Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Another Quick Visit to Modern Greece

And now a quick break from Classical Greece to comment on modern Greece, which may be back in the headlines soon.  I just couldn't resist commenting on a fairly unremarkable article on why the euro was a terrible mistake.  The problem, the author says, is that people simply aren't willing to make the sacrifices for outsiders that they are for their own.  West Germans, for instance, were willing to undertake considerable effort rebuilding East Germany because they were coming to the aid of their fellow Germans.  But they are unwilling to give even a small break to Greece because there just isn't enough fellow-feeling as Europeans.
With no shared sense of tribe comes a sharp reduction in compassion and attendant willingness to help. The elites who designed the Euro may genuinely have believed and even felt a sense that Europe is all about "us", but the currency's recent struggles show that for too many Europeans, it's more about us and them.
In my opinion, the author is being far too generous to the European elites who designed the euro. These elites may, indeed, have embraced all of Europe in a sense of "us."  But in their case "us" did not mean all Europeans, but "we, the Eurocratic elite."  To that elite, ordinary people throughout Europe are "them."

That is what ultimately underlies this crisis.

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