Saturday, November 26, 2011

Why the Euro Matters

[The Yalta Conference, 1945]

It was a fundamental tenet of fascism to deny the unity of Europe.  The fascist governments explicitly denied the unity of Europe because they intended, and felt justified in intending, to treat their fellow Europeans as objects of imperial and colonial acquisition.  That is quite different than the mutuality of neighbors, even unfriendly neighbors, with whom one shares a long history and a common, or at least, similar religion.  The earlier version of this was the notion of 'Christendom'.

Even in war, Europeans acknowledged each other's humanity.  One remembers the informal Christmas truces on the Western Front in World War One when German and English troops would sing carols to one another across the corpses and machine guns of the trenches and the wire.  And that the next day, they would follow orders and return to the slaughter.

The European Union, the European Central Bank, the common European passport, the European Commission, the European Parliament, all the other institutions of European integration, and most notably the Euro, are an attempt to bring an end to a thousand years of uncountable and progressively more destructive European wars.

If the Euro fails that would be the first significant step backward on a path that people of good will hope and intend will eventually lead to the merger of sovereign European states into what young people in particular hope will be a "Europe of regions", not of states.  Worse, it would break the momentum toward integration and damage, perhaps irreparably European confidence in that outcome.

So while the discussion may seem like abstruse questions of banking and national debts and finance taking place among people in suits around long mahogany tables and that it all has not much to do with our lives, nothing could be further from the truth.  If the number of European wars over the past millennium is uncountable, the number of casualties in those wars is trebly so.  Twice in my father's lifetime, millions of young Americans have been sent overseas to fight, and too often to die, in those wars.

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