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Philippe Herzog Confrontations Europe
France in need of reforms, Europe in mid-ford… Philippe Herzog provides a vivid picture of the “political shortcomings” characterising our times. Expressing convictions that defy the established political order, he invites us to travel and suggests we should “journey more often”: into our history to rediscover our values and revitalise them; around Europe and throughout the world to become open to others and to understand the people with whom we are forging our future. Philippe Herzog is rekindling the European perspective as a utopia that calls for new ethics, new forms of political action and innovative projects. This essay is both an appeal and an outstanding contribution to the public debate on revitalising Europe.
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We must ensure that a deeply revitalised civil society emerges into the political arena. Companies that have gained a wealth of global experience and information must become pro-active players jointly responsible for public interests. Trade unions must participate in management rather than simply making demands. Associations are questioning themselves and must, in turn, be questioned themselves about their role in politics. Territories – formerly simply life areas – must become joint players that initiate projects within the globalisation context. We therefore wish to reverse the standard political rationale: States must delegate some of their powers to the citizens and to these players. The European Union is providing a new framework, a new political arena, and it must constitute itself into a Community that fosters emulation and cooperation. It has begun to, but its progress is inhibited by the strong temptation to simply focus inward on domestic considerations and to remain socially conservative. Can we take action together without desiring to share a culture and shaping a European identity for the future? I don't think so. Each domestic culture is disturbed by the impact of “otherness.” For it to be understood as a positive resource, the nation must change. The most unusual aspect of the approach suggested here is undoubtedly calling on each individual's inner resources to gradually adopt ethics of responsibility that embrace the concept of otherness. At a time when our societies are unfamiliar with European culture or stigmatise it, we are suggesting that individuals should delve into their heritage to rejuvenate their values and establish a much more open identity for Europe. This identity must reflect today's hopes and desires. In the company of German friends during the constitutional debates, we evoked the “last revolutionary utopia” – a peaceful, open utopia whose path is not predetermined. After World War II, a utopia was created: a Community founded to establish permanent peace among Europeans. We must go further than that today because the questions of security and well-being are being posed on a global scale. The world is developing rapidly but the risks of conflicts and violence still exist, and even more up ahead. How can we share development, ensure its sustainability, and regenerate the environment? What transformations in the States and in capitalism are necessary? How can we imagine and institute solidarity and fairness as we work to establish an alliance of civilisations? Our utopia today is a plurinational society of Europeans that is exemplary as it looks forward to the prospect of a global society. Confidence will return thanks to an action plan that conveys constructive and altruistic desires and promises.
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