19 November 2023

Is Europe in decline?


Is Europe in decline?

Topic by Jorge

Notes by Lawrence


This issue of the decline of Europe may be viewed from two perspectives: political philosophy and geopolitics.


Issues in political philosophy include questions regarding the legitimacy of power, sovereignty, the role and scope of governments and the role of citizens within the state.


Geopolitics is more a concern about geographical local issues usually concerning land and sea territory together with diplomacy. In a way this should give us a better perspective of the underlying forces covering geopolitics and political philosophy. These forces are economic wealth creation and distribution.


Our topic about Europe covers both disciplines. Of course, Europe is just the name of a continent, but today that name also covers members of the European Union including those countries in Europe whose government choose not to belong to the European Union. Except, of course, as in most cases in nature and politics, big “bodies” attract “smaller bodies”; the EU attracts smaller countries.


Not too long ago in philosophy, it was said that one can do philosophy agreeing with Kant, or one can do philosophy disagreeing with Kant, but one cannot do philosophy without Kant. I do not know how true this is in the 21st Century, but as our good friend, Alfonso, used to say, Kant did not have an iPhone!


Today we can certainly claim that one can do European geopolitics in favour of the EU or one can go geopolitics against the EU but one cannot do geopolitics without the EU. Except today, we do have smart phones and iPhones.


But Europe has always been in the historical centre of geopolitics, except people did not call it the European Union; people use to call Europe with such names as the Roman Empire, French empire, Astro-Hungarian Empire, British Empire, Spanish empire and so on and so forth. What has changed is that for the first time in history these countries are acting in concert for the benefit of all.


As for political philosophy, there is a fundamental difference between the individual countries on the continent of Europe and the European Union today. But given the short term memory we have about history, I would not be surprised that younger generations do not know that the EU was born in the aftermath of the Second World War.


I would argue that the making of the European Union has been in gestation since the French revolution and the rise of Napoleon. Since the beginning of the 19th century, European countries have been in conflict with each until the present day, certainly until the end of WW2. Hence, it was about time that Europe has some peace and cooperation.


The key differences between pre-19th century Europe and the 19th Century (call it Modern Era Europe) are: technology, science, the fall of religious dogma and the sharing of ideas over further geographical distances. Today, November 2023, ideas, including news, are shared instantaneously with a large proportion of the people living today on Earth.


Maybe, for the first time in the history of economics, we understand what economists mean by economic agents having perfect information. Theoretically, today we can have sufficient information available to us to make rational decisions in the market place before we buy goods and services. Even then, few people, I recon take advantage of modern technology to access this information.


This is important for us because today many people still rely on the traditional sources of information distribution and have not adapted to information distribution on the internet. And the ideals of objective journalism have long disappeared in modern history.


Information is key to help us answer whether Europe is in decline. I would first and foremost say that Europe is in change and evolution; neither in decline nor increase.


What is clear, however, is that Europe is being challenged by outside forces and ideologies in a different and innovative way; there is nothing new about Europe being challenged. But what is new is that the nature of the challenge. People have access today to more information that what was never available before modern history.


Dictators do not like information and they are experts at misinformation, which is very difficult in an armada of different democratic countries to control and manage. Hence, the perception of Europe being in decline or fatal turmoil.


Today, as always, the challenges originate both from within and outside forces. Wealth control and manipulation is always an issue in Europe. Political ideology, which is the puppet of economic wealth distribution, will always paint a beautiful picture for the population who are the main source of wealth creation. For those who are familiar with the term, “the fat tail distribution” the population (citizens in political philosophy which is not exactly the same) is the key source of wealth distribution. The question is what to do with this stream of wealth and wealth creation.


But language is the main challenge for Europe: language unites us, languages keep us divided. Experts speak of the digital divide, but Europe is still in the middle ages of a language chasm. The question for us is whether geopolitics is also a language problem. Would geopolitical problems be easier to solve if we all spoke the same language?



Best and take care




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