Whatever the eventual outcome of Britain’s negotiations to leave the European Union, the critical questions remain: what does the Referendum vote tell us about British society? As with the election of Donald Trump in the United States, why did so few people in Britain see the result coming? Why was there such a fundamental misunderstanding about divisions in society that had existed for years?
In this short but powerful book, Stephen Green argues that it is time to acknowledge that underlying all the sound and fury of the Brexit debate were fundamental questions—whether or not fully recognized—about British identity. Are the British different, special, and capable of finding their own way in the world? Who are they, those who call themselves British? Is it all too easy to blame Brexit on post-industrial decline in the traditional heartlands of the Labor Party, or scaremongering by a band of deluded “Little Englanders”? Or is British identity more complex, deep-rooted—and perhaps, in some sense, troubling—than those of other European nations?
What—if anything—do the twenty-eight member states of the European Union have in common? Amidst all the variety, can one even speak of a European identity? In this timely book, Stephen Green explores these questions and argues for the necessity of the European voice in the international community.
Green points out that Europeans can readily define the differences that separate them from others around the globe, but they have yet to clearly define their own similarities across member states. He argues that Europe has something distinctive and vitally important to offer: the experience of a unique journey through centuries of exploration and conflict, errors and lessons, soul-searching and rebuilding—an evolution of universal significance.
Coming at a time when the divisions in European culture have been laid bare by recent financial crises and calls for independence, The European Identity identifies one of the biggest challenges for all of the member states of the European Union.
The Euro crisis has served as a stark reminder of the fundamental importance of Germany to the larger European project. But the image of Germany as the dominant power in Europe is at odds with much of its recent history. Reluctant Meister is a wide-ranging study of Germany from the Holy Roman Empire through the Second and Third Reichs, and it asks not only how such a mature and developed culture could have descended into the barbarism of Nazism but how it then rebuilt itself within a generation to become an economic powerhouse. Perhaps most important, Stephen Green examines to what extent Germany will come to dominate its relationship with its neighbors in the European Union, and what that will mean.
A consideration of how to repair the British state.
Not since Ireland broke away from the United Kingdom has the British state been so fragile. Northern Ireland now operates under trading rules that are legally separate from the rest of the nation. In Wales, support for independence is running at a historical high, and Scotland is more conscious than ever of its individual identity and has aspirations for a European future. With public trust and confidence in government at record lows, the United Kingdom faces a crisis that can only be repaired by a new constitutional settlement. Unwritten Rule calls for a radical realignment, embracing a federal approach that would accommodate devolution as the best way of bringing about a successful and diverse national life, increasing democratic control over local and national decision-making, and modernizing national political structures.