The Virtues and Dangers of a
Diverse Europe

, by Miloš Labović

The Virtues and Dangers of a Diverse Europe

In neo-Darwinist theory, diversity of species is of crucial importance for the survival of species as a whole. “Compartmentalization” as it is called, enables societies to survive when a certain system of believes corrupts a particular part of its society. This is what happened to a society as the United States. While at the start and mid of the last century the US was seen as the future model of civilization, by now it has become apparent that its system of believes has indeed become corrupted.

I dare to say that any society that derives its social and ethical values from the consumption of goods is corrupted. It is only right that Europe does not try to emulate the United States.

When we say that Europe’s diversity is its advantage we do not merely say this to curb anxiety about European unification. We say this because diversity is the only true remedy against future challenges. Just as buyers on the stock market lower the risk by having different kind of shares in their portfolio, such is the advantage of Europe’s diverse nature. Another metaphor would be a basketball team with different great players. If one player happens to be out of shape, the team can still win because the other players can pick up the slack. And such is Europe, a team with great players, each of them possessing different and unique qualities.

It is from this perspective that any parallel made with the United States should be done with caution. A lot of scholars and laymen have argued that Europe should be more like the United States. Indeed when one looks at the lengthy debates and slow decision making process in Brussels, one tends to envy the Americans. However, these same lengthy debates prevent the old continent from making undemocratic mistakes.

The danger of a homogenous continent lies in the very fact that when a certain system of believes becomes corrupted, there are no counter forces to function as a buffer or counter system. The US is above all a consumer society.

Europe is not merely a consumer society. It is a diverse garden of cultures and subsequently it is a myriad of different interests.

These different interests have the potential to transform medicine into poison. One only needs to look at the fate of former Yugoslavia to understand what risk diversity brings to the table. When diversity is used to stress differences that cannot be overcome, diversity leads to alienation and separatism. This tension between the need for a common language while preserving national values and identities can only be bridged by solidarity.

It is only through solidarity between its member states that Europe can secure its place in the world without sacrificing our national and European way of life. Only through solidarity can we profit from diversity, without it, diversity becomes a too costly burden.

However, solidarity should not be mistaken for reciprocity. Solidarity should not be a weapon to gain leverage in negotiations. It should not be a bank loan to be paid back in the near future. While at the same time, solidarity should not be something we do automatically nor should it be taken for granted. Solidarity should be a motive and an end goal. The reward for solidarity is the reaffirmation of the belief in a special relationship called the “European Union.”

It is only through trust and solidarity that we can make the European Union a unique, diverse and enlightened continent. And it is only through solidarity that we rise above the sheer shape and form of meaningless symbols, and truly start giving meaning to Beethoven’s alterations of Schiller’s Ode to Joy.

Interesting reading and links:

* Diverse Europe: Public opinion on the European Union & Cultural diversity, economics and policy. European Outlook 4. Source: Social and Cultural Planning Office of the Netherlands, SCP

* Europa Diversa


* Diversity is a Beatiful Thing, source: Flickr

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