Rod Dreher rounds up the hobgoblins haunting Europe's dreams of escape from the current crisis, flagging Ambrose Evans-Pritchard's remark that "Unless the European Central Bank step in very soon and on a massive scale to shore up Italy, the game is up. We will have a spectacular smash-up."
Well, that's likely to happen anyway. The most gargantuan bailouts cannot supply the one thing lacking most of all in Europe, both in the Continent at large and within most of its constituent nation-states. I refer to political authority.
Evans-Pritchard's column, strangely entitled "The Revenge of the Sovereign Nation," makes far too much of Germany's seemingly muscular imposition of its own fiscal interests on the rest of the Eurozone. By the standard of political authority, Germany is the nation least of all capable of exacting revenge. When push comes to shove -- as it must, because no financial response to Europe's unfolding catastrophe can supply citizens with a faith in the commanding legitimacy of their regimes that they do not already have -- Europeans will simply rebel politically against a "Fourth (this time economic) German Empire."
And they'll do it in the context of their own failed states. Greece, Spain, Italy, Belgium -- shouldn't we begin to think through the proposition that their structural economic woes are the consequence of the deep crisis of political authority that has gripped them all for so long?
Why Spain? Why Belgium? These are the sorts of questions to which the EU was supposed to be the answer. But the economic and fiscal mergers ushered in by the EU, as we're all discovering at the eleventh hour, can't substitute for political unity -- not when it comes to gathering citizens into a purpose and an identity that supplies them with a durable social order.
It would be exciting if Europe's failed states and crumbling economic project gave way to a decentralized, apolitical landscape akin to Peter Thiel's vision of the possibilities of post-sovereign flourishing. But this is Europe, remember. A few cities might be able to push away from the shore of Continental history. They would find themselves seasteading in an ocean of political violence.
Hard as it is to believe, the real revenge of the sovereign nation in Europe would have to entail the rise of exactly what Britain and the US have worked so dearly to prevent -- a single dominant power on the Continent. The time is now to begin thinking, far outside the box of conventional wisdom and the preconceptions behind 'respectable' opinion, about which power that will be.