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Europe in Crises: Is Nationalism the Solution?

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Europe in Crises: Is Nationalism the Solution?

Europe in Crises: Is Nationalism the Solution?

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  • 1. French Culture & Civilisation Jason Cates Europe in Crises: Is Nationalism the Solution?It is important to make clear what my cultural mentalityis in order to put my views into a culturalcontext. Firstly, I was born in the UK, butI also have a strong European identity alongside the British.This goes as far as to say that in some areas, I relate more to others European cultures than I do to theBritish culture. This includes me having similar views to the Swedish in terms of their “view on life”,the Dutch in terms of their liberal values andthe Germanswhen it comes to financial prudence.However, I tend to relate more to the UK when it comes to having a liberal economy.German Nationalism (Control) In recent months we have seen financial and economic policy across the EU become morecentralised towards Germany and more in line with its high degree of financial prudence. This level offinancial prudence I agree is needed, especially in countries such as Greece and Italy where suchprudence seems to be lacking. However, I would question whether this enforcement of German valueson the rest of Europe is out of European interest, but rather German interest?(Telegraph, 2011c) This can be seen as an act of German nationalism, butI believe it will helpstabilise Europe inthe short term and help steer a way through the current crises. However, in the longer term, thisGerman nationalism may cause more harm than good unless it is balanced by the nationalism of otherEuropean nations. We have already seen some European countries including the UK andSwedenbegin to question growing German dominance within Europe. This may lead to growinganimosity between smaller EU members towards the German economic machine. Therefore, thenationalism we have already seen from the likes of the UK may start to spread across Europe.(Telegraph, 2011a)British Nationalism (Isolation) We may question why Britain has been acting the way it has in recent months which has leftit isolated from the rest of Europe.Most people, if not all, would say that the UK has always acted thisway. However, it has done so for views that have later been shared by other EU members. Examplesinclude the UK having an opt-out of the Schengen agreement as it had concernsover immigrationfrom Northern Africa. This is a view now shared by President Sarkozy who is now consideringwithdrawing France from the accord. This is after a number of North African immigrants began tocome into France through the Italian border. The UK alongside Denmark also obtained an opt-outfrom the Euro which is currently in turmoil. This includes Eurozone members lacking the ability totailor economic policy for their own specific needs. Therefore, whenever the UK has acted out ofnationalism, its views have later been shared by other European nations. (BBC, 2011) In terms of the current situation concerning German style prudence, Britain is sceptical fortwo key reasons. Firstly, such rules were first introduced in1997, but were regularly broken by thelikes of France and Germany. Therefore, for the UK, there is the issue of trust. As if these rules werebroken once, how does Britain know that Europe won’t break these rules again? This is emphasisedby the fact that,unlike some EU members, the UK has a reputation for sticking to its commitments andit doesn’t want to be on its own in fulfilling them.There are also the major cultural differences in theway that Britain does business. The UK, like the US, believes in having a free and liberal economy.This contradicts with the models seen in European countries such as France and Germany whoseeconomies are much more rules based. (Telegraph, 2011b) 1
  • 2. French Culture & Civilisation Jason Cates Therefore, the reason why Britain often acts out of nationalism is because history has taught itto do so and that this often leads to the best outcome in the longer term.Pan-Nationalism In terms of European pan-nationalism, political nationalism has been aspired to in Europesince the Middle Ages, but has always ended in failure. Therefore, after WW2, a new approach wastaken focusing on cultural and economic integration rather than political integration. However, I argue that what makes Europe special and unique is its vast diversity not seenelsewhere, be it in the US or Asia. As such, I believe than pan-nationalism should not be forced uponthe people of Europe. In the long term, pan-nationalism should be allowed to develop on its own aslong as it is balanced, open and honest. Then over time, as the countries of Europe continue to workand learn alongside each other, a pan-national identity will start to develop on its own. However, itwill likely take decades before this starts to really take shape. (YouTube, 2011) We also need simplyto look over history to see how nationalism and competition has helpedEurope flourish. Over the last 500 years, if success and economic growth were based upon unity, wewould have seen countries like China and India rule the global economy rather the so called“fractured tribes ofEurope”. However, it has only been in recent decades, just as these countries haveembraced competition, that these countries begun to flourish while Europe’s role in the world hasdiminished. This is because,with competition, comes innovation and with that, economic growth. Dowe really think that the British would have had their empire if it weren’t to outperform the French? Ordo we think the USA would have developed the atomic bomb if it weren’t at war with Germany andJapan?Probably not.It is out of competition we innovate and with innovation comes prosperity. Buthow can we have competition if we don’t have pride and nationalism that drives us to outperform ourneighbours, be they European or otherwise. (YouTube, 2011)Is nationalism the answer? As stated, German nationalism will likely see Europe through the current crises, however, thisshouldn’t be at the cost ofthe national ideals. This means that other national ideals should be allowedto flourish; as stated, this is as long as they are balanced, open and honest. I also believe that in recentyears, many people have been promoting pan-nationalism when in fact; it was only done so outofnational interest rather than real belief in the pan-European beliefs. This is why I believe we need tobe open and honest about what we truly believe and think. This includes the issue of nationalism asnot to give a false sense of security and pan-national identitywhere none exists. (Telegraph, 2011c) However, concerns here relate to the story of history, more specifically, two world wars. But Ibelieve that Europe needs to continue to move on from this. This includes Germany having theconfidence to assert itself on the international stage.This will encourage other countries within Europesuch as the UK and France to also express their own views and ideals. This is the debate I believe weneed to encourage economic growth, stability and cooperation between European neighbours. This Ibelieve, will see Europe develop the skills needed for future success, including the ability to listen anda willingness to celebrate cultural diversity and innovation. Simply, we need people who are willingto stand up and be different, as this is what it means to be European, the so called “Nation ofNations”. And it is this that will secure Europe future on the world stage. So to finalise, nationalism will encourage competition and open up debate. Thisin turn willencourage innovation and it is innovation that will drive future economic growth and prosperity. We 2
  • 3. French Culture & Civilisation Jason Catesalso need to leave what has happened in the past, in the past. As who in this modern day believes thatEuropean nationalism, be it German or British, will lead to a new world war, a war that left Europescarred for decades.ReferencesBBC (2011) Analysis: An EU of two tiers after Eurozone debt crisis Available at:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15494429[Accessed: 9th March 2012]Telegraph (2011a)EU suffers worst split in history as David Cameron blocks treaty change Availableat: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/8945155/EU-suffers-worst-split-in-history-as-David-Cameron-blocks-treaty-change.html [Accessed: 9th March 2012]Telegraph (2011b)EU Treaty: Nicolas Sarkozy’s push for power poses biggest threat to EU unity’Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8946790/EU-Treaty-Nicolas-Sarkozys-push-for-power-poses-biggest-threat-to-EU-unity.html [Accessed: 9th March 2012]Telegraph (2011c) The day Europe took revenge on Britain Available at:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/8947572/The-day-Europe-took-revenge-on-Britain.html[Accessed: 9th March 2012]YouTube (2011) iqsquared Daniel Hannan - Germany no longer needs Europe Available at:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2j4oCDBbts[Accessed: 9th March 2012]Written and signed by 3
  • 4. French Culture & Civilisation Jason CatesJason Cates 4