May 2, 2017
Guest blog post by Alejandro Puerto, writer of the Western Cycles saga about economic and political history of developed nations.
Although economic malaise is becoming a global phenomenon, with the slowdown in China and Japan, its sharpest political manifestations are still concentrated in Europe. One reason is the severity of the contraction in the Eurozone, where production and investment are still far below 2008 levels, unemployment is not below double digits and the combined effects of fiscal austerity and restrictions Lending has further depressed demand, while surplus capital flees to London and Zurich. The fall in the credit spread of Italian and Spanish bonds has to do more with the short-term liquidity of the European Central Bank than with any improvement in the underlying conditions: domestic debt levels are higher than ever and vulnerable to the smallest Of volatility; Overexposed banks are at the mercy of shocks from emerging markets; The German engine depends on an external demand that weakens.
But European political imbalances are now as marked at least as economic ones. The financial crisis plunged the EU’s monetary and fiscal systems half-built, and emergency structures had to be built in the middle of the storm. Far from disintegrating, as the catastrophists predicted, the EU has been strengthened, its supranational institutions being forced to serve purposes not even imagined by its creators, while the divisions among its citizens were sharpened. However, these asymmetries have a prehistory. Since the beginning of the long decline in the early 1970s, the European political entity has been subjected to a set of structural torsions on three different planes: that of civic-democratic relations between the rulers and the governed; Inter-state relations between member countries, and that of geopolitical relations with the bloc’s exterior. They have been structured largely by attempts by European rulers to temper a series of exogenous shudders: the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in the early 1970s, the collapse of the Soviet bloc during the 1990s, and the global financial crisis Which broke out in 2008.
It is not the first time that Europe faces a difficult test. The process bears similarities to the 1920s and 1930s, when the continent reemerged with the illusion of a prosperous and peaceful future after World War I, but then plunged into economic ruin and the destruction of democratic institutions. The result was a continent to the eaves of communist and fascist totalitarianism, with risks of a new military confrontation and without capacity to perpetuate the peace. This time Europe resolved in a bloody, even shameful way, the divisions and problems that affected it. Almost a century later, there are other characters, ideologies and problems, but again there are challenges that can be faced with a sense of the future or right without the capacity to reverse the situation.
European society faces a number of challenges. On the one hand, the
Decline in fertility and the extension of life expectancy
Are two factors that have characterized the demographic evolution
Europe in the last decades,
Ages in the process of aging. Among the effects of demographic aging is the decline in labor,
Which acts as a mechanism to reduce unemployment, but which also attracts an increasing number of immigrants. In turn, the
Social and cultural differences between foreigners and the population
Problems of integration that, in some cases, lead to violent conflicts.
It is time to make a turn and prepare Europe for the time to come, or we will have to face increasingly difficult political and social situations. It is necessary to resort to the European spiritual reserves, to return to fix our eyes on the moments of difficulties of the past and to understand how the continent was able to overcome its bitterest hours to reinvent itself and to advance towards the future with determination and sense. The experiences of the twentieth century give a clear example of Europe’s ability to move forward after experiences of self-destruction.