We have in the last weeks seen examples of countries where parts try to break away. Those Catalans able or willing to vote, voted overwhelmingly for independence, and a formal declaration of independence may follow. Only the clumsiness and lack of political skill of the leaderships in Barcelona and not least Madrid has let it come this far. The whole process is just one more sign of the declining levels of politics in the developed world.
Scotland and the UK have both handled a similar process admirably well. But the development in the political level in London after the Ridiculous Brexit vote and the recent general elections are not promising. Theresa May is an amateur. A Boris Johnson as prime minister would be really bad. President Trump will not save the UK from a hard Brexit any more than he helped Puerto Rico.
In Europe the Schengen passport union is crumbling under the pressure not from refugees which are not arriving any longer, but from the pressure from irrational fears of the foreigners, fueled by populist politicians. Moslems and East-europeans are pictured as the root of all evil. Denmark is stationing troops at its border to Germany, where almost no refugees arrive. Social Democracies are dying around Europe. Their only hope for survival seems to be to adopt racist terminology.
The EU is more necessary than ever in a time where politics are degrading into particularism and short sighted decisions. Under such circumstances big powers keeping united and maintaining stability easily gain the upper hand. So Macron is right in wanting a strengthened EU. But such a strengthening must be carried out under guidance of reality and realism. Economic differences and populations which don’t like Brussels are major obstacles which must be carefully handled. But clearly an effort should be made. Historically seen in the end phase of modernities like the present, it is typical that the homogenous powers win over countries split within and between themselves. In the first Chinese modernity, the Warring States period, the state of Qin (in the west) won because the Chinese versions of the EU, the so-called Vertical Alliances (North-South Alliances) did not manage to keep united. In the Arab modernity the Seljuks won over the Abbasids and the local dynasties because of chaotic fights between the political parties in Bagdad and because the different countries were split. Etc. etc. But there is little hope that countries in the EU which are closing their borders between them, being torn by separatism or being divided politically between North and South and East and West, can offer much resistance to economic, cultural and cyber-pressure.
Germany just celebrated its day of unity. In the recent elections the far right populists in the AFD scored a certain success winning 12 % of the votes. I have earlier praised Germany as a last major bastion of stability in the developed world. Has this ended? No not yet. Many of the votes for this new party came from the former East Germany. With the AFD West Germany is paying the price for a unification which without a gradual transition simply closed or sold the East German industry and resulted in this part of the country staying underdeveloped and losing people to the West and the big cities. In this respect the AFD can be seen as an East German separatism. The AFD also got votes in South Germany, but this region, not least Bavaria has never reached the North European degree of political maturity.
Therefore if we look at Western Germany, the mature political system is still continuing. The population has been struck by a certain fear of the refugees, which may be no wonder after the influx of one million. There can be little doubt that such large influxes of people can increase resentments and turn more people towards populism. Because of this real political consideration and not as in Denmark because of racism, an influx of refugees per time can not be limitless. But still, in Germany people have been mature enough to vote for the mature parties in the recent elections.
Worrying signs exist though. In German elections we see large shifts in votes between parties. People are often more interested in personalities than policies. Young people are often led mostly by short superficial messages on the Web and from YouTube stars praising products and transient sentiments. Only an effort to educate the population can ensure long term stability. The problem is that not only economics have become globalized. Via the Internet the control of peoples minds has also slipped out of the hands of the old medias and the old political parties.
This development worsens the fragmentation of Europe’s Vertical Alliance. But is also worsens the Roman Republic-like political fragmentation of the United States.
The Kurdish separatism is an entirely different story. In this case we are seeing once more an example of the transformation of the micro-segregated Oriental states into Western type territorial states, see my post Ethnic Cleansing in the Arab World.