One idea left out in the cold, abandoned by this brave new world in which history had ended, was the ‘United States of Europe’. From such a term, it is clear its creators had not intended Garton Ash’s Liberal Order, when they had begun the European Project in 1951. They had envisaged much more. What the term really means has caused much confusion and debate among those who are willing to use it as shorthand for Europe’s ultimate ambition. What most agree on is that it involves federalism.
‘Simultaneously resist hard Brexit and egotistic destructive nationalism, whilst not accepting total surrender to the status quo and trying to engineer a new majority in favour of EU membership with the objective of re-entering a radically transformed, democratic Union? And at the same time implement a domestic programme of redistribution, social democracy and justice in one of the most neoliberal states in Europe? Impossible.’
The point Varoufakis is trying to make however is that, to say democracy is deficient in Brussels is to utterly understate the crime. Rather, democracy has never been at the centre of the European construct, and as such has only been an obstacle to negotiate in the minds of the men in power who built it. As Brussels has acquired more power, this fact has only become more evident in the way Europe has dealt with challenges against it, and more present in the minds of its citizens. The problem exploded in the wake of the Sovereign Debt Crisis, to the point that it can no longer be ignored. Left unchecked, it is now killing Europe.
Kerneuropa will finally have rallied behind teutonic economic management, for the small price of formalising the political oversight of these principles. What some seem to be painting as the next ‘Grand Bargain’ will in fact be the final capitulation to Berlin and Frankfurt’s brand of neoliberalism, and the end of any hope for Southern Europe escaping the economic crisis with its dignity.
Looking on what’s happening in Britain makes me increasingly dispirited and pessimistic. Already the politics in the country have turned utterly inwards – were it not for the fact she is leaving a European Union you’d have no idea Brexit had anything to do with the continent.
Like Tadeusz Rejtan, who desperately tried to halt the partition and disintegration of his country 1773, we must block the door of the room that is the European idea even as others begin to make their discreet or not so discreet exit. If we do not, then Europe’s slide will be unstoppable, and our great civilisation will pass to history.
Europa, I think we can say with certainty however, is and long has been much more than a place on a map, contrary to Bismarck’s note in 1876 (‘Qui parle Europe a tort. Notion géographique’). Certainly, we can take Metternich’s foreshadowing of this comment in 1847, with the assertion that Italy was purely a geographic notion, as a sign that Germans are apt as misjudging political and social developments on this continent.