A Europe in Whose Image?

Over at New Statesman, Prof. Brendan Simms presented and extended a review of the 'European problem' in July.

The two essays together trace a fascinating arc of the relevant history and make for necessary reading. It was amusing though to see USA and UK painted as more perfect unions than the EU, not to mention sort of disinterested bystanders in the European project. (In the case of UK, a particularly prescient bystander, quietly shaking her bowed head just outside the ring. In the first article, he upholds a case of British exceptionalism not dissimilar to one that he singles out France to be chided for in the second.)

Characterizing the British and American unions as exemplary is particularly curious in 2015. Federal-state friction in the US has crippled policy areas from healthcare and immigration to marriage and gun laws. Since the last general elections in the UK, meanwhile, Scots have one foot out the door with all the new MPs taking every opportunity to dole out statistics as to how well they'd do on their own. Sure, Europe has dug for itself a unique fiscal-monetary predicament, but judging on solidarity alone, judging on what eventually happens every time the union is threatened, I'd give the EU a soild 8/10, the UK, a 6.2. And the US? Ask me again in 2017.

I agree, of course, with the main thrust of both articles.

Media and Social Media

Apart from everything else, The Economist's book review-gate reveals a conflicting pair of forces that media feels from social media: too much information constantly emerging to cover well, too many eyes to scrutinise and rapidly excoriate it en mass.

The review and subsequent apology went viral. I bookmarked the book author's latest. But that is the old hat - no such thing as bad publicity and all that.

The newest thing is the evident pressure under which esteemed information brands of our lifetime seemed to caving: Fareed Zakaria, The Economist. Nature. As the information age demands ever faster coverage of an ever growing human ken, more people seem to have access to the 'Send' button on the content management systems of hallowed publications than is manageable to a high standard. Things gets published before an experienced editor has seen it. It would seem that the busiest editors now see some content after thousands of twitter users have commented on it, perhaps only if thousands of twitter users comment on it!