Sunday, June 26, 2016

A thought for Sunday: as they peer into an abyss, the EU and UK should look to the example of Abraham Lincoln

 - by New Deal democrat

In 1914, the combined Empires of Europe bestrode the entire world like a colossus. With deep interconnectedness of trade, and breathtaking industrial innovations, a future of plenty beckoned.

Just over 30 years later, Europe largely lay in ruins and ashes.  If it were not for outside intervention, much of its surviving population would have starved to death.

From that cataclysm arose the European Project, which at its heart was a vow that by ever increasing unification the demon of War that had stalked the continent for many centuries would be vanquished.

Whatever the flaws of the Euro - and they appear to be fundamental - and whatever the lack of accountability of the Eurocrats, the fact remains that the underlying European Project is probably the single best political event to have occurred on that continent in centuries.

For nearly 70 years, the arc of history bent towards the "ever closer union" that was the heart of the enterprise.  Until Thursday.

Now that a major country has voted to leave the EU, the question becomes just how much centrifugal force has been unleashed.

Let me be a blunt as possible:  the demise of the European Project would be an unmitigated disaster for all humankind.  A return to pre-1945 nationalism ought to be unthinkable.  

At one level this shows that MInsky's economic insight -- that periods of stability breed instability -- applies to politics as well.  Put another way, humanity is most at risk of dangers that have not been seen during the present generation's lifespan, as those who remember the relevant past and vow not to repeat its mistakes, pass away from the scene.

It is worth noting that in neither the UK nor Greece nor any other of the EU nations clamoring for some sort of exit, has there been any clamoring for ending NATO.  That transatlantic alliance that binds European nation states to each other and to North America now resumes renewed importance.

In the meantime, European elites need to take to heart the complaints of the many millions who have seen nothing but privation and unaccountability out of the EU for the last decade.  Soul-searching about the Euro, about the limits to immigration both within and from without, and about the toixc fruit of doctrinaireausterity, need to be a first-order  priority.  Abraham Lincoln's words to the devasted South in his second inaugural address in 1965 seem particularly apt:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, ... to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. 
If Lincoln could say that to the defeated slave States, then surely after EU soul-searching takes place, the resulting reforms should placed before the UK with an invitation to remain or to rejoin freely and without penalty.