Europe’s Non-European Europeans

Nation-states are built on ethnic and territorial unity, and their histories and political development are grounded in a sense of collective identity. Empires emerge when a national group considers its existence inside its territorial borders either risky or ineffective, and embarks on a forced expansion that is usually connected with large-scale violence.

Western Europe found another route for its development only after WWII, when Hitlerism lay in the past but Stalinism posed a very present danger. Western European intellectuals realized that both nationalism and imperialism were unacceptable approaches to state-building, and that European stability required a union of nations that could and should expand, but that would never be transformed into an empire.