The strange death of Europe*

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Champs-Elysées, Paris, Saturday March 16th. (c) Marie Magnin/Hans Lucas.

I was born in the Far-East, raised in Africa (the South?), went to Grad school in the US (The West? The North?). I’ve lived in (South) America for 30 years this coming December. In my compass-mad life, I have always looked back at Western Europe (ironically East of where I now live) as some sort of a beacon.

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Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2016.

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Yellow jackets, Paris. (AFP?)

When I flew “West” to South-East Asia, 18 months ago, I packed a book by Douglas Murray, called “The strange death of Europe”. A brilliant book, no doubt criticized in many corners, starting with the Guardian. One might agree or disagree with Murray, the title or concept of the book is very valid: “The strange death of Europe”. Whether they are isolated events or general trends, I don’t know, but I propose we review a few cases which may (or hopefully may not) lead to Europe’s collapse. I’ve chosen a random geographic approach of countries I know (or not). This may be a long post. Grab a glass of wine, or beer, or a cuppa, and sit back.

Holland. (Or Netherlands, as you wish)


I lived in Amsterdam from 1964 to 1967. Between two African posts. Needless to say, the weather was a shock, but there was an upside: Freedom. I was 10, I got a bike, and was free to ride the streets of “AmsterrdOm” on my own.


My old street in Amsterdam. We lived at number 33.

A few weeks ago, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte bought 14% shares of Air France-KLM on behalf of the Netherlands. He was concerned about the future of KLM in the Air France-KLM holding. True, Air France has been the hostage of pilot unions for years, but Air France saved KLM’s a** from bankruptcy a few years ago and Rutte’s purchase of Air France shares was “blind”: they did not warn the French government beforehand. In other markets, it would be called a “hostile” take-over attempt. In other centuries it might have meant war. Both Holland and France are founding members of the European Union. They don’t seem to be talking any more. Might I add that Mark Rutte is running the Netherlands with a “huge” group of 16 senators, who worked out an alliance with other parties in a senate of 75. Wait a minute: 16 senators decide the future of a country?

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Air France DC4, 1948. I do have a special relationship with Air France. My father and his colleagues  re-built the Company after the war, making it for a while the “largest Airline network in the world”. Today Air France is practically “run” by the pilots’ Union which puts the Company in jeopardy. Will Air France follow the fate of Pan Am?


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Brussel’s Grand-place, 2010.

Brussel is one of my favourite cities. History, culture (the Belgian school of comics or graphic novels is nearly without equal). Great food, and Belgians have got to be one of the most welcoming and pleasant people I know.

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Street art, Brussels, 2010.

In recent months, Belgium announced the purchase of new US-made fighter planes. There were European or French options, but the US planes were chosen. Wait a minute: the “Tramp” has insulted America’s allies over and over again, to the point that one may wonder how long NATO will last, and Belgium buys US planes? What happened to European cooperation?


Tintin’s moon rocket, Brussels, 2010. That was 100% Belgian technology.



The Brandenburg gate, Berlin. A symbol of Germany and reunification. Ironically, the French Embassy is on the other side of the columns.


The Holocaust Memorial, Berlin. One of the most… “poignant” places I have ever seen. A reminder of the centuries of war and massacre that had marked European history until the creation of the European Union put that aside. Or so we thought.

Angela Merkel has run Germany smoothly since 2005. Yet, her electoral base has eroded slowly, to the point that she has abandoned the Presidency of her party, the CDU (Christian-Democrats) to Annegret Kamp-Karrenbauer (Aka AKK) and vowed to leave power in 2021? Why 2021? What sheer madness is so attached to power that politicians cannot let go? 2021 is still 2 years away. And for the past 2 years Germany has stalled every evolution of the EU. Proposals by Macron (good or bad I don’t care) have been ignored, put on the back-burner, or simply rejected. Europe cannot live without a strong Franco-German alliance. It has been so since the beginning of the EU with de Gaulle and Adenauer. Shouldn’t Frau Merkel resign with honours and leave way for younger generations? (Not AKK, bitte schön!)


Frederick II, King of Prussia’s castle, built in the 18th century is aptly called “Sans souci”. Which in Swahili can be translated to “Hakuna matata”. Sounds familiar?



While the Queens of France rest in eternal slumber at Saint-Denis, French politicians have ignored (and generated) the country’s problems for 30-40 years.

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“End poverty now!” This picture is about 3 years old. (Note: La France insoumise are a bunch of left-wing populist morons I do not support or stand) (I know, I may get enemies for free with this post) Truth of the matter is: French GDP per capita in constant monetary terms has been flat for 10 years. Flat. That means zero real growth for 10 years. In France. Something’s gotta give.

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Saturday march 16th. (Mathias Zwick/Hans Lucas) The Fouquet is burning in front of anti-riot police who clearly have no orders, neither to put out the fire nor put out the riots. The “Ministre de l’Intérieur”, our “Home Secretary” was probably in a night club. Or was that the previous week-end?


The Fouquet afterwards. (AFP) There are flats above. “Privileged” flats as the French press would say, but flats nonetheless. Actually, a 100 yards down the left, a building was set on fire and the occupants evacuated. No casualty.

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Meanwhile, that very same Saturday, President Macron was skiing in the South (of France) Poor thing needed a rest – well aware the Yellow jackets marched every Saturday – after a visit to Africa (East Africa. Kenya and Ethiopia – where I lived – and Djibouti – where I didn’t) Exhausting countries! (Tongue in cheek.) A question to my faithful readers who’ve read that far: Is there a pilot in the European plane?

Great Britain

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Hoggart’s Little shrimp girl (1745) at the National Gallery is probably wondering what the Dickens is going on?

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Will the London bridge be forever closed to the world? After three years of apparent… resignation (?) on behalf of the British, crowds have come out on the streets last week-end. But Theresa May(be) has proven to be the worst British politician in the past thirty years. (True, Boris Judas Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are strong contenders). Three years to reach no agreement? Neither inside nor outside the UK? Excuse me? Any manager in a private company would have resigned or been fired long ago.

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(c) Isabel Infantes, AFP.

Ask yourselves what would have happened if Theresa May or Corbyn had been Prime Minister in June 1940. Either one would have made Chamberlain look like a great statesman.


Never been there. In fact the furthest East I’ve been in Europe has been Praga which is fab. Will go back. Hungary? Not really interested. No disrespect to Hungarians. Current Prime Minister Viktor Orban (labeled “controversial” by the French press, which has a limited stock of adjectives), has taken a number of “political stances” not exactly aligned with Europe. Though he still takes their money. His latest trick? See below:

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In this political campaign, Orban puts together in a “collage”, George Soros, the Hungarian-American billionaire, and Orban’s archenemy Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, alluding at a conspiracy by Brussels and Soros to enforce immigration quotas. Needless to say, that is false. But despite Brussels’ polite denial, no further action has been taken by Europe against Mr Orban, Esq.


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The Milan cathedral. 2014. (There are so many places of Beauty in Italy!)

Italy could fairly be called the cradle of Western civilization (with Greece of course). The wealth of cities, art, and history is simply overwhelming. I could easily live months, years in Italy and barely scratch the surface. (An apology, I realize I have written three adverbs in this paragraph. Bad writing)

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The birth of Venus, by Sandro Botticelli. Uffizi, Florence, c.1484. Painted over five centuries ago this painting takes an old Greek myth to the universal. Alas! in the past few months two “clowns” (for lack of a better word), Salvini and di Maio, elected democratically and designated vice prime ministers, have pushed Italy to the scenery of Commedia dell’arte. Racist stances, insults and general disregard for manners have been their MO. To the point that in February, Macron recalled the French Ambassador in Italy for “consultations”, diplomatic jargon meaning: we’re about to break diplomatic relations. The motive: di Maio’s visit in France to the yellow Jackets. In another century, again, this could’ve “meant war”.

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Perseo holding Medusa’s head, Piazza della Signoria, Florence, 2014. This statue by Benvenuto Cellini (c.1454) was a reminder of what could happen to the enemies of the Medici.

Now, allow me to borrow an image taken last November by my friend Paul in Syracuse that froze the blood in my veins. Visit his wonderful blog at:

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2019 Mussolini Calendar. I had to brush my eyes with my knuckles and look again. A Mussolini calendar on sale in Italy! I can’t imagine a Pétain calendar on sale on the streets of Paris. The kiosk would be torched. Oh. Maybe that is why 5 out 9 Champs-Elysées newspaper kiosks were indeed burned to the ground on that fateful Saturday?

Thank you my dear friends and readers to have come and read that far. (My longest post ever, I think. I promise I will not repeat that). Are we actually witnessing a “strange death of Europe”? I honestly don’t know. The fact is that many conditions seem to push for implosion. Also bear in mind the fact that historically such… agitation and lack of vision almost always leads to the emergence of… “providential leaders” aka dictators. The fools who ignore History will be condemned to relive the worst. And by fools I mean both politicians and electors. Things go on like that in France, and Marine Le Pen won’t even have to campaign to be elected. God forbid.

I hope I haven’t lost too many friends with this post. May I end with with an urban tag I’ve already posted before in a different context. I saw it in New York five, six years ago. At the time of “Occupy Wall Street”.

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* This is the first installment of the “Mzungu Chronicles”. Unless otherwise stated, all pictures and comments are mine.



97 thoughts on “The strange death of Europe*

  1. Living in Italy, I can assure you and everyone else that Europe is indeed dead in every sense of the world. They have squandered massive opportunities of being great in favor of mass confusion and regional bickering. È davvero un peccato!

    • Davver è. 🙂
      You have summed it up (much to my dismay) in one single word: squander.
      Why dismay? because Europe is still incomparable and I still hope for a last minute… rescucitation…
      Grazie mille. Buona notte.

  2. It’s great to see you reflect on what you see from a broader, longer term perspective. Do I agree? I honestly don’t know. It feels as though a lot of the puzzle pieces are missing. I feel both worried and yet hopeful over the longer term. (But that doean’t mean I will like the shorter term! ). Tha ks for this post!

    • You’re welcome. Should you agree or not? No. By all means. And I think you are hitting the nail on its head. Many of the puzzle’s pieces are missing. That is a very good observation. I sort of think this post is a first reflection after years of observation. Something is definitely not right. And maybe finding more pieces will help find a solution. Thanks for your visit and comment.
      Take care.

  3. The world as we knew it…seems to be dying EVERYWHERE. This was a beautiful (photos) and enlightening post. Thank you for taking the time it took to put it together. American’s rarely know what’s going on in the rest of the world, or even in their own state, let alone the country. We can’t believe anything, so that teaches us to ignore everything. Sad, but true. I didn’t realize things were as bad as they are. Something is definitely “not right.” You know, normally, something like this could be seen as a good thing, maybe a new way of including everyone, something wonderful, but that’s not the case. The people we are talking about are bad, in every sense of the word. Thank you again and you can use as many adjectives as you like, when you write to me. 🙂

    • Haha! Adjectives are dangerous. Loaded. Not to mention adverbs. I always warned my executives to be very cautious about using adjectives in their reports. And adverbs were forbidden. 😉
      Now, the yellow jackets? There is a background of serious issues: purchasing power, distances from medical care, authority, etc. But in more than 3 months they have not been able to come with a structured platform. Now all they do is “allow” the breakers to come and burn everything. And Europe? It is disintegrating… Sad.
      Be good Gigi.

  4. Interesting run down on the situation. I think this chaos and confusion is symbolic of our entire civilization. The EU being relatively young would be the first to come apart at the seams: no tradition to hold it together.

    • Possibly, but as one who has traveled extensively, I beg to differ. There are many ties (and similarities) between the cultures. English and French share the same defects: Arrogance, haughtiness, hubris. 🙂 And 1000 years of wars creates links between the two cultures. There are similarities even in architecture. Germany? Many things in common with France. (We are the most Saxon of Latin countries and the most Latin of Saxon countries). Even in Praga I have found common cultural traits. But! There is no current common project in Europe. So local politicians take advantage.
      Thanks for the visit and comment. 🙂

  5. Scary to read this. Maybe we seem to be better off this side of the world. Nobody cares about us and couldn’t be bothered if we drowned in floods or sewage or get murdered on farms and in our “safe” homes. Luckily we still have lots of sunshine and animals in the wild…I don’t know for how long, though.

    • Nobody knows for how long. The only lesson I draw from that, your, and our “mess” (In Latin America) is that nothing is forever, and we do not need to raise our voices. Before fools destroy everything. Tot ziens Dina.

  6. It is a depressing picture in the round. How can countries so fractured within themselves, with this depressing rogues gallery of leaders, come back together stronger? We are too small in the world to work apart, and we cannot let the far right in. We have to realize how we need each other but it will take time now, worse before it’s better.
    In a lighter note, I am looking forward to an Amsterdam trip next month and the photos help make me excited for it.

    • A perfect analysis Libre. Our self-definition has gone down the drain: What is England? Don’t know. What is France? Don’t know ‘ny more. That ‘s the first step: to redefine who we are and who we want to be. And then look at the world. What’s the population of England? 60 millions? Vs 7 Billion and change? A speck of dust. So maybe England has to make a deal with the Frogs. God forbid! And so on and so forth. And yes the far right is a major threat.
      Enjoy Amsterdam. With luck you might coincide with the tulips in bloom.
      Merci pour ta visite. And comment. 🙂

      • Thank you, it is a lovely time of year, I think we can all agree… And may we focus on what we have in common. Although of course, I am utterly furious at your attacks on our Dear Leader Mrs May 🙂

      • Yes. Commonalities. This will pull the rug under “pollies” feet who only strive on exploiting differences. 🙂
        My most sincere apologies on my ruthless attacks on the poor thing. I understand she “May” have put her resignation in the balance? 😉
        Take care Dear.

  7. I am always astounded at your vast knowledge of Europe and other parts of the world. What great perspective. I visited Italy two and a half years ago and was sad to observe a couple of Italian’s reactions about the French (dismay is too soft a word). I also observed Italian taxi drivers (all of them) angered that the Italian government was subsidizing food and housing for immigrants while the immigrants were also driving taxis and taking work away from Italians. This is a simplified summation but my observation was then that there was much unrest in Western Europe. Just having left Paris after a month and witnessing first hand the yellow vests, I can tell you that they were very disruptive and extraordinarily ineffective. Only the shopkeepers are paying attention as they are suffering from lack of business along the already burdened Champs-Elysées. Don’t even get me started on Spain… great post. I’m still with you.

    • Great comment Alison. 🙂 You did summarize a number of the many issues at hand. I just hope, as one of my French friends just summarized, that the ashes of those fires will make way for a European Phoenix.
      (Hope you enjoyed your Paris stay at a 150%)
      A bientôt.

    • Thank you. On all counts. It is always difficult to post on such ” controversial” issues. You never know what the reactions will be. So far, I find most share the same concern. 😦
      And I hope by sharing, we can come up with some sort of solution. Many of us have lived in different places. Some have faced war. Or dictatorship, and I think we want neither in Europe. Take care.

  8. Over in Oz, I see nothing but greed, corruption, and selfishness, amongst the politicians, of any party. Finally, ordinary people are getting fed up with the lies, and hopefully they will sion revolt. It’s not just the end of Europe, it’s the end of the old establishments. We even finally jailed a Catholic priest for paedophilia. Yay!

    • It is another thing I have realized: it is a world-wide phenomenon. If we were to do a world-wide public opinion survey of 200 countries’ satisfaction with their governments, the likely result would be general dissatisfaction.
      Unfortunately I don’t have access to the resources to do such a study anymore… 😦
      (Although maybe I might? Hmm, it is a costly study… Hmmm)
      Thanks for your visit and comment.

      • There’s an election about to be announced any moment now….. so there’s a heap of BS on the airwaves…..

      • Yes, I advocate a total non vote, to send a strong message that people are not happy, but the populace hasn’t reached that level of disobedience yet…..yet!

      • That was Saramago’s most brilliant book, Ensayo sobre la lucidez. Not sure what the English title is… lemme see. “Seeing”. I like the portuguese or spanish title better though. If you haven’t read it, buy it. Or steal it. A great book.

      • Yes yes yes! If you have not read Blindness do start with that first. There is one common character in both novels and it is important to read Blindness first. Now, of the two? “Seeing” is the most powerful. To me. Cheers.

  9. Beside all the negative developments of the recent years we should always take in mind that this European project brought more than 70 years of peace to the continent. I do not regard this to be self-evident when looking back into the cruel and violent historty of many, many centuries. Let’s hope that this will continue.

    • My dear friend I do agree totally. You, my brothers and I are the first men in our respective families to not have to gone to war in many centuries. Which pisses me off even more when I see the mounting chances of everything crumbling. Let’s hope indeed.
      Hope all is well with you?

      • Thank you, I am fine. Our British friends actually continuing now every day their real-life satire in Westminster parliament … and there would be so many other things which should be resolved in the time being.

      • The Brits – and Europe – have wasted 3 years of precious time on sheer nonsense while there are more pressing issues. As Shakespeare once said: “That is the long and shot of it”.

  10. Equi – ‘madness is so attached to power’ – this has been my fear for awhile now. And, of course, we are seeing it in the USA. Our planet is tiny. Sigh. If you find a paradise, please let me know 😉 – Susan

    • Haha! You’re not the first to suggest a desert island. I already have a few friends lined up. 🙂 Question is: where?
      Now Power… Politicians keep acting exactly the same as they have for centuries. Much to my surprise. But there has been one tiny change: literacy. Around the end of the 19th century illiteracy in Europe was about 40%! 40% could not read or write. Late 19th century. That has changed tremendously, and the world over. Yet politicians seem to think we are still the same illiterate idiots. We haven’t realized that major difference yet…

  11. May I add a couple of pieces to the puzzle?

    Katuns ‘2 Ahau’ (2012 – 2032) and ’13 Ahau’ (2032 – 2052) are the last two 19.7-year increments in the overall 256-year Katuns’ cycle in the Mayan ‘Short Count’ (prophetic) calendar. Symbolically, these two Katuns (ages lasting 20 years each) constitute the winding down and final collapse of the Old World, before the New World rises from the ashes.
    (nothing else really explains what is happening in Europe and also elsewhere in the word – things are just too strange right now).

      • Thanks! More specifically, we are in an age of very high polarisation worldwide – this has a purpose energetically – it forces us to redefine our values and decide what we really want (where we really stand), going forward – it will also sorts the wheat from the chaff so to say. According to Carlos Barrios this will continue until around 2026. I have written an article explaining how the spirit of the age affects people’s behaviour:

        It would seem to me that what we are noticing in Europe are mainly problems to do with (over-)centralisation, probably an inevitable outcome in such a large union. Didn’t the Soviet Union have similar problems of keeping everything together?

      • Allow me to differ about the Soviet Union: it fell apart for two reasons: 1) the economy was bled by military expenses (and a marxist economy hasn’t worked anywhere anytime anyway) 2) Gorbatchev did not shoot at the crowds as all his predecessors had. For that Gorbatchev should have a statue in every Western capital. 😉
        Buen fin de semana.
        PS. And 3) There is absolutely no possible comparison between the Soviet Union and the European Union. Nada.

      • Ok, so if I understand you correctly on your no.2: the Soviet Union failed because Gorbachev didn’t use force while in power? That’s how I read it, but maybe I understood wrong. Would you say all arge unions would rquire force to keep them together?

        Agreed on your no. 1.

        For no.3 the obvious comparison for me is the centralised aspect, which means a loss of autonomy and identity for all the individual units – which in turn could give rise to nationalism, because people start feeling a need to return to their identity (and autonomy)

        (Too much) centralisation has always lead to problems (for example a lack of democracy in decision making in some instances), so as an observer not in it (but I have lived there of course) I cannot help but notice some of the side-effects.

      • Yes, you understood wrong. And pray, do not put words in my mouth. I don’t know you. I don’t who you are, and this is a blog, not Twitter. Cheers.

      • I apologise if I offended you in any way – I’m a philosopher and I enjoy intellectual debate – and that is what I use blogging for. It is the very reason why I’m not on Twitter and have never been. You wrote an article on a controversial subject and then you invited comments. I could have refrained from engaging and probably should have. Sorry again and all the best.

      • Apology accepted. 🙂 And don’t worry, I don’t offend easily. There is too much of that everywhere now. My heartfelt congrats on avoiding Twitter. Have a nice week-end.

  12. I can understand the sentiment because it seems the US is moving farther and farther away from itself. Not sure if I am trying to cling on to something that doesn’t exist any longer or if we are all going down a terrible road. Great post and none too long.

    Remind me where you went to college in the US?

    • Thank you Jenny for insight. “Moving away from itself”. I would say the same applies to France, the UK, or other parts of Europe. (And I still believe “we” can do something. What? I don’t know.
      College… Does “Roll Tide” ring a bell? 😉
      (Ye be good naw, ye hear?)

      • Ah yes. It sure does now. I recall your southern drawl. Why there? You seem more of a man of the west. Or perhaps that is just me because you have travelled here recently.

      • Drawl? Only on command. 🙂 (I’m probably more british “posh”) 😉
        Why there? Chance I guess. I had gone to SF as a child if you recall. Did not apply there, don’t know why. I think I applied at a couple of Ivy League places, Got in at Austin Texas and Univershity of Alabamer, Tuscalooser. Chose the latter. And don’t regret it. 🙂

      • Perhaps people should simply move back to our cultures? Since people feel that everything (every country) is moving away from it’s original core? At least to me that would be the logical answer to your question about what can be done about the feeling of moving away – people need to centre themselves again locally, since they have difted away from their origins – it’s an identity crisis happening everywhere. (If you don’t mind me jumping in here).

      • Jump in at will. 🙂
        Yes, culture should be respected and enhanced. BUT, two points should considered:
        1) Demography. What is the weight of Belgian culture in today’s world? They’re 11 Million in a world population of 7 billion and change. Same goes for Cataluña. (Worse). Their (and many others’) only chance of survival is integrating a larger structure. e.g. the European Union.
        2) Only the Universal matters, as Hannah Arendt said. When Yo-yo-ma plays Bach he is universal.

      • I would say that Belguim’s culture has no more or no less weight for being in the European Union in terms of Belgian culture. It does however have more political weight, but mainly because it hosts EU instituations, not because of it’s culture per se. One of the potential reasons why Belgian and other cultures could matter less and less in the future is because there is more and more focus on European culture as opposed to French or German or Dutch or English or Croation or Slovenian or Spanish culture.

        For example, what extra weight does Estonia or Lithuaina have culturally because they have joined the Union – in terms of culture I mean the classic definition of culture exluding economics or politics, but rather: language, music, mythology, art, norms and habits and so on. We who live outside of Europe do not know, learn or hear more about the individual cultures of European countries now that they ar all part of the EU. Take Switzerland and Iceland fo example.
        For me the Universal is a metaphysical concept and in that sense I fully agree with Hannah Arendt that at the end of the day only the Universal matters.

      • Just to clarify about Iceland and Switzerland (which are outside of E.U., but in same region) – we do not hear, learn or know less about them than for example Estonia or Lithuainia wich are in the union.

  13. I was worried what might await when I reached the UK, Brian. I fear you might have been too generous – things are far worse than anything I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. I’d select a different Hogarth painting to describe the state of the nation, Gin Lane.
    If the Mussolini calendar wasn’t bad enough, it has been reported that photographs of George Soros have been manipulated in Hungary to ’emphasize’ his Jewishness. Dark days are returning to Europe indeed, but the opposition seems to have finally woken up – except in England, where the opposition is supine.

    • Thanks for Gin Lane. I’d never seen it. I appreciate the Hyeronimus Bosch quality. (Another premonition of Europe’s future? Hope not)
      Let us hope for the best. There comes a time, when one has to touch bottom in order to swim back up to the surface. Fingers crossed. 🙂
      (And many thanks for your comments)

    • Not controversial at all. 🙂 I very seldom block comments Maybe once or twice. Criterion: aggressivity of any kind. 😉 Which was not the case. I just sometimes don’t have time to read all comments on the spot.
      It has been approved and commented.
      A bientôt Jean-Jacques. 😉

  14. Brian, as a mystic, I look to signs and wonders. It is a relatively catastrophic time in the ethers, too. Last week, and during a long stretch of solar minimum, the sun suddenly erupted with an earth directed solar flare.There’s nothing “normal” about that. Solar flares, I’ve observed, have a tendency to make humans crazy. And the sun is hardly affected by the goings on of humans here on this small piece of rock we call earth. The huge storms rolling in off the Pacific could be blamed on climate change, and to some extent they are, but at the same time, several heavy hitter outer planets are bunched up in one section of the universe and emitting their multiplied energies across the universe. Years ago, in National Geographic, I read that Jupiter, alone, emits several hundred or thousand gigabytes more electromagnetic energy than it absorbs. We humans, for all our education and space journeys and scientists etc etc, know far less of how or why we are impacted or propelled into our various crazinesses.
    My mother, dear little Quaker that she was, unerringly would say, “This too shall pass.” And it will. We humans have the ability to grow restless and crazy, and the ability to regain human kindness. This, too, shall pass. J.

  15. Hello, enjoying your blog and article, you have good collection of information, specially about the mess in France, i live here, and its crazy at the moment..

    • Thank you Ilona. (Ilona is your first name right?) Yes, France, and Europe are going through bad times. Hopefully something good will emerge. I honestly don’t know. Where are you living in France? South? North?
      A bientôt.

  16. Agree with everything you say, both in the article and the comments. Bad example is contagious – Irexit is already a word. I blame the media for putting ideas in the place where brains supposed to be, but I also never forget the universal truth: follow the money, spot those who benefit from the events. This is all so very sad.

  17. ” (Note: La France insoumise are a bunch of left-wing populist morons I do not support or stand) “: c’est sûr, tu pourrais t’attirer pas mal de soucis en France en ce moment avec de tels propos. (c’est assez à la mode de soutenir LFI ). Perso, ça m’a bien fait rire ^^
    Nous vivons une époque étrange, pas forcément confortable, pas forcément agréable…. Sinon, en pro- Europe, je continue à penser que l’Europe est une bonne solution (et je ne crois ni au Brexit, ni à un lossible Frexit, quelle idiotie !)

    • Haha! ravi de t’avoir fait rire. Pas facile avec un sujet comme Mélenchon. 🙂
      Soyons clairs: je ne supporte ni Le pen, ni Mélenchon; ni Trump ni Maduro. (J’ai vu de mes yeux es Vénézueliens descendre la cordillière des Andes en poussant leur tristes petites valises. Je fais partie de ceux qui aimeraient bien avoir le choix. Malheureusement… Le choix se restreint. Et j’ai trop vécu à l’étranger dans des pays… “pourris” où ne règne que l’arbitraire. De gauche ou de droite.
      D’où mon “cri du coeur”: je te rejoins complètement sur l’Europe. Jamais dans l’histoire de l’humanité on n’a inventé un truc aussi génial. (Perfectible, certes, mais génial). Ça mérite de faire qqc pour la sauver.
      Bon printemps. A +.

  18. Alas, Mussolini still goes strong in Italy. “Ha fatto cose buone” is the mantra, to which my uncle – sent by said man to fight tanks on the Don with mountain equipment – would reply with such a torrent of zoo-theological expletives that even my granny had to tell him off. Luckily the M5S binge is wearing thin, for they are turning out what they’ve always been: a bunch of headless, brain-dead cocksplats. Lega, instead, will run for a few year more. Northern Italy’s racist underbelly (against the “terroni”, the “negher”, the whatever have you) is strong and self-replicating; I’ve even heard a second generation Sikh, living in Cremona, rant against the “terroni”.
    I, too, have read that book. Personally I find it the deluded ramblings of a closet Brexiteer, but hey ho.

    • Hey ho indeed. I don’t know the English scene well enough to tell about Murray.
      Ha fatto cose buone! Ha! They say the same about Pétain. And Hitler did too! (Before you grab your gun, let me explain) I saw an ad many years ago, by Folha de Sao Paulo. Visual started with dots, zooming off, and an audio that said: When this man arrived to power the economy was in shambles. 1000% inflation. Millions unemployed. He straightened the country giving jobs to all, restored dignity… As the zoom off went larger one could see a pixeled photo of Hitler. And the close was something like: “Some facts can be true but misleading. Folha de Sao Paulo, all the facts.”
      (One the best ads I ever saw)

  19. To have a place you love, to act as a beacon, is important in a sense to help reconcile life. Especially in your very fortunate “compass-mad life” ~ it helps give perspective. Part of it could be the idyllic dreams we had as kids soon fade when we see the real city…but I think the picture you paint here is more accurate, there is no connection/care anymore between the government and people, and the media has evolved into something other than journalism. Hong Kong is experiencing the same now, lack of hope and opportunity, and it is a bit heartbreaking. However, your photos and words do make me think every once and a while, disruption is necessary to create opportunities for those with a passion to carry the city/country in future 🙂 I’m always the optimist 🙂

  20. I’ve had only vague ideas of what’s been going on in France since I left about a year and a half ago. Even Le Ex Husband hasn’t filled me in about all of this, and he used to keep me up to date on things. He now lives most of the year in Bangkok. He’s given up on France and Europe. And the media, like I did years ago. Keep your hope alive, cher Brian.

    • Yep. Will try. One needs an “idea” of a place to fall back on. I’ve been “away” a tad long. Now I understand your ex falling back on Bangkok. Tough it does look much like here. Asia has impressed me very much. I really want to go back. Penang has my vote. 🙂 Or Angkor Wat maybe?
      As an aside, I am glad you have found your way home. 😉 (I think you understand what I mean)
      Be good chère Julie. (Does your sister in Bali have kids?)

      • It can be tough to go back home when you’ve been away for so long. It’s been easy for me because I came back to a very special, remote place. I don’t think I would have survived long if I came back to a city. But I am getting a little restless… (Sister has no kids.)

      • Restless? Why am I not surprised? 🙂
        The remote place does sound nice. Take your time. You may or may not move again. Or… (think about it) maintain a home base and move around. After all it’s what you have always done. 🙂

      • 😇I’m having a small cabin built here as a home base. On the same stretch of road as my parents and brother. We’re slowly taking over this corner of wilderness. Yes, c’est pas évident de changer les habitudes. Je suis qui je suis.

      • Yes you are. (Most people don’t even really know who they are) 😉
        Love the idea of a cabin as a home base. And both close to and… isolated from family. I mean, I’m sure you know anyone can knock on each other’s door, but at the same time respecting each other’s privacy. 🙂
        (Wasn’t there a village in Poland with old wooden houses you posted on once?)
        Congrats on the cabin. A chimney is an absolute must of course. (And wolves in the winter)

      • Yes, I did write about a Slovak village a couple of years ago. Good memory! My family is super cool. We are all pretty introverted, so we know how important having lots of space is. But we’re all there for each other if needed. And there was even a lone wolf around last winter 🙂but I saw no sign of it this year.

  21. This is a crazy post about Europe. A mussolini calendar?
    Well, things are about the same here. Quieter in Canada, loud in the USA. Where are we headed?
    Thank you for this post!

  22. It’s an interesting thread, huge amount of comments – the title of Douglas Murray’s book certainly attracts a debate. I don’t know Paris/France that well, the only thing I can say about Douglas Murray is that he is playing into many anxieties felt particularly by people who do not really mix with those who are different (ethnically or otherwise) from themselves. I can compare it to a person who walks through Birmingham and gets very anxious from seeing different faces, faiths, behaviours – then is compelled to make sweeping generalisations.. Some places/people cope well with this, many see this as a transformation that is going too far…Personally, I think Europe has always been in a dynamic place, but of course, she had its ‘scary’ moments (purges…etc) too. Personally, I believe that Europe will be able to cope with increasing super-diversity in the same way we are learning to cope with super-information multi-layered ‘global village’ age. Kids are better in it than us already. I may be rambling!! Better stop now…

    • Rambling most welcome. 🙂 I know Murray has some “bad press” (?) and I don’t know him enough to judge. All I can say is that a lot of his … “evidence”? quotes, what have you, do ring some bells. Across Europe. I’m French, living in Mexico for the past 30 years. Born and brought up abroad. So I am very sensitive to different cultures. I also know that Mexican friends of my daughters have been spat on in the UK. (A lot of Brexit non-said bases comes from that)
      I agree that Europe has always a dynamic place, France integrated Poles, Italians, Spanish relatively easily in the 20th century. Chinese/Vietnamese integrated well in the 80’s. The main problem today is how to integrate extremely different cultures based on rigorous Islam. As simple or difficult as that. Not to mention that the “underground” economy in the migrant suburbs seems to rely heavily on drug trafficking. I know the mayor (of Italian descent) of a small town in the suburbs of Paris. There are many issues.
      Hopefully, kids will find a way.
      Thanks for your comment.

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