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How to integrate 27 strangers..?Education and integration in EU...
by Christos Mouzeviris
2011-04-02 10:15:56
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The European project, as many call it, started after the second World War, and it has progressed today in the form of EU. One of its main goals and visions is the European integration, and the creation of one federal Europe. While there are many who oppose this and support a nation state approach, the idea in general has lost its support among the European population; unemployment, economic crisis, bad press and the constant division between the European states they create, and of course the reluctance of our national political elites to let go of the power over us they've been holding for decades, centuries even, have seriously damaged the orientation and the purpose of this cause. It lacks a backbone, the vision the ambition. EU is mainly used by our elites to promote their plans for us, portraying them as "EU regulations"....

Another thing that annoys me about this situation is that so far they attempted to create a pan-European identity or culture based on the American model. A United States of Europe, inspired and copied from USA! Our leaders try to integrate the populations of Europe following the American "panacea". Expose us constantly to the America culture, "modernize" us and make us lose our national heritage and culture, and create a global culture and way of thinking; a western, capitalist, multi racial, multi ethnic, mutli religious "mass" I will dare to call it, with no culture no national heritage or history; just people who believe and follow the extreme liberal and capitalist ideologies of USA! Compulsive buyers and consumers that is! We see this in the music, films, fashion, food and lifestyle they promote to us. Everything is coming or controlled by big multinationals, global companies that form our collective ideas and conscience and  this trend extends even to media and the press. So there is absolutely no way out!

In my opinion instead of trying to "Americanize" Europeans, it would be better to "Europeanize" them! Instead of trying make them forget their national history, heritage, habits, music, culture and lifestyle, it would be better to project each others' on the rest of them! Instead of making the Greeks, the Irish, the Czechs, the Swedish, the Estonians and so on, new Americans by bombarding them with American music (or English speaking music only, in general), films (Hollywood) TV shows and reality programs, better starting projecting each others' cultural elements on each other! Apart the facts that I have been supporting for a long time now (and have written previous blogspots about them) like a pan European TV channel and promoting the European Capital of Europe in our television, I think something that we lack as well is teaching European history in our schools.

European history with all its bad and good pages, is what unites us and we should learn from it. We never hear about each others' news stories apart when some disaster hits one of us. We never watch anything about the cultural events that are taking place in other European countries like festivals and celebrations. We never watch any TV programs or series, comics and cartoons, films or music of any other European country in our national media, apart from American and British! How do you expect to integrate 27 (and soon more) total strangers? Before the Soviet block collapsed, my generation hardly knew that countries like Latvia or Estonia even existed. We never learned anything about them because they were in the Soviet block. It was almost forbidden! Suddenly they regain their independence and they join EU, and of course people saw them as poor ex-communist populations that joined EU to steal our jobs and hard earned money and taxes! How many or the European population really saw 2004 as the year of European reunification (or even cared)? How many knew the history and (in many cases impressive) past of those "new" nations? It is not as if Lithuania suddenly sprang out of Russia for example. Many of the "new" states were rich and powerful kingdoms in the past. The constant wars and the carving or Europe in two, decided their modern history and fate.

Now imagine if we did learn European history in our schools, and if we did watch soap operas, TV series, documentaries in our television sets of other European nations. If we were exposed in other European countries' music and culture, cuisine, national holidays and events, if we knew how life is in other EU capitals, if we watched movies filmed in Europe by Europeans in all European languages. Wouldn't that project another European country's lifestyle and culture in the rest of Europe, and influence our own? And perhaps wouldn't that create a new pan European culture, not an Americanized European culture, that it would be compiled by ALL of our cultures together? If we were taught in our schools a collective history of Europe, together with our national one, and tried to understand the mistakes we made in the past and how they affected our fates, wouldn't that made it easier for European youngsters to come closer with other youths across Europe?

In that way we would both keep our own national culture and heritage, but also expand it and project it to another 500 million Europeans across the continent. And of course enrich our culture with other 27 elements! Greek culture, music, cuisine and heritage would become a European one, and the same would happen to French, Slovenian, Latvian, Austrian and so on! Instead of this, our leaders think that it will be better to erase our national heritage, and replace them with a globalized, American one, with afro-American music, Hollywood movies and so on! And not only that, but they want to follow the multi culturalism of USA, importing thousands of immigrants from all over the world with the idea of creating a cosmopolitan society modeled after America, thinking that this will help European integration. Well from what I see, not only we failed to promote European integration, but we failed to integrate our immigrants in our societies too. See Britain, France, Holland and recently Greece even, struggling to integrate their immigrant populations, and while many of them boast that they are progressive and liberal countries, they have in fact simmering racial and ethnic tensions.

And all that in my opinion because they force in both the native and the immigrant populations the American role model. It does not work in Europe. We must promote our own culture in both populations and encourage youngsters from all backgrounds to participate, engage, and promote the national or European culture and heritage. I don't see for example how an African family in Greece could ever be integrated, following the American ideology; besides African-Americans are still struggling so why do we project to young African youths in Europe, African American culture? That being a black in a predominantly white society means that you must be a rapper, a basket ball player and a music producer.....or a gangster!! Why not project the Greek and European culture on them? In some cases some ethnic groups even suggested separate religious schools for their youths! Oh that will do it; instead of putting our kids together from a young age, they want them to be segregated! I really do not think that separate schools for ethnic or religious minorities are ideal and I would dare to say even, that we will have to promote other European languages in our schools too.

And not just English, French or German as we usually do. But since we have so many linguistic minorities recently in all European countries due the migration of Europeans in other countries, why not start teaching Greek, Polish, Hungarian, Romanian in our schools for example as well? Depending the population trends and migrant communities in each country, instead of setting separate language schools that youngsters must attend to keep in touch with their native language and culture, why not have optional classes in state schools in areas with high populations of expatriates of certain ethnicities? Why must our kids feel "different" that they have to attend additional evening classes because they are Polish, Latvian or Greek, while they could opt out of some classes in their school to attend classes of their mother tongue in the same school? And learn the history of their native as part of the European history class, and watch and learn their national heritage in the national television of the country they reside; why must they access satellite TV to keep in touch with their country watching Polish programs for example, while there could be less American programs and more European ones played in our television!

All the above would not just promote European culture and integration, but it would have some positive financial impact too. Imagine that with a bigger market, you have more potential buyers thus more money to invest and better programs, films and documentaries to produce. The question is: will our leaders dare to take the plunge? Or Europe will simply become the new America (by all means)?

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Emanuel Paparella2011-04-03 14:40:17
As mentioned somewhere else, Yale University is now establishing a branch in Singapore for the teaching of liberal arts. Is there a lesson there? Could it be that liberal arts which are universal is a better bridge between the West and Asia than say ethnic studies or even European studies? Which is to ask this crucial question: is ethnicity or universlity what is desperatly needed as centripetal force nowadays? I would aver that religion and liberal arts are a better centripetal force to provide a sense of identity and common values, than purely ethnic studies, as important as those may be.

Christos Mouzeviris2011-04-04 13:20:43
I wouldn't object to what you are saying, but while I like some liberal views, in creating a more equal global society, the thing that annoys me is that it mainly promotes "western" aka american anglosaxon values and point of view...capitalism, english language, afro american music, hollywood cinema etc...

If we want to create a global set of values, don't you think it is important to include elements of all cultures, regions, ideologies religions and so on...?? otherwise you are just talking about the elimination of all ethnic identities and their incorporation in one "western" consumerist and capitalist global society..

Errrmmm....then NO!!! I love my culture, and if it is best to create a global one, then I want parts of it to survive and projected on and adopted by the rest of the global community, not just erase my own and me adopting the american anglosaxon or "western" one, for the betterment of this world...!! and what tells us that this is the best way forward...? this is the best ideology or culture...??

Emanuel Paparella2011-04-04 15:13:09
What may tell you is the fact that is universal and applicable everywhere. The Romans accepted much of Greek culture without losing their own cultural identity, exactly because they thought of its core charecteristics and values universally applicable.

Christos Mouzeviris2011-04-05 13:00:18
What happens then when I do not find that this type of "Western" culture, does anything for me, as what the ancient Greek culture did for the Romans...??

Emanuel Paparella2011-04-05 13:41:10
Then you join the separatists movements of the Italian lega, or the Corsican one, or the Basque one who reject universal cultural values and put the emphasis on local ethnic values and then Europe would not be a union any longer put a collection of disparate nations. To have a union you need universal principles that act as centripetal force. I am afraid that ethnic cultures which ought to be respected, act more as centrifugal forces. Until Europeans agree on those core values that gives them a cultural identity, there will be a union built on sand and paradoxically the separatist movements will continue to flourish.

Christos Mouzeviris2011-04-06 00:42:15
Having an "ethnic" identity is not a bad thing, me thinks...I am Greek and I am European...I keep my culture, AND I mix it with elements from many other European cultures...I find wealth in the diversity of European cultures, I do not want to replace them all with one..Especially with that vulgar Americanized one that our media shove in our throats day in day out..!! Is that the universal values that you want our children to have? consume, consume, consume, buy, buy, buy, work, work, work, stop thinking and watch whatever we serve you in your television set...??

Europe must invent its own..simply..and we have a huge pool to draw our universal values from...so we better start promoting European values...

Emanuel Paparella2011-04-09 13:08:41
I happen to be both European and American and believe that it is possible to synthesize the best of both cultures. Of course if one decides to synthesize the worst if only because one is ignorant of the best of one or both, then a monstrosity is afoot. I am always surprised every time I visit Europe, which is often, at what passes for American culture among the general population. You may say that that the media fed them what is worst but then there is some responsibility for not being able to discriminate the good from the mediocre, is there not? I suggest that this issue needs to be rethought carefully; for after all as Alexander was conquering the Persian world 24 centuries ago he was also marrying their princesses and acquiring the best of its culture. It is never a one way street.

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