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Making the desert bloom

Amidst all the partying I did in Brussels last weekend, I somehow managed to find the time to actually learn a thing or two.

The first thing I learned was not everyone takes the Euro terribly seriously (while fiddling around for correct change to pay for a taxi, I let the words ‘Mickey Mouse money’ slip from my mouth whereupon the taxi driver began laughing and said “oui, Monsieur, oui”).

Secondly, and rather less anecdotally, I also learned of something called the Stockholm Network. Before last weekend I had no idea that this organisation even existed and, in this case, ignorance was not bliss.

I think it fair to say that there is a widespread impression in the Anglosphere (especially the American bit) that the continent of Europe has fallen under the unbreakable spell of the Grand Wizards of Schtoopidity. Sadly, this is mostly true. But it is not completely true and the difference between ‘mostly’ and ‘completely’ can be found at the website of the Stockholm Network.

Billing themselves as ‘Europe’s only dedicated service organisation for market-oriented think tanks and thinkers’, the website is contains a treasure trove of links to well-organised, well-funded and highly active free-market and libertarian think-tanks and organisation in Britain, Ireland, Albania, Finland, Turkey, Macedonia, Switzerland, Sweden, Portugal, Serbia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Holland, Norway, Spain, Russia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Rumania, Georgia, the Ukraine and elsewhere.

The idiots and the kleptocrats may be running the show for now but, pleasingly, there are pockets of determined guerilla resistance. Even more pleasingly, these pockets seem to be growing in number.

And that is all I am going to say on the matter. Otherwise there is a danger that I might start sounding optimistic and, as everybody knows, that is strictly against my religion.

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12 comments to Making the desert bloom

  • “…highly active free-market and libertarian think-tanks and organisation in Russia”

    Wait till Putin finds out about this, Gulag anyone?

    Media Watch 2004

  • Ralf Goergens

    David,

    the Euro is a great success, so calling it “Mickey Mouse money ” is not justified by the facts. It is successful both internally and externally; it gained a lot of value in respect to the Dollar and it also guarantees price stability in the form of low inflation
    despite the horror stories spread by such papers like the your Sun and our own Bild-Zeitung.

  • Mike Wood

    I know I don’t need to go into the Euro debate here but claiming that the current value of the Euro against the US dollar as proof of its success does seem a bit odd given that the same people were saying that exchange rates were of no relevance at the time that the Euro dropped to 90 cents.
    The problem must be unstable exchange rates, which is why Chancellor Schroeder has asked the US administration to intervene to reduce the value of the Euro against the dollar.

  • Thanks for the link to the Stockholm Network. One quibble, why do you and so many other british english speakers persist in incorrectly spelling Romania?

  • The photos on that site are far less appealing than those of your Brussels party, however…

  • Charles Copeland

    T.M. Lutas asks:
    ” why do you and so many other British English speakers persist in incorrectly spelling Romania?”

    ‘Romania’ is a kind of politically correct version of what used to be ‘Rumania’ or ‘Roumania’ — the idea being that the ‘o’ draws attention to the Rumanians’ alleged descent from the ‘Romans’. So ‘Rumania’ is not so much incorrect as politically incorrect.

    Now that ‘Roma’ is the PC version of ‘gypsy’, perhaps the Rumanians will feel like switching back to, well, ‘Rumania’.

  • The move to emphasize romanian’s latin roots is at least as old as the Transylvanian School which dates back to the second half of the 18th century, predating, by a bit I think, modern political correctness. I won’t bore the Samizdata audience too much with the ethnic denigrations and attempted ethnic cleansing of our former colonial masters in the austro-hungarian empire but suffice it to say that there is a very well established tradition of denigrating any sort of romanian cultural history or thought that might link us to anything ancient or even worthwhile. It’s an ugly racial hatred that is common in that part of the world and was most recently on full display in Yugoslavia as that country broke up. As someone who has grown up in the US, I didn’t get to see it full blown too often but I have seen my parents have to smile, unreacting, as hungarian guests exclaim how beautiful, neat, and clean their house was and how they must actually be hungarians. This is the light fringe of the bile that gets tossed around in such conflicts. You see, they were complimenting my family.

    I don’t doubt that you have no actual interest in excavating the Treaty of Trianon and renewing the practice of magyarization but of the nasty and uncivilized individuals that do want to revive the old empire, they universally refuse to use Romania in favor of Rumania and there seems to be no good reason to give these low lifes any satisfaction whatsoever.

    You’re stomping on old wounds, it hurts, please stop.

  • DSpears

    A better question would why do the Brits continue to keep the Z in their alphabet? If you just decide to spell the striped African horse a Sebra, it would be all done with. What are the economic possibilities of getting rid of a letter?

  • TM Lutas: Hungarians are not popular in the part of the world I come from, Slovakia, so I can fully appreciate your sentiment and explanation. Makes sense to me. The horrors of Magyarisation during the Austro-Hungarian empire are firmly imprinted on the nation’s history.

    I too get annoyed at many linguistic and historical transgressions against the Slovak nation, for example, the use of the adjective ‘Slovakian’, which is pure non-sense – it should be Slovak. Alas, there will always be many ‘little’ things that upset nations of which the world knows little and cares even less…

  • Charles Copeland

    Slovakia, Slovenia, Slavonia .. if this is Thursday it must either be Bratislava or Ljubljana or some other gastronomic hell in the BYOS class (Bring Your Own Sandwiches).

    Romania, Rumania, Roumania, Romanistan, Rome, the Romanians, the Roumanians, the Romans, The Romas, the Roms … whew! Hope George Bush doesn’t have to sort that one out.

    Honest, though, being an Irishman I feel your pain, although the Hungarians never got as far as magyarising us. Ireland, Oirland, the Four Green Fields, the Republic of Ireland, the Irish Free State, the Potato Republic, Eire, where at least 0.01% of the people speak Irish, or Gaelic or even Erse, often through their erseholes.

    There should be a law against this kind of xenophobic smut.

  • I don’t know about a law. Maybe just some understanding and tolerance among the civilized?

  • Romanian

    ‘Illuminati’ hahahahahahahahahahahaha