Where Are Europe's Fault Lines?

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Beneath the surface of modern maps, numerous old fault lines still exist. A political earthquake or two might reveal the fractures for all to see.

Correspondent Mark G. and I have long discussed the potential relevancy of old boundaries, alliances and structures in Europe's future alignments. Examples include the Holy Roman Empire and the Hanseatic League, among others.

In the long view, Europe has cycled between periods of consolidation and fragmentation for two millennia, starting with the Roman Empire and its dissolution. Various mass movements of tribes/peoples led to new political structures and alliances, and a dizzying range of leaders rose to power and schemed their way through an equally dizzying array of wars, alliances and betrayals.

Regardless of the era or players, security is a permanent priority: this includes defensible borders, alliances to counter potential foes, treaties to end hostilities and whatever is necessary to secure access to resources and trade routes.

When consolidation served these priorities, then fragmented polities either consolidated by choice or by conquest. When smaller polities served these priorities, then imperial structures fragmented into naturally cohesive territories that were unified by language, culture and geography.

Security is also economic, as people support structures that keep their bellies filled and enable social stability and mobility.

For the sake of argument, let's say that the European Union is the high water mark of consolidation, and the next phase is fragmentation. Where are Europe's natural fault lines? Much has changed in the past 600 years, but geography hasn't changed, and that defines some basic security threats.

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The Germans are making contingency plans for the collapse of Europe

Nation-states may appear permanent, but history suggests nothing is as permanent as we might reckon. Polities that were brought into an Imperial orbit but retained their identity and geographic boundaries may be last one on, first one off.

In other cases, old fault lines were merely blurred rather than erased.

Brexit is a one-off in some regards, but if we add Catalonia, we discern the possibility of reversion to older borders and configurations. Could Italy fragment into three polities, North, Rome and the South? The idea seems absurd, but the history of modern states is based on much older structures--structures that made sense then and might once again make sense.

Insecurity feeds fragmentation. Once borders are no longer secure and social stability and mobility decay, people naturally start looking around for solutions, and configurations based on language, geography and culture start looking attractive if the current arrangement is seen as decreasing security rather than increasing it.

Empires tend to fail when the centers of power become self-absorbed in political struggles while the prosperity and security of the imperial lands decline. If we view the EU as a modern-day iteration of Empire, it's not terribly surprising that the decay of social stability and mobility are fraying the forces holding the Empire of the willing together.

Here are two maps of the Holy Roman Empire, the first circa 962 AD, and the second circa 1555. It seems the bonds between Eastern and Western Europe aren't as strong as the forces of geography, language and shared security interests binding the polities within the Western and Eastern blocs.


I'm not making any predictions here, just noting that not all boundaries are lines on a map. Beneath the surface of modern maps, numerous old fault lines still exist. A political earthquake or two might reveal the fractures for all to see.

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Looney junction Thu, 11/09/2017 - 08:24 Permalink

  Slightly OT, but still in Europe…  ;-) According to RT, Danish immigration minister flees deportation center chased by angry migrants Police and security had to intervene to help the Danish immigration and integration minister escape a potential assault by a crowd of rejected asylum-seekers, indignant over her decision to focus attention on only one family in the deportation facility. The Danish police should’ve let the Rapefugees run her over with her own FWW (Fucking Welcome Wagon). First, the EU Commies roll out the red carpet for the Muzzies. Then, they sweep the countless sexual assaults committed by the Muzzies under the same Red Carpet. Meanwhile, anyone who’s against this pestilence is labeled a Nazi. So, I say, pull the cops back and let the Muzzies have their way with that disgusting Danish bitch.  ;-) Looney

In reply to by junction

fleur de lis Looney Thu, 11/09/2017 - 09:43 Permalink

The problem with being called a Nazi is that it carries too much disproportionate weight.If someone is called a Nazi, he or she should call Nazi right back.Eventually it will get diluted.At this point bad weather should be blamed on Nazis.That word has no real meaning except for the MSM, Marxist politicians, and crybaby identity groups.It should not be recognized nor used as a definitive word by ordinary people.

In reply to by Looney

Ghordius fleur de lis Thu, 11/09/2017 - 09:59 Permalink

rubbishfirst, the hallmark of the discussion around Nazi is the "kill them" argument. if someone is suggesting to kill some other group, just because it's a group, be it religious or genetic or whatever... the "Nazi" label kind of sticks. and you can't wish it awaysecond, we are again in an age where every label is called as improper. but that's something originating in the USask a Russian, he will be able to point you to real communists, real socialists, etcask a Scot, he will be able to point you to the Scottish National Party. yes, they are Nationalists. moderately, mind. proof: they want an independent Scottish Nation State. and yes, they are moderately... socialistand that makes them... moderate National Socialists. which is not the same as the way less moderate Nazis of WWII Germanyin the US there is a lot of confusion about those labels because of a very, very simple reason: two parties... onlyand... a lot of Nazis, real item, that somehow think they can hide behind a fig leaf of "what is a label?", with a definitely exasperating PC crowd misusing any label, tooit's simple, really. Nazis, the real thing, have a hate for groups and shout for violence against those groups just because of the group identity, not personal criteria of the individuals of those groups

In reply to by fleur de lis

BrownCoat Ghordius Thu, 11/09/2017 - 15:49 Permalink

@ Ghordius,There are labels and mis-labels. For example AntiFa claims to be anti-fascism. AntiFa's actions (street violence, uniforms, active intention to attack and harm opponents) is behavior identical to the NAZI Brown Shirts. AntiFa *is* the modern day SA (Brown Shirts). Unfortunately, AntiFa is mislabled by the Media.The US has many inappropriate labels. The cultural Marxists create new definitions for existing words. Often their definitions are incomprehensible. Racist is such a label. Under cultural Marxism, a racist is not a racist if the person is a member of a so-called minority ethnicity. What? So, in order to know how to use the Marxist label, you first must discriminate by knowning the ethnicity of a person. Irrational. Inconsistent. Double Standard. Unfair.BTW, Politically Correct social groups (like Black Lives Matter) do spout the phrase "kill them" when refering to police and whites. Why aren't groups using these phrases correctly identified as "hate groups?"

In reply to by Ghordius

Ghordius quadraspleen Thu, 11/09/2017 - 08:55 Permalink

done, further belowmeanwhile, note that map of the Holy Roman Empire. you see how small some of the... semi-sovereign were?I call them "semi-sovereign" because they were sovereign... except that they had to follow the Emperor... IF the whole HRE was attacked from the outsidesome of them were so small that they were actually "just" Barons. and some went into legendary status for being the Robber Baronswhat was a Robber Baron? actually, a kind of ideal libertarian. or a kind of oligarch (note the small army)they spanned a chain across a river, or just watched the roads in their fiefdoms, and... took merchant prisoners. legal principle: "Might Makes Right" and "God Gave Me The Force"for ransom or duties, however you want to call that. very high on Personal Liberty, those guys. gotta love themat the same time, the HRE sported over 100 "Imperial Cities" (read: oligarchies or republics). those were the ones that had to send an army to tell the Robber Barons to stop in the only language that those Barons understood: forcelots of fun, the HRE. it's legacy still populates many dreams

In reply to by quadraspleen

Ghordius quadraspleen Thu, 11/09/2017 - 09:21 Permalink

and an older American lady recently said that for her the litmus test for Rep/Dem is "who do they hate"?she says that Republicans tend to hate Jews and Democrats tend to hate Catholics. of course I thing it's just another kind of BSit's actually the Roman Catholic Church. so yes, that org is too a remnant of the First Empire. it's head bears the same title that Julius Caesar held: Pontifex Maximusa bit like the Black Eagle, another remnant of the First. it flies over Moscow, over Vienna, over Berlin, in various versionsor the title Czar, from Caesar. or Kaiserseriously, now: why that... instinctive anti-catholicism? is it really kind of part of your... identity and culture? like that burning of the effigy of Guy Fawkes in the UK? a bit like... Halloween, actually?

In reply to by quadraspleen

Ghordius quadraspleen Thu, 11/09/2017 - 09:40 Permalink

and you do not have any... affection for your cousins with their strange mixture of a Theocratic/Democratic but-both-not-in-full state around Jerusalem? they are "god-botherers" too, aren't they? when they are not socialist kibbuzim and many other stripe of themcome on, you too have an instinctive... bark at other people's biggest denomination of "let's pray together" clubsI'm just poking fun at that... instinctive. and musing if it's part of an identity, note

In reply to by quadraspleen

ghostofgo Ghordius Thu, 11/09/2017 - 11:12 Permalink

Ghordius,Take a look at your comments on this article.  It's not immediately clear what to make of your punctuation.  One the one hand it seems quite willful.  On the other hand, it seems sloppy and careless.  Perhaps you should ponder why that is the case.  You might want to consider slowing down and taking the time necessary to formulate coherent sentences.  If you do that, you might find that what you think you are saying is actually somewhat confused.  Clear expression follows from clear thinking.  Most people on this board are native English speakers who don't down a bottle of wine every day at lunch.  I'm sure that many struggle to understand what you are trying to communicate because of the out of control constructions and punctuation. 

In reply to by Ghordius

Sandmann Thu, 11/09/2017 - 08:35 Permalink

Saxony has to recover the territory Prussia appropriated. Time for Saxony to take back Coburg, Thuringen, Sachsen-Anhalt and become the Central European power it was

Ghordius Thu, 11/09/2017 - 08:43 Permalink

nice little article, CHSnow... Beethoven, if still alive, would disagree with this:"In the long view, Europe has cycled between periods of consolidation and fragmentation for two millennia, starting with the Roman Empire and its dissolution. "Beethoven would have put it differently. Like...- European Unity for 1'000 years (First Roman Empire)- chaos, barbarians wrecking the whole landscape for a relatively short while- European Unity for another 1'000 years (Second Roman Empire)- again, wars and dis-unity and even religious warsthat's the Beethoven that composed his Third Symphony because he believed that Napoleon would bring... the Third Empirelater he was disgusted about him. but hey, the Third Empire... that's the same thing that Hitler was talking about, wasn't he? not that Beethoven would have liked that approachand now... well, a different and yet similar attempt. what was about the First and the Second? ah, internal peace, prosperity and rulescommonly applicable rules. nearly as good as commonly agreed rules, which are the very bestRules. love them or hate them, you can't understand the Continent if you disregard that "thing" with Rulesyes, the English prefer Splendid Buccaneering, at least in principle, when they are day-dreaminghence... Brexit. hence... their search for fault lines. there is a big demand for those, at the moment. every second Englishman is kind of hoping one of those pops up, before December or next March

Ghordius Brazen Heist Thu, 11/09/2017 - 09:02 Permalink

like Switzerland in "writ large", the externalities don't go awayRussia is there. and the Eastern/Central EU countries are most aware of thatChina is there... and getting nearer. with railroadsthe US is there, too. Pivoting to East, but still very much presentthe basic core of the EU was always six countries. the founders of the Treaty of Rome. all the rest is... optionalbetter happy on board, but better happy outside then unhappy on board

In reply to by Brazen Heist

Ghordius Umh Thu, 11/09/2017 - 09:15 Permalink

a map is just that: a picture of the thing, not the thing itselfbeyond that frontier, the Roman Limes, in Roman times, you found... trees, trees and more trees. and a few wandering tribesRomans could not expand there because there were no "fix points", no fortified villages, no "nothing", for their purposes

In reply to by Umh

OKUSA Thu, 11/09/2017 - 09:01 Permalink

I think many of the Eastern European nations will reform an attachment to Russia, by choice this time. It's also possible that Germany could be a part of this rejoining as well. There seems to be a longing for a rebirthed Holy Roman Empire, but who leads it is the question. I could see either Russia or Germany being the head. I lean more toward Germany because they tried it before (Hitler). I think Putin's Russia would be at odds with the Vatican, Russian Orthodox Church and all.

Ghordius OKUSA Thu, 11/09/2017 - 09:11 Permalink

there is a whole lot of people that hope that the Eastern European nations kind of find some love for Russiathe problem is: it's usually people that are not Eastern Europeans in Eastern/Central EuropeRussia is liked here. very much so. but not by Eastern Europeans and not by the British(though London likes rich Russians. but London likes the rich, period)meanwhile, respect for Russia... for that you have to look at Western Europeans (again, except the British)sorry, that's the way it is

In reply to by OKUSA

Joe A OKUSA Thu, 11/09/2017 - 10:06 Permalink

Some in Eastern Europe might have strong feelings for their "Slavic brothers" in Russia (the Serbs do but that really has more to do with anti NATO sentiment for apparent reasons) but many people there don't hold fond memories of the SU and Russia. But, many also don't see the point of pissing Russia off by putting NATO on its doorstep.

In reply to by OKUSA

waspwench OKUSA Thu, 11/09/2017 - 21:10 Permalink

I do not think Russia, or any other Eastern European nations will look favourably on a muslim infested Germany.   They will wish to stay as far away as possible.Germany's open door policy to muslim immigrants will alienate the Eastern European countries and may serve to drive them into the arms of Russia.

In reply to by OKUSA

Nex Thu, 11/09/2017 - 09:09 Permalink

"Barbarians" allways enter Europe. Mongols bring to Europe primtiive rifles, for example.It start much earlier than Rome. It star in Balkan with Gravetian culture and Greece and wars with Persia and Alexander the Grat conquest of North Africa and Asia. Mongols, Huns, Avars, Bulgars, Hungarians, Turks, Moors(all Iberian peninsula(today Spain and Portugal) was under Islam for centuries they even enter France)...mostly come from Asia. Central Asia-E. Europe was highway of civilizations.Geneticly speaking, very small proportions of europenas have europen genes by origin. Only western Balkan(Serbia, B&H, part of Croatia) and Scandinavia with north Germany and part of Russian land...all others are asian genes.

Ghordius Nex Thu, 11/09/2017 - 09:27 Permalink

further down that genetic discussion, there is no way to find a genetic difference between French and Germanthere is a whole lot of genetic tests that you can buy to find out where your ancestors originally came fromand because there were a lot of Peoples that kept staying in their "pockets", you can map very well all that, with "traces"but... one category is always there, without possibility to discern further: the French/Germanand... nearly all Europeans score highest exactly there, in that category. regardless where

In reply to by Nex

tr123 Ghordius Thu, 11/09/2017 - 10:31 Permalink

Sure there is, it's just not much.If you take a genetic composite average of 1000 from each country and compare the two you may fnd that some items are more prevalent in one than the other. The differences can be ranked vis a vis other countries, but yeah France and Germany would probably rank really close to one another. I'd be curious to know which variables are independent to each group, b/c that would be news.

In reply to by Ghordius

gunzeon Thu, 11/09/2017 - 09:07 Permalink

I cannot see why this guy is dusting off historic analogies and waxing lyrical about Europe's tribes, totally irrelevant to today's situatuion.Fact is, for all intents and purposes, Europe as we know it will cease to exist once the majority of the population are replaced with immigrants.Sure, there's no doubt that there will be a ruling class of indigenous europeans for a few more generations since they will possess all the money, but in general, it's over.

Ghordius gunzeon Thu, 11/09/2017 - 09:33 Permalink

I call bullshit and say: show me your numbersI went through endless expositions of them, and I always found BS, BS and more BSfact is, for all intents and purposes, this kind of "discussion" never uses real numbers90% of Europe is populated by Europeans, which make up 90% of all Europeans worldwideEurope is the continent of the Europeans. yes, genetically. yes, I am talking races(oh, my..., so non-PC, so non-PC)show me your methodology, show me your numbers

In reply to by gunzeon

Ghordius gunzeon Thu, 11/09/2017 - 09:47 Permalink

nope. those are not the numbers- first, google is never your friend- second, fertility rates are low... but any immigrant that comes here... has immediately the same low fertility ratesagain: how many Europeans do you count? start from that number. as I said, that discussion is always full of BSincluding that "growth. growth. it's either growth or death" from Dr. Krugman's Cargo Cult

In reply to by gunzeon

kellys_eye Ghordius Thu, 11/09/2017 - 13:09 Permalink

.. but any immigrant that comes here... has immediately the same low fertility ratesutter crap.  For nearly EVERY immigrant that sets foot in Europe there will be nine 'dependents' somewhere overseas just waiting for their free pass to the benefits of European life.  It's not even as if the 'system' can stop them or prevent them making their claim.This is how it's always been.

In reply to by Ghordius