Hatred in Europe? Take a Closer Look

Europe will overcome the economic crisis and the social damage the austerity measures have caused by working together not separately.

The vast majority of people in Europe still enthusiastically back the great postwar European experiment: their Europe without frontier crossings, without a Babel of separate currencies and customs fees and regulations, without employment restrictions and worse.

This is so despite widespread resentment of unemployment, factory closings, price hikes, tax increases, and slashes to government programs, and despite widespread fear of the future being driven by a recession that tight monetary policies have to a significant degree deepened and prolonged.

Simply put, Europe today is nowhere near the overwrought Europe of the Great Depression period, when national self-interest and nationalist hatred were rallying cries that led to a world war. No. By and large, Europeans today still support banding together in solidarity as Europeans, rather than as members of antagonistic nations, to overcome the economic and existential challenges they are facing.

And, at least for now, the vast majority of Europeans want no part of ranting extremists. In Greece recently the press reported that villagers on the Aegean island of Thassos—people hard pressed by the austerity program required by creditor countries providing their country loans to get a handle on its unmanageable debt—had refused to accept food packages and other handouts because they were coming from a party that deceptively calls itself “Golden Dawn,” whose neo-fascist leaders are seeking to grab political power by whipping up xenophobia and violence against immigrants.

Stories and prophecies of doom and gloom and the bombast of extremists such as the people behind Golden Dawn in Greece and Jobbik in Hungary are the grist of the press. Stories about cooperation and solidarity and expressions of comity usually are not. Today, however, they should be.

This is because, even at this time of mounting social pressures, new survey results confirm that solidarity among ordinary people in Europe is still robust. People across the continent grasp the underlying social and economic pressures responsible for their plight even as they feel that that the austerity measures helping to drive the recession and exacting such a price from ordinary people are weakening the bonds that unite them.

The survey, carried out as the banking crisis in Cyprus was erupting, was commissioned by the Open Society Foundations.

Three-quarters of the respondents to the survey—administered to more than 4,000 persons in Spain, Italy, France, and Germany—indicated that the people of these countries are not scapegoating their fellow Europeans in Greece and other indebted countries for the ongoing financial crisis and consider it unfair for the hard-pressed to suffer the brunt of austerity measures for a situation they did not create. An overwhelming 93 percent of the survey respondents indicated that they believe politicians across Europe have lost touch with the suffering of ordinary people in the wake of the financial crisis.

Two-thirds of the respondents indicated that the countries of Europe should show solidarity and work together to tackle current economic and social challenges, while only a third said Europe’s individual countries should place a higher priority on national self-interest.

Fear of poverty brought on by lower wages and rising prices is the greatest worry of more than 70 percent of the persons surveyed. About 85 percent of the respondents indicated that the economic crisis had damaged European unity and solidarity and that some of the damage is severe.

In Germany, the largest creditor country where the survey was administered, the responses indicated that, despite the loss of billions of euros in German loans to Greece, there is a high degree of public concern over the increased tension and disagreements between the European countries and that, despite the crisis, most respondents indicated that they believe countries need to show solidarity.

The message from people in Europe is clear, if not loud. Europe will overcome the economic crisis and the social damage the austerity measures have caused by working together not separately. And it is the will of the Europeans to see that it succeeds.

Do you have a story of solidarity? Please share it in the comments.

7 Comments

We need to hear more about the value of Europe as a political entity. I wouldn't trust any single government of any European country to protect my interests, or to protect the interests of minorities (or even majorities) against vested interests and extremism.

I believe your presentation is brillante.....i am a forward
thinker....i believe in efficient action...
you are right to considere unfair for the ongoing crisis in
Europe to be on the back of the hard-pressed with measures of austerity that are impossible to survive
for the majority of helpless people.....
It is also true that"polititions across Europe have lost
touch with the suffering of ordinary people"

I love the idea of "WORKING TOGETHER"
I also respect the statistics and catastrophic predictions....

But i love much more "A STRUCTURED PLAN OF RECONSTRUCTION"
I do believe "OPEN SOCIETY HAS THE TOOLS"
but what is more important "OPEN SOCIETY" has
the "HEART AND SINCERE TRANSPAREMCY"
contrary to some corporate invasion with a dangerous
totalitarian policy..defending a one way interest.....
UNLESS... there is equitable negociations defending interests of territories and those of potential investors...
with a transparent plan of reconstruction,backed by important economic support,with a global fair political
good will......
we would be chassing the ennemies like wonderfull
DON QUIJOTÉ with his constant dreams and
illusions.....chassing after his utopic dreams......
i am supporting the efforts of Open Society
with all my heart,Clairecostom.

Sanity against hyperbole.

Thank you,
TM Elton Bechetoille

As being non-believer, having no country, being - generally - no-one (!?!?), I think it is time to rethink who we owe to re-educate. Maybe we should try to re-educate the adults. The parents, the teachers, the media gurus, our goverments, the guys who dominate the lives of the children, to whom the children are depended on. These guys are the norm, the exemplar and the model. These guys might, at last, see and feel responsible to what happen in their world, in their countries, in their neighborhoods, in their homes, in their own lives.

Solidarity is really one of the greatest values in life. But it is not applied in EU. The recent crisis has clearly shown that there is no solidarity between the european countries, How could it be anyway. As Mr Soros rightfully claims that EU has been divided into creditors and debtors, where the latter ones have completely lost their sovereighnity, there is no place for solidarity between the countries. Only exploitation of the strongers upon the weakers can be there.
It`s also true that extreme right-winged have emerged over the past years after the breaking up of the finacial crisis. They preach that the european union ( the policy of the single currency ) had failed, And they are true. I firmly believe it, although i am not a right-winged believer. But all of us can see and realize that. We don`t need any political parties such as those. As Mr Cameron has rightfully claimed, we didn`t need more EU but instead of. When the eurozone breaks up and the countries return to their old currencies then all those political parties won`t have any reason of existence. There is a badly need for rebuilding Europe on new, fair and sustainable basis. Especially for the countries in the so-called periphery of the eurozone.
I really wish that solidarity was good enough for resolving an even more deteriorating financial crisis in Europe.

I SAW A BBC DEBATE ON THE EU, WHICH SEEMED TO FOCUS ENTIRELY ON IMMIGRATION. PRO SIDE DEBATERS INCLUDED A GERMAN WOMAN. ANTIS WERE MOSTLY TO ALL WHITE BRITONS. THE ANTIS WON. THIS IS GOOD ARTICLE AND A HOPEFUL ONE. ON THIS SIDE OF THE POND, WE WISH EUROPE WELL, AND LEAVE IT TO BRITAIN TO DECIDE FOR ITSELF. THERE HAS BEEN MORE THAN GOLDEN DAWN, HOWEVER. NEO NAZIS IN GERMANY KILLED SEVERAL TURKS. A BROUHAHA OVER A MOSQUE IN SWITZERLAND, NATIONALIST PARTY IN FRANCE. YOUR CRAZY RIGHT WING RESEMBLES OURS MORE THAN YOU THINK. I WISH THE GUARDIAN, BBC, AND OPEN SOCIETY WERE MORE OPEN TO WORKING WITH THE SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER IN MISSISSIPPI, WHICH TRACKS HATE GROUPS ALL OVER THE U.S. CALIFORNIA HAS THE MOST. A HUGE NUMBER IN NEW JERSEY, AND KKK IN NORTHERN MICHIGAN. WHEN I ASKED, THEY TOLD ME THEY WORK WITH JOURNALISTS FROM ANYWHERE. A LOT OF NEO NAZIS IN THE U.S. SAY MOST HITS ON THEIR SITES ARE FROM ENGLAND AND OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES. IT'S WORTH LOOKING INTO. RECENTLY A GUARDIAN REPORTER WENT UP TO A CITY IN N ENGLAND TO FIND - NOT SURE OF THE TERM - NEO NATIONALISTS. HE FOUND A LOT OF NICE PEOPLE. THAT'S NICE, BUT WAS IT A REALISTIC ATTEMPT TO FIND THEM? A GERMAN WOMAN IN CENTRAL PARK HUFFED AT AMERICAN NEO NAZIS IN DISDAIN. "THERE ARE NO REAL NAZIS HERE." I'VE SEEN SWASIKAS IN THE FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE ABOUT FIVE YEARS AGO. IN THE SEVENTIES LIVED IN AUSTRIA FOR A YEAR AS MY HUSBAND TAUGHT AT THE AMERICAN SCHOOL. KID'S PARENT'S WOULD DISAPPEAR ACROSS THE USSR BORDER AND NEVER BE SEEN AGAIN. A CROATIAN FRIEND TOOK US TO HIS HOMELAND AND WAS APPALLED AT THE ELEGANT CLUBS FOR PARTY FOLK. I'D HITCHED THROUGH YUGOSLAVIA IN '65. SEEMED A NICE COUNTRY. I WAS EXCITED ON MY FIRST EXPERIENCE MEETING MUSLIMS. NOW A GUY FROM MONTENEGRO WORKS IN MY BUILDING. A FRIEND. VIENNA WAS DARK. "JUDEN REIN" AND SWASTIKAS ON WALLS. A JEWISH STUDENT AND HER FAMILY STAYED IN A SMALL HOTEL IN THE ALPS. SHE WORE A CROSS OF DAVID. THEY RECEIVED A PHONE CALL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT TELLING THEM TO LEAVE OR THEIR HOUSE IN VIENNA WOULD BE BOMBED. AT LEAST GERMANS CAME TO TERMS WITH THEIR HISTORY. OR SOME DID. AUSTRIANS PRETENDED THEY WERE INVADED BY GERMANY. SEIG HEIL! NAZI SALUTE. HOPEFULLY MUCH OF THAT HAS CHANGED. NO JEWS LEFT IN A PBS PROGRAM ON A POLISH TOWN WHERE MOST WERE KILLED OR SENT TO CAMPS. PERHAPS YOU CAN GET IT ON WWW.PBS.ORG/SHETEL . I'M NOT JEWISH A THIRD GENERATION ATHEIST DERIVED FROM MAYFLOWER RELIGIOUS NUTS, WHO MOVED TO NANTUCKET AFTER UNPLEASANTNESS IN SALEM NEAR IPSWICH, WHERE THEY LIVED.

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