The musings of Mr Monkeysized

Mapping why Europe still matters by monkeysized
March 10, 2011, 15:18
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I have a day job, working for a particular think tank that covers European foreign policy. That’s why I have this as an outlet – so that I can express views that are my own, rather more freely. But sometimes I do something there that I want to share here. For instance this blog post.

The idea started with this ace map from the Economist:

Which led me to this:

And the slightly more complex this:

England is Europe’s team by monkeysized
July 2, 2010, 11:21
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Yes, yes, I know the sods are already out of the competition, and that they’re a disgrace to humanity for whom the black death is too light a punishment. But England are Europe’s team.

I don’t just mean that they have been controlled by a shadowy network of Italians, imposing barely translated strictures upon a superstitious and fearful body of players – that would just draw comparisons with the Vatican.

England are (were) the only team at the WC to represent something other than that outdated concept, the Nation State. It’s a sub-national grouping, that indeed in the past has brought extra-national members (for instance Le Tissier and Le Saux from the Channel Islands, even Owen Hargreaves from Canada via Germany) into the fold. You can therefore see it as some kind of EU-like regional voice within a larger transnational grouping (UEFA/FIFA).

And then, just like in the EU, it’s clear that: 1. There is nominal equality between the members of said transnational grouping, that in practice extends little beyond lip-service, with economic might and the bullying power of strident members distorting equality; 2. Within the transnational grouping a certain amount of scorn is reserved for England/Britain and its outdated approach, alongside wary respect for its economic power; 3. The leadership of said international groupings tends to open itself rather too easily to accusations of arrogance, lack of responsiveness to the wider community, being on a gravy train, and believing that they are running a project with as much of a will-to-power as the drang nach Ostern.

The idea that England is Europe’s team is strengthened by other parallels. It has a belief in itself, harking back to a golden age when it either laid down the patterns of the modern world or visibly sat astride its summit, that is undermined by current realities. It has economic might (although this might be imperceptibly slipping) that might just be covering up for a lack of competitiveness in a world that has moved on. Much of its current economic system can even be seen to be derived from the talent of foreign workers. However it still carries a surprising amount of soft power across the world that belies its current situation, let alone the future, if tough reforms aren’t faced up to.

In short, England is Europe’s team at this World Cup. We should get behind it, support it, glory in it, and then realise that it’s not just no longer in the race for the top prize – it’s no longer even lining up alongside the other competitors.

Fiddling the countries by monkeysized
April 30, 2010, 16:33
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Isn’t it a shame when your country isn’t quite where you think it should be? Pish to those accidents of history. Instead, here’s a fabulous attempt by the Economist to rejig it all (in Europe at least) without resorting to the kind of physical impetus pioneered by the likes of Hitler and Stalin…

The eagle-eyed amongs my three readers will notice that the Tintin states of Syldavia and Borduria have a new home, among a number of interesting tweaks. Here is the original item for much-needed further explanation.

So how is this monkeysized? Well it is a splendid attempt to mesh human frailty with the ability to rework the heritage that we inherit through our history and geography. As an old Balkans hand, of sorts, I like the fact it’s meant to be provocative…