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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
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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
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