How does the comparison ruin your peace of mind

Even if many who occasionally scour history do not want to perceive it: they do exist, the historical parallels. And the best part is, you can even learn something from them: Russian campaigns have never been a good idea. Avarice is not cool, because it ruins infrastructures, health systems or entire armies.

Markets do not regulate everything themselves that could be regulated economically. If too great inequalities and thus injustices arise in the distribution of the income of economies, the inner peace of a society is quickly over and the tensions discharge in sometimes enormously destructive social struggles. There are dozens of examples.

A phenomenon often observed in history

The historical parallels in a new book by the ancient historian David Engels, who teaches in Brussels, are somewhat more differentiated. He compares the late Republican Rome with the European Union and searches for common symptoms of crisis. At the center of his considerations is the undoubtedly correct phenomenon that has often been observed in history: If a community loses its specific cultural identity, its cohesion is at risk.

If this community is then no longer even interested in the values ​​that set it apart from other communities, it is doomed. For later generations of historians it only serves as a puzzle: How could such a great culture go under so easily?

The historical examples of such a constellation are easy to find. Classical Athens, for example, was only able to ward off the onslaught from the Persian Empire because it gathered itself around gods, origins and values ​​and later knew how to use this powerful inner cohesion even to create its own empire.

The inevitable collapse of the western half of the empire inevitably led to the fact that in 5th century Gaul and elsewhere in the Roman Empire no one really wanted to be really interested in the interests of the community in the broader sense.

In his famous list of the various causes of the fall of the Roman Empire, Alexander Demandt had already named more than two hundred reasons, of which bathing, gourmet food and retirement attitudes are likely to have had marginal effects. Cultural leveling and individualization, as well as cultural neurosis, Graecization or paralysis of the will, on the other hand, are catchwords that come much closer to the idea of ​​the loss of cultural identity.

As Engels now points out for his parallel consideration of history, the "cohesion and value of a political community are based on the strength of its identity". Our present Europe has an existential problem precisely because it is "ultimately not the economic crisis" that "endangers the existence of the European Union", but the one that has been simmering for years and is now stronger than ever in view of the dogged distribution struggles erupting identity and meaning crises in our civilization ".

Engels adds to this observation that "the current identity crisis in the EU is not a one-off historical event".