The consensus is building that the European Union is a failed project – it is even clear from the TED talks and university lectures on the net - most of the speakers seem to be on the same page. Still, the convenience of having a common currency will keep it together for a while. If Italy was to re-introduce the lira, people with money will open an account in a German bank. It would be a massive flight of capital out of the country.
The European currency union is like Hotel California – you can check in, but you can’t check out.
Europe is a diversified number of nations differing in many things but concentrated on a smallish peninsula. With the history of some of the bloodiest wars in human history, it harbours a lot of distrust between the nations.
This is not America. A Texan person will tell you that he is American, but a German fellow will not introduce himself as European.
The risk of EU disintegrating comes at a time when the US is giving up the role as global security guarantor (and NATO is an institution without much meaning anymore). A new order is coming and with it an opportunity. The current economic system has a shelf life – it consists of constant government borrowing without paying anything back. A kid with a calculator can figure out how this is going to end.
Still, just predicting the going back to nation state building and the conflicts this may bring, is really an intellectual laziness, as it leaves something important out.
People adapt, their quest for survival and success is stronger than cultural heritage, my opinion.
But the system needs to change to foster this attitude. We should reject the neo-classic economic thought, and embrace the 21stcentury idea that economies are complex, adaptive ecosystems. They are not efficient at all, but effective when well managed. Capitalism does not work by actively allocating existing resources. It works by actively creating solutions to human problems - its an evolutionary solution finding system. The difference between a rich country and a poor country is the degree to which the society generated solutions for its citizens.
Still, some people just don’t adapt and I have a respect for this attitude.
Some people just leave their life behind in a plastic bag.
The postcard came in on a rainy Monday and I picked it up from the mailbox on my way back from the station. It was from a friend of mine.
“I couldn't stay and face the music”, she wrote, “you hear?”
“So many reasons why.”
I flipped to the other side.
“I won't be sending more postcards from Paraguay”.
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler