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United States of Europe?
September 20, 2006 7:13 AM   Subscribe

Why should we get excited about such a lacklustre topic as the future of Europe?
posted by anotherpanacea (27 comments total)

 


An analysis of the future of Europe that somehow manages to completely avoid the topic of a rapidly growing, outspoken and non-assimilating muslim population is fundamentally flawed, in my opinion.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:37 AM on September 20, 2006


While I am a fan of the "dry humour", I find this FPP so dry as to wonder whether it is actually an attempt at humour or whether you actually just don't give a crap about Europe.

Also, is the Jürgen Habermas on the linked page "the" Habermas? If so, I herby declare that I will never be able to deciper the linked article.
posted by GuyZero at 7:38 AM on September 20, 2006


"Sign and Sight". Cute.
posted by felix betachat at 7:50 AM on September 20, 2006


> Three pressing problems are bundled together in the single issue of Europe's inability to act:

Well of course Europe can't act. It's a large wooly abstraction, not a thing. Waiting for Europe to act is on all fours with waiting for the seventeenth century to get it's shit together and DO something already.


> I find this FPP so dry as to wonder whether it is actually an attempt at humour

I managed to read as far as point 2 but the narcolepsy thing kicked in. Any use of the word "hegemonic" automatically puts me to sleep.
posted by jfuller at 8:10 AM on September 20, 2006


This is that understated German sense of humour, isn't it - advocating a super state as a solution to hegemonic power politics and (alleged) civilisational clashes. Not convinced myself.

Personally, it seems to me that the current EU is rather like the US as originally conceived; strong states in a loose union, with a central body that has extensive powers to regulate trade, commerce and fundamental rights, but which doesn't get involved in direct taxation or social issues. Personally I'd be fairly happy to see it stay this way, although with a constitutuion and some serious reforms to the beuracracy and CAP. Plus the notion of a single individual somehow representing 450m diverse people strikes me as a bit silly.
posted by Luddite at 8:11 AM on September 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


An analysis of the future of Europe that somehow manages to completely avoid the topic of a rapidly growing, outspoken and non-assimilating muslim population is fundamentally flawed, in my opinion.

How about a presidential address to call for populace change. "UK, we love your leader but your populace has to go" or perhaps "America. Love it or Leave the UK".
posted by srboisvert at 8:22 AM on September 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


I suppose a lackluster topic would, by definition, be something that most folks wouldn't be too likely to get excited about. I certainly found that particular article less than exciting.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:26 AM on September 20, 2006


Ze drem vil kum tru.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:27 AM on September 20, 2006


How fitting that this was posted by anotherpanacea.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:31 AM on September 20, 2006


But how could that article put you to sleep? It calls out crucial phrases in bold to remind you to pay attention because this is important stuff.

It's like he knows you're nodding off... I've had lecturers like that, who raised their voices on certain phrases because they knew they were droning. It's a poor substitute for the ability to engage your audience. A good writer or speaker can make damn near anything interesting, the rest have to resort to tricks.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:36 AM on September 20, 2006


Pastabagel: An analysis of the future of Europe that somehow manages to completely avoid the topic of a rapidly growing, outspoken and non-assimilating muslim population is fundamentally flawed, in my opinion.

No disrespect to you, pastabagel, but this meme of sclerotic, infertile white Europe being overwhelmed by a radical Muslim tide is very simplistic. (And also possibly the only point where the defensive gloating of the American right matches the fevered imaginings of Al-Qaida).

As analysis, it reminds me of Chesterton's Napoleon of Notting Hill:
The way the prophets of the twentieth century went to work was this. They took something or other that was certainly going on in their time, and then said that it would go on more and more until something extraordinary happened.
People are dynamic things, not hard numbers, and the behaviour of communities is more dynamic still. Just at the moment we are at a point where Muslim fundamentalism is at the forefront of people's minds, and where the Muslim population is expanding. But the salience of these facts of itself causes politics and demography to change, and the underlying order, revised, to reassert itself.

From Huguenots via Chinese seamen to 19th-century Jews, we have had newly-arrived minorities who didn't assimilate and who had higher birthrates than the natives. Where are they now? The same place that the Muslim community of today will likely be in a hundred years. Right in the mainstream of British society.
posted by athenian at 8:41 AM on September 20, 2006 [2 favorites]


Any analysis of the future of Europe that somehow manages to completely avoid the topic of a rapidly growing, outspoken and non-assimilating muslim population is clearly not written by Americans.
posted by Artw at 8:51 AM on September 20, 2006


The Future of Europe
posted by trinarian at 8:53 AM on September 20, 2006


No disrespect to you, pastabagel, but this meme of sclerotic, infertile white Europe being overwhelmed by a radical Muslim tide is very simplistic.

It is also wrong. Europe has been integrating Muslims since the 1960's. Sweden, where this American has lived for over a decade, has a large number of second generation Turkish and Kurdish citizens who are quite well integrated and add a welcome diversity to homogenous population. I personally know quite a few who are, at times, seem more Swedish than the Swedes.

Racism leveled at muslims is every bit as ugly as racism leveled at jews or blacks, pastabagel.
posted by three blind mice at 9:37 AM on September 20, 2006


I mean, really, what's the point? I'm not European. I don't plan on being European. So who cares if they're socialists? They could be fascist anarchists. It still doesn't change the fact that I don't own a car.
posted by ODiV at 10:15 AM on September 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


...that understated German sense of humour... advocating a super state as a solution to hegemonic power politics and (alleged) civilisational clashes.

Good one, luddite!
posted by Faze at 10:27 AM on September 20, 2006


So... is the politically correct thing here to assert that there aren't very many Muslims in Europe? Or that the Muslims that are in Europe aren't radical? 'Cause there was that whole thing where they burned France...

But no, that would be racist, right? So, how about this? "Thinking outside the box, these Muslim youth implemented a plan to combat the unseasonal evening chill by burning cars that were otherwise not being used at the time."

Europe has bigger problems than the emergence of neo-liberal orthodoxy.
posted by JParker at 11:21 AM on September 20, 2006


Plus the notion of a single individual somehow representing 450m diverse people strikes me as a bit silly.

Yet if you change the number to, say, 300M it makes sense?

'Cause there was that whole thing where they burned France...

I think the issue at hand is constitutional reform. So while the angry Muslims are indeed a big deal, it would be like trying to stop race riots in the US with a Constitutional amendment. And the idiocy of that does not render Constitutional amendments useless.
posted by GuyZero at 11:30 AM on September 20, 2006


Yet if you change the number to, say, 300M it makes sense?

Not in my opinion. Designated individuals negotiating upon behalf of a large block of people can be useful (if they're consulting with more representative bodies) but I'm extremely dubious about large concentrations of power in any small body, let alone an individual. And, yes, I know that's hopelessly naive and idealist, but I don't care.
posted by Luddite at 11:56 AM on September 20, 2006


OK, so ignoring the impact of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for a minute, and plodding through the deadly boring writing in this article, this guy is calling for a concentration and centralization of European economic, political and social power.

Economic power to harmonize tax rates and uniformly raise taxes. "Today's conditions deprive the national state of the tax resources it needs"

Political power to act internatially in opposition to the USA. "...long overdue reforms within the UN which are both blocked by and dependent on the USA"

Social power to form an army and oppose the USA. ...we must break free of our dependence on our superior partner...

While you might rally France, Belgium and few other nations to that flag, many - perhaps most - others would oppose that platform on all fronts. I find the assumption that there would be European unity behind such initiatives frankly absurd.

One of my Board members told me something that has stuck with me, "Everybody's got an agenda. And it's not yours." Jürgen Habermas' agenda is pretty clear.
posted by JParker at 12:06 PM on September 20, 2006


JParker: So... is the politically correct thing here to assert that there aren't very many Muslims in Europe? Or that the Muslims that are in Europe aren't radical? 'Cause there was that whole thing where they burned France...

Well, the politically correct thing to assert is that:

1. There are a fair number of Muslims in Europe, but they are not going to outnumber non-Muslims any time soon;

2. Of those Muslims, the majority (perhaps the vast majority) do not support fundamentalism, and even the radical ones are not going around blowing people up, with a couple of outlying exceptions.

3. The riots in France were not a Muslim thing, they were a poverty and social exclusion thing, that happened to involve a lot of Muslims (because a lot of Muslims are poor and socially excluded).

As a Brit, I might argue that by blocking roads and burning stuff, the rioters were showing how fully they had assimilated into French culture.

But more generally, yes, Habermas is completely off-beam on this one. It's not going to happen.
posted by athenian at 1:13 PM on September 20, 2006


So... is the politically correct thing here to assert that there aren't very many Muslims in Europe? Or that the Muslims that are in Europe aren't radical? 'Cause there was that whole thing where they burned France...

I so envy your soaring freedom of thought and the way it resembles a graceful zero-gravitas mental ballet, only infrequently touching the occasional fact when needed for a change of direction. Such beautiful ethereal logic wafts over me like a fleeting contrail of marlboro magic. Bravo Company! Encore! Calm our nerves once again with your sarindipidous and daringly naked innuendo.
posted by srboisvert at 2:12 PM on September 20, 2006 [2 favorites]


OK, on this whole "Muslim Europe" thing:

a) The EU's Muslim population ain't huge: some high estimates put it at 5%, which frankly isn't much. It is only relatively visible because it is concentrated in the most urban areas of Western Europe.

b) It is growing, both through immigration and fertility. But it isn't going to outnumber everybody else anytime soon, if only because it isn't just Muslims that are arriving to Europe: there are also significant numbers coming from South America, Asia and the non-Muslim areas of Africa. Moreover there's also significant intra-European migration from the (virtually Muslim-free) former Warsaw Pact towards the West. (Western) Europe is an immigration magnet, period. Which is actually a sign of dynamism and affluence.

c) Integration is actually happening, at least as quickly, if not rather more so than that of the Hispanics in the US. And this is particularly true in those countries with the biggest Muslim populations. Muslim (and ex-Muslim) women are particularly active in the French and German societies.

d) Not all those listed as Muslim are particularly religious: in particular those rioting French youths JParker mentions probably have a better knowledge of Eminem's lyrics than of the Quran. Moreover, there are strong differences between the very secular Turkish immigrants in Germany, the very mixed bag of first-, second- and third-generation North African immigrants (including Arabs and Berbers, Algerians and Moroccans, educated urbanites and nearly illiterate farmers) in France and the economically active, but socially very conservative Muslims of Pakistani, Indian and Bengali origin in Britain.

Finally, I must turn to the elephant in the room, the one "Western" country in the world where Muslims do already make up over one-fifth of the population and where they could turn into a majority in the not-so-long term: Israel. Isn't it curious that those who talk the most about "Eurabia" also appear to completely ignore the basic demographic facts of a country they usually strongly sympathise with?

Anyway Pastabagel, congratulations for derailing this thread from the beginning. Can we discuss European integration now? Personally I'm for: I consider ethnic nationalism a blight of humanity and think it should be Europe's task, after having invented the damn thing at the beginning of the XIX century, to bury it in this one, by demonstrating that humans can cooperate in groups wider than those dictated by spurious national mythologies.
posted by Skeptic at 2:50 PM on September 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


...advocating a super state as a solution to hegemonic power politics and (alleged) civilisational clashes

Given that the civilizational clash Habermas is talking about is actually the cultural clash between the progressives and conservatives in the US, I'm not seeing the humour.

Sorry I abandoned the thread to its own devices, but I didn't expect the Muslim derail; the thing about federation is that it should work no matter who's involved. It's a state-form, not a religion. Otherwise, Skeptic sums the situation up quite nicely.

I'm surprised that no one objected to the militarization of Europe... seems like a strange suggestion to me:

"One more reason why the European Union needs its own armed forces. Until now Europeans have been subordinated to the dictates and regulations of the American high command in NATO deployments. The time has come for us to attain a position where even in a joint military deployment we still remain true to our own conceptions of human rights, the ban on torture and wartime criminal law."

Do we really want to have an arms race between the US and Europe? Or is this so Europeans can avoid the "division of moral labor" where they do the worrying and the US does the fighting (if it feels like it.) Do they need to spend all that newly amassed tax money just so that they can put boots and blue hats on the ground in places like Darfur?
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:27 PM on September 20, 2006


Do we really want to have an arms race between the US and Europe?

I certainly don't see an "arms race" between the US and Europe, but I do envisage a devolution of NATO into a more European and less American-dominated alliance.
posted by three blind mice at 11:50 PM on September 20, 2006


I understand the correction you're making (insofar as Europe and the US are unlikely to come to blows, so it wouldn't be a race for supremacy), but what I intended to say was simply that increased spening the European side of the Atlantic would be unlikely to reduce American spending. Some paranoid Americans might actually want to maintain absolute supremacy and increase spending to respond to Europe. The policy goal of European independence seems desirable: if for no other reason than logistical efficiency for dealing with problems in Eastern Europe (the absurdity of the US intervention in Kosovo was that it was so far away, yet US forces were needed.) The result, though, would be to drastically increase the portion of gross global productivity devoted to marching in straight lines, standing like a statue, and blowing shit up.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:45 AM on September 21, 2006


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