Churchill was a huge believer in the lessons of history, but simultaneously he recognized that people are ‘Unteachable from infancy to tomb.’

You can and should learn from those who write history, to help you understand those who make it—Winston did both.

You know I rarely recommend books on these pages, except of course my own, but as I come to the end of Walking With Destiny, I feel like I’m watching history die.

This is all the more acute as the European elections approach, and nationalism is once again on the rampage—to cap it all, I’m going to Brussels early the following morning, so will learn the aftermath in the capital of what Farage and his supporters consider the axis of evil.

Churchill—the master of the analog tweet—confided in 1918 to Violet Asquith, ‘Kill the Bolshie; Kiss the Hun.’ By then a veteran of Omdurman, India, the Boer War, and World War I, he understood that after a war, you must rebuild. In the lead-up to the next world conflict, he swallowed his anti-communism—washed it down with a dram from Stalin’s poisoned cup.

By the time of the Blitz, in 1940, only one year after the start of the Second World War, he said that after the war was won ‘There would be a United States of Europe, and this Island would be the link connecting this federation with the New World and able to hold the balance between the two.’

He certainly helped promote the coming together of Europe—though without Britain. In a speech at the University of Zurich in 1946 he again spoke of the U.S.E., and in 1949 the Council of Europe was established through the signature of the Treaty of London—in 2019, the irony is unmissable.

By 1951 the Council led to the European Coal and Steel Community, which included the Benelux, France, Italy, and West Germany. It’s a reflection of the importance of those industries that the first iteration of the EC felt it necessary to include them in the name—there’s a little irony here also in Trump’s emphasis on coal and steel, sixty-eight years on.

The Benelux flag, created in in 1951 to celebrate the union of Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg.

Two critical factors changed Churchill’s narrative about Britain’s role at the center of the twin united states: the first was the loss of the empire, and the second was Britain’s adhesion to the Common Market in 1973, alongside Ireland and Denmark.

The Irish saw their new club as a way to push back on the historical oppression from their eastern neighbor, and the Danes saw it as a tool for escaping the Scandinavian elephant—Sweden and Denmark fought eleven wars between 1521 and 1814.

The English took the opposite stance throughout the history of the European Union. Skeptical about the principles, uneasy as members, and opposed to the common currency.

An English friend of mine once defined the three pillars of nationality as the right to declare war, make peace, and issue currency. The UK has all three, the Eurozone only two, but the currency issue is a throwback to the empire—the greenback replaced sterling as a reserve currency one hundred years ago, and the mandarins of Whitehall never made their peace with the success of the American upstart—the euro added insult to injury, particularly since it’s seen as a rebranded Deutschmark.

It seems the only Europeans who get the importance of the forthcoming European elections are those who want to shatter the union. Like Churchill, I understand that a house is built brick by brick, and that all it takes is a wrecking ball to shatter the walls.

It was the European parliament that gave Farage his soapbox—something the UK electoral system would never have granted him. The coming gaggle of MEPs—my new collective noun, to honor their verbosity—may represent a European babel of break-up, in which case we can expect a new war in Europe coming to a nation near you. It may take a decade, or a generation, but come it will.

Or we can hope Churchill was wrong—maybe some people are teachable some of the time.

It’s a tough call, but there’s a new kid in town. Gen Z, who search for truth, must now lead the way, for the times they are a changin’.

The India Road, Atmos Fear, Clear Eyes, and Folk Tales For Future Dreamers. QR links for smartphones and tablets.

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