Parina

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Author: parina (page 1 of 51)

EUROPA (a short story)

 

 

They wouldn?t let her play with just anyone. Her friends had to be carefully selected. Above all, now that she was reaching womanhood, she had to be restricted to the exclusive company of girls, girls of high quality, approved by her parents, and companions fit for her. It wasn?t that she was ungrateful, and it wasn?t that she was disloyal or even lacking in her imposed sense of duty. It was just that she got so terribly bored in the company of these correct and specially vetted and selected companions. None of them seemed to have any imagination or even the remotest spontaneous flair for something crazy, something forbidden, something against the rules. Nothing too dangerous. She hardly expected that of them. But couldn?t one of them at least understand and condone her need to break away, if only for just a little? Couldn?t one of them at least sympathize with, if not encourage her thirst for the illusion of some adventure? Just the illusion, since she was herself very well aware that it could never be anything more than just that. Yet, no. they remained, to a girl, strictly bound by the confines of their duty and she couldn?t help disdaining them, all of them, for their arrant timidity.

Spring turned out to be the most terrible season she?d ever lived through that year. Or so it had seemed to her. Stupid, insipid ball games with her friends, gathering flowers and making garlands out of them, singing and dancing in circles holding hands? It was unendurable and she couldn?t help being amazed with herself over how she?d actually enjoyed such ridiculous pastimes before. At night she just couldn?t sleep for a strange persistent throbbing inside her and by day she was often afflicted by terrible headaches and fits when she was gripped by an overpowering urge to scream and shout and tear up those wretched flower garlands her companions had taken such pains to make. She was sorry afterwards. She always was. But when her blood began to boil over, for no apparent reason, she just couldn?t restrain herself from her wild vindictive actions. Could she help it if she vented her wrath on her friends? They, after all, had become the symbols as well as the instruments of her confinement whether they liked it or not, so it was they who, of necessity, had to bear the brunt of her wild if totally ineffectual bursts of momentary rebellion.

?Lets go for a swim!? She cried out in an impetuous impulse one morning, surprising them out of the dullness of their flower gathering.

?A swim??

The other girls looked at each other in astonishment. But it was such a hot day in late spring and the cool blue sea so inviting in its calmness.

?Yes, a swim!? She declared again, but then in the face of their timid hesitancy, added, ?I?ll go on my own if no one else wants to.?

The other girls exchanged looks anxiously again. It wasn?t exactly that they didn?t want to. And it wasn?t exactly as if the beach were forbidden. Only?

?Only what?? She snapped at them impatiently.

?Well, we really shouldn?t go swimming without our mothers to chaperone us.?

?Oh, nonsense! Did anyone ever actually tell you that??

?Well, no? not exactly, but??

?But? There?s no but! If something hasn?t specifically been forbidden then it?s allowed, isn?t it??

Her companions gaped at her. She wasn?t wrong of course, but each and every one of them knew that it had never been specifically forbidden because it had never been expected that the girls would ever think of doing such an audacious thing on their own. Most of them remained hesitant. They could sense they were about to do something dangerous even if not specifically forbidden, something they knew they really shouldn?t. On the other hand they were duty bound to follow her to keep her in check, if nothing else. This was, after all, their prime duty and what they had been entrusted to do. Besides, it was such a hot day, the sea so calm and beckoning? They exchanged looks again, their resolve beginning to waver. After all, it was surely not such a terrible thing to be doing, was it? And then one of them said in a panic,

?But we can?t! We?ll get our clothes wet! And then what? We?ll only get into trouble.?

?Wet?? She laughed at her scornfully. ?You fool! Why swim in our clothes when we?re alone and unchaperoned? We won?t get our clothes wet if we take them off! So no one need ever find out if we strip!? She declared, swiftly discarding her own light spring clothes, dropping them on the sand and jumping straight into the water.

?Oh, it?s divine!? She shrieked out in rapture, swimming out in a supple stroke then ducking her head under to savor the delight of the water all over her. ?Whoever doesn?t come in isn?t worth a worm eaten fig!? She cried out her taunt in a feeling of exhilaration.

The other girls grew restless on the beach, torn between wanting to join her and being afraid of the consequences if they did, till one of them said,

?Oh, why ever not??

And another,

?You can count me in too!?

And a third,

?Come on then! What are we waiting for??

And in a contagious thrilling, they threw off all their clothes, one after another, and jumped into the cool refreshing sea after her. Soon they were all splashing around and ducking each other playfully, shrieking and teasing and touching and embracing in sheer delight. Their nakedness in the water felt exquisite. They were gripped by feelings of elation as the sea caressed their firm young flesh warmly and sensually, rippling round their bodies as they clung to each other under the water, the cool currents weaving between their legs and tangled embraces. Intoxicated by the strong voluptuous feelings enveloping them, they laughed and they played in the water in total carefree abandon like babies. Their games and races eventually wore them out. After exerting themselves joyously in the water, one by one they crawled out of the sea and dropped onto the beach in delicious exhaustion. Sunning their naked bodies to dry before dressing again, some of them fell asleep, others felt drowsy in the heat of the sun, so it was only natural that they should think that this was a dream or some kind of strange hallucination before their eyes, dazzled and dimmed as they were by the strong midday sunlight.

The sea was calm and blue. There wasn?t a cloud overhead nor a sign of a change in the weather in sight. Yet far off in the distance, they thought they saw a wild frothing. Something like a large tidal wave. Or a boat. Some kind of galley. Something approaching, hidden in the foam it was kicking up around it so furiously. But it couldn?t be a boat because it was coming so fast. And it couldn?t be a dolphin because they usually swam by so graciously in packs. This was so strange. A wild torrent racing straight towards them. Racing over the sea in a frenzied foam. They shaded their eyes and looked out at it. Soon, curiosity was replaced by apprehension and as the white ball of froth sped even closer, by fear. Some of the girls jumped to their feet, grabbing their clothes, others ran off into the thickets before getting dressed. She was the only one not to panic at that moment. She shaded her eyes and watched the thing coming even closer, gripped not just by curiosity but by a strange throbbing in her body, like the throbbing that had been keeping her awake night after night throughout this long deadly spring.

Most of the girls had already hastily thrown their clothes back on, but none of them had run completely away. Even the ones who?d dashed off into the thickets had slowly trickled back to the beach. This was, after all, too strange a sight to miss and kept them there staring almost against their own will, as if they had been mesmerized by the terrible eyes of a snake. The frenzied missile seemed to slow down as it approached the shore and that was when they were sure the sun had been too harsh on their bare heads. Some of the girls rubbed their temples, others their eyes, just a few clapped their hands to their mouths to repress a scream. And they stared in stunned silence as a magnificent white bull swam powerfully out to them, climbed out of the water onto the beach and stood for a moment snorting and glistening in the sunlight. It just couldn?t be.

But it snorted again, pawed the sand with its hoof, then burst into a wild and hectic gallop along the shore. The girls broke out into shrieks and screams, clutched at each other and trembled, but remained rooted to the spot in absolute terror. The bull kept galloping in mad circles all around them, snorting and bellowing occasionally, in a crazy frenetic dance, captivating them by his motion. She was the only one who was still naked. She?d jumped to her feet and was watching the bull at its antics in a mesmerized trance, her mouth half open in something between wonder and shock. It circled round the girls wildly, again and again, occasionally approaching one or other of them, sometimes poking at them, gently however, with one of his horns. The girls began to scream hysterically, one of them fainted and soon they were all crying out in panic and fear. But the strange white bull, washed up onto their shore out of nowhere, didn?t harm them. He seemed to be playing games with the girls, having fun scaring them as he circled them or touched them with his horns or even snorted into their faces, causing them the wildest of panics.

She was the only one of all the girls who didn?t so much as blink at all this, let alone shriek. The bull hadn?t approached her, but it wasn?t just that. She couldn?t keep her eyes off him. Such compelling power in his body as he raced round the beach. Such beauty in his pure white coat as it glistened in the sunlight, wet from the sea he?d so strangely materialized from. She didn?t know bulls swam. Perhaps they didn?t. Perhaps it was just this magnificent creature, this strong wild crazy bull dancing round scaring and teasing her girl companions to extraction. She wasn?t afraid of him, however, though she knew she most certainly ought to be. And it wasn?t because he?d not harmed anyone yet either. Who could tell if he wasn?t about to charge them and impale them one by one on his sharp erect horns, disemboweling them as he ran off with their guts streaming down over his impeccable white face like garlands? The thought did occur to her. But she still felt no fear of him. Perhaps it was because he was too beautiful, too graceful even, in his powerful galloping to inspire fear. He inspired awe in her. Awe, and something more. A strange magnetism seemed to be pulling her towards him, a strong sense of attraction, a desire to touch him and stroke his pure white head between his horns.

While the other girls shrieked and screamed, running away from him in desperate circles when he playfully chased them about, she just stood there, on the beach, watching him, utterly oblivious of anything else, even her own nakedness at that moment. The sight of the bull had totally captivated her. And then the strangest of things happened. As if anything even stranger than what had already happened could occur. The bull finally galloped straight up to her. She didn?t flinch as he approached, she didn?t turn and run as the other girls did when he playfully charged at them and he? he didn?t snort in her face and circle her ominously, nor did he huff and poke at her with his horns. He just stopped still in front of her and looked into her eyes. As if such a thing could be. A bull looking into a girl?s eyes? Yet he did and it mesmerized her. Then he dropped to his knees on his forelegs in front of her and bowed his head, almost in a gesture of homage, homage to her youth and her beauty.

The other girls had stopped shrieking and just stood around staring in wonder at all this incredible behavior from a bull before a vulnerable naked girl, standing alone and exposed on the beach in front of him with no fear in her eyes. In a spontaneous impulse she didn?t even think of trying to control, she stretched out her hand and touched his head. Slowly. Cautiously. Timidly even, at first. But the bull didn?t move. He felt hot to her touch. After all that chasing about on the beach, he felt hot but deliciously pleasant as she stroked his face gently, then his thick neck, and he looked up at her. His enormous, tough, bull neck felt soft and inviting to her touch. A murmur of awe went up in unison from all the other girls watching. As she kept stroking him gently, he nuzzled his nose in between her breasts. His warm furry face against her nakedness caused a shock of excitement to shoot strangely through her body. Then he walked slowly round her and with remarkable gentleness pushed his dangerous horned head between her legs. With a toss of his head, she found herself astride his neck, gripping onto his horns for safety as he darted off on a renewed crazy gallop of triumph round the beach. This time she did shriek, but with excitement, in exhilaration as she clung onto him for dear life, squeezing her legs round his neck and enjoying the feel of his exquisite white coat against her skin as she rode him skillfully.

Her cries turned to laughter. Loud excited laughter at the joy of riding this impulsive wild animal dangerously round the beach, to the horror of her foolish, prim girlfriends watching her aghast. She clung onto him dearly and he galloped round and round, snorting ecstatically and thrilling her deeply with the power of his body as she rode him, and the pace of his gallop made her heart soar to the skies. The only thing that kept marring her joy and excitement in this was an inner conviction that it was only a dream, perhaps the result of sun stroke, and couldn?t be real for all the delight it was causing her. No doubt she was actually asleep on the sand under the sun and this illusion was no more than her innermost deepest desires expressing themselves in this crazy dream of a slick powerful bull racing round the beach madly, carrying her proudly and ecstatically on his pure white back. And indeed, when he?d had enough of circling round the beach in triumph, sporting her as his rider and he finally turned to gallop headlong back into the sea where he?d come from, she felt her eyelids growing heavy, as though she were falling asleep, and everything became confused and muddled for her again.

She could feel the cool welcome water splashing and spraying over her body, still hot from her frenzied hard riding, as he swam faster and faster out to sea. She was conscious of gripping tightly onto his horns and still being astride him, but then everything sank away into nothingness, a dream and the illusion of joy and excitement she?d been hungering for so, throughout this harsh wretched season of spring. She sank back into her heavy sleep and the crazy exciting wonderful dream faded away. She was no longer conscious of anything any more. Not even the beach she was sleeping on.

Her body ached all over and though she?d been sleeping, she felt very tired. Still in a daze, she drew herself up languidly, propped herself up on her elbow and looked around. She was lying on the sand and she was still naked as she?d been when she?d dropped onto the beach in exhaustion and stretched her limbs out under the burning sun to dry before getting dressed again. But though she was lying on the sand, the beach looked different. The hills up above, the mountains further inland, even the shoreline looked very different. She sat up with a start and rubbed her eyes, but still the strange unfamiliar scenery didn?t dissolve and change back into her beach, the one she?d been playing on with her friends. Her friends. What friends indeed! Her momentary quiver of apprehension of the unknown turned into anger. Not one of those stupid girls had thought of waking her up! They?d all gone, vanished, run home to Mummy with their tails between their legs, and worse! What can the fools have been thinking of? They?d even taken her own clothes away with them!

If she didn?t know better, she might have thought they were playing a joke on her. But none of them would dare do a thing like that to her, always assuming she?d had the imagination to think up a trick like that to play on her in the first place. Still, where did this leave her now? And how was she supposed to walk home like that, totally naked? Oh well, she really had no cause to worry. Soon enough they?d send out a party to come and look for her. Some joke when they found her lying on the sand like this wearing nothing! She didn?t know whether she should laugh at this, as she did feel inclined, or else smart at the humiliation those idiot companions of hers had subjected her to. And anyway, how come the scenery had managed to change so utterly? Even the sun seemed to be in quite the wrong place. But then how was she to know whether it was morning or evening? She did feel confused. Perhaps the sun had indeed beaten too strongly down on her head after all.

?Oh no?? She sighed, closing her eyes and rubbing her temples as she lay back again. Perhaps if she took a nap, everything would be back in place again when she woke up once more. Well, what else was there left for her to do, short of running around the place in a panic with no clothes on?

She may have dozed off a little again, she couldn?t quite tell, but the sound of hoofs beating on the beach in a vigorous gallop aroused her. She sat up abruptly, hoping and dreading it might be some kind of horseman sent by her father coming to find her and put her out of her predicament. But it wasn?t. It wasn?t a horseman. It was the bull. That strange white bull of her dream that had carried her off on his back and way out to sea. It seemed to be galloping towards her again, but all of a sudden she was deafened by a loud bang like a clap of thunder in her ears, though there?d not been a cloud in the sky, followed by a blinding flash that momentarily wiped out her vision in its brilliant light. Her whole body shook with terror and she began to feel cold. As the blinding glare softened and her vision began to focus properly again, she thought she saw a man approaching her from where the bull had ostensibly exploded into pure energy. She rubbed her eyes again and then realized she?d not been imagining things after all. It was indeed a man coming towards her. A tall strong man with a bronzed muscular body striding confidently, even eagerly towards her. Something inside her quivered. He had golden hair and eyes that flashed brighter than sunlight as he approached her. Her first reaction was to feel shame and exposure on being found like that on this strange deserted beach by this unknown nobleman, for he was no one from her father?s court, that much she was sure of. What would she say to him? How could she explain? How could she tell him who she was? She darted an anxious look around, hoping, even longing, for the white bull to come charging up to her and carry her away with him once more. But the animal was nowhere in sight and she was surprised by the momentary feeling of sorrow that caught her in the guts at his disappearance.

The man smiled as he came closer to her. She swiftly jumped up to her feet as he did so to be able to meet him on a more equal footing when he got to her, since there was no mistaking now that he was indeed coming deliberately for her and not just by chance. He stopped and looked into her eyes. A strange feeling came over her. A feeling like the one induced in her on her own beach when the bull had looked into her eyes before kneeling at her feet in homage to her youth and her beauty, just as this man was doing now. She frowned and then her body shook. She felt wild again, as she had when she?d been riding the bull in his frenetic taunting of her companions. Wild and excited by this encounter. But she had enough presence of mind also to feel fear, this time. Her eyes were ablaze with emotions and her lip trembled.

?Will a noble princess who had the courage to ride and tame a wild bull and subject him to her will be afraid of a mere man now?? He asked.

She frowned again in her confusion.

?How did you know? Were you there?? It surprised her, above all that it seemed to have actually happened and not been a dream. Unless she was still dreaming now. Though something told her she wasn?t.

?Oh yes.? He smiled. ?I was there.?

?But?? Her lip quivered again and from the intensity in his brilliant eyes and the way he was looking at her, she remembered, with a jolt, that she was standing before him in absolute nakedness. She lowered her eyes from his in shame and tried to cover herself as best she could with her arms.

?Don?t do that.? He said, gently taking hold of her wrists to draw her arms away again. ?Modesty is not becoming in one of such powerful beauty as you.?

She looked up at him and gaped. She?d certainly never held the virtue of modesty in much esteem before. It had always been imposed on her and had made her chafe and feel suppressed and imprisoned. But she?d never expected to hear an opinion like that from a grown man. He smiled at her with pleasure.

?Such beauty?? He murmured staring at her in aroused admiration. ?Such beauty, my love. It?s enough to make a man go to the craziest extremes.?

?But, I?? She stuttered again in total confusion. But then the strangest of things happened to her, as if things could get any stranger in this hallucination or dream or whatever else it might be.

He took her into his arms and she felt the same thrill of excitement shoot through her body as it had when the bull had nuzzled its face between her breasts and then again when he?d tossed his head up and she?d found herself straddling his thick neck. She felt the same joy and exhilaration as when she?d found herself in that wild bull ride on her beach at home where her companions had shrieked with terror as she?d galloped around them in triumph, laughing and rejoicing as she gripped at his horns and squeezed her legs round his neck tightly to keep herself perched high up on his back. Joy, delight, the deepest of thrills, an ecstatic flash, a powerful eruption of energy. And then, that strange drowsiness again. A feeling of utter exhaustion.

 

She could never remember just how long they stayed on that beach together, eating nothing but berries and fruit and never feeling hungry. It could have been a day, or a week, or a month, or a year. She never thought of home. She never thought of anything other than the endless torrent of pure joy they were living in. The ecstasy of their embracing, an ecstasy not confined to the body alone, but reflected in the soaring of her spirit to limitless heights. He told her he was a God and she laughed. Then he told her he was the King of the Gods and she laughed again.

?Don?t you believe me?? He seemed disappointed.

?Oh yes.? She?d smiled. ?Who but a God could make me feel like this and turn my body into pure palpitating energy every time we embrace??

He looked at her warily for a moment, but then smiled in satisfaction.

?You have such beauty? Such overwhelming beauty. I just had to make you mine. It wasn?t an easy decision. But then passion and desire got the better of the need for restraint and duty. Besides,? He added, ?your children will become the founders of a great continent that will dominate the world for eons. Its power and authority will create greatness in all things, from mind to matter and the most vicious destruction ever seen on earth in the ages to come.?

?Both greatness and destruction?? She said emphasizing the word ?and? in slight confusion at what he?d just said. He shrugged.

?Well, that?s the way it is.? He stated simply, sounding apologetic about it all the same.

Then she smiled again and lay back on the sand, far more caught up by the timeless unending moments of bliss in his arms than in her future, still less that of her children since, though pregnant, she still hadn?t had any yet. And then he told her a story about how, consumed by his unrequited passion and desire for her, he?d turned himself into the magnificent white bull that had carried her off. What else could he have done? What else indeed? She?d laughed caressing his cheek gently. He?d said he?d seen her and she?d told him the story of the bull herself so many times, it was perhaps not surprising he?d decided to appropriate it for himself. Though she laughed at the way he stole and embellished the story telling it as his own, she did find the idea flattering, even repeated it herself many years later. It enhanced her position, after all.

She may have been the First Queen of Crete and of princely stock, a fit mother for a King who was to found a dynasty and use the powerful horned bull as his symbol, but it certainly did no harm to her authority over her subjects to let it be known that she?d been singled out and courted elaborately by the King of the Gods himself, who?d sired her sons and her daughters in humble homage to the power of her beauty.

Everything was a question of how you presented it, after all. A hapless abduction was one thing and being divinely chosen, carried away over the sea on the back of a magnificent white bull, nothing other than the God of Gods himself in disguise, quite another.

 

Granny Stories Soon to be Forgotten

Now the great thing about growing old is that you remember so many things. Like the first man on the moon. The student uprisings. The kidnapping of Aldo Moro. Sooty bombed out London. The smog that suffocated the city. The Kennedy assassinations, Jack and Bobby. But the bad thing about being old is that you keep forgetting. Just about everything. That doesn?t really matter at all. Like filing your tax returns or your appointment with the dentist say. Or even why the hell you just went back to your bedroom. But being on the last lap does concentrate your mind. So lets recount some of those wonderful memories. Perhaps not the Man on the Moon so much. Though my mother was absolutely bowled over by it saying she just couldn?t wrap her mind round it, we young ones immersed in science fiction as we were then, didn?t think it was so fantastic after all. Just something in the order of things which was bound to happen at some time sooner or later and seemed a lot like later to our fertile little minds.

So I thought I might regale you all with little snippets from the lived past which will no longer be ?lived? at all, but no less amusing or interesting, for some I hope,  for that.

Climate Change

As Wolfgang Munchau points out in his blog, no one is really concerned with possibly the greatest danger facing humanity (barring an “accidental” nuclear holocaust), climate change.

There are protests, gilets jaunes, there is a great reaction to the economic conditions imposed, a reaction conveniently denigrated by the nebulous term “populism”. There is discontent and growing violence everywhere.

Barring the British school children’s demonstration there are hardly any mass popular (sorry for the term) manifestations to show genuine and deep concern over this danger.

And this will not change. Politicians everywhere are certainly not bothered by this “problem”. They have a short time span to worry about. The next elections. As for mass movements, again the time span is important. The great wave of discontent in Europe, and elsewhere is a reaction to neo liberal economics and the debilitating austerity imposed. When incomes are being slashed, welfare dismantled, education restricted to those who can pay (through the nose!) in the so called civilized world, who will or can worry about something that seems very far away in time?

Politicians of the revolving door species which dominates the world at present (also as a result of the neo liberal economy prevailing) are the last creatures likely to worry their pretty little heads over such a matter.

Francis Fukuyama informed us that  the demise of Communism had signaled the “end of history” since the capitalist system had prevailed.

He was quite right, This dominant system, to which there is no alternative, just about ensures that the world will either be drowned in a  great big global flood (rings a bell?) or demolished in some raging global fire (hell on earth?).

The triumph of the system so celebrated does not auger well for the future of humanity. Which as likely as not is in for real trouble, trouble that the Markets not only cannot cope with, but will have triggered.

 

 

Populism

A dirty word, an insult a means to denigrate your opponent? The word has flooded the media and has become a if not The major element in current political discourse. But what does it actually mean? The will of the people? Originally. The abuse of the will of the people? Perhaps. Rightly or wrongly those accused of populism in the current context are sleazy politicians whipping the people up for their own electoral success.

But in the prevalent climate ?globally I think ? ALL politicians suffer from/use various degrees of populism to curry electoral favour from the far right to the far left and everyone else in between. The rise of nationalist populism sweeping through Europe is decried and it is indeed extremely worrying and reminiscent of the 1930?s, the Weimar Republic and the horrendous rise of fascism.

However, that is where the analysis stops. Short. We are told that Europe is in danger from this rise in nationalist populism and there have been all sorts of cries from intellectuals and so on in attempts to stem this tide. Again the fundamental causes of this phenomenon are skirted over. The main cause proffered (and used by the populists) is the influx of refugees and immigrants.

This is exceedingly convenient for all concerned. Fascism/populism reared its ugly head in the 1930?s mainly for other reasons. Reasons which are very close to what is going on today. Economic discontent. The neo-liberal dogma (because that is what it is) has permeated economic ?thinking?(or failure to think). Resulting over the recent decades in the appalling inequality (still growing), the diminution of the middle class, in short the worship (and implementation) of stringent Austerity which only helps the rich get much richer and the poor much poorer and more numerous.

The EU and the Euro have become vehicles for establishing often debilitating austerity and stoking popular discontent. The populace is growing restless and needs to rebel against this phenomenon impoverishing them and diminishing their standard of living. Resulting in an EU totally alien to the original ideals.

An outlet is needed. In Greece the popular vote turned left. However Mr. Tsipras soon proved unequal to the task and decided that ?if you can?t beat them join them? which he did with relish and has now become the darling of the European elite because he continued the imposition of austerity with a vengeance.

So the gathering and growing discontent turns to the right. Needless to say the right and far right parties growing in strength in Europe are taking great advantage of it while the ?Elites? wring their hands and decry the horror of ?populism? while brushing the real economic problem they have been instrumental in imposing under the carpet. For them populism is a nefarious affliction that appears to have descended from the skies. But is hasn?t. It has been created by their own politics.

So when all the calls to fight the rise of this ugly phenomenon chose to totally ignore the main cause of the discontent, the far right risks growing stronger and stronger.

In Davos, we are told, the gathering discussed ways to deal with the problem. But what are they supposed to do about it when it is they themselves who are in fact the problem?

CASSANDRA?

Over twenty years ago Bernard Connelly wrote ‘The Rotten Heart of Europe’ when he was running the monetary affairs unit of the European Commission. For his pains he was summarily fired and even denied access to the EU buildings. His crime? Seeing, setting out and warning over the catastrophic construct of the single currency being designed for the EU. It is now common knowledge that he was perfectly right. As an Economist (and not as some latter day Nostradamus) he saw why and how this experiment was flawed and dangerous.

Like Cassandra he was totally ignored. And worse even. Perhaps the way he was treated for his analysis should have been a warning sign for us. Had it been a load of ridiculous waffle would the EU directorate have even bothered with him? Hardly.

The Eurozone ?crisis? is proof enough that he was perfectly right.

But despite the Greek plight and the Italian stand off, I am referring to this book today, because at some point he says, that the collapse of the European Union will begin from the pavements of Paris*

I very much fear he may well be vindicated yet again.

 

*Not a verbatim quote but the gist of what he wrote.

 

 

Centenary Celebrations

A hundred years since the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The end of the Great War as it was till it became the First World War since it had not really ended in 1918. So what were we celebrating in fact?

The imagery chosen itself, I feel, was very eloquent. The Chancellor of Germany and the President of the Republic of France walking to the famous or infamous or both railway carriage where the original Armistice had been signed, to sit beside each other for the photo and sign something again, symbolically. What exactly?

A glum faced Chancellor Angela Merkel, on the way out after having driven the EU to the brink of collapse even perhaps through her eternal procrastination and kicking that can down the bloody road interminably till it has now started to wobble dangerously on the edge of the cliff.

The President of the Republic of France, Emmanuel Macron looking rather insipid beside her, having failed utterly to convince the lady beside him of his proposals for the EU which could save it, since they were met with her persistent and stubborn Niens all the time to everything and anything that could reform the hapless Union. Not to mention his failure to achieve anything at home apart from growing dissent and anger which may well translate into something very ugly in the coming Euro elections.

So these two figures were of necessity the ones symbolising the end of that terrible war. Or at least of the first part of it. Because as they walked away we were reminded by the BBC that this is the first time a German Chancellor has walked down this path since Adolf Hitler when the French signed their surrender to him in the second half of the horrendous European wars, in that very same carriage. Whoops. Hardly an auspicious association though perhaps a pertinent one.

The whole show was very depressing and perhaps this ominous little bit of it should have been avoided. It can?t help auguring ill.

 

 

Britain, Greece and the EU

I grew up in London. As a child I tended to be a bit confused. There was Britain and there was the Continent which was something else that Britain did not belong to. Summer holidays were spent in Greece, where there was Greece and Europe which was again the ?other? somewhere this time Greece did not belong to.

Now in Geography lessons we learnt that the continent of Europe did indeed include both the British Isles and of course Greece, and in history lessons that both of these were very important in the history of Europe, albeit in different times in and different ways.

When I was a little older, in the sixties when Britain still had not joined the then Common Market, swarms of day trippers from the ?Continent? would cross the Channel to do their shopping in Britain because prices were so much cheaper, thereby justifying the extra cost of travel.

All and any attempts by Britain to join the EEC or even just hints, were squarely vetoed by General de Gaulle who roundly declared that were Britain to be allowed into the Common Market she would destroy it. Hmmm.

Not taking the snub lightly, Britain finally managed to enter the Common Market in 1973 through Edward Heath?s persistent efforts, after de Gaulle?s demise that is. Greece entered the Common Market in 1981 after the fall of the Military Junta through the misguided belief that this membership would ensure democracy for the country,

The EEC had not been too keen on either membership. Britain owing to the fear of perfidious Albion and Greece because? well really this was a tinpot little country of no importance but whose historical legacy pushed it through.

And as things played out, perhaps it would have better, who knows? for both countries and the EU had neither of these two countries becomes members.

The following expansion of the EEC firstly to Spain and Portugal, then later to the ex Communist countries of Eastern Europe does not seem to have benefited the project for many and varied reasons.

And now Brexit is indeed threatening to tear down the whole edifice. Perhaps de Gaulle will be vindicated.

But then again perhaps the possible collapse of the EU, when and if it does happen (something that seems likelier by the day) for all the mismatches with Britain on the one hand and Greece on the other, blame should be attributed to where it is due: the Merkel-Schauble factor. The polices they imposed and the undemocratic way in which this was done led to resentment, pain, fear and even a resurgence in racism.

Let us not forget Schauble?s infamous doctrine: no matter what a country may vote for it makes no difference, economic policy cannot change. Implying it would always be decided by Germany and no one else was entitled to have a say.

However, it does seem that the people do matter after all.

 

 

 

Once More Unto the Breach

I have been absent for a long time. Owing to despair. Just what was the point of banging and banging one’s head against a padlocked door? The Elite KNOWS you (or anybody else) do not!

“We” thought the Soviet Economy was bad and unworkable because it was a command economy. “We” were right. Or were “we”? The European Union is a command economy. Directives for everything. In Greece, the great experiment in European Economic practice, collective bargaining has been banned and replaced by Government decision, for one. And just about everything is subject to the decisions of a totally illegitimate body, the Eurogroup, that decides in secret meetings and imposes whatever the German finance minister thinks, in his myopia, is best for Germany.

The whole of the EU is run by unaccountable, unelected nonenities (on the whole) who answer to no one.

Which may be why many a lapsus linguae has been heard referring to the “Soviet Union” instead of the “European Union”.

Cause enough for despair. Situation irreparable. No way a sober interesting or even useful thought can even be heard if it dissents to the received European wisdom which is law though imposed undemorcatically and totally arbitrarily.

And, it may be added, totally disastrously. And here, as paradoxically as it may seem, is where cause for some hope may be found.

The EU is floundering, globalism is being contested. Unfortunately revolt has found expression in the so called extreme right so far. The left is responsible for this. After the Greeks elected a left wing government, turning to it to change this catastrophic doom spiral, it flinched. It was not up to the task so decided instead to capitulate to the EU directorate and ended up imposing the worst EU measures devised to disastrous results for the Economy.

All the so called social democrat and left of center parties did the same in a variety of ways, from Tiny Blair’s New Labour to the German SPD joining in coalition governments and so on. So where else to turn? Rage and disgruntlement has turned sharp right.

It is time, therefore, to try and bring the debate to perhaps saner and more workable ideas. Especially now when we are on the brink of a disastrous collapse of the world order. One does not wish to reverse this collapse. It is a highly needed one. But we are at a dangerous crossroads.  We need to be aware and act, so: Once more unto the breach dear friends,

“I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge”
(From William Shakespeare’s Henry V)

 

Black Adder in Greece

Lots of great news for Greece! Consumer confidence, they tell us is up! But they also tell us (in a mumble) that consumption is down. We are exiting the MoU austerity imposing regime in August, they tell us! But have to accept, again in a mumble that, yes well, ah, of course austerity will continue and probably get worse with all the horrendous measures already proactively voted for the purpose.

If none of all this seems to make any sense, we must remember that all the brilliant people (mainly in the district of what is known as the EU and EZ) assure us that all is gong extremely well. Even if we cannot quite see it, it is they who really KNOW because… aha! They can read the runes which we mere mortals cannot.

And as if all this were not enough, the Guardian newspaper (that shall forever remain tainted by the shame) thought it would be a great idea to tout a 2,500 GBP guided tour of the misery in Greece. You will be taken to the immigrant centres to see how horrible conditions are, and to visit Greek families struck down by the horrific austerity regime, now living in destitution and penury!

Well now, if that isn’t straight out of Monty Python, or Black Adder,  I don’t know what is!

From his various witty quotes it appears that our current Fin Min Mr Euclid Tsakalotos is very fond of Black Adder and Monty Python since he loves using quotes as put downs, and no doubt thinks it’s all very funny.

And in a pitch black sort of way maybe it is. The trouble is,

No one is laughing.

 

 

Revolving Door and Gravy Train for ex Leaders & Politicos

Senior citizens wonder what went so wrong with the world while younger people wonder why the world is in such a shameful state. It is always easy to look back at the past and think that: Oh! things were so much better then! And this is indeed something that is assumed to have played a part in the vote for Brexit, for Trump and perhaps even the French elections.

And of course one always remembers the Good things and not the Bad. However, there is one thing that has become so much worse. Undeniably. The ethics of former political leaders, or rather lack thereof. There is of course nothing illegal in accepting six digit payments for giving a talk. Nor is it illegal for ex Goldman Sachs employees to go into government or ex politicians to go to highly paid jobs in say Goldman Sachs.

I refer to Goldman Sachs just because it is the most obvious, not because it is the only financial or other institution that has such influence. The governor of the Bank of England, the governor of the ECB to name but two of the most important currencies in the world are both ex Goldman Sachs men.

Manuel Baroso who was not at all a successful Prime Minister was given the job of President of the EU Commission (where his term was not a sparkling success since the debt crisis broke out and the way it was handled may well lead to the collapse of the EZ if not the EU) but never mind, he was duly rewarded for all his pains with a well paid job at … yes. You guessed it.

There is no end to such cases from around the world. That is the infamous revolving door. But another instance is the exorbitant fees these excellent people who run our lives (for better or for worse… usually the latter) are rewarded with. To take the most blatant examples. Bill Clinton has made millions (and makes no secret of it) from charging exorbitant sums for giving talks. Tony Blair went full throttle not only with overpaid talks, but various consultancies and such as well.

And now splashed across our screens (what used to be headlines in the papers) Barrack Obama to get $400,000 for one talk. Who? The great and wonderful Barrack Obama who could do no ill! And this is just the beginning for him.

To my mind this is obscene. All sense of any decency that ever was has disappeared. And yes, in times gone by this would have been considered a disgrace and not something to shout out about in triumph.

But as we wonder, why the hell is the world in such a state? maybe we should bare this in mind. Politicians of whatever colour or creed, do not give a damn about what their job is supposed to be. They are more interested in what they can get out of it. Not by graft or embezzlement or anything obviously illegal, but from the perks offered them.

And the question is, would Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and now the iconic Barrack Obama (to name but the most obvious though David Cameron has now also climbed on the band wagon) be offered such exorbitant sums for a simple talk, or offered such highly paid jobs where they are not expected to do much at all, if they had done their jobs properly?

That is if they had served their people, those who voted them into office and whose interests they were supposed to uphold and pursue, rather than curry favour and indeed serve the interests of Banks, financiers, and various businesses instead?

Hardly. Had the interests of people and society come first and foremost there would have been no remuneration of this kind for them at all.

It is obscene and it is disgraceful and shows how these people have no ethics, no ideals and one vision only. How to make millions for themselves. And this they can only do by screwing the people well and truly.

 

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