Thought Piece – Greater Europe: The Lost Cultural Unity and its Implications for a New Cold War by Dr Hauke Ritz

Greater Europe: The Lost Cultural Unity and its Implications for a New Cold War

by Dr Hauke Ritz

The Idea of Greater Europe

Is a Greater Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok possible? And if so, how should European culture be understood, memorized and addressed, if we see Greater Europe as a long term goal of today’s politics? Or put differently, what is the common ground of European culture as such?

It should be apparent that the overall weight of European standing in the world is in constant decline. And a conflict within Europe itself can therefore only accelerate this process. Furthermore, it is not acceptable, that this continent, which has witnessed so many wars, will once again be destabilized, and perhaps even become the battleground for a Third World War. For all these reasons, the idea of a Greater Europe is today of pressing importance. But as urgent as the idea of Greater Europe may be, we must nevertheless face the fact that today, the notion of a Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok is often mentioned in such a way, as if no one really believes in it.

If, for example, politicians from the West talk about the idea of greater Europe, they usually think about a pure extension of the Western political and cultural system to the East. And then they refer mostly to the political system that has been build up in the West since World War Two. Moreover, they seldom waste a single thought on the fact that Russia, for cultural reasons I will address later, cannot accept this concept.

And something very similar can be said of the Russian side as well. Here the concept of Greater Europe is either presented only as a pure pragmatic relationship with regard to economic interests. Or as a relationship that is based on the classical culture of Europe. However both proposals are usually not understood in the West. The reference to older European traditions meets deaf ears among Western politicians, because Western Europe has given up those traditions under American influence. Also the pure pragmatic relationship concerning the economy is also not understood in the West. Because the geopolitically influential circles within the West have after 1989 formulated for themselves a grand strategy which goes far beyond economics. This grand strategy has huge cultural implications. However this cultural dimension of Western expansion no longer refers to classical European traditions. Instead, it represents a new kind of value system, one that was generated from the pop- and lifestyle-culture, which emerged in the West around and after 1968. Russian hopes that the Western world will at one point realize their mutual interests in the field of economics, are understandable. It is however vital for Russia’s ability to survive in the upcoming period, to understand what the Western world today is really about. Namely, that there are pseudo-religious overtones in Western politics today which cannot be addressed by reasonable arguments. And furthermore, this rhetoric of the so-called chosen Western World will not vanish any time soon.

Therefore, all the talk about Greater Europe is in most cases…