Friday, 10 October 2014

b is for bruxelles—that's good enough for me

Philosopher Philippe van Parijs presents a rather brilliant lesson in the post-war history and civics that led—indecisively, to Brussels (Brussel, Bruxelles) becoming if not the de facto but customary capital of the European Union. Though the Belgian capital city had the support of the Western European powers, the nation was itself unwilling to accept that yoke, rallying for its own domestic seat of industry, the ancient town of Liège, as the union was constituted back in 1952 was focused on the efficient use of Europe's raw materials and iron and coal resources for rebuilding and remediation.
After much consternation, the political organs of the West became the journeyman body-politic that has endured to the present day, the court migrating from Strasbourg (with sufficient office space) to Luxembourg (an alternative to Paris, which only the French viewed as a natural consequence and the obvious choice), and ultimately to Belgium, too, and points further depending on its charge. It is strange how natural endowments became the stuff of toy kingdoms and the restoration of old boundaries. Liège never stood as a candidate as the Walloon population rejected the return of their exiled monarch, while the rest of Belgium was for it. Support evaporated as violence arose in Belgium, in response to the restoration of the king. In the turmoil, however, when no decision could reached, Belgium due to alphabetical order, gained order of precedence: Aachen was disqualified out of hand as German, as was Amsterdam as too much of a logistically accomodating challenge, as were others in the founding coalition of six. Brussels, realising that this indecision was likely to continue as commission powers expanded, acquired more and more viable space for the functionaries to meet, ultimately becoming the winter-quarters of this traveling greatest show on Earth, though the placement remains unofficial.