EU is currently going through a rough patch with the changing economic and politic environment. Perhaps one of the greatest threats it has right now is a combination of after-Brexit implications for anti-EU governments within the EU and the general anti-establishment views being roofed under the propaganda of right-wing politicians. The reasons behind these swings in political view spectrum are deep concepts that would require their own thesis. However, most people that aren’t interested in politics don’t have the patience to read on deep-seated societal problems and those who have the patience often ignore or discredit the criticism. That’s why populist politicians can so easily find the easy way out by using old rhetorics to manipulate the dissatisfied society. Blaming problems on outside forces is the most common and readily used rhetoric and anti-EU propaganda usually falls under this category. Nothing in life is so two dimensional that only a single reason can be found for a problem, though it is easier to ignore all the underlying reasons and create a narrative that is one-sided and easy to understand by showing only a small portion of the story.
Battling a one-sided narrative is hard because the counterargument requires the analysis of the underlying problems. What could be done is picking at the root of misunderstanding that allows the one-sided narrative and make it harder to believe or to apply. A good education is the most certain way of getting rid of these biases, however, it is a long-term solution that is also very costly. Education, of course, must be addressed but on the short-term, a good solution would be to create feelings of mutuality and belonging between groups at risk of alienation, which are hard to break even with sound and logical arguments. This is why investing in culture is a great way to battle paranoia and alienation. It is pleasurably consumed and creates a layer of protection against populist manipulation. This being said, understanding the core demographic that needs to be addressed and making sure to use the right channels to get the intended reaction is equally important.
Identifying what is wanted is as important as identifying the problem. If the EU wants longevity, it will want to attract the youth while managing the older generations. An issue that is often voiced and effects both identified demographic groups is the wide brush that most international media consumption paints over EU countries. Europe shares a lot of history and values, but ignoring the individuality of these old civilizations will not sit well with many older generation residents. These people were raised with national curriculums that aimed at creating a sense of unity within the country during and after the world wars. Unlucky for the EU, the answer isn’t as simple as honoring national pride and cultural diversity with the investment. It must also aim for an overarching idea of unity and family. The aim of this cultural investment must be to promote the beauty and downright necessity of coexistence between nations. Within our globalized world, this message should easily resonate with the youth, while balancing it out with enough celebration of national idiosyncrasy is the tricky part.
Most problems that the EU has regarding the communication can be explained by a small thought experiment that allows us to walk in the shoes of the socio-economically below average European resident. The EU has been consistently growing and getting stronger, while in some countries, especially industries outside of the financial and technological bubble, people don’t feel like they have received their share. Of course, things have been going better for them too, and they owe most improvements in their livelihood to the cooperation of the European Economic Area, but that concept is hard to grasp without very deliberate education. The initial reaction for these dissatisfied individuals would be to raise their voice and hopefully solve their concerns with the government. The problems start when an already complicated and abstract idea of a government is layered by an even more abstract idea of the EU. The disconnect that occurs with the supranational governance causes feelings of fear of not being heard and insignificance within the established system. Making a change in such a big court may seem impossible to the common eye. Within the EU, it is of course known that the backbone of any society is its workers that provide the country with necessities. It is also true that elections and work distribution are managed in such a way that local governments also have incentives to listen to the small man and adjust accordingly. Communicating this care on the podium would be easy if it weren’t for the infamous legacy of manipulative and lying politicians.
Battling this legacy may be hard with words but can be done through actions, while providing for the initial overarching goal of a long-living EU. The key is to first promote the sharing of well known local stories, within any media, to show that what is already established will always be there and to learn from it or to embrace it is within the choice of the individual. Hopefully, these stories would be awe-inspiring and would highlight that embracing said parts of local culture and history may be enriching to the individual. From there the second step would be to emphasize that these stories are not written and done. There is still room for creating more stories and that these stories could tell of a time of collaboration and peace. If these could be achieved, through incentives to artist and events, it would very much be beneficial to the EU. Given that the economy would allow it! Hungry and/or unemployed people wouldn’t care much about the arts.