Saturday, 9 May is Europe Day. Seventy years ago, the French foreign minister, Robert Schuman, proposed the creation of a high authority regulating coal and steel, the very industries needed to wage war. In response, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was established as the first real step along the path of European integration. The ECSC would later grow and evolve into today’s European Union, the largest peace project in history.

The day before, 8 May, is Victory in Europe Day. Seventy-five years have passed since the end of World War II. The anniversary comes as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warns that the “Great Lockdown” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will trigger the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. At the same time, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme is warning that, in the developing world, there is a real risk of “multiple famines of biblical proportions” potentially resulting in 300,000 deaths per day.

Could the world be sliding into the sort of chaos witnessed in the 1930s? There are enormous differences between the situation today and the period between the end of the First World War and the rise of totalitarianism. For one thing, the memory of world war is no longer raw in most people’s minds, and modern states (at least, in the developed world) have social safety nets to prevent people falling into the abject poverty of the 1930s.

Political violence is also less common today (in Europe) than it was in the 1930s. By and large, political parties in Europe today do not tend to have paramilitary wings. In the Weimar Republic, even Centrist parties had armed groups affiliated with them, and violent street battles were not uncommon in Berlin.

Could the chaos of the 1930s happen again? Will the COVID-19 pandemic create economic misery on the scale of the Great Depression? Will it widen existing inequalities and lead to growing political extremism? Or are the differences between now and then greater than the similarities? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: Photo by Sonder Quest on Unsplash

7 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar

    Just recently I sparred with a nazi In Facebook. So hell yes!

    • avatar
      Debating Europe

      Do you think we should be worried?

    • avatar

      yes! Although neo nazi rarely talk about war they always argue that what they have recieved(and their states) is already repayed and what others are recieving is already too much and should bow their heads to the supreme ones- the donors of EU funds, after all cheap labor is everywhere!
      P.S. The EU values idea’s are dead in their minds. Laissez- faire rules the Union!

    • avatar

      The funny thing is that I haven’t talked about things that he and his state had recieved but he was still against it!

  2. avatar

    There are plenty of people working on making the crisis worse than necessary.

  3. avatar

    If unemployment skyrockets then it could be a worry. If one takes a look at just one industry, let’s say tourism, this is a vital part of several nations economies within the EU. I’m thinking of nations like Greece, Malta, Italy and Spain just to name a few. This is not counting interlinked industries such as hospitality and entertainment which often intertwine with tourism. After a tough 2008, none of these countries really want to be at the mercy of their European neighbours charity a second time around.

  4. avatar

    We are living this issue with the worst political class to handle it. Trump, Johnson, Putin, Bolsonaro, Erdogan, Modi… People who won’t have any problem to create a war to stay in power. What is coming is dark. People lossing jobs, economical disaster, starving, angry… The perfect storm, tyrants and despair.

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