Anne Ap­ple­baum

The Great Re­gres­sion edited by Hein­rich Geisel­berger The End of Europe: Dic­ta­tors, Dem­a­gogues, and the Com­ing Dark Age by James Kirchick and four other books on the fu­ture of Europe

The New York Review of Books - - Contents - Anne Ap­ple­baum

The Great Re­gres­sion edited by Hein­rich Geisel­berger. Polity, 197 pp., $59.95; $16.95 (pa­per)

The End of Europe:

Dic­ta­tors, Dem­a­gogues, and the Com­ing Dark Age by James Kirchick.

Yale Univer­sity Press, 273 pp., $27.50

Af­ter Europe by Ivan Krastev.

Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia Press, 120 pp., $19.95

Slip­pery Slope:

Brexit and Europe’s Trou­bled Fu­ture by Giles Mer­ritt.

Ox­ford Univer­sity Press,

320 pp., $29.95; $16.95 (pa­per)

Rus­sia and the Western Far Right: Tango Noir by An­ton Shekhovtsov.

Rout­ledge, 282 pp.,

$150.00; $35.95 (pa­per)

In De­fence of Europe: Can the Euro­pean Project Be Saved? by Loukas Tsoukalis. Ox­ford Univer­sity Press, 238 pp., $30.00

Back in 2013—an age ago, the calm be­fore the storm—José Manuel Bar­roso, then the pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, gave a speech launch­ing a new project. This was be­fore the refugee cri­sis, be­fore the Rus­sian in­va­sion of Ukraine, be­fore the Bri­tish voted to leave the Euro­pean Union, be­fore the ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Paris, Brus­sels, Lon­don, and Barcelona.

Nev­er­the­less, Bar­roso—like many, many oth­ers—saw which way the wind was blow­ing even then. Europe’s lead­ers seemed tech­no­cratic and re­mote— and they knew it. Europe’s po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions were un­pop­u­lar. The euro cri­sis had left nu­mer­ous peo­ple an­gry and re­sent­ful. Worse, younger Euro­peans seemed not to get the point of the union at all. Bar­roso made a pro­posal:

I think we need, in the be­gin­ning of the XXI cen­tury, namely for the new gen­er­a­tion that is not so much iden­ti­fied with this nar­ra­tive of Europe, to con­tinue to tell the story of Europe. Like a book: it can­not only stay in the first pages, even if the first pages were ex­tremely beau­ti­ful. We have to con­tinue our nar­ra­tive, con­tinue to write the book of the present and of the fu­ture. This is why we need a new nar­ra­tive for Europe.

With that, he launched the “New Nar­ra­tive for Europe,” a cul­tural project that looked im­pres­sive on pa­per. Artists, writ­ers, and sci­en­tists from across the con­ti­nent signed a dec­la­ra­tion: “In light of the cur­rent global trends, the val­ues of hu­man dig­nity and democ­racy must be reaf­firmed.” They made con­tri­bu­tions to a new book, The Mind and Body of Europe: A New Nar­ra­tive. De­bates on the New Nar­ra­tive were held across Europe, in Mi­lan, War­saw, and Ber­lin as well as Brus­sels. Mem­bers of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion (each mem­ber state has one) held “cit­i­zens’ di­a­logues” across the con­ti­nent too. A New Nar­ra­tive web­site was cre­ated so that young Euro­peans could “have their say.”

The aim was to cre­ate a strong sense of Euro­pean fed­eral iden­tity, and while it’s easy for An­glo-Sax­ons to laugh, many mod­ern Euro­pean states were cre­ated by pre­cisely this kind of top-down cam­paign—think of the uni­fi­ca­tion of Italy or Ger­many in the nine­teenth cen­tury, or the res­ur­rec­tion of Poland af­ter World War I. Bar­roso’s project had some of the el­e­ments of a pop­u­lar na­tional move­ment: in­tel­lec­tual and artis­tic support, a con­sis­tent idea, an in­spir­ing con­cept.

Ex­cept, of course, that it was not pop­u­lar. The artists, writ­ers, and sci­en­tists squab­bled about the dec­la­ra­tion. The Mind and Body of Europe sank with­out a trace. The de­bates went un­re­marked. The web­site is still there but seems not to have been re­cently up­dated. None of the six books re­viewed here, all by ex­perts on Euro­pean pol­i­tics, men­tions the New Nar­ra­tive project at all. Giles Mer­ritt, the au­thor of Slip­pery Slope: Brexit and Europe’s Trou­bled Fu­ture, does have a sec­tion en­ti­tled “Search­ing for a ‘Grand Strat­egy’. . . or Even a New Nar­ra­tive,” but he fails to cite Bar­roso’s ini­tia­tive.

And yet in very dif­fer­ent ways, and for very dif­fer­ent rea­sons, all six of these books ul­ti­mately ar­gue that yes, a new nar­ra­tive, or a new Euro­pean po­lit­i­cal project, or an in­sti­tu­tional rev­o­lu­tion, is ex­actly what Europe needs. It’s not hard to un­der­stand why. The con­ti­nent is plagued by crises that can­not be solved by any one Euro­pean na­tion act­ing on its own: the ar­rival of mil­lions of mi­grants, the rise of ter­ror­ism, the spread of in­ter­na­tional cor­rup­tion, the im­bal­ances cre­ated by the sin­gle cur­rency, the high youth un­em­ploy­ment in some re­gions, the chal­lenge from a re­van­chist Rus­sia.

At the same time, Europe, like the Amer­i­can states be­fore they adopted the Con­sti­tu­tion in 1789, still has no po­lit­i­cal mech­a­nisms that can cre­ate joint so­lu­tions to any of these prob­lems. A com­mon Euro­pean for­eign and de­fense pol­icy is still a pipe dream; a com­mon bor­der is dif­fi­cult to en­force; a com­mon eco­nomic pol­icy is still far away. In­stead, de­ci­sions made uni­lat­er­ally by the larger states wind up de­ter­min­ing pol­icy for the con­ti­nent, of­ten cre­at­ing anger in smaller states. Al­ter­na­tively, de­ci­sions are not made at all, in which case the anger comes from the gen­eral pub­lic.

None of this is en­tirely new. As Hein­rich Geisel­berger writes in his in­tro­duc­tion to The Great Re­gres­sion, an an­thol­ogy of fif­teen es­says, all of the el­e­ments of Europe’s cur­rent predica­ment were pre­dictable and were in­deed pre­dicted not only in 2013 but back in the 1990s, an era of great op­ti­mism about Europe and more gen­er­ally about the global econ­omy: “All the risks of glob­al­iza­tion that were dis­cerned at the time ac­tu­ally be­came re­al­ity.” At the time it was also hoped that Euro­pean and in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions would bring peo­ple to­gether in ways that would make so­lu­tions pos­si­ble. Mem­ber­ship in the EU and NATO, as well as dozens of smaller or­ga­ni­za­tions ded­i­cated to ev­ery­thing from the reg­u­la­tion of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals to the pro­mo­tion of cul­ture, would grad­u­ally bring the con­ti­nent to­gether. Many hoped they would also even­tu­ally help in­te­grate Rus­sia and North Africa into Europe as well. But it didn’t hap­pen. De­spite those hopes, no col­lec­tive Euro­pean iden­tity has emerged in the past two decades, let alone a Western or “cos­mopoli­tan” col­lec­tive iden­tity that might be ca­pa­ble of for­mu­lat­ing a uni­fied po­lit­i­cal re­sponse to any of these prob­lems.

Read­ing through the cur­rent lit­er­a­ture on Europe, it isn’t hard to un­der­stand why. If the artists, writ­ers, and sci­en­tists as­signed to the New Nar­ra­tive could not agree on a way for­ward, nei­ther can the six books here. And it is no­table that al­though they come from dif­fer­ent coun­tries—the UK, the US, Greece, Ukraine, Ger­many, Bul­garia—the prob­lem isn’t one of na­tional dif­fer­ences. The is­sues that separate them are tem­per­a­men­tal, ide­o­log­i­cal, and even, one might say, es­cha­to­log­i­cal. Ul­ti­mately, they dis­agree about the endgame: where Europe is go­ing, what it should be­come, and what it should do in or­der to get there.

Most of the con­trib­u­tors to The Great Re­gres­sion at least start from the same van­tage point. Geisel­berger ex­plains that his book is de­signed to ad­dress not just a cri­sis but a “ne­olib­eral” cri­sis, one that he be­lieves has been caused by the rul­ing eco­nomic phi­los­o­phy of the past three decades, by which he means the phi­los­o­phy not just of Ron­ald Rea­gan and Mar­garet Thatcher but of Tony Blair, Bill Clin­ton, and the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund. Some of the ar­gu­ments here are fa­mil­iar and can be heard not only on the left but on the right and in the cen­ter. Fi­nan­cial mar­kets are too pow­er­ful; trade unions are too weak. Glob­al­iza­tion has been good for the wealthy in the West, bad for the poor. Dereg­u­la­tion has brought some ugly sur­prises.

Par­tic­u­larly given the EU’s rep­u­ta­tion among con­ser­va­tives in Bri­tain and the US as a left-lean­ing in­sti­tu­tion, some will be sur­prised to dis­cover that sev­eral con­trib­u­tors to The Great Re­gres­sion be­lieve that de­spite its re­dis­tribu­tive func­tions and its support for the so­cial wel­fare state, the EU is part of this same ne­olib­eral prob­lem. Robert Misik ar­gues, for ex­am­ple, that with its uni­form reg­u­la­tions and com­pe­ti­tion laws, the EU makes “prac­ti­cal im­ple­men­ta­tion of left-wing ideas” im­pos­si­ble. Be­cause this is the view held by Jeremy Cor­byn, the Bri­tish Labour Party leader, it’s an im­por­tant one to reckon with: af­ter all, if Labour had a pro-Euro­pean in­stead of a Euroskep­tic leader, Bri­tain might well not be leav­ing Euro­pean in­sti­tu­tions at all.

The trou­ble is that it isn’t clear what an al­ter­na­tive, more left-wing EU would look like. Should the mem­bers of the deeply in­ter­con­nected Euro­pean sin­gle mar­ket be al­lowed to na­tion­al­ize in­dus­try again? Na­tion­al­ize banks? Since these are all ideas that failed in the past, why would they work in the present? With sur­pris­ing prag­ma­tism, Slavoj Žižek sug­gests that a “left al­ter­na­tive” to the cur­rent in­ter­na­tional trade regime might be a “pro­gramme of new and dif­fer­ent in­ter­na­tional agree­ments—agree­ments which would es­tab­lish con­trol of the banks, en­force eco­log­i­cal stan­dards, se­cure work­ers’ rights, health­care ser­vices, the pro­tec­tion of sex­ual and eth­nic mi­nori­ties, etc.” Since this is some of what global trade agree­ments do al­ready, this is not par­tic­u­larly revo­lu­tion­ary, but at least it is a con­crete idea that could be im­ple­mented jointly, if there were the will to do so.

Yet even the con­trib­u­tors to The Great Re­gres­sion are not in to­tal agree­ment about the causes of the cur­rent malaise. Ivan Krastev, for ex­am­ple, is not much in­ter­ested in the own­er­ship of the means of pro­duc­tion but is ex­tremely con­cerned about mi­gra­tion, im­mi­gra­tion, and the “ma­jori­tar­ian” po­lit­i­cal im­pulses they have pro­voked. Both in his Great Re­gres­sion es­say and in his short book Af­ter

Europe, Krastev ar­gues that the waves of refugees head­ing for Europe have prompted, in many Euro­pean coun­tries, not merely eco­nomic fears and in­creas­ing lev­els of racism but a kind of “de­mo­graphic panic.” For his fel­low Bul­gar­i­ans, “the ar­rival of mi­grants sig­nals their exit from his­tory, and the pop­u­lar ar­gu­ment that an ag­ing Europe needs mi­grants only strength­ens the grow­ing sense of ex­is­ten­tial melan­choly .... Is there go­ing to be any­one left to read Bul­gar­ian poetry in one hun­dred years?”

Krastev also be­lieves that the por­ous borders within Europe, one of the great­est achieve­ments of the Euro­pean Union, turn out to have a psy­cho­log­i­cal cost. The ed­u­cated feel com­fort­able trav­el­ing, liv­ing, and work­ing all across the con­ti­nent. But those who can’t or won’t live abroad har­bor sus­pi­cions about those who do: “They feel com­fort­able in their eth­nic states and mistrust those whose hearts lie in Paris or Lon­don, whose money is in New York or Cyprus, and whose loy­alty is to Brus­sels.” The ru­ral– ur­ban di­vide that is so clear in the United States thus gains an ex­tra di­men­sion in Europe, where peo­ple in small towns and vil­lages have of­ten turned against the EU, while peo­ple in cities support it. It’s worth re­mem­ber­ing that the Brexit vote in Bri­tain was not only a rich vs. poor vote, it was also an ur­ban vs. ru­ral vote. Large swathes of the well-off English coun­try gen­try voted against the Euro­pean Union and its for­eign ways.

The side ef­fects of such dis­com­fort may be dan­ger­ous in­deed. In re­sponse to this chal­lenge, Krastev ar­gues, eth­nic and po­lit­i­cal ma­jori­ties in sev­eral coun­tries have be­gun to act like threat­ened mi­nori­ties them­selves. Claim­ing that they re­quire ex­tra­or­di­nary mea­sures to stay in power and “pro­tect the na­tion” from out­side threats and for­eign in­flu­ence, il­lib­eral lead­ers in Poland and Hun­gary have tried—the lat­ter suc­cess­fully, the for­mer thus far less so—to re­strict their courts and me­dia.

But the pro­mo­tion of the in­ter­ests of “True Poles” or “True Hun­gar­i­ans” over those of sup­pos­edly dis­loyal cos­mopoli­tan elites is not a par­tic­u­larly “East­ern Euro­pean” phe­nom­e­non. Had she won the French pres­i­dency, there is no doubt that Marine Le Pen, leader of the French Na­tional Front and the run­ner-up in the 2016 elec­tion, would have tried to do the same for the “True French”—and of course Don­ald Trump would like to do the same for “Real Amer­i­cans.” At their worst, the Bri­tish Brex­i­teers also sound quite a bit more like English na­tion­al­ists than the free-traders they claim to be.

Like his fel­low au­thors, Krastev is cau­tious about of­fer­ing so­lu­tions, be­yond the enig­matic ob­ser­va­tion that Europe’s crises have al­ways done more to pull the con­ti­nent to­gether than Europe’s in­sti­tu­tions. In The End of Europe, James Kirchick also of­fers dark com­fort: “Al­though there are many ar­gu­ments in fa­vor of Euro­pean in­te­gra­tion, per­haps the strongest is that the al­ter­na­tive is so much worse.” Kirchick, like Krastev, be­lieves that Europe’s deep­est prob­lems are not so much eco­nomic as psy­cho­log­i­cal and cul­tural. But he phrases the prob­lem dif­fer­ently. What Kirchick fears is a “loss of faith in the univer­sal, hu­man­is­tic val­ues of what might be called the Euro­pean idea.”

He sees, on the pop­ulist right, the same scorn for rule of law and demo­cratic norms that Krastev has ob­served. In a chap­ter on Hun­gary he quotes at length Hun­gar­ian Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Or­bán’s fa­mous ora­tion in praise of “il­lib­eral democ­racy,” dur­ing which he dis­par­aged the “di­vi­sive” na­ture of democ­racy and ad­vo­cated, in­stead, the emer­gence of a “great gov­ern­ing party...a cen­tral field of force, which will be able to ar­tic­u­late the na­tional is­sues...with­out the con­stantly on­go­ing wran­gling.” But Kirchick also sees dan­gers com­ing from an ide­o­log­i­cally rigid left that has sought to ig­nore the prob­lems caused by the im­mi­gra­tion wave, in­clud­ing the dan­ger­ous plague of Is­lamic ter­ror­ism and, in some places, a rise in crime. He ex­co­ri­ates the “con­stricted po­lit­i­cal dis­course in which de­cent, or­di­nary peo­ple are told not only that plainly vis­i­ble so­cial phe­nom­ena don’t ex­ist but also that voic­ing con­cerns about these al­legedly nonex­is­tent phe­nom­ena is racist.” Along those same lines, he wor­ries that the en­tire de­bate about im­mi­gra­tion will be­come a par­ti­san, bi­fur­cated bat­tle be­tween the gen­uinely racist far right and a “mul­ti­cul­tural” left that can’t bring it­self to ad­dress the pub­lic’s le­git­i­mate (or even il­le­git­i­mate) de­sire for more se­cu­rity.

Kirchick notes that these di­vi­sions have been de­lib­er­ately ex­ac­er­bated by an out­side force: Vladimir Putin’s Rus­sia, which has now de­fined the EU, along­side the US, as its most im­por­tant en­emy. Rus­sia dis­likes the EU be­cause it gives small Euro­pean coun­tries more clout in their deal­ings with Moscow— the EU can, for ex­am­ple, pre­vent the cre­ation of Rus­sian gas mo­nop­o­lies in East­ern Europe. Rus­sia also dis­likes the EU be­cause it of­fers a clear ide­o­log­i­cal al­ter­na­tive to cor­rupt oli­garchy. Ukraini­ans protest­ing against their pro-Moscow govern­ment in 2014 waved the EU flag be­cause they be­lieved it stood for the rule of law, an­ticor­rup­tion, democ­racy, and free speech. In re­sponse, Putin, whose worst night­mare is the emer­gence of pre­cisely that sort of crowd in Rus­sia, be­gan en­er­get­i­cally back­ing politi­cians and po­lit­i­cal par­ties on both the far left and the far right of the Euro­pean po­lit­i­cal spec­trum, pre­cisely in or­der to un­der­mine the Euro­pean project from within. This sub­ject takes us into the realm of ex­per­tise of An­ton Shekhovtsov, who has been track­ing and cat­a­logu­ing the Rus­sian re­la­tion­ship with the Euro­pean far right for many years. In Rus­sia and the Western Far Right: Tango Noir, Shekhovtsov lays out the his­tor­i­cal back­ground of the re­la­tion­ship, go­ing back to the Soviet era. He ar­gues that since the Rus­sian in­va­sion of Ukraine in 2014, the Krem­lin and groups loyal to it “dra­mat­i­cally stepped up ac­tive mea­sures and other sub­ver­sive ac­tiv­i­ties in­side the West.” In a dif­fer­ent era, this support might not have mat­tered. But thanks to the eco­nomic shifts and the mi­gra­tion/im­mi­gra­tion tur­moil de­scribed above, ex­trem­ism of all kinds was al­ready on the rise in Europe, just at the mo­ment when Rus­sia be­gan to put se­ri­ous re­sources into sup­port­ing it. That support now takes a num­ber of forms, rang­ing from Rus­sia’s out­right, openly ac­knowl­edged fund­ing for Le Pen’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign to more se­cre­tive at­tempts to ma­nip­u­late pub­lic opinion us­ing on­line hack­ing, trolls, and bots. These tech­niques, first used in Euro­pean elec­tions, were re­peated in the US in 2016 to great ef­fect. In a num­ber of Euro­pean coun­tries, in­clud­ing Italy and Ger­many, Rus­sia has made great in­roads into main­stream pol­i­tics as well, by es­tab­lish­ing eco­nomic re­la­tion­ships with pow­er­ful com­pa­nies and buy­ing the ser­vices of in­flu­en­tial politi­cians, among them the for­mer Ger­man chan­cel­lor Ger­hard Schroeder. But again, Shekhovtsov’s goal is not to find so­lu­tions but rather to lay out the pa­ram­e­ters of a prob­lem that few re­ally un­der­stand.

For a wider range of pos­si­ble so­lu­tions and pol­icy pro­pos­als, the reader must turn back to the books by Giles Mer­ritt and Loukas Tsoukalis, both of which are far more Brus­sels-cen­tric, pol­icy wonk­ish, prag­matic, and thus some­what harder to read than the oth­ers. These fo­cus on the EU as an in­sti­tu­tion, and they of­fer laun­dry lists of pol­icy rec­om­men­da­tions. Mer­ritt calls for, among other things, an EU-wide pro­gram to mod­ern­ize in­fra­struc­ture, a larger com­mu­nity bud­get, a more ac­tivist cen­tral bank. Tsoukalis wants poli­cies that en­cour­age so­cial co­he­sion, such as a Euro­pean un­em­ploy­ment scheme. Both men want, as many oth­ers do, re­form to the EU’s demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions. Sug­gested changes to the EU’s par­lia­ment have been un­der dis­cus­sion for years, in­clud­ing chang­ing its com­po­si­tion to in­clude mem­bers of na­tional par­lia­ments, or elect­ing can­di­dates from multi­na­tional con­stituen­cies. So far, all such projects have been halted by in­er­tia. Both men also want, again like many oth­ers, a more ro­bust EU for­eign pol­icy, one that would give Europe a voice in the world com­men­su­rate with its size and eco­nomic strength. In­deed, it is pos­si­ble to ar­gue that Europe’s fail­ure to have a for­eign pol­icy is the source of many of its prob­lems. A Europe that could stand up to Rus­sia would not be so eas­ily ma­nip­u­lated by Rus­sian dis­in­for­ma­tion. A Europe ca­pa­ble of end­ing the civil wars in Libya and Syria, in­stead of pre­tend­ing they weren’t hap­pen­ing, wouldn’t have a refugee cri­sis on the cur­rent scale at all. The trou­ble with all of these ideas is that they come back to the prob­lem that I be­gan with: to push through par­lia­men­tary re­form, to con­struct, fi­nally, a real Euro­pean army, to build support for a larger bud­get or cen­tral bank, Europe needs a set of in­sti­tu­tions to which peo­ple feel loyal and at­tached. To pro­vide small Euro­pean na­tions with the con­fi­dence they need to thrive in a glob­al­ized world; to in­spire enough growth to keep peo­ple thriv­ing in ru­ral Bul­garia or Spain; to cre­ate a real bor­der agency that makes peo­ple feel se­cure; to per­suade south­ern Euro­peans to take the Rus­sian threat se­ri­ously and East­ern Euro­peans to take the refugee cri­sis se­ri­ously—all of this re­quires a level of po­lit­i­cal en­ergy that al­ways seems to be miss­ing at the Euro­pean level, and even, in many Euro­pean coun­tries, at the na­tional level too.

Kirchick wants a “re­newal of the mus­cu­lar lib­eral cen­ter.” Tsoukalis writes that “Europe needs a game changer, one of those big ini­tia­tives that some­times in his­tory suc­ceeds in rad­i­cally trans­form­ing the scene.” Mer­ritt wants to “per­suade pub­lic opinion that we must re­think our com­fort­able and cher­ished as­sump­tions about Europe’s priv­i­leged place in the world,” and start fighting harder to be heard. In short, Europe needs a nar­ra­tive. It could be, of course, that a “game changer” is just around the cor­ner. Most of these books were pub­lished be­fore the lat­est round of Euro­pean elec­tions, and some of them seem pre­ma­turely gloomy. A gen­eral back­lash against Brexit and wide­spread re­vul­sion at Pres­i­dent Trump have al­ready re­duced support for the an­tiEuro­pean far right in Aus­tria and the Nether­lands. The un­ex­pected tri­umph of Em­manuel Macron, the very in­car­na­tion of mus­cu­lar lib­er­al­ism, in an elec­tion in one of Europe’s most im­por­tant coun­tries has set off a wave of spec­u­la­tion: Are there other Macrons wait­ing in the wings, per­haps in Poland or Italy, who could pull off the same trick?

The likely vic­tory of An­gela Merkel in Ger­many also changes the Fran­coGer­man re­la­tion­ship from a tired cliché into some­thing dy­namic. Dif­fer­ent though they are in char­ac­ter and back­ground—por­traits of them to­gether look like an al­le­gor­i­cal paint­ing, “Youth En­coun­ters Ex­pe­ri­ence”—both Merkel and Macron are com­mit­ted to the Euro­pean Union, to the po­lit­i­cal cen­ter, and per­haps, it has been hinted, to ma­jor re­forms. The no­tion of a Euro­pean fi­nance min­is­ter who could be­gin to co­or­di­nate the con­ti­nent’s eco­nomic pol­icy in a mean­ing­ful way has been dis­cussed; so has a Euro­pean army. If Merkel and Macron do push for those ma­jor re­forms, they are stak­ing ev­ery­thing on a propo­si­tion that hasn’t been tested: namely, that what peo­ple re­ally hate about Europe isn’t that it usurps na­tional power, but that it seems pow­er­less.

And if Merkel and Macron dis­ap­point? One Euro­pean diplo­mat of my ac­quain­tance likes to com­pare Europe and the US to the Western and East­ern halves of the old Ro­man Em­pire. The West im­ploded, with drama, vi­o­lence and crazy Cae­sars; the Byzan­tine East lin­gered on, bu­reau­cratic, stodgy, and pre­dictable, for many cen­turies. It’s not ex­actly an op­ti­mistic prece­dent for Euro­peans, but it’s a com­fort­ing one.

Pro-EU pro­test­ers at a demon­stra­tion against Poland’s right-wing govern­ment, War­saw, May 2016. The sign says, ‘The peo­ple de­fend the Con­sti­tu­tion as well as free­dom, laws, and the three­fold form of govern­ment.’

Mi­grants and riot po­lice at the Har­manli refugee camp in south­ern Bul­garia, near the Greek and Turk­ish borders, Novem­ber 2016

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