Some time ago I decided to write about Fortress Europe, the continent of which I am a citizen. About the word “Fortress” with a capital, well that is explained throughout the posts. In order of writing I addressed context, internal issues, external issues, trade and people. In short I think of Europe as a continent trying to retain its wealth in a changing world.
The mighty Europe of a century ago is no more. After the Great War, the Second World War and decades of decolonisations the wealth of the European countries kept decreasing. The Marshall Plan diminished this process but low-income and middle-income employees and entrepreneurs felt the blow. In the Netherlands the loss of the “Dutch Indies” was in some media reported as a national loss. The people of Indonesia disagreed.
Between about 1500 and 1939 Western European countries largely ruled the world. The Dutch and British East India Companies waged wars and trade on the seas. After about 1800 the British trade fleet had even less competition as the Dutch V.O.C. went bankrupt. 439 years is a long time. Even the Chinese empire made concessions to the European trade fleets. China was a very powerful country, do not forget that.
Nowadays the Europe and the EU are often looked at as “oh they exist”, “democracy, what democracy?” and “glorious bureaucracy and billions of Euros for Greece.” There is more to Europe and the EU. Additionally the remnants of culture and sophistication came at a cost. European serfs, workers and slaves were replaced by natives and African slaves overseas. Their blood, sweat and tears built the wealth there is today. (Yes, slavery existed in Europe too.)
For every positive and negative there is to mention about Europe or Fortress Europe as I call it there is a simple historical truth that benefits many people. In the past 60 years war and armed conflict have been largely avoided. A continent once plagued with continuous unrest stabilised. People can generally live their life in relative peace and form their own opinions.
There are more things I could have addressed. If anything I am going to read more about Europe and world history. It is easy to take a comfortable life for granted. Once you understand the costs and decisions from the past paradise becomes a fortress that has to be defended.
Think about it, paradise as a fortress…