In 1825 William Blake painted ‘Ancient of Days’, a dark scientific interpretation of creation. The fictional Urizien, holding a technician’s dividing compass, constructs cosmic order from chaos. Blake’s mythology was realised in his paintings and in his poetry, full of inspiration. His poem ‘Jerusalem’ was published in 1808. It invokes a ‘green and pleasant land’ where, among the ‘dark satanic mills’ of the industrial revolution, a great new society would emerge; a new Jerusalem.

‘Jerusalem’ was inspired by the legend that Jesus and his family travelled from the Holy Land to Glastonbury in England, while Judas was crucified in his stead. Mystics would argue that this sacred journey was traced by ley lines from Jerusalem to Mont St. Michael in Brittany, St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall and Glastonbury, ending at Skellig Michael in Ireland. Realistically, they would have travelled along roads built by Roman engineers, a journey taking perhaps six months. The Holy Family would truly have been European wayfarers; refugees from dictatorship and religious oppression. A Roman messenger, travelling those roads by pony express, could complete the journey from Rome to Paris in under three weeks.

European Wanderers

From 3500 BCE until 500 BCE, the people of the ancient Yamna [1] culture took three millennia for a similar journey; spreading out from their homeland ‘Eden’ (Urheimat) in the Pontic Steppe (modern Ukraine) to become the interrelated tribes of Europe and parts of Asia. Speech evolved from dialects of the common Proto-Indo-European [2] tongue into our modern family of languages. Archaeology shows that they maintained trade and cultural ties, the fingers of friendship and common ancestry reaching everywhere.

Tribes, Nations and Empires

Some two and a half millennia later, Europe has seen the rise and fall of tribes, nations and empires, with the fingers of friendship often clenched into bloody fists. Wars that plagued Europe extended around the globe and engendered the death of up to 760 million people. Blake’s ‘Ancient of Days’ shows science constructing civilisation and overcoming savagery but these are not mutually exclusive. As science progressed, so did the engines of travel, communication and war. Since the 1950s, the USA and Russia have faced each other with weaponry capable of exterminating life on Earth.

Following the trauma of World War 2, conflicts have occurred almost continuously throughout the world but in Europe comparative peace has reigned. From the ashes, the European Economic Community emerged. The final objective of this initiative was more than free trade. The vital principle was that Europe should remain at peace and realise its potential to prosper. The European Movement, established in October 1948 following the ‘Congress of The Hague’ [3], was born in the spirit of hope. Winston Churchill presided, with Konrad Adenauer, Harold Macmillan, Bertrand Russell, François Mitterrand and Duncan Sandys among prominent participants. The U.S. and Canada were observers and U.S. policy promoted a United States of Europe. The objectives evolved to include the direct election of a European Parliament by all European citizens, a common currency and a European Constitution. The second half of the 20th century saw this movement prosper and crystallise into the EU.

Snipers in the Nest

The ‘Treaty on European Union’ (1992) [4] saw the birth of true federalism in Europe and the start of another movement; of dissent and division. It was not a single organisation but emerged separately in European states. Certainly in collusion, the objective of the Europhobic movements was the destruction of the EU. Unchecked, these groups have risen to threaten the liberality of states and have brought about the imminent section of the UK from the great EU; the European home.

Such movements require vast finances which are clearly in evidence. Personalities have been recruited and paraded. They require strategies and the right-wing think-tanks have been long established and pumping the media. They also require deception and cunning. Data mining facilities were allegedly donated by Cambridge Analytica [5] to the anti-EU campaigns. Combined with demographic profiling, ideas have been fed to ‘swing sectors’ of the electorate. Malleable personalities have been exploited by a financial elite to change society for their own benefit and to the detriment of those misled.

ley lines

The ‘Ley lines’ that run from Jerusalem to Skellig Michael

We have become a people divided. Those that see a positive unified future, the Europeans; and those that seek to retreat into chauvinistic nationalism. This latter faction has squeezed the trigger to launch the Article 50 projectile. A 50-mm calibre round is not a bullet, it is a missile, loaded with high (or nuclear) explosive. The intended target is the destruction of the union between the UK and the EU; and then the destruction of the EU itself. Europe has become a common people with snipers in their midst and committed Europeans will be the collateral damage.

Uncertain Trajectory

There is no certainty about where the shot will land; the trajectory is unpredictable, a ranging shot testing the vulnerabilities of the EU. Article 50 is not a ‘smart’ projectile and it has been launched into a ‘garden of forking paths’. Each intersection is an obstacle which can deflect, absorb or shatter. They include the single market, the customs union, European security, immigration control and EU law. Possibly the most hardened obstacle is the UK constitution. The decaying British Empire left a wake of problems. Scotland, N. Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Yorkshire are nations or regions with strong separatist movements. Gibraltar, Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus, the Falklands, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Caribbean tax havens are territories with an uncertain future outside the EU. The issue is not whether the UK wishes to maintain control but whether it can.

With the Article 50 missile ricocheting around these political hazards, the ‘fog of war’ can be introduced by the butterfly-wing of chaos. From the negotiations, the deal that emerges is unlikely to resemble the wishes of anti-federalists who voted to leave the EU.

The EU Ideal

Blake’s poem ‘Jerusalem’ was written during the reign of George III, some 25 years after Britain conceded American independence and battled to establish an Asian empire. The army of the English East India Company in collaboration with the Royal Navy drove the expansion of that empire by whatever means, fair or foul. Blake’s poem is saturated with English nationalism.

On the day of his death in 1827, William Blake worked energetically and died in a state of religious exultation. Perhaps his spirit knows how many voices have been raised with hope by his words. Had he lived now, similar words can sustain and inspire our European journey.

The EU Anthem (to be sung to the tune of ‘Jerusalem’)

And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon Europe’s hillsides green.
In friendship did those hands of Peace,
Unite us all as European!

And did our democratic voice,
Echo around our nations’ halls?
Wide, deep and strong, the EU build,
Mid Europe’s dark and war-torn walls?

We’ll fight with hope, we’ll fight with truth,
With EU ideals that inspire.
Fight without fear, spirits uphold!
Onward our Chariot of Fire!

We will go forth, with hearts and minds,
The EU blue and gold will stand.
Till we have built the EU here,
In Europe’s green and pleasant Lands.

[1] Yamna culture
[2] Proto-Indo-European language
[3] Hague Congress (1948)
[4] Treaty on European Union (1992)
[5] Cambridge Analytica

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