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EU an Empire or a Federation?

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posted on Jun, 9 2015 @ 07:25 PM


Is the EU an Empire or a Federation?

Having working federations in the world today, we associate with them positivity and democracy, however empires we associate with repression and violence and thus label them negatively. Federal US – good...Imperial US – bad.

Is one democratic while the other is authoritarian?

Let’s forget about the EU for an moment and focus on the US and other empires turned federations to further define the differences.

The first modern federation, the US, was formerly a colony of the British empire. This newly founded US, discussed the possibility of forming their own colonial system, but later rejected the idea preferring a system in which new colonies would gain equal standing in congress along with older colonies, granted that they fulfilled certain requirements. The colonies created a confederation and this evolved into a federation.

The German empire became a federation and the Austrian federal state is what is left of the Austro-Hungarian empire. What these three histories seem to tell us, is that federations seem to appear as successors to empires.

So is federation the democratic heir to empire? Well in this modern era a federal model wouldn’t be taken seriously unless it was introduced in the context of democratisation processes’. In simple and basic terms then, a federation is democratic or it is not a federation. How democratic is the EU? There are democratic processes involved, so the concept of empire should not be applicable right?

Well that depends on how one defines empire.

Definition of empire: a hierarchically organized political system with a hub-like structure–a rimless wheel–within which a core elite and a state dominate peripheral elites and societies by serving as intermediaries for their significant interactions and by channelling resource flows from the periphery to the core and back to the periphery.

The ‘core’ the definition refers to does not have to be a state, it can simply be a city as in the Roman and Byzantine empires. A parameter for empires; empires expand, federations don’t. Scholars address that empires are unstable and seem doomed to collapse. At any point shocks can lead to loss of territory and ultimate collapse. Basically empires seem fragile, always struggling to preserve an unstable equilibrium.

What seems to be correlated to an empires duration though, is the speed of its expansion. The faster they expand the faster they tend to fall.

History of empire tends to bring repression and violent episodes to memory, but in their time empires are seen as forces for peace and prosperity. Selective memories tend to give us false views on empires of past, but in reality they were actually more complex polities than we sometimes wish to believe. The only difference between states and empires is that, states have survived the diffusion of democracy while, as of now, empires have not. Whether there tends to be a factor between democracy and empire is not really known though, as it’s considered economic sustainability tends to be the cause of their collapse, so democratisation of the empire could be a coincidental cause.

A successful empire is one that implements its identity policy onto member states, while preserving and respecting the local identities of the individual populations. This imperial identity of the empire stresses the homogeneity of the empires population. This creates a two-level identity similar to a federation.

Ok, so what defines a federation?

There are 6 main characteristics to define a federation:

1) A federation is a state with a single people which is characterized by the accommodation of the constituent units of the union in the decision-making procedure of the central government on some constitutionally entrenched basis;

2) Federation is based on unity and diversity which are formally recognized by the combination of self-rule and shared rule in a written and supreme constitution;

3) Self-rule and shared rule are combined in at least two orders of government/governance, each acting directly upon its citizens, in which the constituent units enjoy significant autonomy in matters of local concern but have voluntarily agreed to pool their sovereignty in matters of common concern;

4) The federal constitution incorporates a formal allocation of powers and competences between the central and constituent units with a firm basis in sources of revenue and expenditure which provide the framework for fiscal federalism;

5) The constitution of the federation is not unilaterally amendable by any single order of government. It can be amended only by an overwhelming majority of both the central legislative institutions and the legislative institutions of the constituent units of federation;

6) The federation has an umpire in the form of a supreme court to regulate the relations between the central authority and the constituent units, and between the constituent units themselves. It has the unchallengeable legal authority to adjudicate on disputes regarding the constitutionality of respective actions.

So, is the EU an empire or federation?

There are 4 major differences between empire and federation. Firstly, federations tend to have high levels of equality and empires tend to have low levels of equality. Secondly, federations tend to have fixed borders, while empires suffer territorial instability (expanding and shrinkage). Thirdly, empires have a high degree of multiculturalism, whereas federations tend to have limited multiculturalism. Finally, the political link between the citizens and the political centre differs between federations and empires; the former being ran in a matrix like system, and the later being ran from a political centre state or city.

The EU take in new member states that adhere to values set in the Treaty of the European Union, in this case it follows the rules of federalisation. However, the states have to be within the European border as stated in article 49. The problem is, Europe doesn’t have a clear border to the East, therefore the final border can only be the result of political bargaining. Also since the inception of the EU the process of expansion hasn’t yet ceased, this presents a pattern of imperialisation (trend towards empire). So as far as territory is concerned, the EU seems to be in empire mode still.

The next main point is the organisation of political power. Federalism’s matrix model of self-rule and shared-rule, tend to create lower levels of inequality in the system. We can see a version of this within the EU, but on the other hand we also see the empire model, of city rule, where periphery states hardly exchange with each other and the core has authority. There is also the trend of older states being more powerful than the newer weaker states, as new states had to get their houses in order and financially sound, some like Greece even tricked their way into the EU. This territorial inequality is typical of empire. So on the one hand we can see a move towards federalism, but on the other a sway to imperialisation.

posted on Jun, 9 2015 @ 07:25 PM
The last point is on multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is a major parameter for identifying empire from federation. It leads to a two-level identity, that of the individual state and core political union. There needs to be a cultural tolerance between the individual states, yet there also needs to be a policy limiting homogenisation of the population, or history tells us it can lead to the implosion of an empire. This is why they EU chose the strategy of opposing the lingua franca of a common tongue, which would have inadvertently been English. Instead, they have suggested that all EU citizens become bilingual, speaking the individual state tongue and a choice of any other. The EU policy on language then, is protective of national identity and therefore should contribute to the longevity of the EU project.

What we have seen then is that, federation and empire, although different entities tend to complement one another, at least it seems in the building of this modern project. The EU seems to be trying to create a federation in an imperialist manner. Whether the leaders of this union decide to ultimately create one or the other is too soon to answer, but what we can deduce so far is that the EU seems to be become progressively more imperialist and empire like. But for now let’s just call this EU project an imperial federation.

edit on 9-6-2015 by DAZ21 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 9 2015 @ 07:53 PM
It's an undemocratic, corrupt dictatorship which is trying to ape the USA, but is more reminiscent of the old USSR.

These are thousand-year old democracies, with a rich history and national pride, not US states that need a federal govt.

Not being as geographically massive as Russia, China, India, US, should have no bearing on the issue.

posted on Jun, 9 2015 @ 07:59 PM
a reply to: DAZ21

Great thread, this immediately reminded me of that old joke...

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English".

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensi bl riten styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi TU understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas. 

Reich für die Ewigkeit?

posted on Jun, 9 2015 @ 08:03 PM

Choose wisely

I think its a Union though

posted on Jun, 9 2015 @ 08:21 PM
a reply to: CJCrawley

I think it's got something to do with that TTIP. I just hope the UK can get out before it's too late.

posted on Jun, 10 2015 @ 04:49 AM
a reply to: DAZ21

Why are those maps showing Norway, Switzerland, Andorra Monaco as part of The E.U.?

Last time i checked they weren't .

posted on Jun, 10 2015 @ 05:45 AM
I think in the next 50 years or so we will see it either being destroyed by the collapse of the Euro currency or it will turn into the "United States of Europe", I don't think of it as a empire any more than I think of the USA as a empire.

posted on Jun, 10 2015 @ 05:45 AM
Well Iceland is in it too...

Europe is an Union and certainly not a Franco-German Empire. Just checked, Europe isn't ruled by Francois Merkel I (or Angela Hollande I, whoever you prefer
There were some that want to have a Federation like the US is (was?) one, but I think this will not happen in the near future.

posted on Jun, 10 2015 @ 06:11 AM
a reply to: DAZ21

Clearly, you have created your idiosyncratic definitions in order to reach a predetermined conclusion. A federation does not need to be ethnically or culturally homogeneous. The principle distinction is that an empire exerts a high degree of central authority whereas a federation permits more local authority. Membership in a federation is generally voluntary and states can secede by mutual agreement. Membership in an empire is usually, but not necessarily, through conquest.

The so-called "Russian Federation" is an empire; territorial governors are appointed from Moscow, and no territory has seceded successfully. The European Union is a federation; membership is voluntary and Greece may be in the process of devolving.

posted on Jun, 10 2015 @ 06:55 AM
a reply to: DJW001

But if we look at how the EU tried to snatch Ukraine, was that not by a certain type of conquest? Only the ousting of the Ukraine leader forced Russia's hand...

posted on Jun, 10 2015 @ 07:04 AM

originally posted by: DAZ21
a reply to: DJW001

But if we look at how the EU tried to snatch Ukraine, was that not by a certain type of conquest? Only the ousting of the Ukraine leader forced Russia's hand...

I knew that's where you were going. The EU did not try to "snatch" Ukraine, they just wanted to sign trade deals. Ukraine's corrupt leader fled to Russia when he realized how unpopular his pro-Russia policy was. The EU has tendered no offer to allow Ukraine to join. On the other hand, when Russia sent troops into Ukrainian territory to seize Crimea, that was blatant Nineteenth Century Imperialism.

posted on Jun, 10 2015 @ 07:55 AM
a reply to: OtherSideOfTheCoin

I'm European. European nations are like an old married couple. They quarrel because it prevents a fight. Some even think their quarreling is a sign of mutual love. I'm not sure, but I sure see a working marriage when I see how they run the place.

E pluribus unum - well, the Yanks say it, we do it.

There are VAST differences between the various nations; in culture, language and economy - even in law. We love it! We thrive on our differences, thrive on having national pride and international status. We are The Next Big Thing - even bigger than China, mark my words. We are far from an empire: an empire has one legal system, one Law. We have two main legal systems: Common and Continental law. In part of the EU folks even intentionally drive on the wrong side of the road! Some EU nations are currently (almost) falling apart, e.g. the Scots want out of the UK and want to remain in the EU, the Brits want the Scots to stay and out of the EU. Yes, France and Germany are big countries, but so are Spain, Italy and England. And even the "smaller" countries can be quite impressive in their achievements.

So, we're not an empire, not a federation. We are a family.

posted on Jun, 10 2015 @ 12:30 PM

originally posted by: ForteanOrg
I'm European.

That's nice for you, I'm a British citizen, and until the nationality status on my passport ever says differently I am British.
...and on-topic, I view the current EU as a federation with aspirations toward becoming a United States of Europe.
You can keep that, I'm voting out of the EU in the referendum, unless the 'renegotiation' provides absolute sovereignty to national governments, the ability to control immigration, and no 8 Billion (£GBP+) fee every year for us to be members.

In perspective, 8 Billion could build 80,000 new homes in the UK every year, more actually, I just took an average new build price of 100,000 per home. This would stimulate employment, house our people, and would pay for itself as the state could rent the houses at a reasonable price.
Blue sky thinking, perhaps, but # the EU, gonna be an impressive argument to encourage me to vote for staying in.

posted on Jun, 10 2015 @ 04:57 PM
a reply to: grainofsand

Oh, sure, go ahead and try to revive the Victorian age Live in a dream if you must, but if you wake up you may realize WHY England desperately wanted to join the EU. Face it: the war was the last great thing that happened in England. After that it all went down hill. So, you did the wise thing: swallowed a bit of your pride, knocked on the Continental door - various times - and finally the French agreed to let you in. After that the UK did quite well - but not because they were the UK, but because they were and are part of a larger family of nations.

Also, you say you're a Brit - but what is a Brit? The "United" Kingdom is not United anymore. Scotts were kept on board but already have said they will insist on another referendum if the UK wants to leave the EU - they don't! Welshmen are muttering. The Northern Irish are hardly really Brits.. it's a colony. What is 'British' when finally the Scotts, Northern-Irish, Welsh and perhaps even Greater London - a nation on its own! - will leave the UK?

But by all means, stiff upper lip and all. Remain calm and mind the gap..

posted on Jun, 10 2015 @ 05:02 PM
Its a failure

posted on Jun, 11 2015 @ 03:25 AM
a reply to: ForteanOrg

Nah, your argument has not swayed my opinion at all. You will have to do better than that to convince me that EU membership is good for the UK.
Ah but you didn't even try did you, you just pointed out the things you think are wrong with the UK.
That is the lamest reasoning to vote for the EU I've read so far this year lol.

Enjoy being European, I enjoy being British, and I'm voting to stay that way. Scotland is a sidetrack argument, they'll be leaving us for sure in a few years anyway so make absolutely no difference to my thoughts about the EU.

Tell me how EU membership actually benefits the UK and I may be interested, but simply ranting about the relationship strains between England, Scotland, Wales, and N.Ireland is a sidetrack at best, but certainly no business of the EU.

posted on Jun, 11 2015 @ 03:53 AM
a reply to: DAZ21

Very interesting and informative thread, thanks.

The only point I want to make is that regardless of what entity the EU happens to become or is becoming, we have to get past the problem that the EU is going backwards as far as the rest of the world's economies are concerned. Unless it can turn around its financial situation, we will be seeing more Greek financial tragedies blighting other countries within it, whatever aspirations those who want an EU have.

posted on Jun, 11 2015 @ 06:46 AM
a reply to: grainofsand

I wasn/t ranting at all, merely observing. You want to learn how the UK benefits from the EU? Well, there are plenty of listings of these benefits, for example check out this one.

Then there is history. Check out this chart (source):

.. and see for yourself what membership of the EU and subsequent growth of the EU did for the UK (FDI = Foreign Direct Investment).

Now, you may feel that it is not important if Scotland leaves the UK, but many do. The strenght of the UNIITED Kingdom is that it is UNITED (though I would not dare say that an Englishman is a Scot vice versa..). The same goes for the EU. I hope that you appreciate the various people in your kingdom, as I appreciate the various people and cultures in Europe. We thrive by our differences and should by no means take these away. But we should remain united - free travel of people and goods, free trade and a decent legal system on which we all agree to go with it.

BTW: I'm not in favour of a huge centralised government; government should be kept lean and accessible to people. So, we may need a centralized EU government for vision and very broad, generic law and rulings, and many small decentralised governments to fill in the details according to tradition and culture of a region. The arbitrary borders of our "nations" are far to random to guarantee all EU citizens a fair say in how they are governed. So, away with nations, hello to regional and cultural diversity and the EU.


posted on Jun, 11 2015 @ 08:01 AM
Well of course the EEC free trade arrangement was always going to increase FDI.
The situation we have sleepwalked into now is a pseudo super state with government slowly being centralised in Brussels. This political union is a separate issue and essentially what I shall be voting against. Free trade is NOT dependent on political union, and any attempt to link the two is disingenuous at best.

With respect to the OP though I shall refrain from any discussions about whether or not the EU will still trade with us if we vote to leave the political union. That is a different debate and it is clear where our opinions differ.

But when you state something like this...

originally posted by: ForteanOrg
So, away with nations, hello to regional and cultural diversity and the EU.
...I do not see how we could ever reach agreement, so I wish you well as a 'European' and I hope that renegotiation about the EU is so dramatic that it returns to a simple free trade agreement, or Britain votes overwhelmingly to leave in the coming referendum.

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