1) No demosIt was this that prompted me to ask Paul to write up some of the theory behind a Demos Well, I'm going to add to it, this time with some practical examples.
There does not exist a single group of people in respect of whom the EU could be a democracy.
Within living memory, the idea of of a common European shared identity manifest through shared frameworks was a pipedream. The idea that France and Germany would go from perpetual foes to the closest of allies a joke. Yet today it's true. People say that Europeans do not, and can never, think as part of a common culture. Yet on the ground, especially amongst the more recent generations, this common culture is becoming a fact. I don't, for I hope understood reasons, talk about my job much online, but it's no secret that I work for a German travel company in one of the English subsidiaries. I think of the reservations team in Munich as colleagues, am in regular contact, and speak to some of them more regularly than I do people that work in the same building as me. A few of them have become friends.
I travel a lot (more, in fact, than I can afford), and normally combine attendence at a major CCG tournament with a break in and around the area of the event. I can, and do, honestly assert that I have more in common in terms of both interests and outlook with fellow tournament players than I do with many UK based citizens without similar interests. There is no language barrier (English has become the lingua, well, anglais?) and we keep in touch via various message boards, forums and mailing lists. In Italy this year, I shared a hotel room with a German friend who jokes that he has now 'invaded' more EU countries than any other player (true, he's two countries up on me).
While in Greece, I visited friends in Thessaloniki who took me drinking all around town. Last year in Germany, I shared a hotel room in Frankfurt with an Italian friend from Bologna, who is studying for a PhD in Hamburg, and splits his time between the two countries. Our differences, in terms of accent or outlook, are irrelevent, or a simple source for humour.
In Italy the previous year, some Greek friends offered me a lift to Florence after the event in their hire car; they gave me the choice of which music to listen to, and I went through theeir CD collection. Eventually, I found a CD that I didn't own. We listened to that. The principle organiser of the European Championships each year is becoming a good friend, I've stayed at his appartment and attended his wife's birthday party with her family. He's recently started running for election at various German levels, and is a committed European. A common culture is growing, and the internet, as well as growing ex-pat communities in most countries, is helping it.
300 years ago, do we really think that Scots and English felt a common enough kinship to think of themselves first as 'British'? No, but we do now take it as a given. 150 years ago, the United States of American tore itself to part in a civil war; one of the greatest Southern generals, Lee, was at the beginning offered the opportunity, by Lincoln, to command the Union forces; he stayed his decision until his home state, Virginia, decided which side it was on, and went with his state; he was a Virginian first, despite being avowed against the 'peculiar institution'. It is said by historians that the Civil War marks the turning point, the phrase "these United States are" was replaced by "The United States is". Within Europe, another, more recent example. Italy was unified into one country at the end of the 19th century, and efforts were made to create schools all over the country. When teachers from northern parts came to more remote southern regions, it is said the locals found them so hard to understand, they thought they were English!
Europe has a shared tradition, based in part on shared religious origins, but also on common frameworks of laws, alliances and rivalries, occasional wars and long periods of peace and trade. That which links us together is far more important than the differences, which we can remain both proud of and, if we chose, emphasise.
Martin says that Europe has problems because there is no common people for which it can be accountable to. I assert this is wrong. However, if he is correct, then the same is true of many existing EU countries (ask a non-Bavarian German what they really think of the home of Audi, a Castillian Spaniard about the Catalunyans or Basques, even a Scot about the damned English). A demos is there, and growing. It may not be strongly noticeable, but it cannot be ignored.
More on his other points, and also a long overdue response to Ken at a later date. For now, I'm hungry, and then I'm off to enjoy our new, European style opening hours...