Intellectual Emptiness: Paris Summit Proves Europe Needs New Thinkers

Europa, menos Cha-cha-ra y MAS AcciónFor a long time, Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris had the kind of ice-skating rink that used to be abundant in large European cities. With the men dressed in suits and ties and the women wearing dresses, bourgeois Parisians skated to their hearts’ content, no matter how fragile condition of the world outside might be. It wasn’t until much later that the building on the Champs-Elysées was used as a theater, as it still is today. But on Monday, January 28, against the backdrop of the beautiful art nouveau architecture, a group of people took to the ice once again, if only figuratively. The event was titled “Europe or Chaos?” program listed entire exhibition of famous intellectuals. Top billing went to philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, who appeared on radio that morning beating the drum for himself and his friends, including Italian writer Umberto Eco and his Hungarian colleague György Konrád, the Spanish journalist Juan Luis Cebrián and Bulgarian-French psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva, as well as 2 German writers Peter Schneider and Hans Christoph Buch. On radio program, Lévy said they were all going to sound the alarm that evening and call for the rescue of Europe. And that was exactly what happened. Well, actually, today’s Europe wasn’t exactly being rescued at the meeting so much as buried in verbose and nostalgic ranting about the glorious past. Historical references and erudite allusions to Athens (“cradle of democracy”) and Rome (“source of the constitutional state”) practically bubbled out of Lévy, wearing one of his trademark white shirts, unbuttoned halfway down, which his butler presses for him at his home in Saint-Germain. In their remarks, the attendees mentioned Goethe and Herder and Husserl and Voltaire, Pushkin and Freud, and Adenauer and de Gaulle and Schuman and De Gasperi. In the face of so much name-dropping, smartphones and Google turned out to be an audience member’s best friend. Europe, said the poets and thinkers, as if they had read a few articles on Wikipedia just before event, stands for enlightenment, humanism, universally applicable values, separation of church and state. In fact, as Peter Schneider said in broken French, Europe boasts “the noblest of all cultures in the world.” And Umberto Eco? He read a long, baroque, confusing text, which met with thin and somewhat distracted applause. György Konrád? He mumbled something about “murderous, old dualities” that continue to exist in Europe, about conflicts between East and West, between North and South. And so on. And so forth. Panel discussion followed a manifesto, signed by Salman Rushdie, António Lobo Antunes and other members of cultural nobility, which had been published in Le Monde and El País a few days earlier. The first sentences read: “Europe isn’t just in a crisis. Europe is dying. Europe as an idea, a dream, as a project.” Text continues in this black-and-white vein. Questions of day, according to the manifesto, are “political union or barbarism,” or even better, “political union or death” (…..)



Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional


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