25 april 2016, I heart europe

With barack obama's full-throated support still ringing, I leave for a short holiday with a feel of a fight-back starting. Although the odd bunch in the corner sometimes prospers (austria's just won an election), they generally don't in britain. It will be interesting to see if the inners can ride on the american president's powerful coat-tails and get some momentum for the first time in the campaign. My helpful advice is to take a break from the nitty-gritty arguments of pragmatic apologists (yes it's not perfect, but...) and try soaring up to the big picture for a while. So apart from obama's slam dunk on trade, as patrick steward may have said (in this excellent sketch, albeit on the echr not the eu) - what has europe ever done for us ? Well peace and security for starters, in a continent that spent the previous 100 years without it. And don't knee-jerk respond nato, an outward-facing technical term. Before the common market, tens of millions were killed in wars between germany and france; today they share a currency and don't even have a border. The euro may have issues and the border occasionally reappear - but it's difficult to imagine them annihilating each other. Spain, greece and portugal are stories of democracies which not long ago were dictatorships. Europe's yugoslavian corner was torn apart by its most vicious war since 1945. Too slow to stop it, europe has since brought healing balm, the major force in creating a civil society and the main motivation for sustained peace, with several successor states already in the club. The eu did not alone change these worlds, but in idea and action it played an important part. Europe and the world are paradigms better for the eu's existence and would be at least as worse off without it. We're off on cheap flights (thanks eu for that too) to prague and budapest, previously communist dictatorships, now safe and prosperous democracies. In the big battle to secure freedom and human rights, protections and order from chaos, transparency against corruption and good governance that bring more prosperity to more people, the eu is not just on the right side but was designed with those ends in mind. For all its faults, many inevitable as a futuristic post-national creation wrestling with the mires of the present, the eu is a force for good and needs its champions to keep being so. I am one.