self-criticism seems to recall the mistakes of the XX century.

  2. I am increasingly incredulous
    as to how & why Italian civil
    society tolerate Berlusconi.
    Perhaps the extraordinary
    concentration of control over
    mass media outlets in the hands
    of Berlusconi currently prevent
    Italians from acquiring a wide
    enough variety of information
    from which to form balanced
    opinions.
    However I am much less pessimstic
    for “Democratic Europe”. Why?
    Simply because “mass media” is
    quickly becoming irrevelant as
    the maker of public opinion. This
    now occurs increasingly in social
    networks. Digital social media is
    where public (& private) opinions
    are increasingly becoming manifest.
    And this is leading not to a
    monolithic domination of the
    mainstream, but to ever more
    fragmentated & varied information
    sources. This allows me to be
    confident that we will not unfailingly
    fall into any inevitable autocratic
    traps set for us by “…the
    Caudillos of our day…”

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