European Affairs

Untangling Different Visions of Europe     Print Email

Rethinking Europe's Future
By David P. Calleo
Princeton University Press: 2001.424 pages
Reviewed by Stephen Fidler

This is a rich book for anyone interested in Europe’s recent past and its future, as useful to the seasoned observer of the continent as to the newcomer. Broad, dense and ambitious, the book has enormous scope. Compared to most academic productions, it is extremely well written.

David Calleo, European studies professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, has succeeded in transferring much of the wisdom gathered over decades in studying the old continent on to the printed page. He has provided a true work of political economy, a discipline now coming back into its own after years out of fashion.

He argues that the disparate post-war visions of Europe are explained by different views of the relationship between the nation state and the market economy. Those views are encapsulated, he suggests in the work of four different theorists: Friedrich List and Karl Marx from the 19th century and John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich von Hayek from the 20th.

List was a German liberal nationalist whose approach is embodied, Calleo says, in the modern European Union, led by France and Germany. List rejected the liberal views of those such as Adam Smith, who underestimated the value of community.

Why was 19th century England successful and Spain a failure? In List’s view, it was because a rich civic culture had allowed for durable prosperity in England and the absence of such a culture had left Spain poor, despite the wealth that had passed through its hands. But List was also aware of the interdependence of nation states, and thought that each state ought to respect the right of others to economic development.

Marx was like Smith in subordinating economics to politics, but argued that capitalism by its nature was unstable. Yet the “odious caricature” of Marxism provided by the Soviet Union may have shielded post-war western capitalism. "In today's circumstances, [the Marxist] view does not yet seem ready for the museum of history," the author remarks.

Keynes agreed too with the instability of capitalism, but he believed it could be resolved by enlightened government intervention. However, he also agonized over other inherent tensions still debated today, between national government and global capitalism and between national sovereignty and international dependence.

Hayek's model was critical both of the Marxists and those who followed Keynes, both of whom he saw as inflating the capabilities of governments, leading to abuses that hurt economic efficiency and political freedom. However, the state was necessary – to promote clear and predictable rules to govern the market. His work is embodied in the drive for European Economic and Monetary Union, Calleo suggests.

These theories provided the theoretical underpinnings for four separate views of Europe that have prevailed since World War II. He describes them as America’s Atlantic Europe, Jean Monnet’s federal Europe, de Gaulle’s confederation of nation states and a Europe of individual states going their own way or, as Calleo describes it, Nobody’s Europe. None of these models, described by Calleo in a 1965 book, have been extinguished. Instead, all have flourished and have become intertwined in the continent of today.

Toward the end of the book, Calleo projects three different European visions of the future. The bipolar model sees western institutions enlarging towards Russia's borders, but excluding Russia, which remains crippled. In a unified Europe, the EU and Nato expand westward to embrace Russia. The tri-polar model has the EU, the United States and Russia forming three distinct poles.

He leaves no doubt that he prefers the third version. An enfeebled Russia is in nobody's interest and, in any case, the old bipolar system cannot be patched up to guarantee stability. An integrated Europe would imply such profound changes to Nato and the EU that their long-term survival would be in doubt, while the insurance against a resurgent Russian threat would disappear.

Calleo’s preferred model would have Nato and the EU both maintaining their essential western characters, while creating superstructures that link them to their neighbors. In the jargon of Brussels, this is variable geometry - where each country approaches integration at its own speed - on a global scale.

The trouble is, as he points out, there are reasons to be doubtful about whether this is a practical prospect. One reason is what he calls Washington's maximalist view of Nato's future missions and its membership, a view that has clearly survived the Clinton years into the Bush administration.


This article was published in European Affairs: Volume number II, Issue number IV in the Fall of 2001.

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