Friday, July 29, 2005

The European defects

Peter, congratulations on your first post. I would like to make a few comments on your first posting. First of all, I wonder if economy has been the reason behind the European cooperation. I believe that the underlying cause of the EU's existence is first and foremost a security for Peace. The resulting cooperation is I believe extending various fields although its effect is best measured in economic terms. Your suggestion to unite Europe in the fight against terrorism is well heard. I have doubts though, on the European scale of this counter-terrorism. Intellegence, I believe is best organised on a national scale for legal reasons as well as other organisational matters such as language, telecomnetworks and financial systems. Of course sharing information is essential but a Pan European intellegence unit that replaces national organisations would not provide me a safer feeling. The stopping of the radical islam is for obvious reasons urgent and perhaps a good start could be a stronger web control of these practices in chat sessions and the likes.

In the meantime, we must intensify efforts to search for causes of malfunctioning European unity. In continuing the sociologistic perspective, I would like to mention the much quoted Robert Putnam. Even though he is American, he could hold a key to understanding what is wrong with Europe. Putnam has been advising European leaders, from Schroeder, Blair, Queen Elisabeth to our own Dutch opposition leader Wouter Bos. In short his plea is based on the idea that civic culture determines institutional performance. A varied ‘civil society’, that opposes and challenges the government is the key to efficiency and acceptance of political leadership. (See also the publication of professor van Gunsteren where he is quoting Putnam on p. 13)

Recently he suggested that changing identities could be usefull in intergrating minorities in society. He foresees "deconstructing ethnicity" as part of a solution. Country of origin (from parents) should be made less important than it is now. This should be done through history lessons where contributions of different groups and ethnicities are stipulated. As an example he refers to the American Army where diverse ethnicities are closer now, than they were in the 60ies and 70ies during the Vietnam war.

Another view that I believe is relevant is described by British scolar Outhwaite who argues
There may be good reasons for focussing not just on the associational dimension of civil society but on the contribution of other political and economic (and even military) structures to the integration process. (...) A European identity may emerge from conflicts in agricultural negotiations as well as from more lofty exercises in pursuit of common values; (...) we should be thinking perhaps in (...) the integrating effects of conflict rather than [anything else]

So, in recognising the lack of a European debate, we seem to be in good company and by the way: Outhwaite, too, identifies the lack of a European newspaper. For the near future, this blog should shift its attention to a sharper focus.