On European identity: Ultranationalism and supranationalism, two sides of the same coin?

As the Eurozone crisis rages on, the depth of analysis that goes behind the very construction of the union gets deeper.  This is my favourite today, a discussion on European national identities, and a lack of continental common identity.

For the past two centuries, the European obsession has been the nation. First, the Europeans tried to separate their own nations from the transnational dynastic empires that had treated European nations as mere possessions of the Hapsburg, Bourbon or Romanov families. The history of Europe since the French Revolution was the emergence and resistance of the nation-state. Both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union attempted to create multinational states dominated by a single state. Both failed, and both were hated for the attempt.

There is a paradox in the European mindset. On the one hand, the recollection of the two world wars imbued Europeans with a deep mistrust of the national impulse. On the other hand, one of the reasons nationalism was distrusted was because of its tendency to make war on other nation-states and try to submerge their identities. Europe feared nationalism out of a very nationalist impulse.

Thus, the foregone conclusion on the other side of the Atlantic is that the Eurozone project has failed, as the very essence of the integration project worked against the cultural and historical backdrop on the continent.

The European Union is an association — at most an alliance — and not a transnational state. There was an idea of making it such a state, but that idea failed a while ago. As an alliance, it is a system of relationships among sovereign states. They participate in it to the extent that it suits their self-interest — or fail to participate when they please.

Lastly, check out the Viewsflow Daily Briefing, which has focused heavily on the Eurozone crisis for the past week.  Some samples here, here, here, and here. Check them out, sign up here, or follow it on Facebook here.

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