Saturday 23 September 2017

What a banjaxed Europe needs . . . an Italian comedian calling the shots

WELL, this euro-project is going pretty well, isn't it? Now Italy has passed from the realm of being an adult state governed by adults, to being an absurdity governed by a clown. At least Italy makes things, like Fiats and Delonghi coffee-machines. Greece and Spain barely make more than wine and sunshine any more. Unemployment in all three countries is probably higher than it was during the Great Recession 80 years ago. Repossessions have caused unprecedented levels of homelessness, and millions of people in their 20s have never had a single job. The last time such an economic catastrophe visited the Mediterranean, Spain erupted in civil war, and Italy invaded France and Greece.

History never repeats itself, but human patterns recur. When the centre of power falls apart, chaos usually ensues. Where does the real decision-making centre for any European country now reside? Its national parliament? Brussels? Berlin? The European Central Bank in Frankfurt? Anywhere but with its electorate. Since the euro was formed 11 years ago, the entire periphery of the euro-project has passed from prosperity underwritten by indigenous (though often eccentric) national politics into proto-unity and catastrophe.

The euro is based on the dogmas of hope, not the concrete of realism, and thus it resembles any great communist project. The Soviet Union's First Five Year Plan, the building of huge tractor plants and the collectivisation of farms, ended in famine, millions of deaths and no tractors. Mao's Great Leap Forward required the eradication of pests from the Chinese countryside, as peasants with firecrackers scared birds into flight every time they settled until they fell exhausted to the ground, where they were beaten to death. This was followed by an insect plague that destroyed all crops, to be followed by millions of dead Chinese. Throughout those calamities, the minstrels of communist ideology continued to extol the boundless virtues of the projects responsible.

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