Harold James, an economic historian at Princeton University and senior fellow of the Witherspoon Institute, warns of a hyper-splintering of Europe if the crisis of the Euro is not soon resolved:
If European integration shifts into reverse, the outcome will not be a series of happy and prosperous nation-states, living in a sort of replica of the 1950’s or 1960’s. Southern Germans would wonder whether they were not transferring too much to the north’s old industrial rustbelt; northern Italians who support the anti-EU Lega Nord in the self-styled unit of “Padania” would want to escape from the rule of Rome and the south.
Setting the clock back would thus not simply return Europe to the mid-twentieth century. The small states of the mid-nineteenth century, with no fiscal transfers out of a relatively limited area, might be recreated. But the dynamic might go further: the German territories had around 350 independent political entities in the mid-eighteenth century, and more than 3,000 before the middle of the seventeenth century. Watch out, Trans-Dniestr.
Sounds like a localist’s dream, though the economic and political fallout would be catastrophic.
In a recent interview with Robert P. George, James offered some familiar advice for those worried by the bleak prospects of the Euro Crisis: ‘The message of the Polish Pope, “Be not afraid,” was central, as indeed it seems to me also to be an encouragement at this present time of great economic and social crisis.’ You can read the rest of James’ illuminating interview, which centers on his Catholic faith, here.