Sunday, January 31, 2016
Europe and the black Earth
I finished reading "The Black Earth," by historian Timothy Snyder. Now I'm going to re-read it, or at least parts of it. As its subtitle says, "The Holocaust as History and Warning," this is not only a history book, but an essay about the possibility that crazy ideologies take advantage of the anxieties of populations in a globalized world with scarce resources. To avoid this, the author explores the Holocaust and the years of the second world war in Europe to claim that state institutions are key to constrain humans not to exploit our lowest instincts. In the 1940s, in those regions were state institutions basically vanished, the Nazis and their allies were able to perpetrate the worst of crimes against Jews. The final solution was much more effective in stateless zones of Eastern Europe under German invasion or influence rather than in Germany itself. Similar disasters are happening today in stateless zones in the Middle East or Africa. In Europe, what stops us from repeating history is the stability of public institutions provided by the always criticized European Union. Those who promote the unravelling of the common currency and the Schengen Treaty, even from the left, should think twice about stopping or reversing the momentum towards an ever-closer union. If climate change gets worse, and massive migrations and regional conflicts follow all over the world, it is better not to think what will be of us and the world without the European Union. Snyder (p. 333) writes that "Just as the purpose of alliance with Hitler in 1939 was supposed to turn the most radical force in Europe against Europe itself, so Russian support of the European Far Right is meant to disrupt and disentegrate the most peaceful and prosperous order of the early twenty-fist century -the European Union. In 2014 and 2015, Putin rehabilitated the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that began the Second World War and created some of the preconditions for the Holocaust."