05 April 2013

Bullies -- blind and oblivious

The Cyprus banking nightmare is the latest example of the arrogance, bullying, and flat-out imperial rule which the southern nations of the European Union increasingly suffer at the hands of the conservative German government which dominates the EU.  Yet I see little sign that the German people want to repudiate this evil, even though Merkel's party may lose this year's election for other reasons.  Too many Germans and other northern Europeans have a stance of arrogant contempt toward Greeks, Italians, and other southerners, seeing them as lazy and unproductive and in need of a dose of Germanic discipline to get their act together.  It reminds me of the attitudes some Americans have towards Latin America.

Never mind that northern Europeans mostly misread the roots of the south's economic problems (which lie not so much in debt as in the euro currency which prices their exports out of the market -- and in the austerity policies then imposed by the EU as a condition of bail-outs, locking the south into a death spiral of economic contraction which drives deficits up).  Never mind that the relentless imposition of austerity, rising unemployment, and now confiscation of savings echoes "the belief that the end justifies the means.....that deliberate deafness to suffering" rebuked in the post below, and seems more driven by deliberate cruelty than by economic thought.  What strikes me most about the north's contempt for the south is its oblivion of historical memory.  They have forgotten the roots of their own civilization.

What language do words like "austerity", "economy", "democracy", and hundreds of others, without which we couldn't even talk about these issues, come from in the first place?  From the language of the people who, on European soil, originated those concepts -- indeed, originated the very concept of a concept -- at a time when most of Europe's north and west was uncharted wilderness.  Whence comes the very alphabet in which speakers of German, English, and other Germanic languages commit their disdain of the south to text?  From the people whose huge cities held dozens of libraries when the ancestors of today's ruling clique in Berlin were illiterate savages.  Today's soaring European civilization rests upon, and utterly could not exist without, its Greco-Roman foundations.

After the thousand years of darkness that followed the fall of Rome, it was mostly men with names like Galileo, Bruno, Da Vinci, Dante, Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Donatello, who launched the Renaissance that led Europe out of that darkness.  Again the north was the apprentice of the south.

Modern Western civilization is not the property of any one group, of course.  As far as I know I don't have any meaningful trace of Italian or Greek ancestry -- but I lay claim to that heritage, because being a Western person isn't about ethnicity or ancestry, it's about what kind of culture and values you have.

Yes, today Europe's Germanic-speaking north leads the continent, and stands far above most of the globe, in civilizational achievement, and it deserves admiration for that.  But it should not forget that it stands so high because it stands on the shoulders of earlier giants -- and those giants were of the south.

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