Nationalism has been an important factor in the development of Europe. In the 19th century, a wave
of romantic nationalism swept the continent of Europe transforming the countries of the continent. Some
new countries, such as Germany and Italy were formed by uniting smaller states with a common "national
identity". Others, such as Romania, Greece, Poland and Bulgaria, were formed by winning their
The French Revolution paved the way for the modern nation-state. Across Europe radical
intellectuals questioned the old monarchial order and encouraged the development of a popular nationalism
committed to re-drawing the political map of the continent. By 1814 the days of multi-national empires
were numbered. The French Revolution, by destroying the traditional structures of power in France and
territories conquered by Napoleon, was the instrument for the political transformation of Europe.
Revolutionary armies carried the slogan of "liberty, equality and brotherhood" and ideas of liberalism and
national self-determinism. National awakening also grew out of an intellectual reaction to the Enlightenment
that emphasized national identity and developed a romantic view of cultural self-expression through
nationhood. The key exponent of the modern idea of the nation-state was the German G. W. F. Hegel. He
argued that a sense of nationality was the cement that held modern societies together in an age when
dynastic and religious allegiance was in decline. In 1815, at the end of the Napoleonic wars, the major
powers of Europe tried to restore the old dynastic system as far as possible, ignoring the principle of
nationality in favour of "legitimism", the assertion of traditional claims to royal authority. With most of
Europe's peoples still loyal to their local province or city, nationalism was confined to small groups of
intellectuals and political radicals. Furthermore, political repression, symbolized by the Carlsbad Decrees
published in Austria in 1819, pushed nationalist agitation underground.
1804 - Serbian revolution.
1815 - The Congress of Vienna.
1821-29 - Greek declaration of national independence and revolution against the Ottoman Empire.
1830-31 - Belgian Revolution
1830-31 - Revolution in Poland and Lithuania
1846 - Uprising in Greater Poland
1848 - Nationalist revolts in Hungary, Italy and Germany (including Polish revolt in Greater Poland).
1859-61 - Italy unified.
1863 - Polish national revolt.
1866-71 - Germany unified.
1867 - Hungary granted autonomy.
1878 - Congress of Berlin: Serbia, Romania and Montenegro granted independence, after they won the war against The
1908 - Bulgaria becomes independent.
THE STRUGGLE FOR INDEPENDENCE
A strong resentment of what came to be regarded as foreign rule began to develop. In
Ireland, Italy, Belgium, Greece, Poland, Hungary and Norway local hostility to alien dynastic
authority started to take the form of nationalist agitation. Nationalism came to be seen as the most
effective way to create the symbols of resistance and to unite in a common cause. First national
revolution was in Serbian (1804–1817) which created the first nation-state in Central Europe.
Success came in Greece where an eight-year war (1821–1829) against Ottoman rule led to an
independent Greek state; in 1831 Belgium obtained independence from the Netherlands. Over the
next two decades nationalism developed a more powerful voice, spurred by nationalist writers
championing the cause of nationalist self-determination. In 1848, revolutions broke out across
Europe, sparked by a severe famine and economic crisis and mounting popular demand for political
change. In Italy Giuseppe Mazzini used the opportunity to encourage a war for national unity. In
1861 he wrote:"No people ever die, nor stop short upon their path, before they have achieved the
ultimate aim of their existence, before having completed and fulfilled their mission. A people
destined to achieve great things for the welfare of humanity must on day or other be constituted a
In Hungary, Lajos Kossuth led a national revolt against Austrian rule; in Transylvania, Avram
Iancu (also known as Craisorul Muntilor, which means The Prince of the Mountains) led the
Romanian revolt against the Hungarian rule; in the German Confederation a National Assembly was
elected at Frankfurt and debated the creation of a German nation. None of the nationalist revolts in
1848 were successful, any more than the two attempts to win Polish independence from Russian
rule in 1831 and 1846 had been. Conservative forces proved too strong, while the majority of the
populations little understood the meaning of national struggle. But the 1848 crisis had given
nationalism its first full public airing, and in the thirty years that followed no fewer than seven new
national states were created in Europe. This was partly the result of the recognition by conservative
forces that the old order could not continue in its existing form. Conservative reformers such as
Cavour and Bismarck made common cause with liberal political modernizers to create a consensus
for the creation of conservative nation-states in Italy and Germany. In the Habsburg empire a
compromise was reached with Hungarian nationalists in 1867 granting them a virtually independent
state. In the Balkans the Serbian example had inspired other national awakenings. Native history
and culture were rediscovered and appropriated for the national struggle. Following a conflict
between Russia and Turkey, the Great Powers met at Berlin in 1878 and granted independence to
Romania, Serbia and Montenegro and a limited autonomy to Bulgaria.
NATIONALISM'S GROWTH AND EXPORT
The invention of a symbolic national identity became the concern of racial, ethnic or linguistic groups throughout
Europe as they struggled to come to terms with the rise of mass politics, the decline of the traditional social elites,
popular discrimination and xenophobia. Within the Habsburg empire the different peoples developed a more mass-
based, violent and exclusive form of nationalism. This developed even among the Germans and Magyars, who actually
benefited from the power-structure of the empire. On the European periphery, especially in Ireland and Norway,
campaigns for national independence became more strident. In 1905 Norway won independence from Sweden, but
attempts to grant Ireland the kind of autonomy enjoyed by Hungary foundered on the national divisions on the island
between the Catholic and Protestant populations. The Polish attempts to win independence from Russia had previously
proved to be unsuccessful, with Poland being the only country in Europe whose autonomy was gradually limited rather
than expanded throughout the 19th century, as a punishment for the failed uprisings; in 1831 Poland lost its status as a
formally independent state and was merged into Russia as a real union country and in 1867 she became nothing more
than just another Russian province. Faced with internal and external resistance to assimilation, as well as increased
xenophobic anti-Semitism, radical demands began to develop among the stateless Jewish population of eastern and
central Europe for their own national home and refuge. In 1897, inspired by the Hungarian-born Jewish nationalist
Theodor Herzl, the First Zionist Congress was held in Basle, and declared their national 'home' should be in Palestine.
By the end of the period, the ideals of European nationalism had been exported worldwide and were now beginning to
develop, and both compete and threaten the empires ruled by colonial European nation-states.
RISE OF NATIONALISM IN EUROPE - A SHORT OVERVIEW
The term Nationalism is closely associated with the root word Nation. Since times immemorial,
Nation has been described in various ways but still holding on to a common core. One such instance is the
lecture delivered by a French philosopher, Ernst Renan (1823-1892) at the University of Sorbonne, where he
explained a Nation as the culmination of long past of endeavours, sacrifice and devotion. A nation is truly
expressed by its inhabitants. According to him, nations are the harbingers of liberty where every citizen
enjoys the freedom of speech, equality and also redress the rights provided. A nation carefully directs the
humanity towards a healthy progression.
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION AND THE IDEA OF A NATION
The abstract notion of nationalism finally found its precision in the French revolution that erupted in
1789. The French revolutionaries introduced various measures and practices that could create a sense of
collective identity amongst the French people.
The ideas of la patrie (the fatherland) and le citoyen (the citizen) emphasized the notion of a united
community enjoying equal rights under a constitution. A centralized administrative system was put in place
which abolished internal custom duties and introduced a uniform system of weights and measures. It also
encouraged French as common language of the nation.When the news of these events reached the different
corners of Europe, students and other members of educated middle class began setting up Jacobin clubs.
Within no time, the conflagration spread abroad.
But soon afterwards, with the rise of Napoleon, monarchy suffered severe damages which
completely destroyed democracy in France. Easing the already flared fray, the Civil Code of 1804- usually
known as the Napoleon Code- did away with all the privileges based on birth, established equality before
law and secured the right to property. Napoleon simplified administrative divisions, abolished feudal system
and freed peasants from serfdom and manorial dues. Transport and communication systems were
improved. Business and small-scale producers of goods, in particular, began to realize that uniform laws,
standardized weights and measures, and a common rational currency would facilitate the movement and
exchange of goods and capital from one region to another.Unfortunately, the highly anticipating ray of hope
turned gray as the new administrative arrangement failed to go hand in hand with political freedom.
Increased taxation, censorship, forced conscription into the French armies required to conquer the rest of
Europe, all seemed to outweigh the advantages of the administrative changes.
THE MAKING OF NATIONALISM IN EUROPE
In the very beginning, there were no particular nation-states and eastern and Central Europe was
under autocratic monarchies within the territories of which lived diverse people. They did not see
themselves as sharing a collective identity or a common culture. For example the Habsburg Empire that
ruled over Austria-Hungary consisted if people belonging to different ethnic groups. It included the Alpine
regions- the Tyrol, Austria and the Sudetenland as well as Bohemia, where the aristocracy was
predominantly German-speaking.Amidst these unfavourable conditions, ambiguity arises about the
emergence of nationalism and how it gradually came into being.
The advent of nationalism can be marked by a dominant yet small class. Aristocracy stood tall in both
the fields of society and politics. The raw notion of nationalism was finally acquired from this new
phenomenon which cut across regional divisions. They spoke French for the purpose of diplomacy and in
high society.In the face of growing industrialization, a yet another class of working population came into
being. This class was educated, broadminded and supported ideas of national unity leading to the downfall
of aristocratic class.
With this, a new definition of Nationalism crept up, which politically emphasized the concept of
government by consent. This liberal Nationalism stood for freedom for the individual and quality of all
before the law.Yet, equality before the law did not necessarily stand for universal suffrage I e. the right to
vote. These rights were exclusively reserved for the property-owning men. Even women were refrained from
these political rights. This further relegated the status of women to minority and widened the gap between
the affluent and downtrodden.
As time passed by, it was realized that a society bounded by way too many restrictions hampered a
rapid progress. This idea consolidated even more in the instance of economic backdrop. One such example is
of the Napoleon’s administrative measures which had created out of countless small principalities, a
confederation of 39 states. Each of these possessed its own currency, and weights and measures. A
merchant travelling in 1833 from Hamburg to Nuremberg to sell his goods would have had to pass through
customs barriers and pay a customs duty of about 5 percent at each one of them. Adding to the woes, even
the units of measurements differed and thus making trade, a cumbersome and time consuming affair. Such
obstacles to economic exchange and growth by the new commercial classes, who argued for the creation of
a unified economic territory allowing unhindered movement of goods, people and capital. Hence, a wave of
economic nationalism strengthened the wider nationalist sentiments growing at the time.
But this autocracy could not survive for long, as secret societies began to spring up in many European
states to train revolutionaries and spread their ideas. The revolutionaries with the agenda of equality and
freedom saw nationalism as the suitable light-bearer.
One such individual was the Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini. Born in Genoa in 1807, he
became a member of the secret society of the Carbonari. At the tender age of 24, he was sent into exile in
1831 for attempting a revolution in Liguria. He subsequently founded two more underground societies, first,
Young Italy in Marseilles, and then, Young Europe in Berne, whose members were like-minded young men
from Poland, France, Italy and the German States.
AGE OF REVOLUTIONS: 1830-1848
Even though revolutionary activities had started surfacing gradually during the conservatism era
itself, the real note-worthy upheaval against it occurred in France in July 1830. The Bourbon kings, who had
been restored to power during the conservative reaction after 1815, were now overthrown by liberal
revolutionaries who installed a constitutional monarchy with Louis Philippe at its head. “When France
sneezes,’ Metternich once remarked,’ the rest of Europe catches cold.’An event that mobilized nationalist
feelings among the educated elite across Europe was the Greek war of independence.
ROMANTICISM AND NATIONALISM
Nationalism found it significance not just in the sentiments of war and territorial expansion but also
in art and culture. According to a well known German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803), the
true German culture was to be discovered in the common people through folk songs, folk poetry and folk
dances that projected the true spirit of a nation.
Language also played a very important role in developing nationalist feelings. After Russian
occupation, the Polish language was forced out of schools and the Russian language was imposed
everywhere. Shaken by this disaster, the Polish people began to use language as a weapon of national
resistance. Polish was used for Church gatherings and all religious instruction. Thus language generated
oneness among the people.
REAL REVOLTS OF THE COMMON MASSES
The whole of the Europe witnessed one of its great revolts in the hands of weavers of Silesia who led
an opposition against contractors who supplied them raw material and gave them orders for finished textiles
but drastically reduced their payments.This was followed by the unprecedented epidemic that drove
thousands of people on the road without food and unemployment.
Resurgence of another form of Nationalism:
The revolutions in 1848 had led to the abdication of the monarch and pushed their demands for the
creation of a nation-state on parliamentary principles- a constitution, freedom of the press and freedom of
association.Unluckily, this too turned out to be a failure with dominance by the middle classes who resisted
the demands of workers and artisans and consequently lost their support. At last, troops were called in and
the assembly was forced to disband.
In the course of these events, women were badly neglected. Even in the revolution promised
freedom, women were still deprived of their basic right to vote. When the Frankfurt parliament convened in
the Church of St Paul, women were admitted only as observers to stand in the visitors’ gallery.
THE FINAL RISE
After facing numerous ups and downs, nationalist tension finally resurrected in the area called the Balkans.
Balkans successfully overthrew the Ottoman Empire which had ruled it for a very long period.But soon after it, the now
independent Balkan states yearned for more land and started fighting amongst themselves. These resulted in a series of
war and finally the First World War.
EUROPEAN HISTORY/EUROPEAN IMPERIALISM
The period between 1870 and 1914 saw a Europe that was considerably more stable than that of
previous decades. To a large extent this was the product of the formation of new states in Germany and
Italy, and political reformations in older, established states, such as Britain and Austria. This internal stability,
along with the technological advances of the industrial revolution, meant that European states were
increasingly able and willing to pursue political power abroad.
Imperialism was not, of course, a concept novel to the nineteenth century. A number of European
states, most notably Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands, had carved out large overseas empires in the age
of exploration. However, the new technologies of the nineteenth century encouraged imperial growth.
Quinine, for instance, allowed for the conquest of inland Africa, whilst the telegraph enabled states to
monitor their imperial possessions around the world. When the value of these new technologies became
apparent, the states of Europe began to take control of large swathes of territory in Africa and Asia,
heralding in a new era of imperialism.
In 1871, political stability of European nations resulted in renewed interest in imperialist endeavors.
Britain became heavily involved in colonialism. The newly-unified Germany saw expansion as a sign of
greatness. France also became involved in imperialist affairs due to foreign competition.Europe's political,
military and economic domination of the world gave birth to the notion of the white man's burden. The
white man's burden held that the white man had an obligation to forcefully spread their ideas and
institutions with others. This, of course, gave European governments moral justification for their
imperialistic foreign policies.
In addition, as a result of European industrialization, nations had an increased need for various
resources, such as cotton, rubber, and fuel. Moreover, a high level of nationalism was at the time being
experienced across Europe, particularly as a result of Napoleon's Empire. As nationalism grew at home,
citizens began to desire more troops for their army, and thus colonies were needed to provide more troops,
as well as naval bases and refueling points for ships.By the late 1800s, a number of nations across Europe
possessed new colonial territories. Belgium had taken the Congo in central Africa. France controlled Algeria,
and Italy controlled Somalia.It was said that "The sun never sets on the British Empire." By this time, Britain's
colonial territories spanned the world, and during the late 1800s Britain expanded their territorial
possessions to include Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa.In Asia, the British, Dutch and French all established or
expanded their colonies.
The Crimean War found its roots in the so-called "Eastern Question," or the question of what to do
with the decaying Ottoman Empire.The Crimean War was provoked by Russian tsar Nicholas I's continuing
pressure on the dying Ottoman Empire, and by Russia's claims to be the protector of the Orthodox Christian
subjects of the Ottoman sultan.Britain and France became involved in order to block Russian expansion and
prevent Russians from acquiring control of the Turkish Straits and eastern Mediterranean, and to prevent
Russia from upsetting the European balance of power.
The Crimean War is considered one of the first "modern" wars and it introduced a number of "firsts"
to warfare. The Crimean War marked the first time railroads were used tactically to transport troops and to
transport goods to troops over vast distances. The War also marked the first time steam powered ships were
used in war. Additionally, new weapons and techniques were used, including breech-loading rifles, which
loaded from the rear, artillery, and the deployment of trenches. The telegraph was used for the first time as
well, allowing for the first "live" war to be broadcast in the press.The conflict marked the end of
Metternich's Concert of Europe. At the end of the war, Russia was defeated and as a result looked weak. The
shock of the defeat in the Crimean War in Russia led to Alexander II enacting sweeping internal reform.
Alexander recognized that in order to compete with other nations, it would have to industrialize and
modernize. As a step toward this, Alexander liberated the serfs in 1861. Finally, the Ottoman Empire was
kept intact, and it would continue to decline until World War I.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE
The Victorian Age was a period in which appearances were critical to social status. The dominating
social class was the middle class, or bourgeosie. High moral standards and strict social codes, especially of
etiquette and class status, were followed. This era also saw a middle-class interest in social reform for the
lower classes.Modern life was often unsettling to Europeans, as their old ways were being replaced by
urbanization, industrialization, socialism, imperialism, and countless other new "ways."
The population was rising, with the Agricultural Revolution as well as advances in medicine allowing
the citizens to live longer. This resulted in a portion of the rising population migrating to other locations,
including emigrating to other nations. Europeans migrated from the country to the city in search of industrial
jobs. In addition, many Europeans fled to the United States, South America, Canada, Australia, and New
Zealand for a number of reasons - to escape anti-semitic persecution, to flee the Irish potato famine of 1840,
and as a result of a general overcrowding in Italy.However, at the same time, there were falling birth rates as
a result of massive social changes in Europe. Child labor laws were being enacted across the continent, and
compulsory education was enacted. Thus, the value of children to families fell since they could not generate
income, and the overall cost of having children was now bore much more upon the parents.
White collar workers now arose in society, and Europe saw the entrance of educated females into
clerical jobs in business and government. Disposable income became more common, and thus department
stores and other similar stores began to open. People spent their extra income on fashion, home furnishings,
cameras, and various other items. New leisure activities became popular, including hunting, travelling, and
bicycling, as well as team sports, including polo, cricket, and soccer.
THE CRISIS OF EUROPE AND EUROPEAN NATIONALISM
When I visited Europe in 2008 and before, the idea that Europe was not going to emerge as one
united political entity was regarded as heresy by many leaders. The European enterprise was seen as a work
in progress moving inevitably toward unification — a group of nations committed to a common fate. What
was a core vision in 2008 is now gone. What was inconceivable — the primacy of the traditional nation-state
— is now commonly discussed, and steps to devolve Europe in part or in whole (such as ejecting Greece
from the eurozone) are being contemplated. This is not a trivial event.
Before 1492, Europe was a backwater of small nationalities struggling over a relatively small piece of
cold, rainy land. But one technological change made Europe the center of the international system: deep-
The ability to engage in long-range shipping safely allowed businesses on the Continent’s various
navigable rivers to interact easily with each other, magnifying the rivers’ capital-generation capacity. Deep-
water navigation also allowed many of the European nations to conquer vast extra-European empires. And
the close proximity of those nations combined with ever more wealth allowed for technological innovation
and advancement at a pace theretofore unheard of anywhere on the planet. As a whole, Europe became
very rich, became engaged in very far-flung empire-building that redefined the human condition and
became very good at making war. In short order, Europe went from being a cultural and economic
backwater to being the engine of the world.At home, Europe’s growing economic development was
exceeded only by the growing ferocity of its conflicts. Abroad, Europe had achieved the ability to apply
military force to achieve economic aims — and vice versa. The brutal exploitation of wealth from some
places (South America in particular) and the thorough subjugation and imposed trading systems in others
(East and South Asia in particular) created the foundation of the modern order. Such alternations of
traditional systems increased the wealth of Europe dramatically.
But “engine” does not mean “united,” and Europe’s wealth was not spread evenly. Whichever
country was benefiting had a decided advantage in that it had greater resources to devote to military power
and could incentivize other countries to ally with it. The result ought to have been that the leading global
empire would unite Europe under its flag. It never happened, although it was attempted repeatedly. Europe
remained divided and at war with itself at the same time it was dominating and reshaping the world.
The reasons for this paradox are complex. For me, the key has always been the English Channel.
Domination of Europe requires a massive land force. Domination of the world requires a navy heavily
oriented toward maritime trade. No European power was optimized to cross the channel, defeat England
and force it into Europe. The Spanish Armada, the French navy at Trafalgar and the Luftwaffe over Britain all
failed to create the conditions for invasion and subjugation. Whatever happened in continental Europe, the
English remained an independent force with a powerful navy of its own, able to manipulate the balance of
power in Europe to keep European powers focused on each other and not on England (most of the time).
And after the defeat of Napoleon, the Royal Navy created the most powerful empire Europe had seen, but it
could not, by itself, dominate the Continent. (Other European geographic features obviously make
unification of Europe difficult, but all of them have, at one point or another, been overcome. Except for the
The tensions underlying Europe were brought to a head by German unification in 1871 and the need
to accommodate Germany in the European system, of which Germany was both an integral and indigestible
part. The result was two catastrophic general wars in Europe that began in 1914 and ended in 1945 with the
occupation of Europe by the United States and the Soviet Union and the collapse of the European imperial
system. Its economy shattered and its public plunged into a crisis of morale and a lack of confidence in the
elites. Europe had neither the interest in nor appetite for empire.
Europe was exhausted not only by war but also by the internal psychosis of two of its major
components. Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union might well have externally behaved according to
predictable laws of geopolitics. Internally, these two countries went mad, slaughtering both their own
citizens and citizens of countries they occupied for reasons that were barely comprehensible, let alone
rationally explicable. From my point of view, the pressure and slaughter inflicted by two world wars on both
countries created a collective mental breakdown.
I realize this is a woefully inadequate answer. But consider Europe after World War II. First, it had
gone through about 450 years of global adventure and increasingly murderous wars, in the end squandering
everything it had won. Internally, Europe watched a country like Germany — in some ways the highest
expression of European civilization — plunge to levels of unprecedented barbarism. Finally, Europe saw the
United States move from the edges of history to assume the role of an occupying force. The United States
became the envy of the Europeans: stable, wealthy, unified and able to impose its economic, political and
military will on major powers on a different continent. (The Russians were part of Europe and could be
explained within the European paradigm. So while the Europeans may have disdained the Russians, the
Russians were still viewed as poor cousins, part of the family playing by more or less European rules.) New
and unprecedented, the United States towered over Europe, which went from dominance to psychosis to
military, political and cultural subjugation in a twinkling of history’s eye.
Paradoxically, it was the United States that gave the first shape to Europe’s future, beginning with
Western Europe. World War II’s outcome brought the United States and Soviet Union to the center of
Germany, dividing it. A new war was possible, and the reality and risks of the Cold War were obvious. The
United States needed a united Western Europe to contain the Soviets. It created NATO to integrate Europe
and the United States politically and militarily. This created the principle of transnational organizations
integrating Europe. The United States also encouraged economic cooperation both within Europe and
between North America and Europe — in stark contrast to the mercantilist imperiums of recent history —
giving rise to the European Union’s precursors. Over the decades of the Cold War, the Europeans committed
themselves to a transnational project to create a united Europe of some sort in a way not fully defined.
There were two reasons for this thrust for unification. The first was the Cold War and collective
defense. But the deeper reason was a hope for a European resurrection from the horrors of the 20th
century. It was understood that German unification in 1871 created the conflicts and that the division of
Germany in 1945 re-stabilized Europe. At the same time, Europe did not want to remain occupied or caught
in an ongoing near-war situation. The Europeans were searching for a way to overcome their history.
One problem was the status of Germany. The deeper problem was nationalism. Not only had Europe
failed to unite under a single flag via conquest but also World War I had shattered the major empires,
creating a series of smaller states that had been fighting to be free. The argument was that it was
nationalism, and not just German nationalism, that had created the 20th century. Europe’s task was
therefore to overcome nationalism and create a structure in which Europe united and retained unique
nations as cultural phenomena and not political or economic entities. At the same time, by embedding
Germany in this process, the German problem would be solved as well.
Nationalism is the belief that your fate is bound up with your nation and your fellow citizens and you
have an indifference to the fate of others. What the Europeanists tried to do was create institutions that
made choosing between your own and others unnecessary. But they did this not with martial spirit or
European myth, which horrified them. They made the argument prudently: You will like Europe because it
will be prosperous, and with all of Europe prosperous there will be no need to choose between your nation
and other nations. Their greatest claim was that Europe would not require sacrifice. To a people who lived
through the 20th century, the absence of sacrifice was enormously seductive.
But, of course, prosperity comes and goes, and as it goes sacrifice is needed. And sacrifice — like
wealth — is always unevenly distributed. That uneven distribution is determined not only by necessity but
also by those who have power and control over institutions. From a national point of view, it is Germany and
France that have the power, with the British happy to be out of the main fray. The weak are the rest of
Europe, those who surrendered core sovereignty to the Germans and French and now face the burdens of
In the end, Europe will remain an enormously prosperous place. The net worth of Europe — its
economic base, its intellectual capital, its organizational capabilities — is stunning. Those qualities do not
evaporate. But crisis reshapes how they are managed, operated and distributed. This is now in question.
Obviously, the future of the euro is now widely discussed. So the future of the free trade zone will come to
the fore. Germany is a massive economy by itself, exporting more per year than the gross domestic products
of most of the world’s other nation-states. Does Greece or Portugal really want to give Germany a blank
check to export what it wants with it, or would they prefer managed trade under their control? Play this
forward past the euro crisis and the foundations of a unified Europe become questionable.
This is the stuff that banks and politicians need to worry about. The deeper worry is nationalism.
European nationalism has always had a deeper engine than simply love of one’s own. It is also rooted in
resentment of others. Europe is not necessarily unique in this, but it has experienced some of the greatest
catastrophes in history because of it. Historically, the Europeans have hated well. We are very early in the
process of accumulating grievances and remembering how to hate, but we have entered the process. How
this is played out, how the politicians, financiers and media interpret these grievances, will have great
implications for Europe. Out of it may come a broader sense of national betrayal, which was just what the
European Union was supposed to prevent.