My penultimate posting, and mention of the Large Hadron Collider which has cost umpteen billions of pounds, had reminded me that this is an international project built by the European Organization . . . for Nuclear Research (CERN), and is the largest and the most complex engineering project ever built. So . . . to return to my opening remarks about heavyweight themes being discussed on television this morning, the biggest topic now rearing its head is the EU. Should Britain stay in or go out? (The heat this argument is generating is already rising fast while the referendum is still more than 12 months away.)
Although CERN is not the same thing as the EU (though with many participating governments common to both), it is a similar example of multi-governmental research of such a magnitude that even a consortium of the largest multinational corporations — say Google, Apple, Yahoo, and one or two more — would hesitate — or be unable — to put together. And the same would apply to many major infrastructure projects in the future. For example, China would like to see a railway between the eastern coast of China and the western countries of Europe. But this would be too big a project for China alone, so it’s propose the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) which almost every government en route has welcomed (to the chagrin of America!).
And America itself, in addition to its North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA) is now proposing a much larger Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which many left-wing organisations are already strongly opposing (in this country under the assumed misapprehension that it endangers our National Health Serivice but mainly, I suspect, just because they want to be anti-American).
But there will need to be many more such infrastructural projects in tomorrow’s world in order to keep our complex world economy and environment working well enough, both separately and together (e.g the re-greening of the Sahara and the Gobi deserts, sea pollution and fishing, the sharing of rivers, even cloud-seeding to affect rainfall, etc).
So, to get back to the European Union, surely this is exsctly the sort of progressive organisation that ought to be supported? Well . . . no . . . not exactly. Even though I think that the concept of “human rights” to be a nonsense (as I’ve discussed in a previous posting*), I would support the continuation of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) — which many right-wing Tories in this country are fiercely opposing for jingoistic reasons — simply because it is bringing many minds to bear on what is desirable by way of civilized behaviour in modern advanced societies (though ECHR is not actually a part of the EU but an allied organisation).
So, yes I would support many of the activities and concerns of the EU, but not of its Eurozone offspring which is trying to do the impossible — imposing strict control over how people and governments in different countries spend their money. In other words, to impose a common culture on peoples and regions which have quite different personalities having adjusted over centuries to their realities (e.g. climate, geography, language, traditions) — that is, the distinguishing features of a foreign country that we so much admire when we visit them on holiday. Let the Germans remain with their hard-working attitudes to life (and their beer festivals!) but let the Greeks remain easy-going and take advantage of their sjunshine if that is what they want.
[* “We have no ‘Human Rights’ “, 25 April 2015]