Europe 2012-2013: Hot Spots And Cooling Points

A list of ten political hot spots and topics that are likely to play a major role in European affairs over the coming 12 months, followed by ten cooling points that will help you deal with them.

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    Europe is Heating Up. Flickr/cristic

    Hot Spots: What to Expect

    On the occasion of the far left’s and the far right’s strong showing at the recent polls in Greece; the ousting of the right-wing Nicolas Sarkozy and the victory of the socialist François Hollande in France; the strong showing of the far-right National Front at the French polls; and the fall of the Dutch government after the far-right Party for Freedom withdrew its support for the coalition over issues regarding austerity measures in the Netherlands, here is a list of ten political hot spots and topics that are likely to play a major role in European affairs over the coming 12 months:

    1. As the plot thickens, so does people’s willingness to reason. Look out for issues of immigration being systematically meshed with issues of economic policy. Notice how these topics will be exploited by populists to rile up national anger while deflecting the real causes of the problems, such as the lack of strategy on how to deal with the crisis, the lack of professionalism and efficiency of the public sector when compared to the private sector, the inability of the private sector to step up to the task of social responsibility on broad terms, and the absence of strong and visionary leadership on both the national and international level.
    2. Look out for religious extremists seeking to take advantage of the turmoil. Representatives of extremist minority groups will speak out against the majority, using the ‘multicultural shield’ they have so readily appropriated to their cause. Ironically, staunch liberals will hold their flank. On the other hand, representatives of extremist groups that represent the dominant cultures in any country will tell those who don’t agree with them to leave the country.
    3. Look out for xenophobes that argue for purer societies and cultures, both from dominant group platforms and minority group turrets.
    4. Look out for the pragmatic and silent majority as it tries to find its voice in the midst of growing uncertainty and madness. Look out for volatility in party allegiances and an increasingly fluent base.
    5. Look our for volatility in the markets, both in equity and foreign exchange.
    6. Look out for populists on the extreme left preaching the collapse of all monetary unions and a return to prosperity through national pride. Look out for populists on the extreme right arguing for the same thing.
    7. Monitor Spain and Italy closely, current crisis bellwethers. They are setting the pace for reasonable and self-enforced austerity. How well they fare will help determine future financial and fiscal policy in Europe.
    8. Expect several European nations to gang up on Germany and Finland as extreme austerity policies come under fire.
    9. Consider the possibility of Greece’s total collapse. Regard it as the direct result of its medieval state mechanism, its institutionalized corruption, and the callous, mean-spirited and floundering attempt at its reform and restructuring, which was enforced by the Troika (EU, ECB and IMF) and the Greek legislature, from the top down, with appalling results.
    10. Consider Greece’s exit from the euro and a possible military coup d’etat to follow. Expect civil unrest in both Athens and the countryside. Attacks on Albanian minorities by mobs are not unlikely. Expect Turkey to get involved with the aim to protect the rights of endangered Muslims, itching as she is to rekindle and capitalize on the Ottoman arch in the Balkans, which was retraced and revamped with the troubles in Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo over the past twenty years.

    Remember: in the midst of the chaos, everyone has at least one valid point to make. The challenge is identifying those points in order to assemble and implement them across individuals, parties, nations and corporations, in a policy of common sense.

    "This cartoon by Blower from The Daily Telegraph blends the lighting of the Olympic torch and the euro zone debt crisis. A Greek "high priestess" is shown setting fire to a map of Europe with a torch bearing the euro sign—an apt metaphor for Greece's role in the euro zone crisis." - Explanations sourced from Englishblog.com. Image via The Daily Telegraph

    Cooling Down via Flickr/ Attila con la cámara

    Cooling Points: Driving Solutions

    The above analysis is heavy and de-spiriting. It needs a pick-me up. Here is a list of ten cooling points that can be used to deal practically with various hot spots:

    1. Do not employ or cooperate with illegal immigrants so as not to taint the institution of immigration. Support legal immigrants and get to know a little about them and their culture as you invite them to become familiar with your own.
    2. If you are not religious, do not castigate those who believe in the supernatural as long as they are not trying to intrude upon your life. If you are religious, do not judge people who are not. Identify and compare things you believe in, seeking a common root, such as respect, honesty, family values, devotion to a greater cause – anything that can be regarded as the lowest common denominator to your given belief systems.
    3. If you come across a truly bigoted opinion, whether left or right, religious or secular, do not let it slide. Confront it, either directly or indirectly. Apathy is not an option.
    4. Do not keep all your eggs in one basket. Invest in a wide range of products, services and markets. If you don’t know how to do it, ask people you know and trust, like a friend, or an associate, or your branch manager. Follow the answers up with research. Do not approach random companies on the internet and ask for life-saving services. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
    5. Focus on your household expenditures. How you manage your home economics reflects upon the economy in general. The more wise you are at home, the sounder the overall system becomes.
    6. Turn off your electricity at night for an hour or two and use candles. Do it at least once in the coming months, for two reasons. One: it will save you energy. Two: it will demonstrate what things will be like if countries dissolve their economic pacts and stop working together. Opting to regress back to dis-organized, protectionist, nationalist relationships, as many populist parties are supporting, will most likely result in energy and food shortages, and that is never a good option.
    7. Do not fall victim to mindless, popular shows that make a quick buck by stereotyping people through crappy, conveyor-belt humor. There is a difference between good satire and bad taste.
    8. Do not watch the news shows all the time, they are oozing with negativity and spin. Use the web to gather information from various sources.
    9. Use alternating keywords to break the filter bubbles that are created around web users. These bubbles arise from filtering mechanisms and other algorithms in search engines that are designed to match your preferences when searching for information. Help the web browsers deliver material from the entire web database.
    10. Share information on the web. Make comments when you can. Forward things to people you know. Be part of the debate.

    The future is in everyone’s hands, to each our own. Good luck.