Of late, the Cameron regime in the UK has been playing what looks a dangerous game, but on closer inspection is positively bloodcurdling.
In his speech on 23 January, the prime minister declared his intent, should the Conservative Party be re-elected, to re-negotiate the terms of Britain's membership of the EU – and to put that very membership on the line in an 'in or out' referendum. This comes amidst a certain modern tradition, of condemning the EU for eating too far into British sovereigty – particularly on workers' rights, social policy, the environment and crime – with two cabinet ministers, including Chancellor Osborne, the architect of Britain's austerity programme, having spoken with staggering casualness about marching Britian for the exit unless the EU 'changes'.
The threat, now politically manifest, seems simple. Reduce the power of the EU; return that power either to all member states, or if not, then to Britain exclusively; otherwise, Britain may leave.
Why is this not merely a problem, but bloodcurdling?
Not merely because it does not represent political sense, economic sense or plain common sense for the UK, its people, and its relationships with its European neighbours.
Not merely because it has alarmed the opposition, the Americans, and even veterans in Mr. Cameron's own party.
Not even merely because the Conservative Party's appalling human rights record puts Britain in foremost need of the EU's judicial intervention, to check the Cameron regime's excesses against its people.
One might wonder what the fuss is about. The EU has fallen into miserable times: the apparatus of cruelty that is British austerity reflects a wider trend that takes its toll on populations across the European continent. Old divisions resurface, between and within these countries; new ones emerge; the sharing of pains between them becomes a disguise for the stronger imposing their interests or ideologies to the detriment of the weaker; genuine human solidarity across their borders is often found illusory; and then in what may be the foremost indicator that not all is well, it receives the Nobel Peace Prize. There are questions indeed, about both the sustainability of the EU and what any country gets from being part of it.
They are the wrong questions. The right questions look more like this.
That is to say, those are not so much problems with the EU, as problems with Europe, and some of the people in it. When I use adjectives like 'bloodcurdling' and 'harrowing' in here, these are not exaggerations. To anyone in their seventies or over, conditions in Europe now should carry echoes of a chilling familiarity.