Vaclav Havel Explains Why The Eurozone Doesn't Work

A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 19 2011 2:37 PM

Vaclav Havel Explains Why The Eurozone Doesn't Work

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Portraits of former Czech President Vaclav Havel are seen on December 19, 2011 among candles displayed at Narodni Trida memorial commemorating the Velvet Revolution in Prague, where hundreds of people came to pay tribute. Havel, a dissident and playwright who was the hero of the 1989 Velvet Revolution against communist rule and became his country's first post-independence president, died on December 19 aged 75. AFP PHOTO/ STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

Photo by -/AFP/Getty Images

It's not really what he was talking about here, but this 1995 speech from the late Vaclav Havel more or less gets at why the single currency project in Europe isn't working:

Many of the great problems we face today, as far as I understand them, have their origin in the fact that this global civilization, though in evidence everywhere, is no more than a thin veneer over the sum total of human awareness, if I may put it that way. This civilization is immensely fresh, young, new, and fragile, and the human spirit has accepted it with dizzying alacrity, without itself changing in any essential way. Humanity has gradually, and in very diverse ways, shaped our habits of mind, our relationship to the world, our models of behavior and the values we accept and recognize. In essence, this new, single epidermis of world civilization merely covers or conceals the immense variety of cultures, of peoples, of religious worlds, of historical traditions and historically formed attitudes, all of which in a sense lie "beneath" it.
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An American can go from Berlin to Barcelona and travel through "Europe" with its flags and its Coke Light, but actual Europeans still live on a continent where it matters if "Germans" are bailing out (or bossing around!) "Spaniards."

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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