Does Europe Exist?

There has been a great deal of spoken and written words spent on the European Union, which seeks to create a European State, but as far as I can see no one has really thought about what Europe really is, and more importantly does it exist at all? There is geography, history, culture and economics to consider.

Geographically, Europe is supposed to be a continent, although much of its extent is defined by, its Eastern boundary is supposed to be the Ural mountains, which leaves some doubt about which land south of the Urals is geographically part of Europe.  Europe is incompletely defined on its south eastern boundaries, so that probably means Turkey, once known as Asia Minor, might be part of Europe or might be part of Asia, as might some of the nations to the east and north of Turkey. Geography provides no answers except to help us know that we know what places might be within Europe, but not the full extent of Europe.

Historically ,Europe has a long and interwove continuity staring with the Greeks and ending up where we are now.  Its history full of the influences by Africans (Egyptians) Asiatics (Persians, Huns, Mongols and Arabs and more modern migrants) on European culture. European history is as unhelpful in reaching an understanding of what is Europe as is European geography.

Do European economic features provide a clue to the definition of Europe? A hundred and seventy years ago the various economies of the major states of Europe were generally capitalist and while they were Europe was peaceful until the competition of the different nations led to international antagonism beyond the confines of whatever Europe may be and resulted in world wars. Today Europe pretends to be fundamentally capitalist  but the states of Europe restrict capitalism in many ways without adopting socialism completely and the restrictions on capitalism and socialism vary massively from place to place.

Therefore it is wrong to think of Europe as a single economic unit today. Europe, whether as a single state or as a collection of particular states; in any event Europe cannot act as a single economic unit because of its dependency on the rest of the world. Power to shape economic policy among states has rapidly declined and that power has equally rapidly transferred to multinational entities. It is these entities (not governments) that influence the economic behaviour which creates or destroys prosperity and while such entities have such power it is futile to attempt to define Europe in economic terms. Therefore economics cannot define Europe. Ironically, most of the anti-Brexit arguments are about economics.

So I suggest that Europe does not really tangibly exist. Europe is merely an ill defined idea, an idea which means different things to different people. I have not been able to identify any philosophical, historical or economic ideal out of the European idea because the European idea has no intrinsic substance of its own.

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