A Winter of Discontent
Like the Titanic but with no Viennese waltzes. In its Winterreise, this year Europe sails more to the beat of the Schubert cycle that with melancholy sings of isolation and cold. Isolation because of the disunity it is demonstrating to a world where Europe becomes less important by the day, with each country concentrated on its own problems and beset by populist specters sweeping through the continent from end to end. And cold because of the recession that makes even the strongest economies shiver, or more prosaically because of the shortage of Russian gas, a situation caused by the already chronic Ukraine war and in turn causing a general energy crisis sure to have freezing repercussions in homes. The winter of discontent has even blown away prime ministers (the Liz Truss who had made it into our cartoon needed to be quickly replaced), and after Brexit and the pandemic it presents itself as a new test for the European project. With so much background music going on, humanity’s biggest and most pressing challenge is drowned out, namely climate change, which in the summer (with never-before dog days in northern countries and wild fires in the Mediterranean) made it clear to us that its irreversible consequences demand a united and urgent response. Winter’s rigors may make us forget about summer’s heat, but it’s alarming that in this crossing there will be no icebergs.