Tuesday June 11, 2013

Ross Douthat of The New York Times contributes a well thought out and balanced essay about the troubles facing the European Union today ("Prisoner of the Euro," op-ed, June 7.) I couldn’t agree more that this "beloved integration project" should never have taken place. Having lived and been schooled within Europe for over 40 years, and having maintained relationships with multi-nationals of different walks and perspectives covering established and emerging ideologies, I offer my observations to the discussion.

1. There is fear of and indignation over returning to dictatorship.

That is what is being created now. With more unelected officials taking their place in Brussels and polices emerging in direct conflict with sovereign interests and identities, cultural forces are pushing back.

Symptoms like high unemployment, staggering debt and polarization within the body-politic serve as a reminder of a much bleaker period of history; namely the 20th century, where Europe experienced both destruction and dictatorship. Once again, elites are being led by a notion of self-righteous arrogance. Majorities of people within this union never signed on and still don’t buy into this model (and want to stop paying for it).

2. Ethnic identities and differences are being ignored at an increasing pace.

Academics thought to create a United States of Europe modeled somewhat on our own federal system of borderless states allowing free movement of commerce and people. A common currency was established in the hopes of the rising tide increasing standards of living within poorer nations. Decades of incremental ebbs and flows within nations accustomed to and driven by identity and history was suddenly ignored and replaced by idealistic and myopic thinking. Since the continent had rejected a more centralized and integrated political arrangement, not to be outdone, the elite policy architects contrived a flawed substitute as an egotistical response to being rebuked by the voters of Europe.

Survival of the Euro is now in question as the price continues to rise on the backs of those least able to accommodate and bear the cost of global market fluctuations. And there will be scant acknowledgment of the true reason(s) for it’s demise.

ANDR TREMBLAY

Williamstown