G7

The European Union (EU): The New Byzantium or Declining Rome By Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarević

A freshly released IMF’s World Economic Outlook brings (yet again, for the seventh year in a row, and for the second time this year only) no comforting picture to anyone within the G-7, especially in the US and EU. Will the passionately US-pushed cross-Atlantic Free Trade Area save the day? Or, would that Pact-push drag the things over the edge and mark an end of the unionistic Europe?

Is the extended EU conflict with Russia actually a beginning of the Atlantic-Central Europe’s conflict over Russia, an internalization of mega geopolitical and geo-economic dilemma – who accommodates with whom, in and out of the Union? Finally, does more Ukrainian (and Eastern Europe) calamities pave the road for a new cross-continental grand accommodation, of either austerity-tired France or über-performing Germany with Russia, therefore the end of the EU? For whose sake Eastern Europe has been barred of all important debates such as that of Slavism, identity, social cohesion (eroded by the plunder called ‘privatization’), secularism and antifascism? Why do we suddenly wonder that all around Germany-led Central Europe, the neo-Nazism gains ground while only Russia insists on antifascism and (pan-)Slavism?

Before answering that, let us examine what is (the meaning and size of) our Europe? Where, how and – very importantly – when is our Europe? For example, is the non-EU Europe the existent but invisible world, sort of the dark side of the moon? Or, is that something more? Beyond the ancient Maastricht and Schengen: the Roman Hadrian Wall and Limes Line there was no world at all. There was only (an instrument of) the Silk Road – that antique WTO, isn’t it? Hence, is this unionistic condominium the best of Europe, or Europe itself?

Is the EU an authentic post-Westphalian conglomerate and the only logical post-Metternich concert of different Europes, the world’s last cosmopolitan enjoying its postmodern holiday from history?[1] Is that possibly the lost Atlántida or mythical Arcadia– a Hegelian end of historyworld? Thus, should this OZ be a mix of the endemically domesticated Marx-Engels grand utopia and Kennedy’s dream-world “where the weak are safe and the strong are just”? Or, is it maybe as Charles Kupchan calls it a ‘postmodern imperium’? Something that exhorts its well-off status quo by notoriously exporting its transformative powers of free trade dogma and human rights stigma[2]–a modified continuation of colonial legacy when the European conquerors, with fire and sword, spread commerce,[3] Christianity and civilization overseas – a kind of ‘new Byzantium’, or is that more of a Richard Young’s declining, unreformed and rigid Rome? Hence, is this a post-Hobbesian (yet, not quite a Kantian) world, in which the letzte Mensch expelled Übermensch? Could it be as one old graffiti in Prague implies: EU=SU²? Does the EU-ization of Europe equals to a restoration of the universalistic world of Rome’s Papacy, to a restaging of the Roman-Catholic Caliphate? Is this Union a Leonard’s runner of the 21st century, or is it perhaps Kagan’s ‘Venus’– gloomy and opaque world, warmer but equally distant and unforeseen like ‘Mars’?

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