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
So yes let us have some new narratives for
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.