These are strange times in Europe. What was once the cradle of freedom, equality and fraternity today it closes its doors to refugees and immigrants from countries where international military intervention has destroyed any possibility of governments based on the same European democratic values. The values that have built European societies and have become ideal for other countries, such as democracy, community or sympathy have vanished, I am afraid.
The internationalist ideal that once supported campaigns against the South African Apartheid, child exploitation in Southeast Asia, or the solidarity with the Chilean struggle for democracy in the 1980s has disappear, to name just three paradigmatic examples. Europe seems secluded but eager to push forward a liberal agenda that, in the eyes of the Global South, seems sumptuous and narcissistic.
The fight for rights such as gender equality, equal marriage, and wider civil liberties based on identity are in no way connected with the redistribution of wealth or solidarity with poor countries. In fact, these struggles coexist with the restriction of the movement of immigrants, racism, deportations and the refusal to accepting refugees. Not to mention the neoliberal policies applied to the unemployed, homeless, etc., in their own European countries.
From their social comfort, the European liberals willfully ignore the country of origin of the products that they consume daily, the exploitative conditions in which they are produced and the low wages that are paid to workers which produce them. A paradigmatic example is the humble avocado which has become for European millenials the sign of the perfect brunch or healthy salad need two thousand litres of water to produce just one kilo of avocados. Europeans prefer to ignore that their consumerist and wasteful lifestyle is responsible for most of the Co2 emissions and the fact that poor countries are the most affected by the effects of climate change without having contributed the most to emissions. European countries prefer to ignore that poor countries are currently taking on gigantic debts with financial international institutions to pay for vaccines produced by European countries. They know that this situation will put the poor countries economies in a great disadvantage when the pandemic ends.
European countries seem to have gotten rid of the Catholic religion only to put money and material comfort in its place. They have now the blessing of the market to live eternally in holidays. Near to the end of the longest lockdown and with high percentages of their population vaccinated, European citizens are thinking about having holidays and spending their money meanwhile in India, South America and Africa hundreds of people are dying because they do not have oxygen to keep their mechanical respirators working in their ICU.
European citizens feel no guilt, they insist that poor countries have had bad Governments, are inherently corrupt, lazy, and possess bad habits that slow their path to The Progress. It is clear that they are willfully blinded to the consequences of colonialism, -that system that made them rich at the cost of the plundering of those who today seem condemned to poverty, the racism that served as an ideology to justify that exploitation or the companies founded in colonial times – they still exist in other forms as extractivism and speculation schemes.
Europe walks in a fog, lost and seduced by a materialistic and empty lifestyle, she distances herself from the ideals that long ago made her a beacon of wisdom for the whole world. Poor Europe, she cannot sleep, confused by propaganda, drunk with narcissism and anxiously awaiting the next injection of guilt free pleasure. Maybe that’s the way in which she can be freed from all the ghosts, regrets and dead bodies that have been accumulating, for example, at the bottom of Mediterranean Sea, the bodies of the hundred of refugees.
Good night Europe, rest well.