Like Tadeusz Rejtan, who desperately tried to halt the partition and disintegration of his country 1773, we must block the door of the room that is the European idea even as others begin to make their discreet or not so discreet exit. If we do not, then Europe’s slide will be unstoppable, and our great civilisation will pass to history.
Europa is the home of difference and diversity, where new influences are not added to anything but clash and conflict with each other, fighting on the great Hegelian battleground of culture, creed and beliefs. The problem is of course, when this civic conflict of words, arguments, images and sounds becomes one of bullets and bayonets; it is then that we remember why we need a United Europa.
Europa, I think we can say with certainty however, is and long has been much more than a place on a map, contrary to Bismarck’s note in 1876 (‘Qui parle Europe a tort. Notion géographique’). Certainly, we can take Metternich’s foreshadowing of this comment in 1847, with the assertion that Italy was purely a geographic notion, as a sign that Germans are apt as misjudging political and social developments on this continent.
The European Union is among the most profound achievements of the last century; in many ways, it has changed the face of Europe and its place in the world, from one of violence, strife and oppression, to a beacon of ‘peace…democracy and…prosperity’. By the fin-de-siècle, commentators were hailing the ‘New European Century’ and a ‘beacon of light in a troubled world’. The latter commentator also argued that Europe’s aim was to seek ‘harmony, not hegemony’. This raises a key question, namely, the nature of Europe’s relationship with Imperial power.
We are at a crossroads in Europe; we have long since reached one of those decisive moments in history where we have to make decisions about the direction our societies are going to take, what are the forces which will be driving them and what will be the political context around them. Our commitment to a united Europe is chief among those questions. It is the defining political question of our time.
President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, on Tuesday made a call for unity among the European states, in the context of the rapidly deteriorating political climate they have found themselves in. In a letter to the 27 Heads of State & Government, Tusk said Europe was facing challenges “more dangerous than ever before in the time since the signature of the Treaty of Rome”.
The PiS government in Warsaw’s assault on liberal democracy has been raging for over a year now, and, while much of Europe has turned its attention away to other news, the fight goes on to stop Poland from taking the road to authoritarianism.