What makes a group of people a nation? Any number of things: religion, language, race (i.e. kinship and DNA), shared history. All the peoples of Europe are defined by one or more of these ties.
Currently, the European Union is attempting to take those disparate peoples and create an entirely new nation state, called the European Union (which Winston Churchill optimistically called the Unites States of Europe). The EUcrats are trying to do that by increasing the economic ties between European nations, and with red tape.
So how well are they doing? Looking at the problems being created by the shared currency - the Euro - it seems, not too well. The Euro looks to be exacerbating rather than smoothing over ethnic tensions. Twenty years ago, there was no real hostility between say, Greece and Germany. These days, the two countries are at each other’s throats, with the Germans at wits end with Greek profligacy, and the Greeks comparing the Germans to Nazis almost every day. The provisional answer seems to be that economic ties can sometimes bind two groups together but can also place them into conflict. With regard to the second cause - the red tape continuously being spewed out from Brussels - I am unaware of any European who gets a warm and fuzzy from the overregulation emanating from unelected bureaucrats living an a foreign country –except the Davos crowd and dippy one-world-government utopians, who ooze contempt for the nation states from which they came.
Looking back at history, have mere economic and bureaucratic ties ever bound a group of people together? There have been a number of multicultural empires throughout history, the Persian, the Roman, and the British, but in every case, military success and sensible laws were unifying factors – made palatable by a laissez faire attitude to local customs and traditions.
In the end, though a people, a tribe, and a nation are just a group of individuals willing to fight and die for other individuals in the group, who they may not even know. Any less of a bond, and the group isn’t cohesive in any meaningful way. In Northern Ireland, Catholics and Protestants battled to the death for their respective tribes. In a pair of world wars, Germans and French fought pitched battles against each other, separated from each other by language and history, but internally united by kinship. Englishmen were inspired by Henry V to beat, against great odds, the French in the Battle of Agincourt. Who will follow this man into the breach?
The only conclusion that can be drawn from recent European history is that the European Union project is doomed, being both overly ambitious and poorly executed.
But it has occurred to me that perhaps this forecast is too hasty. Perhaps there is a forge in which a real, meaningful European Union can hammered into existence. What I am thinking of is another mechanism known to forge a nation: a common enemy. There is nothing like a looming foe to bring people together, even people with a history of hating each other. When I mentioned shared history a couple of paragraphs up, this is really what shared history is, because what is history but the history of war? And what greater collective effort is there than defense against a common enemy? Past differences are put aside to overcome today’s emergency. At the end, new kinship ties are formed.
For Western Europe in the 21st century, that common enemy is Islamic fundamentalism. Islamic states have been the enemy of Christendom for more than the past millennium. Today, the Muslims live in Europe itself, making the common enemy that much more personal to Germans, Frenchman, Italians, and Spaniards.
In Eastern Europe, it is different. Muslim ghettos are nonexistent and nobody cares about Islam. On the other hand, they have Vladimir Putin…