Saturday, June 25, 2016

Leviathans

In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain, and consequently, not culture of the earth, no navigation, nor the use of commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building, no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force, no knowledge of the face of the earth, no account of time, no arts, no letters, no society, and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short........Hobbes, Leviathan

Hobbes had a jaundiced view of human nature, a view that has plenty of supporting evidence. The rise of the modern state has clearly greatly reduced internal carnage. If individuals can't be trusted, though, how much less can states? Again history offers a harsh verdict. War and pillage make their bloody path through its every page.

The exceptional cases almost always involve a large scale leviathan - The Roman Empire, for example, and today, the US hegemony. Periods of peace have always tended to lull people into believing that peace is the natural state of things, and such illusions frequently lead them to be enslaved by the more bloody minded.

The European Union was conceived as a beneficent leviathan to quell the incessant wars that have troubled Europe for millennia. It was always a flabby leviathan, but, together with NATO, it has more or less worked for the last half century plus. It has long needed serious reform, but now the stupid stupid British have decided to demolish it. The young of Britain aren't happy, but the young have always paid the price for the folly of the old.

Europe is now a miscellaneous collection of tiny, weak states, almost none of which have any substantial capability for self-defense. Except for the US, and NATO, these vain little statelets would be gobbled up by somebody hungry.

The US, too, is turning inward, and Europe is likely to be left more to its own devices. There is essentially no sign that European states, individually or collectively, are willing to face or solve their problems. I don't think Europe can avoid dissolution without forming "a more perfect union," and I see no sign of that.