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Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Erasmus generation

Trans-European contact between young people is nothing new, but in the past it was largely confined to those of a certain milieu; long stays in a succession of country houses, a familiarity with White Tie and of course a substantial income were generally required. Thus not only in Powell and Pressburger's Blimp did the young English officer know his German opponent but in the following war so many German prisoners exhibited a fluency in English perfected at Oxford and their interrogators a proficiency in German honed at Heidelberg. The levels of cultural exchange amongst what was then the ruling class did nothing however to retard wars between nationalistic ruling passions, conflicts that at their start enjoyed mass popularity. 

Exchange programmes for students are a good thing, to be sure. Exchange programmes for European students within Europe are even better; three months in Toledo, Rheims or Leipzig for a girl from Chichester will generally provide a maturity and roundness of experience that three months in Goa or on a Thai beach will not. So the EU Erasmus programme, which provides small grants for European students to visit eachother's countries, is generally a good thing. But as usual the Euro fanaticists have lost touch with reality.  Stefan Wolff believes Erasmus will create a new cadre of pan-European leaders and prevent war for evermore on the continent. Berlaymont is striving for ever more ambitious numbers; 3m Erasmus alumni by 2012. Both are aghast at the effect of Euro budgetary belt-tightening on this ever-expanding programme, and no doubt disappointed Euro students will take up their placards in protest if Cameron succeeds in blocking the budget increases.

Polish philosopher Jarosław Makowski also thinks the Erasmus generation are Europe's future - but a new 'sustainable' Europe of  windmills, soya protein, bicycles and universal welfare entitlements;
The Eramus generation is one faced with a prospect of joblessness. A generation experiencing a crisis of hope. At the same time, it is one that has grown to know Europe’s diversity through peer contact. A generation that, because of its hopeless situation, understands what the great Czech philosopher, Jan Patočka, called the “solidarity of the shocked”. This common fate means that the Erasmus generation knows today that the world as we know it is coming to an end. What is beginning? The future is in our hands. A time is coming for today’s “lost generation” to start constructing a new Europe. We need a new progressive policy that would not be based on the logic of growth, but on a radical departure from it. Today, the really free are not those saying “more, more, more” (more shopping, more credit, more devastation of Mother Earth), but those who have the strength and faith to say “enough!”
Alas, I'm not sure the good professor has actually met any actual Erasmus exchange students. We had a couple on placement. Their sense of entitlement was enormous, and they believed religiously only in a right to free music and film, were utterly selfish even in the little things, like using the last of the milk in the fridge without popping out to get some more, and believed only in their own right to a permanent job with an unrealistic starting salary. If they were representative of Europe's future, or of Europe's future leaders, God help us. 


Anonymous said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

Enarques or Eunuchs?

Anonymous said...

Enarques or Eunuchs?

Anonymous said...

Did you allow them to stay, even after the milk incident?
If you did, then really underneath you're a big softee at heart........or a bit soft.


Ian Hills said...

Eurocrats' kids go to elite schools for training a new breed of rulers - at our expense -

Edward Spalton said...

Ian Hills,

You have hit a nail on the head here. I once likened the Eurocrat class to the British of the Indian Civil Service and Indian army, who kept themselves socially isolated from the natives in their clubs, sending their children home for education whee possible - but at least they were identifiable to the natives. The offspring of the likes of Clegg will have the appearance of British people but be "Europeans with British passports" and with loyalties entirely and solely to the EU.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"their own right to a permanent job with an unrealistic starting salary"

Sounds like they were exactly representative of the EU's leaders past, present, and future.

Note, the EU's leaders, not Europe's leaders.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

I got Erasmus funding nearly a quarter of a century ago to attend a German Uni. Glad I did it etc., but that didn't stop me voting for UKIP last time round.

If people are daft enough to give free money, one takes it. It doesn't mean that thereafter you blindly accept and support the motivations of the organisation giving the money.

Andy said...

The EU elite are so desperate to Prevent another war between the countries of Europe they dont see that the enemy is no longer other Europeans but the hoardes of 3rd worlders now living in our lands.