Happy Birthday to EU
To mark the occasion, they have revealed The Berlin Declaration. It is anodyne because it has to be, but for those who have eyes, it sustains the fore-ordained, pseudo-religious aspirations to unite the peoples of Europe under a single government.
But the celebrations cannot conceal the divisions which exist among member states. The Constitution lurks in the background, refusing to die; there are divisions over further expansion, notably to include mostly-Muslim Turkey; there is still an appetite for a European army, with little understanding of the consequent need for a common foreign policy; and there are concerns over the EU’s ability to compete economically with the United States and emerging Asia.
Nations are not meant to be forced into conglomerates. They are mentioned as early as the book of Genesis (22:18), and their original purpose (exemplified in the division of language groups) was to restrain evil by limiting the accumulation of power (11:1-9). This theme is continued into Old Testament law (eg Deut 17:14-20). The authority of the state is accepted by both Christ (Mt 22:21) and St Paul (Rom 13:6f). It seems to be the unit of earthly government which best suits the diversity of humanity, and acknowledges the need for cultural identity.
The subtle erosion of citizenship and the diminution of the nation state in the EU may seem a relatively unimportant manifestation, especially when placed in the context of starvation or regional conflicts, but it is worth remembering that citizenship and nationalism were at the root of the Bosnian conflict; these issues are central to Quebec’s attempts at secession from the Canadian federation; they are the reasoning behind the pleas for Scottish independence; and the nexus of civil wars within the former Soviet Union.
There is no concept of a European demos around which the EU’s political aspirations may cohere, and it is therefore doomed to failure. It is, however, Cranmer’s prayer that the collapse of the empire would be instigated by our leaders – that it would be top-down and political. The alternative is a bottom-up strategy of protest, civil unrest, and ultimately civil war. Let us hope our rulers have learned the lessons of history.
(And for the pedants, Cranmer is fully aware that it is actually Happy Birthday to the EEC, but that obviously did not work in a trite, tabloid kind-of-way, and he is in any case more concerned with the deception inherent in wishing this political monstrosity ‘happy’ anything when he feels no benevolence toward it at all.)