Magical Thinking Doomed The Euro-Geist

As the post-war neoliberal project of the European Union appears to be entering its twilight years, the thoughtful observer should consider the follies of its founders.

The Eurocrats thought that they would be the final act in the long play of history upon the European continent, that they would set the capstone of human thought and achievement upon a pyramid of free trade and free movement. They thought they would crucify the old blood and soil identities of the world upon a cross of liberty and markets. They believed they would bring peace and universal brotherhood to a fractious and violent continent with little more than economic leverage and lofty, sentimental rhetoric.

Even if one agrees with the goals and presuppositions of liberal internationalism, it doesn’t take an abnormal amount of intellectual acumen to see that the reach of the globalist dreamers has long exceeded their grasp.

Their dream of a Pan-European state, in which individual national identities would be subsumed into a great transcendent Euro-Geist, required more than just wishful thinking. Such a project has haunted the European imagination since at least the time of Napoleon. And although the Napoleons of the past ultimately failed in their quest for European unity, they had a much more realistic understanding of the means necessary to realize it.

The EU was initially founded solely as trade association, but the implied subtext was always that of a union that would naturally grow to become a Pan-European super state. The architects of the EU realized that much deeper integration would be required if the EU were to succeed. Such a union would have to share not just a common currency and labor regulations, but also a shared central government, military, and foreign policy. The architects of the EU understood this and believed, in classic Hegelian fashion, that the contradictions inherent in the embryonic EU project would be worked out as future crises forced an ever closer union upon an otherwise recalcitrant populace.

Rattled by the horrors of the World Wars and repulsed by the rabid nationalism that had supposedly spawned them, the architects assumed the end of nationalism within the boundaries of Europe would be an easy sell. Such a view may have seemed self-evident to a Western European living in the 1950s and 60s, but the sentiment has aged rather poorly.

The contradictions of the EU haven’t worked themselves out into a clearer and clearer synthesis as the original planners had assumed. Instead, all involved sought to maximize their own profits from the project, while limiting their investment. When the rubber met the road, no nation wanted to surrender too much of their nation’s sovereignty in order to realize the Pan-European dream.

They desired all of the benefits, but refused any of the necessary sacrifices.

Of course, this should have been a surprise to no one involved. Integrated markets were necessary for a project as ambitious as the EU to succeed, but they were never sufficient in and of themselves. The atomization and homogenization engendered by the free market certainly weakened traditional identities, but in the member countries of the EU, where roots go much deeper and identities are less fragile, the market in and of itself was not enough to meld these identities into a supra-national one, the Euro-Geist.

An element of coercion, of forced assimilation, is ultimately necessary for such a project to have any hopes of success. Without the Blank Slate of an empty continent, as in North America, such diverse cultures will not be melded together so easily. After all, not only are Europe’s cultures diverse, but so are its languages. The EU officially recognizes 23 languages within its borders.

As Alexander taught us, some knots can’t be disentangled, but instead must be cut through. Anti-thesis and thesis can indeed form a new synthesis, but sometimes a thorough hammering is required. Economic integration is necessary for any sort of supra-national Euro state to come into being, but it is far from sufficient.

Such a state can only be hammered into being by elites who possess not only economic but also military power and the willingness to use it. Without the plausible threat of force, there is simply no way to unify such a naturally fractious and divided polity.

This is the lesson of all truly successful multicultural states. Russia, China, Singapore, the United States, and Tito’s Yugoslavia among others all possessed the will to impose their version of order upon otherwise fractious societies.

Without the threat of military force, the United States wouldn’t have lasted past the Whisky Rebellion, much less the Civil War. If this use of force to maintain cohesion was necessary, in spite of the many natural advantageous afforded the American project in North America, how much more would it be necessary for the infinitely more complex European one?

The EU elites deluded themselves into believing their own lofty rhetoric; they drank their own Kool-Aid, which convinced them that they entered a new era magically free from war and the need for direct coercion.

The dream of swords beaten into plowshares is a noble one which, unfortunately, can only be actualized in the eschaton, not in our own immanent reality.

As Spengler noted:

The question of whether world peace will ever be possible can only be answered by someone familiar with world history. To be familiar with world history means, however, to know human beings as they have been and always will be. There is a vast difference, which most people will never comprehend, between viewing future history as it will be and viewing it as one might like it to be. Peace is a desire, war is a fact; and history has never paid heed to human desires and ideals.

In reality, the European project was never the grand New World Order so feared amongst the conspiracy theorists of right-wing fever swamps. Its architects drank far too deeply of their own sentimental propaganda to ever be able to bring their dreams to fruition. In this sense, they were indeed characteristic of the late modern age, which spawned them.

There is no impulse more truly modern than the simultaneous pursuit of two mutually exclusive ends. In our personal lives, we seek endless copulation without the possibility of reproduction. Our diets consist of decaf coffee, soy burgers, and non-fat butter, which promise us all the pleasure of the original without their natural drawbacks. We seek fame and recognition, but shun the virtues that traditionally correspond with them. So is it really a surprise that our political enterprises would follow a similar logic? The EU is merely the geopolitical version of a five step program, which is doomed to over-promise and under-deliver. It is the desire for peace without strength, for prosperity and coherence without sovereignty. And without true sovereignty, even the best-laid plans of mice and globalists are doomed to fail.

The Davos men believed they were the end of history, that Hegelian providence had preordained them to usher in a golden age of peace, prosperity, and self-actualization. In a hundred years, if power shifts away from progressive hegemony, historians will most likely look back upon them not as visionaries and world-improvers, but rather as a collection deluded dilettantes.

The great dream of a united Europe is still possible, of course, but it will not be delivered by the kale-eating bureaucrats scheming in the salons of Brussels. It will only be delivered, if it is ever delivered, by a group of elites dedicated to the acquisition and maintenance of strength and sovereignty. And until this happens, the grand dream of a United Europe will remain just that, a dream.

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8 Comments

  1. Arthur Marian July 1, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    A pretty good article, and I agree with most of it. But, and this question is always before me, what is sovereignty? Specifically, what is sovereignty in the World as it is to-day? I would argue that the only truly sovereign states in existence to-day are North Korea, the Somali shore dominated by pirates, and perhaps Daesh in the Middle East.

    As far as the great powers are concerned, China and the US are locked in an interdependent loveless marriage of convenience – a divorce would devastate both countries so they can only do what any scowling spouses do – bicker and threaten. Russia is alone and weak, totally dependent on hydrocarbon exports to survive, and obsessed with proving to itself and the rest of us that it still matters. India, well, yes, but it is still only potentially what it could be, and hasn’t moved from there for forty years. As for the rest of humanity, political, economic and financial interconnectedness means that “sovereignty” is a useful catchword in elections or political bluster, with little substantive meaning.

    So, am I moving to North Korea, the Somali coast or to Daesh any time soon?

    Nope,

    [Ed. rescued from spam]

    1. Sovereignty is intellectual, status, and intelligence sovereignty first and foremost. Russia and China both pass that test, economic interdependence notwithstanding. North Korea, Daesh and Somalia are a lot less economically sovereign than Russia or China, so I’m not sure what your point is.

      1. Arthur Marian July 3, 2016 at 1:42 pm

        Mark – perhaps the reason you don’t understand what my point is that I just don’t really “get” what “sovereignty” is, particularly in the modern world, and what is its value. As an example, let’s take the case of Czechoslovakia in 1938. By the standards of the time it was an economic success story, with thoroughly modern industries. had a thriving intellectual atmosphere, and had self-confidently planned and accomplished its independence from the Habsburg Empire. It also had a modern army that in many ways was a match for the German army of the time. By your definition, then, a sovereign country.

        And yet what happened? It was simply swallowed up by Hitler. Czechia and Slovakia to-day, having delegated powers to the EU and NATO are far less sovereign, and yet I would argue that their security as states is far more satisfactory. Clearly the geopolitics of the region has changed, but the message is still there.

        Let’s take the case of England and Scotland. Although sharing a monarch from the early 17th Century, the formal Acts of Union of 1706-7 created a united Parliament. Two societies, with more differences than similarities, frequently previously at war with each other, and deeply mistrustful of each other gave up part of their sovereignty to become the United Kingdom. What was the result? A small offshore island of fishermen, merchants and farmers became a global power in the space of a hundred years.

        Perhaps sovereignty is a great treasure, but to me it’s kin to love – it only has value if you can share it.

      2. R. J. Moore II July 3, 2016 at 8:09 pm

        Sovereignty is a VVestphalian myth. China has traditionally operated as a suzerain, and the same is true of actualy European politics novv and past. Nation-states are transitory entities.

  2. The secession movements are ALSO based on the “end of history” mode of thinking. i.e. America will continue to play world policeman, mega-armies of China and even Russia will allow Europe its eternal shopping mall, and European unity is just code for a bureaucratic tax machine.

    Having to live as a protectorate of other larger blocs is always precarious. Go ask Australians who are now having all their land/resources sold to the Chinese.

    1. R. J. Moore II July 3, 2016 at 8:07 pm

      Libertarian secession does not entail hyper-fragmentation, as contracts and covenants can alvvays be arranged among large groups – better than could ever be hoped for by a nation-state.

  3. You can have a multi-ethnic empire if there are other unities: Eine Kirke, Eine Kaiser means you do not need Eine Volk.

    But Eine Volk helps.

    The EU lacked King: they are tyrants.
    They lacked Churches: they built mosques who (with the typical reprocity of the Muslim) bombed and raped the people

    And the people, noting that the tyrant wanted to replace them, Found their pikes and pitchforks.

  4. R. J. Moore II July 3, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    The EU vvas never interested in economic liberalization. It is a customs union, not a free trade zone. It never had more than a rhetorical devotion to economic liberalism.

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