Without WWI, could something similar to the EU have been created?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,495
SoCal
#1
Without World War I (and without World War II as well), could something similar to the European Union have still eventually been created?

As for my own thoughts on this, I am skeptical--at least in regards to the short-term and medium-term. I will now explain why:

-Germany's pre-WWI leadership was concerned about the demographic balance between Protestants and Catholics in the German Empire--with it waging a political war against German Catholics in the form of the Kulturkampf in the late 19th century. This is also why Germany's pre-WWI leadership was hesitant to annex German Austria in the event that Austria-Hungary would have collapsed and broken up. Since an EU-style union would be largely composed of Catholic countries unless Russia joined (which it probably won't due to its extremely massive size and thus the fear of Russian domination by other European countries), I suspect that Germany's pre-WWI leadership would have been very wary to support such a union--at least on terms which would have given Catholics in this union a majority of the political power.

-France was allied to Russia and was extremely hostile towards Germany. Allowing such a Russian Trojan Horse into an EU-style union with Germany might be rather problematic since Russia could try using France to undermine this union.

-The German working-class might be concerned that immigrants from other European countries are going to take their jobs if they will move to Germany. The German population was rapidly growing in the pre-WWI years and thus I don't know whether the German population would have wanted to deal with the risk of increased competition from foreign workers.

Anyway, what exactly am I missing here? Also, what are your own thoughts on this?
 
Jan 2017
424
UK
#4
Highly unlikely. You'd need a scenario which involves major European powers getting destroyed, the USA given a reason to defend Western Europe and Russia to become a big threat.

In a non world war scenario, European powers would get into a financial war of attrition instead, like a European cold war. Once one side can no longer afford building up military forces & its economy crashes, the victors wouldn't feel the need for European co-operation unless their own finances are in such horrendous shape they need bailout money from the US, assuming the USA abandons isolationism.
 

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,126
#5
The origins of the EU can be linked to German unification in the 19th century, which itself led to a new sense of potential and two world wars - notably the unification of Germany in the 90's marks the end of the Cold War as much as the collapse of the Soviet Union. The problem is that the EU was used as a political platform built on the desire for European peace and cooperation after 1945. World War Two had devastated Europe leaving millions of displaced people and broken families, not to mention the obvious damage to infrastructure and trade.

But - One cannot ignore the effect that the Roman Empire has had. The possibility of a benign empire in Europe has existed ever since, and we should not forget that Pope Urban II was determined to create a catholic empire that superseded monarchies and nations in Europe toward the end of the eleventh century. It sparked the Crusades, and failed as a project in empire building. Since the role model had been made, it is understandable that ambitions would lead to imperialistic motives. Add to that increasing trade and communication and the extension of national control becomes more likely. The "Roman Road" is often thought of as a facility in the modern sense, but that wasn't the paradigm - the Roman network enabled communication and thus helped weld disparate regions and cultures to a whole though one ought to realise that Rome was not a centrally controlled empire. The emergence of sea travel in the early middle ages had a similar enabling effect, and the Industrial Revolution, both the first and second instances of it, led inexorably to the scale of warfare in the twentieth century as ideology becomes the battleground and a blatant attempt to create a European empire backfires explosively.

Germany had grown to a first rank power and wanted status in the world. It was aggressive, spoiling for a fight, and although was not directly responsible for the First World War, provoked the Second for it's imperialistic ambition, not to mention a sense of nationalism that was utilised for social change, economic development, and a sense of cultural revenge for the harsh provisions of the Versailles Treaty. Naturally the idea of a militaristic and aggressive empire was off the table thereafter, but the idea of a 'Fourth Reich' was not going to go away. This was something the Allies had been well aware of in 1945 and given the failures of the post WW1 era, they gave back the defeated Axis nations a reformed economy and a muted sense of pride. But the nature of politicians is as human as it always was. Power is attractive to the human ego and thus the EU becomes the foundation for a unification of European nations that is built on bureaucratic structure.

the bloodless EU? Well, so far it has remained so. However, I am very much of the opinion that the future will become a tragedy, as nationalism and local identity re-emerge in the wake of weakening co-operation. This is a lesson from history and if the EU believes it can subvert that fate it really is fooling itself. Sure, there is every possibility of a worthwhile immediate future, but all empires break up and the divorce is rarely amicable. Polybius understood this in 150BC. The only mistake he made was that he considered the Roman system was superior and thus not liable to cultural entropy. The EU will inevitably make that same mistake.
 
Likes: Futurist

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
4,710
#6
Given the dynamic leading up to WWI, there's really no obvious scenarios for how Europe doesn't sooner or later end up with a bloody showdown.

Whether the end-game of that would need to mean the set-up for WWII is less obvious.

The European ideas of unity that MIGHT have given things a different development would probably have to start with a DIFFERENT unified Germany coming into being. And the obvious tipping point would have been if the Liberal revolution of 1848 had succeeded in Germany. If The Republic of the United States of Germany appears then, that could change the dynamics. Not necessarily so that there wouldn't be huge wars. But the scores and outcomes of those might become different.
 
Likes: Futurist
Jan 2014
989
Rus
#7
Such Unions can be create only under one dominate power. EU created under domination of USA. Before WWI no one In Europe had power to unite power.

Perhaps Britain had after Crimean War. But id didnt want.
 
Nov 2017
866
Győr
#8
Such Unions can be create only under one dominate power. EU created under domination of USA. Before WWI no one In Europe had power to unite power.

Perhaps Britain had after Crimean War. But id didnt want.

No Britain was just a naval power. It is hard to convience the elite and public opinion of an Island country and naval power, to wage war for conquest against other civilized (and more importantly well armed) countries in Europe. It would be a scary idea for them. It is a completly different situation than conquer backward third world countries and their people on the African and Asian continents.
 
Jan 2014
989
Rus
#9
In that situation they didnt need in conquest of Europe. All European countries were weaker than England and dependent. Such great diplomats as British could formalize this dependencies in some kind of Union.
 
Nov 2017
866
Győr
#10
In that situation they didnt need in conquest of Europe. All European countries were weaker than England and dependent. Such great diplomats as British could formalize this dependencies in some kind of Union.
Britain was a naval power. British military/army was not in the top 5 in Europe. It had no enough population for that.What are you talking about?
 

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