The Future of Europe

I see that the French President, Francois Hollande, has stated that the crisis within Europe is “now over.” Non. These were written on the back on an envelope recently and I’ve made no attempt at driving forces or a matrix, but I quite like them.

Scenario 1. Disorderly collapse
Growing inequality brought on by unemployment and income polarization create civil unrest and extreme nationalism aimed primarily at anyone that is not seen as being part of the group (i.e. local). Taxation and fines widely seen as unfair make matters worse. Outward migration rises (especially of younger people) while the impacts of rapid ageing start to be felt. The result is that EU competitiveness declines, which together with a flight from the Euro leads to a break-up of the European Union. The German economy goes into a nosedive as exports within former EU region become prohibitively expensive.

Scenario 2. Muddling through
Without tackling any of the fundamental issues such as competitiveness, the EU project carries on with token concessions to the growth agenda reducing the impact of austerity measures. The ECB muddles through, soothing the impact of various country debt dramas. Economic performance and competitiveness is variable, but generally sluggish and the US, China, India and Russia and others start to bottom feed on various EU assets fuelling an inevitable local backlash.

Scenario 3. Greater unification exposes differences
The EU attempts to stabilize itself by expanding geographically and by attempting to increase economic and social integration. However, expansion and unification merely expose fundamental differences between the European north, south, west and east. Migration into key member states increases exposing hidden tribal and xenophobic tendencies. Things carry on for years, but eventually the project collapses under its own bureaucratic weight.

Scenario 4. Smaller but stronger
Following the national bankruptcy and EU exist of (select one or more from the following: Portugal, Italy, Greece or Spain) and the virtual exit by the UK, a new union is created by France and Germany with Benelux annexed. This results is a more dynamic union with greater fiscal and social unification, although disagreements persist.

Scenario 5. Accidental winner
Serious US and Asian economic problems, most notably in China, result in the Euro replacing the US dollar and aspirant Yen as the international currency. This results in inward investment, economic growth and a fall in unemployment across the region. Long-standing disagreements and structural difficulties are forgotten.

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3 Responses to The Future of Europe

  1. orkneylad says:

    The Loss of Privacy

    “The strict surveillance that states once maintained over the activities of the citizenry have been shifted to other centers of power technically able (although not always legally) to find out to whom we have written, what we have bought, what trips we have taken, what our encyclopedic interests are, even our sexual preferences. The big problem facing a citizen’s private life is not hackers, which are no more frequent than the highwaymen who beset travelling merchants, but cookies and all those other technical marvels that make it possible to collect information about every one of us.

    If in Orwell’s novel Big Brother was an alegory for Stalin, the ‘little father’, the modern Big Brother watching us has no face and is not an individual, it is the global economy in its entirety. Like Foucault’s Power, it is not a recognisable entity but the combination of a series of power centers that accept the game, backing one another up reciprocally. The member of one center of power who spies on others making purchases in the supermarket will be spied on in turn when he pays his hotel bill with a credit card. When Power no longer has a face, it becomes invincible. Or at least difficult to control.

    Who wants their privacy defended? Those who have secret busines dealings, those who wish their personal correspondence to remain personal, those working on research that they do not yet wish to make public. We know all this perfectly well, but how many people call for this right? It seems to me that one of the great tragedies of mass society, of the press, television, and Internet, is the voluntary renunciation of privacy. The extreme expression of this renunciation is, at its pathalogical limit, exhibitionism. It strikes me as paradoxical that someone has to struggle for the defense of privacy in a society of exhibitionists.

    The fact is that the authorities who watch over our privacy need to defend not only those who wish to be defended but also those who no longer know how to defend themselves. It is precisely the behaviour of exhibitionists that tell us how much the assault on privacy has become -more than a crime- a social cancer. First and foremost, we should educate children to save them from the corrupting influence of their parents.

    But it’s a vicious circle. The assault on privacy accustoms everyone to the disappearance of privacy. Little by little we become exhibitionists, having learned that nothing can be kept confidential anymore and that no behaviour is considered scandalous. Those who are attacking our privacy, seeing that the victims themselves consent, will no longer stop at any violation.

    We must learn to work out, spread, and reward a new sensibility towards reserve, to educate people about reserve for themselves and toward others. Regarding respect for our own privacy, I’d like to quote the last phrase from the brief note left by Cesare Pavese before he committed suicide: “Don’t gossip too much.”

    Umberto Eco from the ‘The Loss of Privacy’ conference speech, Venice, Sept 2000

  2. Richard says:

    We’ve missed you! And I owe you an answer to a previous comment if I recall.

    The best thing I’ve read of the need for privacy of late was Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age (Mayer-Schonberger). I quite liked Digital Vertigo (Andrew Keen) but only the first half.

  3. orkneylad says:

    Indeed I’ve been offline a while, and busy wiping my soc-med accounts. lol
    Life without Google, FB et al is great already.


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