Once upon a time, the Ottoman Empire was known as the "Sick Man of Europe". These days the sick man of Europe is... Europe. Or rather the European Union.
The ambitious plan for a regional government that would incorporate the hopes for a future world government look shakier than ever. Brexit dealt a severe blow to the credibility of the EU. And rumblings remain of other countries preparing to follow the Brits out of the "Prison of Nations" and into free market freedom.
As the EU reaches its senescent sixty, the Freedom Center's own Bruce Thornton has a new ebook, A Fractured Civilization: The European Union at Sixty.
Bruce Thornton has written frequently about the foibles of the EU and his latest ebook is a detailed examination of a failed system. Like the USSR, the EU was an ideological ambition that was always bound to shatter against the sharp rocks of reality.
Financial, economic, cultural and political tensions threaten the EU. Issues from the unequal fiscal status of member countries to the flood of Muslim migrants spreading through the EU shake the very ideals that it was founded upon. But those ideals never had more than a passing familiarity with the tensions of the real world.
As Thornton writes in, A Fractured Civilization, "Decades of crises large and small are seemingly propelling the E.U. and Europe in general toward the point where the stresses become unsustainable and lead to dissolution or a reconfiguration of the union. This “bold, far-sighted” experiment has been troubled from its birth, and the “European Dream,” as one champion has called it, may be nearing its last days."
A Fractured Civilization examines the economic stresses of a union that is almost as business friendly as North Korea. As Thornton points out, "On the World Bank’s “ease of doing business” scale, with 1 awarded to economies that are the friendliest to business, the U.S. earns an 8, while the two largest economies in the E.U., Germany and France, rank 17 and 29 respectively. The E.U. as a whole ranks 30."
And then there is the European Union's shocking lack of... Europeans. Low birth rates are threatening the future of Europe as anything more than a new Turkey. "It takes an average of 2.1 children per woman just to replace a population; Europe’s average is1.55, and it’s that high in part because of more fecund immigrants."
And then there is the lack of political representation and the unsustainable commitments to ideological projects such as environmentalism and open borders.
The European Union was born out of a rejection of nationalism that, as Thornton argues, was an irrational overreaction. And nationalism is making a comeback because it can offer Europeans what the European Union cannot. Nations offer meaningful representation, identity and interests. The European Union provides none of these. Ideological projects cannot substitute for nations.
"No one will die for the E.U. flag or a shorter work week, or a longer vacation, or afternoon adultery, or more porn on the Internet. And that lack of a unifying ideal worth dying for is why the Eurocrats have failed at their mission to create a united Europe," Thornton concludes in his penetrating diagnosis.
A Fractured Civilization is worth reading not only for an examination of where Europe went wrong, but where our own transnationalists are going wrong by advocating for open borders and technocratic government, for more centralization and regulation, but less freedom.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.