On May 9th many cellebrated mother’s day but it was also proclaimed “Day of Europe”. In some of the media the editorials were dedicated to the future of Europe, the need of its unity and the fragmentation that is seen everywhere. Again, I use the column of values to see what can be expected.
The true union of communities needs to be based on a higher purpose that unites the first basics of values namely strong individual identity, safety, equality and trust before one can get to the higher levels of collaboration. Whenever issues arise s.a. a credit crisis, African refugees, a terrorist attack, water shortages, social unrest, etc. it is the strength of the basics of column of values that keeps the union together. The stronger this basis is the better the venture can cope with the challenges.
The countries that form the European Community have indeed their individual identities, one stronger than the other. But the higher purpose to create the community was not ideological or humanitarian but purely economical. The bases of the shaping the community were:
- a large home market
- cost savings through reduced bureacracy
- easy human traffic to financial growth areas
- financial unification through a single currency
Since mainly economic parameters prevailed no attention was payed to value issues like safety, equality or trust. The union became a top level boardroom issue not a humanitarium one on the streets. The cultural difficulties that arise due to migrations in the open border structures show for that lack of sensitivety. In the political boardroom people were only seens as work force, not as human beings with a backpack full of cultural baggage.
Country identities are not just economies but also cultures, especially in Europe. Economic partner discussions can be contained within the confinement of the own country’s bouderies but the culture spreads throughout the unified territory. Country identities clashed within each other’s bouderies, one more than the other. We see this for instance with the Eastern European cultures invading Western Europe now. A Rumanian or Polish person is still a Rumanian or Polish person, also when visiting Holland or Paris or Italy in search for personal financial wealth.
The effects of such cultural migrations were not accounted for nor organized. They were simplified by telling people that to work in Holland you behave like the Dutch, to work in Paris you behave like the Parisiens. But it does not work like that at all. On street level the cultures clash and may even create totally new cultures.
Since there is no higher common purpose other than money, the new cultures that arise show important signs of aggression, greed, individualization, cultural subgrouping, criminality, etc. and very little true cooperation. One sees foreign communities protect their interest within the confinement of the receiving culture. The orginal local population experiences a deterioration of their living environment and perceived quality of life and starts to blame the newcomers in the street.
The European Union was established for economic reasons and when these are in crisis the union simply falls apart because its reasons for unity are not valid anymore. Economic security and growth was enough for politicians to accept social unrest in their territories but when this security disappeares the tolerance does too. Right now we see European countries already setting up the original bounderies again to control the flux of undesired people across the borders.
A lot of European people were against the rapid expansion of the Union through the incorporation of Eastern European countries. The Western population of Europe feared a strong immigration of poor people with a strong cultural difference. The policy makers simply were seeking growth no morality. They were blinded by the potential of the growth of China and thought that a sufficiently large counterblock would be needed tp remain present in the global human power picture. The same motivation had created the orginal E.U. to counter the strength of the USA.
But money does not provide any security at all. This we have seen now around the world. What does produce securities is the willingness of the population to shape a high level cooperative community based on a higher sustainable purpose through hard labor, emancipation and trust. When the union was formed these key elements were undermined creating a cultural basis for structural decline that grew day by day.
We now do not just face an economic crisis in Europe due to Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Iceland, Spain or Italy. We suffer a crisis of true values.
After identity in the column comes safety. One of the issues of Europe was to create a common border for community wide safety purposes. The Shengen treaty then opened up the borders within the union for free traffic of people and goods. The true motive for open borders was primarily the facilitation of movement of community members and goods within the economic context. From a recreational perspective the open borders were perceived as a great added value, even though the exitement of collecting stamps of the diversity of countries disappeared. The fact that one could travel from north to south an v.v. without being hindered by border officials and related traffic jams was perceived as a novel common good that did produce some united feeling of being European.
In the field of dynamic labor related migrations the enthousiasm was much less as it addressed directly the conservative, protective nature of individual cultural identities. Certain immigrating cultures were more likely to be accepted than others. The extremely fast opening of the community to Eastern European countries had the effect that western people rapidly started to feel less safe than before the opening. Agressive incidents and the massive influx of cheap labor from these countries provided a sense of insecurity for the locals.
The people of Eastern European countries prove hard workers agains very low wages but also people that have a different perception on rules, s.a. in traffic for instance.
An even larger sense of insecurity was caused by the massive immigration of people from outside the European Union, s.a. the Middle East and Northern Africa. Those immigrants were welcome to participate again in the cheap labor processes but brought with them their religion and local cultures and an overall lesser level of education than the locals. Subcultures appeared that became cultural and religious islands inside the main cultures. No integration, no higher common purpose, just little countries within countries with hardly any social interaction.
When you go visit a country on business or holiday you feel enthousiastic and curious about that foreign culture and the differences with your self. But when that same culture settles massively in your home street that feeling of exotic curiousity changes to a strange sense of insecurity.
Without security one needs not even mention the next levels of the column of values: equality or trust. These will never exist. On the contrary. One gets a sense of distrust, an “I” and “them” attitude that develops not only through individual behavior, communication and mentality but it eventually also conditions the evolution of the community itself, its regulation and culture. Even in the old boardroom that were happily interaction when dealing with money and growth the interaction on true moral issues claims the differences that cannot be overcome.
Now that the economic crisis affects Europe the sense of cohesion disappears. The column of values was never installed nor did anyone pay any attention to it, so all countries and cultures fall back now onto their own securities. Europe is breaking up, falling apart.
This is a pitty as so much more would have been achievable if the higher purpose to establish the union had originally not been of financial nature but built up along the lines of sustainable progress in which content was more important than growth. Maybe we find that common sense still in the chaos of the break up.