Political Attitudes In Europe

Discussion in 'Political Science' started by Edward Leon, Mar 13, 2015.

  1. Edward Leon

    Edward Leon Newly Registered

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    Please excuse my ignorance, if I have posted this in the incorrect sub-forum but I am new here. I have lived in the United Kingdom for a few years and have traveled to most of Europe, and felt the need to analyze the European way of life from an outside lens. This is by no means a critical piece, and I try to steer away from normative thinking, however I try to explain the behavior of the European people and how the European Union came about; the latter is a relatively easy task, compared to explaining why the democratic process differs between countries. I have posted the book in essay format so pardon if it does not seem consistent or does not have a certain level of continuity. Once the book is finished, I will organize the essays by chapter in order to ensure the transition between each essay is more fluid and comprehensible.

    Please do enjoy.



    Table of Contents
    [/SIZE]

    Preface [in need of revision]
    Supranational Justifications [to be continued]
    On Revolutionary Thought [completed]
    Aesthetic Values [to be continued]

     
  2. Phoebe Bump

    Phoebe Bump New Member

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    I think there is a kind of nationalistic fever sweeping Europe now that the Muslims and Jews have brought their 1500 year old war to just about every country in Europe.
     
  3. Statistikhengst

    Statistikhengst Well-Known Member

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    Uhm, where is the document??
     
  4. Independant thinker

    Independant thinker Banned

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    Yep. They used to call it "a race problem".

    As in when the Australian Returned Services League said about letting jews into Australia after ww2," we don't have a race problem in this country so it's best not to create one"
     
  5. Edward Leon

    Edward Leon Newly Registered

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    Preface

    The evolution of political attitudes in Western Europe has been a daunting process that has lasted for hundreds of years, with the current Capitalistic economic system superseding feudalism, along with the eventual dominance of the Burgher social class over the Feudal lords; this is something that a writer such as Alexis de Tocqueville would fully consider when publishing ‘Democracy in America’ in the 1830’s. De Tocqueville was otherwise known for popularizing the usage of the concept of Individualism in the political sciences, when describing the American political culture. ‘Democracy in America’ has allowed for a sharp comparison between the cultures of the two continents, and made attempts at addressing the question regarding why democracy was able to survive on the North American continent, but quickly dissipated in the European continents. If one were to look at the revolutions of 1830, 1848 and the various insurgencies and rebellions posed throughout the European continent in the 19th century, it would baffle anyone that European countries and state did not become modern liberal democracies sooner. It seems complicated, that the eventual rise of the liberal democracy was only solidified by the consequences of two World Wars, and the externalities presented by Industrialization; this involves the exploitation presented during the last phase of European colonialism and the repercussions of eventual decolonization, as in the Suez Canal crisis in 1956.

    In this text I am not going to sharply criticize European way of life, but to better explore it and its ramifications concerning the formulation of government institutions, that classify it as a modern liberal democracy. Various writers would simply state that security is the mentality of the many peoples of Europe, but I believe there are underlying factors which have caused the European people to behave this way, or at least give the illusion of this behavior. I have not yet visited every country in this continent and feel that I have not fully explored all aspects of European life; this serves as a file of notes attempting to address the psychological behaviors and political attitudes that have shaped the modern day European. In some ways it is the opposite of what Alexis de Tocqueville did, in that I have traveled from over 3000 miles in order to explore a land that I myself have viewed as distant and mystical during my upbringing. My father has never set foot on this continent and firmly holds the mentality of the New World, though my mother lives in London; her mentality has reminded me of someone who is exploring a very new concept as if she were Alice in Wonderland. Both of my parents are from the New World, so this study will be concerning European political attitudes compared to the America’s. It is an oddity that most governmental systems of the Federal type are in the America’s, rather than the unitary types found in the rest of the world; Russia, India and Germany are the main exceptions to this allegation. However, is it the cries of liberty and independence that roared throughout the 18th and 19th century America’s that propelled this concept of separation of power? It seems as though the minds of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Simon Bolivar helped shape the political attitudes needed to arrange for this to occur, however could the repercussions of colonization played a major role in shaping those very attitudes? Being that this will mainly focus on European affairs, I will only draw upon the aforementioned in comparative cases that relate to the formulation of European attitudes.

    I have only traveled through most of Western Europe and some of Northern and Central Europe, so for the purpose of this independent study I will largely ignore East-Central Europe and Eastern Europe, in order to avoid further inaccuracies. That being said, I will include the patrimonial culture presented in the Slavic speaking countries in order to reflect upon historical situations that are relevant to the evolution of Western European political culture, but I will not delve much further into the subject. This patrimonial culture reflects upon the centuries of Tsarist rule in Russia, and is also shown due to the failure of the Russian provisional government in 1917 which was indeed a republic, and it’s eventually deposition of that regime at the hands of the Bolsheviks. The failures of representative democracy in Eastern Europe can allow us to visualize the seeds of success that allowed Western European states to maintain their respective Liberal Democracies for a prolonged period of time. The study will mainly be limited to the United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy and Belgium, however I will place more emphasis on the first two countries mentioned. The reason for this is because I am a current resident of the United Kingdom and therefore I have been exposed to their culture for a prolonged period of time. I included Sweden because I had recently stayed there for a while and as a result it gave me the opportunity to explore the basic functionalities of Swedish political culture, though this may still not be sufficient in properly exploring the Swedish mentality. For further analysis and accuracy I have provided a list of countries and regions that I have visited in the past, along with their respective populations, in order to give a better image of my travels, and to demonstrate that I have sufficiently been exposed to the general cultural patterns of these countries.


    France- Île-de-France 11,980,000; Picardie 1,890,000; Nord-Pas-de-Calais 4,110,000
    Total: 17,980,000
    Germany- Bayern 12,520,000
    Total: 12,520,000
    Austria- Salzburg 530,000
    Total: 530,000
    Italy- Lazio 5,550,000
    Total: 5,550,000
    Sweden- Västra Götaland 1,590,000
    Belgium- Bruxelles/Brussel 1,140,000; Oost-Vlaanderen 1,460,000; West-Vlaanderen 1,170,000; Vlaams-Brabant 1,100,000; Brabant-Wallon 390,000; Hainaut 1,320,000; Namur 480,000; Luxembourg 270,000
    Total: 7,330,000
    Luxembourg- Luxembourg 540,000
    Total: 540,000
    The United Kingdom- England 53,010,000; Scotland 5,330,000
    Total: 58,340,000
    Total Potential Populations Encountered: 104,380,000


    Based on the list provided above, I decided to only separate countries by administrative units if the populations were of sufficient size and had distinct cultural differences, as with the case in Belgium; Wallonia speaking French and Flanders speaking Flemish or otherwise known as Belgian Dutch; England and Scotland, especially in light of recent discussion regarding Scottish independence. It would be a fallacy to say that I have met each and every one of these individuals, or even half, because that is simply improbable; however, the pool of different minds that this base number offers, has allowed me an extensive yet unbiased insight into various cultures. I cannot fully generalize each of these cultures as I have never been to Southern France, Southern Italy or Northern Germany, which are radically different to their counterparts; I can make sound judgment in the general trends and themes that have been presented to me over my travels. I will tend to ignore general culture norms that often prove irrelevant to the molding of political beliefs and ideals. The use of political jargon may also intimidate the reader, but I will do the best I can to properly explain unfamiliar terminology and keep simplicity in consideration. That being said, I believe I have addressed if not most of the issues that I feel would concern any individual reader. In my last point I would like to express that I have followed no particular path towards citing references within the text, however I do provide influential works in the end, which have enlightened me further in the subject and provided sound insight into political science in general. I hope you enjoy my comprehensive study on European culture and do not become offended by the content, as this analysis is based on cultural and historical implications that have shaped how Europeans as individuals think and perceive life. It is mainly based on an outside perspective, which is why it may seem radical in its approach, but I hope readers can get some information regarding this subject and think for themselves regarding how cultures work and how our world has been shaped; I am not necessarily professing a cultural relativist attitude, or otherwise one in which different cultures have different moral standards and norms. I believe us as humans share common values to an extent, similar to what Claude Lévi- Strauss mentioned regarding structuralism; for the sake of this study, I will not admit to accepting structuralism, since there are underlying factors that eventually separate cultures from each other. Please enjoy this study...

    Supranational Justifications

    The phenomenon that is the European Union began in the aftermath of the Second World War, when various Western European countries began shifting towards more interdependence, due to overlapping interests mostly in the economic and technological fields. The foundation of the European Coal and Steel Community through the 1951 Treaty of Paris, finalized the first step of closer European integration, thus deterring any possibility of war in the near future; the reason for this, was because competitiveness among Western European countries would become virtually non-existent, especially concerning raw material that would be seen as crucial for warfare, such as steel and coal. France in particular was nervous regarding the possible economic mobilization of production in the German Ruhr valley, because this is what allowed the prolonged accumulation of stockpiles for both the Nazi Third Reich and German Empire in both world wars; the intensive British night bombing of the Ruhr during 1943-1945 demonstrates this concern that the Allied forces had during the Second World War. This was an area of concern for France, which led to the French military occupation of the Ruhr during the 1920’s and German demilitarization of the Rhine up until 1936. The concept of further European integration has been explored by Social Scientists through the idea Structural Functionalism, that states that European countries have opted for further integration due to overlapping societal, economic and technological interests, however for this topic will not be reviewed in detail. Now we must explore the justifications people have given to the creation of the European Union as a supranational organization, as well as the cultural themes that have allowed this union to take form now rather than 100 or so years ago; some would argue that the European Union should be treated much like a confederacy.

    The nationalist attitudes displayed during the revived efforts of Imperialism in the late 19th century may give a clue as to how the European economy and cultural identity would converge sufficiently to give way to such a political union; this had not yet been witnessed since the days of the Roman Empire almost two millennia ago. The completion of German and Italian unification in 1871 tackled the largest obstacle to European integration; both areas were known as buffer zones in the various wars between Western and Eastern European powers. The reason for the decentralization of state powers in Italy and Central Europe is more to do with the structure of the various principalities and political enclaves that comprised of this region. I will not delve so deep into the medieval ramifications of Central Europe’s political history, however the formation of the Holy Roman Empire and the power of the Papacy can hint at clues as to why these regions never formed into formidable political unions. The strong aristocratic roots of European society have evidently shaped the mentality of people; the French revolution and revolution of 1848 countered this, but they did not build a sufficient framework to really revolutionize the mentality of the European commoner. The contrast between society in the Old World and that of the New World is in my opinion staggering, as both emphasize on the importance of different values; the former somewhat concentrating on a natural hierarchy in society. This is not necessarily social class in the economic sense, but regarding positions in society and the elevation of status; in communism there is the proletariat and bourgeoisie; in the state there is the leader and follower. This ancient mentality can be found in much of the world; however it has been prevalent in European society since the dissolution of the Roman Empire. In this, it emphasizes on a government’s responsibility to administrate the state in order to attain the maximum amount of happiness, though pragmatism may sometimes be ignored entirely; the government takes on a nurture role in overseeing societal activities. In the Western Hemisphere the attitudes on the role of government have more to do with political efficacy and maintaining a certain transparency in government that would promote the sense of liberty that is subconsciously entrenched into the minds of Americans; in a Lockean sense, the government is legitimized by public consent and is restricted from a nurture role.

    A form of civic nationalism was present during Antiquity that played a role in encouraging the fluid interaction between the individual and the state, as if they were one entity; a patron client system was present in Roman political society, and though it continued to exist into Medieval Europe in the form of Kings and Dukes, the mechanism of government was not as fully integrated as before. The isolated nature of European countries did not emphasize the need for such an extensive patron client system as in Rome; communication was thinly defined between neighbors and Kings could largely keep their decentralized realms in check by intimidation and partial subjugation. My previous remark on the nurturing role of government in Europe shows the indirect reasoning behind the European Union and the need for a stronger continental government to quell the problems Europeans had been facing; particularly the destructive wars and economic competition, since the bipolar atmosphere of the world was focused on external powers. The long process of this government hierarchy and higher order of things simply formulated in each country separately, and was significantly accelerated by the globalization of the last century. The political shift of global power from Europe to the US and the Soviet Union also redirected national policies in order to keep those problems in check, rather than focusing on domestic European issues. I will explore these issues in more depth separately, but this is to provide a basic understanding of supranational justification.

    On Revolutionary Thought

    For centuries, the legitimacy of the status quo of various governments has been taken into question by 'revolutionaries'; the late 19th and early 20th century portrays this problem, as liberal ideals began to clash with the framework of European imperialism. However, it seems as if this process was solidified by the institution changing repercussions of national unification (Italy in 1870 and Germany in 1871). There seems to be a parallel with the restructuring of government framework and revolutionary dissidence that could only bring in conflicting ideas regarding a nation’s social contract. It’s not necessarily true that governments actually altered their contracts with the common people, but that this 'symbolic' shift in government framework and altered perceptions regarding this social contract is therefore promulgating dissidence. In order to understand this dilemma, we must analyze the social contract in Hobbesian terms. Thomas Hobbes was a philosopher who lived in 17th century England, in a time where absolutism was shifting to more constitutional representation because of the English Civil War, and argued on the legitimacy of government through such contracts. To think in broader terms, a social contract is essentially an often immaterial 'document' that binds people together through the exchange of rights. If one person agreed to not steal from another, then a reciprocal action would be expected. This virtually guaranteed the rights of various individuals in ancient clans and would eventually develop into the base of government. In reality, all of our institutions and governmental framework are built upon such a contract because it impedes the condition of greed found so often in human nature. In the case of Hobbes, a government can be legitimized via the contract if it has not been significantly altered, but the revolutionary ideologies that sprang up in the late 19th century defy this. If the status quo of a contract is kept intact without any changes, then why should revolutionaries have the right to overthrow a government; does government framework play a big role in altering this 'perception' people have of the government? Does the symbolic alteration of government discourage political efficacy? Events such as the American Civil War were solely based on symbolic alignments of government, rather than alterations of individual security – the Confederacy seceded because Abraham Lincoln stepped into power, even though he himself was never an abolitionist.
    The main cases studies, regarding the symbolic change of government, are the unification of Germany and Italy. Both governments had soft authoritarian tendencies, as they had a militaristic drive for conquest, as well as cutthroat diplomatic machinery. However, once the unification's were processed, revolutionary thinking expanded and many ideologies weren't seen as abstract collections of ideas as the decades before. Karl Marx, who laid the foundation for Marxism, did not gain sufficient support in his home country of Prussia (the direct predecessor of Germany), and thus moved to London in order to better organize his political association. There seems to be a correlation with symbolic shifts of government and this revolutionary thinking, as Marx would have undoubtedly garnered support in what would be known was the German Empire – the German revolution of 1918 demonstrates this. However, other states such as the British Empire were never as threatened with revolutionary dissidence as Germany. Could it be that the reason for this is that the framework of the British government was relatively consistent for a couple of centuries, as compared to the turbulent shifts witnessed in central Europe? Britain was a constitutional monarchy; however, there were numerous factors that would have been sufficient in instigating popular uprisings throughout the Empire, such as imperialism, revolutionary influence from mainland Europe, depraved industrial conditions and excessive centralization. There is only one explanation: Britain was never harmed by revolution because it maintained the symbolism of its government in a consistency that did not aggravate revolutionary thought; people are driven to insurrection by symbolism, rather than the reality concerning alterations of the social contract.
    The situation found in central Europe during the late 19th century only demonstrates the surface of the problem. Human behavior tends to be keen on the effects of symbolism and gestures, therefore causing this sense of paranoia that many had felt more than a century ago. It just seems incomprehensible that the rallying call for so many people was not based on factual security issues, but on symbolism that was undoubtedly misinterpreted. The German revolution came to be via the demise of the German Empire, but the potentialfor symbolic regime change cited during the October 1918 negotiations between the Entente and Germany, caused mass revolutionary hysteria. The social contract of Germany had a high chance of becoming more liberal with the Empire, but this change was seen as promulgating insurrection. The question that remains is not how maintaining the status quo would be a good thing, but why people rally under an alien banner against an imaginary threat created by their illusions of government.

    Aesthetic Values

    Thereare aesthetic differences that must be addressed between the variousEuropean nations, and inevitably between the America's and Europe.Although the European continent is filled with countless ancientvillas and castles of great importance, the average European seemsdisconnected from the importance these landmarks give to theatmosphere of the continent. For Americans, the culture and heritageof the European continent seems similar to a dream; a distantthought. It is although the shores of the Atlantic truly separate thetwo continents in metaphysical terms. One side is vaguely existent tothe other, but not empirically consistent; there is a fantasticalview of the other, similar to how the early explorers of the 16thcentury felt before departing their safe havens to the unknown. Thereeven seems to be aesthetic differences in the military, regarding theform of march in which the soldiers conducts themselves. The NorthAmerican soldier generally conducts him or herself in a very relaxedmanner, much like the British, but with less form and rigidity. Theexception is Mexico, which follows a pattern similar to other Latincountries, which in itself is quite rigid and militaristic. However,I was surprised by the uniformity in marching technique in Latincountries, as they are consistent and also involve a relatively fastcadence, where the knees are picked up high, as if one were runningin place. This seems related to the problems Latin America faced whengearing towards democratization. Many of these countries facedmilitary warlords known as Caudillos, and constant Oligarchies thuspromulgating a patrimonial attitude in the general population. Thisis a simple observation that I will not delve into, as I wish to payparticular attention to the difference in march form between Westernand Eastern Europe, as this gives us a picture on what constitutesaesthetics in each country.
    WesternEuropean countries have a marching form, similar to the United Statesthat encompasses a more relaxed and natural stride. In the UnitedStates, this gained prominence because of the highly valued militiaculture, that shaped its early colonial and post-colonial history.Since Militia men were lightly trained and not professional inwarfare, they walked like normal folk, often employing pragmatism rather than military tradition. The American thirteen colonies priorto that, did not possess a solid military infrastructure ortradition, and often relied on militias in order to keep public orderin check. The British and French do stride with a more rigid andelegant style, but they lack the machine like element that manyEastern European countries seem to possess in military ceremonies.Central European military tradition transforms into a much morerobotic appearance that strives to perfect the technique. EasternEuropean military tradition possesses similar qualities, however withmore ferocity and showmanship. The central European military orderhas been constantly refined since the end of the second world war,quite possibly limiting their abilities to preform withcharacteristics similar to Eastern European countries. The goose-stepstyle march is seen as reminiscent to early 20th centuryGerman military expansionism, therefore the military establishmenthas been forced to reconcile and refine itself in order to not causeoffence. The situation differs in many Eastern bloc countries, beingthat they simply fell into disarray more so because of inwardpressures, than outward pressures. Thus they would retain thatparticular style with ease and continue the tradition. Looking backat militia culture in colonial America, there is a sense of duty,protection based on necessity and soft tones of democracy; manycolonial leaders were awarded commissions, convened in a much moredemocratic way, and kept transparency open with the civilianpopulation. These factors indicate that militias hoist largerdemocratic principles than the military; particular attention shouldbe paid to the transparency between the militiaman and the civilian,since they both are inter-linked whereas a soldier would not be asdirectly connected with a civilian. This element of transparency isthe sharpest indicator of democratization, and shows that democraticvalues would be much more susceptible to countries with a strongmilitia culture. That being said, most, if not all countries containmilitias, however countries that have a history of strong militiaculture seem to be the ones that have higher rates of democracy anddemocratic ideals; they have less patrimonial tendencies. It shouldbe established that militias need to be impartial and need not beused for political gains. In many Latin countries militias were usedto thrust political power. It is also strange to find many WesternEuropean countries as having this relaxed form of marching, as wellas relatively high militia culture. This is but a brief observation,and I will not touch marching forms more- the question has justmerely been presented for the reader to ponder.
     
  6. unbiased institute

    unbiased institute Member

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    Why do you suggest that Europe has a culture?
    I don't know what you mean when democracy dissipated in the European continent.
    Most revolutions involved in the springtime of nations weren't successful.
    I don't agree with that.
    Why do you equate the Suez crisis with colonialism?
    You've missed out other exceptions.

    I don't think so. The separation of power amongst European countries had been under way well before 1783.
     
  7. Gizmo

    Gizmo New Member

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    When did democracy dissipate in Europe? I must have missed that.

    And Europe is a continent, there is nothing homogenous about it, therefore it couldn't possibly have a culture of its own, it is a mix of many cultures.
     
  8. waltky

    waltky Well-Known Member

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    Granny says, "Dat's right - hurry up an' do nuthin'...
    :grandma:
    Global leaders mull response to Paris attacks, but little indication of next steps
    November 16, 2015 – Pressed for a strong answer to the Islamic State group's attacks in Paris, the world's top industrial and developing nations are set to outline their coordinated response to what President Barack Obama has described as an "attack on the civilized world."
    See also:

    Obama Defends His Strategy on ISIS
    NOV. 16, 2015 — President Obama declared on Monday that his strategy for defeating the Islamic State is working despite last week’s horrific attacks in Paris, forcefully rejecting calls for escalating the use of military force in the Middle East or turning away Syrian refugees at home.
    Related:

    France seeks united US-Russia assault on Islamic State
    Nov 16,`15 -- France wants to bring the United States and Russia together in a grand coalition dedicated to smashing the Islamic State group, President Francois Hollande told lawmakers Monday in a rare joint session in the Palace of Versailles as authorities worldwide struggled to pinpoint those responsible for the deadliest attacks on French soil since World War II.
     
  9. waltky

    waltky Well-Known Member

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    Belgium becomes safe haven for terrorists...
    :omg:
    How Belgium became a breeding ground for international terrorists
    Monday 16 November 2015 - Until now, European security services largely ignored the growth of extremism in the Muslim neighbourhoods of Brussels
    See also:

    Isis 'caliphate' setbacks may matter less to group as it changes tack
    Monday 16 November 2015 - Islamic State’s hold on territory may be slipping, but attacks in Paris, Tripoli and elsewhere show an international potency it did not have a year ago
     
  10. waltky

    waltky Well-Known Member

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    Belgium Has Become Europe's jihadist hothouse...
    :omg:
    Paris attack: Why Belgium is at the heart of a destructive wave of terror in Europe
    Nov 17, 2015 - As a modest, if prosperous nation of just 11 million, Belgium rarely makes news headlines, yet today it has the unenviable distinction of being Europe's jihadist hothouse.
    See also:

    Paris attacks highlight encryption concerns: US
    Nov 18, 2015 | WASHINGTON: US lawmakers said on Tuesday it was likely that new, difficult to break "end-to-end" encryption technologies were used by individuals in Belgium, France and Syria involved in the Paris attacks last week. "We can't tell you today specifically that they were using a specific encrypted platform. We think that's a likely communication tool because we didn't pick up any direct communication (before the attacks)," said Republican Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
     
  11. waltky

    waltky Well-Known Member

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    Don't mess with the Frenchies - dey's our buddies...
    :cool:
    Islamic State commander linked to Paris attack killed in U.S. airstrike
    Dec. 29, 2015 -- Islamic State commander Charaffe al-Mouadan -- believed to have communicated with the suspected mastermind behind the Nov. 13 Paris attacks -- was killed by a U.S.-led coalition airstrike.
    See also:

    US Military: IS Leader Linked to Paris Attacks Killed in Syria
    December 29, 2015 - Charaffe al-Mouadan, killed December 24 in a coalition airstrike, was said to be 'actively planning additional attacks against the West'
     

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