The German problem is the European problem and vice versa, and so it has been for a long time. Ever since 1871, when Germany was unified, Germany and Europe have been struggling with the question of how to live with each other. They thought they had found the answer in the European Union — and maybe they will, but not yet. Europe does not know how to live with a Germany that uses the free trade zone to surge its exports while blaming Europe for being lazy and shiftless. Germany does not know how to live with a Europe that does not see that all of its problems are due to its lack of industriousness.

Of course, to our 22-year-old in Spain, the debate has become irrelevant. He is broke, scared and bored — not something you want a mass of young men to be. That is the point at which history turns. Over time, they become men with nothing to lose; they become violent men, trying to reshape the order by any means necessary. Looking around the violent parts of the world, it is young men with nothing to lose and fantasies of glory, led by older men who understand them and their needs, who wage the civil wars that tear countries apart.

The same happened in Europe after World War I. Sometimes the disaffected youth turn to crime, sometimes they turn to political crime and sometimes they become a political party. In Europe, it was a generation that felt betrayed by World War I, then an older generation crushed by unemployment and inflation and finally a younger generation with nothing left to lose. Then came World War II and the stunned realization that there were indeed things left to lose.

Driving in Spain, things look quiet, neat and empty. But in that emptiness there is something ominous, perhaps not so much post-apocalyptic as pre-apocalyptic.