Wednesday, July 04, 2012

An Existential Crisis in Europe

Flatline Europe

The sense that both the Eurozone and the European Union are about to disintegrate is now widespread, and seems almost universal among thoughtful and well-informed analysts of the European political scene.

The following article by Walter Laqueur looks at the EuroCrisis from an establishment historian’s point of view — he sees the same process at work that the rest of us do, but he is hoping against hope that the dream of a United Europe can somehow be salvaged.

Mr. Laqueur’s essay has been kindly translated from the German by JLH. The translator includes this note:

This article — recommended by Hermes — is a provocative one. I should note that the English and German versions, and perhaps others, of the author’s latest book are already available. Clearly written by a member of the Kohl generation. I do not expect to buy one. Spengler was already enough.

I also wonder if he really believes the whole thing began for any reason other than France’s desire to nobble the country that had already beaten it up three times running, and Germany’s desire to expiate the crimes of WWII. At which time the golden ring was inserted in the German Michel’s nose and he set off on a new career as Sancho Panza.

From his distance in the US, does Laqueur have any concept of how citizens must feel when their very right to an opinion is under assault by an unelected, unaccountable bureaucracy that has replaced lace and chocolate as the main industry in a country that cannot even get along with itself? And when this detached elite is abetted by their own rulers?

Does he truly believe that the generational conflict will only be about money? When he says that the EU no longer has the will to play a major role — when did it ever? When did we hear from anyone except France, Germany and now and then the UK? It worked to some extent when it was a tariff-free trading partnership. But when did the rest of the 27 ever feel like full voting members?

Here’s the translated article, published on June 27 by Die Welt:

Continent in Crisis

The End of the Eurozone Is in Sight, and So Is the End of the EU

Europe’s decline is certain, says historian Walter Laqueur. He does not believe in a thorough restructuring of the EU. More likely is a new attempt at a united Europe.

Since I have experienced Europe and the Europeans in both good and bad times, it is time to draw up a balance sheet. I undertook the attempt five years ago in a book entitled “The Last Days of Europe.” The views expressed there were received in part skeptically, because these were rather untimely observations and the book definitely came too early.

At that time, I was of he opinion that Europe could possibly transform into a museum or a cultural amusement park for well-to-do tourists from East Asia. For whatever reason, the Europe which I know and about which I wrote five years ago, is in the process of disappearing.

The financial crisis will accelerate this process, but, at bottom, the decline of the continent has been noticeable for a long time and, accordingly, of much more basic nature than many observers assume.

Europe Is Burned Out

Since the end of the Second World War, Europe — once the center of the world — has experienced a global power shift. The full effects — political, economic and military — have been cushioned by the protection of the United States. America was a superpower and for a long time the only superpower.

But now and in future years, America will have its own crisis to weather, and Europe will be on its own to a much greater extent. There is no doubt that Asia will be a significant factor for changed in the new world order. What will Europe’s role be?

Asian diplomats often speak of the EU with a mixture of condescension and disbelief. In their view, Europe is burned out — a customs union that never had serious prospects of becoming a global power. They find it odd that Europe is not conscious of its weakened position on the world stage and has not come to terms with it. They are not even insulted by Western admonitions to pay more attention to human rights; they just ignore them.

No Common Defense Policy

The euro crisis is not exactly encouraging the Asians to change their attitude. But even if you don’t talk about European financial policy, there are still no arguments that can help to contradict the Asians.

So long as Europe has, for instance, no common energy policy. it will not be master of its own fate and will have a difficult time competing on world markets. Without a common defense policy, Europe will continue to be of even less importance on he international stage. It will be incapable of dealing with regional conflicts, to say nothing of the looming spread of weapons of mass destruction, and this is an explicit task of European security strategy.

Europe may still carry out small “police actions”, but not a war. By 2020 or 2030, the spread of weapons of mass destruction and existence of shattered states on the borders of Europe — that is, in North Africa and the Middle East — could represent a serious threat, and Europe may not be able to count unreservedly on NATO. And yet there is presently no political will to prepare the defense forces necessary for the looming dangers.

Great Distinctions in Economic Areas

Looking at the future, there are basically three possible scenarios for the European Union: it will disintegrate, it will continue to “muddle along” as it has, or it will undergo a much stronger unification and centralization than in the past.

“Muddling along” is probably not a serious option for the future, unless a split is accepted, in which several states leave the EU and remain leading economic powers in it — or the euro is done away with. But a European Union without a common currency could hardly be called a union.

When the EU was founded (and especially when it was expanded and the euro introduced), the founding fathers did not fully recognize the extent of the problems which were caused by the distinctions in different economic zones — rich and poor, north and south. The individual EU countries preserved their economic independence to a great extent.

Sovereign Rights Must Be Surrendered

Practically (but not theoretically), they could accumulate debts and determine their own tax rates (nearly a dozen states decided on a flat-rate tax, which would be unthinkable in France or Germany). Leading banks were not regulated, which led to the financial and economic crisis of 2008 as a consequence of limited expertise as well as the behavior of “stingy” governments.

The experiences of past years have shown what should have been clear from the outset: that an economic union without a much more comprehensive political union was not possible. But that would have demanded a price that many did not wish to pay — the surrender of hitherto sovereign rights.

Up to 2010, substantial advances had been made. France was pushing for the gradual establishment of a European “economic government” and the French finance minister at the time, Christine Lagarde, announced that there would be much more strenuous fiscal and economic cooperation in the EU countries.
That, however, meant an infringement of all the existing rules (The Lisbon Treaty expressly foresees no salvation plans for member states), because it was the only path of saving the eurozone.

Differences Between Germany and France

A European Stability Mechanism was established as a permanent protective umbrella, but only under strict conditions, which meant the countries were told what measures they should take with respect to taxes, expenditures and economic policy.

Somewhat late, the German government joined the other EU members, but when it came to interpreting the concept “economic government”, there were considerable differences between Germany and France. Should the European governments present their yearly budget drafts to the central government before implementing them?

It was not clear from the Lisbon Treaty whether an individual government could be overruled. With all that, the establishment of a European economic government seems likely, but it is equally clear that it would take a long time to negotiate the rights of such a regime, like, how fast could it act and many other important questions.

Too Little Trust

Should such an economic administration come to pass, it would be a sort of political government. That would be a great step forward, but how would it function?

Would this government not face all the difficulties that a coalition government would face if it comprised not two or three parties, but twenty-seven? Or would it be independent of the individual states, which at the moment is hard to imagine?

It doesn’t look as if Europe could manage this basic change. Europeans’ loyalty has been to the nation state for centuries, while the idea of European solidarity is of a later date. The differences in outlook, culture and lifestyle in the countries are considerable.

There is no common language and little trust. No one is prepared to surrender sovereign rights to a central authority which inspires no great confidence and has shown few qualities of leadership. The decline of Europe can above all be interpreted as a decline of will and dynamism.

The Continent Will Age

Whoever ponders the future of Europe always ends with Raymond Aron’s book of the 1970s. “Plea for Decadent Europe.” Even though many contemporaries misunderstood his thesis, Aron was conscious of the onset of decadence (or decline, to use a more neutral term), which began with the First World War and accelerated after the Second World War. Today, this decline is still more tangible.

In history, the rise of a new generation has led to a radical reversal, since youth in the words of the philosopher Martin Buber is the perennial new chance of humanity. Not so in the Europe of the present and future.

In the Europe of the coming decades, the young people as a percentage of the population will shrink, so the continent will age because of decreasing fertility. According to predictions of the European Union, the working population will decrease all over Europe after 2015. The number of older people (over 65)will approximately double at the same time.

There Is the Danger of a Generational Conflict

As early as 2030, a quarter of the population of Europe will be over 65 years old. That means not only that the pressure on the European health care system and pension funds will be increased, but also that a much smaller number of young people will have to work for the well-being of a much larger number of older people, if the European living standard is to be maintained or at least avoid a rapid decline.

There thus exists the gloomy prospect that the generational contract will be replaced by a generational conflict, especially if the young generation consists to a significant extent of immigrants or their children and still has to bear the burden of the mountainous debt which was amassed by the economic policy of the older generations.

So a Europe growing weaker in foreign policy and economy will at the same time have to withstand intensified internal tensions. I spoke above about the three options the EU has: it could disintegrate, it could “muddle on” as before or it could undergo a much stronger unification and centralization than in the past. Only an inveterate optimists will believe in the third option today.

A New Try for a United Europe

In all likelihood, the European Union will disintegrate, but there is always a retarding influence. Several American economic scholars have said that the EU will simply continue, because exiting would be too expensive.

There seems to be a hidden law in history, according to which institutions — once in existence — become self perpetuating and continue to exist beyond all expectations, at least much longer than expected. Is that right? Time will tell. Europe no longer seems to have the strength and the political will to play a truly important role on the world stage. The eurozone is done for, and maybe also the EU.

Nonetheless, I consider it possible that — in the future, perhaps even in the near future — there will be a new attempt to create a united Europe. History teaches that only existential crises lead to a readiness to undertake radical changes. There is no certainty in this respect, but there is always the possibility of making the decisive step from nation state to the United States of Europe.


Anonymous said...

Part 1: Don't trust the "Continent in Crisis" article. Why ?

The article is strange as it is mixing two ideas at once, firstly a warning call - the destruction of European, but a second one is there too - that Europe must unite.

By ending on
"There is no certainty in this respect, but there is always the possibility of making the decisive step from nation state to the United States of Europe."

instead of

"In all likelihood, the European Union will disintegrate"

The author uses the politically correct structuring of his material; that is too start with what you think, but to end with what they want you to think, and is actually subverting our cause.

"Europe Is Burned Out", no Europe has been torched. Its inventiveness and natural industrial reserves have been deliberately transplanted in the East - which did not intrinsically blossom like Britain, Europe or the USA. The East needed the West help to grow.

"No Common Defense Policy", and whom is the common enemy ? Oh, the author know does not know, well don't you, it will be the medieval Muslims of one brand or another, just as soon as the elite have installed them in to some rag tailed crescent of united countries with a doomed pretence to power.

"Europe may still carry out small “police actions”, but not a war. And do the collective people of Europe want to go to war? NO, we do not. And anyway it is a choice of our individual countries - something that the author avoids.

"No Common Energy Policy", thank god for that. Each independent sovereign country is quite capable of managing their own power in their own ways, creating natural competition between each other and the rest of the world.

"Great Distinctions in Economic Areas" Yes, but is there anyone apart from the 'ruling elite' that want "stronger unification and centralisation than in the past" ? No, and stop pushing this propaganda - the individuals in Europe want their individual countries, controlled by them, not by the 'elite' whom your supporting with many of these lines.

"Sovereign Rights Must Be Surrendered", No, no, no it must not be surrendered (or given away without a fight). Too much has already been seceded, which is why all the EU countries are in financial trouble at once. If they had been as independent as they should be, then some might be going bust yes, but others would be booming and booming without elite bankers debt held over their heads like the sword of Damocles.

"Differences Between Germany and France" The author seems surprised that Germany actually wants to remain being a sovereign country and in control of their own budget. And if the Lisbon Treaty is not clear weather or not an individual government can be overruled then the people of the individual sovereign countries will make it dam clear for all "our countries are independent" and it is treason for any of our leaders to hand power over to an external power.

End of part 1

Anonymous said...

Part 2: Don't trust the "Continent in Crisis" article. Why ?

"Too Little Trust" yep we don't trust what your writing. "Should such an economic administration come to pass" "That would be a great step forward" for who? for you? for the ruling elite? maybe but not for the individuals of sovereign European countries. An "Economic administration" is what has already ruined our collective economic might, and the lack of commonness is why centralists wish to over run our states with immigrants - especially Muslims ones that can be used for false flag terrorism.

"The Continent Will Age" pulling that one out again! Yes we white Occidentals have been encouraged not to have babies, the statistics have been hushed up, and the baby boomers are always wheeled out support invasive immigration programs. Well I am not buying your used car sales man ship anymore. Europeans inventiveness can more than cover for our ageing population, which would have been a whole lot easier if the bankers had not already stolen the boomers pension pots (yep that is what a good deal of this expanding debt aka money supply is about). Further, any ageing population will also need to be supported by a "WORKING" younger generation, not an unemployed one.

"In the Europe of the coming decades, the young people as a percentage of the population will shrink, so the continent will age because of decreasing fertility."

Ok, who or what has been decreasing the fertility of white Europeans? This is a BIG issue. Why is no one perusing this important fact and doing something about it? Oh I know because the ruling elite don't want to, instead they want to replace us with immigrants whom don't show sovereign loyalty to their ever so generous host countries.

"working population will decrease all over Europe after 2015" scary? But by how much? 0.0001% ? The British young population have been increased and is now at least 26% foreign born. No shortage of workers at present either, just a shortage of jobs.

"There Is the Danger of a Generational Conflict" I see you, and the elite want us to do battle with our parents, instead of with the miss ruling elite. You want us to blame boomers, instead of centralised Europe for causing our collective reduction in standards of leaving, wealthfare, etc.

Then a paragraph with some sort of truth: "There thus exists the gloomy prospect that the generational contract will be replaced by a generational conflict, especially if the young generation consists to a significant extent of immigrants or their children and still has to bear the burden of the mountainous debt which was amassed by the economic policy of the older generations."

Yep, I sort of agree with the author in the paragraph above; importing inconceivable numbers of uneducated, immigrants , without checks for criminality or violence, whom have incompatible religions, cultures, ideologies and expectations are not in the long run beneficial to the baby boomers or the boomer's children.

Oh and don't blame the "older generations" for the mountains of debt, it is the elite's manifactured debt, not the peoples.

"A New Try for a United Europe"

And for the finally "In all likelihood, the European Union will disintegrate, but " notice the BUT which rules out the idea just given, followed up with a bankers politically correct excuse "its too expensive".

The last sentence rams home the hard work of a Politically Correct writer "making the DECISIVE step from nation state to the United States of Europe", leaving you with the above decisive idea ringing in your head.

Overall, cleverly written - but not an article on the side of the sovereign citizens of Europe, for whom demand that their respective countries stand up and break from the destructive technocratic rule by the EU

Anonymous said...

The problem isn't the European Union, the problem is the politically correct nature of that union. If it was a union based on European peoples it would be the power house of the world.

I see unintended consequences on the horizon for this 'Union'. In fact the unintended consequences are so plain to see it's hard to believe they are trly unintended!

It seems to me EU machinations encourage (unintentionally?) precisely that which they are (allegedly) designed to prevent.

Let's give them/it the benefit of the doubt and accept their explanation that the EU was inspired by the desire to eliminate European conflict viz WWI and WWII. Thus the EU has encouraged/propagandised European peoples to see themselves as European rather than as French, German, Spanish, whatever.

The thinking presumably is that a European identity eliminates the oppositional nature of nationality. Which it does, but only to replace it with a continental opposition. We are French, German, or Spanish only in so much as we relate to other nationalities. We are European only in opposition to peoples from other continents, that is in opposition to other races. We define ourselves only in respect of others.

And at the same time as encouraging this European identity the EU is encouraging the mass colonisation of Europe by non-Europeans.

In what way is this consistent with the EU's desire for peace? What's the thinking? That a substantial population of non-Europeans in Europe will encourage Europeans (that is after they've ceased to be German, French, or Spanish)to see themselves as less European.

Did they really not consider the dangers of encouraging a common identity amongst European peoples and at the same time encouraging a European-wide colonisation by non-Europeans who see themselves as the other.

Is it really that hard to see this as a recipe for disaster?

Anonymous said...

Sometimes when I go to bed I hope to wake to find that the past 50 years have all been a bad dream and I am back in the England of the 1950s when the English were the English and not just the white community, Scandinavia was nordic, Holland was full of people in clogs and France was annoyingly but attractively French. But I wake to find the borderless one world nightmare just gets worse. Why has a continent and a race that one used to be so powerful descended into this limp-wristed apology for a civilisation. It is because the puppet-masters have promoted the appeasers and demonised anybody who dares to suggest that strong fences make good neighbours and that turning the other cheek might have been the ideal but that only muscular Christians survive, the monks of Lindisfarne didn't stand a chance.

Anonymous said...

I'd say the first two posts nailed it. From I can can infer Laqueur comes off as a stooge for the elitist elements that supported globalization; loss of manufacturing and technology industries, de-nationalization and open borders. And worse promoting gross incompetence and balkanization in society by pushing a PC/MC social agenda in schools and universities. Not to mention enforcing with the threat of prison for those native Europeans foolish enough to complain.

He also doesn't see that his clique of elitist swine is responsible for gutting Europe and creating a explosively violent confrontation between the hostile 3rd worlders that his ilk welcomed in by the millions versus the native born.

And don't think it won't turn nasty when the welfare state that keeps the 3rd worlders happy, shrinks dramatically and border controls are instituted after the EU dies.

And the EU will die. It's corrupt, un-Democratic and incompetent to the core. It only lasted this long was because it took them a long time to bleed the productive portions of Europe dry.

Anonymous said...

I suggest that all those logging on to this site purchase the dvds of Kenneth Clarke's 1969 "Civilisation" series. I remember it, others may be too young but I know that it was a real success on the other side of the Atlantic. The charmingly erudite Clarke begins his series with an explanation of how Europe survived the barbarian invasions by the skin of its teeth. I fear Europe has now gone way beyond that and mass killing is inevitable. Just look at what is happening here in England in the run-up to the Olympics, a security nightmare. Clarke ends with the statement that nearly reduces me to tears, namely that European Christian Civilisation will only go down if we lose confidence in ourselves. I think he had an inkling of something. Some of us never did but the vast majority were brainwashed by the Marxists and the globalizers into so doing and now most Europeans are like Masochistic lady men. But I have not and never will and pray that others have the strength to resist this evil. A friend referred me to Revelations where she said all the peoples would be mixed up prior to the second coming. The climate is raging and one might think that time is near. May God give Europeans strength to save themselves from the extinction that is planned for them. It is my constant prayer.