Friday, 26 February 2016

Brexit is the British Trump

After years of vilifying the EU, the English elite have created a Frankenstein's monster they cannot control.

It now looks increasingly likely that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for the US Presidency, and the world is looking on in bemused horror. What kind of hysteria has propelled this man toward becoming the American right's standard-bearer?

It has been widely observed over the past months that this is a monster of the Republican Party's own making. For years the party has driven turnout by peddling a narrative of fear, and stoking the worst instincts of its base. Truth became relative, and 'truthiness' was the name of the game. If it felt true, then go with it.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Argentina: Europe on the other side of the world

After three months of travelling, I’ve decided – I’m not giving up on Europe. 

I’m currently halfway across the Atlantic, flying from Argentina back to Brussels after a three-month journey across North and South America. I have to say, it feels good to be going ‘home’. 

This is the longest I’ve been away from Europe since I moved to London ten years ago. It was a nice opportunity to clear my head, to spend some time with my family and to experience a new part of the world. I’ve used the peace and quiet to work on my book about nationalist education and the European project, which I’m happy to report is now nearing completion. 

It is perhaps fitting that I ended my trip in Argentina, a country many describe as the most ‘European’ place in the Americas. In fact, as I was travelling south through Latin America I kept hearing, “Oh, you’re going to Buenos Aires? But maybe it won’t be so interesting for you, since you live in Europe. It’s the same thing.” 

Monday, 15 February 2016

Is Latin America a vision of Europe's fenced future?

Europeans should look at the hassles faced by other continents before they thoughtlessly toss out Schengen's decades of free movement.

I'm spending this weekend at Iguazu Falls, the mammoth waterfalls at the border of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. It's a truly spectacular sight, more powerful than Niagara and wider than Victoria (the falls, not the queen).

Perhaps even more interesting than visiting the falls has been exploring the three towns at the 'triple frontier', Foz do Iguacu, Puerto Iguazu and Ciudad del Este. It is essentially one large urban conurbation spanning three borders. I've taken to collecting visits to sites like this. It's my fourth triple border, after NL-BE-DE, CH-FR-DE and CH-LI-AU.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Carnival on the Ilha da Magia

For my tenth carnival, I went with the island of magic.

I’m in Florianopolis, Brazil this week, an island city in the Southeast part of the country well-known for its exuberant carnival celebrations the week before Lent.

It’s actually the tenth carnival I’ve been to. Over the past decade, sort of by accident, I started going to a new destination with a well-known carnival at the start of Lent every year. Last year I was in Venice, and in the years before that I was in Cologne, the Canaries, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Binche, Maastricht, Nice and New Orleans.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Please, Europeans, stop obsessing over the US election

"American exceptionalism itself has something of a Sunset Boulevard feel to it, a black comedy where a faded silent movie star believes she is still the most luminous presence on the screen."

Over my decade in Europe I've seen a lot of BBC correspondents come and go from their American postings. But none has seemed to grasp the real affliction facing America like Nick Bryant (quoted above).

His observations during this absolute farce of an election season have been particularly spot-on. And Europeans, who tend to be far more interested in American politics than they really should be, should give him a read.