Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Europe is a geographical concept . . ."?

Free Europe?
Or no real Europe at all?
(Image from FEC)

In yesterday's post, I delved into matters that I don't fully understand, namely, the so-called 'democratic deficit' of the European Union, but such delving is necessary these days because of my seminar on multiculturalism and the future of Europe.

Anyway, an anonymous visitor left this message:
Don't make the EU too complicated. Don't diminish freedom in Europe.Vote YES to Free Europe Constitution at [Free Europe].
I'm a curious man, so I visited the FEC link. Among its points is the following (number 8):
Decisions in the EU should be made by agreements between governments. Delegation of national legislative power to EU institutions is possible; withdrawal of such powers, both in specific cases and generally is equally possible.
This reminds me of the famous liberum veto that kept the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth weak because any member of the assembly could stop legislation by stating "I freely forbid" -- in Latin, "liberum veto." If any national government can withdraw the legislative power that it has delegated to EU, then the EU Parliament will be effectively powerless. Some might think this desirable, but that kind of vacuum at the center didn't do Poland much good in the 18th century, when it was repeatedly divided and partitioned until lost from the map.

I realize that I've offered only a superficial analogy here, but I would like to see more European unity, so long as it is truly democratic, than more European disunity. In the long run, I would like to see a Europe with a real foreign policy and a strong military to add hard power to its soft power. Europe should not be incapable of effective action -- the Bosnian crisis was an early indicator of what can happen even on the EU's borders if it lacks an ability to act.

But let's not get into that. Instead, I'd like to note a puzzling statement enunciated in the FEC's point number 1:
Europe is a geographical concept, and European is as such not necessarily good or bad.
I disagree with the apparent premise. Europe is not merely a geographical concept. The French philosopher Rémi Brague has devoted an entire book, Europe, la voie romaine, to the concept of European identity. His book has been translated as Eccentric Culture: A Theory of Western Civilization, and I've previously blogged favorably about Brague's views.

My point is that Europeans have a transnational identity that might not be as strongly felt as their various national identities, but that common identity is no less real for being rooted in things other than 'blood'.

For more on Brague, see the links or search Gypsy Scholar blog.

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At 5:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since no one else has commented, I will put in my 2 cents worth.....(which it is likely worth)!
Regarding the question of a functioning European Union, there are prophecies in the book of Daniel regarding four world powers.
The vision of King Nebuchadnezzar in chapter two is about these powers that will arise, the last of which is the Roman Empire. The culmination is a period of time with ten nations making up the revived Roman Empire, that will be replaced by a kingdom set up by the God of heaven. Chapters seven and eight elaborate on this theme.
Is the efforts of the Europeans the beginning of this empire?
I don't know, and neither does anyone else, in my estimation, but it is interesting to observe world events in the light of Scripture.

At 6:12 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, Uncle Cran, one way to ensure that the EU doesn't devolve into some variant of a non-democratic 'empire' (of the sort, e.g., described in Daniel or Revelation) is to push hard for more democracy in the EU's governance.

At last count, by the way, I believe that the EU had 26 member states.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was aware of the seeming discrepancy in the state count, but future events have a way of working out as regards Biblical prophecy.
The ten toes in Nebuchadnezzar's vision would be ten major powers, likely corresponding to the original Roman empire.
As I said, I am not claiming this to be a fulfillment of prophecy in any sense. However, the forming of a union of nations generally in the same area is worthy on note.

At 7:50 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, I can't deny that the Roman Empire stands in the background of Western Europe and has influenced it culturally, artistically, and even legally.

Moreover, Rémi Brague has spoken of Western Europe's identity as one of "Romanity," which he explains as a type of "Secondarity" that recognizes its borrowed centers as eccentrically located in Athens and Jerusalem.

So . . . one could make a case for seeing the EU as the revived Roman Empire.

Nevertheless, one should strive to circumvent an authoritarian EU by pressing for more democracy in its governing structure.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:13 PM, Blogger Willbert said...

Of course Europe is a geographical concept, even if it is hard to say exactly its frontiers. Not to talk about its cultural-political heritage. Is everything good? E g Marxism and Nazism, definitely with European roots. I find realistic, not euronationalistic.

At 5:43 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Willbert, Europe is more than a geographical concept. It is also a civilizational identity. Without that identity, geography means little more -- or perhaps even nothing more -- than proximity.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:33 AM, Anonymous Slartibartfas said...

Actually the EU currently has 27 member states ;) Not that it would matter that much but just to name the correct number.

I agree with you Mr Hodges. Europe definitely is more than just a geographic concept. The initiators of the free Europe home page want to deny that as it seems. Arts and science always had at least a European dimension.

I forgot which book I read it in, but I read about the concept that the true modern meaning of Europe actually came up with Colonialism. For those who had to live under the cruel leadership, it did not made that much difference if it was French or English etc, they all were the Europeans in first line and French or English etc in second line. At some point that foreign idea was also welcomed by intellectuals in "Europe".

I am not sure if I replicated it entirely correct, but its one aspect of our identity, of course there are lots of others as well.

At 5:57 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I hadn't previously heard this 'colonialist' argument, but it sounds interesting. If you happen to recall the book, please let me know (but don't expend time and energy searching).

Jeffery Hodges

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