Yuval Noah Harari world-renown historian recently talked about the European Union and how nowadays, we take peace for granted in Europe. However, the author of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century believes that if the EU collapsed, it is entirely possible war would break out between Hungary and Romania.
The professor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was asked about Eastern European relations and the state of democracy in Eastern European countries. His response was rather shocking, reports Kronika.
Harari said that often there is a huge gap between expectations and reality, and this is especially so at the time of revolutions, like the ones that took place when Communism in Eastern Europe was defeated. Such big expectations are difficult to realise in a short time, which can lead to people becoming disillusioned.
According to Harari, happiness does not necessarily depend on external circumstances but on what you desire and what you already have.
In a talk he gave in Bucharest a few days ago, Harari said the following:
“This is the most peaceful time in history for Europeans. However, people rarely think about peace as they consider it a cliché instead of a hard-earned gift that was difficult to get. They predominantly focus on economic hardships as they see peace as a natural state.
If the European Union collapsed, the possibility of wars would arise again. A conflict between Hungary and Romania would be entirely plausible.”
In May, the historian gave a talk in Budapest, too. He talked about nationalism and emphasised that nationalism cannot be considered a kind of “absolute evil”, as it is an important accomplishment on the road of striving for wider solidarity among humans. Harari looked for the roots of nationalism in tribal times when members of a community were related to each other and everybody knew everybody. Later, these communities grew, first with friends, then with strangers, gradually leading to a state where people only knew about 1% of their community. However, their language, customs and lifestyle connected them.
Nevertheless, Harari pointed out that the feeling of nationalism only appeared a few centuries ago, so, it is “not a natural part of humans’ biological development”. The historian said that a true “nationalist” focuses more on national interests than on familial ties. They do not consider political opponents their enemies, they do not incite violence against them, and they pay attention to foreigners, too.
“Democracy is truly strong where there are true nationalist feelings. If it weakens, it leads to internal conflicts and animosity.”
As examples, he brought up Syria, Iraq and today’s United States. Harari differentiated between three types of nationalists: those who love their country but still have empathy towards other nations; those who strive for conflicts and those who incite social tensions within their own country.