A Grand Illusion?: An Essay on Europe by Tony Judt

By Tony Judt

“I am enthusiastically eu; no proficient individual might heavily desire to go back to the embattled, together hostile circle of suspicious and introverted international locations that was once the eu continent within the particularly fresh prior. however it is something to imagine an consequence fascinating, relatively one other to consider it truly is attainable. it really is my competition really united Europe is satisfactorily not going for it to be unwise and self-defeating to insist upon it. i'm hence, i assume, a Euro-pessimist.” —Tony Judt

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True, the eastern boundaries of the European continent are fuzzy, shading into western Asia across a broad and topographically indefinite terrain; but elsewhere its limits are clear enough. Moreover Europe is a small continent with a long history of self-awareness, which means that to be a European is to have an identity rather more precise than that attaching to persons who are "African" or "Asian" or "American" by virtue of their geographical origin. Notwithstanding occasional attempts at constructing a "pan-African" consciousness, the peoples of Africa, for example, are united by very little more than a common experience of colonialism.

Most tellingly of all, the authors of the Single European Act, the 1985 agreement to proceed with all due speed toward a single market and the dismantling of internal barriers within the European Community, could still invoke "growth" as the common objective and binding ideology of a future, integrated Europe. Western Europeans were being invited to inhabit the imagined world of Saint-Simon—a society of industriels for whom the production and distribution of wealth were the only common faith.

The speed of the recovery was especially marked in the Federal Republic of Germany, where it mattered most, since the rest of the West European economy depended upon it. By the last quarter of 1949 the western sectors of Germany had regained their 1936 output level, only to pass it by 30 percent a year later. Even more tellingly, the Federal Republic had a positive balance of trade with the rest of Western Europe in 1949 by the export of raw materials, notably coal. A year later its trade balance was in deficit—it was already consuming its own raw materials.

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