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There is a dilemma posed, hinted at above in the comments about Franco, and in the back of my mind when writing the piece.

In order to belong to something, you have to have an idea of what that something is.  One doesn't need to go as far as the nation-states did in definine & delineating identity, but until we all agree to live on a purley metaphysical plane, it will need to be done.  Europe might be hesitant to do the "Self/Other" thing, but the rest of the world is not yet there.  If you wont define "Europe," someone else will.  Because Europe, whatever it is today, is going to come into conflict with places and ideas what are not Europe.

It is as though, in the wake of the 20th century, Europe seeks to avoid the traps of nationalism and tribalism by ignoring the whole subject of defining itself.  Side-step boundary, cultural & political disputes by not placing import on them or by leaving it all open ended enough to be in a permanemt state of negotiation.  Wonder if it will work?  Sounds downright revolutionary to me...

Homework assignment for everyone: Read Benedict Anderson's "Imagined communities."

 

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Feb 14th, 2006 at 01:42:11 PM EST
Europe seeks to avoid the traps of nationalism and tribalism by ignoring the whole subject of defining itself.

You may be on to something there, but I don't think it works quite as you say. In fact Europeans (insofar as one can generalize, and minus a vocal minority) don't feel concerned by nationalism and tribalism (in the sense I take it you're using, of tribalism as a strong attachment and sense of belonging to one's group of origin). It's as though, having contributed to forming those concepts in history, and having particularly sacrificed at the altar of the nation, having well-nigh destroyed ourselves in two cataclysmic wars that grew out of nationalism/tribalism, we have emptied our heads of them. We are just as likely today to feel regional ties (or, as Sven suggests above, city ties), as ties to the nation-state. It may seem presumptuous, but I think we avoid the traps of nationalism, not by seeking or by conscious effort, but quite unconsciously because we have got past that point. (Yes, it does sound presumptuous, but I think there's truth in it.)

Whether that means that we may succeed in inventing something new, I don't know. We may not succeed. But there's, let's say, an open door...

(Sorry if this doesn't address the question in your diary, it's just a thought bouncing off your comment...)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 14th, 2006 at 03:14:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but quite unconsciously because we have got past that point

Quite possible, probable even, (although I'd bet there's some subconscious work going on as well.) Well, all evolution is about reaction to environment and adaptation to need.  I do see the creation of EU-type entities as a step in the evolutionary process.

I just propose that it's not so passive or inevitible as you might think.  It's all a social construct, and someone is doing the constructing.  And like I and others have said, there is a danger in accepting otherwise.  Things like Manifest Destiny were also ideas accepted as just the natural progression of humankind.  And nations accepted as having some kind of metaphysical bond holding its people together.  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Feb 14th, 2006 at 03:36:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't mean to suggest passivity or some Manifest-Destiny inevitable process. Just that we (most of use born after the wars) grew up in a context where there was a weakening of nationalist feeling, in particular of the sense of the sacred concerning the nation. So that I don't think it's a case of seeking to avoid nationalism, as much of (fortunately) nationalism being attenuated.

I don't know if what I'm saying applies more to West Europeans than to Central and Eastern Europeans. I'd be curious to hear what others think.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 14th, 2006 at 04:19:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Side-step boundary, cultural & political disputes by not placing import on them or by leaving it all open ended enough to be in a permanemt state of negotiation.  Wonder if it will work?  Sounds downright revolutionary to me...

According to my friend Floyd Gecko, this is Canada's approach to the Quebec question, and he suggested that we do the same in Spain. I also though it was clever and revolutionary.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 14th, 2006 at 04:49:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I'll admit that it's some time since I read Benedict Anderson, but I'm not sure what you are saying he adds to this discussion?

Colour me interested, but (perhaps due to poor memory and not having the book to hand) a little confused too.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2006 at 10:09:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm. For me the book title alone is relevant.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 15th, 2006 at 12:15:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well sure, but it's a decent size book, with good points and bad points like all books. I was hoping to be reminded about some part in particular, if poemless had a particular part in mind.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2006 at 01:17:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
RE: the book.  I don't know.  It was just the first book I read which really laid out the facts confirming many suspicions I'd always had about identity & nationalism.  It focuses on mass media being used to connect people who prior to that had no reason to consider themselves connected, mass media used to promote the agenda of the nation-state, and the immagination required to keep that sense of nation/community afloat.  He talks about all of this in realtion to nationalism, but it might be interesting to see how we can apply these idea to "Europe," which, like the nation state, is an idea & a community currently under construction...

Here's a link that might explain all this better.    

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Wed Feb 15th, 2006 at 01:46:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the reply!

I hope to get time to make some comments a bit later on.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2006 at 02:21:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And it's actually a not-very-big book.  An easy read.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Wed Feb 15th, 2006 at 01:47:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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