On Europe and countries

On Europe and countries - thoughts after Brexit

I lived half of my life in Germany and half of it in Italy.

I am proud of Germany because, from the 1950s, the decade I was born, until today it developed from a conservative and authoritarian place  to one of the most free and progressive countries in Europe. I have become a supporter of Angela Merkel, when she forced her will on the Germans to accept the migrants, which means accepting globalization.

I also love Italy. So beautiful, so rich in things that matter, like good food and wine, and its natural culture of ‘savoir vivre’.  My adopted country has an hilarious creativity in finding solutions - which never resolve a problem. This is important as a place so full of our common European history.

And despite their forward thinking and progress in democracy and building modern European societies over six decades, I feel that both of my home countries are still  rusty, conservative and closed. l look with envy to the United States, with its ability to create and innovate - in business, science and culture. Curiously, this society also has obscenities, like  GW Bush and Trump.

Over the past decade I have also come to love China for the great energy of its people, its sense of beauty, and marvellous food, for the warmth of its people and for my admiration of this other big civilization that has developed on earth.  

Faced with the rich cultural experience that I am fortunate to live, how can I then pledge allegiance to any one country? I feel as the citizen of the World, and consider the idea of nation states as anachronistic and increasingly dangerous. My loyalty is to people, not countries.  And I naturally feel more at home in some places than others - Naples feels more familiar than Munich.

My dream is a world of associated free cities that can and will give citizenship to anyone who wants to live there and adheres to their laws and rules. These cities might associate into regions to tap economies of scale, or strengthen  common cultural heritage.

Looking around I see that for many people across Europe this is more than a dream or ideal. My Catalan friends feel much more European than Spanish. A closer look at Italy reveals that its style and culture are more the product of the variety and cultural richness of its regions. The one thing that is specifically Italian is its dysfunctional politics.

Today, these regions have little to do with the nation states of old. They will be fluid. They will delegate the defence of human rights to the UP, not UN, United Peoples, not United Nations. The United Peoples will have their charter and the Declaration of Human Rights. This we have already, and it is pretty much all we need.  To make such new thinking work in practice. A movement of United people will create a strong power to enforce these human rights against any bandits who think they have the right to mutilate women, to put you in jail for your sexual preferences, want to oblige you to a belief, under the pretence of protecting national sovereignty or regional diversity.

This dream is still far away. But the European dream is much nearer.  I am European. A strong and united Europe can be a powerful force for a peaceful and liberal world order.  The other big players are constrained by their own problems. The US, the engine of progress that it is, wastes much energy and creativity by circling on itself, as teenagers do. If recent events are any indication the New World will stay a teenager for a long time to come.  China behaves sometimes like another teenager, but it is an old and aged civilization emerged in its own enormous problems. Europe has its own issues. It is aging more quickly and does not know how to handle it.

But with its maturity, Europe has the  cultural depth and humility to contribute to the shaping of the next new world order.  For this we need a new European vision. One that centers around European civilization.  The birthplace of this European civilization is in todays’ Iraq. For me Europe without including the Middle East nations is not thinkable.  I am convinced that the more quickly religions will disappear from earth - and make no mistake, this refers to all religions in all of our countries - the happier people can become.  In this sense Islam is as much a part of European tradition and history as Christianity and Judaism. When cultural darkness was upon Western Europe in the 12th century the Caliphate of Cordoba brought  Aristoteles to France.

My  Europe stretches from Reykjavik to Baghdad  and from Tripoli to the North Cape. 2 Million Syrians coming to North West Europe is not a threat, but an opportunity to compete with the teenage continents. For 5000 years the center of the   Chinese civilization moved in a circle of 2000 km around Xi’an. European civilization migrated from the Euphrat/Tigris, to Egypt, to Crete, to Greece, to Rome and Paris. Most borders of today are an artificial construct of the 19th and 20th century. Now  it is Europe’s time. We need to draw on our diversity. This is our strength. North Africa needs to become part of the European Union and as well of the African Union, a vital link that will create new fruitful dependencies instead of looking for costly and inefficient independence.

We have an exciting world in front of us, if we open our eyes to see it and if we can stop being bean counters  (apologies, Mr. Schaeuble). Then we could discover, once again, that politics is not only about managing what is there, but about vision, a forward-looking vision how our world can become a better place to live.