Typo: https://aurelien2022.substack.com/p/europes-inner-demons " if some of them have a basis in fact, facts themselves were never the issue for those who pedalled them." should be "peddled"

Expand full comment

Late comment, so apologies.

I would suggest (not only in Europe, but also in North America) that the new dividing lines did very much involve "communities and territories," just not between/among them. Nationalism, by it's nature, is a communal and tribal phenomenon. Racism and discrimination are, ultimately, a tribal phenomenon, arising from people's common inclination to favor those whom they see as members of their own tribe. The trouble arising from Europe and modern West's choice to focus on the abstract rather than synthesizing a new tribal identity for their denizens meant that many of the existing tribes and communities, especially the more reclusive (and/or more powerful and better organized ones) became their enemies.

I think the founders of EU had a different vision as they appreciated the power of common tribal identity. After all, Adenauer, Schuman, and Gaspari were all (Catholic) Christian Democrats and Germanophones educated in German (defined broadly) institutions--both their education and formative professional practices.

I tend to blame this failure on the rise of identarianism, which, in turn, I think, is a modern form of blatant racism in "woke" wrappings masquerading as "anti-fascism." Nothing keeps someone from a seemingly "different" tribe to partake in rituals of the new tribe and assimilate as its member, except for stubborn fanatics who refuse to be trustworthy members of their new society, I think. The "new" tribe, to better accommodate a broader array of members, can also assimilate aspects of various existing tribes into it's rituals. This is hardly new: every major institution has evolved in this manner. This is how Cathilicism got patron saints, Virgen de Guadalupe, and Japanese Jesuit Zen masters, for example. If course, this would not have been easy: Chinese rites controversy lasted two centuries, after all, for instance. Setting up bureaucratic institutions around legalism and abstractions seemingly forgoes these difficulties, but as they say, easy come easy go.

Expand full comment

Humans are no different than any other animal with regard to our tribal predatory behavior. Except perhaps we are the most vicious species.

You can acknowledge our instinctive behavior and accommodate it, or learn the hard way.

Expand full comment

History is geography, geography is history. When 'Europe' was the Mediterranean, the natural non-sea route was through central Asia to northern India and China. The ancient Greeks seemed to believe that they were essentially the same race as Central Asians (including Persians and Chinese. The 'others' were the 'blondes' of northern Europe, who seemed the real threat and an unfathomable mystery to the civilized sea dwellers. Somehow, as the centre of gravity of Europe went north, then it was the lands to the east that were othered. Of course, you could point out that the 'Rus' were originally Vikings....

Expand full comment

Perhaps Roman societies naturally escalate towards apocalyptic violence unless a mutually acceptable scapegoat can be found, but not so much Confucian. China has addressed this issue repeatedly and is worth studying for that alone.

Expand full comment

Threat from the East.

- Not entirely. Vikings were considered a threat (until they Christianised), as late as 11th century.

Almohavids were a threat, as late as 15th century.

It's more that as both of these threats were neutralised, the borders there were established by the coast. On the east, there's no coast, so there can't be a natural barrier against "barbarism".

You can actually see the same with Russia, where there are a few (depending on how you count, but really less then 10) corridors where Russia can be invaded. Hence even Catherine the Great said (paraphrasing) - the only way to defend my borders is to extend them, which Russia has been doing before and ever since, in an effort to eliminate the gaps. And when it couldn't it at least tried to create buffers.

In fact, I'd argue that it's true for pretty much any nation, that it will consider threats coming from unsecured borders - US was afraid of Canada as long as it was mainly influenced by the UK not the US, and don't get me started on US/Mexico relations over the years.

So really, Europe's no different.

As a side note on the Waffen SS - you have (Russian) Kaminsky Brigade, and of course, as far as Wehrmacht goes, the whole Hiwi stuff and Vlasov's RLA. Which, with the exception of Vlasov (as THE traitor) is rarely mentioned in Russia, not that most of the other states mention their citizens participating in WW2 on the wrong side do.

As far as I know, Poles are about the only ones who had trivial collaboration of the occupied countries, and the non-occupied participants (US/UK) had often non-trivial number of Axis sympathisers.

That all said, I agree that Europe failed to put together something that would bind it together. IMO, the issue there is that - especially post UK's admission to the EU, but even before to an extent, thanks to German reluctance to take any non-economic stance - it concentrated on the economic side, assuming that once most if not all will be doing well economically, the other stuff will take care of itself. Which doesn't really work like that. It also didn't help that historically European nations preferred to homogenise themselves in many ways (culture, language, religion, you name it. For good reasons at the time), so a heterogenous EU is far from what comes as "natural" to pretty much all of Europe.

It is my firm belief that most, if not all (I don't know about any, but am willing to give it a benefit of doubt) ideologies are based on ignoring one or more aspects of human and societal behaviour. So is the EU one, the question is whether it can change. Not necessarily under the EU banner, which now may be really broken, but under some other ideology that may be at least a bit more close to the reality.

Expand full comment