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Sunday, 14 July 2013

New Narratives for Europe

President Barroso, the President of the European Commission, has initiated a new project called New Narratives for Europe. He feels that, given the social and economic problems that Europe now faces, and also because of the indifference, and even hostility towards the European Union, that is evident across Europe, it is necessary to set a new vision for Europe that will inspire young people. And to this end he is looking to culture to deliver these new narratives, by which I suppose he means the arts, literature, architecture and so forth, including also science, for that too is also part of culture.

He is right of course, for most certainly Europe does need a new vision and also to rediscover idealism. Back in the mid 1980s when I first became involved with European Commission research programmes, there was a sense that we were engaged in a project to build Europe as place where people understand one another, and where disparate cultures learn to peacefully co-exist and to respect that which often is quite different. And there were matters of economy too, in the sense of making firms more competitive in world markets. Now however it is economy, economy and economy. The idealism has gone, as has the vision.

What concerns me however is that these new narratives will not be new at all, just more of the thinking that has led humanity to its present predicament. The reason for my worries lies in what I call the Prometheus Syndrome, which I observe everywhere I go in Europe. The future it seems is just the past projected into the future, but with slightly more advanced technology. Fundamental mind-sets however, remain unchanged, and we continue to walk the path that will ultimately lead to a disaster. And why do I call this the Prometheus Syndrome? The answer is that, it is becoming evident that thought in Europe is bound to the rock of the past with unbreakable chains, and that all that is happening is that Europe is regenerating in exactly the same form that it has always been, and so is condemned to be for ever picked at by those for whom a world without a free thinking and prosperous Europe would be a good thing.

So yes let us have some new narratives for Europe, but please, let them be new! I hope that in my publications, that is to say in my books, both fiction and non-fiction, in my web site, and also in this blog, people will find the beginnings for such new narratives, not just for Europe but for the whole world.

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