During a pointless online political debate on the future of the EU that I was observing (and okay, sometimes taking part in) I realized that most had attached themselves to a single aspect of the EU and were holding onto it disregarding any contradictory evidence.
Then I realized the EU is a lot like the old fable of the blind men and the elephant, figuring out what it’s like and what purpose it serves, for most people, depends on what particular preconceptions they bring to it or how quickly they disengage from observance in favor of sloganing.
I like to think my view is a bit more nuanced. And I really do think of it in a lot of ways like an elephant, ungainly and improbable but worth preserving overall.
More specifically I’m tend to see both sides of most EU issues so I can simultaneously see it as one of the greatest alleviators of poverty in history that and an enforcer of ongoing, fruitless austerity that divides the continent into eternal economic winners and losers. I can look around and see massive improvements in people’s quality of life due to major (infrastructure) and minor (exercise equipment in public parks) ways. And I can also see an inflexible, awkward reactive bureaucracy that creates almost as many problems as it solves.
I can see it as a guarantee of peace and stability and the source of major friction between countries which is only growing greater.
I can also see the tremendous individual opportunities created by the free movement of peoples and the simultaneous systematic impoverishment of countries losing talent and the systematic stratification that that creates.
As I said, I’d rather the EU survived but it will need to evolve and adapt to do so…. and at the same time…. elephants are kind of an evolutionary dead end.