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What the European Union and Weißwurst Have in Common

Posted on the 06 October 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost

What the European Union and Weißwurst have in common

Weißwurst: more similar to the EU than you'd think

Recently, for gastronomic and personal reasons, I have taken to eating Bavarian white sausages — Weißwurst. Unlike an English sausage, one has to peel the tough outer skin from the soft veal, parsley and pork corpus in order to get at the deliciousness contained within. Peeling a Weißwurst elegantly can be a difficult process — often you have to lever the meat from the skin delicately using a knife, and many Bavarians still cut off the ends of the sausage and suck (zuzeln) until the empty skin hangs loosely in their fingers — but when you finally get to taste the sausage, it’s one of the most delicious and refreshing treats on the planet. Invented around 154 years ago at the Zum Ewigen Licht Gasthaus on the Marienplatz in Munich, the sausage has a proud German heritage, and was, at one time, completely impossible to find outside Bavaria and Austria. Now, it sits alongside traditional English Cumberland sausages on the shelves of shops across the UK.

Inexpensive and easily accessible Weißwurst might seem like a frivolous thing to suggest as a benefit which Britain gains from its membership of the European Union (EU). Indeed, saying that German and English sausages can exist together in harmony when the European debt crisis is seriously hurting this country financially may even strike some as crass. I do believe, however, that the average quality of life for most Britons would decline if we distance ourselves from the European Union as the Right of the Tory party has suggested we do at theConservative Conference this week.

The tough skin of the EU and Weißwurst both conceal a soft and delicious interior.

Indeed, neither the Left nor the Right seem to particularly like the EU — David Cameron (though generally more positive than the rest of the Tories) criticised Brussels for its “red tape” and Euro countries for having to be bailed out. Last week, I attended a Communist Party conference in the Bishopsgate Institute in which Alex Gordon, president of the RMT, bashed the EU for being a system of exploitation and separating British workers from British jobs.

But all these critics ignore the fact that the EU brings us tremendous benefits. We are exposed to a single market that creates jobs and billions of pounds of revenue, we are exposed to other cultures and we get talented and driven workers who come over to help grow our economy and fulfil specialist roles in our economy. Like a Weißwurst, the EU has a delicious inside once its leathery exterior has been peeled away.

Too often, we focus on the exterior — the debt crisis, the red tape, the superstructure — but behind it is a true ethical and internationalist base that we should be aiming at, rather than eschewing by voting in British National Party and UK Independence Party MEPs. Someone in the Communist Party conference last week stood up to say that the Polish Working Class movement is the same as Britain’s, and we should all support each other. I would tend to agree, and at least the EU allows us to connect with them. I have heard the argument that the EU puts other countries in an exploitative relation to each other (trade), but it also brings them closer together and allows for true Internationalist co-operation against prejudice, abusers of human rights and tyrannical regimes.

What we should be doing is not whining about the EU, but aiming to reform it from the inside and making it more able to deal with abuses and less liable to be used as a tool of capitalist exploitation. Let’s face it — only the banks want more competition between EU states (UKIP’s leader, Nigel Farage makes it clear that he’s only thinking about the interests of the City when he talks about the benefits of leaving the EU), because it will benefit them and the financial institutions whose risk-taking and exploitation of the separation between states, people and big business has got us into this financial turmoil. To argue against the EU is to argue for more control of the state by financial institutions, more corruption and more big business monopoly; to do so at this time (a time that has pointed out inherent flaws in the system of markets we inhabit) is unwise and, what’s more, morally unsound.

To argue against the EU is to argue for more control of the state by financial institutions, more corruption and more big business monopoly.

Margaret Bowker’s column in these pages, “Booker and Barosso are both right; inaction will lead to a eurozone crisis” (4 October, 2011) is essentially a call to action, but her call for the implementation of policies to solve the debt crisis must be matched by a reforming of the EU morally, changing its structure from one of competition and exploitation to one of support. This does not mean supporting Greece so it doesn’t have to default — it must default (as The Financial Times so deftly pointed out yesterday ) — it means supporting Greece and helping it back from its knees after it has defaulted; it means getting working people and local councils across the EU involved in cross-nation schemes and decision making; it means making the economy work by cooperation, not by competition. It means a lot of hard work, but I know that if we work round the tough skin of the Weißwurst, we’ll get to the soft and delicious centre. Let us make use of the best that Europe has to offer and allow Europe to use the best of what Britain has to offer.


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