Older US Views of European Union

This is really just a riff on some coincidental connections about what needs to happen around the fallout from #EURef (the result of which will finally be announced tomorrow morning.)

Not a high profile celebrity these days I guess, so I’d no reason to know if George Steiner was dead or alive, it hadn’t occurred to me he was a living person until I saw this long read The Idea of Europe posted today at OpenDemocracy.net (A link tweeted by @PaulMasonNews).

Several coincidental connections that spooked me when I saw it. Not least because I was reading F S C Northrop last night. Why is that a coincidence?

I’m currently reading Northrop’s Logic of Science and Humanities (1947), which makes several references to his Meeting of East and West (1946) and noted the publisher’s 1959 reference to his later European Union and US Foreign Policy (1954).

Back in 1973 Steiner’s “stellar reputation” was influential in his review of Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974) bringing it to wide and credible public attention.

Steiner obviously has a long-standing interest in Melville’s Moby Dick. Later in 2001 he quipped “Moby Dick” in response to the question of whether he had ever read anything trivial in his youth, and when reviewing Pirsig’s Zen and the Art back in 1973 he noted “the analogies with Moby Dick are patent”.

The connection? Reading Northrop’s East & West on a troopship back from Korea was the main influence on Pirsig’s own writing project.

So doubly coincidental to find both Steiner and Northrop writing their US intellectual views of the European Union last night and today, the day of #EURef.

Paul Mason, incidentally also posted this open letter to the president of the EU today, pointing out that like me, whilst voting #Remain, we still have many serious issues to resolve with the EU.

Now when Northrop and Steiner were first talking European “Unification” the post-war ideas pre-dated the specific beast that has evolved to be “The EU” but it brings up some serious US views of what the collaborative European project should look like. Personally I’m all for (proper) federal arrangements, and whilst I don’t support all of Paul Mason’s shopping list of specific items, I share the values they represent.

Values. “And what is good Phaedrus?” The future can be brighter if we work to make it so, and that work can be easier if we approach it collaboratively. There is no shortage of valuable resources to apply to the task.

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