Once upon a time I juggled my interests between technology and world politics. Eventually technology won, and that’s what I do now.
However, I did take world politics (and geopolitics) very seriously. Back in 2006 I participated in the 36th Saint Gallen Symposium. It was the middle of the financial crisis and it was a great experience to hear bankers and politicians talk about what should be done. Even Kofi Annan gave a speech about his view on the crisis and how to get out of it. Despite the several talks on the crisis, the main topic of the conference was Europe, and the European Union, which was in the middle of an identity crisis with the constitution having been recently rejected.
For participating in the symposium I wrote a little piece titled “The European Ideological Consolidation“. In the essay I argued that for a better integration countries should walk away from nationalism and a true federation should be formed. In this respect I proposed a series of European-wide institutions and programs. Particularly important to such ideological consolidations is extending programs like Erasmus (where university students can do one or two semesters at another European country) to the older population. The way to do this, I argued, was through Country Associations. Through country associations the adult population of two countries had to engage in cultural exchanges which, ultimately, would result in a better understanding of each other. This program, ambitious enough and probably utterly expensive, would create a European narrative at the individual level.
Countries Associations: This is most controversial of all the institutions here proposed and still needs a lot of work on the idea itself. As a mean to integrate European nations with each other, targeting mainly the adult population, this work proposes to create couple of countries. Two countries would be a couple for some time period. During this time the population of the two of the countries will, by law, join special programs of cultural, economical, training, etc. The couples would be changed every 2 or 3 years. As in some countries the population has to go every single year during the entire life to give some few months military service, the European population sponsored by the government could do this as well. Indeed this is a proposal for the ideology consolidation among the older people.
What I want to stress out with this post is that this idea turned out not to be that crazy after all. In a recent piece on the Social Europe Journal, sociology Professor Ulrich Beck from the University of Munich and the London School of Economics proposed something similar:
We need to ask how an individual can become engaged with the European project. In that respect I have made a manifesto, along with Daniel Cohn-Bendit, called “We Are Europe”, arguing that we need a free year for everyone to do a project in another country with other Europeans in order to start a European civil society.
I read the manifesto and WOW!!! That’s the way to go (author bias here). After having lived in Europe for many years I can see how this can really benefit the older populations, and specially people that have less exposure to the European work mobility (the Danish gardener). I will follow up closely what happens with the manifesto, it’s just great to see I wasn’t completely lost in my previous ideas 🙂