Europe, an open drama and a space for friendship (July, 2021)

Civil Society in a broad sense
The case of Europe/ European Union
2021

Funcas has just published Europe, an open drama and a space for friendship, written by Víctor Pérez-Díaz, Chairman of Analistas Socio-Políticos. The essay belongs in a project of studies about Europe that Funcas sponsors. The book can be downloaded for free by clicking on this link.

Europe and Spain are facing a very serious crisis that is, in some way, compact, given the intense connectivity, the inter-relationship, between their different components including healthcare, the economy, politics, society and culture. This complex, and critical, situation creates confused perceptions and feelings of mistrust and impotence. The élites try to conceal their confusion, as seems natural to them, with words and gestures of authority. But it is perhaps ordinary people who grasp the situation with greater realism when they confess to their bewilderment.
This book contains two short essays that complement one another. The first consists of a description and analysis of the combination of factors that have emerged across Europe, and in Spain, and which have given rise to that perception of generalised crisis. By presenting the crisis as an open drama with various plausible outcomes, the possibility remains of finding ways of overcoming it. I use a literary metaphor (a short story by Edgar Allan Poe called “A Descent into the Maelström”) to illustrate one way of understanding the crisis as if it were a whirlpool that causes a process with three sequences: first, the descent into the abyss and then, a leap and the ascent from the abyss. I focus attention on a combination of two strategies: one of reasonable argument and the other, of civic compromise (with an important community component) on the part of the members of civil society. It is on the success of these that the viability (and continuity over time) of the political community depends, and also the solution to the current crises.
The second essay deals with the problem of the production and reproduction of the political community in the understanding that this is only possible if it is configured as a space for friendship to a sufficient degree. This requires handling the internal differences of the community in question with caution and, in particular, “civilising” the feelings of mutual rejection to which those differences can, and frequently do, give rise. In this case, and merely by way of illustration of what could be an argument applicable to other cases, I examine the problem of the relationship between Spain and Catalonia at the present time: a problem that could lead to either a series of learning processes or to a cascade of errors within Europe as a whole.