I have traveled quite a bit, mainly with my life-partner George before he transited to Spirit in 1991. I’ve re-visited several countries since, and added Tunisia and the continent of Africa to my list of places visited. I do not count Croatia as I had been there more than once when it was part of Yugoslavia.
There was a thing on Facebook about which country you should have been born in. One of those silly Q. and A. things which always come up with the wrong answer as the Q. and A. are inappropriate. Mine came up with Brazil, a country/continent I’ve never visited, though I do have an Internet friend there.
This got me thinking which countries would I like to have been born in or lived in. I consider myself an EU citizen rather than a British citizen or an English one, and would register as an EU citizen now if it were possible.
As to which counties I would have liked to have lived in, this is a very difficult thing to choose as there are so many. Advantages and disadvantages with many of them.
The USA is appealing, especially the cities of New York and Chicago, though the Deep South such as New Orleans has its attractions. The downside of USA, of course, is its lack of a free National Health Service, and its aggressive capitalist and world domination policies. Having said that, the people of all countries I have no quarrel with, it is the governments and their policies which I am often critical of, not least the British government.
For a Marxist, of course, there are few places left. Venezuela possibly, or Cuba. North Korea is a no-no as it is a monarchy in all but name, a Stalinist one. It does, however, have some advantages: no rents, no taxes, and a very green policy. The famous satellite photo of South Korea and China ablaze with light, and North Korea in almost total darkness at night is a great boost for Green ecology policies. North Korea is saving energy by not lighting its streets at night, though this is now slowly changing. It also has few cars, like former Stalinist Albania under Enver Hoxha. So his Albania was also cutting down on carbon monoxide pollution from cars.
Former Yugoslavia was the most successful Socialist country, with its market Socialism based mainly on cooperatives. This is the economic system which appeals to me most of all, plus it was a very beautiful country. Alas it is no more, torn apart by tragic ethnic wars and genocide, and Tito’s unique brand of Socialism dumped. Hopefully it willÂ be revived in future somewhere in the world, as it is, I feel, the future model for a successful Socialist system.
Former East Germany (the German Democratic Republic) always had a strong attraction for me, and even today former GDR citizens often have a strong nostalgia (Ostalgie) for the former Socialist republic. I loved the drama of Berlin where the Socialist East was juxtaposed with the capitalist enclave of West Berlin. On two visits to the GDR I found it a modern country, in fact one of the leading industrial nations in the world. It’s downside, of course, was the lack of freedom to travel to the West (unless you were a government official or a pensioner) and in common with the other Marxist-Leninist countries, no opportunity to vote out a corrupt government even within the Socialist Constitution.
The modern day countries of France and a united Germany I also find very attractive. I love Paris, and never had any problems with the French people. I am sure I would pick up the language quickly, and already know a tiny bit. I was starting to pick up more on two visits to Tunisia.
I’ve never had any problems with the German people either, and admire their efficiency. They were the ones who made Soviet-style Socialism work best (though Yugoslavia adopted a more efficient system).Â The united Germany is also attractive. I love the language, and there are some very beautiful places especially in the South of the country. Austria too is a beautiful country, again with the wonderful German language.
Barcelona with its fantastic Gaudi architecture has a strong appeal. So Catalonia (Spain) has to be added to the list.
Of course as a Marxist the old Soviet Union had a strong appeal. Moscow was a favorite city of mine with its Stalinist skyscrapers and marvelous Metro, also owing much to the former Soviet dictator. Leningrad, as it was known on my two visits, was a more historic place, with buildings painted in different pastel colors according to the century they were built. A vast federation, you surely would have plenty of variety if you were allowed to travel around the old USSR.
Australia is another country we visited and fell in love with, or at least the Southeast corner when we visited Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney, staying most of the time in the latter.
A complete no-no is Cyprus or Greece. My father was Greek-Cypriot, but despite the rumors about Greeks in the past, both are extremely homophobic, and of course the same applies to the modern Russian Federation. Much of this homophobia is due to the Orthodox Church in these countries, and Cyprus until recently had a system of arranged marriages, with gays forced to marry or go abroad. Despite the Greek-Cypriot part being part of the EU, it seems homophobia is far from being wiped out and racism abounds. The Greek-Cypriots hate the Turkish-Cypriots and vice versa because of their bloody history. My sympathies are all with the downtrodden Turkish-Cypriots, and I have several times visited their unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. I cannot say, however, that either Cypriot republic really appeals to me, nor the Turkish mainland, though there are some very interesting places there which I have visited.
So, to sum up, I guess I would be happy to be an EU citizen in a federal United States of Europe, able to travel thruout the EU without restriction, and proud to stand up for the EU anthem Ode to Joy and respect the blue and gold EU flag. I feel an affinity with all Europeans, and never want war to break out on our continent again. Yes, it is a capitalist EU at the moment, but many member countries have strong Socialist/Communist traditions, and with the European Left Party, which I am affiliated to through Left Unity Party in Britain, I have high hopes of a Socialist EU or breakaway European Socialist Union in the distant future.
Better still to be a world citizen under a confederal world government and proud to salute the UN flag. That, however, is even further away than the prospect of a federal European Union.