Are There Any Europeans Left? – NYTimes.com

So the problem is that Europe isn’t european enough? A lack of common transnational, er, federal identity?

Oddly enough, it turns out, back in the late 20th century, the leaders and institutions of the Old Continent never understood that to build a common Europe, they needed to find, or cultivate, Europeans with a Continental spirit, to give the project a federating mortar.

How could this be? The history of Europe’s past half-century is usually depicted as step after step toward a common future. But maybe, to understand where we are now, the story should start earlier — not with the coalescing of France and Germany in the 1960s but with the model of Europe in the decade before the calamity of 1914.

In important ways, the Europe of 1913 was more cosmopolitan and European than the Europe of today. Ideas and nationalities mingled and converged in a hotbed of creativity. That year saw the height of Futurism, the beginnings of abstraction in Picasso and Braque, the debut of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” the publication of “Swann’s Way” by Proust. Collaborations to uncover science’s deepest secrets jumped borders easily. The architecture of imperial Austria and republican France found imitators in smaller gems of cities throughout Central and Southern Europe; they were called Little Vienna or Little Paris.

via Are There Any Europeans Left? – NYTimes.com.

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7 thoughts on “Are There Any Europeans Left? – NYTimes.com

  1. kelseyclark says:

    According to a scholarly article,there are three general sources of influence or pressure that are responsible for both cultural change and resistance to it. First, there could be forces at work within a society or second there could be contact between societies. Thirdly, there may be changes in the natural environment. Within a society there are processes leading to change which include invention and culture loss. Old cultural patterns are continuously being replaced by new ones. Futhermore, there are processes leading to change that occur as a result of contact between societies are like diffusion, acculturation, and transculturation.

    Source: http://anthro.palomar.edu/change/change_2.htm

  2. acpotts says:

    One of the points the article makes is that the Europe of 1913 was a hotbed of creativity because ideas and nationalities mingled. With laws coming out that alienate immigrants, such as France’s ban on the burqa, we can argue that Europe is refusing to mingle and its status as this hotbed of creativity is on the decline. So is Europe signing its own death sentence with these anti-immigrant laws?

  3. clarkanne12 says:

    The interesting part of the article to me is when it described how after 1945, Europe was unified by “not optimism as much as dread — fear of another war among themselves or of Soviet expansion was what spurred West Europeans to bridge differences if they developed.” The Europeans were scared so they banded together. Now some of those issues have disappeared and Europe is fraying at the edges. But one must wonder, was Europe ever really unified after 1945? Or was it a “false” union in order to survive the threat of another world war, and the problems of communism? Can a continent, with different goal plans and futures, really come together through “fear,” and stay together? I suppose it’s not surprising to see the culture and the “identity” of European becoming lost.

  4. tylersearle91 says:

    Its interesting how Europe had been the hotbed of conflict for centuries, but in the last half century has decided that unity is the solution to their problems. The only problem is that its way harder to convince a diverse people to unify when all their history teaches them to at least be wary of those surrounding them. That is why there have been civil wars in Eastern Europe- the difficulty of unifying different groups that have considered themselves separate for a long time. Now, the European Union isn’t trying to create one super state, but it will face many of the same problems.

    Exacerbating the problem is the fact that the European countries in this moment are not equally yoked. Why should Germany as the strongest country sacrifice to lift up a dying Italy or Greece? Its going to be even harder to unify if it turns into a lender-debtor relationship.

  5. tylersearle91 says:

    I’m not sure if I’m allowed to post on the same post twice, but I read an article from 2004 for my Poli Sci 170 class that talked about how the conflict in the Middle East and their underachieving in democracy was not a result of Islam, but partly due to the fact that their states arose mostly after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, and their national identities are weak. With newer and less stable borders, they tend to think of themselves as Muslims/Arabs, and refer often to the region as a collective. They also have a common language, which decreases barriers between the countries as well.

    I just thought it was interesting that a lack of national identity is a problem in the Middle East, but a lack of a unifying cultural identity is considered a possible problem in Europe.

    • Cory Leonard says:

      Very interesting contrast between Europe and the ME.

    • Taylor Shippen says:

      Very interesting article, great comments too. I had a few semi-related thoughts;

      First; One could look back into our own history and see a similar lack of cohesion within the early United States; the lack of a strong federal government created economic inefficiencies (like multiple currencies between states), moral divisions (like slavery), and a cultural divide between the North and South. The pre-Civil War states could not exist as one country indefinitely, eventually the friction between the independent states boiled over into the bloodiest conflict ever fought by the United States. In a war between two cultures, there could be no compromise; the Civil War destroyed the southern culture and replaced it with a northern one. This unification came at a great cost; it took hundreds of thousands of lives, and required southerners to give up their way of life. What makes Europeans believe that they can unify themselves politically without paying a similar price?

      Second; Democracy cannot unify many cultures unless the votes cast by the populace apply to everyone. Imagine how Americans would feel about Texans if Texas passed a law that exempted itself from the Social Security tax while also demanding Social Security benefits for its citizens. If Texas was in a real bad way the rest of us might accept that for a little while, but eventually the rest of the population would demand that Texas start paying taxes or leave entirely. It seems like that’s what’s happening in Europe.

      Third; Why should the majority suffer for the minority’s sake? If there is not a strong ethical argument to justify the majority’s suffering, how can majority be expected to endure? Eventually the majority will lash out against the minority. That’s when the real turmoil in Europe will begin. How long until the fiscally responsible majority reaches the boiling point? It seems like it is only a matter of time.

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