Europe lies in the great pincers between America and Russia who both want to dismember it. The problem is how to remain faithful to the continent’s emancipatory legacy
The Independent Voices
Earlier this month, a group of 30 writers, historians and Nobel laureates – including Bernard-Henri Lévy, Milan Kundera, Salman Rushdie, Orhan Pamuk, Mario Vargas Llosa and Adam Michnik – published a manifesto in several newspapers all around Europe. They claimed that Europe as an idea is “coming apart before our eyes”.
“We must now fight for the idea of Europe or see it perish beneath the waves of populism,” they wrote. “We must rediscover political voluntarism or accept that resentment, hatred and their cortege of sad passions will surround and submerge us.”
This manifesto is deeply flawed: just carefully reading it makes it clear why populists are thriving. Its signatories – the flower of the European liberal intelligensia – ignore the unpleasant fact that the populists also present themselves as the saviours of Europe.
In July last year, just after attending a stormy meeting with EU leaders, Donald Trump spoke of the European Union as the first in the line of “foes” of the US, ahead of Russia and China. There was a rush to condemn this claim as irrational (“Trump is treating the allies of the US worse than its enemies,” etc.); instead we should ask some simple questions. What bothers Trump so much about EU? Which Europe is Trump talking about?