' ‘Citizens of the World'? Nice Thought, But … '

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

I'm no expert on European Union matters, but Megan McArdle's column on Brexit strikes me as much worth reading.

There's a lot of appeal to the internationalist idea that building superstates will tamp down on war. But there's a reason that the 19th century architects of superstates (now known simply as "states") spent so much time and effort nurturing national identity in the breasts of their populace. Surrendering traditional powers and liberties to a distant state is a lot easier if you think of that state as run by "people like me," not "strangers from another place," and particularly if that surrender is done in the name of empowering "people who are like me" in our collective dealings with other, farther "strangers who aren't."

The EU never did this work. When asked "Where are you from?" almost no one would answer "Europe," because after 50 years of assiduous labor by the eurocrats, Europe remains a continent, not an identity.

One doesn't have to wholeheartedly embrace national identity or even patriotism—I think that, like many things in life, these are mixed bags—but, good or bad, it's not going to go away quickly or quietly.

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