18 - 24 December 2008
Issue No. 926
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875
World without borders
Samir Sobhi takes the concept of global village to its logical conclusion
Sociology tells us how we evolved from a nomadic life to settle in villages
before moving on to form cities, states and federations. Europe now is becoming
one nation, a continent-state, a place where countries such as Britain, France,
Russia, Italy and Greece melt in one big pot. Europe inspired modern
civilisation and much of today's international economy. Its example is hard to
How did Europe manage to have a single market and currency? How long will it
take Europe before it becomes a single country, a continent without borders?
Like a chess player Europe thinks ahead, rearranging its domestic affairs and
contemplating the moves that lie ahead.
In most European countries parties vie for ways to satisfy the electorate.
Sometimes these multi-party systems have spawned a reality in which two parties
take the lead, as is the case in the UK. Will the day come when we hear of a
European parliament, comprised of representatives from across the continent,
reacting to the policies of one cabinet, with one president or prime minister
A one-state Europe may not be as far-fetched as some think. If we consider the
history of the UK we can see how the unthinkable becomes gradually accepted.
The Tories were in control of British political life for most of the last
century. They have won 20 out of the last 26 parliamentary elections.
In 1993 the Tories were in trouble because of divisions over the Maastricht
treaty. Then Prime Minister John Major dismissed the objections of sceptics and
decided to sign up. This was not the first instance of resistance in the UK to
integration with Europe. Following WWII Labour opposed the creation of joint
European organisations. At the time analysts supposed Britain was jealous of
losing its status as a world power in an international scene increasingly
dominated by the Americans.
Now it seems that the march for European unity is unstoppable. It may take a
few years but with Austria, Finland and Sweden finally in there is no turning
Winston Churchill said it would happen. In the late 1940s, when the Tories were
in opposition, he made speeches calling for Europe to unite. His views were
shared by several Tories, including Harold Macmillan. But the Tories changed
their mind later, rejecting several pan-European projects, including the
European Coal and Steel Community. In 1952 Anthony Eden argued that Britain
could not afford to contemplate joining a European federation.
Dorriya Shafiq Basiouni, author of Unified Europe, believes that changing
political life in Europe will influence the politics of the Third World. A
unified Europe is too powerful a role model to ignore. If only for economic
reasons political boundaries are likely to erode. We can see it already
happening, in the omnipresence of satellite communication, in converging
lifestyles and in increased standardisation. Continents are becoming states and
the world will follow.
The global village -- with six billion inhabitants doing more or less the same
things -- is no longer a figment of imagination. It is where we live.