Tales From Inside The Europarliament: At The Dusk Of Compassion

Having worked a few years in the European Parliament, I fear I will never be myself again. The very way I look at things has been dented. I guess that’s what happens when you fall through the looking glass into the Wonderland of Politics.

Some things you get to see are merely absurd. Like that cocktail party in solidarity with the earthquake victims of Haiti. The French three-course lunch that was arranged to discuss the problem with growing obesity among the citizenry. Or why not the drink offering that opened an exhibition about alcohol ignition locks in cars?

Other things are plain damn surreal. And I am firmly convinced that list is topped by the champagne reception against homelessness.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) can put up exhibitions on the premises of Parliament, if they like. Mostly, this is used by corporations and special interests who want to show themselves and their work off in front of the elected.

On the rare occasion, these exhibitions are used for promoting one or the other compassionate issue. In this case, to raise awareness of homelessness. But perhaps it would have been worthwhile to think twice about just how this should have been done…

To begin with, some ten to twenty metal sculptures of homeless people, life-sized, were placed in one of Parliament’s exhibition areas. On the walls, a bunch of posters underscoring the importance of the issue.

Then, the exhibition was opened by a MEP and a spokesperson for some charity. After their respective presentations, a champagne reception with the prerequisite mingling followed.

These images are going to haunt me for the rest of my life. Members of Parliament in expensive suits and dresses, ridiculously expensive hairdos with a whiff of equally expensive eau-de-toilette. In their hands, a firm grip around the champagne and the plate with cocktail canapés. Mingling with the static bronze casts of not-as-rich citizens.

Do note that this wasn’t a fundraiser charity gala. Nothing of substance at all was given to, or done for, the homeless. The entire point of the exercise was to paint a picture of engagement and compassion from a very high altitude.

The scary thing is that the average Member of the European Parliament doesn’t perceive things like this as elitistic, von oben, objectionable, or even strange. This is what life is like in the political bubble.

The closest a normal MEP ever gets to homeless people is when they whoosh past them in the parliamentary black, chauffeur-driven Mercedez-Benzes.

There’s the ruling political class for you. A clique of morally unkempt people – from left to right, from north to south. This is the normal view for the Very Important People, as seen from their ivory towers.

Together with my employer, Pirate MEP Christian Engström, I was looking at this scene unbelievingly – while we were making our way out of Parliament to have a beer or two on our own expense.

Directly outside Parliament, on the Place Luxembourg, we met a completely genuine, Belgian homeless person. For a moment, we considered the possibility of trying to get him into Parliament and bring him to the ongoing champagne reception. But we realized quickly that such a stunt wouldn’t be terribly well received…

Originally posted in Swedish on Henrik Alexandersson’s blog. Translated into English by Rick Falkvinge.


  1. uLoop

    Wow…just wow. How could we expect anything to change if this happens, if our elected leaders are so disconnected, like they are living in a different world? I wonder if there is coming back for them…

    1. SBJ

      For the MEP’s at least there is a slight glimmer of hope. They do respond to pressure from the voters. The EU-commission is another matter though, the only way to deal with them, is the same way the the Berlin-wall was dealt with. Tear ’em down and expel ’em from Europe.

      I hear Northkorea is a suitable place to send political deviants like the commission.

      1. Scary Devil Monastery

        No, I very much doubt the commissionaires would prosper in the relatively liberal and independent-minded nation of North Korea. Or for that matter, Iran.

        What would suit them best as a workplace environment would be the catholic church during medieval europe.

  2. wlfan

    Missed a chance of a livetime here. Defying the status quo – the “clique of morally unkempt people”- with a reality check seems to be a bridge to far once your mind is set for the bar.

  3. jimbo

    let’s face it, the closest any politician gets to ordinary people, let alone the homeless, is when they are touting for votes. none of them really gives a toss about any of the problems people face. this is showing so much now when those politicians and governments in general are trying to figure out why it is that business after business is failing. they cant for a minute fathom that while the austerity measures keep either as they are or are worsening, people dont have money to spend on what were, until a year or two ago, classed as ‘daily goods’. they expect people to go without food and heating and go and buy a new car, tv or something else, just to keep the business running. i doubt if they will ever learn that while the governments are taking more and more from people, there is less and less left for anyone else. no way is a country going to rid itself of debt if it doesn’t have any economic growth (which can only come if things are being manufactured and sold). if all that happens is that taxes are increased and jobs lost, a monetary disaster is close at hand. but, like everything else that a politician says, it is right and to do different would make them lose face. i would have thought that losing face is better than losing everything!

  4. Zacqary Adam Green

    ten to twenty metal sculptures of homeless people, life-sized, were placed in one of Parliament’s exhibition areas

    And you mean this isn’t satire?!

    Holy fucking shit on a shit sandwich with shit on top.

    1. Scary Devil Monastery

      I’m guessing if asked, one of these commissionaires might say “You say homeless have no champagne to drink? Then why don’t they simply drink brandy?”.

  5. Spitz

    That’s what I thought about current political class, ruling Europe: a bunch of skumbags, liars and morally degenerate people.

  6. Aelius Blythe

    “……..For a moment, we considered the possibility of trying to get him into Parliament and bring him to the ongoing champagne reception…….”

    Yeah, that would have been a telling story – how long would it take the politicians to call security on a REAL homeless person? At least fundraisers (often likewise aristocratic) serve some purpose.

    And I’m trying to picture metal sculptures of homeless people (they couldn’t find any real people to speak?? ) next to well-dressed politicians, and it’s just unsettling.

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  8. pr

    Unfortunately that is how the self important behave. If thet are challenged about this i am am fairly certain that they would reply it is how the parliament does things, which is a way of avoiding responsibility for how they behave. What is needed is more people of a libertarian persuasion in al governments, and the it mifgt be possible to regain control of rthe civil servicesthat are meant to support the governments, but which often have the ability to shape policy.,

  9. 6.941

    I’d advise Engström and Hax to spend some time assessing the merits, risks and possible methods of political bitchslap. There must be a measure of impunity associated with already being elected in, as long as you don’t break any rules that are actually written down. Consider the field day that tabloids would have with those statues, if you leaked photographs and stories to them. After all, since Soylent Green IS people, wouldn’t you do well to get the message out?

  10. Ray Jenson

    You know, I have to wonder about the way they do these things, and I think it may actually be because they can’t get anyone to even consider the case otherwise. With what they spent on the metal pieces alone, I’m sure they could have fed the local homeless population a month or more.

    Surreal, to be sure, but still so absurd that it’s hard to conceive of to me.

  11. […] http://falkvinge.net/2012/11/03/tales-from-inside-the-europarliament-at-the-dusk-of-compassion/ Tales >From Inside The Europarliament: At The Dusk Of Compassion – Falkvinge on Infopolicy […]

  12. Bob

    This is ridiculous. Those people who have no feeling with reality are deciding what is good for us. I am against!

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