The Bell Tolls At Midnite
For the European crisis that bell of uncertainty is set to ignite a cataclysm of disaster spreading woe and misery to all four corners of the earth. What was once the ash pit of a continent following both world wars many thought that Europe just might get it right this time around with the signing of the Lisbon Treaty. But, like all good intentions so often ends in total failure. To understand the implications of the travesty of the crisis in Europe today and how it relates not only to the future of the United States but the rest of the world is to trace the origins of the first concept of a unified European Continent, to that signing of the Lisbon Treaty, to the disaster that is unfolding today.
The year was 1957 that a European Treaty was signed in Rome which created the first customs free boarderless European Union. Although, this was by no means the first inclination that a unified Europe would be feasible, this treaty did signify that for the first time people would be able to travel back and forth between European nations as freely as walking across the street. It also meant that commerce could continue to expand without interference by any nation imposing duties or tariffs between existing members of this now European union. Many others have envisioned that a unified Europe where for economic convenience individual nations would trade a large portion of their sovereignty and abandon the zero-sum game of profit and loss that really has been around since the 17th century and form a complete unified Europe.
Long before that treaty in Rome was signed there have been many scholars, philosophers, literary giants, and statesmen that all had visions of one day a unified Europe would be a reality. As far back as 1521 Eramus of Rotterdam a noted humanist envisioned a future of a European Union conceived in harmony with one another. Then after the French Revolution there was Immanuel Kant a renowned philosopher that predicted that democracy would bring about peace. It was Victor Hugo in 1849 who lamented before a peace conference "A day will come when war will seem absurd: When the only fields of battle will be markets opening to trade and minds opening to ideas. A day will come when all nations of this continent, Europe, without losing each nations distinctive qualities and there own glorious individuality will be merged closely within a superior unit and therefore will form one European Union." Quit profound coming from Victor Hugo. In 1909 it was Norman Angell who argued that Europe's economic integration would make war obsolete. Unfortunately, all these hopes and dreams perished in the gas-poisoned trenches of the First World War.
The dream did not all together die following World War I. In the 1920's the seeds of what would become the European Union was planted by Winston Churchill. A few years later when financial disaster struck first with the crash of 1929 followed by the federal Reserve's failed policies that only pushed the United States down into the depths of the Great Depression literally catapulting Europe along with it. set the stage for Hitler's rise to power in Germany. With his rise the hopes and aspirations of a European Union democracy vanished. Preceding the war M.P.Norman, author of The Great Illusion argued that inevitable economic integration of the European heartland would one day make war obsolete. That was destroyed when Hitler came on the scene.
When the tide of World War II turned to the Allies favor in 1943 again the idea of a unified European democracy was taking shape. Winston Churchill was leading the effort. But it wasn't until after the war in 1946 were the real seeds were planted when President Truman along with General George Marshall outlined the future of Europe's reconstruction. In Churchill's speech in Zurich said the principles of the League of Nations had not been wrong; the fault lay rather in their abandonment. There again, in hindsight had the United States followed and ratified the League of Nations when President Wilson was so adamant that the backing of the league by the United States was crucial to the financial stability of Europe the probability of another World War would have be greatly reduced. Churchill also stated the Vuctor Hugo's ideal of countries that could bond together without loosing their distinctiveness now have to contend with the modernization of their tribal instinct, deeply rooted in differences of language, and their social habits.
Much of modern day Europe where blood, race, and soil are still the markers of exclusiveness just because of their ancestral beginnings were reborn as warrior dictatorships, though fascism has for the moment disappeared those markers exert a hold on people wanting to blame their troubles on foreigners, or immigrants that seem to be constantly pouring into their country. Today, it seems that much of Europe especially with the financial and social upheavals that are currently holding nations' hostage, that populations have retreated back to those tribal encampments of yesteryear encircled by walls of tariffs and fences against immigration.
The bell will toll in the United States if we don't resist the atomization of economic and political purpose. Whether we like it or not Europe and the United States are bonded together by a common destiny. We are now sharing the same dire set of circumstances concerning the enormity of devastation man has done to this planet, We are bonded together where the Chinese are the bondholders while America is the biggest debtor. The struggles in Greece only to be upstaged by the continuing crisis in the Mid-East warrants that a unified European Union is the only way to avoid the repeat of history.
In perspective, the crisis in Europe is like this analogy: To let the worst off sink is to make it harder for all of us to swim. When John Donne quoted " No man is an island until himself: every man is a piece of a continent. If someone is washed away by the sea, any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind." Remarkable, because to let this noble experiment in Europe dissolve into obscurity without further diligence to make a democratic republic out of the continent and into a bedrock of stability would be unconscionable.