As I have mentioned in a recent post, I have had to travel to Europe for 10 short days, most of which were centered on my mother's health issues. Still, crossing the Atlantic and returning to Europe was not without interest for me as it allowed me to take a short, but interested, look at what had changed since my departure six years ago. While some things had not changed at all (the food there is still excellent) other things truly surprised me.
More than anything else, I was absolutely baffled, and greatly disappointed, by how little original political thought I found in Europe, at least judging by the media. Sure, Dubya is as hated and despised as ever, but beyond that there is very little original European political vision. Sarkozy is in much more trouble for being rude then for being a foam-at-his-mouth Neocon. The USA is criticized for its violations of international law in Iraq, but most Europeans seem to think that the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo and, which is even worse, the wide recognition of this wholly illegal (not to mention fictional) independence is really no big deal. Worst of all, I have found out that not only do European talking heads mindlessly parrot all the anti-Russian nonsense of their American counterparts, but that they are even more rabid in what I can only describe as some bizarre anti-Russian hysteria. The sad reality is that on every single political issue I can think of the Europeans are either indistinguishable or worse than the US Neocons.
Speaking of being worse, I had the "opportunity", so to speak, to watch the idiot-box in Europe and I have to say that it is at least as toxic and mindless as the worst the US TV stations have to offer. Ditto for the printed media.
All in all, Europe (judging from the two countries I visited and from what I could see on the idiot-box) left me the impression of a "flaccid" society without much of an identity and with nothing at all in its guts to counterbalance the Empire in any way. Which is maybe why anti-Russian feelings are so strong, at least among the European pundits.
Russia, for all its (numerous) ills and deficiencies, is clearly breaking free from the Empire and while I do not particularly care for the "national-Bolshevik" ideology used by Putin and his supporters for consensus-building inside Russia, I have to admit that the actual policies followed by Russia are fundamentally pragmatic and sound. And when European complain about the lack of a free press in Russia they can only hope to get away with such baloney by counting on the fact that most of their audience cannot check for itself whether this is true or not. Likewise, Russians had a far more diverse choice of candidates to choose from during the recent presidential election than the Americans could ever dream for. Could it be that European elites dislike Russia precisely because it is now powerful, rich, diverse and independent from the Empire they still sheepishly continue to genuflect to?
I used to look down on Eastern European countries for their abject courting of the USA and NATO, for their lack of national pride, for their childish desire to appease their new masters. I now feel the same way about the rest of Europe: "Old Europe" (to use Rummy's famous expression) or "New Europe" - there is nothing there which would lead me to believe that any good came come from it.
Admittedly, 10 days is a short time to get a sense of what is going on and I might be mistaken in my bleak outlook on Europe. I would very much like to hear from others and be given reasons to hope for the future of my home continent. So if you can offer some insights, whichever side of the Atlantic you live on, please share them with me and post your comments here.