1930s, 20th century. Europe. Post-war. After the Roaring Twenties, our continent is facing deep changes. Common trait: the national sentiment. In Germany and Italy it has a more extreme expression. But also in Spain or Portugal, among others, the far-right politics seemed to be the response to the expansion of Communism of Soviet Union and to the economic liberalism of United States.
Nationalism involves a sense of isolationism. In practice, we think that “we are better alone” and that “we don’t need other people in order to live and develop.” In more radical sectors, there is even a feeling of superiority relative to other people/countries. Actually, it’s considered that “our way of thinking, our culture, our way of being, should prevail to the detriment of other people, which are considered inferior.” Going back to the 30s of the twentieth century, we know very well where this ideology led us…
Let’s stop for a while and look at the current scenery. In Catalonia there is an open talk about independence. In Italy, in rich regions as Lombardy and Veneto, referendums had overwhelming results in favour of more autonomy. In the Czech Republic, nationalists won recently. In Austria and the Netherlands, nationalism has increased too. In France, in the last presidential elections, we lived the unthinkable: the far-right discussing, on an equal footing, the presidential election. Well, and then we also have Brexit. At the same time, Scotland has clear independence intentions. On the other side of the Atlantic there are also isolationist intentions. Trump’s leadership has brought somehow a paradigm shift in US foreign policy, which naturally affected its relationship with Europe.
Over the last 70 years, Europe has experienced its greatest period of economic and social expansion since the end of World War II. It has its ups and downs, off course, however the union of Europe has consolidated peace on the continent and contributed for years of economic growth and social development. The European Union as we know it today, with all its faults and virtues, has contributed to the emergence of an European feeling among many of the citizens of the various countries. A citizen of any European country has a set of rights guaranteed in case of moving to another EU country and has the opportunity of work there and build a life. For instance, today we take for granted the free movement of people and goods, but if we look back, we observe the long journey that has been made so far and how difficult to conquer it has been. Could we imagine going to Spain and having border control again?
On the other hand, Europe can only aspire to be a relevant global player if it maintains and consolidates its union. The rise of China, the (still) dominant US position in some strategic interests, Russia’s energy relevance, will tend to claim all the protagonism on the main stage of global geo-strategic decisions, unless Europe has the capacity of stay united and get ahead too.
Is there a lot to do in order to consolidate a Europe which could be of all of us and for all of us, inclusive and supportive? Certainly it is. However, division probably is not the ideal way. When solidarity between nations no longer prevails and we start to contemplate our navel above all, we can not expect a bright future. We’ve already passed trough it, in the past, but it seems that we didn’t learn anything from it…
See you soon!
CEO of UWU Solutions / Consultant / Teacher