Ing. Salih CAVKIC
Editor in Chief
Noah, Peter Pan and
the Sleeping Beauty
(Europe – Identity Imagined)
Anis H. Bajrektarevic
downturn; recession of plans and initiatives; €-crisis; Brexit and
irredentism in the UK, Spain, Belgium, Denmark and Italy; lasting
instability in the Euro-Med theatre (debt crisis of the Europe’s
south – countries scrutinized and ridiculed under the nickname PIGS,
coupled with the failed states all over the MENA); terrorism;
historic low with Russia; influx of predominantly Muslim refugees
from Levant in unprecedented numbers and intensities since the WWII
exoduses; consequential growth of far-right parties that are
exploiting fears from otherness which are now coupled with already
urging labor and social justice concerns, generational unemployment
and socio-cultural anxieties… The very fundaments of Europe are
Strikingly, there is a very little public debate in Europe about it.
What is even more worrying is the fact that any self-assessing
questioning of Europe’s involvement and past policies in the Middle
East, and Europe’s East is simply off-agenda. Immaculacy of Brussels
and the Atlantic-Central Europe-led EU is unquestionable.
Corresponding with realities or complying with a dogma?
One of the leading figures of European
Renaissance that grossly inspired European renewal, Dante, puts
Prophet Muhamed to the 8th
circle of his famous Inferno. The only individuals bellow
Muhamed were Judas, Brutus, and Satan. “Islam was seen as the
negation of Christianity, as anti-Europe…and Muhammed as an
Antichrist in alliance with the Devil…” as Rana Kabbani noted in his
luminary piece Imperial Fictions.
However, both religions trace their origins back to Abraham. They
both lived in harmony (or at least they cohabitated for centuries
within the MENA proper, notably in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq). Why was
than there no harmonious relationship between Christian Europe and
the Middle East? Was Europe opting to repress the Muslims in order
to artificially generate a homogenous European self?
This is a story of the past centuries – one may say. Still, absence
of any self-reflection on the side of the EU towards its policy in
the Middle East today, makes it worth to revisit some of the bleak
chapters of European history, and the genesis of its pre-secular and
Civitas Dei Brussels: Extra Euro-Atlanticum, nulla
Europe came to be known as ‘Christendom’ because its identity was
imagined or invented as the Catholic in contradistinction to the
Islamic Middle East and to the Eastern (true or Orthodox)
Christianity. The Christianity, of course, originated in the Middle
East not Europe. It was subsequently universalised and Europeanised
by the Balkan-born Roman Emperor, who spent much of his life on
Bosporus and hence buried in Asia Minor – Constantin the Great.
Surely, it was by design of this glorious Emperor that the city of
Rome was (re)turned into an administrative periphery,
politico-ideological outcast and geostrategic suburbia.
Therefore, the post Roman/Byzantine inauguration of ‘Christendom’ as
a pure western culture necessitated a sustained intellectual
acrobatics: Such an inversion (ideological and geopolitical
periphery presenting itself as a centre) required both physical
coercion and imposed narrative over the extensive space and time.
This a ’la
card creation of Catholic Christendom or to say: Western Ummah,
served two vital objectives: domestic and external. Both helped
solidification of the feudal socio-economic and politico-military
system, and based on that of a precolonial European collective
identity. Domestically, it served for a coherent sense of selfhood
(us vs. them paradigm): unity, oppression and obedience (extra
ecclesiam nulla salus – no salvation outside the church,
following the old Roman rational ‘no world beyond Limes
line’, or the modern one: ‘no prosperity outside the EU’).
Externally, here was the justification for military voyages and
other forms of organized plunders, all coupled with a coercive
A Catholic Renaissance Europe soon realized that, in order to
effectively project itself – to physically and/or mentally colonise
overseas territories – it needed either coercion (rarefying and
assimilation), labour-camp detention (slavery) or final solution
(physical extermination). These strategic dilemmas influenced and
dominated European debates of the time. It brought about the
conception of the ‘noble savage’ – who could be assimilated, versus
the ‘ignoble savage’ who was destined for either labour detention or
final solution. That coerce-or-exterminate dilemma of ‘soul
salvationists’ even culminated within the pre-Westphalian Christian
Ummah. It was in the famous Valladolid controversy of 1550, by which
Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda’s notion of the ignoble savage
faced off against Bartolomé de Las Casa’s view of the noble
In both cases – the claim was offered – the Amero/AfroAsian Natives
deserve salvation as they have a ‘strong desire for it’, but the
views differed on whether the Natives’ prone wishes exceeded their
mental capacity to receive Christianity. Hence, the debates – which
were the roots and origins of the later liberal theories as well as
the early precursors of the subsequent regime change,
humanitarian intervention and
preemption doctrines – always presupposed the inferiority (and passivity)
of the Natives. Frankly, this remains a constant behaviour in
international relations: E.g. views on Libya differed, as they
differ today on Syria. However, what is common to all views is;
nobody consults the local population and considers what they would
like for themselves.
Legitimizing the imperialism
In a course of subsequent centuries, the notion of final solution
underwent through a sophistication, and was eventually replaced by
the combination of
cultural conversions/ submissions
(induced submissiveness), politico-military obedience and socio-economic
apartheid. A subtle apartheid (that is easy to deny, but hard to
prove) is always better than the brute genocide (which is traceable
and easily quantifiable). At the peaks of imperialism a
dilemma was embodied in an implicit and explicit racism. Debate was
focused on a question whether the civilizational inferiority can be
remedied through the imperial ‘civilizing’ mission, with social
Darwinists and ‘scientific’ racists being rather pessimistic, but
more solutions’ instructive.
The so-called central dilemma of liberals (Is it liberal to
impose liberal values on illiberal societies) was of course only
an innocently looking tip of the large iceberg, of the tireless
othering. This ‘epistemology’ was further soft-embedded in the
so-called Peter Pan theory with a romanticised image of the Other as
more childishly careless and helpless, than intentionally cruel and
barbaric; being rather alluring, promiscuous and exotic.
Essentially, the East as an innocently enveloped child who would
never grow up. This, of course, gave rise to various binary
categorisations, the us-vs.-them/either-or
listings in order to facilitate a decisive and long-lasting
differentiation between the constructed West and the East.
The West as a constructed male vs. the East as a constructed female.
A ‘mind-oriented’ west vs. a ‘body-oriented’ east. Phallusoid
peninsulas and islands of (Atlantic-Scandinavian) Europe vs.
womb-like continental landmass of Afro-Asia; Erective and explosive
vs. reflective and implosive; an Omnipresent (ever seafaring and
trading) extroverted male vs. humble, handcrafting, waiting female.
Masculin, phallusoid, progressively erected temporal linearity vs.
periodic menstruation leakages in regressive cycles of stagnation.
Clearly, anything beyond that was deemed inconsequential.
Physical, material, ideological, active, polarizing,
determined vs. metaphysical, spiritual, esoteric, atmospheric,
inclusive, holistic. No wonder that all operationalized ideologies
originated solely in Europe. What else, since no one ever, but
Asians revealed any significant religion to the world.
Gradually, the imperial civilizing mission (Expansion is a path
to Security) got a new form. It became a moral duty – R2P (Responsibility
to Protect), as much as the parental duty is to raise their
infant child. The handsome, masculine and strong Western Prince
Charming has one duty – to emancipate his Eastern Sleeping
Beauty. Giving a ‘kiss’ meant projecting the western physical
military presence, Christianity and commerce.
Who was/is the Eastern Sleeping Beauty?
Rudyard Kipling’s famous 1899 poem, The White’s Man Burden
offers some answers while describing the Eastern peoples as
‘half-devil and half-child’. “The blame of those ye better / The
hate of those ye guard” – Kipling warns and instructs, he describes
and invites. In his classic novel of 1847, Tancred, much
celebrated British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli claims “A Saxon
race, protected by an insular position, has stamped its diligent and
methodic character of the century. And when a superior race, with a
superior idea to Work and Order, advances, its state will be
progressive…All is race!” Quite an intellectual acrobatics for
Disraeli himself, who was neither Saxonic nor Christian.
Over the period, western Catholic missionaries constituted one of
the most powerful and influential lobbying voices for this
civilizing mission. It was of course weaponisation of religion, a
notorious misuse for ideological purposes. Same like today, fanatics
then and there, were identified and further radicalised, to say
’inspired’. Eventually, they usually got hired as the
AGITPROP/Ideological police by the predatory elites, hid behind the
Feudal European states. Naturally, the justification was looked upon
in any Biblical narrative. E.g. the re-invoking the Genesis story of
Noah’s three sons, and interpreting it as the ‘duty’ of Japheth
(Europe) to absorb Shem (the Asians) and enslave and colonise Ham or
Canaan (the Black Africa and Indianos of America). Amazingly,
according to Genesis ch.9, verse 27: “God shall enlarge Japheth and
he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan shall be his
The later Protestant revival infused the next wave of Christian
missionaries to force this narrative into the matrix of colonisation
as ‘wilful’ implants onto the minds and bodies of overseas peoples.
Therefore, James Lorrimer and other architects of that-time
political and international legal order divided the world in three
segments: civilized White, barbarous Yellow and savage Black.
were ‘fallen people’, a
terra infantilis to civilize (what will later evolve into
indirect rule, with a social apartheid in place), the area occupied
by the Blacks, Redbones
and Aborigine was a ‘borderless space’, terra nullius
just to conquer and settle, since the indigenous have no
‘birthright’ to it (meaning: physical colonisation and direct rule,
final solution and genocide).
Unfinished business of ‘salvation’ came back to Europe of 20th
century. Hitler’s interpretation of it was: civilized White
(Arian) – Central Europe;
Yellows (to be put under indirect rule, with ‘only’ social
apartheid in place) Atlantic and Scandinavian Europe; Blacks
(predestined for a physical colonisation of superior race upon a
decisive final solution and genocide) all Slavic states of Eastern
and Russophonic Europe.
Indeed, ever since the 18th
century on, European notion that ‘civilization’ was the monopoly of
the West, clearly implied that there is no civilization – and
therefore, salvation – outside the western model. Famous historian
Toynbee calls it “a secularized version of the primitive Western
Christian proposition Nemini salus …nisi in Ecclesia.” See
for yourself how much current debates, sparked by the ongoing
refugee crisis, follow the above patters.
Triangular economy of othering
There is a consensus within the scientific community that the
critical factor in redefining Europe as the advanced West was the
expansion of its strategic depth westward to the America upon 1492.
This enabled the so-called triangular transcontinental trade,
brutally imposed by Europeans: Enslaved Africans shipped to America
in exchange for gold and silver from there to Europe, in order to
cover European deficits in importing the cutting-edge technologies,
manufactured products, other goods and spices from a that-time
superior Asia and the Middle East.
The Afro-America yields were so colossal for Atlantic Europe that
many scholars assume the so–called Industrial revolution rather as
an evolutionary anomaly than a natural process of development, which
was primarily pivoting in Asia. Such a rapid shift from a peripheral
status to an ‘advanced civilization’ of course necessitated a
complete reconstruction of western identity. This acrobatics – in
return – also enhanced the split between Eastern/Russophone, closer
to and therefore more objective towards the Afroasian realities, and
Western (Atlantic/Scandinavian/ Central) Europe, more exclusive,
self-centred and ignorant sphere.
While the Atlantic flank progressively developed its commercial and
naval power as to economically and demographically project itself
beyond the continent, the landlocked Eastern Europe was lagging
behind. It stuck in feudalism, and involuntarily constituted a
to Islam and the Russo-oriental East. Gradually, past the 15th
century the idea of ‘Western Europe’ begun to crystallise as the
Ottoman Turks and the Eastern Europeans were imagined and described
as barbarians. During the 17th
century, Atlantic Europe portrayed itself as the prosperous West
that borders ‘pagan/barbarian’ neighbours to its near east, and the
‘savage’ neighbours to its south and west, and Far East.
Consequently, we cannot deny a role that the fabricated history as
well as the ‘scientific’ racism and its theories played in a
formation and preservation of European identity.
The Enlightenment was a definite moment in the reinvention of
European identity. The quest came along with the fundamental
question who are we, and what is our place in the world?
Answering that led on to the systematisation, classification and –
frankly – to invention of the world. From the Renaissance to the
Enlightenment, a kind of an intellectual apartheid regime was
forming. The rise of the West was portrayed as a pure virgin birth
as John M. Hobson fairly concluded. Europeans delineated themselves
as the (only or the most) progressive subject of the world history
in past, presence and future, while the Eastern peoples (e.g. Asian
as ‘the people without history’) were seen as inert, passive and
corrosive. While the Solar system ‘became’ heliocentric, the sake
and fate of our planet turned plain – ‘Europocentric’. The
world is flat mantra set the stage. (following the geostrategic dictatum
the expansion is a path to security.
“The idea of Europe found its most enduring expression in the
confrontation with the Orient in the age of imperialism. It was in
the encounter with other civilizations that the identity of Europe
was shaped. Europe did not derive its identity from itself but from
the formation of a set of global contrasts. In the discourse that
sustained this dichotomy of Self and Other, Europe and the Orient
became opposite poles in a system of civilizational values which
were defined by Europe.” – notes Delantry.
Even the English word to determine, position, adapt, adjust, align,
identify, conform, direct, steer, navigate or command has an
oriental connotation. To find and locate itself opposite to Orient,
means to orient
Feudal Europe had identified itself negatively against Levant and
Islam. Clearly, it was an identity heavily resting on insecurity. An
external manifestation of inner insecurity is always aggressive
Is this still alive or even operative? How it correlates today?
Europe repeatedly missed to answer to the East and Middle East
through a dialogue (instruments) and consensus (institutions)
although having both (CoE, OSCE, Barcelona Process, etc.). For the
last 25 years, it primarily responded to the MENA militarily (or/and
with sanctions) – via ‘Coalitions of the Willing’.
However, for a rapidly economically and demographically
contracting Europe, the confrontation does not pay off anymore.
While practically still yesterday (by the end of WWII), four of the
five largest economies were situated in Europe, today only one is
not in Asia. None is in Europe.
(Likewise, while the US economy contributed with 54% of the world
output in 1945, today it hardly has 1/3 of that share.)
Simply, the Old Continent is not a wealthy club anymore. It
is a place with a memory of its wealthy past. The EU has to learn
how to deescalate and compromise. It is in its best interest, for
the sake of its only viable future. Therefore, it is a high
time for the Brussels-headquartered Europe to evolve in its views
Let us start by answering the question: Is the so-called Russian
expansionism or MENA ‘Islamofascism’ spontaneous or provoked, is it
nascent or only a mirror image of something striking in front of it?
And after all, why the indigenous Europe’s Muslims (those of the
Balkans) and their twins, indigenous Christians of MENA (those of
Levant) are now two identically slim shadows on a bulletproof wall.
Anis H. Bajrektarevic
Vienna, 14 FEB 2016
Author is chairperson and professor in international law and global
political studies, Vienna, Austria. He authored three books: FB –
Geopolitics of Technology (published by the New York’s Addleton
Geopolitics – Europe 100 years later
(DB, Europe), and the just released Geopolitics – Energy –
Technology by the German publisher LAP. No Asian century
is his forthcoming book, scheduled for later this year.
Imperial Fictions: Europe's Myths of Orient,
Brading, D.A. (1991), The First
America: the Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriots, and the Liberal
State 1492-1867, Cambridge University Press, (pages 80-88)
Losada, A. (1971), The
Controversy between Sepúlveda and Las Casas in the Junta of
Valladolid, The Northern Illinois University Press, (pages
Toynbee, A. J.
(1934-61), A Study of History,
Vol VII: Universal States; Universal Churches (Oxford University
Press 1954) and Vol XII: Reconsiderations (Oxford University
(2000), Lives of the Popes, Harper San Francisco
(2006), The Looming Tower:
Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, First Vintage Books
(1899), The White Man’s Burden: The United States and The
Philippine Islands, NY 2(99) McClure’s Magazine, (reprint, 1934)
Tancred: Or the New Crusade (Complete), (reprint:
Echo Library August 28, 2007)
Cross-Cultural Trade in World History, Cambridge University
Abu-Lughod, J. L.
(1989), Before European Hegemony, Oxford: Oxford University
Lorimer, J. (1880), The Institutes of Law: a Treatise of the
Principles of Jurisprudence as Determined by Nature (2 ed.),
Edinburgh – London: William Blackwood & Sons (retrieved via
Archive.org as of 14022016)
Wolf, E. R.
Europe and the People Without History, Berkeley: University of
J.M. (2004), The Eastern Origins of Western Civilization,
Cambridge University Press
Delantry, G. (1995), Inventing
Europe, London, Macmillan (p.84)
Multiculturalism is D(r)ead in Europe – MENA Oil and the (hidden)
political prize Europe pays for it, Nordic Page, Oslo Norway
(2016), Europe on the Sidelines, Project Syndicate (13 Feb 2016,
For centuries, it follows the same
matrix: doctrinated/induced inferiority, denouncing, attack,
marginalization, passivation, plunder, indirect rule, remote control
presence. Or, reduced to a binary code formula:
victimisation-criminalisation. Namely: humanitarian intervention.
Small surprise that the 43rd US
President (un)famously claimed: ‘you are either with us or against
us’... His father, the 41st
US President, strategized the Cold War and summarised its epilogue
effectively: ‘We win, they lose’.
To this end: Inventive, proactive,
scientific, rational, disciplined,
sell-controlled/self-constraining, sane, sensible, practical,
‘mind-oriented’, independent, and most of all paternal West. The
East, of course, was on the opposite side and inferior: imitative,
passive, superstitious, lazy, irrational, spontaneous, insane,
emotional, exotic, body-oriented, dependent, and above all,
child-like. Tall, matured ‘masculinity’ vs. immature and physically
underdeveloped ‘femininity’. The masculine phallus of military,
industry, technology, shipping and trade that is welcomed, if not
heartedly invited, to tap and drill the womb-like dwell of
resources, while at the same time seeding the ideological semen of
Most of the so-called
International/Cross-continental Trade Pacts are closer to the
capitulation agreements than to any fair, balanced and mutually
beneficial commercial accords. What a popular language of today
calls barriers to trade are in fact the socio-economic
sovereign rights and other checks-and-balances national well-being
In order to illustrate a magnitude,
let’s note a following data: Starting from an early 16th century for
consecutive 300 years, 85% of the world’s silver production and 70%
of the world’s gold output came from the Americas. Further on,
during the 17th, 18th and 19th century the role of Black slavery,
slave trading, American Black slave-driven production centres and
Negro markets, all significantly contributed to Atlantic
Europe’s agricultural and industrial ‘breakthrough’ – as we are
celebrating it today. Even the US Founding Fathers were slaveholders
(5 of the 7 principal ones: Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Thomas
Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington).
The moment of ‘liberal truth’ always
comes from Atlantic. Thus, Ana Palacio who served both sides of
Atlantic (as the former Spanish Foreign Ministers and the former
Senior Vice President of the Washington-based WB) – among many
others – recently warned the Western Ummah: “After years of
handwringing over Obama’s strategic “pivot” to Asia, even as Russia
was stirring up trouble in Ukraine, Europe is once again a strategic
focus for the US. But the deeper message is far less encouraging.
The US is acting because its European partners have not. This
divergence is troubling. American engagement is necessary to provide
momentum, but it is Europe’s weight that has served as the
critical mass required to move the world’s liberal order in a
positive direction. From the perspective of the European Union,
the latest US security bailout raises the possibility that after
more than two decades of growing prominence, Europe will lose its
agenda-setting power.” (text underlined, by A.B.)
February 23, 2016