Nat Gerrs at "Why Europe?" (http://www.ellopos.net/politics/eu_why-europe.html) writes that the values of the European Union are "stolen from their source" and because of this they "will be more and more corrupted in the course of time, they will become unrecognisable and then unthinkable, until Europe will collapse in the dust of hypocrisy, scheming and barbarity".
Since these values were sometime created, and not inherited, why should we have them as inherited values? For example, Greeks created democracy. OK. Why should we keep democracy as a Greek creation, and not as our value, a new creation, formed as we like it to be? Christian faith is about love, but it is not the only faith that speaks about love, and even atheists may speak about love. Why should we be Christians in order to have love in our common life in the European Union?
You can not say 'I will have a democracy *as if* no one before had a democracy', because this would be a lie and a hiding from oneself. Do you believe that there can be a real union among nations that hide their history? It is different to change yourself, and different to pretend that you have no self, so that you will be 'able' to pretend that you create a new self out of nothing. In the end, what you will have, is pretension itself.
For your second remark: we can agree that Love is one, yet religions are not approaching love in the same way. This is not the time for a treatise on this, but I think it suffices to observe the various cultures and see the differences of their approach in action. E.g.; Turkey wants to become a member of the European Union. Think about Turkey and you will know the tree from the fruits: what is the Turkish culture? The truth is, that they really don't care about Homer, nor about Plato, nor about Rilke. What the expression of our common love will be? What is it that will unite us? If it is not our poets and our philosophers - not to talk about faith now, - it will be only a common financial interest. Then our flag will have stars, but in reality we will worship the real symbol, which will be the Euro - exactly as in the melting pot of the USA the dollar tends to become the only unifying and universal value.
But if you worship your currency, then in the first difficulty, when a nation must choose between life and death, you will prefer to sacrifice anything in order to have what you worship, namely, your currency. To put it in other words: we will be slaves to money, so that democracy, freedom, culture, knowledge, all 'values' will be 'adjusted' and compromised according to our financial interests.
Thus, the question remains: do we want Europe as a political union or as a big company?
I was very glad to see this new community section in this web site and the interesting discussions that have been already going on.
I think Nat has made an excellent point by observing that there can be no real union among nations that hide their history. On the other hand, I am not sure whether the modern usage of the term "democracy" is, so to speak, "etymologically legitimate". I have the impression that what the term applies to today is not exactly the same as what it applied to in its original context. I think it differs in some fundamental ways. For example, in its original Athenian context the term implied that any member of the community of citizens could be a judge some day. The existence of such a likelihood affected the way people behaved to each other considerably. I think there are many differences of this qualitative kind.
I think you are very right about the meaning of democracy. Athenians had not a city with millions of people, but even if we all could become judges, our legal system is such, that would still need experts. To go closer to the real meaning of democracy, would be to have common values, which includes knowledge and honour of our history, to have a transfer of power from the government to the cities, to have the citizens of a city take crucial decisions about their cities, to have mayors as a body take crucial decisions about the whole country, etc. - namely to have as many people as possible to participate really and truly in as many decisions as possible concerning the whole country. Most of all, to have democracy we need discussion and knowledge.
Only the Internet, so far, gives to anyone the opportunity to say one's opinion and share what knowledge one may have to share. TV channels and newspapers need a lot of money, so that they are not only forbidden ways for most of people to have, but also easily open to corruption, since they use compromises in order to gain the money they need.
This is a great topic and needs a lot of thought - a lot of action too, and not only governmental action. Whoever writes a good book, paints a good painting, composes good music, etc., is on our side and helps our cause. We don't need some ‘democratic’ Revolution. I think that Revolution starts in our friendships, in the family, in the neighborhood, the city, etc., in order for the country level to be influenced and change. I won't say the cynical, that people have the government they deserve, but only that those who govern and their ways, are not from some other planet: they come from us. It seems then, that to change ourselves, besides our personal good, is also the most important *political* action we can have, and in any case the first one.
Under the ubiquitous schematics and slogans of what Theodor Adorno called the "Culture Industry", cultural notions about the distinctive historical and religious values of a particular place or people, become disjointed and distorted until they are eventually destroyed and annulled into the homogenised realm of pure economic fact or "necessity" as proclaimed by the legions of international experts and gadfly’s who instruct the world in how to speak this globalised jargon.
In this jargon that floats nebulously in a void castrated from the source of any authentic historical or religious value, the idea of “European Culture” is rendered nothing more than a mausoleum of stuffed artefacts and dusty texts which must be ticked off in the box, along the European travel schedule or college study plan of an American or oriental student who must “do Europe” as an indelible module in their finely proscribed education.
In any European Hotel nowadays, the signs of this counterfeit jargon are ever-present from being processed at reception “into your stay with us”, and the rest of the customer service phraseology which is uttered in the most carefully trained English, which staff are programmed to perform uniformly in order to meet the needs of every customer, who paradoxically are no longer seen as “guests” in the actual Hotel. The introduction of the class “customer” from the American leisure industry lexicon of the 1960s, has now become the defining term and emblem of the global culture industry. The old historical denotations that accorded a person a distinctive title and dignity either as the person who is a guest in Hotel or as a person who collects and purchases books from bookshops, or the person who likewise worked in a business as a particular type of person with unique skills acquired through knowledge (i.e. the tailor) is lost forever in this abstract conformism, indifference and inhumanism that emanates from every seam in the system of mass consumption. Here what remains of the language of human significance and presence give way to that atomistic jargon of the insignificant, in which the contents of all historical and cultural values are emptied until there is nothing but, the constant noise of a cold wind blowing through a hollowed out bone.
It is in such chilly winds that the economic experts and gurus, profiled on CNN for their excellent leadership skills and, their equally enthusiast political friends in the European Union who talk verbosely and hypocritically about the agenda of a culturally diverse and inclusive Europe for none other reason than to simply prevent any opaqueness and misunderstandings entering and, perhaps harming the pure economic relationships that they wish to see installed between the abstracted signs of a globalised humanity exorcised of all its culturally contaminated ghosts. Despite the publicly French protestations about the important cultural heritage, including its Christianity, of Europe with regards to the recent debate about Turkeys inclusion in the European Union, it seems clear that the EU will readily imitate the American economic and cultural model even more fully in the future. The jargon of cultural diversity that ignores the substance of what it proposed to ask, and the subsequent advertising campaign launched by the experts in Brussels is testimony to how far the dynamics of the culture industry, under the mechanism of Public relations has advanced and corroded the centre of political power in Europe.
In the standard package offered by the culture industry there is no room for the political debate nor the useless ghost that besieged Hamlet in his tireless questioning, nor for the “childish” inquisitions of the platonic dialogue, as there is for those other “foolish” divisions that torment the breast of a neurotic Faust. These are European divisions and aberrations against the natural order that the culture industry now replicates unnaturally, and more fully by presenting a false consciousness of self-satisfied superficiality and conformism to the world, by wilfully ignoring the prohibitions and customs of any cultural group or community. In such communities predicated by the magical apparatus of this objectively false consciousness, words signify nothing more than the jargon of a debased public language littered with the cliques of advertising tricks, the pseudo opinions of “serious” experts whose chatter is interspersed with the latest anodyne banality concerning the private life of a non-descript celebrity. All this “innocuous” babble which exists as a pure economic exchange value in an operation not between people but, rather between abstract principles and devices conceived from “above”, is nevertheless rapidly becoming the only real culture to many Europeans.
Likewise the banality of a jargonised political language is perfectly observable in those countries like the United States of America or Australia where the official culture is one of total administration and maximum mobilisation within the confines of a strictly economical from of discourse that reflects the shallow veneer of their cultures. The U.S presidential “debates” are a from of this preordained inertia in which words that mean something radically different in a European cultural context, become incompressible jargonised slogans that wash about the speakers mouths like dead stones, yet most Americans believe not necessarily the president but rather all those push button words of the culture industry that he so readily uses.
Like the mythological tale about the Devils greatest power that derives proportionally from peoples actual disbelieve in his existence, so it is with the culture industry which remains the invisible and official handmaiden that presides over the new world order of unlimited mass consumption. The culture industry says everything and nothing simultaneously, for like the fraudster whose universe resolves around the sounds of other peoples or nations values and organic creations, the culture industry operates in the void of an ephemeral functionalism that can only be applied and, “made serviceable” to the meticulously tuned and surveyed requirements and tastes of the idealised consumer who resides in the culturally purged landscape of pure economic operations. The old cultural heritage of Europe whose spiritual essence is knotted to the crooked tree of contradictions, useless or idle speculation and abstraction in the sense of making both the journey inwardly into those untouched sanctuaries given form in a Plato or Beethoven and outwardly towards the act of imaging and detailing the given world as a place radically other like the vision of a Leonardo Da Vinci may one day soon become irrelvant to most Europeans.
Presently mass consumption as administered through the distorted lens of the culture industry still plays with the images of these European creations, but not the content of this historically ordered matrix of heterogeneous materials that remains resistant to cultural, political, and economic corruption from “above”, so long as there are still Europeans with the necessary patience and eyes to see Europe for what it is, then there still remains hope.
Yet, we don't need hope, when we have certainty. I think that we fight a war we can't lose, because our interest is not ‘all Europeans’, the future of ‘Europe’ or of the ‘World’, or any other Utopia, but precisely those who have or will have eyes, because what is the rest? – a million or five billions, you can not count the nothing, and it doesn't matter how many will have eyes, because you can not count the one either.