Tuesday, February 07, 2012

You Can Check Out Any Time You Like, But You Can Never Leave

With no exit mechanism, and no substantive federalism, or a unifying idea, Francis Fukuyama decribes why the EU empire-building project is more or less like the Hotel California
in a sense, there is a deeper failure at the European level, a failure in European identity. That is to say, there was never a successful attempt to create a European sense of identity and a European sense of citizenship that would define the obligations, responsibilities, duties and rights that Europeans have to one another beyond simply the wording of the different treaties that were signed. The EU in many respects was created as a technocratic exercise done for purposes of economic efficiency. What we can see now is that economic and post-national values are not enough to get people to buy into this community. So wealthy Germans feel a sense of noblesse oblige towards poorer Germans; this social solidarity is the basis of the German welfare state. But they do not feel similar obligations towards the Greeks,whom they regard as being poor disciplined, very non-German in their general approach to fiscal matters.
So there is no solidarity in that broader European sense. I think for various reasons Europe is stumbling toward a short-term solution to this crisis. But I do not think that any form of deepening at this point is a viable project unless someone pays more attention to identity and is able to answer the question in a more substantive sense of what it means to be a European. Not just in a negative sense that we don’t want conflict and old nationalisms and war, but what it means in terms of positive values.