Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Euro's Rejection of The Real

A few days ago, I had a conversation with a colleague about the difference between the old world and the new. I mean, the world before the 1960s, that I have sometimes simply called The Before and the weird alienating and artificial wonderland we all live in now. I was explaining a theme of mine, the difference between The Real and Fantasy.

Since the 1960s our culture, so goes my brilliant and utterly unique philosophy, Western Civilization, has increasingly addicted itself to Fantasy, and the consequences have been vast and greatly destructive to the human soul. Having lived for a while now in Europe, I am beginning to understand that the addiction to Fantasy is also destructive in the material realm.

At Brussel's Journal, Paul Belien, (another determined rejecter of Fantasy) writes about the threat posed to the Euro by the collapse of the Greek economy:
The EU currency was not introduced because of economic considerations, but because the European Union is pretending to be a genuine state and states are expected to have single national currencies. Hoping to become a powerful political force in its own right, the EU adopted the euro as the common currency of some 327 million Europeans, so that the currency’s economic power would prefigure the political power to be...

The euro appeared to be very strong, with the value of the U.S. dollar, the British pound, and other currencies dramatically falling in comparison to it – one of the causes of Greece’s problems. Tourism is a major economic sector in Greece. For tourists from outside the eurozone, such as the Americans and British, the country became too expensive as a holiday destination. Last year, when the world economic crisis also affected Europe, with a huge drop in the numbers of EU-citizens, such as Italians, that headed for Greece, the Greek economy collapsed and the Greek government was no longer able to pay the country’s public debts.

The problem with basing an economic system on Fantasy is that it tends to create spaces of empty economic air, bubbles, that tend to burst spectacularly. The global economic crisis, I understand, was created much that way: by giving mortgages to people who could not afford houses, at rates below the standard ones for mortgages. All of this was based on an ideological principle, rather than a sound assesment of the borrower's ability to pay back a loan. We have all been fed the Fantasy that we all, somehow, "deserve" a home and that we can all have one if we just wish hard enough. This Fantasy created a bubble and the burst is the crisis we are all now experiencing. The fact that this crisis is merely an attempt by the system to revert back to a foundation in Real things (the idea that mortgage loans should go to people who can afford to pay them), merely the re-filling of the empty space created by the Fantasy, is not often talked about.

The problem with the European Union, as I see it, is that it is a Fantasy. It is based on things that are simply not true. As Belien points out, the people of the two economically strongest EU countries, Germany and the Netherlands, have said they do not want their money (the fact that "tax money" is the money of the people is often forgotten by EU leadership) to go to bail out the Greek economy, even though it might mean the downfall of the Euro:
Polls indicate that 70% of the Germans oppose using their taxes to bail out other countries. Despite the EU propaganda line that EU citizens share a common European national identity, this is simply not true... The German people are not prepared to lift countries such as Greece, Romania, Spain, Portugal and Ireland out of the recession at its own expense.

I imagine they must be asking themselves by this time what have they really gained by joining this new thing, the Euro. What was wrong with their old currencies? Well, to EU ideologues, what was wrong with it was that it was theirs. It was based on a Real thing, a national economy that involved the buying and selling within those countries of goods produced or imported by those countries. The abolition of the nation state that is being attempted in the EU, is based on something unreal.

The "European Project" to unite the nations of Europe under one gigantic supestate umbrella, is based on the Fantasy that there are no significant or meaningful differences between the many different peoples of Europe. That language, commerce, culture, history, religion, genetics, geography mean nothing and can be superseded by a common "European identity". This is false. This European Identity does not exist. What does exist, what is Real, are language, culture, history, religion, genetics and geography and national boundaries and economies based on these things. These are the things that make cultures and nations cohere and contribute significantly to the psychological identity of the people in them. They are also, it seems, the things that make economies run.

Back to my conversation with my colleague the other day. I presented my theory that the problems we are facing in western societies today can all be described as a cultural addiction to Fantasy. He asked me, quite properly, to define Fantasy.

I said that I think Fantasy is the adherence to a cherished personal preference or notion in the face of overwhelming objective evidence. I made this definition carefully, being certain to say it is not the notion or the preference itself that qualifies a thing as a full blown capital F Fantasy, but the adherence to it, the clinging to it against all evidence and the determination to live in it against the various pressures of The Real.

Our most popular modern Fantasies include the idea that "gender" is a malleable "social construct" and that a person is whatever "gender" he or she feels like being that week. Another is the idea that there is nothing inside a pregnant woman but a "blob of tissue". Another is that people can have sex outside marriage and experience only joy and freedom. Another, that there is no significant difference in temperament or social nature between men and women.

The expression, "create your own reality," popular in the 1980s, is the summation of the exchange our society has made of The Real for the three magic beans of our personal subjective preferences, whims, and wishes.

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