Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Nationalism or internationalism

I liked this discussion in the Financial Times for two reasons. Firstly, it points out that the current financial crisis is not solely a Greek one, nor is it wholly of Greek making. Secondly, it stresses the need for action and reform at European level, rather than loading austerity packages onto the Greek people in the vain hope that the failed policies of the past will prove to be the successful ones of the present. It argues for internationalism to prevail over narrower national interests within the EU.

This point was made a while ago by Mark Mazower, who also placed the crisis in its historical setting.
The members of today's political class in Europe are Margaret Thatcher's heirs, not George Marshall's. They find it hard to understand that the markets need to be saved from themselves if Europe is to survive in anything resembling its present form. They forget that Germany itself was allowed to cancel its prewar debts in 1953, one of the preconditions for its subsequent boom, and that when others, such as Poland in 1991, were allowed to write down their debts in their turn, they too prospered.

Right now what is needed is long-term political vision and a new willingness to argue for the benefits of continent-wide redistribution. 
Anyone familiar with Mazower's general history of Europe, Dark Continent, will be aware of his contention that fascism was not an aberration in Europe. Authoritarian nationalism is always there to challenge democratic internationalism and the internationalist pulse is weakening. Mazower concludes:
The clock is ticking: in September the next package of aid for Greece will have to be announced. It will be a decisive moment and the outcome will be critical for Greece, and for the union too.
Heading for the inevitable?

No comments: