Friday, May 16, 2008

Beautiful Losers

It is 1 a.m. and, according to the weather forecast, a heavy rain will make landfall from the Northeast as the night wears on. With about a hundred hours left in America, I am trying to wrap up all the loose ends: meeting Bronner for coffee a last time in New York City, having that Thai-food on 26 Carmine Street in West Village and finishing my literary encounter with Kateri Tekakwitha.

Later I may post something more on the book by Cohen. But for now I turn to The Guardian and an article which my Polish friend sent me from her home in Brighton. By herself, being a graduate student at Sussex University, she helps to vindicate the point that Timothy Garton Ash wants to make: that while Poles in England make good the promise of European integration, Brits go to Poland mostly for stag-doos and cheap booze.

Reminds me of a recent wine-reception in the Sherwood Forest; how I lectured my friend Fabian from Belfast on what a fantastic country Poland is. Only to hear him telling me that he has lived one year in Krakow.

After the embarrassment we could both agree that the tensions felt today in the British society, as hundred thousands of short-term workers from Eastern Europe flood into the labour market, are temporary and that, as often, what is needed most of all is perspective. Yet, perspective seems to be in short supply throughout the continent, as most evident in the slow accession negotiations with Turkey. Personally, I think part of the reason to this is a genuine lack of long-term visions. Unfortunately, very few people are ready to see the European Union as a first step towards something much grander. For many, the EU is simply a smart way for the nation-states of Europe to shelter themselves from globalization. And with that outlook it is not so strange that they also fail to see the potential embodied in a successful economic and political integration of Eastern Europe.

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