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  • Crazies and Gentles: Two European Families June 7, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite , trackback

    Beach has recently been thinking a lot about a crucial difference between European nations, one that is perhaps not immediately evident to outsiders, but one that divides the continent into two camps: the capacity of these countries for bold if stupid actions. Put in the most vivid terms possible if Spain or Sweden or Lithuania was a Napoleonic cavalry officer would they or would they not ride with their sabre flashing at a battery of canons. European countries can be quickly divvied up.

    On the one had we have the ‘crazies’: Britain, Greece (and the Slav Balkan nations), Hungary, Poland, the Swiss and possibly, at least in a bad mood, Denmark, Ireland and Spain. On the other hand, we have the ‘gentles’: Belgium, the Czech Republic, Italy, France and Germany.

    If the populations of ‘crazy’ countries had a choice between economic self harm and pride, they would go with pride and let GDP hang: memories of the Serbs defying NATO. If the countries of category two had the same choice they would swallow their pride hard and avoid visits to the local casualty ward: see French and Italian foreign policy in the last thirty years.

    The difference can be seen in the rebellions against Soviet rule in Hungary and the Czech Republic: the first were magnificent Magyar boys against tanks; the second was an attempt to introduce some tiny social democratic reforms that was misunderstood by those not terribly bright people in the politburo. It is there, too, in more recent votes on Europe. In the two most important referendums of recent times the British and Greeks defied the EU: the Greeks by an incredible, awe-inspiring 60%. If there were a referendum on keeping the Euro in France or Italy tomorrow, despite justified doubts, both peoples would vote massively for the status quo, some for love, most for fear.

    Of course, some countries are difficult to classify; not sure where to place the Netherlands or Norway, say. Others have changed sides. We live in a much happier Europe today because Germany moved from one of the craziest of the crazies to becoming a bucolic bovine gentle.

    Other crazies and gentles: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com