Alleingang versus l'Europe
1,000-word essay, 7.XII.2020
Versatile Versailles and Insular Regeneration
In the Land of Hope and Glory, the number of Brexit critics might have outgrown the victorious Brexiteers. Though even if a revived and imaginatively twice as strong pro-Europe party, formerly known as Remain, were to gain a landslide victory in future elections, this won't lead to any short-term politics of seeking re-entry into the European Union. What should these critics, if not critique defying strategists and visionary thinkers, do now? This is something that their many allies from Ireland to the continent can't do for them. And it isn't like getting another foreigner, whether or not from Europe, to forge a Glorious Revolution of the 21st century. Obviously, both the European Union and the perpetrators have to come to terms with the Brexit "crime" (Macron 2016). For now, even the most thoughtful Brits should shift their focus from contract breaking leaders as Boris De Pfeffel J. to a hundred-year old tale of history.
Not at all does a potential fall of the Brexiteers make England in general terms a partner that is able to demonstrate a European consciousness anything near to that of France, Germany, or the Netherlands. Furthermore, Brexit itself goes with a presently irreparable loss of prestige on both sides of the English Channel. In Britain, this loss won't be compensated by a U-turn from the current 2016-2021 Alleingang versus the continent's heartland. On the part of the EU, its member states should see itself entitled to await the outcome of the (post-)colonial upheavals within the four-nation state, a Union that wasn't supposed to be at stake.
Apart from this, what to do with this standstill? "Follow Back Pro-EU" was founded by a twittering Dutchman, a fellow countryman of mine. More than three centuries ago, Willem van Oranje laid the foundations for the 1688 Revolution. Neither the #FBPE founder nor I intend to follow in the revolutionary King's footsteps and leave the fatherland for ever, though we shouldn't stop hinting the Brits in alignment with the French President's realism. In my opinion they should be willing to overcome the country's structural problems through reviewing the revolutionary history of our great-grandfathers, that is the contended narrative of "the great seminal catastrophe of the twentieth century (G. Kennan, 1979)". More specifically, the Anglophone account of the world-war era, particularly the Compiègne-Versailles chapter, doesn't fit the new century.
Perhaps we need a 21st-century version of Willem/William?
Let's submerge in the presently meaningful events of the past World-War-One anniversary. The Brexit-Britain Alleingang's paradigm occurred exactly a century ago. In the Winter of 1919, a triumphant Great Britain overruled friend and foe in Paris by taking over power at the Paris conference together with its suddenly commissioned Empire forces. First, a "no-deal" struck the Germans amid a revolutionary transformation and democratising process (a hundred years later now, a postcolonial process of democratisation may be attributed to the EU). After the young German republic's exclusion from the Paris Conference, the others, such as the Belgians, Americans, and the hosting Entente-Partner were walked over by this fasces of two British delegations. Jan Christiaan Smuts, a colonial hero, led the British Imperial Delegation, to be distinguished from David Lloyd George's natural one. This imperialist coup urged the American President, the Armistice Agreement's guarantee, to turn back to his capital in the meantime. After his League-of-Nations idea was aborted, which implies an as fatal abortion of the 1918 Compiègne (Rethondes) Agreement, the deliberations about Europe's issues were advanced with a two-month delay. Almost half a year later from the surprising outset of the conference, Woodrow Wilson was idle enough to sign a Treaty of Versailles that was dictated by imperialists and colonists under the Union Jack. Washington's liberal and truly functioning democracy was able to express awareness of this crude alternation by opting out. It denied ratification of the Treaty and "League of Versailles" twice. Obviously, the "Napoleon-like" (A.J.P. Taylor) British war leader Lloyd George won't have regretted ousting both the Armistice originators, that is Germany and the United States.
In mainstream history writing, Clemenceau's France is being blamed for the diktat. Particularly by the British, who still believe that the World War of 1914-1918 was won and that they thus "made the world safe for democracy" (Anglo-American wording). In the first place, the first war should generally be dated and termed "1914-1919". While Britain may have started the preparations for its Centenary earlier than any others, its official programme was termed 1914.org. Unlike the continued web presences of other countries, it was entirely dissolved, most notably as the "forgotten" Centennial year of 2019 was still running. The Brexit referendum took place in the midst of the remembrance years. The heads of state and government from the former enemies France and Germany commemorated November 11, 1918 with deeply moving gestures in Compiègne, with their British colleague being notably absent. Thus, the former Entente didn't team up next to Angela Merkel. In Wales, Scotland and England, the final chapter of this conflict and the crisis of civilisation was ignored due to the ongoing Brexit chaos Apart (Hew Strahan). Apart from the US and its World War One Centennial Commission, the rest of the world didn't do much better. In France, a poorly communicated statement about Versailles tended to reveal some change of perspective.
On January 1, 2021, the Brexiteers' crime will be perpetrated in its full size. This time, it won't be easy to ignore the current, fifth year of completion. What to do in support of FBPE tweets? "One of their old countries should colonise them", as Trevor Noah translated Westminster's ongoing chaos into the Daily Show's postcolonial humour. Perhaps Ardern's New Zealand should come in to goad the disuniting Kingdom into a process of manifold regeneration that would entail the modernisation of its faltering democracy. Start decolonizing the UK. Let its New Imperial History be followed by a clearly internationalised New History of Europe. Join forces with transnational-European initiatives such as Hypotheses' Why Europe, Which Europe or Aufa100. Certainly, non-British Europeans are challenged to transcend their national histories and shed the Anglo-Saxon domination of history and historiography. Our shared history must be written all-over again.
BY PETER DE BOURGRAAF
Note: Article submission without comment rejected by The New European editor. The time is ripe?
Peter de Bourgraaf, The U.S. Brussels Peace with Russia. Are the Federation and the Old West Falling Apart? (Hamburg 2005)