Immanuel Kant's vision of a federation of peaceful nations must have seemed like a distant dream from his idyllic Prussian village. Indeed after his death in 1804, wars would blight the continent of Europe shattering entire political systems and the millions of lives of Europeans aching for some semblance of peace and tranquillity in their lives.
The Second World War was the catastrophic consequence of this fractured nature of European states and that dream of one European, of a peaceful federation (not in a literal sense) has been realised. However much we may complain about the arrogance of the French, the almost admirable but no less equally annoying efficiency of the Germans it doesn't change the fact that Europe has been a bastion of peace for 67 years and we have all prospered materially and culturally because of it.
The migrations that we all take every year to some European country allow us not only to enjoy the sun which we tend to see little of but also to enjoy the culture and diversity that Europe has to offer. Whether that be the Arc de Triomphe (pictured) of France, the antiquity of Roman monuments or the Gothic masterpieces of Prague, we are free as Europeans to indulge in our European heritage.
Forgive me for my heady idealism but that is what Europe is, an idea. Of course from a more pragmatic viewpoint issues such as immigration, lack of democracy at institutional level and the technocratic nature of the EU need to be addressed but that cannot be done by mere technicality alone. Indeed a block of wood is a block of wood until it is fashioned into a beautiful chair by our ideas.
This is what must be done; Europe can only truly address these issues through a new idea of Europe instead of through the hard-wired minds of technocrats. We must also stay in this union due to the rise of such countries as China, India and Brazil. These countries pose massive structural risks not only to our own power position but also to the world.
As an Englishman who is proud of this 'little island of coal surrounded by fish', to quote Aneurin Bevan, I must not be blighted by creeping xenophobia and withdraw from Europe and beyond. Indeed it was men of this country hundreds of years ago who took their ships out beyond the horizon and founded a new world.
It is that attitude we must take, and lead Europe through its quagmire of financial crises and mediocrity. Our British and European ancestors of old would expect nothing less than for us than to act in concert with our European brothers and sisters.
The writer is studying International Relations at Plymouth University
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