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Tale of Two Models
Finance
Globalism - Ecumenism
Sunday, May 09, 2010
Ed DeShields

The stock market unexpectedly short-circuited Thursday; flashing like a chapter from Alvin Toffler’s book, Future shock.   One trillion dollars was lost in an instant.  No one would publically explain why.  But, everyone knew. 

If the story is ever told (and it probably won’t be) the likelihood is that it was caused by Europe’s debt crisis as the story elevated itself to front page news.  The dire nature of Europe’s options to save itself from economy calamity caused the market’s heart to stop beating momentarily.   Bang!  When the electronic safety brakes were thrown the market re-started.   This time anyway. 

On a broader scale, the best analysis on the Euro crisis this week was by philosophical thinker Charles Gave, whose writings I abbreviate below.   Looking at Europe, Gave feels that two 'ideologies' have been competing since the 1950s to define what the future organization of Europe should look like.  And the winner might finally emerge:

The 'Roman Empire' Model:

The main goal is to have Centralized State, managed by an efficient techno-structure with a supremacy of the center over it parts. The end goal is to arrive at a European State which will be "big enough" to have an impact not only on the rest of the world, but also on the underlying sovereign states which will have no choice but to become subservient over time.

The other goal in this model is that there are no obvious geographical limits to the growth of this vision of Europe as long as there is a common belief in 'European values'.  So why not include Turkey, Georgia, Ukraine and who knows, one day maybe even Russia or North Africa?

The Catholic Model:

Under the catholic popes, Western Europe has been catholic from one end to the next with free movements of people, traders and businesses.  But meanwhile, political structures were massively different systems, from independent cities in Flanders and Northern Italy, to Kingdoms, to Republics like Venice.  So, political diversity served Europe well; until, of course until France and Germany went for each other's throats in a bid to each become 'the new Rome, the new Imperial Power".

Philosophically, this model has to stop at Europe's borders (no Turkey), since the common ground is Christianity. In this model Nation-States must compete with the occasional re-emergence of forgotten nations such as those following the collapse of communism across Eastern Europe, either peacefully (Slovakia) or through bloodshed (Bosnia).

To summarize and put it in the language of today: In partisan political terms, Europe's Christian Democrats, typically led by Germany and Holland, were usually aligned with the "Christian" view of Europe, while Social-Democrats and Socialists, usually led by France, were more of the "Roman Empire" persuasion. And so, Europe went on and on, never really making a choice between the two models.

Eventually, Europe emerged in ways that nobody really understood, but which at the end delivered a satisfactory result. If Democracy can be defined as "government through discussions, compromises and debates", then Europe was indeed democratic, in its own ways.

However, the equilibrium was broken with the collapse of the Evil Empire and the German reunification. With a stronger Germany, a free (and very Christian) Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, came the threat that the 'Christian' vision of Europe would overwhelm the 'Roman Empire' camp. The sense of urgency was profound: If a European State was not built rapidly, the newly freed Eastern European countries would, in the future, likely be very weary of abandoning large chunks of the sovereignty they had just recovered from the Soviets (without any help from the rest of Europe) to a European State.

The collapse of the Soviet Union was the crisis which gave the opportunity, and drive, to the Roman Empire to push though an overly ambitious program. The scale had been tipped and the "Roman Empire" needed to tip it the other way; and the creation of the Euro, more than anything, came to symbolize the push by the Roman camp towards a centralized super-structure. 

This is why today one reads everywhere that, should the Euro be consigned to the trash heap of history, then the whole European Union effort might disappear along with it.   Of course, this is dead wrong. Rather than the death of Europe, a demise of the Euro would simply mean the collapse of the "Roman Empire" idea of Europe and the resurgence of the "Christian" idea of Europe.  

Or, the re-emergence of the Evil Empire?

About Ed DeShields

Last week: Special Report: Gov't Debt "Unsustainable"



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