Sunday, 1 June 2014
New Narrative for Europe – A Very European Outcome!
In my blog last week I asked the question whether the New Narrative for
initiative did deliver a new narrative. The answer is no!
The declaration, produced by a group of artists and intellectuals, did what most Europeans do, produce that which is European in character, which essentially involves saying what a fine bunch of people we are, but what a pity that a few spoil things! The few of course are those nasty people - racists, fascists, communists and others – who did all those bad things that we are constantly reminded about in television documentaries and often also in films. The problem with Europeans however is that this aspect of
Europe has many dimensions
and has been with us for thousands of years. And it is still there now,
manifesting itself in new guises that we, the current generation of European,
do not recognise, but which future generations will, and for which they will also
condemn us, just as surely as we now condemn our predecessors.
I do agree with the declaration that there is a need to respond to the populist movements founded on nationalism. This represents a re-emergence of one of these nasty elements that will lead to trouble in the future, but I do not agree that the answer to this is to present the EU as the only alternative, thus doing what Europeans are good at, either/or thinking. What I was looking for from the so called New Narrative was an understanding that, what we call modernity, that what emerged from the enlightenment and the scientific revolution, while increasing our material wellbeing, has failed. With that failure also comes an understanding that the Nation State and its institutions, as well as Supra States, namely the EU and its institutions, are all failing, and that Nationalism and Europeanism, are not the way forward, have nothing new to offer, and that the time has come to be rid of both, to transition to a different and more democratic way of organising ourselves. The future one can say lies not in a system dominated by representational democracy, but one founded on participatory democracy, where the power of the representational is constrained and limited by the participatory, and both are framed within the context of that which transcends political dogma and national interest, things which are, for example, captured in documents such as the American Declaration of Independence, Constitutions, Bills of Rights. “We hold these truths to be self evident …”
Thus while I agree with the call for a new Renaissance, it needs to be one based on overturning what we have now, and building a new type of civilisation. Artists have a major role to play here, but not by producing what that emerged from the New Narrative initiative. This was an opportunity to tell the politicians that their world is finished.
We need to reinvent Europe, and this starts by acknowledging that there is something about Europeans that is not very pleasant, and we should be aiming not just at a transformation of
Europe, but of the European mindset, with all its strange
values and beliefs, some of which I mentioned in my blog last week.
I suspect that this is not going to happen from the top down, and that existing institutions are not going to accept that they are failing and no longer relevant. Building a new Europe, a new world, means empowering ordinary people to peacefully build a different type of civilisation, where those in power, no longer have the power to do the things that brand Europe as the most destructive culture that has ever existed. And, as I say in my book, A Tale of Two Deserts, no-one has to be hurt, no one has to die, to achieve a better world. All people have to do is be decent, and start behaving differently, changing their lives, their lifestyles, and turning their back on what Europe and the Nation State currently offers, thus making, by default, a different type of Europe. And this does mean disengaging from existing institutions, while also at the same time remaining engaged, especially to ensure that the more extreme aspects of European culture, those nasty people, do not fill the vacuum that will be created by this disengagement. So a great irony is, that to build a new
Europe, we need also to keep
working in the old system, thus ensuring that we create a peaceful transition.
This latter word, transition, is an important one, and is where we should be
focussing out efforts – transitioning to a new system, the details of which we
need to begin working out as we go, which is not a very European thing to do,
to acknowledge that there is no clear truth around which we can build a better
It is for the people of Europe, ordinary citizens, to create a New Narrative for Europe, and about how to do this I will say more in due, course, for it is bound to the idea of sustainability, and making this concept more than just empty words, which again leads me to say that it is all about behavioural change.