Can the Political Center Hold in Europe?

The tension between political demands for self-determination on one hand and maintaining the sovereignty, the unity of a state, on the other is a historically recognizable aspect of political life.  Yet surprisingly, politics in Europe today are turbulent and unpredictable to an unexpected degree.  The tumult and chaos in countries from Britain, Ireland, and Spain to Italy and the Czech Republic, and even in Russia, allows for a question: is it an earthquake or simply a shock? Is it all a charade or the real thing? The basic dilemma is familiar from Edmund Burke, who wrote in his Reflections on the Revolution in France, "A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation.  Without such means, it might even risk the loss of the constitution which it wished the most religiously to preserve." There appear to be four fundamental and interrelated problems; the challenge of a section of the population of a country to...(Read Full Article)

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