(…are cultural backlashes against changes within existing conglomerate unity)

The post WWII Franco/German entente (pragmatic if not cordiale) hammered out between President Schumann of France and Chancellor Adenauer of West Germany, laid down the foundation on which was ultimately constructed what became the European Union.

It was not an easy process, but once that long running antagonism between these two keystone powers of Europe had been put to rest, progressive baby steps forward from that event culminated in that “union.” One which took almost as long to build as it did to construct one of those medieval cathedrals because, among other things, nothing much could be done until the demise of the Soviet Union finally allowed for the re-unification of Germany into a single coherent sovereignty.

Another retarding influence against it, was the general British reluctance to become too closely enmeshed with such schemes and visions for a grand “Continental” conglomerate (keeping mind that their own experience with becoming a “United Kingdom” had never been easy or become an absolute reality). Hence their skepticism about such a grander and more encompassing concept. Still, the economic and commercial realities on which they depended…ultimately drew them hesitantly into it.

From its inception, the process was an evolutionary one, starting with the E.E.C. (the European Economic Community), as a rather loose assemblage of countries agreeing to minimize customs and other import/export restrictions on commerce and trade between its members. Because it was such a relatively loose-knit arrangement it did not impinge upon individual members’ sovereignties, or have much of an impact on their respective cultural matrices; thus, becoming very attractive for others to be drawn into its association, and thereby expanding its reach within Europe. It also gave its membership a stronger and more coherent negotiating position vis a vis commerce and trade with non-member nations in other parts of the world…particularly with the USA…since most of its members were also part of the collateral defense conglomerate of N.A.T.O.

By the time the Cold War era faded away, it was ready to become the more formal and structured entity of the European Union. What had just been a loose assemblage of countries now became a centralized over-riding entity and sovereignty…with its own rules and regulations, and, of course, the necessary bureaucracy to administer and enforce all its rules and regulations. Now the long dreamed of unification of the Continent into a single unit, no longer compartmentalized by national borders, allowing the free flow of its peoples to live and work in any part of it…became a reality. Something which had not existed since the demise of the Carolingian Empire under Charlemagne (notwithstanding both the Napoleonic and Hitlerian regimes which were simply aberrant and enforced attempts at it).



So, the European Union was received with great celebration and fanfare. From Gibraltar to the Vistula, from the Baltic through the Balkans, it became a magnet for almost everyone because it offered the potential of peace and prosperity for all who became part of it, with a common currency, and freedom to move and work or live within it, wherever the best opportunities might be. It was thus hailed as a grand new regional conglomerate further enhancing the stability of the post WWII world order.

What the advocates and proponents for the EU overlooked, however, was the inherent resistance most cultures have against being submerged and assimilated into something else. While Europe is more or less homogenous in terms of race, religion, social and political organization, etc., its components do have individual differences, but such differences were of relatively minor importance so long as everyone came from or belonged to some part of the European matrix.

But the recent tsunami-like floods of refugees and migrants, from the conflicts and turmoil in Africa and the Middle East, and with radically different customs and cultures, has ignited such inherent resistances and, those increasing storm surges of rampant nationalism are cultural backlashes against the changes they’ve caused within its existing conglomerate unity. The political fall-out from that being the UK’s BREXIT decision, the upsurges of separatist movements in places like Scotland and Catalonia, and, the recent election results seen in Austria, Germany, Sweden, and Poland.

In short what’s happening in Europe is a retrograde return of the “national socialist” virus which twice devastated it in the last century.

A similar cultural backlash against the same kinds of perceived changes in America’s conglomerate union has brought about a clamor of extremist xenophobic voices…leading to the election of President Trump. The irony of all that being how at odds that is with the fundamental principles which established America in the first place. That is, its prideful exclamations about how…being born as a society intended to thrive by its capacity to adapt to any fluidity in its demographics and cultural hodgepodge…makes it the greatest on earth, etc., etc.

If there’s a moral to found in these developments, or any cautionary wisdom to be gained from them it is this: The only thing to “fear” is fear itself…and xenophobia…is the worst of the lot.