EUROPE – The Great War…

…and why you should vote in the elections for the European Parliament

Ninety-nine years and ten months ago, or to state it exactly, on 28 July 1914, the Great War – World War I – broke out. In the long aftermath of World War II, this earlier conflagration takes a backseat in our minds when considering the enormous tragedies that occurred in the twentieth century. For this reason it is well and good that the centenary of the war’s commencement is being highlighted throughout 2014.

Every historian and commentator of note is quoting Christopher Clarke’s monumental work, The Sleepwalkers, in which he documents how the governments and monarchs of the time allowed the continent – and beyond – to slip into a war that would permanently change the landscape of Europe, and in its wake, create the conditions that caused the following war. If there had been no Great War, the second one would not have happened.

Can one ever speak of a good after-effect of war? If so, then we must count the post-World War II efforts on the part of the leaders of France and Germany to develop the trade agreements and cultural exchanges that would gradually lead to the founding of the European Common Market and, its ultimate form, the European Union.

On Sunday, 25 May, European citizens are called upon to vote for the European Parliament. To many, this is a governing body of little interest, a talk-shop of bureaucrats, seemingly possessing only the power to regulate the curvature of the banana or the size of condoms. However, despite its sometimes annoying attempt to  standardize portions of our lives that we didn’t realize needed it, it is also an important element holding the member countries of the European Union together and the only organ of the European organization in which citizens have a direct voice.

Do not give your voice away by not voting or by voting for populist or nationalist parties, who are by nature reactionary. Do we really want a Europe reverting to its 19th century state of individual nations that only understand the world from parochial perspectives? Doing that would mean missing the larger view of a continent that must accept its responsibility as a global player and grasp the opportunities that position presents. The current situation in Ukraine should make us think twice.


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Filed under German History, Politics

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