Friday, September 18, 2015

The Religious-Economic War in Europe

From left, Sigmar Gabriel and Wolfgang Schäuble of Germany and Michel Sapin and Emmanuel Macron of France. 

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

Europe has known many religious wars, especially with the advent of the Reformers, who cut themselves off from the Papists ("Catholics"). Luther dominated Germany, Calvin dominated Geneva and Zwingli dominated Zurich. Normally political leaders chose the religious faith they wanted, which resulted in civil strife, wars, persecutions, etc. The tendency of Europeans to unfetter themselves from religious faith is not independent of these conflicts, the so-called religious wars.

Max Weber has shown that the religious faith of every Christian Confession in Europe has affected economic trends. He analyzed that the rational organization of work and material goods is mainly associated with Protestants and not the "Catholics". According to him, Protestants have the majority of businesses and capital holdings. Usually, Protestants tend to be attracted to industrial worksites and take up management positions and senior levels in skilled jobs, while "Catholics" are manual laborers, the craftsmen engaged in traditional occupations.

This religious dimension of the "economic war" taking place today in Europe, appeared recently in the French Finance Minister Emmanuel Macron, who said at a German Conference of diplomats that Calvinists tend to snub those who have debts and "Catholics" are more flexible. He also stressed that the mentality of the Calvinists is: "Some people, some member-states, went bankrupt. They did not live up to their commitments. They should make payments till the end of their lives." This is how he characterizes the Germans. Conversely, the French express a different mentality: "We have become bankrupt, but we go to church, we account for the situation, and the next day we can start another week." He noted: "Perhaps we should find a balance between these two approaches."

This is true. From this statement it appears that the "economic war" is also religious between the northern and southern peoples of Europe, between France and Germany. But the problem is also political, because it comes down to balancing the Franco-German axis.

The Union of Europe after World War 2 was centered in France, but the union of the two Germanies highlighted Germany more, so that the central axis, which was originally Franco-German, became more Germano-French. So there must be other balances. In this game Orthodox Greece probably fits in, which in one way or another, according to Westerners, as claimed by Huntington, is considered a foreign body in the western unions.

What we are currently facing, therefore, is an "economic war" that has religious elements, but is certainly also geopolitical, as to whether there prevails in Europe the Franco-German or the Germano-French axis.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasis, "Ὁ «θρησκευτικός-οἰκονομικός πόλεμος» στήν Εὐρώπη", August 2015. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.