The headlines across the media last week were reporting the common anxieties again. This time it's tiny little Cyprus. Will this little island in the Mediterranean be the tipping point for Europe? Will their refusal to go along with austerity measures precipitate the final unraveling of the Euro? How to address the crisis that is European Union (EU)?
Last year in Toronto one of the Munk Debates was held around the issue: Be it resolved that the European experiment has failed. These debates are funded by the Munk brothers and are designed to address critical issues of global importance. Peter Munk introduced this debate about Europe and its future with these words: What lies at the core of the EU breakdown, and what we are witnessing, is the historic recalibration of the role of the modern state in real time. That statement, made in 2012 is even more the case in the spring of 2013.
The crisis of Europe has to do with the very nature of something we have taken for granted for about four hundred years - the modern state. As a result of this crisis the citizens of Europe are struggling to reimagine what role nation states and their governments can and should have in their lives. This is a basic question that goes to the core of identity, society and culture in the modern period. It is a fundamental question of how states (if they should exist as they are in the first place) ought to function and how they should be structured. Beneath these questions lie much deeper ones about the purpose, goals, and values of a state. A similar wrestling is occurring in in North America.