I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

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Visions of Europe

Fergal Lenehan
So nicht, Europa! Die Drei Grossen Fehler der EU, by Jochen Bittner, Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag, 288 pp, €14.90, ISBN 978-3423248334 Sanftes Monster Brüssel oder Die Entmündigung Europas, by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Suhrkamp, 73 pp, €7, ISBN 978-3518061725 One of the advantages of living abroad is that it sometimes offers one the chance to revisit the ideas and symbols with which one grew up and which actually constitute elements of both a highly personal and a collective view and interpretation of the world. By a collective view here I mean an Irish one: nationality remains, I think, the most dominant collective identity in Ireland. This is not necessarily the case in Germany, particularly among the highly educated, as was revealed to me recently when discussing the Irish situation with a German friend. I casually told him of the large numbers of Irish people emigrating to Canada and Australia in search of work and a new future. He reacted quite angrily, incensed that Irish people could so casually turn their backs on Europe when it was faced with a crisis. I interpreted this as a marker of a strong identification with the vision of a united Europe, a vision that is largely non-functional in an Irish context, where Europe has for the most part appeared as a cash cow that can be pragmatically discarded ‑ and re-embraced – as required. My friend’s view cannot, of course, be described as “typically German”, but it is probably somewhat characteristic of a certain political outlook and social background – that of the highly educated, green-tinged German anti-nationalist. There has generally not been an overabundance of Irish intellectuals engaging in book form with visions or interpretations of Europe; in the German-speaking world this is quite normal. Yet differing interpretations of what Europe is have certainly featured in Irish political and media discourse since 2008. The Lisbon Treaty debate provided a wide range of visions, from a dystopian, militarised European Union in which, apparently, the facilitation of abortion would take a central position to a benign, caring Europe that would secure Ireland’s economic future. Irish media discourse since the bailout has also been dominated by a vision in which “Europe”, the EU, the European Central Bank and even “the Germans” have often seemed to be interchangeable concepts. The discussion has sometimes been conducted in a highly histrionic language: the EU has, for example, been connected to (presumably financial)…

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