Europe as Icarus or Daedalus, with wings of wax. Beyond polarization: a time for learning (April 2020)

The case of Europe/ European Union

Europe has both a narrative and a strategic deficit and, in short, a deficit of agency. It has still not taken its place in the world as a coordinated political agent with sufficient legitimacy of origin (which pre-supposes the decisive presence of a demos) and with substantive legitimacy (which involves the effective solution of major problems). Today, burdened by this deficit, it faces the challenges of longstanding and ongoing turbulence. Overcoming the deficit of agency and improving the situation requires an understanding that the identity of Europe (what it is) and its politics (what it does) depends not so much on external factors as much as on the strategy and the imaginary of citizens and politicians in interaction with the whole of their institutional system, in other words, their market economy, liberal democracy and civil society, together with their cultural background.

In this short essay, I explore certain aspects of that imaginary. I concentrate on what I consider to be its weak point: a binary interpretive framework that, firstly, rigidly opposes the two poles of “globalism” versus “localism” and, in parallel, of “Europeanism” versus “nationalism” (or “populism”); and, secondly, presupposes that this opposition is tending to become increasingly intense, and that we are facing a process of growing polarisation. Personally, I question the first premise, that is to say, the interpretive framework itself; and likewise the second, because I consider that we are not facing a situational or structural causality so powerful that it defines a trend, but rather that we are looking at an open drama.