The Europe conceived not so many decades ago by Jaspers and Gadamer, to name but two examples of leading philosophers, seems destined to decline. In his time, Nietzsche was already describing Europe as terminally ill – is this really the case? Is it true that Europe is the domain of nihilism? The facts show that the goal of real European unification after the Second World War has still not been fully achieved. The lack of political and economic union; the fragmentation of nations; the erosion of democracies which are increasingly dysfunctional, costly and threatened by populisms; the inability to cope with migratory flows; the actions of a complex, monolithic administration and its mixed success; and insufficient investment in science, technology and culture together represent too many factors weighing down on weakened foundations.
Europe, once home to the defence of human rights and freedom, is today in a nervous state, caused partly by a political strategy that encouraged dependence on the great powers. In economic terms this has led to creaking systems of production and a serious division between poor and rich countries. The “two-speed” Europe reveals a dangerous irregularity, poor structural functioning and a lack of political understanding. Slowness of administration; disagreement over the energy issue; different, highly divergent environmental strategies; the inefficiency of a market incapable of balancing its regions equally, among many other issues, make the reality of Europe increasingly testimony to a past that it has not managed to preserve and a present bogged down in disagreement and a failed geopolitical strategy.
The lack of a vision or plan for the future, which means lack of anticipation, has led to Europe today lagging behind the major powers in terms of technology: the USA, China and Russia, with the latter dreaming of a new Eurasia. The most surprising thing is the lack of a political reaction and the acceptance of an obsolete mechanism that does not serve to solve the pressing problems of a continent that began to irrevocably destroy itself during the world wars.
But is Europe really possible? Or can it only subsist as a satellite of the USA? Is the European Union project effective? Or to put it another way, is its approach the right one? Perhaps the strong cultural cast of most of the countries of which it is made up is an obstacle, even though this might seem contradictory. It is worth thinking about. In this light, it is nevertheless surprising that culture has been scorned as a decisive tool for cohesion. It is not idle to think that perhaps this incapacity for mutual cultural assimilation might lie behind the debate that has arisen about humanism and how it is to understand the hyper-technological era. European forums for thought often debate between technophobes and technophiles, between those in favour of preserving national culture and those who propose its fusion. Nevertheless, having underestimated Europe’s unparalleled cultural baggage – Europeans themselves seem to have forgotten it – which has even marked “a European way of being” might have influenced the distorted times in which we live. All these issues are raised in Europe’s Drift, featuring top-flight thinkers who have devoted part of their work to studying these conflicts.