Political maps have changed much since one hundred years ago. Or two hundred, or five hundred.
Some changes have crept in; others have exploded. It can be interesting to look at old maps and think, how will ours look to our descendents?
Imperialism was the trend for much of the modern era. Most peoples were swept up into the folds of empires-- European, Turk, Chinese.
But West European colonialism dissolved in the 1960s, Soviet imperialism in the 1990s. Since then the trend has gone the other way: States are fracturing ever more.
1960 to 1990: A multiplication of states
The one exception is the quasi-super-state known as the European Union, which has been hoovering up members as fast as it can.
The recent eurozone crisis has led to calls for 'a United States of Europe.' Only a true federal authority in Brussels, with control over member states' moves, can lead to a happy European future:
European Commission vice-president Viviane Reding has predicted that the eurozone will become a federal state, while urging the UK not to leave the Union. ... “In my personal view, the eurozone should become the United States of Europe."
... Reding noted that euro countries have made an “extraordinary” leap in terms of integration due to the economic crisis. Citing the commission’s new powers to scrutinise national budgets and plans to create a banking union, she said: “a few years ago no one could have imagined member states being prepared to cede this amount of sovereignty.”
The United States itself, a grand experiment in federalism, has seen its central government intrude ever more deeply on states' rights over the last century. Is this a happy thing? At the same time, the massive post-1965 immigration experiment has flip-flopped U.S. demography.
These trends have created deep American fault lines. Europe is in fact trying to emulate the U.S. at the very moment when the latter seems to be fracturing. In both cases, then, we have a tension between creeping federal authority on one hand, and a desire by regions to throw off that authority on the other.
What does the future hold for these two super-states?
We at Those Who Can See feel it is naively optimistic to imagine in 100 years the maps of our descendents will look the same as ours. Where are these two chunks of the Europsphere headed?
I. The E.U.'s potential fracture
The recent EU elections sent a shock wave through Europe:
Eurosceptic and far-right parties have seized ground in elections to the European parliament, in what France's PM called a "political earthquake". UK Independence Party and French National Front both performed strongly. The three big centrist blocs all lost seats, though still hold the majority.
"The people have spoken loud and clear," a triumphant Marine Le Pen told cheering supporters at National Front (FN) party headquarters in Paris. "They no longer want to be led by those outside our borders, by EU commissioners and technocrats who are unelected. They want to be protected from globalisation and take back the reins of their destiny."
The three northern pillars of the EU--those who mostly keep its motor running--are the U.K., France, and Germany.
What have their people said?
- France: National Front storm to victory: 25%, 24 seats; Centre-right UMP 21%; President Hollande's Socialists a poor third with 14% - lowest ever EP score
- Britain: Eurosceptic UKIP in first place, with 27%, Conservatives on 24% and Labour about 25%, Greens beating Lib Dems
- Germany: Angela Merkel wins another election: 35% for her Christian Union, 27% for the centre-left SPD. Eurosceptic AfD score strong 7%
Why are so many Europeans angry about the EU? The reasons run the gamut from the dangerous...
...to the scandalous...
...to the tragicomic....
..Sovereignty is being squeezed at every turn. But the fact is, some ethnic groups seem more willing than others to be told what to do. So, will these three Euro-giants stay? If not, who will stay and who will go?
1) England: Don't tread on me
King John signing the Magna Carta, 1215
Social psychologist William McDougall said of the English:
In England on the other hand political activity has always been characterised by extreme jealousy of the central power, and by the tendency to achieve everything possible by local action and voluntary private effort. All reforms are initiated from the periphery, instead of from the centre as in France. (1)
Salvador de Madariaga, himself a Europhile, on the English:
The true category of English life is not equality but liberty. For liberty is the absence of political constraint, and we know that political constraint is unnecessary in a people gifted with a genius for spontaneous organization which puts its citizens automatically at the disposal of the community.
Each Englishman is his own regulator. ... The need of outside safeguards or guarantees of any kind is therefore less urgently felt than in other countries. The average level of honesty in English civil life is singularly high, as is shown in the usual disregard for detailed precautions against fraud or deceit. (2)
2) France: The State is my savior
De Madariaga again:
There is a distinction, as essential as evident, between French order and English spontaneous organization. English spontaneous organization is free, instinctive, vital, omnipresent, natural, simultaneous with action, unwritten. French order is official, imposed from above though accepted below, intellectual, artificial, regulated, preceding action by a complicated system of written laws which aim at foreseeing all possible cases.
While in England the anonymous citizen is supposed to be innocent until the contrary be proved, in France the anonymous citizen is considered as a hypothetical being in whom all evil intentions conspire and against whose machiavellian plans the State must be ever on guard.
... This watch must naturally have a watchmaker. The State is in France the watchmaker in chief of the social mechanism. Thus it is that the tendency so typically French towards centralizing all public functions in the State appears as a natural consequence of French intellectualism. (2)
3) Germany: Love of order
The legendary German clockmaker
Education philosopher Michael Demiashkevich:
To the average German a willing obedience to the authority of the State is a necessary and sublime reality of group life...the true basis of the German's willing and almost cheerful constant obedience to the State in all matters is his sentiment of ownership and participation in the great body national; ... (3)
German writer Eugen Diesel:
No country is outwardly more orderly than Germany. The concept of order is a sacred one,... The German loves hard discipline and precise commands; he always works best when he is treated in military fashion. ...
The Civil Service is ..., so to speak, there for its own sake, and not for the sake of those it is supposed to serve. ... The German has unlimited faith in the authorities; ... There is nothing which escapes the eagle eye and the conscientious care of officialdom.
... Once the individual German has taken anything in hand, his main desire is to carry it through to its conclusion with the least possible delay, without necessarily considering it in its general context at all. (4)
4) Comparing cultural values
Cross-cultural value studies have shown differences between ethnic groups, differences that could potentially make or break countries' continued membership in the E.U. The 1990s GLOBE Study from the U. of Pennsylvania was one of the biggest. What clues could it give us?
a) In-Group Collectivism ("Patriotism / Family Loyalty")
Which groups show the most patriotism and family loyalty? Which groups least? Will this effect long-term EU adhesion?
b) Societal Collectivism ("Team Player")
Which groups think most in terms of being "team players"? Which are most individualist? Will this have an effect?
c) Power Distance ("Hierarchy-Accepting")
Who is quickest to accept the inequality that hierarchy implies? Will this have an effect on EU membership?
What to make of all this? Will our three northern E.U. pillars stay in for the long haul? Predictions are dicey.
U.K.: English practicality means they don't attach any particular glory to belonging to the mythic E.U. Their genius for spontaneous self-organization makes them skeptical of far-away central authority. Immigration-overload is finally setting in. And their sense of fair-play disinclines them to eternally pay more into a group than they get out of it.
In 70% of polling done thus far, a majority of UK citizens have opted to leave the EU. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has promised a referendum on the question if he is reelected in 2015. We place even odds that in the next three years, the UK either votes to leave the EU or modifies its membership terms to such an extent that it is a de facto exit.
France: The French, on the other hand, have shown a marked preference for a heavily centralized authority. The thought of an army of fonctionnaires spending their tax money doesn't bother them in the least. They attach prestige to belonging to this august body.
That said, the French are growing more skeptical. Ten years ago, 67% wanted to stay in the EU; today that's only 51%. Immigration-fatigue has set in, and the euroskeptic National Front stormed the EU elections last month. Though it is rare indeed to see a referendum in France, should it come to that, there's an outside chance they could leave as well.
Germany: The Germans are seen by many as the lynchpin of the European project. The Central Bank is found in Frankfurt; the euro itself stands or falls mostly on the steadfast sobriety of the German saver. Orderly, conscientious, thoroughgoing, patient... The German is known for his 'unlimited faith in his authorities': Does that include extra-national ones?
The euroskeptic party drew a paltry 6.5% in the recent EU elections. Latest polls show one in four Germans wanting to leave the eurozone, but most are very much in favor of staying in the EU itself. If many believe Germany is the heart of the EU, they also seem to believe it themselves. If ever this 28-state-strong body were to collapse, we predict Germany as the last member standing.
A headless E.U.: Could the Northern big hitters bow out?
In the final analysis, if even just the U.K. left the E.U., the resulting hole in the budget would be crippling. The super-state would have to drastically cut its functions. Were the U.K. and France to go, the institution itself might not survive. If it did, it would be in skeletal form compared to today. A suivre...
II. The United States--down a similar path?
While the EU might start shedding member states, the U.S., we believe, will see a slow ethnic cleansing of certain regions, a de facto national fracture that is already well underway.
Secession comes in many flavors. The U.S. Civil War was the last time any real such attempt was made. Are there other ways to re-draw the lines on a map?
1) The Southwest--Mexico Norte?
While many predict another wave of secession in America's near future, we think it just as likely that the current ethnic cleansing continues apace, creating de facto Mexico Norte. What is the evidence?
We know many of our neighbors to the South have not yet digested the 1845 defeat that turned the Southwest over to the U.S.:
Their sentiments can be captured in one image:
Reconquista is on their minds:
How close are they to their goal?
As California goes, so goes the Southwest?
According to California Governor Jerry Brown’s new state budget, Latinos are projected to become the largest single racial/ethnic group in the state by March of this year, making up 39% of the state’s population. That will make California only the second state, behind New Mexico, where whites are not the majority and Latinos are the plurality.
Will Euros be willing to stick around in such an environment?
California still has - by a huge margin - the highest poverty rate of any state under an alternative Census Bureau calculation that includes the cost of living. The Census Bureau report, issued Wednesday, says that nearly a quarter of California's 38 million residents live in poverty by the alternative method - almost 9 million - and the state's 23.8 percent rate is approached only by Washington, D.C.'s 22.7 percent.
...with such schools?...
California students performed about the same in reading and math on this year’s National Assessment of Educational Progress as they did in 2011, ranking among the 10 lowest performing states in the country.
Overall, California students continue to rank near the bottom on the national assessment: Fourth graders scored 46th in the nation in math, and 47th in the nation in reading; eighth graders ranked 43rd in the nation in math and 42nd in reading.
...these levels of welfare...
34% of the nation’s welfare recipients live in California but only 12% of the U.S. population resides here.
They very well may not.. Census 2020 will tell us the tale...
2) Black downtowns / White suburban 'new cities'
The project of forced racial integration in both the North and South has certainly had its casualties. At the time of Brown vs. Board of Education, some southerners threatened 're-secession.' Such rumblings have swelled up periodically ever since. But what is the reality on the ground?
A de facto return to segregation is already underway, in Baton Rouge, LA:
The predominantly white and wealthy residents of the southern area of Baton Rouge have proposed seceding from the city proper and incorporating into a new one to be called “St. George.” ... The “St. George” proposal would create a poor, black, and urban Baton Rouge and a wealthy, white, and suburban “St. George.”
As a result of the unsavory politics in urban Atlanta, northern suburban communities acted to distance themselves. Beginning in 2005, many communities began the process of incorporating into cities. Thus far, Milton, Sandy Springs, Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Chattahoochee Hills and Johns Creek have done so.
These cities, after breaking away politically from urban Atlanta, have become so successful that ... the Economist has also applauded [them] for solving the problem of unfunded government pension liability and avoiding the bankruptcy that looms over some urban areas. The new cities may soon be able to create their own school districts,...
The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus filed a lawsuit in 2011 to dissolve the new cities, claiming they were a “super-white majority” and diluting the voting power of minorities.
Some homeowners in Ballantyne are coming together with one goal on their minds: to separate from the city of Charlotte. ... [Tim] Timmerman’s vision calls for dissolving all political ties with Charlotte, creating a town council and electing a mayor. It also calls for forming independent school for neighborhoods willing to join.
Fifty years after the 'end' of segregation, it seems certain things may be coming full circle. Balkanization, history has shown, need not be officially recognized in order to exist.
3) Wholesale secession?
As noted, we believe it is more likely that parts of cities will quietly secede from the 'parent city' to form de facto ethnic enclaves. However, it is true that some state and national secession movements continue to thrive, as we've seen in Western Maryland, Northern Colorado, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan ('Superior'), Northern California and Southern Oregon ('Jefferson'), or the wholesale secession efforts of Alaska, Texas, or Vermont:
We're hard-pressed to say, as federal authority grows ever stronger, if such movements will decrease or increase in intensity. Watch this space.
* * *
'Self-determination of peoples,' that rallying cry of the colonized, is today being used in ever new ways. The Scots, the Catalonians, the Flemish are feeling their way to nation-hood.
Territorial disputes in the Caucasus, in Libya, in Iraq could easily lead to the creation of more states. There's a fair chance Nigeria and Mali could follow the path of Sudan. As this fracturing trend continues, increasing unrest in both the E.U. and the U.S. could lead to regional break-ups there as well. The recent 'electoral earthquake' in the E.U. is surely a sign of things to come.
History has given us no reason to believe that lines drawn on maps are immutable. We'd do well to brace ourselves for interesting times ahead.
(1) McDougall, William. Group Mind:A Sketch of the Principles of Collective Psychology, with Some Attempt to Apply Them to the Interpretation of National Life and Character. NY: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1920.
(2) De Madariaga, Salvador. Englishmen, Frenchmen, Spaniards: An Essay in Comparative Psychology. London: Oxford university Press, 1929.
(3) Demiashkevich, Michael. The National Mind: English, French, German. NY: American Book Company, 1938.
(4) Diesel, Eugen. Germany and the Germans. Robson-Scott, W.D., Translator. NY: The Macmillan Company, 1931.