On Europe

This morning the “Perlentaucher” (Pearldiver), my daily digest of cultural journalism culled from German newspapers, cites an article by two Swedish journalists — Richard Swartz and Rolf Gustavsson — published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung (though not available online), which seems to me to get to an important aspect of current debates about the EU:

“Instead of cultivating utopias, the Europeans have to learn how to live with their union as something unfinished, as a provisional situation…. Europe has no soul, no heart, no fixed form. It cannot be nailed down by geography, just as the European cannot be defined by religion or language — even culture cannot be used for such a purpose. Europe consists exclusively of larger and smaller minorities, and for the time being Europe can offer no more than a very refined form of collaboration with supranational aspects. Nothing more and nothing less. Anything beyond that would be arrogant and dangerous. Arrogant because after the self-created catastrophes of the 20th century, Europe should exercise humility and should not let go of the memory of those horrors. Dangerous because the vision of a united Europe — a sort of United States of Europe — is based on the idea of a to be perfected utopia, and all utopias tend toward totalitarianism.”

This is the best use of Keats’ negative capability I have seen proposed in the field of political thought in a long time. Something the Amerikan Imperium lacks completely these days.

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