Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain.
If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.
Life in Spain:-
- I've complained that August here in Galicia - until a couple of days ago - wasn't living up to its reputation for heat. But at least things weren't quite as bad as elsewhere in Spain. Click here for an astonishing report of recent below-freezing temperatures.
- Good to see this review of British comedians Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan's trip to Spain. I'm neither an insecure nor a middle-aged male but I still expect to enjoy it hugely.
- Here's a run through of Spain's most beautiful national parks.
- And, for Spanish speakers, here's a review of the ultra-right in Spain. More accurately of its virtual non-existence.
- I love the Spanish affection (obsession?) with having fun. But I'm not so keen on their apparent belief that it's not possible to enjoy oneself without an astonishingly high volume of noise. Which they think is normal, of course - most of them never having seen the Portuguese, for example, having fun. I'm stimulated to write this by the experience of having my eardrums assaulted by the 'firecrackers' suddenly set off only a few metres from my watering hole yesterday midday. To mark, I believe, the official start of our 2-week fiesta. Not to mention the insistent bass boom from a kiddies' attraction in the nearby main square.
- Correction: Most of you will have realised that the English village of Morpeth I mentioned yesterday was really Morebath. I went back to the book to find evidence of the richness of 16th century English fiesta life centred on saints' days. And discovered that the village's favourite saint of was St Sidwell, whose Wiki page is here. I'm betting that - highly populated as it is - she doesn't figure in the Spanish pantheon. Yet.
Here's The Guardian on the North Korean imbroglio. Specifically on the treatment by the US's wonderful late-night comedians.
The EU: In the article at the end of this post, an Estonian MP and law professor - Prof Igor Gräzin - takes an even more negative/pessimistic view on this 'declining empire' than I do. Interesting stuff. For some of us, anyway.
US Nutter Anne Graham Lotz: While no one can know for sure if judgment is coming on America, it does seem that God is signaling us about something. Time will tell what that something is. Armageddon perhaps, if we leave things to Donald Trump.
Finally . . . There's been a recent fashion in the UK for a Scandinavian outlook on life called Hygge. British columnist and polemicist Rod Liddle says this is a Danish word to describe the feeling of cosiness and contentment you experience just before you decide to commit suicide.
Here's the cartoonist of the Voz de Galicia, comparing President Rajoy's concern for Catalan matters (and turismofobia) with his lack of interest in what concerns (almost) everyone else in Spain:-
Out of ideas and desperate to suppress dissent, the EU's days are numbered: Igor Gräzin
More interesting than when history repeats itself are the trends that do not. Consider the lot of two particular struggling empires. Rome’s collapse was preceded by intellectual degradation. Russia’s, on the contrary, saw it reach one of her intellectual peaks just before the tragedies of her fall.
Remember the likes of Yesenin, “Vekhi“, Rachmaninoff, and Malevich. Given the accompanying cultural masterpiece of the European Union is the Eurovision Song Contest, we might well ask whether the EU (or rather, the European Commission) will collapse in gradual fits or in a single blast.
Intellectually, politically, economically and legally, the process will be challenging. The natural and democratic tendency of EU member states to loosen their EU ties is resisted by its professional nomenclature – and particularly the staff of the European Commission, whose livelihoods are solely dependent upon its existence. Thus even referenda on “exits“ might be effectively out of the question: the Commission has more than enough inertial power to prevent civic movements manifesting themselves or making themselves heard.
Like other declining empires, the EU finds itself suppressing internal opposition. What is notable is the combination of the nature of the dissent, and the environment in which it operates. The EU is driven to relabel its democracy to justify its rearguard fight.
All progressive changes in the EU - whether Brexit, the two emergences of the True Finns, the development of various “pirate-movements“, the strengthening of sovereign identity in Hungary, the Czech Republic and so forth - have taken place in a relatively undramatic ways and through the routine course of civic democracy. So there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the further decay will continue the same way.
The raison d’être of the EU made sense some half-a-century ago, but does not exist anymore. Keeping the peace on the Continent failed in Ukraine, Georgia, the Balkans, Trans-Caucasus; and massive terrorism is a war de facto. With the strictly egoistic interests of individual countries in play, accompanied by a certain set of historical accidents, the Commission is no longer fit for purpose.
Take for starters the existence of the Single Currency. Sitting outside the definition of economist Robert Mundell’s “optimum area", it makes the fragile status of the broad European economy, and specifically its uncompetitiveness, worse. The discriminatory application of Maastricht criteria serves the minority of the EU, and contributes towards “unfair business practices“ (after all: many EU members’ statistical authorities simply lie).
Meanwhile the system itself discriminates against corrective free speech. Political correctness, and the EU generically labelling critical democratic forces as “extremist“, “far Right“ (or “far Left“), both lead to self-alienation through their nomenclature. Ministers who meanwhile stand up for sovereign rights and democratic concerns against the centre are subject to abuse and attack.
Finally, the ideological constraints on the use of police forces (a wariness to act against truly extremist circles at the risk of being labelled “racist,“ or the refusal to prosecute illegal economic migrants as simply illegals) has become an additional risk element.
All these intellectual and ideological factors, set against the new social media foundations underpinning civic society, bring out the lack of charismatic leaders in this phase of change. The EU represents a mentality of mediocracy that has fed institutional idleness.
As there are no leaders in the EU there are no followers either. EU leaders do not lead but merely participate. And so it remains to us - the ordinary people - to wait and watch how a once-challenging idea will fade away. There is no need for us bystanders to be excited, but just to live our normal non-European daily lives.
Against this intellectual void comes the prospect of online cooperation. The socio-political development of Europe will be determined via new media by self-created and self-established civic movements. The future, then, does not belong to the political parties but to the chat-rooms.
The task is not to create and lead this development - it happens by itself! - but to participate and promote the libertarian values within.
Brexit is then not a special case, but just an event in the EU’s decline. We previously saw the "Arab Spring", and one day we will look back at the "Autumn of Europe".
Prof Igor Gräzin is an Estonian MP, law professor and commentator who was also a Member of the last Supreme Soviet of the USSR