tribalism makes a comeback!

(had it ever really gone away?)

Rise of the Hans
By Joel Kotkin

“But most people do not really see themselves as members of a large multinational unit, global citizens, or ‘mass consumers.’ Instead the drivers of history remain the essentials: the desire to feed one’s family, support the health of the tribe, and shape the immediate community. The particularistic continues to trump the universalistic….

“The new tribalism is also increasingly evident in Europe. Just a few years ago Europhiles like French eminence grise Jacques Attali or left-wing author Jeremy Rifkin could project a utopian future European Union that would stand both as a global role model and one of the world’s great powers. Today, Rifkin’s ideal of a universalistic ‘European dream’ is collapsing — a process accelerated by the financial crisis — as the continent is torn apart by deep-seated historical and cultural rifts.

Europe today can best be seen as divided between three cultural tribes: Nordic-Germanic, Latin, and Slavonic. In the north, there is a vast region of prosperity, a zone of Nordic dynamism. Characterized by economies based on specialized exports, a still powerful Protestant ethic, and a culture that embraces authority, these countries — including Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Germany, and, arguably, the Baltic states — are becoming ever more aware of the cultural, fiscal, and attitudinal gulf between them and the southern countries….

“In a world dominated increasingly by Asia, northern Europe cannot be anything more than a peripheral global power, which may explain its new introversion. Instead these resilient cultures more accurately represent a revival of the old Hanseatic League, a network of opportunistic and prosperous trading states that ringed the North and Baltic seas during the 13th century. This new league increasingly battles over issues of trade and fiscal policy, often with ill-disguised contempt, with the southern European countries I call ‘the Olive Republics’: a region typified by dire straits, with rapidly aging populations, enormous budget deficits, and declining industrial might. Southern Europe now constitutes a zone of lassitude that extends from Portugal and Spain through the south of France, Italy, the former Yugoslavia, Greece, and Bulgaria.

“The last European tribe includes the Slavic countries, centered by Russia but extending to parts of the Balkans as well, places like Ukraine, Belarus, Serbia, and Moldova that historically have looked east as well as west and are currently defined by shrinking populations and weak democratic institutions. A historic pattern of Russian domination is evident here, based in large part on a revived Slavic identity that embraces similarities in religion, culture, history, and language with countries living under Russia’s shield. In this sense the czars are back, not a great development for the rest of the world or for the fading chimera of a “common European home….'”

this is an ages old divide in europe — latins+the british isles (-the anglo-saxons, of course) versus the germans versus the slavs. going right back to, possibly, the neolithic when famers from the middle east spread out through europe, mainly taking a southern, mediterranean route (club med! who wouldn’t?), as far as i can see, through the balkans, italy, the iberian peninsula, up through france and finally hitting the british isles:

this tripartite division of europe has influenced|dictated so much in european history. i mean, look at the (broadly speaking) religious divide in europe (just look at it!):

latins+british isles=roman catholic; germans=protestant; slavs=eastern orthodox.

also, latins+british isles=piigs; germans=the thrifty, competent people who might get stuck bailing-out the e.u.; slavs=f*cked up former communist countries.

the economic|tribal divide in europe that kotkin talks about is the same one that has created the long-standing cultural divides in europe. all of it is founded in long-standing genetic divides in europe — i.e. there are different peoples in europe.

after all, where does culture come from again?

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