Is a pan-European nationalism or continentalism possible?

History shows us that European borders are largely transient , Germany only came into being on January 18, 1871, when Otto von Bismarck read out the proclamation of the Emperor of Prussia in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles. The German Reich was founded after Germany won the 1870-1871 war against France.

Those that wrap themselves in the flags of decaying nation states and close borders are swimming against the tide of history

Here a thought provoking guest article from Paul Wood

Technology and the decline of the nation state

Most people nowadays no longer live in villages, towns or cities but on the internet.

On the internet nations are an abstract idea.

Some states restrict internet use (China, Vietnam, Russia, countries in the Middle East and in the future the European Union) but only three that I know of (Turkmenistan, Cuba and North Korea) more or less ban it altogether.

In the democratic countries so far the internet is not linked to territory.

I could be writing these lines from Bucharest, Bukhara or Timbuktoo. In fact, I am writing this in Bodrum in Turkey.

Distance has been abolished. Have nations?

Abolishing distance creates many problems. Only the naive imagined that this might not be so.

People are happy now to work at home, not realising that if they can do their jobs remotely so can people in poorer countries for less money.

An Englishman in Bucharest can live there for decades, speak English at work, with his friends, in shops and restaurants, inform himself through English language sites on the internet and through English language television and never learn Romanian.

I know hundreds of such people.

Americans do the same in Paris.

So do many Arabs in London, perhaps attending a local Saudi-funded Wahhabi mosque, though not speaking English it is more limiting than only speaking English.

This state of affairs predates the internet, by the way. Major-General Richard Clutterbuck, the only sociologist I ever came across who was not left-wing, pointed out in the 1980s that because of satellite television and many other things there was no longer a culture in England to which immigrants could be hoped to assimilate.

It was also back in the 1980s that Steve Cohen, a leading English immigration lawyer and author of several books about racism “from a Marxist perspective”, said that countries do not belong to the people living in them.

Yet not long ago the world was not globalised. From the first to the nineteenth century the Catholic Church was the only institution in the world that was universal.

Many people in the nineteenth century were detached from their nation or didn’t know they belonged to one (like the villagers near Lake Ohrid who told Bulgarian nationalists that they were simply Christian and that was it) but they were people who rarely left their village and did not read or write.

Technology, i.e. printing, led to literacy, produced national consciousness and in time nation states, which had formerly been confined to the British Isles, the western edge of Europe and Scandinavia.

Books also created a supranational elite. Dr Johnson said all educated men were of the same nation. He was partly right.

By educated he meant educated in Greek and Latin. As he said,

Classical quotation is the parole of literary men all over the world.

In the twentieth century English replaced Latin and Greek as the parole of educated men and women. Still the nation was still almost everything in the old days, the days when most people read the paper, went to the cinema for a treat or on a date and spent their evenings watching television.

In and through nations human beings understood, created and realised themselves.

The twentieth century was the time when nation states were most powerful and states were most powerful.

Nations were not everything – then as now Americanisation, as globalisation was known, was a big thing west of the iron curtain.

The nation states in the Soviet Bloc had Marxist internationalism instead of American internationalism, but the two sorts of internationalism had some big things in common. They were based on values, albeit different ones, on materialism and belief in progress.

Communist satellites were ruled by Moscow but in Romania and throughout Eastern Europe not only was the state all powerful but it clothed itself in the flag.

Now everyone is detached from his nation, especially big companies, research institutes and universities.

Increasingly the people in the capitals and biggest cities of rich countries come from other countries. As the Mayor of London Mr Khan said,

‘London is anyone. London is everyone.’

Increasingly the capitals and biggest cities have more in common with one another than with the smaller towns and the country.

Hence the rift between the inhabitants of London, Paris, Budapest, Istanbul and their hinterlands.

Hollywood and Los Angeles now drift away from what Americans call fly-over country but Hollywood has more power than any American institution including the White House and the Pentagon.

The residents of the global cities aspire to status, power and money much more than rural people.

A big marker of status is being open-minded and internationalist.

As voters elsewhere increasingly support things the global elite dislikes, like Brexit or Viktor Orban, the young metropolitan graduate class identifies less and less with the countryside, which is the essence and core of every nation, and more and more with their counterparts in other countries.

This perfectly accords with the needs of the world economy and of the multinational companies which gain by moving staff and investments from one country to another.

The young elites feel less inclined to defend the economic, cultural, and demographic interests of their own people – because they no longer so much consider them their own people.

Anyway, thinking of ones own people starts to seem selfish.

Thinking of ones own people seems outdated, suspect, borderline racist. This is especially so with left-wing parties, which now support not the workers so much as the interests of international finance. How odd are the paradoxes of history.

It applies to supposedly conservative politicians too. Conservatives have forgotten about the nation just as socialists have forgotten about the working class.

One such conservative is Ursula von der Leyen, the Christian Democratic President of Europe, who considers that welcoming migrants is a European value.

That is one way of looking at it, but migrants into Europe, as opposed to ones moving in the other direction, are a very recent phenomenon.

If the rights of migrants to settle in Europe are a European value they are certainly a very recent one, like sexual equality, freedom of children from religious indoctrination, the right to privacy and to clean drinking water and many other European values.

It seems to me that Europe, meaning the European nations, are made not of values but of people or peoples.

Europe is bound together by all the things those peoples have in common, which is a very long list indeed. Even so moulding them into one demos and thus enabling European democracy to be created seems impossible to me. It’s not going to happen. But the more people from outside Europe enter Europe the less things its inhabitants will have in common and the less possible a united or democratic or cohesive Europe becomes.

Is a pan-European nationalism or continentalism possible?


I am very grateful to my reader Ira Tigermann, the former editor (editress?) of Penthouse Magazine in Croatia, who sent me this picture, which she came across today and which she says is ‘almost the same as your thought’.

#eu #freedom #Globalism

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