While various European governments including Angela Merkel’s once unsinkable coalition are currently sailing in choppy waters, Europe itself has never been more united and more at peace with itself. This is not to say that there is not a great deal of strife, unease and new kinds of horrific crime in Europe – there most certainly is a great deal of all of these negative things. But far from Europeans turning on themselves as they did throughout most of history from the fall of the Roman Empire until 1945, Europeans today are ever more united against a political class that has come to put the interests of non-Europeans over that of Europeans. Here I am not passing judgement on any group’s personal view. Instead I am merely stating a fact that many cannot bring themselves to say.
Even as recently as the late 1980s there was a danger that a Europe roughly divided between west and east would succumb to conflict. Yet today, there is no danger of an ‘east vs. west’ war in Europe. Likewise, while many northern European powers brutalised the Balkans in the 1990s, the Balkans now appears to be less at risk of such wars when compared to the 1990s, although it is true that a lingering danger very much remains in some (key word) parts of the Balkans.
On the whole though, the European Union (EU) itself is internally stable. It is instead external factors that have led to political crises in the EU. The main external factor is of course the migrant crisis which now threatens to bring down Angela Merkel’s government if a new deal to solve the crisis is not reached within two weeks.
But while many of Merkel’s fiercest critics are being labelled as “Eurosceptics”, this is actually far from the case. First of all, seeking a different model of government while overtly embracing European values as defined by a different ideology to that of the current ruling class does not make someone non-European. Given the context, one could argue it makes such people far more European than Angela Merkel and her shrinking group of political allies. Secondly, the pan-European critics of the open door migrant policy that Merkel spearheaded are not upset because of the integration of European people and European cultures – they are upset because non-European people from non-European cultures have been let into Europe, primarily because of Merkel. Furthermore, these non-Europeans have commenced to engage in a variety of lawful, semi-lawful and criminal activities that many Europeans are incredibly uncomfortable with.
If anything, the migrant crisis has helped to unite Europe as never before, as a majority of Europeans from traditionally hostile nations are now joined in unison in their condemnation of Merkel’s policies. Instead of fighting one another, men and women across the EU are joining in pan-European and often multi-lingual movements which agitate against a continuation of the Merkel migration policy.
Thus, the Eurosceptic label is deeply misleading when it applies to those who are perfectly happy for Germans, Poles, Italians, Dutch and Hungarians to live together, so long as none of them have to live next to migrants who are primarily from Africa, with a smaller group arriving from western Eurasia – particularly the Middle East.
The fact of the matter is that Africans and west Eurasians would not want a deluge of Europeans in their countries either. This has been the case whether such Europeans were settler colonialists as is the reality in respect of Europeans in occupied Palestine or alternatively when Europeans in military uniform arrive uninvited to an African nation like Libya or a western Eurasian nation like Iraq.
Today, Europeans are now facing on the streets of Paris and Berlin, a very condensed, less violent and less irreversible version of what the people of Libya have suffered since 2011 and what the people of Palestine have suffered since 1947. Indeed, just as the war on Libya and the occupation of Palestine were initially (however oddly it sounds in 2018) justified on so-called humanitarian grounds, this was Merkel’s initial justification for her open door policy. The result of the war on Libya, the invasion of Palestine by European settlers and Merkel’s open door policy have all had a negative impact on the indigenous populations. The only difference is the matter of degree and the period of time over which the aforementioned problems persist. In each of these cases, local populations have been subjected to a policy they did not ask for, let alone vote for in any meaningful way and have consequently become incredibly agitated and want a reversal of policies roundly seen as disastrous.
The great pity is that while the Arab world failed to unite on the Nasserist model and while Africa has yet to unite on the Gaddafi model, it has been Europe’s ability to gradually unite after 1945 that has allowed a pan-European opposition to Merkel’s policies to effect meaningful change. By contrast, in a disunited Europe, the issues at hand would have been more difficult to address as the political movements in one nation-state would not have as great an impact on other European nation-states. While some would argue that without a united Europe, the current problems would not have grown so rapidly, seeing as that for the last 20 years the majority of European governments have been ruled by Merkel style neo-liberals, this argument is at best wishful thinking. Just consider how influential the US has been in dictating policy to Europe without being a member of the EU nor even geographically European. Yet because of no political unity, Europeans could do little to change Washington’s policy making, even when it deeply effects Europeans. By contrast, it has been a united Europe which has allowed an ever more united European public to stand up to the neo-liberal policies of their individual governments and the EU itself across national borders. Because of European political inter-connectivity, when someone in Italy and someone in Poland says the same thing, albeit in different languages – all of Europe is now forced to listen.
This is perhaps ironic given the fact that while on paper many of Merkel’s opponents are nationalists, when examined pragmatically, these people are nationalists who at the same time do not oppose an integrated Europe so long as this integrated Europe is not subjected to waves of migrants from Africa and western Eurasia. Here one sees that when 20th century Europeanists stated that a pan-European identity is not incompatible with a national identity, they were in fact correct. The same would have been true if the Arab world united. A common Arab identity would not supplant a Levantine, Gulfi or Maghrebi sub-identity.
For the benefit of honesty, those hoping that Merkel’s government will fall should proudly declare themselves as Europeanists while condemning Merkel for putting the welfare of Africans and non-Europeans above that of Europeans. It should be noted that while many Merkel opponents have adopted the Eurosceptic identity in terms of who they identify themselves, it helps to remember that the term Eurosceptic was coined to define reactionaries seeking to turn back the clock to European progress and return to a pre-1945 mentality. This is not only insulting to Merkel opponents who have very real concerns about events in the 21st century rather than those in the early 20th century, but in addition, such a label is patently inaccurate.
Of course, Europe has not faced a war because of Merkel’s policies but it has at least tasted a very small slice of the kinds of horrors that European regimes have for centuries rained upon Asia, Africa and the Americas. Perhaps if and when Merkel’s migrant disaster is solved, a new generation of pan-Europeanists can reflect on how Europe’s chickens came home to roost during the disastrous age of Merkel and her colleagues.