Friday, May 30, 2014

Europe is committing suicide again; we should let them

The Europeans tried to commit suicide beginning 100 years ago with what Churchill called a 30 years conflict with a long truce (that included the Stalin purges and the Spanish Civil War)—easily 150 million dead. Now, with these recent European Union elections, they're saying they want to do it again.

I say, let them.

Twice, the United States stepped into centuries of European ethnic and religious hatred leading to savagery of all kinds—a fair amount of it inflicted on the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America in the form of colonialism.

We rescued France, which effectively lost both world wars. We gave the Germans the means to rebuild themselves (unlike the Soviets, who took everything that wasn't nailed down back to Mother Russia, where their incompetence could destroy German machinery better). The Marshall Plan and the U.S. nuclear umbrella allowed western Europe the longest and most widely felt prosperity they had ever known.

Yet, ever since the U.S.-Soviet bipolar world ended, the European uglies have been surfacing. The practice of "ethnic cleansing" took the world back to the Holocaust. The hatred of immigrants took the world back to Kipling's "white man's burden."

Their mishandling of the economic crisis, which may have started in United States but rippled through Europe thanks to European banks that eagerly overinvested in junk bonds, has now delivered Europe to levels of suffering not seen since the Great Depression.

True to their script, the Europeans are goosestepping back to fascism, austerity (for the many—not the politicians, not the bankers). The right-wingers, in classic capitalist self-contradiction, have run for and won seats in a useless electoral body (the European Parliament) that they want to implode from within—presumably to die in the ruins with it. Hurray!

Russia is dreaming of empire, France wants Napoleon back (Britain presumably wants Nelson back to defeat Napoleon again). Crimea, not heard of since Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade" in the 19th century, is back in the newspapers—even though newspapers are on the verge of disappearing.

The Europeans are crazy and they deserve everything they choose to inflict on themselves.

I say this as a descendant of Europeans, but of the group of the few plucky Europeans who had the good sense to leave and try to start something better on the western shores of the Atlantic. We may not have succeeded—and some of our dumber cousins are trying to undo the democratic experiment.

At least, we knew not to repeat history. Of course, our own Mark Twain told us about the repetition in his famous aphorism: "History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes."