The Great War victors meet in San Remo, Italy, in 1920, to assign the League of Nation's mandates to rule former Ottoman lands. Bettman/Corbis

There are several maps of Europe between which we must distinguish. There are the political, the linguistic, and the economic, and—running through them all—there is the map of feeling, of those subjective sympathies and antipathies which often cut sharply across the maps based on objective criteria. For practical purposes this map of feeling may be the most important, yet its subjectivity, complexity, and sensitive variability make it the most difficult of all to plot on paper or describe in words …

On the linguistic map—to consider that first—there is a marked contrast in degree of change between Western Europe and Eastern Europe. In the West, the linguistic map has not changed perceptibly since the late war, or indeed since the Dark Ages. In a general way it still displays the distribution of languages which prevailed in the last days of the Roman Empire …

In Eastern Europe, on the other hand, the distribution of languages has changed enormously during the past century and a half, and during the last 10 years this process of change has culminated in wholesale massacres of minorities and wholesale exoduses of populations: of Muslims from Europe into Asia, of Greeks and Armenians from Asia into Europe, of Bulgars from Macedonia into a truncated Bulgaria …

In the redrawing of the political map, the declared principle of the statesmen who presided over the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 was to make it coincide with the linguistic map of nationality in so far as the exigencies of the economic map permitted. The divine right of nationalities was a dogma which governed their decisions as powerfully as the divine right of dynasties had inspired their predecessors at the Vienna Conference a century before …

The economic map of Europe next claims our attention, and here we observe an increasing tension between two incompatible tendencies—a tension which has not yet been resolved, but which is bound to find its resolution sooner or later, and perhaps, in doing so, to revolutionize the European situation. The first of these two contrary forces is the tendency for the effective unit of economic activity in the modern world to increase in scale progressively. The second is the tendency for the acceptable unit of political life to decrease in scale under the influence of a more and more minutely articulated consciousness of nationality …

Evidently the way to a solution is to be found, not in altering the new political frontiers, but in leaving them where they are and then gradually making them fainter. We can hardly expect that they will ever become so faint as are now the boundaries between the 13 once sovereign states which were the historical nucleus of the present United States of America …

As far ahead as we can foresee, a United States of Europe cannot be discerned on the horizon; but a European Zollverein [customs union]—or, short of that, a European economic entente, on a scale comparable to the economic unit constituted in America by the United States—seems much less unlikely to arise in a not too distant future …

Otherwise Europe cannot possibly retain, or rather recover, her parity with the United States of America in the economic life of the world; and it is desirable in the economic interest of America, as well as in that of Europe herself, that this parity should be reestablished, since the economic decline of Europe would deprive America of her chief natural field for foreign trade.


Originally titled "The New Map of Europe"

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