Fragment and Future
Many are the arguments brought against a ‘Europe of Nations’, particularly one devoid of any overarching, consolidated federalist government, and not all of these arguments can, or should, be easily dismissed. We limit ourselves to those few which seem to us the most incisive.
Though we have already addressed the economic question above, we do not do so without cognizance of its importance. Most especially, it is clear that the dissolution of Europe would lead to a number of extremely intricate economic questions for practically all of its member states, including the constitution of new currencies, new trade relations, new agreements on the movement of goods and persons, etc. All of this might lead in turn to great instability in these states and their rapport, which has historically made for patterns of conflict in Europe, and even, may the gods forbid it, of war.
Indeed, the supporters of the EU do not hesitate to remind its critics that this body, for all its faults and failings, has secured almost eighty years of European peace,1 a period of warlessness which is unprecedented in the history of Europe at least since the time of Rome.2 Though one could well indicate that costs which have attended this peace, and which diminish or call into doubt its value, one should not underestimate the importance of this kind of pacifistic unity in Europe, at a time in which great geopolitical dragons stalk the world. It is inevitably true that any geographical area characterized by local instability and constant tensions between its various parts is, to say the least, a temptation to the great powers that surround it. Such was the case of Italy before its unification, of Hellenic Greece in the face of Persia, of the tribes of Africa and America against the Europeans, and of any number of other historical places and epochs. It is difficult to imagine that a strife-torn Europe would not attract the unwanted attentions at least of Russia and America. Indeed, to our estimation, even Europe in its present state of relative unity and peace already attracts too much of this kind of attention.
The counter-argument, of course, is that this was precisely the state of Europe during World War II, and the present European unity is the consequence of nothing other than the ‘interested intervention’ of one of those powers: namely, the United States, which ‘won’ the war and immediately went about extorting the soul of Europe through the so-called ‘Marshall Plan’ along with any number of subtler and less visible economic and political manipulations. For instance, already from the time of the European Steel and Coal Commission, America did not hesitate to exert its influence, in the form of counselors, diplomats and funds, over European affairs, and to prepare the emergence of a central puppet to its global hegemony. All the more reason, then, to hope for the fall of this puppet state, to make way for the emergence of a true and truly European unity – or at least a truly European disunity, if it comes to that.
The challenge that is brought by the pro-Europeanists against the Eurosceptics must, however, be answered: How maintain the peace in Europe, without a valid supra-national order? What is to stop the European states from falling into their old bickering once more, disputing historically contested parcels of land, opposing and offending one another economically, confronting one another perhaps even violently in the raw contest for power? One might hope for the emergence of a new political or quasi-political, and at any rate internally pacifistic, order from the rubble of a fallen EU, but there is certainly no reason to believe that such would be necessary or inevitable; and indeed, it must be pointed out that the abysmal failure of the one existing order of this kind ever to exist in modern times, would certainly prejudice all attempts to construct another in its place. It seems likely, indeed, that an overriding political unity in Europe could only come, in such a case, precisely through war – through a Napoleonic attempt to force European brotherhood, so as to overcome or violently suppress European enmities. That was already difficult enough a proposition in Napoleon’s day, when Europe had naught to fear but Europe; how now, when the internal debilitation brought about by such a war would inevitably open gaping wounds in Europe for the preying of the international vultures?
But be this remote possibility as it may – much more likely, following a break-up of the European Union, would be fragmentation upon fragmentation. The initial tendency, once dissolution has begun, would be for it to continue, bursting Europe asunder into a fractal of increasingly minute parts. For if is it right for Spain, Italy, or Belgium to seek their independence on the basis of their unique languages and customs, why not also Catalonia, South Tyrol, or Flanders? Naturally, the outcome of such attempts would fall back to the will of the individual nation-states to retain their integrity; and it is hard to imagine that the internecine struggles which might arise in consequence would not be in many cases bloody, long and trying, leading to yet more instability and vulnerability in an already badly injured continent.
It is moreover natural, in any geographical space occupied by small powers, each vying against the others, that the individual contenders should seek the succour and protection of greater nations. In such a case as that which we have painted, it would be inevitable that many nations of Europe individually should do precisely what the nations of Europe collectively have done: seek support from the global superpowers. That which has ever shielded them from this necessity, ever in the service of its own interests, and led them to their present state of complacency and subjection, has been of course the United States; but there is no reason to suppose that all the individual states of a fragmented Europe should look toward the same benefactor, and indeed if any conflicts should emerge amongst them, this relatively fortuitous outcome would be impossible. Each would then seek out a different patron on the geopolitical scene, most likely dividing their courtship between America and Russia, following a larger pattern which has been all too unhappily inscribed in the granite of recent history. And once the alignments have been made, and the choices determined, one must certainly wonder what would stop Europe from becoming the stage of proxy wars to those two old rivals, even as the Middle East has long since become.
Naturally, Europe under such circumstances would take on a decidedly different aspect than the Middle East; it would hardly degenerate into the kind of anarchical and tribalistic-terroristic seeding beds that so many ‘nations’ of the Middle East have become. But such a circumstance in any case, even if this proxy war were to remain cold, and were to maintain an outward civility, manifesting primarily in purely economic or diplomatic grounds, could hardly redound to the benefit of Europe or the Europeans.
Politics versus Culture
Political union in Europe is sometimes taken as the Royal Road to European sovereignty on the global stage. This political union, however, is radically insufficient in and of itself. The simple proof of this lies in the fact that the very European Union has since the beginning of its existence aimed toward political union, has taken political union as its final goal – while one can only thank the gods that it has so far been thwarted in this ambition. It is often brought against the European Union that it has inverted the natural order of things, attempting to promote economic unity when it should have begun with political unity; but this is to forget the historical circumstances surrounding the birth of the EU as an economic order. It was clearly impossible to effect any such political order, despite the will of the founders; the economic order was a necessary compromise in the face of this impossibility – a halfway house along the road, so it was hoped, to eventual federation. Even subsequently, that dream has proven unrealizable. One has only to consider the failed attempt at passing a Constitution of Europe. But if political unity is so difficult of the achieving, even given the relatively solid basis of the extant Treaties and the considerable weight of the existing acquis, how could it reasonably be hoped that the demolition of that foundation would somehow lay bare a deeper bedrock – particularly since that foundation was built explicitly on account of the absence of such bedrock?
The other side of this same problem: Were political unity to be achieved by the European Union, who among us would suppose that this should suffice to resolve the difficulties in which Europe presently finds itself? Who will forget that the European Union itself has been the major engine behind immigration, behind the erosion of European culture and European soul in favour of Americanization, homogenization, and increasingly even Chinafication, bastardization and Islamization? Who would propose that the advent of a political superstructure on this basis would somehow magically redirect the whole in a more legitimately philo-European direction?
And if Europe were finally united under a political head, where would be the locus of its power? One cannot establish a unified political order if disputes between the various parts or factions cannot be finally adjudicated by a central authority; a headless organization is dispersive in the highest degree, and would fall apart at the first true test, because it is the nature of human beings, and the states that they guide, to give their loyalties more readily to the local than to the general. In a region as diverse as Europe’s, this is bound to result in disgregation. But then one must find a nation to bear this responsibility: Which shall it be? Shall it be Germany, as is patently the case now, and has almost been the case any number of times in the past – the same Germany which has lately been the standard-bearer for the immolation of Europe on the alter of an exculpatory immigration? Or France, one of the twin historical origins of the modern liberal spirit itself, and present den of countless festering ethnic and social enmities, waiting to break out into hot rashes at any moment? Or England, on her aloof and sea-bound rock – this same England that has never been unambiguously part and parcel of Europe, and that today cannot even claim a majority percentage of her own sons in her own capital city? Yet these after all are the economic leaders of present-day Europe.
And supposing one of these were chosen, or another altogether, to be throne of a centralized European state – what to do about those others that object to such a centralization? What to do about economic unity, when there are such gross differences between North and South, East and West? When the European Union itself, which has dedicated itself with all its strength to only a corner of the ‘European Problem’, the restricted sphere of economics alone, has not succeeded in resolving even the major difficulties within this sphere, what is one to hope from a hegemonic political force, which must contend, not only with economics, but with the political, the social, the customary, the linguistic, the historical divergences of the continent known as Europe? And – worse yet – how can it seek to resolve these without attenuating precisely those differences which bring them about, without homogenizing and thus impoverishing the beautifully rich and varied European substrate, without essentially abolishing that which it seeks to preserve?
No – without a deeper, a solider ground than the political alone, the politicization of Europe, rather than representing Europe’s salvation, will instead seal its demise, in the worst way possible. Europe, as a singular entity, can only exist on the basis of a shared and common culture. This was known to the greatest theorists of European Union – most of whom predate our present Europeanist politicasters.3 Such a culture can emerge spontaneously, naturally, as happens in individual and discrete human peoples, or else as the result of political conquest, as occurred for instance in old Rome. The former is preferable to the latter, for the simple reason that it requires no bloodshed and thus tends not to establish strong opposition to its development. But such a culture, to emerge, has need of time, precious time – and time is what is most especially lacking to Europe.
Another, and deeper, problem: culture has historically been connected in many key cases, not to the development of larger political units, but rather to areas of dense and varied political loyalties. One thinks for example of Ancient Greece, of Italy during the Renaissance, of the kinds of loose and oft unstable links which constituted the old feudal orders. Though this be no law (for what laws exist in the torrent of history?), it makes a pattern, and one which the true legislator would bear well in heart. Political sovereignty requires political unity; cultural sovereignty seems to thrive off of political uncertainty and discord. Can these two things be brought together, without sacrificing the one or the other? Can a European federation arise, a Europe of the nations, which preserves both its political potency and its cultural potential?
Questions – a hundred aching questions does this Europe present! Europa has indeed been the historical womb of philosophy itself, which accounts at once for her curious internal instability and her unique artistic and intellectual fertility. If ever there were a portion of the globe in which so delicate a balance as that between politics and culture might finally be realized and manifested in this world, and a destiny so seemingly impossible rise out of the mists of merest conjecture, where else could it be, but in Europe?
Given these considerations, and the essentially embattled circumstances in which Europa presently lives, crushed beneath an almost foreign bureaucracy and struggling even to remember her true cultural and spiritual heritage – floating in a vague economic dream, wherein her soul threatens at last to succumb and sink – it is evident, given this essentially troubled and trying historical moment, that we philo-Europeans must do the best with what we are given, attempting to work within the European Union as much as this is possible, and all the while doing whatever may be done to structure alliances and brotherhoods between various nations of ‘populist’ or relatively ‘right-wing’ character, so that, should the Union fail, the result will not be mere chaos and confusion and a plummeting into a nightmarish Hobbesian ‘state of nature’, but rather potentially the emergence of healthy, natural collaboration between brotherly states. And, supposing this did not entail unravelling of the tapestry of Europe, it might even be hoped that this collaboration would provide a true and sounder foundation for the emergence of a genuine European regime, whatever such might finally entail.
More important even than opposition to the EU or to rank American hegemony, is therefore encouragement of the rapport one now sees developing between men like Salvini and Orbán, or on a lower level between men of various European countries of the dissident right, who, rather than challenging and undermining one another, begin to form networks of kinship and solidarity. For it will be on the shoulders of these individuals, and no others, that the architecture of unity will come crashing down, should the mere Union fail us. Key part of this, in any larger consideration, is a regularizing of relations between the Europeans and the Russians, both on the political level but also on the social plane; for Russia, despite all its own weakness, eccentricities and shortcomings, is nonetheless a thousand times saner and haler than its American nemesis. Nevertheless, to fly from the grasp of America into the embrace of Russia can only hurl Europe from the wave into the whirl. Europe must find her own kind of unity if she is to preserve herself.
Most important of all then is the birth, or the rebirth, of a specific and unashamed European pride; for without this, a direct connection to this piece of land, this geographical region, this series of traditions and this history, the Europeans are but atoms to the chaos, and can never be convinced to unite upon any basis but the most rankly economic. Whether or not one believes that European political unity is called for, the charm of the local needs to be reclaimed. And since it is clear that without a sense of kinship, the Europeans of today do not stand a chance against the terrible strength of their enemies, it is equally clear that the encouragement of an idea of the shared culture of Europe is of essential importance to the future of Europe: the extent to which Dante, Stendhal, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Goethe (to name but five names from the constellations of European greatness) do not represent merely local phenomena, but genuinely European phenomena, accessible to all Europeans, the right object of pride of all Europeans, the heritage of all Europeans.
In the last analysis, this alone and above all is to be hoped: That Europe should find her way back to her native splendour and the nobility which has historically characterized her going. May be she is destined to be carried away once more by some raging bull, as the myth has it; but let her at least stride forth in such beauty as to warrant those divine attentions. And if it has historically been true that her culture has often thrived the best in times of historical uncertainty and political fragmentation, at times when the geopolitical arena opened wide upon the nude and haunting uncertainty at the centre of man’s political existence, then it is perhaps not too much to hope that this moment, of all historical moments within the frame of recorded time, is meet to bring Europa back to the glory of her own and proper light, rather than to the ignominy of some foreign shade.
1 This, of course, can be debated; there have been conflicts in Europe even in that period, including for instance the inevitable troubles on Cyprus and the bloodletting of the Yugoslav Wars. What can be uncontroversially stated, however, is that the Pax Europaea has preserved the historical heart of Europe from armed conflict.
2Even then, it is debatable whether >Europe was at peace, during for instance the famous Pax Romana, given the eternal conflicts between Rome and the northern tribes. That is not a frivolous question, as it indicates the scope of the European problem – the eternal conflict, and simultaneous brotherhood, between North and South – the degree to which Europe represents unity in disunity. I fervently defer my readers to one of the finest essays ever written on this subject, which can be found in The Bow and the Club by Julius Evola: Chapter 13, ‘Romanness, Germanicness, and the “Light of the North”’; this question was also discussed on our Interregnum podcast on the European problem.
3See for instance Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Book VIII, ‘Peoples and Fatherlands’.