MUNICH – To understand the euro crisis, you obviously need to know about economics. But you also need to know about the deep cultural orientations of European societies.
With the summer holiday season in full swing, it is instructive to look at Europe’s leisure activities. When Europeans play and relax, they produce a counterpart of their financial and economic struggles. It is not just a question of what they do. How they do it – and, above all, who does it – helps to reveal the deep nature of Europe’s difficulties.
In June, the Euro 2012 football (soccer) championship readily lent itself as an analogy to the turmoil surrounding Europe’s single currency. Defeated teams were described as having “left the Euro.” Greeks were proud that their country survived the elimination round to reach the quarterfinals.
The semifinal between Italy and Germany presaged the apparent willingness of Chancellor Angela Merkel to give in to Italian demands for support of the government bond market. Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti was rapidly dubbed “super Mario,” and a photomontage in the press depicted him with the idiosyncratic Mohawk hairstyle of Mario Balotelli, the player who scored the two Italian goals.