Sunday, 19 June 2011

Europe expects

I went to the BBC News website in search of another article, but happened to see this, prominently displayed in the sidebar on the front page:

"Europe's space freighter". The phrase is repeated in the body of the article:

Late on Tuesday (GMT), a huge fireball will streak across the skies over the Pacific Ocean.

Not many will get to see it; it will be over an uninhabited part of the world, and ships and planes have been warned to steer clear of the area.

The event is the return from orbit of Europe's space freighter, ATV-Johannes Kepler.

Are we meant to feel a sense of pride? As Europeans?

In the Related Stories section, we find "US and Europe plan new spaceship". Another good phrase, "US and Europe"; we've seen it before.

Europe and the US could be building a spaceship together later this decade.

It is one of the ideas being considered as Europe ponders the next evolution of its ATV orbital freighter.

The sophisticated robotic vessel is used to transport up to 7.5 tonnes of supplies to the space station, but only three more units are in production.

Europe is now looking to develop a derivative of the ship and a joint venture with the Americans on a future vessel is being discussed.

Building a spaceship together, how lovely. What great things superstates can achieve! And "Europe ponders", "Europe is now looking". Such collectivist anthropomorphism is irritating enough when applied to the UK — as if our politicians are really acting for us, serving the will of a Borg-like hive mind. L'etat, c'est nous. I don't know whether French people really feel this way about their government, but Europe is not us, and we are not Europe.

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