As we obviously can get excited about on one problem at a time only, we switched to the refugee crisis – for now. And here we have yet another formidable example of a total failure of European politics with the potential to tear the Union apart. This failure was inevitable, as there is no real sufficiently empowered administrative body to take the necessary actions, swift and bold. The EU is just a loose a confederation of states, which tries to act like a federal state.
Consequently the introduction of the Euro was a premature step – at best. If meant to become a traditional currency like D-Mark, Franc and Lire had been before; it would have been prudent to prepare the necessary environment before, like unified financial politics. As history of currencies and their governance, national currencies and those of confederations alike, aptly demonstrate, this still would not have been necessarily a recipe for success. Well seeing the value of a common currency, a more exotic Bitcoin or Frederick Hayek like approach would have been a better fit. But this would have required an even more vanguard type of thinking. In its current shape however the EURO does more harm than good and may possibly even not survive.
No surprise therefore that the mood shifts. Brexit is the next looming issue. This time it is the British, or to be more precise, the English people, who feel deeply alienated by those obscure European power play games. Surveys show that there are majorities favouring an exit from the EU in other countries too. Many citizens feel that Europe is moving to the wrong direction – without having any clue of what the ‘right direction’ might be. Confidence into the EU now in Germany and France is as weak as in the UK, not to talk about the eastern belt of EU states, which are giving rise to a new aggressive nationalism. And in many other countries, including Germany, the worst yet has to come.
No, folks, let’s face reality: game is over.
So better start a new one.
But which way to go? Back to good old times?
To my conviction there is no way back. There even have been no good old times. Nevertheless it seems prudent to take a look back – and learn from history. Let’s remember, that the whole idea of a unified Europe could only have thrived in the wake of the ultimate catastrophe of WWII. This was after the fact, when our fathers and forefathers sat on the ruins of the European countries as they knew them.
That doesn't mean that there had been no early warnings prior to the conflict.
There were quite a few contemporaries in those days, which were perfectly aware that the policy of all involved parties during the pre-war years would straight lead into a major conflict. Governments either were paralysed, busy with patching holes or simply not seriously worried. War in the pre-nuclear age was still thought, just being the continuation of politics, just by other means. The pains of its brutal outcome could not yet be imagined or even felt. A similar tragic prelude by the way preceded the First World War as well and even the financial crisis of our very recent past.
To make no mistake, there are sufficient threats and even more early indicators today as well. There is Russia flexing its muscles again and bite by bite carving out little pieces of other countries, even openly threatening to take ‘back’ the Baltics, the Ukraine anyway. There is the unreliable and probably decreasing inclination of the US to engage in smaller European conflicts. There is the collapsing Middle East, where a naively implied Arab spring consequently turned into a chilling winter – with all the foreseeable, however not foreseen, consequences for us. There is Turkey, the Wests false friend, increasingly causing trouble throughout the region. The list would become rather long, if I would attempt to complete it.
There was an article in the Wall Street Journal from Feb. 19, 2016 by Tim Montgomerie: “A Better Britain Outside the EU” where he writes: “Brexit—a British exit from the European Union—would give the U.K. self-determination and free it from the dysfunctional European project.”
Tim’s lucid diagnosis may be right. However there is no reason the share the optimistic outlook:
“Yes, for two or three years, a post-Brexit Europe will be bumpier and more acrimonious. But the temporary upset will be worth it if it transforms the continent from a collection of unhappy tenants of a would-be super state into vigorous, happy neighbours, cooperating where it matters most but otherwise operating as free, self-determined nations.”
There can be no doubt; no single European country is strong enough to survive all looming threats and coming crises. Each of them will be marginalized and suffer for its current follies.
If there is any reason to believe that human evolution goes forward and does not regress, oscillate or move in circles, this time we should be slightly more attentive and anticipate the obvious. Even more important we should be brave enough to act now instead of letting it happen a little later.
There might be a way forward – into uncharted territory.
The unification of Europe is one of the best ideas that have ever been created in this this blood-drenched continent. However, we did not make good use of the small window of opportunity, when the European peoples were still shell-shocked and hence susceptible for revolutionary change. Instead during implementation we put the cart before the horse. Instead of starting with the constitution followed by the decision-making bodies and finally the numerous decisions themselves, we tried to do it the other way round - and got stuck in the political morass when we were half way through. We should put an end to the absurd attempt to achieve consensus in a polyphonic chorus of national egoists and political egomaniacs in a variety of detailed questions.
But how to get out of this morass?
Our governments, while facing periodic crises and chronic dysfunction will most likely simply try to muddle through to somehow keep the show on the road. But their attempts will ultimately fail. Some countries may break loose; others will paralyse the Union with their increasingly aggressive tone and selfish demands. And whatever goes wrong, Germany will be blamed for it. But this sad fact opens a way for Germany to act independently as the critique can only marginally increase.
To my conviction there is only one way out: “Dexit”, Germany should leave the EU.
As this act of desperation should not be confused with a solution, we should turn it into a creative destruction and simultaneously come up with a new offer for a better Europe. This EU 2.0 would more resemble the United Nations of Europe sharing a common constitution, army, ministries of defence, external affairs and finance and of course one government elected in direct elections.
As most probably no country inhabiting English native speakers will join this new federal state, we should even use English as a common administrative language. Maybe by then the pressure exerted on the fragmented dwarf state landscape may gently nudge one or the other state to seriously consider joining the new and tighter union.
Otherwise we just have to wait – for the tsunami to come.