The Phileas Club 95 – EU Matters


On this episode we talk about:

  • The issue with being 110% outraged about everything
  • Social and tax reform in France
  • Scotland’s SNP and Brexit stance
  • Elections in Germany and Jamaica coalition

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  1. An interesting episode as usual but was very much a liberal echo chamber episode, highlighted by Bruce’s disgraceful characterisation of UKIP as racist. (N.b Nigel Farage is no longer UKIP leader and has not been since the last election)

    Patrick’s opening observation was in my view very on the money, noting that the more aggressive you are toward your enemies (Twitter mobs, character using anyone you disagree with fascists or nazis etc) is simply compounding the problem and creating more of the people you dislike.

    Always interesting though to hear the view of others.

    Thanks as always for these episodes.

    • Hey Hayden; I’d argue your using of the word “disgraceful” is a bit on the “outrage” side in the context of the opening discussion, but the comment is well noted nonetheless. 🙂

      And thanks for the compliments!

  2. I was interested in your opening, Patrick… it reminded me of a thing one of my kids’ teachers did for her class.
    She had a picture of a thermometer on a large piece of paper. And then she talked with the class about different things that made them stressed/worried/angry… or in your words today, outraged. And they graded them on the thermometer. So things like ‘someone died’ was at the top, and ‘my shoelace is undone’ was at the bottom. It was a way for class members to check their responses BEFORE they lost their minds and went nuts.

    Listening to you today, I think the world needs such a thermometer.

    It then got me thinking about why… and I wonder if it’s stress. Which is sort of circular, as you picked up during the show, since those on the left are stressed by the existence of the right leaning leaders… who in turn create stress as their way of keeping control… and so it goes round in circles. Plus which the media in general whips us into a frenzy of outrage, that’s how it sells stuff. When we’re stressed, we respond from our emotional part of our brains only, even if we think we’re being rational. So everything gets an 11. When we are not stressed, we can say, mate, that’s not cool, don’t do that… and things go along nicely.

    Anyway. I think the world needs a thermometer, and to be able to put things into perspective. And some way of stopping the stress cycle.

    Thanks for the reminder =)

    • Hey Fiona, thank you so much for the comment. I think the way your kid’s teacher put it is really astute (I might steal it in a future episode ! 🙂
      And I’m sure there are more people who think about this in that way, more people have to start realising that this is what we’re doing. I also don’t think it’s anyone’s fault, really, it’s just one of the kinks of the system we’ve evolved into and designed. We just need to be aware of it, and start paying attention more, so as not to let the emotional part of our psyche take over. Sometimes being aware of something is enough to neutralise it (to an extent), I think…

  3. To explain the rise of the AfD in Germany: they started out as the brainchild of an economics professor back then on the sole narrative that the Euro and the European Central Bank policies are economic havoc. This generated some attention during the times of the eurozone crisis but the party was quite irrelevant (way below the threshold to enter the parliament) and not an ideological cousin of Front National only three years ago.

    To understand why they got on the landscape so quickly now you should not underestimate the refugee crisis in 2015 and the magnitude it had. To recap, more than 900.000 entered the country that year, and since the greatest influx happenend after August that it was in effect tens of thousands a week that arrived and had to be accomodated by municipalities on a few hours notice. Many arrived without any identification at all, some with fake Afghan or Syrian papers purchased in Greece, many were not registered on arrival because the police lacked capacity – it was not such a stretch to think “this is sort of out of control, does Merkel actually know what’s going on?”. A few things in that context I think are important to bear in mind:

    1. Merkel is not a communicator. She never really found the words for the magnitude of her “welcome policy”. What she did say at the time was “we can do it”. She changed her policy the year afterwards when negotiating the EU deal with Turkey but has not really communicated that either, in the run-up to the election she just said she wouldn’t have done anything different.
    2. In the last parliament her conservative party were the one most “to the right”, the social democrats and the two more leftie parties in the opposition all supported the “welcome policy” or are even more liberal. Most Germans supported it too in the end but there are of course legitimate arguments against it e.g. security issues (reportedly ISIS “fake refugees” and Assad people who had committed war crimes were amongst the immigrants), the fact that the more people arrive the harder it is to integrate them, increasing housing market tensions since space especially in the cities is already limited, the fact that the policy created a pull factor for people striving for a better life from say Maghreb, Pakistan, Africa… I’m saying you can’t expect everyone to be on board with a policy that would be considered highly controversial in nearly every other countries (could you imagine this in UK, France, Denmark?) but the established parties didn’t address those concerns (arguably it would usually be the conservatives raising exactly that), it was instead the AfD that then became very vocal and swung more and more to the national spectrum.
    3. The same year, the sexual harrassment of hundred of women at New Year’s Eve in Cologne happened, last year the terrorist attack by a “fake refugee” who had registered with different papers all over the country – not Merkel’s fault but it didn’t help her narrative that everything is peachy.
    4. In the east of Germany (where AfD has a stronghold), there was no history of immigration before the wall came down (and little afterwards either), further there is generally much more of a distrust in the political system and less loyality to any traditional party. There is no loyality to AfD either btw, 70% of their voters said they didn’t vote for them because they agree so much but instead it was to vote against the political system and show their protest.

    I wish the moderators had dealt with the AfD exactly like you suggested, Patrick: Inviting them to talkshows and rather than shouting just going “What’s your plan on pensions?”, “- oh there isn’t one just yet? Well, that’s a bit poor, isn’t it?”. Instead it was exactly like on this show all the time; the most outrageous quote would be repeated 5 times, and at a talkshow the moderators would go “How can someone in your party say this, this is so outrageous????”, they would go “oh, we didn’t mean it like that of course” and their mantra would follow of how the establishment lies all the time to the little people, how they are a victim of the journalists who are so biased and lie all the time and how Merkel is so irresponsible.

    Still, I am hopeful that their star will be fading because they are so backwards also on social issues/equality etc. Though it pains how with their entry into parliament they now really get a lot of money, staff and means to professionalize.

    • Thanks for your input Christine. I think this is an approach that is sorely needed in this context. And while outrage is a natural initial reaction (God know I am very full of it, and have been for the last two years), at some point we have to realise it does more harm than good, and we have to change tactics. I admire Matthias’s passion, but I think I have come to a conclusion that it’s just as effective as trying to wave your arms around in the air when you’re falling from a plane, hoping you’ll start flying. It feels like panic and desperation, but it doesn’t work. I’ve been there (we’ve all been there), but to paraphrase a common saying from American infomercials: “there has to be a better way!!!” 🙂

      • Christine says:

        Hi Patrick,

        you know, it was actually a French/Belgian film called “Chez nous” that I found valuable in understanding the Front National (and who actually votes for them), and I think it’s applicable for the AfD in Germany as well. While both parties have undoubtedly very dark shades, their voters are such a heterogenous bunch with yes, different motives and different (sometimes limited) understanding of the party and its policies. There is a violent alt-right fringe within the supporters, I don’t negate that in the slightest. But shouting at all of their voters as though they were like that (and the inflated use of “nazi”) won’t solve a single thing. It will just end discourse, alienate one from the other and cement a “them” against “us” mindset. We need to have a conversation even if you deeply disagree on a personal level – as you do on your show :).

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