1812, 1848, 1870, 1914, 1939... What comes next in the sequence of numbers?
I don't know enough to work through all the reiterative calculations but an online dohickey thing tells me that the next two numbers should have been 1970 and 1998. Eagle eyed readers will of course realise that these aren't just numbers but dates and dates of the opening of catastrophic European wars at that. Mostly they are the continuing squabble between French and German people and the Germans, in yet another example of perpetuating the stereotype of ruthless German efficiency, even have a word for a hatred which is carried over from generation to generation - Erbfeindschaft.
It should be apparent to all and sundry that the reason why the pattern of numbers wasn't continued with 1970 and 1998, was because of the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community, which would later morph into the European Economic Community and finally the European Union.
In 2016 as the world took a step to the right and closer to madness, mostly older British people decided to inflict Brexit upon their children and now in 2017, France has decided to listen to the call of the void and has chosen l'Front National candidate Marine Le Pen as one of the final choices in their presidential election. If France does decide to take that next step into the dark, then presumably Le Pen would also put the question of France's membership of the European Union to the people and if that happens then all bets are off and we can spin the wheel of insanity. Wheel Of Insanity turn turn turn. What is the lesson that we won't learn?
The course of history was altered by the iron curtain which had fallen across Europe and it must be said that among the myriad of reasons why there was no 1970 or 1998, was because that Germany had been snapped in half and once Prussian fervour and work ethic had been separated from Bavarian know-how and productive effort, then Germany as a thing wasn't the same as before.
Contained within the founding documents of the European Coal and Steel Community is the open admission that Europe has the potential to become a giant ball of seething hatred.
The French foreign minister Robert Schuman proposed to put all French and German production of coal and steel under a single common authority; so that the likelihood of another war would be reduced.
The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible. The setting up of this powerful productive unit, open to all countries willing to take part and bound ultimately to provide all the member countries with the basic elements of industrial production on the same terms, will lay a true foundation for their economic unification.
- Robert Schuman, 9th May 1950.
In context, this document only came into existence after a hundred million people were destroyed as the result of an unresolved argument between Queen Victoria's grandchildren. That isn't hyperbole either. For five years, Europeans scared the land as they invented new ways to destroy people who looked like them, at two hundred yards. Twenty years later, after one mind had gone maniacally wrong, they devised new ways of dropping ordinance on each other, in a more technologically advanced episode of destroying people who look like each other. Quite clearly this had to stop.
The European Coal and Steel Community made no bones about the fact that by entangling and sticky taping Europe together with red tape, the ability for it to go for yet another round was reduced; it worked. When you overlay an organisation like NATO over the top, it was like taping red duck tape over the giant ball of seething hatred.
My fear is that if Marine Le Pen wins the French Presidential Election, that she will want to consider undoing the layers of red tape and long after she has departed politics, and after everyone who was around that could remember the past has been by the years condemned, that those who come after the event and can not remember that past by virtue of not being there to do so, will cause the future to repeat the past in yet another even more technologically advanced episode of destroying people who look like each other.
The more immediate and much more boring part of this story is what happens to France in the meantime. I think that it can be argued that that very French brand of socialism with the slogan of Liberté, égalité, fraternité, has been pretty good for France. Say what you like about the inefficiency of French industry, French products are still pretty desirable, even if they can be expensive and/or quirky. France's electricity company EDF is the biggest electricity provider in the UK (thus further proving that Thatcher was criminally disasterous for Britain) and France's PSA Group which runs Citroën, Peugeot and Renault has recently acquired Opel from GM. I'm not saying that France will immediately turn into a mess but I am wondering what sort of changes will happen to France as it steps to the right.
Or else nothing could happen at all.
Owing to the fact that France conducts an all-open jungle primary before dwindling the number of candidates to two, this result has thrown up two third party candidates.
Emmanuel Macron formally codified his En Marche! party after running as an independent and previously as a member of the Parti Socialiste.
Meanwhile Marine Le Pen who is standing as a candidate in the party which her father founded, is also a third party candidate, with L'Front National only having a single seat in the French National Assembly and two in the Senate.
If the presidential election in 2002 is anything to go by, Le Pen is in trouble. Jean-Marie Le Pen scored a paltry 17.8% of the vote and lost to Jacques Chirac who scored more than four times the number of votes as him. If a similar thing were to happen, the world would breathe in and then breathe out far more easily and then wait five more years and go through it all again.
In my not very well paid opinion, if Macron wins the election then safety of Europe and by extension the world, will last a little longer. If Le Pen wins the election, then France is likely to be on the path to exiting the European Union far sooner and I think that reopens Robert Schumann's fears from oh so many years ago. To be perfectly honest, the fact that the currency union has lasted this long is surprising to me because of every other time that this sort of thing has been tried and failed, like the Latin Monetary Union, but the European Union itself has been remarkably robust precisely because it was designed to entangle and bind all of the European powers together in red tape. Undo all the tape and what you're left with is the old old problem of fifty odd countries, speaking an absurd number of languages and that has never worked well in the past.
In the words of the great philosopher and scholar Sonic The Hedgehog, when advising children about taking a ride in a spin dryer: Don't do it. It's dangerous. Stay safe.