Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What is Europe? An Essay

There has never before been a political structure like Europe. You reply – What about the USA? But the USA grew by conquest, western expansion and purchase. The original thirteen colonies united together to throw off the British yoke, yet barely eighty years later tore themselves apart in a bloody civil war and then united again, tied together with bloody bandages. Before and after the civil war, new States were carved out of the new territories to the west of the Eastern thirteen. In Australia, which is another federation, various States came to be established, each in its way going back to British colonial settlements.
Europe is not like that. It consists of ancient States, most with their own language and some with several languages. Each has its own variation on the European culture, which has as a base the Christian ethic. Each has it own slant on the intra-European wars and conflicts (frequently religious!) and intra-European trade which have shaped these countries through the past centuries and which have culminated, after the disastrous conflicts of the first half of the 20th century in the desire to associate to end these conflicts for ever.
Still in Europe each country looks warily at the others with some mistrust. The various governments and political parties of Britain, more than any other, mistrust the rest.
The political structures which bind the nations of Europe together are considered as much chains of imprisonment as they are links of friendship and co-operation. Our minds are not tuned in to this new concept of political association. The political mind either goes down the line of fusion or the line of confrontation. The result is a mind full of confusion. Our thinking needs to become accustomed to a new condition.
We need a new term and a new concept in the mind for this relationship. Let us call it an Association. It is a network of nations. As with a railway network each town is independent but depends on the others. As with the nervous system, each part functions in relation to the other parts. There are nodal masses of cells and each node relates to other nodes via the nerves. In the network of nations which is Europe each depends on the others and yet retains its identity. Vibrant impulses throughout the network would energise the whole.
As the network develops there is movement of the peoples from one node or nation to the others. Here we must move away from our analogy. Each person retains some relationship to his nation of origin and the government of the nation of his origin should acknowledge some link to the diaspora of its people throughout the network.
Most of the nations of Europe maintain this two-way link between the country of origin and its dispersed nationals. But the link is indeed a two-way function. The individual is a human being with the power of choice and freedom of action. The National Government is not however a sentient being, it is an organisation which exists for the benefit of its citizens. The citizens are not servants of the State Government…The Government is the servant of the citizens. The individual is free to separate himself from his Nationality of birth but the National Government cannot, without good moral cause, separate itself from the citizen. So if an individual chooses to cut the bonds of citizenship and link himself to another Nation (or indeed becomes Stateless, with no doubt rather severe consequences) then he perhaps has the right to do so. Until an individual does that, then the Government of the people has a duty to care for and to listen to the citizen wherever he may live. The British Government morally, on the one hand, cannot disenfranchise or ignore its citizens because they have moved within Europe, and on the other hand maintain that it is playing its part within the European Association.
In this ever widening network of Europe the links to the citizen of any Nation State should be maintained. Each Nation State has a duty to represent its citizens in all the other States of the network and each citizen should be represented in his own Nation State. It is the citizens who are the nerve pulses of the network. But one’s experience tells us that the British State adopts a ‘fortress Britain’ attitude and has no interest in the nerve network through the Association. None of the British political parties expresses any true interest in the citizen in Europe. The political elite of Britain alone in Europe among the larger nations, treats its European diaspora as self-imposed outcasts, rather than as witnesses to British culture and ambassadors of the nation. Yet at the level of human contact, the interplay  between  individuals cements and enhances Europe.  We who live in Europe know this to be a self-evident truth.
[This item is frequently visited from all parts of the World - interestingly large numbers of people living in Kiev, Ukraine have visited it. Another large number live in the Philippines.  I would be delighted to know the reason,  contact   lefourquet@gmail.com]