Wednesday, February 15, 2012

HvR John Donne, undone

We are told (way too often) that the best thing about the President of Europe, that shadow in the room, Mr van Rompuy is that he is a published poet.

If so how can he justify this, PC, bowdlerising of one of the great poems of all time? Talking to a Chinese audience he said this,
“No man is an island. Every man or woman is a part of the main.” This is more true then
Gaaah, Donne's Meditation XVII
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
But that is hardly the worst of this speech. It is disarmingly honest, mind bogglingly delusional in equal parts and then just scary.

The honesty
The euro is not a sudden economic experiment.
Not sudden: because it is based on fifty years of preparation.
Not purely economic: because the euro is, at bottom, a political project.
Well yes, it is a political project, without political legitimacy. That of course would require democratic consent, something never asked for, and never granted.

Together, we are 500 million Europeans, living in a prosperous, stable and free continent.
Interesting on a day the Commission reveals the following statement,
Euro area and EU27 GDP down by 0.3%
And the downright scary,
Therefore a period of crisis, such as the one we are living through now, does not distract us
from our sense of direction and from our goal: “more Europe”.
More Europe eh? And how are we to bring this about? By all means necessary it seems,
In the current crisis, beyond the money involved, it is a common European destiny which is at stake. That is why you should keep this political motivation in mind to understand why European leaders, when in difficulty, will do whatever it takes to maintain the euro and the financial stability of the eurozone.
Errrr... Whatever it takes! What does that mean?
Political leaders are showing real courage, in all member states, to convince their parliaments and public opinions of what is at stake. Some governments were forced to resign for taking unpopular decisions, but all the new ones are committed to adopting and implementing reforms.
Oh right, yes they were forced to resign... by whom perchance. By the EU and the IMF and teh Troika, not by their own people.

The rest of the speech is characterised by Herman telling the Chinese that the EU/Europe and China are remarkably similar.

What as in anti-democratic autocracies that drive through policies against the wishes of the people?

One interesting snippet. China should support the EU, because it is not the US. Or at least that is how I read this little comment,
Europe and China share a wish to live in a multi-polar world. A world which is "united in diversity", where we work together to find global solutions to common problems.
A world not dominated by one currency alone. That is why “a currency for Europe” is vital for you, too.


Budgie said...

I have always loathed Donne's "No man is an island entire of itself; ...", not least because it is untrue.

Donne's diatribe is nonetheless used by statists everywhere as their substitute for morals. Such is the slimey basis for statism.

Gawain Towler said...

Much like that Dr Johnson quote about patriotism.

Misused and misunderstood.

The Donne poem is about us as individuals and as Christians, thus sharing the humanity of all people and Christians.

It has nothing whatsoever to do with states and politics.

It is a personal appreciation of common humanity. To that end it works and makes sense in an idealist sense. The power and truth of empiricism was yet to flower.

How the words are misused (and indeed in this case mangled) are not his or the poem's fault.

Budgie said...

I will take your word for it that Donne's poem is not about politics. In the past it was quoted at me by a socialist, ad nauseam, as sufficient justification for his views. However I still think "No man is an island ..." is untrue even if it refers to a common humanity.

I agree with you about the common misuse of Dr Johnson's quote about patriotism.