The day the music (of Europe) died . . . a jazz musician's reflections on the EU "deal" with the Greeks and the end of a great democratic and cultural vision

Pete Oxley Trio - CD
Regular readers will know that I don't go in for hyperbole in this blog so I hope you will take me at my word when I say this is an exceptionally sad day in my own life.

In the mid-nineties, as a young(ish) professional jazz musician (I was in my early 30s) I found myself playing regularly in France with the guitarist, composer and violin bow maker, Pete Oxley. Pete was, at this time, living in the centre of Paris and it was whilst depping in his jazz fusion band of the time, The New Noakes Quartet, that I was able to get to know that wonderful city reasonably well. That gig led to the formation of a trio made up of Pete and an old friend of mine, the drummer Russ Morgan. Between 1995-1997 we did a lot of touring for, as Pete describes it, "for the enjoyment of the whole ‘on the road’ experience". Like every road band we certainly had a a lot of wild, funny, enjoyable and occasionally stressful times — times for which I remain very grateful. Anyway when in December 1996 the time came to record this trio we took ourselves off for a week to Osnabrück in Germany to a wonderful studio that Pete had used before. The CD was called East Coast Joys  and you can hear three extracts from it at this link).

As someone who passionately interested in philosophy and theology (this was just before going back to University to study theology) I was reading at the time Kant's essay on Perpetual Peace (which imagines a kind of democratic, federal, European union) and it was whilst hanging out in Osnabrück with Kant's hopes in my mind that I began to realise I had begun to think of myself as a European musician and to feel that I was, we all were, in a small way, part of a great flourishing, shared European, democratic culture.

So, when it came time to do the design for the CD we thought it would be appropriate to reproduce the European Flag on the CD itself to express this feeling (see photo above).

Of course, this all took place before the introduction of the Euro (in 1999) and so for us as idealistic artists there was simply no thought that this wonderful democratic, European cultural scene would become so horribly and inextricably tied up with the worst kind of, what Paul Mason called "extreme pro-market economics" (see tweet below) — the kind of economics that, as the Nobel Prize winning economist (and hardly a left-wing radical), Paul Krugman has said today, moved "beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, [the] complete destruction of national sovereignty, and [with] no hope of relief."

This morning I feel, as does Krugman, that "The European project — a project I have always praised and supported — has just been dealt a terrible, perhaps fatal blow. And whatever you think of Syriza, or Greece, it wasn’t the Greeks who did it."

As Yanis Varoufakis in first post-resignation interview on Late Night Live with Phillip Adams says, the Greek bailout deal is ‘a new Versailles Treaty’.

Click on this link to listen to the interview with Yanis Varoufakis 


Post-script 16 July 2015: Jurgen Habermas has just been interviewed by the Guardian newspaper and he makes some points related to themes found in my post above. You can read this at the following link:

Peter Oxley Trio - Cover


Andrew Bethune said…
Two recent newspaper articles relevant to this topic are a Guardian review of Paul Mason's forthcoming book about the end of capitalism as we know it today.
And in today's Times a piece comparing the experiences of Iceland and Greece. Iceland is independent of the EU, whereas Greece is trapped in the Euro.