From continental heresy in the Middle Ages, through counter-reformation Catholicism which also become a synonym for absolutism and continental tyranny in the 16th and 17th centuries, French Jacobinism in the late 18th century , right and left wing totalitarianism in the 20th century, to Islamist terrorists arriving from Europe as migrants today.
Furthermore, Europe has profoundly shaped domestic politics in the UK. It has been the subject of argument without end for hundreds of years. In the 16th and 17th century there were furious debates over the best way to protect Protestantism and parliamentary freedoms in a Europe in which both were under severe attack. From the 18th century onwards, Britons disagreed on the best strategy for maintaining the European balance of power.
The prevailing orthodoxy among one side of parliament the Whigs looked to alliances and armies on the continent. Throughout these debates, some argued for military intervention on the continent and interference in the internal politics of sovereign states there, while others demanded equally passionately that Britain should stay out, for reasons of pragmatism, as well as principle. Both views are well represented in both major political parties today. If Europe made Britain, then Britain also made Europe.
The British shaped Europe in their interests and increasingly in their image. Their military presence and reputation on the continent was usually formidable, from the iconic victories at Agincourt, Dunkirk, Blenheim, Dettingen, Waterloo, in the Crimea, during the two world wars to the deterrence in Europe under NATO. It was enhanced rather than reduced by the fact that many of these triumphs were secured with the help of coalition partners.
Plus, Britain saw and realised its security through the power of ideology. Britain has therefore been distinctive in Europe. Its European story is not merely separate and equal to that of the continent, but fundamentally different and more benign.
The British pioneered two innovative forms of political organisation: the nation state as represented in parliament and then the concept of multinational union based on a parliamentary merger of Scotland and England. Over the past years, by contrast, Europeans have explored political unhappiness in many different forms.
These have ranged from absolutism, through Jacobinism, Napoleonic tyranny, Hitler, Soviet communism, to the well-meaning but broken-backed European Union today. Continental Europe, in short, had failed before , and even now the European Union is only failing better. Unlike virtually every other European state, which has at some point or other been occupied and dismembered, often repeatedly, England and the United Kingdom have largely — with very brief exceptions — been a subject of European politics, never merely an object.
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This should not be an occasion for British triumphalism. The failure of the European project, and the collapse of the current continental order, would not only be a catastrophic blow to the populations on the far side of the channel but also to the UK, which would be directly exposed to the resulting storms, as it always has been.
Berlin is an extraordinary place. Most people understand its Cold War history as a divided city, with capitalist west and communist east facing each other off over a wall.
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But less familiar are the underground and alternative scenes which have characterised the city over decades, centuries even. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in people from east and west felt the relief of being freed from political oppression and cultural and social separation.
Young people in Berlin had never known anything different than this divide, and the new unified state felt great. People wanted to celebrate this freedom together; they wanted to party.
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The fall of the wall also opened up a whole array of large official buildings, including former industrial and military spaces, which were left redundant and ready to be reclaimed by the city. These buildings were typically dark, solid and functional spaces, standing for an authority which no longer existed. The newly united city was the perfect playground for party goers with the wealth of abandoned buildings up for grabs and ready to be put to good use. This was the landscape from which techno emerged in Berlin. The city now started beating to a different rhythm.
New clubs and party venues sprung up all over, changing the landscape and reunifying communities. As with the other scenes before it, techno was well hidden. The location of clubs during the period was clustered, but their distribution fluid.
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As it should be with alternative underground scenes: clusters of venues constantly shift, evade capture, move with the times. But as the new Berlin has started to settle down, the techno scene has changed to reflect this growing confidence in a new identity — providing fixed venues for clubbers.
The most notorious of all the clubs is housed in an old power plant.
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And the music has its authorised heritage too. With old s samples worked into contemporary techno compositions. As Berlin emerges from the dark days of the 20th century, and as the process of gentrification spreads like a helix across the city, from the centre out into the suburbs, so the places associated with these scenes inevitably come under threat. The gentrification process means places associated with alternative scenes are being closed down and scenes pushed to the margins.