What should European identity consist of? (by Indira Fabbro and Fabio Lugano)

The concept of identity recalls that of roots – to be preserved and defended. Culture is synonymous with dynamism (Maurizio Bettarini, classicist).

Anyone approaching European history from antiquity to today will have a clear awareness of the mosaic of peoples and ethnic groups, of the plurality of languages, religions and cultures. Greek culture certainly represents one of the fundamental building blocks of European identity (think of humanism or neoclassicism). Roman civilization (capable of creating an empire that extended from the Hadrian's Wall to the Rhine and Danube) also had a strong influence on European history (Roman law). it was with the Middle Ages (it was when the mainland removed the centrality from the sea) and above all at the beginning of the modern age that the idea of ​​Europe took shape … Charlemagne, architect of a new empire capable of conquering a large part of the territories of the continent in the sign of Christianity, was significantly called by his contemporaries "pater Europae". However, according to most scholars, it is only with the modern age and with the construction of the international community that a "European" society and region began to be defined.

Greek culture, Roman law, Carolingian Europe, Christian religion, customs of the Roman and Germanic world: what emerges is the image of a civilization in progress, made up of multiple elements and closely intertwined with each other. In modern times, that mode of thought and that approach to the reality of the world that we can define rationalism will make its way …. Europe, starting from Descartes and Galileo, began to follow the path that would lead her to the critical use of reason, repudiation of unverified beliefs, experimental method, scientific research, use of applied technology, enhancement of the individual and defense of his rights, struggle for freedom.

An exit of man from the state of minority, to quote the famous step by Kant, which the Enlightenment ideas would have promoted, an itinerary in the sign of modernity and the Weberian "disenchantment of the world" which in the last two centuries would have connoted, in a peculiar, European civilization.

Science, technology, industrial market capitalism, nation state, Christianity … are the salient distinctive features of a European identity which can be summarized "in the constant tension between rationalism individualism / subjectivity, considered as opposite and complementary principles at the same time", expressing the constant dialectic between individual freedom and social organization: not “roots of two alternative conceptions of modernity (..) but rather of the elements of the same cultural and institutional syndrome. In its three millennia of history, Europe has always sought a balance between individualistic drives and centralizing impulses, and its best achievements have been found precisely in this continuous research.

This path of history has also generated the Maastricht Treaty. If we were to evaluate which phase of European political history is its father, perhaps we would have to return to the desire for centralization and concentration of the Holy Roman German Empire: faced with an external challenge, a group of European powers organized themselves in an attempt to count for something. Unfortunately, this deal had two basic sins:

  • it was not born from a real popular push, that is, for example, from a series of referendum votes, but it was a top-down and elitist project, brought down from above;

  • as a project he wished to adapt reality to the unitary design, and he thought using the economic instrument of the single currency.

So the treaty was perhaps a necessary step in European history, but not sufficient. It must be completed with the courage to face a true democratic process, based on universal suffrage, not on simple organized listening groups, even at the cost of having to review some ideological paradigms given for certain. Listening to collectivism alone violates the individualistic and economically liberal soul of the Union and condemns it to being a sweetened version of a "sweet" totalitarianism, the son of the Byzantine or Eastern European experience. We must face the people, a difficult but necessary choice.


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The article What should European identity consist of? (by Indira Fabbro and Fabio Lugano) comes from ScenariEconomici.it .


This is a machine translation of a post published on Scenari Economici at the URL https://scenarieconomici.it/in-cosa-dovrebbe-consistere-lidentita-europea-di-indira-fabbri/ on Mon, 15 Jun 2020 06:04:28 +0000.