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Thursday, May 31, 2012

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: The Future of the European Union – ESSAYS + News

Essays: Encarna (in Spanish) and Lawrence + News


Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: The future of the European Union.

The last time Europe was united under a single power, the Roman empire, someone reminded us that
those who live by the sward will die by the sward. Luckily we stopped using swards, but this does
not mean we are not in danger.

Indeed, today we have the feeling that the EU seems to be facing its own dark ages as the Roman
empire did in 395AD. Except that the lesson today is that 'if we live with funny money, we'll most
certainly end up in the funny farm." What is stopping us from getting there is that the men who are
supposed to come for us in white coats cannot afford the white coats any more. But despite this
predicament we live in today, the irony is that we cannot even afford the luxury to face our
traditional fate of war in Europe. The future must therefore be something new for the continent.

In the meantime here is some serious news:
---Ceit----German films---
I have my tickets already, since I have a crushing paranoia about getting them at the last minute
and finding them sold out. I'm going to the opening because I really want to see die Unsichtbare
and I won't be able to the other time it's shown. I'm also seeing Whisky mit Wodka on Wednesday at
5, die Summe meiner einzelnen Teile on Thursday at 10, and Gnade on Friday at 7:30. In case
somebody feels like seeing one those movies at those times.

--Centro Segoviano – Encarna--
XXIV Concurso Petico "Segovia Y Su Sierra" 2012 – Deadline midnight 2 June 2012. Details from the
centro Segoviano or I can send you a scan of the leaflet.


---- Cementerio Británico-----
Por el presente mensaje hago saber las fechas de las visitas comentadas programadas para mayo y
junio : si hay alguien que quiera formar un grupo, no importa que sea pequeño, en cualquier otra
fecha, sírvase avisarme para llegar a un acuerdo mutuo de hora y fecha.
This is to give you the dates of the guided visits on Saturday mornings in May and June : if anyone
wishes to make up a group, however small, independent of the dates I give below, I will be most
happy to make arrangements and take them round - all they need do is state their preferred dates and
we will work out a schedule.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Redacto el presente mensaje tanto en español como en inglés con el objeto de comunicarles que sigo
con el programa de visitas comentadas, sábados por la mañana, al Cementerio Británico.
Las visitas empiezan a las 11 horas en la entrada del Cementerio Británico, calle del Comandante
Fontanes 7, distrito de Carabanchel
*sábado, 26 de mayo, cuando daré las explicaciones en español
*sábado, 2 de junio, cuando daré las explicaciones en inglés
Lo dejo a su elección cuál día acuda y no hay necesidad de avisar.
Tomen nota de nuestra página web < www.britishcemeterymadrid.com > que contiene información de la
historia del Cementerio y el mapa de su ubicación.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am writing this in both Spanish and in English to tell you that I am continuing Saturday morning
guided visits to the British Cemetery.
We meet at 11 o'clock at the Cemetery entrance in Calle del Comandante Fontanes 7 in Carabanchel
* the visit on Saturday 26 May will be in Spanish
* the visit on Saturday 2 June will be in English
The choice of date is left to you and there is no need to inform me in advance of the visit whether
you are coming.
Do take note of our website < www.britishcemeterymadrid.com > where you will find details of the
Cemetery's history and a map with its location.
David Butler

-------end-------

take care
Lawrence



PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
914457935
Metro: Bilbao

-----------Ignacio------------
Thursday's Open Tertulia in English
Important Notice: From December 1st, the Tertulia will take place at O'Donnells (ex-Moore's) Irish
Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/

----------From Luisa---------
Please not you will have to let her know in advance if you wish to attend, thanks:
Data of language exchange,
Location: Café Comercial
Address: Glorieta de Bilbao, 7
Website location:
http://maps.google.com/maps/place?hl=es&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=glorieta+de+Bilbao+en+Madrid&fb=1&hq=glorieta+de+Bilbao&hnear=Madrid,+España&cid=168580715753984644


Dates: on Saturday
Time: from 12:30 to 14:45
Price: 2.50 € (exchange organizing, hiring the top of the cafeteria and coffee, tea, soda, wine or
beer are included).
Luisa - email to confirm please alvarez_luisa@hotmail.com
--------end----



--------------ESSAYS----------

-- Encarna -- The Future of the European Union
A modo de introducción.
Estamos ante profundos cambios económicos y sociales. Los países considerados hasta ahora
desarrollados están perdiendo posiciones y los países emergentes van ganándolas. China, India,
Brasil, avanzan económicamente y tecnológicamente y los países productores de petróleo tienen
excedente de ahorro que les da un gran poder.
Estados Unidos y la Unión Europa viven hipotecados, tanto en el sector público como en el privado,
en la UE se pierde competitividad y se plantean problemas de sostenibilidad del Estado de bienestar
y la crisis financiera hace aflorar esta nueva relación de fuerzas en la economía global.
La Unión Europa comenzó a perfilarse después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, cuando lideres europeos
pensaron en crear una Europa unida y prospera, que evitara los conflictos entre los países vecinos y
los intereses nacionalistas.
La Comunidad Europea del Carbón y del Acero en 1950 fue el primer paso de la unión económica y
política a la que se unieron Alemania, Bélgica, Francia, Italia, Luxemburgo y los Países Bajos,
desde entonces ha pasado medio Siglo XX y la primera década del XXI, la guerra fría, los años 60 y
su cambio cultural y generacional, la caída del muro de Berlín en noviembre de 1989, al década de
los 90, cuando en la UE se posibilita la circulación de mercancías, servicios, personas y capitales,
la entrada en circulación del euro el 1 de enero de 2002, el desarrollo de las instituciones
europeas, grandes avances tecnológicos, la "globalización" y la paulatina incorporación de nuevos
estados, hasta la última ampliación en enero de enero de 2007 con Bulgaria y Rumania, en total 27
países son miembros hoy la UE. En la primera década del Siglo XXI se incorporaron 10 países
dejando un total de casi 500 millones de habitantes.
En un contexto de expansión y crisis, los ambiciosos objetivos marcados por la UE resultan
imposibles para varios países componentes y el espectro del nacionalismo y las mafias especuladoras
nos golpean. Mientras que la región balcánica, las ex repúblicas yugoslavas, tratan de sacudirse
los cruentos años de la guerra civil para adherirse a la UE, en los países del Este todavía se
sienten ciudadanos de segunda y los países periféricos del sur sufren la peor crisis de la UE.
El éxito de las décadas posteriores a la Segunda Guerra Mundial permitió reconstruir Europa
Occidental, convertirla en una gran potencia industrial y de servicios, con fuerte creación de
empleo y un sistema de redistribución del excedente que mejoró la educación, la cobertura de riesgos
de enfermedad o desempleo y las prestaciones de jubilación. Hoy día, Europa se enfrenta a grandes
retos, como la falta de competitividad, dependencia energética, la necesidad de una política común
sobre flujos migratorios, la estrategia de seguridad ante la criminalidad organizada y el terrorismo
internacional, el envejecimiento de la población, la crisis financiera y la falta de agilidad de sus
instituciones. Todo ello hace que cada día nos despertemos con una vuelta de tuerca y que ideologías
extremistas estén empezando a resurgir peligrosamente.
¿Será cierto que nos hemos metido con un gorila en la cama?, como advirtió el economista americano
Paul Samuelson, cuando dijo a los países europeos que iban a entrar en el euro "Van a meterse
ustedes en la cama con un gorila que es Alemania".
Encarna.

--Lawrence -- The Future of the European Union

In the context of European history, the European Union is a bold attempt for different peoples of
the continent to live in harmony and in peace with each other. And in theory the icing of the cake
was supposed to be a modicum of equality throughout the continent. Indeed, since human beings roamed
the continent different groups resorted to war and violence to solve their differences. The Second
World War was supposed to be the last war on the continent. And the European Union was supposed to
be the vehicle to ever lasting peace.

The European Union not only was a bold attempt to establish peace in Europe, but a bold attempt that
has to be the way Europe functions in the future. But since the European Union is the product of
politicians, we can expect some very serious philosophical issues that are not only obvious to a
neutral observer, but explain the growing pains we have to go through regularly and are now going
through with violence. Those issues are numerous, so I will consider just a few of them.

The first mistake or rather philosophical issue is of course was to assume that a group of states
can be transformed into a newly born state. I am of course thinking of the fallacy that the European
Union can not only be like the United States but can be a competitor of the United States. The
United States is a newly born country. The European Union is running away from history, the United
States is running into its own history. Just because history is common it does not mean that it is
the same history, not the same creature.

Another immediate issue of the European Union is the question of identity: assuming that nations and
states can have an identity, is it possible for twenty seven states to come together and share a
singular identity? We might take a bold analogy from quantum physics and suggest that in nature it
is possible for an entity to be in different space-time states (wave/particle: of identity) and yet
still be a single entity. Even if such a thought experiment is possible there is one problem. A
quantum entity that collapsed into a single state is very consistent, especially in the information
it transmits (when a wave particle collapses into say a light photon, the light photon transmits
information that it is a light photos). However, the European Union as a single entity is anything
but a stable concept, meaning that the European Union does not really transmit stable information.
This is like saying that a wave particle when it collapses into a single photon what really happens
is that each single individual wave collapses into different things: one wave collapses into a light
photon, another into a gold atom etc etc.

Indeed, philosophy we will need to explain how unique identities, be they of human beings, wave
particles or political states, can become together into a single unique identity (and at the same
time maintain the original identity).

But one of the most important issues for us is the question of language. The European Union
functions under a chaos of languages and language cultures. To begin with, and ironically, languages
and translation of languages, which is the opus operandi of the European Union to communicate with
the member states and the population, is one of the few instances when we can apply Plato's cave
analogy of forms in its literal sense. A translation is a shadow of the original text. Now consider
that an original text would have its own imperfections, assumptions and hidden meanings we are to
assume that these are kept in tact when transferred to an other language. But this is not the issue,
the fact that we all have different competencies in other languages, ranging from the nil to near
native speaker, we would be in Plato's cave a collection of observers many of us blind to most
shadows and forms and others with different degrees of sight.

But language is a dirty weapon. It is the most efficient tool human beings have devised to
discriminate against each other; and discrimination is not supposed to be an operative policy of the
EU. Natural languages just make it impossible for non speakers to participate in the exchange of
information within that language. I am writing in English and Encarna did her essay in Spanish. Now
someone who does not read Spanish or English is automatically shut out from our ideas and exchange
of information. And it is not that we want to discriminate against these people but this is the very
nature of languages. And translations are, as I said, the equivalent of being a blind person in
Plato's cave looking at the shadows on the wall of the cave.

Indeed, the European Union has had this discriminating effect on the population of Europe. It is an
accepted fact that generally, those individuals who want to live within other parts of the Union
have to be speakers of at least one of the dominant languages of the union, basically, French,
German and English. A German civil servant working in the town planning department of a local
authority probably does not need to be proficient in Portuguese to get the job. Yet, a Spanish bio
engineer who wants to work in Germany would need, at least, have a good command of English.

Hence the future of the European Union depends on how many of us can personally commutate with other
individuals in the union. Today we haven't even overcome the problems of clear communication amongst
people in our own country let alone within the European Union. Basically languages not only help us
to discriminate against each other, but prevent any natural critical mass from taking place to get
the flow of information going without hindrance and corruption.

What we have also inherited from millennia of history and primitive instincts is that we have
established national sovereignty with a political leadership deciding our fate. Sovereignty is
equally a powerful factor whose only purpose is to discriminate against outsiders. The idea that we
can have a common objective based on common rules is of course beyond fiction and castles in the
clouds. This is like playing snooker, but the balls on the billiard table behave as if they were
some particle in a Brownian motion experiment. The European Union is no powerful magnet where all
the atoms are aligned in one direction. The Europe union is more like a very hot cup of tea that
will burn your tongue and palate if you're not careful or super tough.

And the big issue with sovereignty is really the legal system of justice in each state. And the
problem with justice is that this is the mechanism by which individual rights are established and
guaranteed. And yet each separate jurisdiction has its own flaws in guaranteeing individual rights
either because of innocent oversight, misguidance, indifference or simply through moral corruption.
Does the European Union gurantee individual rights.

Of course, history will tell us whether the institution we call today the European Union will mature
into a gentle and caring parent or whether it will mature into a Dracula disguised as Frankenstein.
What is certain is that Europeans have very little choice but to live with each other and cooperate
with each other to have a normal life. Ironically, Europeans today do not even have the optinon of war.
---end--




from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: The Future of the European Union – ESSAYS + News

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