"Helmut Schlesinger, the Bundesbank president in 1992, was asked why he disliked the precursor of the Euro, which was called the Ecu. He replied, "I have nothing against the Ecu apart from its name - I think it should be called the Deutschemark."
Whatever insecure Gallic dwarfs or intransigent Teutonic socialists might think, size - in politics or common currency blocs - is not automatically a good thing. More to the point, as JP Morgan?s Michael Cembalest points out (hat tip to M. Arnaud Gandon), there is disturbingly little "commonality" amongst the disparate cultures that make up what we used to call the European common market.
The chart below shows DNA mappings of European citizens (courtesy of "Correlation between genetic and geographic structure in
As Mr Cembalest points out, by grouping similar DNA results together, we get something that looks very much like a map of Europe - a map that reflects "hundreds of years of migration, weddings, funerals, births, language, values passed to children, circumstances that call for charity, sacrifice, revenge and everything else that define 'culture'."
Source: JP Morgan Chase & Co.
In Cembalest's words, "The map shows clear patterns of ancestry tied to geography, which is perhaps why the EMU was designed to retain the region's fiscal, economic and cultural identities. Perhaps we should not be surprised that
Cembalest asks, crucially, whether the "will" is even there. "In terms of shared experiences and values measured by anthropologists, and the contours of history implied by genetic research, they may not have enough in common. It took almost 150 years for the
Another avowed euro sceptic, before the fact, was Leopold Kohr. Kohr was an Austrian Jew who only narrowly escaped from Hitler's
He would make North
In September 1941 Kohr wrote the first part of what would become his masterwork, "The Breakdown of Nations", arguing that Europe should be "cantonized" back into the sort of small political regions that had existed in the past and that still persisted in places like Switzerland. "We have ridiculed the many little states," he wrote sadly, "now we are terrorized by their few successors."
The essence of "The Breakdown of Nations" is the problem of scale. Size matters. As Kirkpatrick Sale writes in his foreword to the book,
"What matters in the affairs of a nation, just as in the affairs of a building, say, is the size of the unit. A building is too big when it can no longer provide its dwellers with the services they expect -running water, waste disposal, heat, electricity, elevators, and the like- without these taking up so much room that there is not enough left over for living space, a phenomenon that actually begins to happen in a building over about ninety or a hundred floors.
A nation becomes too big when it can no longer provide its citizens with the services they expect -defense, roads, post, health, coins, courts and the like- without amassing such complicated institutions and bureaucracies that they actually end up preventing the very ends they are attempting to achieve, a phenomenon that is now commonplace in the modern industrialized world.
It is not the character of the building or the nation that matters, nor is it the virtue of the agents or leaders that matters, but rather the size of the unit: even saints asked to administer a building of 400 floors or a nation of 200 million people would find the job impossible."
In the words of Albert Bartlett,
"Continued growth past maturity for any entity becomes obesity or cancer."
Kohr shows that there are unavoidable limits to the growth of societies. As he puts it, "social problems have the unfortunate tendency to grow at a geometric ratio with the growth of an organism of which they are a part, while the ability of man to cope with them, if it can be extended at all, grows only at an arithmetic ratio."
In the real world, there are finite limits beyond which it does not make sense to grow. Kohr argues that only small states can have true democracies, because only in small states can the citizen have some direct influence over the governing authorities.
When asked what had most influenced his political and social ideas, Kohr replied:
"Mostly that I was born in a small village."
The euro zone is an object lesson in an unwieldy, oversized political construct haphazardly cobbled together amongst irreconcilable cultural entities. Wherever something is wrong, wrote Kohr, something is too big.
The answer is not to grow, embracing ever more disparate states within a dysfunctional currency union with make-it-up-as-you-go-along rules. The answer is to stop growing.
The answer to the "too big" problem lies not in ever-greater union, but in division. And if the larger states in Europe ultimately decide that the political union is more than their societies can bear and that what they really want, yet again, is to slaughter each other, they should not expect
French officials apparently described Prime Minister David Cameron's efforts to protect
That should go down well with the female members of the euro zone electorate. As "The Sun" once tastefully put it, Up Yours, Delors.
PFP Wealth Management