Working Paper

The European Tragedy: What Way Out?

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Europe can choose its musical accompaniment. In Berlin, 50 Cent’s All Things Fall Apart has just had its premiere. Or go back to Giuseppe Verdi, born two hundred years ago.

His second last, and probably greatest, operatic achievement, starts on the coast of Cyprus with a storm of fantastic violence and with the first words of the hero, Otello, on a high B: Esultate, rejoice! The war has been won, the storm overcome: but the hero’s achievement is destroyed by his jealousy.

Cyprus appears to have been rescued: but the rescue has set of a rift that threatens the whole of Europe because of the way that the traumas of the early twentieth century are being relived.

The Great Depression has been a constant backdrop of debates about the post-2008 financial crisis but also about the Euro crisis. What made the interwar slump so intractable was that it was not just a financial issue, but also a crisis of democracy, of the international political system, and of social stability. It is now clear that contemporary Europe is reenacting that interwar upheaval.