By Giulio D'Ercole
Some reflections on Europe's present and future.
Seventy-five years of peace on western European soil made us quickly forget our three thousand years past of wars, dominations, slavery, colonialism, plagues, poverty, genocides, invasions and rises and falls of emperors, kings, presidents, and entire nations. So, these frail and presumptuous three-quarters of a century made us cynically ignore what was still happening outside our borders. Often, almost always, we turned one blind eye to the tragedies happening in Asia, Africa and the Middle-East. At the same time, we turned our other eye blind not to see that most often than not, what was happening in those areas, was happening with some sort of European countries' responsibility. This arrogant attitude of the old Continent, comparable to the stubbornness of a lonely and detached, rancorous well off aging man, is one of the true reasons for not willing to face and solve in a cooperative way all the crisis that it had to face in the past 30 years: from Kosovo and the ex-Yugoslavian wars to the financial crisis in 2008, from the migration issue to the unresolved thorn in the side represented by the authoritarian Erdogan's government.
Learning from the Past. Facing the Consequences.
Now, after having substantially and culpably failed all the real tests Europe, the continent that started the two world wars, has to face the profound consequences posed by the health pandemic that is shaking its very foundations. Any person, of even average intelligence, would easily understand that old methods, old procedures and most of all, old mentalities that have been constantly proven wrong will not work if applied again and again to the present epochal crisis. They will not work both at global level and, even more, at the European level. In these last seventy-five years, a different Europe has been built on the rubbles of WWII: a peaceful Europe where people can circulate, work, study and do business with a certain degree of freedom of movement and trade. Though regardless the good intentions of the founding fathers, many of them with socialist beliefs, this peace has not been synonymous of equality, shared wealth, same political strength, decision making balance. Instead Europe has developed itself in a capitalistic way, and therefore, by default, it has widened the gap between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the vulnerable, the legislators and the compliers both at individual and at nations level.
The Choices Europe Has.
Given these premises, in these times of deep, dramatic, destabilizing crisis, our politicians have only two ways to deal with the present situation: a. They keep Europe as it is, with its old rules, legal and financial procedures, keeping de facto the status quo
b. They completely and radically change the political and economical paradigms on which Europe is built, in order to write a new unifying Constitution.
Obviously, these two different options will have two diverging outcomes: a. The gap between nations will increase and with it the anger, the diversity, the hostility and the walls (Coronavirus has already built walls between nations). b. Our countries will seat as equal members of one healthy family helping one another to rebuild the continent over the ruins left by the pandemic.
Future Conflicts or Long Lasting Just Peace
Now let's reflect about this: an Europe highly divided with a huge disparity between countries, like the one before 1945, means a Europe separated by physical or immaterial walls. Though, walls are and have always been a defensive mechanism to protect wealth. As such they never pushed the aggressions away, but on the contrary, they attracted them generating all sorts of conflicts. On the other hand, a Europe that embraces and exploits this opportunity to recreate itself, to resurrect from its ashes (because there will be ashes), as it did after the second world war, with a huge economic plan and with the cancelation of debts, will propel us and the next generations to a better and more stable future. That future will be built on the ideals of social justice and economic reasonable wealth, the very basic elements to be more prepared for the years and decades to come... because other crises will come but they will find us united and stronger.
Please click on the image to see how European borders changed in the last one thousand years.