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    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    A number of posts in various threads oppose further integration on the grounds of a loss of cultural diversity.

    Does the forum believe that all possible future integrated European cultures are necessarily inferior to their own current national culture?

    My own view is that a new European culture, based on a common European education system, a common European language, a common European legal system, a common healthcare system etc would be "better than" any of the EU member states current national cultures. It would aggregate the best of each national culture and so would become a "super-culture".

    Some people may object to categorising one culture as "better than" another but we do it all the time. Cultures with oppress women are "worse than" those that don't, cultures that don't have freedom of expression or aren't democratic are "worse" etc.

    The only people that I can see who would oppose a new European culture would be:
    a) those with a superiority complex. They might say "My culture cannot be improved on, it can learn nothing from any other current or possible culture"
    OR
    b) those with an inferiority complex. They might say "My culture is so weak and has so little going for it that none of it would survive if it was joined to other national cultures"

    Any thoughts?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I don't know whether I would be better to "melt" all European cultures into one. They are really diverse and they make a country special. I don't like the "Americanization" and I doubt that a lot of people would like "Europeanization". When I am in a country I like to discover how people live there, what they eat, how they interact etc. But - to make a simple example- an Italian restaurant run by a Dutch in Germany will never be as good as an Italian restaurant in Italy run by an Italian. It's just different.
    So I guess I'm pro diversity and contra a "European culture". But I am not against learning from each other - but that's more a question for politicians, not for artists.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    gerbera,

    There is nothing genetic about the ability to make Italian food, even Italians need to be taught how.

    How about this for a scenario. Your Italian restaurant owner decides he wants to live in Germany. That's no problem because he can speak the common language, his children will get the same common education, his payments into the common healthcare and pension system are still valid. He goes to Germany and is successful. He decides to expand and needs more staff, so he employs some local Germans and a Dutch man, and teaches them everything he knows about Italian food, which is no problem as they all speak the common language. The Dutch man becomes so expert in Italian cuisine that he decides he wants to own his own restaurant and so opens one in the next town. We end up with a fantastic Italian restaurant in Germany run by a Dutch man.

    BTW, the fourth best restaurant in the world is a French restaurant run by an American in the US, the best restaurant in Australia is run by a Japanese, the second best restaurant in the UK is a Japanese restaurant which is better than any restaurant in Japan, etc (http://www.theworlds50best.com/bestlist.aspx)

    We allow cultures to mix. I doubt that anyone here would say that we shouldn't allow Italian resturants to exist in Germany because they dilute German culture? A new European culture wouldn't just ALLOW cultures to mix it would ENCOURAGE it.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Mr. London: I don't think diversity is either a question of superior/inferior complex. You are putting this discussion in an irrelevant level.

    Although you are right in one thing: there is one inferior complex. The one we have towards america's influence in the world.

    Unfortunately, I think we (europeans) don't make an effort to learn with History. Let's try to remember USSR, and it's attempt to form a common (artificial) culture. Of course, nowadays all EU countries live in democratic systems (for now... who knows?), there wouldn't be repression (hmm... really?) trying to impose common language/culture/education.

    There are areas where we must focus our efforts. Common health care, common social security (eheheheh ;-) , common legal system (yes!), common currency, and many other things. To be an example for the world: human rights, environment, DIVERSITY, freedom, science, arts, economy, etc etc.

    But to encourage banishing all the wonderful diversity, for an idea of "super culture" (I even chilled writing this buzzword...), reminds me of some of the worse events of our past.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I fully agree with GaryLondon. I couldn't formulate my thoughts any better. A vigorous pan-European culture would be superior to today's provincial and narrow-minded cultures of Europe. A common culture would simply mean people mixing and living together. It wouldn't mean less diversity, it would mean more diversity because people would be encouraged to move freely around Europe and share their culture. Europe's marginalized minority communities would see it as an immense improvement over today's situation when they are made to be ashamed of their "improper" origin and forced to assimilate into the national culture of the state where they happen to live. Europe would be seen as an attractive and inclusive environment whereas today it is seen as an assortment of weird nations which nevertheless provides a picturesque backdrop for the tourist zoo.

    The comparison between USSR and the US is ludicrous. USSR didn't seek impose a common language or culture. They simply sought to control everyone's actions and thoughts. Those who didn't go with the system had no job, no education and no rights (if they were lucky enough to stay out of jail).

    I also don't understand why common European culture should be perceived as "Americanization". What does America have to do with this?! (Other than the fact the Americans are traditionally more open towards other cultures, at least in comparison with nationally bigotted Europeans).
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Oulematu:

    «A common culture would simply mean people mixing and living together. It wouldn't mean less diversity, it would mean more diversity because people would be encouraged to move freely around Europe and share their culture.»

    You already have Schengen for that, bottom line the EU system is based on that premises... although I can't understand how do we have a common culture (in the terms you're expressing it) and at the same time being able of sharing different ones...

    I think many people are trying to make the critics of common culture/language/education (just a question: what would be common european culture as you're saying... don't we already have one??) the nationalists or anti-european. It's getting pretty annoying. Through out this debate I have always defended TGA's proposal, of our shared common values, I am for the continuous enlargement of the EU, respecting the differences, I am for a strong sense of european identity, and I think we should all try to work things out to make EU/Europe a more inclusive political union. My terrible english writing is surely the problem...

    Now, we have to focus on what is important. And the fundamental is to build a union founded on a set of values, share them, and... be happy.

    BTW, one thing is to be open to a culture. Another thing is to be swallowed by...something ("super culture"...? I'm starting to be afraid of this expression).
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    And here is a good example of european culture (in an american film...): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQpQfi-vRQ4

    :-)
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Schengen doesn't help. I can't move to Portugal if I have to speak Portuguese and deal with all the local rules in order to work and live there. This is not a problem only for a limited group of business people, celebrities and professionals. Sure, I can travel there on vacation but that's not the point. I can just as well also travel to Cape Verde and the passport check isn't such a big deal for me.

    Common culture doesn't mean that everyone will be a clone. Just like not every Portuguese is a clone today. People won't all stay in the same place and will be able to more easily share their personal experiences and talents, that's all.

    Clearly we don't have a common European culture because there's no common language, media, personalities, books, bookstores, movies, songs or even jokes. As gerbera insists, I can't even get a decent pizza in Prague. If I have interest in Portuguese culture, I depend on the local Portuguese center. For Portuguese books I mostly depend on a few available translations as there's only limited book market for foreign books. The closest I get to common "European" culture is Hollywood, amazon, Mariah Carrey, Beethoven and translations of classics into local language.

    In GaryLondon's scenario, if the Italian restaurant owner decides he wants to live in the Czech Republic, he'll have to hire people to deal with Czech-speaking beaurocrats and his employees will have to speak Czech (i.e. he will have to rely mostly on native Czech-speaking employees). His children will either go to a Czech-speaking school or (if his business is selling pizza all over Central Europe or if his wife is an expatriate CEO) to an expensive international language school. His family's social security and health care will be disrupted by the move. If they want to see a doctor, they'd better learn Czech or rely on one public English-speaking hospital in town or pay for pricey private care in Italian. Overall, the result will be that your Italian restaurant owner will probably stay in Italy (unless he wants to open an overpriced up-market restaurant serviving the globalized business community) and will come to Prague only on vacation (taking advantage of Schengen when it becomes available in future) (with the only affordable way of getting there being by airplane or car because cross-border train travel has not been liberalized and is too expensive).
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    The language barrier is a problem for maybe two years. Then you will have learned it (perhaps except Finnish..) Most other languages in Europe are easy and some are even easier for some of us (such as French and Spanish for Italians, Danish for Swedes, Finnish for Estonians etc.) Where there is a will there is a way. Try the shock therapy. It works.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Gheryando,

    The language debate is ongoing on a number of other threads, it seems to be a recurring theme that even when people agree to drop it, or agree to disagree it keeps coming back. So can we ignore that piece in this thread.

    Assume that communication between Europeans is fine, either because of a common language or because everyone has learned enough languages to be able to talk to everyone else in Europe.

    Given this assumption which cultural areas are the most important for us to share to understand each other better and to project a better European image to the rest of the world?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    dear Gary, i was answering oulematu's question "I can't move to Portugal if I have to speak Portuguese and deal with all the local rules in order to work and live there". I agree the language question is everywhere but that only reflects that it really is an omnipresent problem in nowadays EU.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    gheryando - now I understand what you meant. You're saying that if I choose to settle in another EU state, all I need is two years to master the language. Well, I can see several problems with that. Firstly, I may wish/have to move more frequently and may not be willing to learn the local language after each move (this is not an unrealistic scenario considering that many EU member states are very small relative to most countries in the world). Secondly, I have not met too many non-Czechs who would be able to learn Czech in two years and I'm sceptical if other European languages are that easy (let's assume that I'm not a language genius). Thirdly, there are numerous everyday situations when I may be exposed to other member states without intending to settle there and learn the language (e.g. when I go there on a business trip, when I communicate with business partners, when I'm send on a temporary work secondment, when I get into an accident while traveling there, when shopping for goods and services or investing into real estate or stock or travelling as a tourist). Finally, given the above, I don't see wherein lies EU's benefit, at least in the language area - I could go anywhere else in the world and would have to deal with the same linguistic issues (and in fact if I stick to non-European countries that use languages in which I can communicate, the linguistic problems will be even smaller). Isn't this an absurd situation?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Right. It is. This is why I am advocating one official language but thats a different thread. All I'm saying is I know 5 languages and I am 21. It took me 1 year to learn French. I spent 3 months there total time. If you want to learn the local language of your place of residency and lets assume its a more "useful" one then Lithuanian, such as Spanish, then its a task very worth undertaking as it will open a whole new culture to yourself and help you to integrate yourself into Spanish society and not be a foreigner forever. Regarding businesstrips..it is good to know the local language but business already has its official language: English so you shouldnt have any problems.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I agree with you in many respects. Just one comment, if business already has its official language - English, how come businesses are required to communicate with local authorities, regulators, courts and clients in the local language? But don't feel obliged to answer, I don't want to perpetuate the language discussion or to hijack this thread from its original purpose - A New Culture for Europe.

    In that respect in can only reiterate that I believe that a possible future integrated European culture (based on a common European education system, a common European language, a common European legal system, a common healthcare system etc) would be superior (more open, vivacious, dynamic, challenging, inspiring) than our current national cultures. The problem with that seems to be that (i) most Europeans don't share this view and oppose this model of EU, and (ii) the role of government institutions is not clear in forming this identity - it's up to private individuals to do this via private cooperation.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I agree with you and I agree that in every nation citizens should have the right to communicate with authorities etc in English (or latin or whatever). I also believe that this alone would help forming a new culture, or better, a stronger culture of Europe.