Quo Vadis, Europe – Where are you going?

By Johan Galtung

Written before the violence in Paris.

Answer: Nowhere, because Europe does not exist. On the axis of five stages of positive peace, the process came to a standstill at stage 3. They made miracles out of stage 1– cooperation for mutual and equal benefit – and were good at stage 2 – empathy with each other, your problems are also mine, your solutions are also mine. And then the long march through the corridors of institutionalization, stage 3, solidifying; from French-German cooperation to the ever changing treaties for an ever deeper European Union.

And then it stopped.

Stage 4 – fusion of the member states into one Europe – is not there and will not come for some time. But stage 5 – transmission to others who learn region-building from EU achievements and mistakes – works.

What went wrong? In daoist terms, there were strong forces for a holon, a holistic Europe, but the counter-forces were even stronger.

And they were many.

First, the long shadows of history in the religiously defined faultlines of the past: between Orthodoxy and Catholicism from the division of the Roman Empire in +395 (confirmed in +1054); between Catholicism and Judaism-Orthodoxy-Islam in the Crusades 1095-1291; between Catholicism and the Protestantisms, including Calvinism, from about 1500, particularly the 30-Year War 1618-48; less from the two “world wars” 1914-18 and 1939-45, they were caused by the state system the EU process transcended–even with no “Europe”.

They are gasping for GASP – acronym for common foreign and security policy – eluding them.

Second, different histories, some colonialist, some not, some belligerent, some not, some exploiting the Third World, some not.

Third, even with war and direct violence “unthinkable” between the member states, structural violence is already there, between creditor and debtor members. Partly because it was unthinkable not having that thought. A major world trend, but to them it sort of “came about”.

The former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis (“Schäuble’s Gathering Storm,” Other News) quotes the French Economy Minister, Emmanuel Macron – a banker-turned-politician – as speaking in terms of “an impending religious war in Europe, between the Calvinist German-dominated northeast and the largely Catholic periphery”.

That a banker-politician also has a cultural perspective should be celebrated. However, he made three mistakes in his map.

First, part of the EU Center is Calvinist; but Protestant says that and more. Basic is the similarity between Protestant salvation and Protestant markets: salvation and domination are for the select, there is limited access, faith in God and in the Market is necessary but not sufficient; ultimately, God and the Market decide.

Calvinism brings this thinking one step further, to an omen, a foreboding.

Second, part of the European periphery is Catholic, but part is Orthodox – in EU Romania-Bulgaria-Greece–and Muslim. In the Catholic periphery are also Latvia-Lithuania-Poland-Slovakia-Hungary-Slovenia and outside EU the Uniate part of Ukraine, to the Orthodox border.

There is something German-dominated, but center-north, not northeast.

Third, “religious war” is too strong; there are strong counter-forces against that counter-force.

Conflict yes, crying for solution. Are there any? Oh yes, many, if they care.

[1] Admit the faultlines and bridge them. More than Macron’s focus; Catholic-Protestant vs Orthodox, more people and land. A multi-bridge needs a bridgehead in Russia not defining Russia as evil non-country. Some kind of Gorbachev’s European House.

The Eurasian Union is a fact on the ground, more people and land than the European Union. Russia is in that one (look at the map) but could improve relations westward. Build on OSCE minus USA-Canada: no Grexit or Brexit, USCAN exit. Russia must drop visas and industrialize with a service economy. And EU must be less knee-jerk anti-Russian, know more, understand more.

[2] Admit the different histories. The enormous move of people from devastated countries must be handled by those who caused it. It is sheer stupidity to demand of Eastern Europe to share the burden of the reaction to the crimes of Western Europe.

Have a look at the map: all those countries, mainly surrounded by seas, transported slaves and/or developed overseas empires, colonies, as opposed to land-locked east. Their capitalism was not developed into robbery capitalism abroad, as neo-colonialism, and was changed/forced into socialism-communism. The Nordic countries were in it–except Finland and Iceland–but less.

Very much in it was the USA, causing havoc in Western Europe and Eastern Asia from behind its two oceans. Make USA take many, many more.

However, beyond that see the people on the move as assets not only threats: as filling serious population gaps, as labor developing many areas of Europe, as carriers of other cultures for dialogues, mutual learning.

[3] Admit the contradiction between EU domain and scope, between number of members and depth of integration. EU opted for domain, vast expansion, and pays the price of less integration.

Two-speed Europe is a poor way out; hence less integration. Keep glittering “acquis” – achievements like free flow of persons-factors and products-information and opinion inside Europe; keep the shared external border and passport; keep the euro–but maybe as common, not single currency unless a Central Bank can provide more equality, not austerity, paying for safety-nets.

[4] Admit the structural creditor-debtor violence inside Europe and fight it with major debt relief-cancellation–not only for Greece – and by making EU members less Germany-dependent by lifting their economies to the same level–without Volkswagen cheating.

Crush the Germany myth; one member among others. EU needs South-South, East-East and South-East cooperation, as much as the whole world is now doing.

[5] Admit EU economic-political-cultural-military dependence on USA, opt for independence, with neither speculating with people’s money.

First published by Trandscend Media Service here.

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