When you are born in 1267, as the Czar was, you see Europe a little differently.
|Europe, circa 2230.|
Modern Americans tend to see Europe as either a wonderful playground, imperfectly balanced between foolish efficiency and brilliant eccentricity, or as a fantasy-prone dystopia unwittingly living out life as a B character in an Orwell novel.
The Czar looks across the rich expanse of European history and sees, well, not very much change.
Many, many years ago the Czar was entertaining a Brit by showing him around Chicago. The visitor seemed most taken with some of the abandoned and gloomy warehouses and train lines, and even suggested they should be restored at taxpayer expense as working museums heralding Chicago’s centrality in intermodal shipping. The Czar believed that Chicagoans would be more interested in highlighting some of their more colorful history and probably more inclined to provide a TIF for this dead area and turn it into something vibrant, new, and alive.
Like most Europeans, our visitor never misses the chance to lecture an American on cultural ignorance; he went on to explain that this was a fundamental problem with Americans—always renovating, renewing, and rebuilding, but never holding on with pride to the past. Consider, he said to us, that Euope is positively awash in history. Your country is still so new, he explained, that it has yet to learn to hold onto her history and embrace it.
Uh, okay. Basically, Europe’s history, as it is, goes back to the fall of the Roman empire and the subsequent forced creation of nation states. In other words, there isn’t a lot of Neanderthal culture still imposing itself on the public consciousness—and no, don’t throw the Paris Metro at us; Neanderthals were much more evolved and cultured than that.
The point is that if you bookended most of European history and squeezed it into the years 1776-2012, America would probably have a tad more history per year—in terms of global significance and importance—than all of Europe. The history of individual countries line up well with the history of individual states. The Czar bases this on watching European history over the centuries, and confessing that a lot of it was frankly dull and painfully repetitive. The entire Thirty Years War, for example, was almost as exciting as the Battle of Bull Run alone.
You may disagree with that conclusion, and well you can because the Czar is basing it on presumption, not on fact or research. But he will state something you might have missed in your own study: Europe has changed very little since the fall of Rome.
In fact, the entire history of Europe is largely one of disintegration. Attempts to unify Europe—by the Germans (twice), the Soviets (once), and the EU (make that thrice for the Germans) only seem to result in chaos and suffering.
Meanwhile, you look at Czechoslovakia. Pretty decent country. But how much better it became when the Czechs split from Slovakia. Want to suppose that the Czech Republic could easily split into three smaller countries: Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia?
Look at Yugoslavia. As soon as they could, the Yugoslavs split into six countries. And then Serbia and Kosovo split up. Eventually, Bosnia and Herzegovina will probably split.
Today, Catalan is looking to leave Spain—and with good reason. The Catalans are a hard-working, industrious, free-market driven culture who are increasingly tired of seeing their income taxed away to pay Spanish 20-somethings to drag race their motorcycles at dangerous speeds on Barcelonan main streets all day.
Scotland feels the same way about Great Britain, as do an increasing number of Welsh. Why are we working so that the Labour movement can pay the English to do nothing?
Likewise, Belgium is again poised to split into Wallonia and Flanders, with each side blaming the other; if this happens (and Catalan independence will surely stoke these fires), Wallonia will probably split into some Grand Duchy-like fiefdoms.
And that’s your Europe, right there: a bunch of fiefdoms and provinces who continue to harbor centuries-old resentments about all their neighbors, divided by religion, language, or economics.
So way back when, when the Czar heard about European unity—and some Americans worried about a United States of Europe—the Czar burst out laughing. Zoom out, folks, and look at European history from the big picture. You are still watching the ongoing breakup of the Roman Empire and attempts to unify European communities is like trying to dam up a river with a couple of rocks. The water will just continue to flow around them until the rocks wash away.
The Czar recommends Catalan secede from Spain and divest itself of the EU and its liberal nanny culture. Dr. J has been there and will tell you that Catalan is where it’s at in Spain anyway.
And in time, the Czar will welcome the Republic of Sorbia, the Bavarian Republic, and Le Republique de Bourgogne and a host of other 1-million population countries across Europe.