Monday, September 04, 2006

Straw Men

This article reminded me of what Euro-skeptics don't get about Euro-politics:
... no one believes any longer in a European super-identity destined to supplant one's self-identification as a Dane or Basque.

Far from softening, national and other local identities are hardening again, reverting to ever-narrower blood-and-language relationships that Europe's dreamers assumed would fade away. Who now sees himself as fundamentally Belgian, rather than as a Fleming or Walloon? Catalans deny that they are Spaniards, and the Welsh imagine a national grandeur for themselves. In the last decade, the ineradicable local identities within the former Yugoslavia split apart in a bloodbath, while a mortified Europe looked away for as long as it could. The Yugoslav disaster was written off as an echo from the past--anyway, Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, and Kosovars were "not our kind"--but the Balkan wars instead signaled a much broader popular discontent with pseudo-identities concocted by political elites. The collapse of Yugoslavia hinted at the future of Europe: not necessarily the bloodshed, but the tenacity of historical identity.

... The future of Europe lies not in a cosmopolitan version of the empire of Charlemagne, but in a postmodern version of the feudal fragmentation that succeeded the Frankish empire. Brussels may be the new medieval Rome, its bureaucratic papacy able to pronounce in limited spheres, but there is ever less fear of excommunication.
Europe was never meant to supplant the nation or national identity. Except for a few utopians, the promise of Europe was interdependence, not nationalism on a European scale. Moreover, subsidiarity was always of interest: refining identities such that Catalanism could flourish within Spain. If European unity has failed, it has made identities less confrontational in most cases (the author's example of Yugoslavia is hardly applicable to the effects of the EU). Greater complexity has been possible without conflict.

Now if the Europhiles could get out of their own echo-chamber...

(HT: Sargasso)


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