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.
Western Europe’s political elite was quick to adopt this position, and America’s “Euro-Atlantic” political thinking, together with the Marshall Plan, contributed to it decisively. The Treaty of Rome, together with the establishment of the Council of Europe, embodied a legal, economic, and political – but mostly a philosophical – breakthrough.