Father Andrew Phillips, a priest of St John's Orthodox Church in England, has given us an excellent essay on forced unions versus confederations of friendship and free consent: '2012: The Quest for Empire and the Tragedy of the West'.
Fr Andrew begins with the origins of the centralised state in Western Europe and then discusses its many iterations over the years.
Haunted by the pagan Roman Empire, the leaders of Western Europe who quested for empire have always wanted to restore its Union and technology. Like barbarian children imitating a barbarian adult, they forgot that its Union was imposed by brute force and torture. They forgot that its culture was not a culture of the spirit, but only a culture of the mind, of legalism, of engineering, of infrastructure, of know-how, of technology. (p.3)
Each time that a Western European nation tried to set up an imitation Roman Empire, called by a Roman name, such as ‘Britannia’, and cloaked in Roman rituals and symbols like Emperor Napoleon, it set about destroying the sovereignty of other nations. The sovereign nation-state was not to blame for this; it was precisely states which were dissatisfied with their sovereignty and that of others which wanted to become Unionist Empires that were to blame. The whole problem was caused by a lack of respect for sovereignty. By 1945, exhausted, bombed into ruins and bankrupt, Western Europe realised that a European Empire could not be set up by military means, but only by economic means. The architect of this quest for a new European Empire was a man called Jean Monnet and his inspiration was in the Federal USA. (pp. 4, 5)
The United States of America was formed as a result of another coup d’état, a ‘Revolution’, much inspired by the ideas of the French Revolution, which occurred only thirteen years after the American one. Its leaders offered a New Jerusalem, but it was a false New Jerusalem, whose whole founding ideology, exported to North America from Western Europe, can be seen on any one-dollar bill. The USA is Europe’s colony as much as the Soviet Union ever was. If Europe’s symbol is twelve stars, the Soviet symbol was a red star, America’s symbol is a white star. But how did a voluntary Confederation of Free States in North America become a single country, a centralised Republic? How did we go from saying ‘the United States are’ to ‘the United States is’?
There is little doubt that the turning point in the process was Lincoln’s War of 1861-1865, known variously as the American Civil War or the Second War of Secession. This consolidated the USA in the nineteenth-century European sense. (p. 6)
The path away from totalitarian centralised empire-states, according to Fr Andrew, begins with a true understanding of the Trinity and the principles that grow out of such an understanding.
Theologically speaking, Orthodox Christendom and her Church are distinguished from the Western world by our adherence to the original Scriptural, Apostolic and Patristic confession of the Holy Trinity (Jn. 15, 26). This is the Faith that proclaims belief in God the Father, from Whom is generated the Son and from Whom proceeds the Holy Spirit. No others who call themselves Christians confess this Faith. This Faith they have lost, consciously or unconsciously, through faithlessness. This Orthodox Trinitarian model of unity in diversity and diversity in unity has always been the model for relations within and between the Orthodox Christian peoples of the Orthodox Christian Commonwealth, for as long as we kept our Faith and did not fall into Western-style nationalism (the Balkan Wars) or Western-style Unionism (the Soviet Union). The Orthodox Faith is the Faith of Confederation and Commonwealth, not of Papal Unionism or, by reaction to that, that of Protestant Individualism. (pp. 8, 9)
Other works written by Fr Andrew are available at the Orthodox England web site.