The Thief's Journal

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I tolerate this century, but I don't enjoy it.

All of the ephemera that is far too trivial to be bothered with elsewhere on this site or, depending on your point of view, a meta-commentary on it. This ephemera includes, but is not limited to art, music and literature. Most of the content here will be discussed in terms that are as abstract as possible, reality being a singularly overrated concept.

Via Junius, Umberto Eco, Jurgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida have called for something that would seem to resemble a pan-European enlightenment;

"Habermas said that the European demonstrations against a war in Iraq would go down in history as a “signal for the birth of a European public.” … Habermas identified five attributes he said Europeans share: the neutrality of authority, embodied in the separation of church and state, trust in politics rather than the capitalist market, an ethos of solidarity in the fight for social justice, high esteem for international law and the rights of the individual and support for the organizational and leading role of the state. "

(full text here)

Which is all very well, but it can hardly be regarded as Pan-European. For example, Poland, Ireland and the the UK lack any separation of church and state (though as a concept I happen to have the same opinion of it as Habermas), while I think it is at best unclear to what extent European states remain social markets and are reluctantly becoming free markets. In particular, the Rousseauist idea of the state as an expression of the popular will (rather than a contending force between differing interests) is a difficult one, if only because it doesn’t seem entirely congruent with the rights of the individual. The proscription of speech deemed offensive is a clear example of this, and another area where UK traditions are very different from European ones. I suspect my main reaction is one of disappointment; I am sympathetic to the idea of post national government and am inclined to feel that Europeans increasingly need to define their identity in ideological terms rather than ethnic ones (as In United States). However, Habermas seems to have put the philosophical cart before the horse, by choosing to hypothesise a set of Pan-European values on the basis of those common in France and Germany. As Junius observed, the examples of Scotland and Louisiana suggest that a more legitimate approach would be based on pluralism.