Sunday, January 27, 2013

Nationalism: an adolescent fantasy

I don't know if Daniel Hannan or any of his fellow Europhobes have ever visited the Menin Gate in Ypres.  It is the memorial to 54,896 soldiers who died near there in the First World War but whose bodies were never found.  Another quarter of a million died in the Ypres Salient.  The Versailles Conference and its success redrew the map of Europe with more nations than ever.  Twenty years later most of these were at war and another 60 million people died, 2.5% of the global population.   Now you find them in the European Union, fighting in committees not trenches.

Robert Schuman came from Metz in that strip of land that has seen more fighting in Europe than most ever since the Treaty of Verdun in 843 and on the advice of Jean Monnet proposed what became the European Coal and Steel Community, the first step in the creation of the European Union.  Neither of them was simply concerned with the better management of coal and steel.   They wanted to create a new form of supranational governance that would end war between the nations involved.   

If you have teenage children, you will know how important to them is their new-found independence, fresh from the dependent years of childhood.   Only when they become adults will they realise that John Donne was right:

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.

Hannan and his chums, the clods who risk washing us all away, share this teenage delusion for Britain, which they call national sovereignty.    The truth is that the countries of the world are interdependent.   Our trade, our culture and our science have long recognised this.   Isn't it time our politics grew up too ?

(Here endeth the Sunday sermon).

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