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Lionel Darmendrail
comments on Sam North's predictions for 2002

A propos 2002- THE PREDICTIONS

Albion has "depuis longtemps" enjoyed and entertained this complex idea of reigning supreme over the seas. But since the world has changed, she seems to have comforted herself somehow with just being a safe harbour, a sanctuary, a market-town, a favourite land of destination (ask all those Afghans in Calais). Refugees flock into her from her former colonies and beyond. The lady’s still attractive it appears. Financial liberalism in the City, money laundering on the little islands, but not only. Sam‘s got a real point there, but then, he illustrates his point with monochrome slides of Karl Marx, Stalin, and Chairman Mao, while skipping altogether over Hitler and fascism. That’s a shortcut. Karl Marx’s ideas were alright. So is the Book for all I care. It’s what’s done with the ideas that counts.
Between the plague and the cholera, we had to chose who to fight first. We got rid of Adolph after he sprayed us with bombs. The job isn’t finished yet. I sense from the author here too much onesideness, although I can vouch for his Europeanism. His analysis at this point sounds (pro) American. West against East, Islam against Christianity, poor against rich…that sort of dilemma.
It's too binary or too grandiose. A little too "Bush" to my ears. It wants a little damper. We got to reposition ourselves constantly.

Today’s terrorists are a new and mean menace to be dealt with indeed and right fast, and you would with vermin…but up to a point it seems. Let’s not get overwhelmed nor should we generalise. Too many bombs still fall on the wrong targets. Let’s get more discriminating. Follow neither God nor Marx. No party, no flag. Home is where your soul is.

As Henry Miller nicely wrote 50 years ago: "If America is like a fruit rotting before it has ripened, Europe is like a valetudinarian living in a glass cage. Everything that happens in the outside world is a threat and a menace to this fragile self-made prisoner. This delicate, long-suffering creature has experienced so many upheavals and catastrophes that the very word ‘revolution’, the very idea of an ‘end’ makes it shudder with fright. It prefers the freeze to the thaw".

Isn’t the world now coming out of the winter of life? The negative aspect always precedes the positive as Sam North remarks. And like a phoenix we’ll raise from the ashes of the WTC. From my Euskadi (South-West France Basque country) right here, I for one, really felt part and parcel of all those there in the towers when they tumbled down on the screen. The day after, a pro ETA local paper published on the whole width of its front page the following title: "We dreamed of it…and they’ve just done it!". (The Basque government had it shut down immediately). (And did you know that Zacaria Moussaoui was from Saint-Jean-de-Luz?)

Sam is right again when he notes "there is more to see and understand in this world than the local Mall…different tribes with different ideas and aspirations, quite alien to their own. An awareness of world geography would be no bad thing either." He means the kids and their parents as well. I must admit that Sam North keeps well abreast of world events and his interests seem many. I much like his metaphor about the Euro which evokes Pax Romana, "when Caesar's coin could be spent in any part of the Empire". Then he predicts that UK will join the Euro eventually. I hope he’s right: the more, the merrier. But others say they’ll never abandon the sacrosanct British Pound. Will a referendum come soon? Next year? He doesn’t say. We’ll wait and see. I do not miss the Franc a bit so far. What about those interest rates? That’s a hard question to answer. Sam’s monetary forecast for the year to come is impressive. He may well be right again. About South Africa, I do not quite understand how a 50% devaluation there can boost car exports for BMWs and Volkswagens from East London? (East London is a city in South Africa - Ed)

I enjoyed this journalistic piece. It is informative and varied; it reads well and covers much ground with few words. Conciseness, clarity and, most of all, relevance are the ingredients I have appreciated most. Keep up the good work. Joyeuse et bonne année!
© Lionel Darmendrail
PS: Your piece on French cinéma is excellent and that Salignac project sure sounds interesting.

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