Politics and Freedom of Mind in an Airbnb in Paris
We like labels, we like nice descriptions and beautiful images. We are immersed in models that we take for granted and it seems to me that we don’t question them. The more we hear something the more we accept it. Sometimes we recognise it when it happens to others but we most of the times don’t seem to understand that we may be part of a similar process, too.
I have visited several different european countries and talked with educated people. One would expect to hear very different points of view but this hasn’t mainly been my experience. I read the news, not so much to be informed about the reality, instead to figure out what kind of propaganda is now played and for which hidden purpose, what is the reality they want to put as this day, these are my news. The popular sites like bloomberg, bbc, reuters etc help me have an understanding about these mainstream ideas. Unfortunately, I roam around europe and talk to people only to hear the same opinions expressed in these media. I sense that people feel comfortable to express these thoughts as their own because their experience has shown that there are many people that agree with them and consider their views clever. This creates a positive spiral loop making them more confident.
Popular Ideas about the European Union
So now there is this so called union, the European Union. Most people I meet can’t imagine a Europe without it. They praise the importance of the same currency, the fact that the union was made to leave wars in the past, that many businesses opened to other countries and this boosts the overall economy and that european people have come now closer to each other and are solving their problems united altogether.
France and Greece during the Europen Union period
This is how a discussion started with the owner of an Airbnb I was staying while I was in France previous week. He told me also about Greece and that the people have to pay for their mistakes, they wasted so much money by stealing from the government. Of course I wouldn’t take this personally however I asked if everyone he knows in France from friends or family were all always abiding with the law. He explained that they have to because they use too much the debit cards. But how many years have they been using the debit cards? Because if that’s the only reason they don’t steal definitely it’s not enough to prove why Greece has a memorandum and France not, we are talking about several decades of waste of money. I also roamed around Paris, I can’t say that in all my transactions I received a receipt neither that there wasn’t any shop that asked only for cash. Lastly, if I am not mistaken France has a national debt of approximately 2,2 trillion euros, not a small amount I can say. And imagine that that this amount has tripled since 15 years ago that was 800 billion euros! Also as percentage of GDP from 58% at that time now is almost 100%
It’s just that in France there wasn’t even a need for a memorandum. Similar measures were passed there like Greece directly by the government and supposingly without external orders.
I am not saying all these to prove that Greece is innocent and perfect or that I know all the solutions to society’s problems. We have, though, in my view to consider several aspects and not be stack to popular ideas that are spread on purpose making all logic commit suicide through black or white thinking, focusing on the negative, overgeneralization and so on and so forth.
The Argument: “You can owe as much as you want if you produce”
I hear a lot the argument that it doesn’t matter how much you owe if the economy is productive. I promise I have tried hard but I cannot grasp this concept. I cannot make any sense. Even if the economy is productive, why would someone enjoy owing more and more? Do you like having your personal debts increased even if you make money? Or the national debt will be paid in the later centuries so that’s ok? Or there is no problem because we have figured out with the lender the dates and amounts to be paid and we will surely always be able to manage the payments together with the new loans? How can this be just fine? I can understand someone to take a loan for a specific important reason or for an investment that you expect that you will make more than the repayment of the loan. But this is something entirely different. We are watching a debt monster increasing everywhere radically and it’s a clear starting proof about how fake in reality is what we call “money”. The latter is a whole different topic however I would urge everyone I know to consider a little bit (in case they haven’t already) about this agreement we have all made about the meaning of money. Can money be created and if yes by whom? What does money mean, is there something behind this paper or number on computer? Is there?
The situation in France at the moment
At the same time he was opposed to the Catalan independence because it is lead by populists. Although this is also a pop media idea I think that it is correct and I agreed. Not that I know all the facts in detail (anyway Pujemon has left to Brussels already) but I don’t believe that anyone can become popular and create a movement unless he is a part of the system, too. Else he would have been stopped earlier. It doesn’t matter at all if he shows that he is opposing it, such level of efficiency and even more have reached the games that are played with the information nowadays. Like in chess, every piece of the system has their distinct role and strategy which is expected to lead to the desired by the elite results.
But I wanted to leave Catalunya behind for now because I desired to know more about France specifically. I heard what I expected not because I am so knowledgeable about the news of France, instead because, as mentioned, I hear the same things happening more or less everywhere I go and together with the reuters website I have learnt all these by heart. So he told me that Hollande was by far the worst president ever. He did the opposite things from what he was promising and made everybody angry for surrendering France to Merkel. He told me that the taxes have increased shockingly, he had just received his 3month bill. As he is an employee, when I asked him, he verified that the laws that protect them have radically decreased while the laws that protect the businesses against them had increased, they now have less rights than ever. Also, the prices are increasing unequally to salaries in everything and not only in the real estate.
At the same time he was seeing too many countries around the world being in war or getting ready for war by buying war equipment. Politicians have become very provocative and the frequency of terror attacks is increasing as time is passing. The 3rd world war seemed to be coming. Apart from that he had also lost confidence in the banking system. He believed that by keeping his money in the bank was in a great risk of losing it all by one of the unfortunate events that influence banks.
From all the discussion about France I didn’t hear a single positive thing that has happened the last years. Such seemed to be the desperation that the only thing left was to hope for Makron who, as far as I know, has already started disappointing them.
So the logic that could make congruent all the above would be either that the system of european union is not at all responsible for all these sufferings or it’s just a bad period and things will soon become stable and simple. Of course it’s pointless to discuss if the European Union has any responsibilities. Discussing if it is a bad period would not last long, also, as I don’t see many people very optimistic about the future.
Has European Union really helped the members?
Then we tried to find how many countries from the European Union are in an acceptable financial situation. From the 28 countries after difficulties we counted 7. The skandinavian denmark and finland, also poland and the ex-ussr Latvia and Lithuania who are doing their first steps so growth would be expected as in all the countries when they first entered the union. Lastly of course is Germany and maybe Luxemburg. The elections of Germany didn’t show that even the Germans are so satisfied as we would think. So these 7 out of 28 in fact is in total much less than 1/4 of the Union as the big economies Spain, France and Italy still don’t even know if there is any light in the end of the tunnel.
The “Populist” Leaders
Catalunya was also in my mind. As I have many times heard from many, one reason he didn’t want them to leave was that this might be something to be followed by many other cultures resulting in the division of their countries or the union. Any populist should not have the chance to influence the people and create problems. But problems to whom? To the status quo? To the already accepted situation.
Ethically speaking, I said, what if you had a girlfriend, and she wanted to leave you. Would you keep her by force because you are certainly the best she can have?
Yes, possibly someone can influence her and indeed this might not be a good choice for her. How can you be coming from such certainty that you know what’s best for everyone?
He was talking about populists. But this is how life works, I said, it’s a mystery many times, we can’t always know the right and wrong and indeed we can be influenced towards conditions that don’t help us.
But since you don’t like populists and I don’t like them either let me pose you another question, I told him. What if all these that preach for the goodness of the European Union are populists, too? Have you ever considered that or you take it for granted and you just oppose the ones that want to change this already accepted situation? Because from what we are discussing all this time I don’t see you having so many gains, contrary to what was promised to you.
I didn’t receive any reply to that but I hope that I have posed some thoughts to him, thoughts I am sure he hasn’t been used to hear. I wasn’t talking because I wanted to win in the arguments or to convince him or even worse change him. But I hope we both gained as I did and I have now these thoughts I am expressing here together with the wonderful memories of the city of Paris.
You are Missing the Essence if you keep “Judging the Book by its Cover”
As if we are impressed with a very well taken care of cake. Having chocolate, caramel, nice design, interesting decoration, strawberries all around and looking delicious. But when we try it the strawberries are rotten, the chocolate has no sugar and the cake starts melting even from the very first minutes that we started trying it. But we insist on the idea, we go around and shout how delicious this cake is even though in reality it is a disaster. Or we say that we will make it a good cake.
We don’t need any thoughts to predispose us, we don’t need any fixed unquestioned ideas to guide us, we don’t need the popular opinions to impress us. We need the mind to silence sometimes, look, experience and only then try to make a meaning that can be expressed.