European demography, economy, and identity…and neo-druid communitarianism

by Ryan Streeter on September 28, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

This is the best line I’ve read this week: “Outside of some vaguely anti-American, neo-druid communitarianism among some, there’s not much holding Europeans together.”

That’s Joel Kotkin on Europe’s woes in his latest Forbes article.

He makes that point after citing familiar demographic and economic sources of Europe’s problems, such as this:

Europe’s poor economy stems in large part from policy. The strong welfare state so admired by progressives here has also made Europe a very expensive place to do business. High taxes and welfare costs, long tolerable in an efficient economy like Germany, have a way of catching up with companies and countries. This has been particularly notable after the financial crisis; since 2008 the unemployment rate has shot up 5 percentage points while dropping steadily in the Untied States.

But, Kotkin speculates, maybe it’s not just demography and economy that is holding Europe back.

Perhaps the greatest challenge to Europe is not demographics, economics or energy, but one of identity.

On the multi-lingual, multi-cultural continent that is Europe, Kotkin notes, that identity used to be rooted in a common faith. Now that Europe is highly secularized, is there any such thing as a “European identity”? Kotkin thinks not, and believes this is the source of the separatism we see in Europe right now.

It’s an interesting question.