By Bruce Walker
Can Europe be saved? The question is rather like: can the world be saved? The problems of Europe are largely the problems of the world. The recent series of elections in Europe brings home the dreadful crisis which the mother continent of the modern world faces politically. In Greece, despite a general election, the nation does not yet have a government, and this follows the recent 535 days of utter failure of Belgian political parties to form a government, which set a world record.
Germany is the largest and richest European nation, and it is hard to conceive of any general solution to Europe’s crisis without Angela Merkel’s governing coalition, but the Christian Democrats and Free Democrats have suffered a series of electoral losses in state elections and President Wulff, an ally of Chancellor Merkel, has resigned amid scandal, leaving Merkel facing scowls in almost every direction she turns these days. The political party in Germany with the most appeal these days is the Pirate Party.
In Italy, the comedian Peppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement has the same surreal silliness in the face of grim collapse. Beside Grillo is Premier Mario Monti, the “technocrat” prime minister whose nostrums are old and failed interventionism which has never worked before.
David Cameron’s Conservative Party, which lacks the seats in Parliament to govern by itself, lost the recent council elections, although Britons seemed so disillusioned with the three major parties that there was no clear “winner” in these local elections.
The pattern is drearily familiar: politicians, isolated from ordinary people, addicted to buying votes through abuse of the common resources of the nation and now of the European Union, facing a variety of other cleavages in the fabric of their nations, have stopped trying to lead and rather have simply managed the toxic brew of socialism and statism as it grows more sickening and stagnant.
Is there any way out? If the question is rather: Is there any painless and risk-free way out? Then the answer is no. The real issue is whether the peoples of Europe really want a future which has hope. If they do, then there is a direct approach which offers real light at the end of a long, shadowy tunnel.
The European Union, indeed, the existing states of Europe itself, should reject the whole idea of unity as a virtue and should instead adopt separatism, which would mean that the Flemish and Walloon peoples should stop being Belgium and become, instead, two new nations. Spain should allow the Basque people to form a nation. France should allow Corsica to become independent. In Britain, not only should the Scots separate themselves from other Britons but the English should be just as dedicated to separate nationhood.
This impulse has already gained momentum as the madness of placing policy in the hands of Brussels bureaucrats has become horribly real to many Europeans. But more than the European Union needs to end. Each group of peoples within the countries of Europe who want to shoulder the responsibility of independent government should be given that chance.
What would the fragmentation of Europe into fifty or so different parts do? First, it would reduce existing political tensions within some nations. Why were Flemish and Walloons ever cobbled together into an artificial nation? The purpose was for the great powers to have a larger middling power in the Lowlands. It was not the wish of either of the peoples involved. Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were two other examples of Frankenstein monsters created simply to serve as counterweights. Both nations now are broken into true, smaller, more numerous nations.
Second, reducing nations to much smaller size and abolishing the EU would reduce whole layers of government. If Brittany, for example, could govern itself without political subdivisions, then such devolution would end the French national bureaucracy as well as the Brussels bureaucrats of the EU. Bureaucrats eat tax revenues and excrete regulations, processes that impoverish productive citizens. It is telling that the EU boasts that its administrative costs are barely $200 billion (or roughly the entire economy of Denmark.)
Third, many little nations would have to compete for business and for taxpayers. That would mean a natural incentive to expand liberty and to be genuinely innovative in providing needed government services.
Fourth, small and culturally homogenous nations would be in much better condition to maintain their social values, something vital in a world – and in particular a Europe – facing an assault by radical Islamic immigration and by the rise of militant atheism. Large, socially amorphous nations must accommodate everyone, but not petite and socially compact states.
Are there downsides to this devolution of governments back to the myriad peoples of the continent? Not really. Treaties and conventions long ago brought standards to areas which needed standards, like postal service, copyright laws, currency exchange rates and travel. Although large nations give the impression of safety from war, in fact wars in the last century were nearly always wage by big nations – small nations wanted to steer clear of wars.
Gigantism is the love of leftism but the bane of ordinary folk who work at real jobs, raise families, and want a society with solid values. That is why every Brussels, like every Washington and every Paris or London is infested with leftist big-think. End that, and, just maybe, save Europe.
Bruce Walker is the author of book Poor Lenin's Almanac: Perverse Leftists Proverbs for Modern Life and a contributing editor to Enter Stage Right.