By Ivan Krastev
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017, 128 pp.
The multiple crises washing over Europe—Brexit, the rise of right-wing populism, mass migration, the resurgence of Russia, simmering financial crises, the uncertainty introduced by the Trump administration—have produced overblown, opportunistic warnings about “the end of Europe.” But some Europessimists sincerely believe that Europe’s travails reflect an epochal transformation in Western societies. So argues Krastev, an uncommonly literate, reflective, and engaging observer of European affairs who is also a trained philosopher with a penchant for grand historical visions. He argues that in the wake of Franco-German reconciliation, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the stagnation of the European economic model, the movement for further European integration lacks big ideas to push it forward. Moreover, Krastev believes that the refugee crisis poses a genuine threat to European identity by spawning populism, which in turn threatens Europe’s established political compromises, cultural cosmopolitanism, commitment to human rights, and social solidarity. Still, a realistic analysis of these crises might suggest a more sanguine conclusion. Consider that in the past two years, European governments have worked together to cut third-country immigration by more than 80 percent. The United Kingdom has manifestly failed to outline a workable plan for leaving the EU. And although economic malaise may be the most serious of all the crises, the eurozone seems to be stable and recovering for the moment. Even without great ideas or popular optimism, Europe muddles through.