Aspekte van nasionale en kulturele identiteit van 'n verenigende Europa sedert 1958 : enkele gevallestudies

Carstens, T. H. M (2003-03)

Thesis (MA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2003.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In a globalizing world it follows that the identity of individuals will come under scrutiny as borders between states fade. It is exactly for this reason that so many people feel uncomfortable within themselves and become involved in a desperate search for new terms of reference and value systems. By virtue of this, history is utilized to explore the problem by tracing circumstances on a continent where the issue is currently very topical. Certain facets of Europe, which was the axis of the catastrophic Second World War but simultaneously the cradle of an Eurocentrism which has evolved gradually over centuries, is carefully scrutinized in order to determine what tendencies are becoming noticeable. This investigation cannot ignore the demise of the Soviet Empire and the burgeoning nation states of Eastern Europe since it represents an important divide in the European history of the twentieth century. A unifying Europe is embodied in various institutions which have sprung up since the Second World War, partially due to efforts of Europeans to organise themselves or alternatively, as a consequence of the Atlantic allies' attempts to present a united front to Soviet Russia. With the demise of the Soviet Republic in 1989, the concept underwent a further change when the Eastern European countries joined the institutional structures of a unifying nature such as the Council of Europe. It is exactly because of this that the identity issue came to the fore. The only realistic and pragmatic yardstick to measure national and cultural identity within the defined period is by employing the sovereignty of the nation state. Concurrently with this yardstick is the realisation that the protection or loss of sovereignty occurs within the upper constitutional or political levels where the public is seldom involved, but ultimately as a consequence affected. This reflects a democratic deficit. Seen from the angle of the early protagonists of Eurocentrism as well as the USA, there were conflicting views on the protection or loss of sovereignty, but an admission that greater unity could lead to the loss of some sovereignty. Britain, without publicly acknowledging it, had indeed surrendered some of its sovereignty during the 1970's when it became a member of the European Economic Community, by subjecting itself to the ruling that European Union legislation would be superior to that of Britain in the event of a conflict. Britain had thus, with regard to national and cultural identity, already proceeded to a new relationship. This new relationship was reinforced by Britain's under-writing of the principle of subsidiarity which ultimately promotes a dual identity of being British and European. The same tendency was noticeable in the institutional arrangements and programmes of the Council of Europe and the European Union. On investigating the viewpoints and role which Belgium, as one of the founder members of the European Economic Community, and simultaneously a small nation, this tendency also becomes very apparent, but possibly with greater emphasis of the regional role as a result of strong identity forming influences. In conclusion, it is thus apparent that being a European, and British or Flemish simultaneously, is currently becoming the vogue. However, being European is currently of a consumer-goods nature. It does not embrace a vibrant European identity particularly as a consequence of the language difference which limit the Europeanisation of national and cultural identities. Attempts to resolve the problem through adages such as "unity in diversity" has not produced the expected results.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In 'n globaliserende wêreld volg dit dat die identiteit van individue onder druk sal kom omdat die grense tussen state neig om te vervaag. Dit is juis as gevolg hiervan dat soveel mense ongemaklik voel met hulself en betrokke raak by 'n desperate soeke na nuwe punte van verwysing en nuwe waardestelsels. Gedagtig hieraan word die geskiedenis ingespan om die problematiek te verken deur ondersoek in te stel na die verloop van omstandighede op 'n kontinent waar die kwessie inderdaad tans uiters aktueel is. Sekere aspekte van Europa, wat die spilpunt van die katastrofale Tweede Wêreld Oorlog was, maar terselfdertyd ook die bakermat van 'n Eurosentrisme wat geleidelik oor eeue ontluik het, word onder die vergrootglas geplaas ten einde te bepaal watter neigings te bespeur is. Hierdie ondersoek kon ook nie die val van die Sowjet-ryk en die opkomende nasiestate in Oos-Europa ignoreer nie, omdat dit 'n belangrike breuklyn in die Europese geskiedenis van die twintigste eeu verteenwoord ig. 'n Verenigende Europa word vergestalt in verskeie organisasies wat sedert die Tweede Wêreld Oorlog ontstaan het enersyds vanweë pogings van Europeërs om hulself te orden, of andersyds, vanweë pogings van die Atlantiese bondgenote om 'n verenigende front jeens Sowjet-Rusland te vorm. Met die val van die Sowjet-Republiek in 1989, het die begrip 'n verdere verandering ondergaan toe Oos-Europese lande aangesluit het by institusionele strukture van 'n verenigende aard soos die Raad van Europa. Juis as gevolg hiervan het die identiteitskwessie sterker na vore getree. Die enigste realistiese en pragmatiese norm om dit te meet binne die gegewe tydsgewrig was aan die hand van die soewereiniteit van die nasiestate. Die meting gaan egter gepaard met die wete dat soewereiniteitsbeskerming of -verlies plaasvind op hoë politieke of konstitusionele vlakke waarby die algemene publiek selde betrek, maar inderdaad as uitvloeisel, geaffekteer word. Dit lei dus tot 'n gebrekkige demokratiseringsproses. Gesien vanuit die oogpunt van die vroeër denkers van Europeanisering asook die VSA, was daar botsende menings oor die verlies of beskerming van soewereiniteit, maar 'n erkenning dat groter eenheid tog tot "n mate van soewereiniteitsverlies kon lei. Brittanje het inderdaad, sonder om dit openlik te erken, reeds met sy aansluiting in die 1970's afstand gedoen van "n gedeelte van haar soewereiniteit deur die aanvaarding van die toetredingsvoorwaarde dat, waar Britse en Europese Ekonomiese Gemeenskap wetgewing bots, laasgenoemde sou oorheers. Gedagtig hieraan, is dit dus duidelik dat wat nasionale en kulturele identiteit betref, Brittanje reeds haarself begeef het in "n nuwe verhouding. Die nuwe verhouding versterk deur Brittanje se onderskrywing van die beginsel van subsidiariteit, kom eintlik daarop neer dat "n persoon terselfdertyd Brits en Europeër kan wees. Dieselfde tendens is te bespeur in die institusionele reëlings en programme van die Raad van Europa asook die Europese Unie. Wanneer die standpunte en rol van België as een van die stigterlande van die Europese Ekonomiese Gemeenskap, maar terselfdertyd "n kleinstaat, ondersoek word, kom die verskynselook sterk na vore, moontlik egter met nog meer beklemtoning van die streeksrolle van gebiede as gevolg van sterk identiteitsvormende invloede. Ten laaste word dit dus duidelik dat "n gelyktydige Europees-wees asook Brits-wees, of Vlaams-wees, nou aan die orde van die dag begin kom. Die Europees-wees is egter nog van "n verbruikersgoedere aard. Dit omvat nog nie "n lewenskragtige Europese identiteit nie veral as gevolg van die taalverskille wat belemmerend inwerk op die Europeanisering van nasionale en kulturele identiteite. Pogings om die probleem op te los deur slagspreuke soos "eenheid in diversiteit" werp nog nie die nodige vrugte af nie.

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