“The United States of Europe”
BERLIN—Before you know it, you’re here. Drive yourself up the ramp of a Dover-Dunkirk ferry, disembark onto E-40 eastbound, and a few hours later, you’ll pass Otto-von-Bismarck-Allee, looking out the window at the thick woods of the majestic Tiergarten. Take a right on Wilhelmstraße, and another on Unter den Linden, and now you’re staring 50 feet up at the magnificent Brandenburg Gate.
It takes more time to drive from New York to Cincinnati than it does to go from England to the heart of Europe, and that’s counting the two-hour ferry ride. Riding by rail through the Chunnel to Berlin’s brand-new Hauptbanhof station, you’ll arrive in the German capital even quicker.
And you will have had almost no idea that you just traveled through four completely separate sovereign nations. It feels about as extraordinary as driving from Oklahoma to Indiana.
Because this isn’t just Europe. This is the United States of Europe.
The History of War
First-time visitors to the Continent often expect much more of a distinction from country to country. After all, these are completely separate nations with their own borders, citizens, laws and governments. More than that, these aren’t new kids on the historical block like Australia or Canada or the States. Each of Europe’s proud states has its own extensive historical root system with its own stately history branching into its own long traditions and ingrained inside its own unique language.
Rubbing these contrasting cultures against each other for the past 22 centuries has kindled more than a little friction—it has ignited more wars than there are decades of European history. The Continent has been blasted and bloodied in wars—some of which lasted for decades—literally dozens of times: England vs. France, Spain vs. England, France vs. Spain, England and France vs. Germany, England and Germany vs. France, Italy vs. Austria, the Netherlands vs. Spain, Germany vs. Sweden, Germany vs. all comers, ad infinitum. The history of Europe and the history of war are virtually indistinguishable.
So, you may expect separation, delineation, reservation. And, of course, much of that remains, particularly in the cultural sphere. But especially since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, fragmented, wall-building Europe has merged into something much different.
Europe is changing.
Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Borders
If you are going to Europe, your passport will be stamped a grand total of about once. Once you’re in, you’re in. Driving through the Continent, you may be shocked to see how many of these former borders between nations have become porous—literally.
If you are traveling the Continent by car, you experience a different sensation driving off the ferry in Dunkirk than you did driving on. The difference is perceptible; you are in France now. But what might surprise you is what happens when you cross the border from France to Belgium. Nothing. You experience the same remarkably unremarkable occurrence when you pass from Belgium to the Netherlands—or the Netherlands to Germany—or Germany to Austria.
In fact, you almost certainly will not realize that you have passed into a completely new country until well after the fact. There are no border crossings. No passport checks. No customs. No stopping. In fact, it’s hard to notice any prominent signs—even on major interstate highways like the A-21 and A-40—informing you, “Welkom in Nederland” or “Wilkommen in Deutschland.” There’s more of a distinction driving from state to state in the U.S. than there is crossing the border from country to country here. You just zoom right through.
To travel European highways is to join a homogeneous mix of commercial vehicles, traveling businessmen, family vans, tourist buses and other cars from dozens of different countries crisscrossing borders without even easing off the accelerator. Trucks and vans bear company names in three or four different languages and carry multiple registrations. Passing the familiar white oval bumper stickers of PL for Poland, D for Germany, BE for Belgium, H for Hungary—all in one day—in France is about as remarkable as seeing out-of-state tags in the States.
It’s not so much that you’ve arrived in France as you’ve arrived in Europe.
Traveling throughout Europe prior to 1990, a Dutchman meeting contacts in Poland, Spain, Italy and elsewhere had to gear down for a number of border crossings to fish out his documentation as he reached across several plastic baggies of petty cash: one each for gilders, lire, marks, assorted francs and other currencies.
Inside today’s pan-European Schengen Zone, not only are those border crossings long gone, so are the baggies.
Currency symbolizes sovereignty. It is one of the main features of a sovereign state. In addition to traveling, one thing you do daily is use money. Whether you’re behind the helm of a gigantic hedge fund or a grocery cart, money is intrinsic to daily life. Currency unifies and identifies a country. And before 2002, you talked in terms of gilders if you’re Dutch, lire if you’re Italian, schillings if you’re Austrian or escudos if you’re Portuguese—each coin of which is imprinted with your culture, your leaders, your history, your identity.
No more. Today, wherever you go in Europe, you talk in euros.
The bill in your hand could be from Slovenia or Finland, Greece or Luxembourg—it doesn’t matter. Because, after all, when it comes to the all-important world of money, you’re not so much a Slav or a Finn as you are a European.
Beyond the everyday, real-world impact a united currency has on the average European, it also requires closer cooperation between member states for the sake of the Continent’s economy. “The euro, a symbol of European identity, is one of the strongest tangible symbols of European integration,” the European Commission says, adding that implementation of the single currency was “not only an economic decision; it was also a political commitment by the EU member states to work together.” A united currency also means more cross-border trade, and smoother investment and lending within Europe—less time and money lost in translation.
What a Superstate Looks Like
Not only are the geographic, societal and financial transitions of driving between nation-states comparatively seamless, but whether you speak German, Dutch or French, everyone from the business executive in the queue behind you to the petrol clerk in front is likely to understand. Most Europeans speak three or four languages, another factor that is helping modern Europe solidify.
Although each culture absolutely displays profound individuality—the aspiration of the French, the heartiness of the Swedes, the passion of the Italians, the proficiency of the Germans—Europe’s distinct societies still share core similarities. As a whole, European culture is unified in its values of refinement, sophistication and—thanks to the historic dominance of the Frankish, Romish and Germanic cultures—perceived entitlement to lead the world. The leading nations of Europe also have a different worldview than those across the Atlantic, being less obsessed with things like freedom, democracy, deregulation and excess. The European Union has also been largely unified in its overall opposition to the United States—particularly regarding today’s economic crises—and its desire for a greater world political role for itself.
Further behind the scenes, European countries are already cinched together with tightly bound cross-border trade, business and investment ties, the basis for political union and superstate status. Trade is, after all, how European integration began: first with the European Coal and Steel Community, then the European Economic Community and now the European Union. Whether the name changes or not, the next step is clear: a federal superstate.
But a superstate would require its own citizens, borders, government and law—right? It would need its own constitution, its own citizens, its own president, its own foreign-policy diplomats, superiority to its member states and those member states surrendering their sovereignty—right?
And that is exactly what has happened. Besides integrated borders, a common currency and tight trade ties, the European Union already has almost all the final remaining instruments of assimilation ready to operate. The Lisbon Treaty:
The superstate is already here!
When Lisbon zigzags its way around popular opinion and rolls to a very undemocratic ratification by member states, it will become the constitution of Europe. And the Continent will be even less the fractured, warring patchwork of variegated sovereign states it once was, and much more the imperial federal superstate it is about to become—and, in many ways, already is.
Of course, many of the centuries-old heterogeneous distinctions and disparities remain. The differences between a Swede, a Slovene and a German are certainly more pronounced than the differences between an Oklahoman, a New Yorker and an Arizonan. But this centuries-old Continent has already found itself coming together over the most important issues—the essential structural components that can fasten it together as a superstate—and the remaining beams and loose bolts required to lock it into place are spinning tighter right now.
This doesn’t even include the soldering effect religion will have in fusing this continent together for one last crusade. This is not your father’s Europe. This is the new European superstate.
All the pieces are in place for Europe to unify, and some of them have already been welded together. The rest of the machine will be forged in a matter of years, if not months. Today’s Europe is not a union, a confederacy, a coalition or a treaty of sovereign states. It’s one. It’s a resurrected superstate.
The late commentator Herbert Armstrong originally described Europe’s future dead-on in February 1949—it took four words. It is the “United States of Europe.“