Putting The Walls Back Up

Observatory

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At the end of the film ‘The Big Short’, the narrator explains what actually happens after a credit crisis; the banks make more money and the blame passes onto the poor and immigrants. With Donald Trump now exposing his true identity as a lunatic fascist and one in three French votes falling to the equally insane Far Right, a situation is developing unseen in my lifetime but known all too well to my parents.

This is Budapest (above) in the grip of the immigrant crisis, part of a perfect storm of factors joining Al Qaeda, ISIS, economic collapse, the ripples from the sub-prime mortgage scandal and a dozen other factors which previously only conspiracy theorists would ever link.

At the heart of the problem is the Schengen Area, comprising the 26 European countries that have abolished passports and any other type of border control at their common borders, or internal borders. Only the UK and Ireland have opted out of the zone – even countries which are not officially part of the EU have joined. In fact, even micro-states like Vatican City and Monaco have opted in. The area currently has a population of over 400 million people. It’s a situation that has arisen because it’s the last thing anyone expected; opening borders was meant to increase trade and create a freer society.

It’s hard to imagine that trust can be rebuilt in my lifetime, and tragically this is exactly what Syria wants; if governments listen to private individuals like the Le Pen clan and Trump, they’ll play right into the hands of terrorists. In some ways the tragedy of the Paris bombings has been more damaging than 9/11 as the spectre of Balkanising Europe returns.

It’s a thought that haunts me this weekend – I’m in the city of Strasbourg on the Franco-German border, where armed soldiers are now guarding the town, which is closed to all traffic – and the intended effect of a terrorist campaign appears to have worked.

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7 comments on “Putting The Walls Back Up”

  1. chris hughes says:

    Yes, a truly dispiriting perfect storm of crises and disasters and poor decision making. At the moment it seems impossible to see a way out. And yes, my family too would recognise it. I’ve just been looking at photos of a holiday they took – either 1937 or 38 – just as the economy was on the upturn, more jobs, paid holidays. They are sitting on Ramsgate beach in deckchairs enjoying the sun and you wonder if they had any inkling of what was to come, any more than we can have.

  2. Roger says:

    “It’s hard to imagine that trust can be rebuilt in my lifetime, and tragically this is exactly what Syria wants”
    Who in Syria wants that – Assad and the Ba’athists, ISIS, the Kurdish groups, the moderately mad mullahs the British governmant supports?

    ” if governments listen to private individuals like the Le Pen clan and Trump, they’ll play right into the hands of terrorists. In some ways the tragedy of the Paris bombings has been more damaging than 9/11 as the spectre of Balkanising Europe returns.”
    The frightening thing is the Le Pens might end up forming a government. As for “Balkanising Europe”, Europe has always been divided and divisive. That seems a pity until you look at the people who wanted to unite it – Charles V, Louis XIV, Bonaparte, Hitler…

  3. Vivienne says:

    Roger, that wasn’t unity , it was control – the fact that you identify individuals says it all. I do think there needs to be a way that the majority of peace-loving people override these crazy types in power and acknowledge our shared needs and work out a way to work together.

  4. chris hughes says:

    Hurrah! – there will be good news….and it’s that Le Pen was rebuffed in no uncertain terms!

  5. Helen Martin says:

    I don’t know about that, Chris. He claims to have increased his share of the popular vote from 7% to 30% in only five years. All one can hope is that that is the maximum he’ll ever have.

  6. Roger says:

    “He claims to have increased his share of the popular vote from 7% to 30%”
    She, actually. The daughter of the original. There’s a grand-daughter on the rise too. I suppose that if two-thirds of the French people will vote for anyone but a Le Pen it’s a good – or goodish – thing. Remember “Hold your nose and vote for the crook.”?

  7. chris hughes says:

    I think the most encouraging thing about it is that a vast swathe of middle France (presuming there is such a thing:)) stirred themselves to get out and vote and make sure she didn’t win.

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