Thursday, March 17, 2005

Where's your story of the future?

Timothy Garton-Ash (whom some of our readers insist on calling Garton-Trash, although I cannot imagine why) is in full flight in the Guardian today, with a "challenge" to the "anti-Europeans". "Where's your story of the future?", he asks.

"We new, sceptically (cheek!) pro-EU Europeans have a great story to tell,a story that is about the past but also about the future," writes the Great Sage. "Our challenge to these old, doggedly anti-EU Europeans is: we hear your story about the past, but where's your story about the future?"

This rather reminds me of the joke about Saddam Hussein when he came to New York to attend the United Nations. On his way into the assembly, he met George Bush senior, who asked him how he was enjoying his stay.

Saddam burst into rhapsodies about American television, which he had been watching in his hotel room, and in particular about Star Trek. But, he complains to Bush, "The programme is missing something. It has Americans, it has Blacks, Coloureds, Chinese, Russians and Europeans, but no Arabs. Why is that?"

"That's because it is set in the future," Bush replies.

Interestingly, you do not see any EU flags on the Starship Enterprise, probably for the same reason. The EU hasn't got a future.

The point that GA misses is that it its something of a truism that every political construct that sets out to define the future always fails. Be it Communism or Nazism (whatever happened to the 1000-year Reich, or Stalin's five year plans?), they always end up in inglorious failure.

The rest of us survive, Mr Garton-Trash – sorry, Ash – by not being so presumptuous as to define what is to come. We are happy to concentrate on the present, hoping we leave it in good shape so that our children can deal with the future.

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