innovative Europe

Letter to young Europeans

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UP' Magazine has chosen to publish, in the middle of the summer, in the middle of holidays and idleness, this very beautiful text proposed by the philosopher, doctor, essayist and magazine director Claude Corman. A way to take advantage of the rest of the neurons to agitate them in enlightened dreams. Indeed, this text is a letter to young Europeans, in the form of an appeal to the imagination. A call to re-imagine Europe, to reinvent it, to innovate by giving it a new lease of life; and it needs it. Let us accompany Claude Corman on his journey through space and time, heading towards the future; a journey which starts from a small hostel in the heart of Spain, one of those you may visit during your holidays. Inspiration...
 
 

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etters to young Europeans and to all the others...
Around the bar of the Partido Communista de Aragón, which opens on Calle Mayor in Zaragoza, during the Pilar festivities, banners display slogans so stubbornly dated that distracted or careless passers-by probably consider them to be "vintage" advertising campaigns.

 
Like this big poster illustrating as well as possible a kind of dark ogre crunching the planet and on which we read: El imperialismo es un monstruo que hace la guerra para sobrevivir (Imperialism is a monster that makes war to survive). Or that other one that presents a horse-drawn carriage, a toro de lidia and a circus elephant under the slogan: fiestas sin animales maltratados, celebrations without animal abuse. When looking up or inside the room, one greets as agreed the icons, Marx, Fidel, Le Che, Lenin, Chavez, the red stars, hammers and sickles, at the time of robots and backhoes... nothing that can frighten the class enemy whose few poor words from the Esperanto business of globalization nevertheless embody an insolent and appreciable modernity, or at least an aspiration towards the future: open borders, global internet, inter-continental free trade treaties, global governance. And yet! Around the bar of the Partido Communista de Aragón, with its seemingly mummified words, its rancid symbols, its sad trestles dusty with so many defeats, stands a cheerful, smiling youth, ardently hoping to write a new page of history. Perhaps they trust too much in the awakening of the people and in the solidity of the good theoretical tools that will give this awakening its intellectual flame. Perhaps she also comes to doubt, to worry that the gente nunca mas will be the gente, that the people will never be the people again, or that the zealous doctors of the human and social sciences to whom she clings like guides and masters of the new Enlightenment would rather play Romeo under the balconies of their dear University than provoke a secession of the intelligences?
 
But this youth we talk and drink with has no use for experts in the denial and contemporary rectification of political dreams. Has the lucid and modest despair of European youth, which is also its own, ever needed the "informed" comments of such experts, when the facts make such a case every day with so much evidence? Is it necessary to walk the petrifying glance of the Gorgon on so many things already so dry, so infecund, so ossified to discredit the dream of a common humanity? The generations that saw the Soviet threat and the ideal of a European Renaissance disappear at the same time seem to have aged at once and, like sad fates, are trying to cut the thread of the political conversation, as if the disappearance of communism, contemporary with the poverty of the horizons of a now unified Europe, had once and for all thrown ideals and utopias into the swarming trough of slogans of a bygone age.
 
And yet it is in the midst of this unarmed youth, full of beer and smoke, that we thought of writing a letter to Europeans, a manifesto letter from the youth of Europe to these dreamless and lifeless "old men" of the Commission and the Council who are bringing Europe to the cemetery, while pestering against smokers, drinkers, lazy, unsuitable, unruly, marginalized, foreigners who do not believe in their austerity ordinances or in their sanitary or social hygiene cures.  
 
In 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, Raymond Aron awoke for a brief moment in his grave: The crowds that jubilantly crossed the Brandenburg Gate on December 22 of that year greeted in their own way the French political philosopher who had postulated in his book Le grand schisme the inevitability of German reunification. The great crisis of European totalitarianism had found its epilogue on German soil on that winter day in 1989. It was the end of the great schism, of the division of Europe into two antagonistic and enemy societies, lurking in sports competitions, feverishly spying on each other, and pointing nuclear rockets at their respective capitals.
 
The European Union today sees this event as its own victory, as if it were the European Union, dressed in its finest clothes, adorned with its most elegant promises, that had opened the Brandenburg Gate, the Stasi archives and driven out once and for all the Communist ogre of Europe, its ideological chimeras and its dreaded atomic warheads.
 
Yet most Western European leaders of that time did not have words hard enough or formulas strong enough to delay or undermine the process of German reunification. Margaret Thatcher said, "We beat the Germans twice and now they are back! "She told Gorbachev that neither she nor the French president wanted German reunification and the creation of a hegemonic economic power in Europe. Mitterrand confessed his fear that German unity would lead to disasters even more terrible than those brought about by Nazism. And Giulio Andreotti, then Prime Minister of Italy had fun saying: I love Germany so much that I'd rather see two of them! » 
 
Gorbachev did not invade East Germany, he did not massacre the Germans who had fled to the West through Hungary and Austria, no bloodshed mourning the joy of German reunification. Everything happened like in a fairy tale or in a Tintin album. We thanked Gorbachev with a Nobel Prize in 1990 and then we quickly celebrated the finally reunited Europe, as if the evil Borders, Stalinists and Gestavists had been discarded, the happy and healthy Syldavians could finally taste the sweet air of carelessness and prosperity under the Ark of Brussels . The "Spring of the Peoples" of 1989 ignored seventy years of European communism, its grandeur and misery, its messianic impulses and police abuses, its internationalist support for the working class and its criminal distrust of deviants, artists, and minorities of all kinds. All this history which made a Sartre say that communism was the impassable horizon of our world, a Gide say that this type of regime in which the best noted are the most servile, the most cowardly, the most inclined, the most vile, could not be exemplary, became a spectral history and by certain aspects cursed ... Crimes of the Church, one can still properly dissect, without considering that each page of the Gospels is a manual of torture for the use of the Inquisitors. Of the crimes of communism, one does not want to retain only the crimes! And as if the communist idea which has caused so much ink to flow, which has made and undone so many friendships, attracted so many faithful militants and chased away so many dark disappointed people, as if all this counted at the bottom for butter, or deserved absolute silence or absolute contempt, one turns the page, distracting oneself from the robust and comical drunkenness of comrade Yeltsin! Everything had become so simple. German reunification, which opened the doors of the European Union to Hungarians, Poles, Czechs, Baltics, and later Bulgarians and Romanians, was the end of the two great terrors of the twentieth century, Nazism exterminating the Jews and Stalinism sickening to the madness of its "democratic" centralism. We kept Yalta, we made films about Stalingrad!
 
But barely two years after the jubilation of Brandenburg in 1991, the ethnic dismantling of the Yugoslav confederation was already sounding the end of the recreation. The unprecedented hybridization of extreme nationalism and a Stalinist dictatorship suddenly emptied of its elementary ideological principles brought to power in the divided homelands of the South Slavs a kind of tyrants obsessed with territorial division and ethnic fracturing, against a backdrop of reminiscence of the last war: Croats continuing to sniff like the Ustashi the good smells of nearby Germany, and Serbs resisting the liberal and democratic seductions of a Europe once again dominated by Germany. Russia, which had been pushed out of the European House, even though the USSR under Gorbachev was at the forefront of a project of complete nuclear disarmament at the turn of the century, had to suffer two terrible humiliations in quick succession, that of seeing ex-secretaries of the Yugoslav communist parties waging bandit wars that disfigured what could have remained of the moral and political elegance of the communist system, and then the bombing in 1999 by the Europeans and NATO of Belgrade, Moscow's ancient and faithful ally. Lucas turned his Star Wars and Putin was not far away...
 
It was at that time, in 2000, that Joschka Fischer, then German Foreign Minister, addressed an ambitious, reckless note to Europeans on the creation of the United States of Europe. To invent a European configuration radically different from the one that had hitherto prevailed in the form of a limited and controlled alliance of European nations was the duty of Europeans at the beginning of the third millennium. Fischer wanted to speed up or force history, so that Germany and France could combine their economic and political strengths and assets, breaking the cycle of partial and crippled sovereignty. Of course, everyone knew that the price to be paid by the Germans for their reunification, i.e. to definitively pass the layer of amnesia over the crimes of the Gestapo and the Stasi, was the scuttling of the mark and the birth of a new currency, the euro, which would be christened with great pomp and ceremony at the promising dawn of the third millennium. But Fischer sensed that a monetary union without the political union that only France was in a position to propose to Europe would soon see the return of German economic hegemony and the collateral disintegration of European sentiment, since German ants had always considered the southerners of the continent as cicadas more gifted for song than for hard work. What is more, not to mention the South, neither the Commission, nor Parliament, nor the Council of Europe were up to a task made immense by the rapid arrival of the former communist countries in the common house. The Europeans turned a deaf ear; no one gave a serious answer to Joschka Fischer's letter. The national political games that were to be played in the ten years following this call, however, left no informed response to Fischer's "far-fetched" proposal.
 
The Europe we are inheriting today is an unbalanced, suspicious, narrow-minded, avaricious and hard-working liberal Europe, which has extinguished all the dreams and promises that the deconstruction of the Berlin Wall briefly stirred up at the end of the eighties. It has become the Mecca of Liliputian arbitration on everything that touches on the superfluous of politics and, in twenty years, obsessed to the point of madness by the cold beauty of the Intendancy, it has squandered the esteem of the peoples who had exchanged a little of their freedom for an assurance of peace on the old Continent.
 
And worse! As if even the baptismal font of European construction in the time of Monnet and Schumann had been trampled on and overturned by some new and foul beast, the full evidence of being European, the one that led everyone to believe that before being Aveyron, Berliners, Britons, Lombards or Catalans, we were citizens of a civilization that had lived, thought and fought for so long that it could at last savour the shared bread of peace, even that, that noble certainty, we despised ourselves. The greatest danger threatening Europe is weariness! It was with these words, which retain an unspoken force, that Husserl concluded his 1935 Vienna conference on the crisis of European humanity. Well, we have plunged headlong into this frightening lassitude, and we are wading in the domestic backwater to the point of nausea, fearing everything, frightened by the smallest foreign kiss, by the weakest breath of oceanic cultures, by the most modest demands of populations from elsewhere. Our political conversations, if any remain, are saturated by the binary themes of national sovereignty and adapting to the big market of a planet that is turning faster and faster. We multiply confused and intrigued resentments against all sorts of minorities suspected of contaminating our values, virtues and savoir-vivre of old nations with their dachshund ( or new rich...) Didn't we make enough provisions in the old days? Of cultures, music, political and philosophical genius? What do we have to do in order to explore new political fields, to seek and explore other paths than those traced by our forefathers in the inspired borders of our language, of our land? What is the point of having succumbed to the fantasies and fables of the great European nation, when we were being served behind the scenes, the most indigestible dishes of administrative pusillanimity, economic austerity and the arrogance of Brussels experts?
 
Well no, we cannot stop being European, we cannot savour our weariness because the failure of two political and cultural generations in Europe has opened the floodgates of resentment, discord, resentment and anger against the European idea. No, we cannot stop being European because modern nationalisms have traded the fiery and proud rhetoric of strong races for the so-called defence of the left out, the forgotten, the small, of what the fascists with their fraudulent republican lyricism call the people.
 
We know that the workcamps are immense and that the insurrection of European youth against these "hybrid monsters of thought" who talk to us about health, culture and national freedom will be carried out in the name of more lively and formidable tasks still hidden from their own consciences and not in a foot to foot and harassing struggle against the empire of mediocrity and its familiar sentences. We know with Canetti that we have come too far and that we are moving towards too little.
 
We can honour Homer and Moses, Shakespeare and Racine, Schubert and Mozart, Titian and Picasso without fleeing or ignoring the music, poems, paintings, fraternities and sciences of the times to come. The task of the European youth is immense: to invent a new art of politics in Europe, when everywhere disenchantment, austerity, lack of dreams and ambition, the swarming of picrocholine opinions throw on all things the grey mantle of resignation and lassitude.
 
But how can we begin such an overwhelming task, when our tools, we are told, have already been used too much and so badly? We are thinking of a very large university the size of the Continent, not because we would have to sacrifice everything to the mania for concentration and gigantism, but because this university will not be built on the model of the classical faculties where diplomas and places in society are awarded. This European University must be, in a way, the Theme Abbey of our time. "Do whatever you want! "will remain its motto, but its great mission will be to think about European civilization and the cultural, anthropological and political collisions of Europe and the World.
 
This University, which could quickly accommodate five hundred thousand students, will have many translators so that no language will be considered a minor any more, but English could, without inconvenience, be the common language.
 
As the media species of interpreters, animators, intermediaries and popularisers of knowledge have failed and are no longer worthy of the slightest trust, a "compulsory" university service of one to two years will be instituted in Europe in the same way that military service has worked in most European countries since the French Revolution, without, as far as we know, ever having squandered public finances. Thus, none of the themes addressed by the European University will be really unknown to young people who do not subsequently enter the classical university cycles or the more specialised intellectual disciplines. 
 
Social mixing, fraternity, the feeling of belonging to an embryo of a universal community of men without community, play, jubilation, love, music, poetry will find a framework commensurate with the thirst for life of youth. We are a long way from the Erasmus programmes or the Goethe or Cervantes Institutes. For here, for the first time, it is the multitude who will be converted for the first time to gay knowledge and to the democratic development of the socio-economic and cultural rules of a society joyfully inventing what we call Europe. It is Europe that will deliberate, with the support of all the thinkers, artists, scholars, philosophers, men of letters and theologians who will regularly or occasionally take their quarters here, either during a sabbatical year or in retirement.
 
Of the major areas of thought that this European university will have to discuss, we shall confine ourselves to stating a few general points:
 
- Think wealth. If the the theorization of the commodity, of value and of the Capital/Labour antagonism has been the essential task of the critique of political economy since Marx, today we need to question the meaning of wealth itself, considered in its different economic, social, cultural, environmental and spiritual aspects. This thought of wealth is necessarily linked to a reflection on the Technique and the arrhythmia of Time. It is as much linked to the habitation of the earth and to the broken balance between the cities that have become megalopolises and the countryside that has been transformed into deserts or wetlands.
 
- To think about the connections, the fractures, the encounters, the memories, the intensities and the collisions of cultures and human minorities in a Europe that has known the defeat of the cosmopolitan spirit of the inter-war period, the destruction of Yiddishland by the Nazis, the disasters of totalitarian thinking and is today dumbfounded by the "problem" of nomadic populations claiming no political sovereignty .
 
- To write finally a theological-political treatise of our time.
 
- And to multiply as far as possible, at the cutting edge of our knowledge, epistemological fields common to the human, physical and biological sciences, so that everyone can escape, at least in part, the intimidating and often fruitless fragmentation of knowledge polarized towards outlets.
 
Etc...
 
These generalities will appear empty and insignificant to all those who already have a solid road book in their lives and careers, but let them fill up one day and the most promising road books will scatter to the wind like the dead leaves of lonely ambitions ...
 
Because this University is not a decoy or a utopia. It is simply a challenge! A challenge for common thinking and common life in Europe!
 
It's about time...
 
Claude Corman, Copyright Funny times n° 25
With special thanks to Claude Corman and Paule Pérez, editors of the Termps marranes magazine
 
Complete this reading by  "After the astonishment" - UP' Magazine
 

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