Europe as King Lear
“No, no, no, no!” Thus quoth Lear to Cordelia near the end of the grimmest play Shakespeare wrote.
As my friend John Allison observes, Europe is acting a lot like Lear on his way to prison:
“No” said the Irish on February 25, 2011. They ejected Fianna Fail, the largest party in Ireland since 1927 and replaced it with Finn Gael.
“No” said the Italians on November 12, 2011. They sent away Silvio Berlusconi who served on and off for a cumulative 10 years from 1994 through 2011 and was Italy’s longest-serving Prime Minister ever.
“No” said the Spanish on November 20, 2011 to the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, two-term Prime Minister from 2004-2011, replacing him with the conservative People’s Party led by Mariano Rajoy.
“No” said Geert Wilders, Party for Freedom leader on April 21, 2012 to his coalition partner, Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Liberal Party, sending Holland to a likely caretaker government and election on September 12.
Ditto the French and the Greeks. And this procession of negatives means —what?
One thing it means is that the gulf between the European people and the elites who presume to govern them is growing wider by the month. On the one side you have the Italians, Greeks, French, Germans, Dutch, Spanish, Irish, etc., etc. — particular peoples living in particular places with individual identities. On the other side you have Europe. Or rather, “Europe.” That airy abstraction, a brainchild of elites who think the term “country” is an atavistic abomination and that the facts of history, tradition, custom, and national identity are disposable holdovers from a discredited and discreditable past.