Sunday, April 02, 2006

Random jottings from Europe

I'm away in Germany and England for a couple of weeks and I thought I'd just post a few random comments from my travels:

Singapore: I was briefly in transit through Singapore, as you do. It does seem to be impossible to fly from NZ to Europe without transiting at least one authoritarian fascist state - but at least the Singaporeans are efficient fascists and don't make you spend most of your two hour stopover in line at immigration. I read the Sunday Straits Times on the plane out, and it worries me - it's ostensibly just like a normal Sunday paper, but with this Orwellian overlay to everything. Just about every article in the paper is slated to the national "model" of how people should live and behave - scary.

Germany: I was staying in a city in the Ruhr, which is what the Americans would call "rustbelt". Most German cities provide a constant reminder of what authoritarian government leads to - very few buildings older than 50 years (for obvious reasons). I think this leads to a sensible skepticism for authoritarian measures - one example of this being the German attitude to motoring - my taxi driver heading for the airport got up to a brisk 160km/h on the autobahn - in NZ that would practically be considered attempted murder!

Britain: I'm informed that drinking on the street outside a pub has been banned. All the time I worked in the City, this was traditional on sunny days (yes - England does occasionally have them) - you'd get your pint and stand out on the pavement and drink it. I *never* saw any trouble. Now they've decided to ban it - no doubt part of Blair's "Respect" (= social control) agenda. Next thing they'll ban chewing gum!

I just don't see how this slide into authoritarianism can be stopped - part of the reason is that societies don't have the big problems like depressions and world war that they used to, so governments feel they have to solve every tiny issue. Bah!

1 comment:

pink panda said...

god i wish i were in europe...