The impossibility of the Eurozone

In the long run, as Europhiles are constantly telling us, the Eurozone will work perfectly when they’ve found the right acronymic scheme. “In the long run,” as Keynes once said, “we are all dead.”

Beyond any dispute, we now know the precise scientific reason why the Eurozone can’t last. Because the Eurozone is in a particularly bad crisis this week it’s possible it won’t last beyond next week. The consequences of the Greek election on Sunday might be the last straw that breaks the camel’s back. Many of the large European investment funds — pensions, investment, hedge, etc — are already fleeing Eurobonds and parking their money in US Treasuries, even though the latter are, in actuality (when taking inflation into account), paying negative interest rates.

The Eurozone can’t last because the dour, disciplined northern Europeans — the Germans, Dutch, Danes, Finns, Latvians — are psychologically as different as chalk and cheese from the laid-back southern Europeans — the Italians, Greeks and Spanish. How so? They all have the same standard stock of genes, all laid out in strict order along their chromosomes (otherwise they couldn’t inter-breed). They differ somewhat in the selection and balance of minor variations within the otherwise identical genes (we can tell the difference in appearance between the typical Finn and Sicilian immediately). They will happily trade together (because both sides benefit) but they don’t like living too much cheek-by-jowl nor, more than anything else, being governed by those who have a very different culture.

If they have the same genes, northern and southern Europe differ greatly in the way their genes are selected when expressing themselves in the living cells of our bodies — in our body health and our behaviour. Which genes are selected for this or that environment? Which genes associate together on this or that occasion? How long is a particular gene allowed to express itself before re-coiling into its secure DNA helix? All these are the result of small molecules that are of a higher order than genes. These are called epigenes and have only been indisputably identified in the last decade. If genes are the ‘hardware’ of our DNA, epigenes are the ‘software’ which always controls the otherwise inert DNA. The existence and sheer complexity of epigenes have already revolutionized the pharmaceutical industry of the West and is rapidly overturning almost everything that we knew hitherto about many diseases, particularly those which attack in mid-life such as diabetes, heart conditions and many cancers.

Besides predisposing us to this or that disease (and/or helping our immune system to resist others), new epigenes are constantly rising in our body cells according to the precise environment around us. There’s no internal decision-maker which supervises the epigenes. Our epigenetic make-up is strictly according to the diets we eat, our daily temperatures, how hard we have to work (and what type of work), our social world, our rank order (via hormone levels) within our group or neighbourhood (and deference to authority), the pollution around us, the appropriate playfulness or seriousness of our culture, and so on in the thousand-and-one ways whereby personalities and cultures different from one another. In short, our psychological propensities, broadly set by our culture, and more particularly set by our parents, are as subtle and complex as our physiological propensities to this or that disease.

Moreover our epigenetic settings are passed from parent to child, 50% from one parent and 50% from the other. In our lifetime we can augment some or not use some, and then pass the same condition to our children. A particular epigenetic setting may take several generations to reach maximum intensity; it may take generations for a particular setting to die away.

If we could transplant a thousand Greeks into a housing estate and a factory in Germany, they would be psychologically and culturally German with a few generations. (And they would tend to have the same mix of mid-life diseases as indigenous Germans.) Conversely, if we were to able to transplant a thousand Germans into country cottages and olive farms in Greece, then they would be psychologically and culturally Greek within a few generations.

The bureaucrats and retired politicians who devised the European Union and Eurozone by continuing to do what they’re best at — manipulating the punters in small stages — should have read their history books first. The only way a large land mass and a large population with many different climes and cultures within it can possibly become unified under a centralized budgetary authority is either via a dictatorship or a full-scale civil war. That’s where they should have started in order to succeed. But neither another Hitler (or Napoleon or Stalin), or Civil War is possible (we hope!) because no-one would lend the money for armaments. Unfortunately, a deluge of unrepayable debt is poised to fall on us sooner or later.

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