Repurposing Europe

by Pierre Manent

“The gravity of the crisis in France has long been hidden by what we like to call the construction of Europe. The energies of our political class have been devoted to buttressing the authority of an enterprise that delegitimizes the nation and promises a new way of bringing humans together. But these sweet hopes have become less and less plausible. Neither the institutions of Europe, nor the government of France, nor what is called civil society have enough strength or credibility to claim the attention or fix the hopes of citizens. As rich as we still are in material and intellectual resources, we are politically weak. Nothing seems to have the power to gather us toward the common action we all feel necessary. What to do about our diminished collective capacity is the great political question of Europe. Whether in relation to European unification or to Islam, it is clear that we have nothing pertinent to say if we refrain from making claims about European identity.”

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This article was originally published in First Things (April 2016)

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