One Year Ago: "Edge of Europe, End of Europe." Timothy Snyder, New York Review of Books.

Sep 05, 2016, 12:51 AM

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"Edge of Europe, End of Europe." Timothy Snyder, New York Review of Books.

"The crisis of the European Union has two sides. One is political, about the lack of democracy within European institutions; the other is philosophical, about the erosion of Europe as a source of and home for universal values. The political crisis is on view in Germany and Greece. As we observe today, it never made sense to create a currency union (the Euro zone) without a fiscal union (a substantial common budget). A fiscal union would require more European democracy to legitimate the taxing and spending. When the Euro was established, the hope was that the common currency would create political solidarity that could foster European democracy; this simply has not happened. The Greek crisis has become a clash of multiple European democracies, in which the weak must bend to the strong. Greeks are not getting the policies they voted for; but then again Germans and other Europeans would not have voted, given the chance, to bail out Greece. Without a European budget, crises of this nature are inevitable; without European democracy all solutions will lack political legitimacy.

The philosophical crisis is on display in Russia and the eastern borderlands of Ukraine. Ukrainians in 2013 demonstrated, in their revolution, a strong commitment to the idea of European integration. From the perspective of those who risked their lives on the Maidan, the central square in Kiev that was the center of the uprising, cooperation with Europe was essential for Ukrainian civil society to be able to mend the corrupt Ukrainian state. The essence and explicit purpose of Russia’s war in Ukraine, on the other hand, is the destruction of the European Union as a universalist project that Ukraine could join. In its place, Moscow wants to establish a rival to the EU, known as the Eurasian Union. Rather than universal recognition of the legality of states and rights of citizens, the Eurasian project proposes a Russian hegemony of territories that Russian leaders regard as historically theirs, such as Ukraine. Its moral premise is that members of the European Union have abandoned traditional European culture (by which is meant religious, sexual, and political exclusivism) for “decadence” and that only Russia represents civilization...."

http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2015/07/21/ukraine-kharkiv-edge-of-europe/