Apparently my blog posts on the historical roots of European dysfunction (see for example the last one, Visualizing Values Mismatch in the European Union) were noticed. I was approached by people who run Euromind and asked to contribute a short article to the edited volume they are putting together, titled Do Europeans Exist? I did that and you can see it here:
In my previous post, I used data from the World Values Survey (WVS) to make a point about values mismatch that ensued when the core six countries, which originated the European Union in 1957, grew to the current 28 countries (soon to be 27 if Brexit really happens). Recollect that WVS has been collecting data on people’s beliefs in many countries since 1981. Researchers discovered that much of variation between populations of different countries can be mapped to just two dimensions: (1) Traditional values versus Secular-rational values and (2) Survival values versus Self-expression values. When values for each country in the sample are plotted in a two-dimensional space defined by these two axes, we have what is known as the Inglehart–Welzel Cultural Map.
Well, for the article that I contributed to Euromind, I wanted to explore the question of where do different values come from. Do they have deep historical roots? The argument I made was as follows:
Historical experience of living in the same state often results in the spread of common values, institutions, and identities among initially diverse groups. Elements of culture, including those that affect cooperation, change slowly, and often persist for long periods of time after the original empire has broken apart.
I then took the WVS data for European countries from the latest survey, and color-coded them by shared history within past states: the Carolingian, Habsburg, Ottoman, British, and Russian Empires. “Nordic” refers to the Danish and Swedish Empires (since Denmark at some points in historical time included Norway, Iceland, and a part of Sweden, while Sweden included Finland). Here’s what I got:
As the figure demonstrates, modern countries, which belonged to the same past and long-gone empire, cluster very closely together. There is little overlap. And when there is, it may reflect the influence of even more ancient empires. For example, Spain, Italy, Greece, and the Balkans were all core regions of the Roman Empire, and that’s where the most significant overlap (between the Habsburg and the Ottoman Empires) occurs.
This is really a remarkable result.