Syntagma Digital
Editor, John Evans

Political Snippet: Europe’s 9/11

Twin Towers
The twin towers of the World Trade Center, destroyed on 9/11

Earlier this month we commemorated the 10th anniversary of the events that became known as 9/11. On September 11, 2001, four American airliners were hijacked in mid-air. Two of them destroyed the “twin towers” of New York’s international Trade Center. It is no exaggeration to say that the world has never been the same since.

Ten years on and Europe is experiencing a very different, but equally existential, collapse. The twin towers of the Brussels estabishment: political union across the continent — the EU — and the common currency area — the Eurozone — are being brought low by internal inconsistencies and the vaulting hubris of its ruling class.

Some might think this comparison overworked, straining for a pattern where none exists. I don’t think so. Whatever the ultimate causes of both events, the result will be the same, the end of a natural dominance that appeared impregnable.

Without becoming too mystical, we are being reminded of the transience of the works of Man. For Buddhists, annica — impermanence — is one of the three marks of existence.

Europe’s historical glory days were ended by a string of grotesquely unnecessary wars and the transfer of power across the Atlantic to the old British colonies in North America. Europeans, the French especially, seethed with a combination of bruised pride and envy.

Influential personages decided to build an American twin that would dominate the Continent and even exceed US power and influence. The strutting officer class that led the nations of Europe into near endless conflict moved to Brussels. The EU was born.

The sheer effrontery of their ambition in recklessly tearing up the separate cultures and political settlements of almost 300 million people was breathtaking. Using the techniques of revolution: concealed intent, expansion through fifth columns and quislings, high-flown rhetoric, and unrelenting dedication, they succeeded in their goals.

Something was wrong though, like an itch that can’t be scratched. It was articulated by a very down-to-earth housewife, Margaret Thatcher. “Europe is not a country because it doesn’t have a People. Genuine democracy is not possible.” (paraphrased from memory).

Now, as with the twin towers in New York, the European edifice is burning. Soon its constituent parts will fall to earth one after another. The very words, European Union, will induce shudders in all who hear them.

The home of Nemesis, Greece, will have delivered the first and fatal blow.

John Evans

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Political Snippet: Europe: It’s all going wrong at once

Family The world economy is on its knees, and it’s all going wrong at once. A major depression must now be the most likely outcome.

David Cameron appeared before the Pariamentary Liaison Committee today sounding like a lightweight holding onto “red lines” and old nostrums. He had little new to say and spoke mainly about minor issues of outdated policy and seemed very ill at ease. One hopes there is more behind the front than we heard.

Tonight, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, did all he could by holding to his deficit reduction plan, but there’s not much new thinking going on right now.

As I wrote some years ago in my piece: Up-to-a-pointism, humans lose control if things get either too good or too bad. They lose the ability to act normally and get carried away by tides of enthusiasm or despair. We are entering that territory now — on the side of despair.

Whichever way the German Constitutional Court reacts on Wednesday, it will only make things worse. We are into a “least worst” place now, which is probably to declare the bail-out mechanism illegal. That at least will force a major retreat from monetary union and the whole process of undemocratic political federalism across the Continent.

It will be very painful for everyone, but the truth is always preferable to lies and deceit. Let’s hope we can avoid war this time.

I wrote about optimism recently. That can only come from a massive re-evaluation of the postwar international political settlement. It’s long overdue and is worse because it has been held up by the inertia of vested interests, mainly of political fantasists.

It’s time for realism and a little faith in the future. It’s not difficult if you clear the slate of the exhausted ancien regime.

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Political Snippet: Managing elephants

Elephant The trouble with baby elephants is that although you can get them through the door of the room, eventually they grow so big you can’t get them out again.

I allude, of course, to Britain’s membership of the European Union.

Such is the size of our grey eminence in the corner, our politicians won’t even talk about it. “Shhh,” they hiss, “We prefer not to mention that. It’s the elephant in the room.”

In Germany, politicians and people are talking about nothing else. On Wednesday, the Constitutional Court is due to rule on the legality of the Brussels bail-out package. If they declare it illegal — which it is, and a majority of Germans think so — the Eurozone will rapidly unravel, spreading contagion to British banks holding the debts of the peripheral nations. Yet another banking crisis looms imminently.

This is far and away the most serious situation we face right now. Even if the Court hands down a neutral judgement, allowing the half-hearted procedure to limp on, it’s not going away and will be with us until it’s finally resolved one way or the other.

David Cameron is making a statement in the House this afternoon on Libya and Syria. Shouldn’t he be addressing the massive financial implosion waiting to happen?

Some serious elephant management is called for now.

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Saturday Ramble: Norwegian atrocity shakes the foundations of Europe

Templar Knight Like many folk this morning I have been trying to work out why Anders Behring Breivik murdered around one hundred people in cold blood in what he admits was an atrocity.

How could an educated, successful man from a settled culture, aware of the moral dimension, carry out such a despicable attack on innocent young people?

Events like this go beyond conventional decision-making and suggest the involvement of a deeper influence. My first thought was that a powerful archetype of the collective unconscious had been triggered by recent events.

It was hardly a coincidence that just four days ago the European Union agreed that northern states of the Eurozone should transfer massive sums of money to profligate countries in the south — in the middle of an ongoing recession. Many of the people who are paying for this largesse didn’t have a voice in the decision. It was a German-French stitch-up at the highest level cobbled together by Brussels. While Norway is not a member of the EU, the close affinities of the Nordic countries means it is affected by decisions in Brussels, especially by the free movement of people across Europe.

But, even so, the killing spree was beyond excessive. We need to look deeper for the motivation behind this inexplicable crime, for something that has been stewing for decades. The Nordic mentality is generally disciplined. It takes a great deal of pain to trigger an event of such horror and devastation.

What we know is that the brooding Scandinavian temperament has been awash with unease for years about the state of their countries and their ability to govern themselves.

It is closely connected with the continuing loss of national culture, sovereignty and a largely peaceful way of life. Oslo’s population is now twenty-five percent Muslim, thanks to the open borders created by the Schengen Treaty and a very generous welfare state.

The two policies are clearly incompatible. For the Norwegians, the end of the free movement of people around Europe is becoming the only option. Significantly, Denmark has recently reimposed border controls in defiance of Brussels.

The archetype finally made its appearance on Breivik’s social media websites: that old favourite, the Knights Templar.

The Templars were set up by crusading knights in the 12th century to protect the Holy Land, especially Jerusalem, from Islamic invaders. It grew into a mass movement throughout Europe, even reaching as far north as England and Scotland, then died out before being replaced by the Scottish Freemasons.

Events like yesterday’s can only be explained by the influence of apparently heroic causes and a sense of divine mission. All the elements were in place, it only needed a psychological mechanism for action.

Modern computers have a facility called Snap to Grid. It is the technology behind spreadsheets and CadCam design software.

A blank screen hides an invisible grid of small rectangles. As worksheets or technical drawings are prepared, new inputted data automatically “snaps” into the boundaries set by the hidden grid. The grid can be revealed by a keystroke. The facility can also be turned off completely. However, if you are not an expert, your work can appear rather messy.

The analogy in ordinary life is this: when we act with apparent freedom, our actions automatically, and without our being aware of it, snap to a grid. As we grow in awareness, we begin to discern the grid. A person with a high degree of inner awareness can turn off the grid and assume complete spiritual freedom. These are the three stages of psychological free will.

The “snap” stage is when we are ignorant of any predetermining factors on our actions. A powerful archetype can easily take over a person on this level of development, conferring an inflated sense of divine mission and absolute confidence. Adolf Hitler is the perfect example. It seems that Anders Behring Breivik was under similar “magnetic” influences during yesterday’s massacre of the innocents.

The second stage, the beginning of awareness (illumination), is when we can see the grid and, within limits, adjust its purpose. The third level (called unitive contemplation in the Christian tradition) is when we become one with the grid itself and are able to control it at will.

Real freedom is quite rare, which is why there are so many senseless atrocities in history. It is predicated on an ability to rise above internal and external impulses, which rests on the level of awareness attained by any individual.

Breivik thought he was fighting back against a culture of national decline, but he was just snapping to the grid of an ancient, tired mythology.

The only partial protection against such random outbursts is for a society to have a strong code of behaviour inculcated very young.

Norway has just such an unspoken culture of civility and good manners. That yesterday’s killing spree happened anyway shows just how far some individuals have been pushed.

I suspect this could be the start of many more incidents like this across Europe unless our feeble political class takes back democratic control of our nation states.

John Evans

… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers. Muscular Mysticism is coming soon.

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Saturday Ramble: Beansprouts — what will Gwyneth do now?

Gwyneth Paltrow

At this time of year the supermarket shelves are creaking with perishable soft fruits and salad items from all over Europe. Like most men, I don’t take much interest in them. This year is different.

The devastating e-coli bug found on organic beansprouts from Germany has hit Europe so suddenly that there’s speculation it could have been a terrorist attack cooked up in Pakistan as retribution for the killing of Osama bin Laden.

More likely, it’s a symptom of the unusual drought conditions across much of the Continent and the British Isles. When water sources are depleted, pathogens increase in concentration in slow-running streams and rivers. Farmers might be tempted to cut corners if water is restricted, taking it directly from local streams to spray on parched crops.

Anyone on a macrobiotic diet, such as Gwyneth Paltrow, is going to be massively put out by the loss of her staple foodstuff. Organic alfalfa munchers must be chewing the table cloth.

I’ve always had a natural distaste for beansprouts. For starters, they resemble blanched worms. They even taste like worms probably do. I’m convinced humans were never meant to eat beansprouts. In Gwyneth’s case, she’s probably having them flown in from California.

We don’t know yet what got into those German beansprouts, causing dozens of deaths and hundred of cases of very serious illness. The Germans have been uncharacteristically clod-hopping in getting a grip on the outbreak. As often is the case, the inefficiencies of Brussels, which has a bossy finger in every pie, has slowed down the process of finding and eliminating the source of the bacteria.

Germany’s lander system of regional government has not helped either, as sleepy local labs wake up to a continent-wide scandal on their doorstep. The blaming of wholly innocent Spanish cucumbers has devastated Iberian growers across the board.

However, if you drive east from Malaga along the Mediterranean coast to Alicante, you will spot some elements of the problem. Acre after acre of fields are covered in vast plastic tent-like structures. Here’s where Europe’s winter and early season fruit and veg comes from. It’s a massive industry supported by grants from Brussels, our money. It might be worth it if not for the obvious dangers.

All that plastic creates a steamy environment in which nasty disease germs flourish. When I lived near there I was told you couldn’t just pick a pepper inside the tent and eat it without being poisoned by the huge load of sprayed insecticide on each fruit.

You don’t have to be a microbiologist to know that those conditions are ideal for the growth of resistant superbugs and new virulent versions of old disease forms. As it happens, that is exactly what the new variation of e-coli is.

Spain is not the epicentre this time, we are told. A single organic farm in northern Germany, selling organic beansprouts to local restaurants in Hamburg is the official source of contamination. But Spanish growers, many very poor, have suffered grievously.

You would guess that the German authorities will be paying out hundreds of millions of euros in compensation to the traduced Spanish. Not so. Brussels has stuck its sticky oar in and pronounced this an EU matter, meaning we too, the innocent British, will have to pay compensation to all and sundry. Anyone would think booming Germany could not afford it.

One thing stands out from this mess for me. My new-found fascination for trawling the fresh fruit and veg shelves of the supermarkets has uncovered some interesting facts. The amount of what used to be called “import substitution” in foodstuffs is gathering pace.

My favourite salad crop, tomatoes on the vine is now more likely to come from Suffolk or Norfolk than Italy or Spain. That is a real turnaround and a welcome one. If this is “global warming” bring it on.

However, the almost supernatural efficiency of the big supermarkets’ “just-in-time” distribution system is beginning to groan.

Don’t imagine I’m a trendy, but I do enjoy raw blueberries with my breakfast. Unfortunately, at this time of year they all come from Spain, so no-go areas for the past month or two.

Last week, a giant Sainsbury’s near us had shelves of blueberry packs all on the day’s date and marked down to half price. There weren’t many takers. You can imagine the pile ups in the storage depots right now.

I predict there will be thousands of blueberry plants popping up all over the countryside as the crop is either ditched or fed to animals.

Everything has its compensations.

John Evans

John Evans is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

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