The breaking of nations


The current situation in Europe is not something extraordinary. This was in some way predicted. Moreover, several times forecasts were made by people who had opposing views on the political system in this part of the world. The only difference is that some people considered the creation of the EU as a system error, while others reckoned it only as an intermediate step for the further process of the disintegration of nation states and the creation of a global civil society.

These two points of view are now embodied in the European crisis, and the further developments of world events will be depended only on the geopolitical point of bifurcation.

Let’s consider these two cases with specific examples. As a comparison, the ideas expressed in the works with similar titles – “The Breakdown of Nations” and “Breaking the Nations” are going to be considered.

The first one was published in 1957, and the second appeared in 2003. The first work was written by a lawyer, economist and political scientist of Austrian origin. Leopold Kohr had been holding the position of Professor of Economics and Public Administration at the University of Puerto Rico for about twenty years. He was also inspired by the Small is Beautiful movement. Kohr called himself a philosophical anarchist, although he had never advocated anti-state activities. He was an opponent of large projects, including European integration. In 1941 Leopold Kohr predicted not only the fallacy of creating a supranational system in Europe, but also the collapse of the Soviet Union. Even during World War II, he analyzed the balance of ethnic groups, and came to the conclusion that both the Nazi and Soviet regimes would be doomed. As history showed us, his analysis turned out to be accurate. Although only few researchers have turned to his theoretical principles.

Kohr’s approach to the Swiss Confederation is quite concise, it is not a confederation of ethnic and linguistic groups, but a confederation of regions.

 “In fact the basis of the existence of Switzerland and the principle of living together of various national groups is not the federation of her three nationalities but the federation of her 22 states, which represent a division of her nationalities and thus create the essential precondition for any democratic federation: the physical balance of the participants, the approximate equality of numbers. The greatness of the Swiss idea, therefore, is the smallness of its cells from which it derives its guaranties. 

People who argue for a union of nations in Europe because they believe that this kind of union has been realized and thus proved its practicability in Switzerland, have never based their wonderful schemes on the principle of cantonal or small-state sovereignty. The national idea has so much troubled the minds of the political thinkers, in contrast, the notion of the state is so much more flexible, adaptable and multipliable than that of the nation, that it has most completely gone out of use. For virtue has been seen only in great and greater while smaller entities have been thought and taught to be the source of all mischief and evil. We have been educated in the worship of the bulk, of the universal, of the colossal, and have come away from the minuscule, the completeness and universality on the smallest scale - the individual, which is the protoplasm of all social life. We have learned to praise the unification of France, Britain, Italy and Germany in the belief that they would give birth to a unified humanity. But they created only Great Powers”, as he wrote in his work “Disunion Now: A Plea for a Society based upon Small Autonomous Units”.

Leopold Kohr upholds the principle, which glorifies the sovereignty of the smallest and not the largest state of the subject - Kleinstaaterei, as the Germans saying. He says that no one knows what the term “mankind” really means and why we should even die for it. Unionism and colossalism would not result to anything good. Moreover, Unionism is just another expression of totalitarianism. This is a one-party system, which is transplanted into the international sphere.

“Not only history but also our own experience has taught us that true democracy in Europe can only be achieved in little states. Only there the individual can retain his place and dignity. And if democracy is a worthwhile idea, we have to create again the conditions for its development, the small state, and give the glory of sovereignty (instead of curtailing an institution from which no one wants to depart) to the smallest community and to as many people as possible. It will be easy to unite small states under one continental federal system and thus also satisfy, secondarily, those who want to live on universal terms. Such a Europe is like a fertile inspiration and a grandiose picture, although not a modern one which you paint in one dull line. It will be like a mosaic with fascinating variations and diversity, but also with the harmony of the organic and living whole”.

But this is almost the same idea of ​​the Eurasian confederation, just being expressed in other words!

However, his most famous work was “The Breakdown of Nations”. In this book, Leopold Kohr gave the philosophical, political, cultural, economic and administrative arguments in favor of small state actors.

 In the part titled “The physics of politics: The Philosophic argument” he said: “This is no accident, for smallness is not only a convenience. It is the design of God. The entire universe is built on it. We live in a micro-cosmos, not in a macrocosmos. Perfection has been granted only to the little. Only in the direction of the minuscule do we ever come to an end, to a finite, a boundary, where we can conceive the ultimate mystery of existence. In the direction of the colossal we arrive nowhere. We may add and multiply, and produce increasingly vaster figures and substances, but never an end, as there is nothing that can not always again be doubled, though doubling in the physical sense soon means collapse, disintegration, catastrophe. There is an invisible barrier to size beyond which matter can not accumulate. Only non-existing mathematical shadows can penetrate further. Division, on the other hand, brings us eventually to the existing, though unseen, ultimate substance of all things, to particles which defy any further division. They are the only substances which creation has endowed with unity. They alone are indivisible, indestructible, eternal. Lucretius has called these the first bodies or primal particles and, in an unsurpassed piece of reasoning, has argued in the Nature of Things”.

Although at first view it seems that Leopold Kohr is appealing to the ideas atomicity of Democritus and the individual (which, in a sense, can be transferred to the practice of liberalism and multiculturalism), but it is not so. Unfortunately for many anarchists, nihilists who were materialistic (especially following the ideas of Peter Kropotkin, who tried to give examples of scientific studies as anarchy power), Leopold Kohr always talked about God and His will, which was necessary to try to understand from the perspective of state organization.

“There are two ways by which equilibrium and order can be achieved. One is by means of a stable and the other by means of a mobile balance. When in their proper element, both are self-regulatory. The stable balance is the balance of the stagnant and the huge. It creates equilibrium by bringing two objects into a fixed and unchanging relationship with each other such as a house with its ground, or a mountain with its plain. Instead of creating harmony, it moulds its diverse parts into unity. Being the balance of the rigid and fixed, it could be conceived as a universal principle only if the universe were still, non-moving, lifeless. Then the existence of only a few large bodies would make sense and, for that matter, even the existence of a single one. But in the bottomless vastness of the abyss of creation, it could be maintained only by the ever-conscious will of God Himself who, in order to prevent it from dropping into nowhere, would have to do nothing less than hold it perpetually in His hands. Since this was obviously not His intent, He created instead a moving, breathing, and dynamic universe, maintained in order not by unity but harmony, and based not on the stable balance of the dead, but the mobile balance of the living. In contrast to the stable balance, this balance is self-regulatory not because of the fixity of its relationships but because of the coexistence of countless mobile little parts of which no one is ever allowed to accumulate enough mass to disturb the harmony of the whole”.

Kohr connects the political setting with the idea of ​​internal democracy, which relies on the community. “A small state in its inner nature is democratic. The rulers of small states could be considered asneighbors of citizens ...”.

Kohr’s ideas are not quoted widely, although the example of Switzerland could serve as proof of the validity of his ideas. Furthermore, it may be added that the majority of today's nation-states of Europe are also needed to be 'defragged' to completely eradicate them from the bourgeois spirit of nationalism and erroneous 'installation', in which the Enlightenment intensively destroyed the traditions and culture of the peoples of Europe, imposing bureaucracy in their place.

The author of another book of the similar name “Breaking the Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-First Century” is a British diplomat and theorist of strategy Robert Cooper. At the time his work appeared in 2003, he served as Director General for External and Political-Military Affairs at the General Secretariat of the EU Council. 

Despite the identical titles, ideas and approaches in these two works are completely different.

If Kohr proposes to strengthen the sovereignty at the bottom, then Cooper, on the contrary, believes that sovereignty should be completely destroyed.

"The sovereignty of the post-modern state - is entitled to a place at the negotiating table", he said.

The great part of his work is controversial. For example, he states: “Liberalism and nationalism can go together today just as they did for eighteenth and nineteenth century states emerging from one or another form of imperial rule”.

Why is this possible? To permanently destroy the national culture or to manipulate the movements and parties that appeal to national identity? Cooper is likely seemed to have them both in mind. 

In the second part, he declared that “most people are subjugated by ideas rather than by force”, but later in the same chapter states that “most people are inclined to the ideas, not by force”, but “the European institutions strengthen international cooperation by strengthening the sovereignty ... EU security of public order agreement provides for police action in other countries”. 

Where is the rule of law and ideas, even if "members-states of the EU have lost the exclusive rights to the adoption of laws”?

He is cautiously talking about Islam, which could become the basis for a new imperialism.

And he mentions the Pacific region, where the question on consolidation could also be raised. And that, and another, according to Cooper, is a threat to not only Western interests, but in the end to the West itself.

Consequently, Cooper defends the ideas of Western hegemony, which are going to be transformed into something new. The state is the quintessential postmodern idea of liberalism for him, which is the previous step to withstand various forms of collective identity associated with the class, ethnic, racial or national affiliation.

Cooper confirms that communism and fascism were attempts to contain the effects of the modernization of society, caused by Enlightenment ideas and technological innovations of the Industrial Revolution. Hence his conviction that all industrial and post-industrial countries have the potential to postmodernity.

In the end, he reveals his cards and confirms the need for an individual celebration.

“Chaos is tamed by empire; empires are broken up by nationalism; nationalism gives way, we hope, to internationalism. At the end of the process is the freedom of the individual” .

On the same page he said that he meant the open society, which, in fact, identical to postmodernity.

In other words, it is almost the same as what George Soros talked about and tried to realize through various projects in practice. 

In addition, Cooper makes a confession in relation to US interests and the difference between American and European perceptions of reality.

“The European countries are based on nationality and history. History is nonsense for Americans. They are aimed not to colonize space and colonize the time, in other words, the future space”.

This colonization has been successfully implemented in Western Europe through a system of political, economic and military dependence on Washington.

“The American plan was in the development of the global community of open markets and international institutions, in which the United States would play a leading role ... In general, the United States has managed to achieve the mentioned goals through the Marshall Plan, the creation of the European Union and international financial institutions, particularly the IMF and the World Bank" .

Note the phrase "the creation of the European Union". Did European countries, starting with the Coal and Steel Union, understand behind all this there were the Americans? Certainly, some of the actors could get some benefit from such an association, but for how long? 

The fragility of the European Union has already showed itself in Brexit, its inability to cope with the problem of migrants and terrorist attacks, as well as the dependence on some countries from the dictates of the financial commissioners.

And what does Robert Cooper offer for this immediate political agenda?

“In politics it is necessary to restrain manifestations of pre-modern or foreign; reconciliation is possible with the interests of the modern state, but lasting peace could only come at the confluence of postmodern identities’, he writes.

For the whole EU, this means a continuation of the erosion of the cultural code of all peoples and countries. As a result,a new type of Homo Politicus should appear.

But this is only in theory. In reality, the weak identity will be pushed by the stronger ones, and which are now represented in many migrants, almost always positioning themselves as bearers of Islam and showing little respect for indigenous Europeans.

Perhaps such external aggression could help the peoples of Europe to rethink their role in the world's history. Maybe they will try to recreate their old identity and sovereignty as far as possible in the present circumstances.