About European Identity

In Hbl of Ons 24.08. there was a whole page dedicated to Angela Merkel’s efforts to keep (by a travel program comprising six international meetings in one week) Europe together after the brexit and all those other problems (such as the refugee problem) which have recently been threatening Europe’s cohesion. The article was titled “Merkel leder jakten på EU:s nya själ”.

I do think that this is a noble effort worthy of support, but I do have my doubts whether meetings of high-ranking politicians, which produce optimistic announcements and pictures of hand-shaking “important persons”, will really achieve (especially in the long run) much more than (perhaps) some improved personal relations between a few VIPs. While the centrifugal tendencies simply continue as before. – As to these tendencies, I should like to stress that the brexit was NOT much of a surprise to me: George Orwell, who knew his Englishmen, was in his “1984” describing Great Britain as a part of “Oceania”, not “Eurasia”, and during the last centuries of European history for the English “the enemy” has always been coming from the continent … .

But even if I think that Europe should simply get used to the idea that Great Britain is not a reliable part of it, the question remains how to get Europe to better GROW TOGETHER. And the first thing I think I should remind of is that (a) the Chinese empire was from the very beginning kept together by the fact that all educated people in it were able to read and understand each others’ writing, that (b) immediately after the independence of Indonesia (where people were speaking masses of different languages) president Sukarno was hiring a number of linguists and asking them to design a common, simple language for all of Indonesia (in which they succeeded), and that (c) one could also remember that Western and Southern Europe was for quite a number of centuries kept together by the administrators who knew Latin. In contrast to this, many of the present European nations are consciously cultivating a pride in their very own, national languages (was it so that in Norway they learn at school even two different forms of Norwegian?), including a canon of national literature in which other European nations are not so rarely described as morally (or otherwise) “inferior”. On top of which come of course our ideas of “freedom of the press”, which are eagerly used by the “yellow press” to make money by selling excitement (which is easiest when there are generally accepted “clear fronts” between the “normal and honest” readers and the representatives of those “hostile” or otherwise “morally inferior” other nations or other social groups – such “clear fronts” consequently being eagerly cultivated by the yellow press).

Having identified two factors which actively drive the nations of Europe ever further apart, namely the “guardians of national cultures and canons of literature” and the free media (especially the “yellow press”), what to do? And I feel like recommending four things: (1.) The European governments should agree on one language to be taught in all European countries as the first foreign language at school – I should suggest English (not because of any special liking for Great Britain of the USA, but because it happens to be THE language of science); (2.) in all European schools should be taught psychology as a compulsory topic and in a form which enables the students to recognize the mental mechanisms of nationalism and, thus, not fall for them; (3.) independent commissions should evaluate the journalistic quality/standards of the various products of the media, who then should be forced by law to publish these evaluations every quarter of a year on the first page; (4.) politicians and other persons of public life should be made aware what the unique, positive achievements of just Europe are, and it should become a habit to remind of and refer to these every now and then – here I think especially of the enlightenment and modern science, i.e. the production of opinions NOT on the basis of authority (as e.g. in organized religion) but of EVIDENCE – which is a tremendously helpful tool by which the life of very many people can be improved very much (as has luckily also been accepted in East Asia and elsewhere).

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