Shaping Europe

Veröffentlicht auf von André

I daresay it doesn't happen every day to eat and to develop plans for the future construction of Europe while your eating. However, in our Maastricht apartment, political discussions belong to our meals like salt and ketchup belong to our rice and pasta. Like the one today.

The primary question we dealt with was: Is the European integration anything more than an upscaled integration of the German and Italian regions into nation-states in the course of the nineteenth century? In our efforts to foster a new European identity, are we doing anything more than Bismarck did in 1871 when he fused the German states into one nation-state? We are trying to create a united Europe - but can we create it without the need of uniting against a common opponent? The history of identity shaping is a history of negative identification: We only became Germans (or French, Italian etc.) because we were none of the other countries. We only became united as Europeans between the thirteenth and the nineteenth century, because we knew that we were not Muslim, Turkish or African. Can European integration, the creation of a European federal state, thus be anything else than a greater version of European nationalism in the nineteenth century?

My answer was yes, for two reasons. Firstly, we learned from the past, and we have promoted European integration over the last 60 years as a way of maintaining peace between our countries. The danger of a full-grown war between the European Union and the rest of the world seems unlikely. We have learned to accept the diversity of European cultures, and not to unite under the banner of an omnipresent national culture as was the case in the 1890s. Secondly, a first degree of pan-European cultural tolerance may well be followed by further cultural tolerance towards non-European countries.

However, we did not arrive at a final conclusion in our discussion. It may well be that despite more education, more international cooperation and more solidarity within our European in-group, we only repeat the processes which led up to the first World War, on a bigger scale. Will there be a new, an enlarged clash of cultures, Samuel Huntingtons famous clash of civilizations? And do we have any means of preventing it without repeating the mistakes of the past?

Veröffentlicht in Europa

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