You are here:   Columns >  Manchester Square > Europe's destiny
Europe's destiny
December 2018 / January 2019

Europe's triumph? (Cover illustration by Michael Daley)

Emerging from the summit that set the EU seal on Theresa May’s deal, Angela Merkel described Brexit as “tragic”. Normally a tragedy implies some kind of necessity or inevitability. Yet there was nothing unavoidable about the predicament in which the United Kingdom now finds itself. The EU leaders insist that it was the British people, manipulated by lying populists, who chose Brexit and must now face up to the “exorbitant” cost of their decision. But in reality the British were left with little choice, after the EU ignored their concerns and set a course that can only make the “democratic deficit” burgeon into bureaucratic bankruptcy.

The European project was always a perpetual motion machine for the insatiable accumulation of powers, whose engineers jealously watch over the acquis communautaire like dragons guarding their hoard. In the absence of British influence, the stage is set for a display of full-scale Euro-triumphalism in the Valhalla of Brussels — followed in due course by Götterdämmerung, as the euro goes up in flames and they are overwhelmed by a flood of migration.

Lest such Wagnerian metaphors seem extravagant, consider the case of Angela Merkel. Not only are the German Chancellor and her husband votaries of the Master, but she has lately begun making repeated references to Schicksal (“Fate” or “Destiny”) in her speeches about Europe. Most recently, in her address to the European Parliament, she implicitly warned against dependence on the United States in defence and security: “The times when we could rely on others without reservation are over.” She went on, in more mystical vein: “That means we Europeans have to take our destiny in our own hands if we want to survive as a community.”

What exactly “destiny” signifies here is still obscure, but Mrs Merkel has reiterated this sentiment so many times that it clearly means a great deal to her. Europe, for those who love its history and culture, really does have a cosmic importance that goes far beyond politics.

In some profound sense, the cityscapes and landscapes of this continent belong to all of us who adhere to the civilisation of the West. A cultural memory is embodied in the stones of Venice, the ruins of Athens, the boulevards of Paris that is not exclusively the property of those who happen to live here and now, but rather connects past and future generations too. It has become more fashionable to denounce the legacy that we may bequeath than to reflect at what cost our forebears fought to preserve our civilisation. When we ponder the plight of posterity, we ignore at our peril the ordeals of our ancestry.
View Full Article

Post your comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.