Monday, 20 February 2012

Peace in our time

The European Community, and its earlier predecessor forms, was seen as the great institutional healer of European wounds and the preventer of a repetition of the armed conflict that had twice devastated the community of European nations in the course of the twentieth century, giving the world, amongst all the other benefits of European expansion the new acme of total war.

The evidence of this international, or increasingly (and by stealth) supra-national, enterprise was seen in the new political axis (one could dare to use the word, with all its ironic historical freight, deliberately) of Germany (originally West - there was a rival European resettlement under way for a while) and France, harmoniously united in political and economic self interest contre les autres. The lion indeed had laid down with the lamb - just don't ask which is which.

It was a convenient fig-leaf of history written by the victors (in different senses). There has been plenty of evidence that the old emnities and national resentments of Europe have not disappeared, even whilst new nation after new nation came knocking (and sometimes knock, knock, knocking) at 'old Europe's' door.

France and Germany may have been the twin historical geo-political rivals in Europe, but, despite all the passion, all the suffering, all the sorrow and the pity of three armed conflicts, it was not the French who had most suffered at, and loathed, the hands of the old Germans. (If they had, it might not have been such a prolonged and tortured process for France to come to terms with its relationship with Nazi Germany.) As Europe totters under the weight of international financial make-believe, we see that clearly now.

Is this the beginning of the end not just of Greece in the Euro-zone, not just of the Euro, but of the European 'Union'?

Other unions have perished in our time.

One thing is certain: it is not the end of 'old' Europe, with all its flaws and splendours. Perhaps we cannot have one without the other.