I have repeatedly stated that one of the acutest cultural problems in the EU nowadays is that of a lack of cultural identity rooted in Christianity; this is largely due philosophically to a poor appreciation of historicism. To my mind, the philosopher who first alerted us to this problem was Giambattista Vico, widely considered the father of modern historicism. I’d like to offer a brief outline of his theory of history, trusting that interested readers will then pick up and read his masterpiece The New Science.
The European Union was a creation of CIA, especially of "Wild Bill" Donovan, the first organizer of the Office for Strategic Services, the forerunner of the Agency, and of Walter Bedell Smith, the first President of the Agency. The idea was simple and rational, namely to organize the non-NATO European countries and the Alliance ones in a network of US-EU bilateral economic relations, which would serve as "glue" of the European Federalist Movement led by a lukewarm pro-European man, Winston Churchill.
There is a rather naive notion that the vision of a politically United Europe was born ex nihilo in 1950. The notion is naive because it loses sight of the fact that there is no such thing in history as creations ex nihilo. We stand on the shoulders of giants. It is therefore both proper and fitting to remember and celebrate those European cultural giants who, after the fall of the Roman Empire, began envisioning a United Europe.
“The more we know of the past, the freer we are to choose the way we will go.”--Christopher Dawson
In 1932 Christopher Dawson published a book titled The Making of Europe which had enormous success and established his reputation as a scholar of incredible range and erudition who could communicate with great clarity and elegance. He had previously written two other books: The Age of the Gods (1928), and Progress and Religion (1929) but this was unique.
Revisiting and rethinking Europe recently on these very pages, prof. Anis Bajrektarevic asked: “… is the EU the world’s last cosmopolitan enjoying its postmodern holiday from history? Is that possibly the lost Atlántida or mythical Arcadia– a Hegelian end of history world? ... a post-Hobbesian (yet, not quite a Kantian) world, in which the letzte Mensch expelled Übermensch?” Yet another take on the most critical EU debate comes from Austria, this time from the long time insider into the rocky European policy-making.
Ivan Illich, a great advocate for intercultural communication, gifted us with a great insight. It is found in his book Tools for Conviviality. He wrote there that foreign languages ought to be pursued not so much to communicate with those native to them, but rather, so that we may listen to the particular silences found in the background of all languages, and thereby retrieve the original cultural humus from which they sprang. Notice the metaphor of the germinating seed in tandem with that of the historical journey, back to origins.
“I am quite sure that the European crisis has its roots in a mistaken rationalism” --Edmund Husserl, University of Prague, 1935
Modern Western Civilization presents us with a Janus-like face: On one side Renaissance Humanism which begins in Italy in the 14th century with Petrarch, on the other side Enlightenment Rationalism which begins in France in the 17th century with Descartes.
What will future historians and cultural anthropologists have to say about Western Civilization as it turned a new millennium? If history has already ended, as Fukuyama asserts, they will of course have precious little to say. However, given the fact that, for better or for worse, we are not gods and are still living within time and space, “the end of history” remains a dubious proposition at best, and I dare say that it will remain such even a thousand years from now. Future historians will indeed attempt to define our era, as difficult as it may turn out to be.