DARE TO BE A EUROPEAN
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Would you like to live in China, Russia, Africa, a theocratically led area? Or would you dare to be a European in an area with history of ​​great artistic, literary, social and intellectual movements; an area where philosophy and humanism is practiced; an area that showed resilience after miseries; an area dealing with meaning and dignity; an area known for ​​'the Chariot'; and an area to play a pioneering role in the world. That would be the true essence: care for the soul and guide to the future. That is Europe and she can do it.

 

Not only the pope, also Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel make impassioned plea on protection of our common home, Roger Scruton ( 12-01-2020), Niall Ferguson, and Ben Shapiro did too, just as the NEXUS Institute, a number of famous writers and political thinkers, Václav Klaus, and concerned citizens
 

"What has happened to you, the Europe of humanism, the champion of human rights, democracy and freedom? What has happened to you, Europe, the home of poets, philosophers, artists, musicians, and men and women of letters?" he asked. "What has happened to you, Europe, the mother of peoples and nations, the mother of great men and women who upheld, and even sacrificed their lives for, the dignity of their brothers and sisters?"

Fri May 6, 2016 11:43am: Pope Francis

 

  The European Union and the United States are both facing existential governance threats.
The European model is torn between federalism and nationalism while the federal template is being contested in United States.

Brussels, May 15th 2020, Paul N. Goldschmidt, Director, European Commission (ret.); Member of the Advisory Council of "Stand Up for Europe".

The coronavirus pandemic has shone the spotlight on the strengths and weaknesses of all the regimes who have confronted it, wherever on the planet. It has drawn attention, after years of neglect, to the need to deal urgently with problems that leaders – of all political persuasions – have repeatedly and conveniently kicked down the road.

Nowhere is this more apparent than within the EU where the sanitary crisis (dealt with independently by Member States ("MS") who are exclusively competent for public health matters) and the subsequent emergence of an economic crisis of historical proportions (which as a result of the Single Market and Single Currency calls for EU level remedies), are making it imperative to decide – once and for all – whether national-populism or democratic-federalism is going to prevail throughout the continent.

A similar tension is emerging within the United States between the Federal Government that controls the main economic levers and the Federated States on who's shoulders President Trump has been only too glad (after belatedly assessing the risks involved) to reassign the main burden of dealing with the pandemic. Specifically, in this pre-election period, a proposal by the Senate Republican leadership, endorsed by the President, to deny federal aid to the worse affected States - those harboring the main urban centers who vote for the Democrats – has, for the first time, raised the question of maintaining the bond of solidarity uniting the 50 States. This is in complete contrast with the previous successful management of the aftermath of the 2007-09 crisis, during which President Obama was careful to distribute federal assistance to States experiencing difficulties on the sole condition that they would abide by their constitutional obligations to run balanced State budgets.

Nevertheless, in comparison with the EU, the United States enjoy a considerable amount of advantages including: a clearly defined hierarchy between levels of authority, a centralized control over the major portion of tax revenues and expenditures, an inter- and supra- State judicial power together with exclusive competences in the areas of currency, defense, immigration, international trade and foreign policy.

 
Within the EU, the management of the same attributes is hybrid: The Eurozone, responsible for the Single Currency, covers only 19 out of 27 Members; some decisions require the unanimous consent of MS such as the budget, EU tax legislation or the ratification of international treaties or agreements; other sectors such as foreign, economic, migratory, and defense policies are subject only to "coordination" while health and education remain an exclusive MS competence. In addition to this complex template, national institutional structures are also diverse, ranging from more or less centralized "unitary" Nations to fully federal States in which the powers devolved to different levels of subsidiarity are far from homogenous.

The simultaneous sanitary and economic crisis took most countries completely by surprise. The sheer magnitude of the response should – for the most part – be welcomed for both its breadth and speed of execution. The priority, rightly given initially to health over other considerations, meant that recourse to authoritarian regulations became acceptable in order to fight the pandemic; these, in turn, - in addition to compromising some public liberties – led to a collapse of the economy of historic proportions.

The financial support measures, implemented since the early stages of the lockdown, by governments and central banks of many countries, amount to sums unheard of previously and are continuing to accumulate rapidly; their consequences are impossible to fathom at present, even if there is a broad consensus as to their appropriateness.

While the brutal interruption of both national and international business did not call for any particular collective decision, the reestablishment of the freedom of movement of people and goods to sustain both production and consumer spending, requires coordination both at national and international level.

It is therefor particularly hazardous to forecast the timing of the recovery which depends on each of the actors reaching a sufficient degree of control over the epidemic to reduce the sanitary risks to an acceptable level, which is currently far from the case; re-imposing lockdowns would only further restrain the economy leading to a full blown depression.

Furthermore, it will rapidly become necessary to taper the temporary exceptional national measures supporting the population.

 
Objections are likely to rekindle financial tensions in debt markets within the Eurozone if the budget of the EU is not significantly expanded; only then would it be possible to cushion the asymmetric shocks and cater for the mutualization of the resources to finance a recovery benefitting all MS, without requiring a bail out of any of their respective outstanding national debts. An increase in inequalities – already excessive – resulting from an "each for himself" approach would affect the most fragile segments of the population leading to possible severe social and political disturbances and the inevitable failure of attempts to engineer a collective EU response to the crisis.

The strategic dependence of countries on a globalized market was revealed when the disruption of trade created shortages and competitive bidding for limited supplies, sometimes delaying the initial response to the pandemic (masks, drugs, respirators...).This unacceptable state of affairs forbids any attempt to return to the situation prevailing before the crisis; to avoid such a possibility will require important investments and substantial restructurings, not limited to starved "national" health systems but including a revaluation of the status of employees in a number of key undervalued sectors which proved indispensable to keep a minimum of services operational during the pandemic (education, transport, food industry, cashiers, etc.). It implies a significant redistribution of the wealth being produced which will prove difficult to accept in an environment in which one is facing simultaneously shortages of supply and demand. Only a response at EU level is capable of addressing the costs of such a rationalization which MS could not afford individually without resorting to self defeating protectionist measures, wholly incompatible with the rules of the Single Market.

Given the diversity of incompatible objectives that are confronting each other, one should fear that – rather than being negotiated – solutions will be imposed by those who have the raw power to see that their immediate interests prevail; on the global stage, the aims of "America First" policies (based on the USA's military might and its control of the dollar) or "China First" ambitions (relying on the vast resources of its authoritarian regime) are likely to impose their conditions on the remainder of the world. The current clash between the USA and France concerning access to a vaccine being tested by Sanofi is an emblematic example of such power struggles. Thus, unilateralism will encroach ever more on multilateralism increasing significantly the risks of worldwide conflict.

At European level the same pattern is unfolding illustrating Lafontaine's famous line: "whether you are powerful or miserable...!"

 
As examples one can point to the recent challenge to the ECJ and the ECB raised by the German Constitutional Court; the bilateral agreement between France and the UK on opening cross-border traffic on terms incompatible with the Schengen rules; or the blackmail attempted by Lufthansa in obtaining Belgian Government support to save Brussels Airlines, etc. In such a tense climate it is hard to envisage the successful coordination of the measures needed to revitalize the Single Market. Falling back on national markets is a lose-lose proposition, inflicting on all MS an additional devastating financial crises resulting from the unavoidable collapse of the € and of the EU.

Facing such urgency, it is high time to stop wasting time in arguments over the merits of (mostly stale) national policies whose implementation would be in contradiction within the rules of the current treaty, whether for practical or legal reasons. The absolute priority must be given to making a definitive choice between building an effective "shared European sovereignty" or accepting vassalization to foreign powers in order to preserve the attributes of a fictional "national sovereignty".

To give Europe a chance, one desperately needs leadership and strong action capable of galvanizing a disoriented public opinion which is probably prepared to accept – if not applaud – reforms that could not otherwise be contemplated. If politicians don't fully exploit these exceptional and traumatic conditions to put forward radical measures, then one should despair of exploiting this unique opportunity to overcome MS's selfish particularisms in favor of building a broadly shared level of wellbeing.

One aspect of such vision could be the revival of the "Eurafrica" project, to be built on an equal partnership, recognizing the complementarity of long term interests between both continents. The new entity would aim at becoming a geopolitical superpower whose voice would be heard and respected on the world stage, competing with United States and China and reversing the loss of influence of Europe which has been declining steadily since the First World War.

A second avenue of radical reform could be initiated by President Macron if – putting (apparently) to one side his reelection ambitions – he offered his partners to transfer France's seat on the UN Security Council to the EU in exchange of restructuring Europe on a deliberately fully assumed federal model.

Under such circumstances, it might be possible to outline the premises of an ambitious agreement by which the fear, paralyzing large segments of the population, would progressively give way to trust in a more prosperous future.

 

Who Defended the West Best?     'Fight for Europe – or the wreckers will destroy it'
March 24, 2020 By Christian Alejandro Gonzalez. Christian Alejandro Gonzalez is a political science student at Columbia University and a Research Assistant at Heterodox Academy. His work has appeared in National Review, the American Conservative, Quillette, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter at @xchrisgonz.

When conservatives write books about the West, it is usually because they believe it to be under threat. The threat, in their view, always comes from somewhere specific: a nefarious political ideology, say, or a hostile Eastern nation, or an unwillingness on the part of Westerners to stand up for their own values, or some combination thereof. Conservatives who write about the West, moreover, tend to offer a critique of whatever is threatening the West at the same time as they provide a defense of the West itself. The West comes to be partly defined as different from (and in some ways superior to) the enemy that endangers it.

Roger Scruton: Defending the West from Islam

In 2002, Roger Scruton published The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat, and as the book’s subtitle indicates, Scruton is primarily concerned with protecting the West from the threat of radical Islam. He attempts to draw a sharp distinction between Western and Islamic political systems. Western polities, Scruton argues, function on the basis of a “territorial jurisdiction”—that is, a system of secular law imposed equally on every subject in a given territory. In the West, those territories have taken the form of nation-states: large communities bound together by culture, history, and law. Western law applies to every citizen of the nation, and the coercion of the law is legitimate, according to Western political theory, because citizens consent to be ruled by it.

Westerners’ obedience to the secular law—and their loyalty to their fellow compatriots—allows for disputes to be settled peacefully within the political community. According to Scruton, Western theories of law and political legitimacy have enabled the rise of much of what we cherish today, including democracy, religious toleration, and all the other “benefits . . . of citizenship and [of] government answerable to the people.” Scruton goes on to argue that Islamic law is based on a fundamentally different source of legitimacy, namely God. In Islam, he writes, “laws can warrant our obedience only if they are divinely sanctioned; this means that their validity is established only if they can be derived from the sharia—the revealed will of God.”

Islam never developed a secular concept of law that applies to all those who live within a given territory, and consequently it never developed a theoretical justification for why people should grant their loyalty to a nation-state, obey its laws, and observe the rights of their fellow citizens (especially when those citizens are members of other faiths).

Niall Ferguson: Defending the West from China

Just as Scruton sought to defend the principles of the West from the threat of radical Islam, so Niall Ferguson, writing in 2009, sought to vindicate the values and history of the West against a rising China. “What we are living through now,” he argues in Civilization: The West and the Rest, “is the end of 500 years of Western predominance. This time the Eastern challenger is for real, both economically and geopolitically. It is too early for the Chinese to proclaim ‘We are the masters now.’ But they are clearly no longer the apprentices.” His concern with China’s rise—and with the West’s decline relative to it—is felt throughout the book.

Like Scruton, Ferguson holds that Western innovations are responsible for much of what we value in the modern world, from economic prosperity to representative democracy. This conviction explains why he worries about the end of Western hegemony: in his estimation, China’s authoritarian challenge to the liberal West represents a threat to what has been accomplished during the era of Western dominance.

The arguments in Scruton’s and Ferguson’s books are too rich and complex to be adequately summarized in a few paragraphs, and my aim here is not to endorse them, but only to draw out some of the features they share in common. In particular, both thinkers were moved to write because they wanted to help the West confront its rivals. Their books functioned simultaneously as vindications of the West and as warnings against that which threatened it.

Ben Shapiro: Defending the West from the Left

The same is true of Ben Shapiro’s 2018 book, The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great. Here again we see a familiar pattern, wherein the West is partly defined in opposition to some object of criticism. In Scruton, that object of criticism is radical Islam; in Ferguson, it is China; and in Shapiro, it is the entire tradition of the left, from the French revolutionaries in the eighteenth century to the proponents of intersectional feminism today. Ben Shapiro’s book creates a dichotomy between the West and the left: to accept the one, in his telling, is to reject the other. So how does he define the two?

Shapiro contends that the West is a product of Athens and Jerusalem; in other words, it is a product of the universal moral principles of the Hebrew Bible combined with the rationality of ancient Greek philosophy. Westerners, he explains, “believe freedom is built on the twin notions that God created every human in His image, and that human beings are capable of investigating and exploring God’s world.” These two “diamonds of spiritual genius built our civilization” and are responsible for nearly every good thing that has occurred in human history.

Jerusalem and Athens built science. [They] built human rights. They built prosperity, peace, and artistic beauty. Jerusalem and Athens built America, ended slavery, defeated the Nazis and Communists, lifted billions from poverty, and gave billions spiritual purpose. [They] were the
foundations of the Magna Carta and the Treaty of Westphalia; they were the foundations of the
Declaration of Independence, the . . . Emancipation Proclamation, and Martin Luther King’s Letter from
Birmingham Jail.

If moral progress comes about when societies adopt Western principles, moral catastrophes occur when they abandon them. “Civilizations that rejected Jerusalem and Athens,” Shapiro argues, “have collapsed into the dust. The USSR rejected [Jerusalem and Athens] . . . and they starved and slaughtered tens of millions of human beings. The Nazis rejected [them], and they shoved children into gas chambers. Venezuela rejects Judeo-Christian values and Greek natural law, and citizens of their oil-rich nation have been reduced to eating dogs.”

Although Shapiro includes the Nazis in his list of anti-Western culprits, the rest of the book demonstrates that he is mostly interested in going after the left. (He even appears to interpret Nazism as closer to the left than to the right. “Nazism,” he writes, “lay a lot closer to Marxism than capitalism did.”) Indeed, Shapiro lays a long series of historical crimes at the feet of the left. “The worst sins of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries,” he writes, “sprang from various combinations of romantic nationalism, collectivist redistributionism, and supposedly scientific governance.” Then follows a litany of atrocities: the depredations of Lenin’s secret police, mass murder under Stalin (Shapiro later comments that “until the USSR’s fall, many on the mainstream left believed it to represent a viable ideology”), genocide under Hitler, poverty during the Great Depression (which “FDR and his cadre of geniuses lengthened . . . by nearly a decade”), the evils of eugenics policies (which were led by American progressives), and so on.

These evils all occurred as a result of the left’s rejection of Jerusalem and Athens, and Shapiro reads the contemporary left as being driven by a similar desire to demolish everything the West stands for. In the 1970s, he claims, the New Left “cast out the specter of the roots of Western civilization,” and intersectional feminists today seek to continue that work of destruction, attacking science, reason, critical thinking, capitalism, and much else besides. Shapiro’s conclusion makes explicit his view that the West and the left are utterly incompatible. The only alternative to the vision of the left, he argues, is a “return to the Judeo-Christian values and Greek reason that undergirded America’s founding.” For him, the ideology of the West—which he interprets as nearly synonymous with American conservatism—is the only viable political philosophy.

Do’s and Dont’s

Shapiro’s book is the weakest of the three under consideration, for it commits the fatal flaw of not taking what it criticizes seriously. The problem, of course, is that to be an effective critic you must first be deeply familiar with what you oppose. Roger Scruton does an excellent job of modeling this ideal: whatever else one thinks of The West and the Rest, there can be no doubt that Scruton made a concerted effort to learn all he could about Islamic history and philosophy. Despite making heavy criticisms of Islamic culture, he never hesitates to point out the things he appreciates about it. He refers to Arabic as “that most enchanted of languages”; he says that Muhammad possessed a “penetrating genius matched by few religious leaders before or since”; he praises Islamic education on the grounds that it “teaches piety, consideration, and respect for age . . . [and] it presents the student at every point with certainties rather than doubt, and consolation rather than anxiety.”

At no point does Shapiro make a comparable effort to read leftist thinkers so closely or charitably, in the spirit of sincerely trying to understand their argument or of finding something valuable in what they have to say. For example, Shapiro argues that the “actual goal” of intersectional feminism is “to bully those who aren’t members of intersectional groups.” You do not have to support intersectionality to recognize that such a characterization is very unfair. In “Mapping the Margins,” Kimberlé Crenshaw, a key intersectional theorist, rails against the “routine violence” that shapes the daily lives of women and then tries to think of possible solutions. Her work more generally posits that marginalized people suffer from oppression and violence (e.g., rape and police brutality), and it sets out to understand why this is so. Whatever objections one could raise to her theories, her main concern is not to bully white men.

Another major flaw in Shapiro’s book comes in his rendering of history. Indeed his view of history is tribal almost by definition: it proposes that all good things were done by us (the West), and all bad things were done by them (the left). One should always be skeptical of any theory that reduces the enormous complexity of history to a simple morality play. Apart from its tribalism, though, Shapiro’s vision of history relies on a thoroughly unconvincing theory of historical causality. It is simply not the case that accepting the Western tradition will automatically make you do good things, or that all bad things can be attributed to a rejection of the West. How, for example, would Shapiro explain the crimes committed by Spanish conquistadors in the New World? Such men were steeped in the Western tradition, and yet they committed atrocities. Unfortunately, Shapiro does not discuss colonial crimes at all. Nor does he mention the crimes committed by U.S.-backed military regimes during the Cold War, such as those in Central America during the 1980s. Perhaps that is because such evils do not fit neatly into the dichotomy that undergirds the whole of his book.

Shapiro’s attempt to define all of history’s evil regimes as somehow anti-Western is not helpful. The claim that Venezuela is poor because it “rejects Judeo-Christian values and Greek natural law” would come as a surprise to most Venezuelans, since Venezuela is a very Catholic country. Anti-Western sentiment is also hardly the reason behind Venezuela’s collapse. Moreover, it is rather odd to say that Marxist regimes such as the USSR are not part of the Western tradition: after all, they drew their inspiration from one of the most influential thinkers in European history. Marx himself was deeply immersed in the sources of the Western canon: if you look through the footnotes of Capital, you will find all sorts of references to figures like Dante, Adam Smith, and various ancient Greek and Roman thinkers.

Intellectually, then, the revolutionary left in Europe is as much the progeny of the Western canon as the conservative right. (As Niall Ferguson puts it: “There is surely a case for saying that the Soviet Union was as much a product of Western civilization as the United States. Its core ideology had much the same Victorian provenance as nationalism, anti-slavery and women’s suffrage—it was born and bred in the old circular Reading Room of the British Library.”) Because Shapiro seeks to define the West against the left, and because he is more interested in deriding the left than in seriously engaging with it, he can ultimately offer little insight about either.

As Scruton and Ferguson show, there are intelligent ways to talk about the West, just as there are tenable ways to critically engage the left. Saying that everything about the former is good and everything about the latter is bad is not one of them.


Fri May 6, 2016 11:43am: Pope says migrants not criminals

Pope Francis on Friday lamented a Europe he said had grown "weary" and "entrenched", and urged the continent not to see migrants as criminals. Francis made his pointed comments in the presence of top EU leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi and the presidents of the European Parliament, Commission and Council.

The pope was speaking at a ceremony in the Vatican's frescoed Sala Regia to award him the Charlemagne Prize, conferred annually by the German city of Aachen to those who have contributed most to the ideals of post-war Europe. His comments pointed to a malaise at the heart of the European Union, which has wrestled with a long, divisive debt crisis and is struggling to absorb a vast influx of migrants and refugees, many fleeing conflicts such as Syria's civil war.

Francis called Europe "weary, yet still rich in energies and possibilities" and said it was "increasingly entrenched, rather than open to initiating new social processes capable of engaging all individuals and groups in the search for new and productive solutions to current problems." The Argentine, the first non-European pope in 1,300 years, said desire for European unity "seems to be fading" and that "those who consider putting up fences" were betraying the dream of the founders of a modern Europe.



"I dream of a Europe that cares for children, that offers fraternal help to the poor and those newcomers seeking acceptance because they have lost everything and need shelter ... I dream of a Europe where being a migrant is not a crime," he said.

Addressing the pope, European Parliament President Martin Schulz said the migrant crisis represented "a defining challenge for Europe." European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker noted that the pope, who has made numerous appeals for better treatment of refugees, returned from the Greek island of Lesbos last month with 12 Syrians. "When you take in 12 refugees — in proportion to the population of the Vatican, that is more than any EU member state — you fill our hearts with new courage," Juncker said.

 
"The continent faces its biggest challenge since the 1930s. We urge European patriots to resist the nationalist onslaught. January 2019, The idea of Europe is in peril. From all sides there are criticisms, insults and desertions from the cause.

“Enough of ‘building Europe’!” is the cry. Let’s reconnect instead with our “national soul”! Let’s rediscover our “lost identity”! This is the agenda shared by the populist forces washing over the continent. Never mind that abstractions such as “soul” and “identity” often exist only in the imagination of demagogues.

Europe is being attacked by false prophets who are drunk on resentment, and delirious at their opportunity to seize the limelight. It has been abandoned by the two great allies who in the previous century twice saved it from suicide; one across the Channel and the other across the Atlantic.

The continent is vulnerable to the increasingly brazen meddling by the occupant of the Kremlin. Europe as an idea is falling apart before our eyes. This is the noxious climate in which Europe’s parliamentary elections will take place in May. Unless something changes; unless something comes along to turn back the rising, swelling, insistent tide; unless a new spirit of resistance emerges, these elections promise to be the most calamitous that we have known. They will give a victory to the wreckers. For those who still believe in the legacy of Erasmus, Dante, Goethe and Comenius there will be only ignominious defeat. A politics of disdain for intelligence and culture will have triumphed. There will be explosions of xenophobia and antisemitism. Disaster will have befallen us. We, the undersigned, are among those who refuse to resign themselves to this looming catastrophe. We count ourselves among the European patriots (a group more numerous than is commonly thought, but that is often too quiet and too resigned), who understand what is at stake here. Three-quarters of a century after the defeat of fascism and 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall there is a new battle for civilisation

Our faith is in the great idea that we inherited, which we believe to have been the one force powerful enough to lift Europe’s peoples above themselves and their warring past. We believe it remains the one force today virtuous enough to ward off the new signs of totalitarianism that drag in their wake the old miseries of the dark ages. What is at stake forbids us from giving up. Hence this invitation to join in a new surge. Hence this appeal to action on the eve of an election that we refuse to abandon to the gravediggers of the European idea. Advertisement Hence this exhortation to carry once more the torch of a Europe that, despite its mistakes, its lapses, and its occasional acts of cowardice, remains a beacon for every free man and woman on the planet. Our generation got it wrong. Like Garibaldi’s followers in the 19th century, who repeated, like a mantra, “Italia se farà da sè” (Italy will make herself by herself), we believed that the continent would come together on its own, without our needing to fight for it, or to work for it. This, we told ourselves, was “the direction of history”. We must make a clean break with that old conviction. We don’t have a choice. We must now fight for the idea of Europe or see it perish beneath the waves of populism.

In response to the nationalist and identitarian onslaught, we must rediscover the spirit of activism or accept that resentment and hatred will surround and submerge us. Urgently, we need to sound the alarm against these arsonists of soul and spirit who, from Paris to Rome, with stops along the way in Barcelona, Budapest, Dresden, Vienna and Warsaw, want to make a bonfire of our freedoms. In this strange defeat of “Europe” that looms on the horizon; this new crisis of the European conscience that promises to tear down everything that made our societies great, honourable, and prosperous, there is a challenge greater than any since the 1930s: a challenge to liberal democracy and its values."

Copyright: Libération/Bernard-Henri Lévy. Milan Kundera, Salman Rushdie, Elfriede Jelinek and Orhan Pamuk are novelists. Bernard-Henri Lévy is a philosopher Other signatories: Vassilis Alexakis (Athens), Svetlana Alexievich (Minsk), Anne Applebaum (Warsaw), Jens Christian Grøndahl (Copenhagen), David Grossman (Jerusalem), Ágnes Heller (Budapest, † 19 juli 2019), Ismaïl Kadaré (Tirana), György Konrád (Debrecen), António Lobo Antunes (Lisbon), Claudio Magris (Trieste), Ian McEwan (London), Adam Michnik (Warsaw), Herta Müller (Berlin), Ludmila Oulitskaïa (Moscow), Rob Riemen (Amsterdam), Fernando Savater (San Sebastián), Roberto Saviano (Naples), Eugenio Scalfari (Rome), Simon Schama (London), Peter Schneider (Berlin), Abdulah Sidran (Sarajevo), Leïla Slimani (Paris), Colm Tóibín (Dublin), Mario Vargas Llosa (Madrid), Adam Zagajewski (Cracow).

 

"The fight for Europe's soul is continuing", say Merkel and Hollande on Verdun anniversary
29 May 2016
Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel make impassioned plea for European unity: “Our sacred destiny is written in the ravaged soil of Verdun,” the French president said. “It can be stated in a few words:

"we should love our country, but we should protect our common home, Europe, without which we would be exposed to the storms of history."

Mr Hollande stressed that the European Union was built “on the principle of the free movement of people and goods,” but in a clear reference to the British referendum, he said “the forces of division” hreatened what he called “the most vast community of democratic countries, a reference for so many nations.”

He said he stood shoulder to shoulder with the German chancellor against “disenchantment, which has given way to rancour, and for some, rejection or even separation.We are side by side to tackle the challenges of today and first of all the future of Europe, because, as we know disappointment was followed by disenchantment, and after doubts came suspicion, and for some even rejection or break-up," Hollande said at Sunday's ceremony.

Mrs Merkel urged EU member-states “not to close in on yourselves, but to remain open to each other”. Her government’s decision to take in more than a million migrants last year was severely criticised by her political opponents, but Mrs Merkel said: “If we reason only in national terms, we will not be able to progress. This is true for managing Europe’s debt crisis, and also for welcoming refugees. In the European Union we will continue to have different views on certain issues," Merkel said, adding "that is in the nature of things but it will prove beneficial if we demonstrate our ability to compromise to reach an agreement. Europe has problems but Europe has also managed to do a lot and it has come a long way. In a world of global challenges it is important to develop Europe further and to push through the changes that are necessary".

 

  "Societies Between War and Peace: Overcoming the Logic of Conflict in Tomorrow’s World"


"We are not determined to stop the multiculturalist crusade against Western civilization. We are not ready to defend our values, our culture, our religion, our life-styles. We are not ready to sacrifice our relatively comfortable life
."

Many thanks for your invitation. After participating in the Valdai Discussion Club in St. Petersburg in June earlier this year, this is my second opportunity to attend one of your gatherings. I have never been not only to Sochi, but – I have to confess to this audience – south of Moscow. I am glad to be here. I always try to respect the title of the conference or the session. This time I have a problem. The title “Together against Threats: Overcoming Strife for the Sake of General Progress” seems to me rather problematic.

Like many of you, I feel a great threat to our future, our freedom, democracy, peace, security and prosperity in the current era, but I have a problem accepting your tenn '·general progress'·. Is it really necessary and/or helpful to use this old, so much misused , to another era belonging term. Isn't this term  a mere relic from the past? I suppose we don't want to return to the old communist days with their "'quasi-progressivistic" ideology.








Václav Klaus, former President of the Czech Republic
(2003-2013), took part at the Plenary Session of the 12th Valdai Discussion Club Annual meeting

To make it clear, I don't protest against speaking about threats, because I am frightened and scared by the ongoing loss of freedom and democracy. And peace. Speaking about “progress” is, However, misleading. The British conservative thinker Edmund Burke said, ironically, already in 1770: “the world advances progressively backward”. After a quarter of a millennium, I am inclined to agree with him.

Immediately after the fall of communism, we were fascinated by the end of oppression and totalitarian practices and had the feeling we entered a very promising era. With the benefit of hindsight, we see now that it was a short-sighted interpretation of events. Surprisingly and paradoxically, our current problems started at that moment. The fall of communism released processes, ambitions and erroneous concepts which gradually, step by step led to the current state of affairs.

It was generally assumed that it was sufficient to get rid of the political, economic and social system of communism, which was a task in which some of the post-communist countries succeeded. I would dare claiming that my country was one of them. It was at that time, however, not sufficiently understood that it was not enough. While building a new system, it would have been necessary to avoid bringing with us the old misconceptions, apriorisms and fallacies, as well as vested interests, and to avoid creating new ones. Not just in the East. This is what I would like to say very clearly. Current problems stem more from the West now than from the East (especially not from the old East).

My strong views about it reflect my looking at the world from Prague, from Europe. That's why I speak about our problems and about us because Europe is a place where the failure of the current developments is more profound than in other parts of the world. To be correctly understood. I don't compare the relative size of catastrophic developments and of human suffering, but the relative degree of failure.

From that perspective, the greatest threat to our peace, freedom and democracy is not the Islamic State, Al-Kaida or the barbarous assassins of “all stripes” in many parts of the world. It is not the EU, Washington or Moscow bureaucrats with their never-ending attempts to mastermind and control our lives. It is even not the alarmist and populist media with their attempts of mediocracy. Nor is it the autocratic big “global” bankers, businessmen and participants at the Davos World Economic Forum. Nor the remaining dictators. To say that is not a hitherto unknown statement but it may sound surprising to some people.

The problem for those who feel – like me – personally and existentially threatened by the current developments is that we are, together with our fellow citizens, weak, opportunistic and indecisive. That our inactivity suggests our loss of vitality, our lack of self-confidence and our growing fatigue. That we are without courage and without a clear positive vision of the future. That we are forgetting common sense and our common purpose. That we are showing our apparent incapacity to learn lessons from the past and to appreciate the meaning and role of history. That we passively live with disillusionment over the state of the world. That we are victims of failed isms or humanrightism, of multiculturalism, of environmental ism of homosexualism, of cosmopolitism and transnationalism. That we have again become victims of – and at the same time contributors to – the fallacy of political correctness. That many of us consciously or subconsciously believe in the omnipotence of human mind and its ability to rationally mastermind human society.

A new class of relatively affluent pleasure-seekers in the Western world, which means us, is undermining the very institutions that made our free and prosperous world possible. We don 't see it. We are not determined to stop the multiculturalist crusade against Western civilization. We are not ready to defend our values, our culture, our religion, our life-styles. We are not ready to sacrifice our relatively comfortable life and start fighting for freedom and democracy. We do not courageously contest the continental-wide and planetary thinking and protect the nation-state as the only reliable guarantor and guardian of democracy. We say- with only a very weak voice – that the sovereign nation-state is not a historical anachronism.

I mentioned my Central European roots and my Central European angle of vision. I don't pretend knowing your country sufficiently well but let me say that I don't think that Russia is immune from the same dangers. These dangers shouldn't be politically trivialized.

I'am no dreamer of empty dreams.I am optimistically convinced that we can and have to – for ourselves and for all who see it similarly search for a rational and feasible program (or vision) which could give us guidance how to behave. We should start at home, with ourselves, with practical and realizable moves. We shouldn't seek global solutions and give advice to other people.

We should support the opening-up of countries, free trade, free exchange of peoples and ideas, growing internalization of human activities, but we should oppose transnationalism and global governance. I don't agree with Fukuyama and his assumption that globalization with bring about the homogenization of all human societies. I find more agreement with Huntington when he says that globalization will generate conflicts. We have become witnesses of these conflicts now.

We live in a divided world again. There was a chance – or at least a hope – to overcome this division at the beginning of the 1990s but there existed an unfavourable asymmetry – the East was weak and had to concentrate on its long overdue "homework" to build a normal society, the West was – to a greater extent than was desirable and justified – convinced of its perfection and superiority and was not ready to deal with us. I tried to argue all the time that we were able to be meaningful partners because we didn't feel defeated – who was defeated was our communist regime. not us. We were,however, not listened to.

As a result, we are in a fractured world with too many dangerous battlegrounds. There is no reason to superficially talk about them now. We should talk about us.

Are we prepared to do anything and do we really want to? I am afraid not. We are not ready to get rid of our still comfortable life and of our prejudices. We don't have strong views. We are witnesses of the increasing public apathy, of the undergoing trivialization and denigration or education. not to speak about the massive presence of ideologic indoctrination which reminds me of the communist era. We replace education with indoctrination in political correctness. It leads to the loss of elementary understanding of the functioning of human society and to the loss of our ability to see the whole. The partiality and fra6rmentation of our thinking makes the life of modern manipulators of our societies relatively easy. The contemporary journalism has become another menace to our ability to grasp the world around us and is leading to a gradual evaporation of the authority of the media. The internet enabled the rise of an amateur class of pseudo-journalists who trivialize debate.

We have to talk openly and sincerely about these issues. I wish the Valdai Club Discussions to become a productive setting for understanding. discussing and opposing all these tendencies. Thank you once again for bringing me here.

 

DARE TO BE EUROPEAN, FIGHT FOR EUROPE!

Europe faces serious multiple crises that affect one another, dividing the Union in different ways. We deplore the lack of ability to engage member states in credible dialogues about Europe’s future. Confused feelings and radicalization attitudes, permeating European societies ask for the emergence of a shared identity and destiny and a fitting supranational polity for facing current issues that go beyond nation states.

We bring this contribution to your attention at this critical junction in Europe’s history facing the choice: “desintegration in tribal fragments out of fear for the other” or “at the threshold of an inspired and concerted transition of the Union to a future of hope. This by ”ringing the bell” for a next round of unifying our continent. To this end we elaborate briefly on content, form, timing and setting of this “call to arms”. Last week, we have proposed a colloquium on the future, outlining principals for growth and consolidation:

Suggestions for outlining principles, addressing issues, stating positions and for “seeding” proposals for transition are defined below this message and in the manifesto:

  • "in a constructive perspective, in a hope-inspiring way, learning from history;
  • between two respected leaders Mrs. A.D. Merkel and Mr. D.W.D. Cameron, whose opinions weighs;
  • with an experienced chairman / moderator (e.g. Mr. A.M. Juppé);
  • supported by current rotating and commission Chairmanship;
  • before 23rd June next, aimed at an “UK opt-in”;
  • in e.g. Bruges, Belgium;
  • possibly issueing into a concluding proposition for the next directly voted EU-council presidency."

Europe must take stock of these developments and identify the forseeable consequences in the short and longer run. It should come up with proposals for the European Community to counter the effects and root causes of the multiple crises. Let’s value building the European future rather than blaming Brussels for loss of sovereignty and identity. It’s time to fight for our Europe. It’s ours to protect and build. You can join by helping build the very essence of Europe, in need of value and meaning. That is never finished. It is an endeavor to pursue truth and justice. It should be taught in education and it is throughout our whole life.
   
   
Suggestions for outlining principles, addressing issues, stating positions and for “seeding” proposals for transition might be considered such as:

-       the Four Freedoms and the rule of law;
-       balancing the Trias Politica, to include media;
-       separation between organised religion and EU-governance;
-       (re)definition of EU-federalism and finality as well as sovereignty and subsidiarity;
-       (re)appraisal of the functioning of democratic decision making processes;
-       balancing original regional diversity and continental unity; towards a senate;
-       balancing universal human and European civil rights and duties;
-       fostering “feeling Europe” by initiating intra-EU “social conscription”;
-       channelling intra-EU migration and acculturation and of qualified non-Europeans;
-       experimenting with cross-european jumelage projects between region incorporating;
-       (re)arranging existing EU projects and “best practices” programs in platforms for EU-relaunch;
-       projecting needed changes in financing, budgeting, taxation;
-       EU-“Marshall Plan” for crisis areas; “Helsinki” and “Fulbright” type programs for debt redemption;
-       projecting needed EU-wide security arrangements e.g. border control, crime fighting, defence;
-       synchronising with other transitions such as climate-, energy-, communication, etc.

the rights
of citizens

a form of
government

 

 

JE SUIS Européen!    

 





cafe Europa on the stage
 

Who is European? And what does it take to be a European? The current European Union is based on the illusion that the market will unite Europe. This leads to an existential crisis, with the EU resembling a house without a foundation. What kind of policy should the European Union embrace to reverse the anti-European spirit? How can we create a more confident Europe – a Europe that is more than an economic vehicle or a museum of past glory? A future for Europe is feasible when based upon a united Europe; upon a revival of the cultural-moral awareness that transcends race and faith; upon an ideal of civilization that may inspire millions of citizens to speak up with passion and conviction, saying in their own language: Je suis Européen! – Soy europeo! – Ich bin ein Europäer! – Jsem Evropan! – Ik ben Europeaan! – I’m a European! – Jestem Europejczykiem! So that eventually we will be able to say: Nous sommes des Européens! – We are Europeans!

The symposium opened with a fragment of the radio program 'I'm an American', recorded 22 June 1940 with Albert Einstein. Among the most important of USCIS’s (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) missions is promoting citizenship instruction and fostering civic integration. USCIS’s current efforts follow a long history of Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) citizenship awareness campaigns. The INS gained authority to promote citizenship education in 1918 and over the course of the twentieth century it experimented with novel methods for making immigrants, as well as other Americans, aware of the advantages and duties of American citizenship. In 1940 these efforts took the shape of the I’M AN AMERICAN radio program presented by INS and broadcast over the NBC Radio Network.
I’M AN AMERICAN promoted national unity but it did so in a pluralistic way, avoiding the idea of strict assimilation for a vision of America as a collection of peoples who contributed their own strengths and traditions to the greater good. For example, guest Eleanor Roosevelt reminded immigrants “never to forget your own cultural background and use whatever skills and culture that background gives you to enrich what you acquire in the United States.” This celebration of ethnic difference, however, was accompanied by the warning that “totalitarian” countries could take advantage of those differences and divide America against itself. Thus, the interviews also highlighted the importance of shared unity among America’s ethnic groups

Points of view On Europe, Jean Monnet stated: “We are not forming coalitions of states, we are uniting men”. How does this compare today? George Steiner let us know that the concept to unify Europe starts in coffeehouses, from Lissabon, Budapest to London. People come here to gossip and discussion. In 'café Europa' many different outcomes and statements occurred during the conversations and discussions on what it is to be European. According to Androulla Vassiliou l'esprit Européen is based on respect for others and the basic freedom to move around. Robert Skidelsky let us know that for a British person, it is really difficult to feel European in the same sense as those living on the Continent. Thatcher once said: "the trouble is we visit the continent and they live there”. "If we were betting, I think Brittain will leave the Union, but I hope not."

While Adam Zamoyski said: ‘Brussels’ is something completely different than ‘Europe’, that 'Brussels' lately tried to reinvent itself as the European ideal of 1945, but it is not", and that "we are not behind a whole lot of overpaid unrepresentative fat cats sitting around in Brussels spending our money, Caroline de Gruyter responds that this is unfair! "Brussels, Europe, was never meant to be beautiful. It is replacing fighting with words". Apostolos Doxiadis stated that the EU is an Enlightenment story; a tool for adult nations, which Aykan Erdemir reacts: "we cannot save Europe with better leaders or economics. We need a passion for Europe, ideas, true Europeans. No one can be in love with laws and regulations.

Feelings and facts

Philipp Blom: If I say ‘Je suis European!’ I mean a feeling: to be at home under a European sky and in European values. The EU has spectacularly failed creating a European spirit. According to Arnon Grunberg the only place to feel European is outside of Europe. How to create a European spirit? Why not let our young people spend a year in another country, making a contribution to society? Bolkestein reacton: "I’m a Dutch citizen and therefore a European; the rest is nonsense". De Gruyter:" I left Holland more than 20 years ago and will probably never come back, but can only vote here. Is this how Europe should be?" Tunku Varadarajan joins the debate and he believes Europe is a geographic entity masquerading as an idea. "Europe needs British scepticism”. Bolkestein: The EEC is now history. We are beyond its intentions and now load ourselves with problems that should not have happened.

Grunberg: should we not discard the whole idea of a national identity and embrace the existing regional identities? Blom: Nation states are as dead as a person in the poems of Edgar Allan Poe. Erdemir: boundries are imagined, the connections between people are real. The task at hand is not to reinvent a European identity, but to forget the national constructs of the last 200 years. Blom: we can't adopt ideologies or ideas separate from where we live. Holland was tolerant as they had to: they are a trading nation. Vassiliou finished with how many kids in Europe actually get European history in school? Is this not part of our problem?