Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

What Europe needs by Hatto Fischer (2003)

What Europe needs is a cultural dimension

When the Polish poet Ernst Bryll started to speak at the EU CIED conference in Leipzig, June 1999 about Charles the Great, he emphasized that this ruler had come to the conclusion, that the unification of Europe needs a cultural foundation. He awarded the contract for the founding of such an institution to a Polish man. That man set out on a journey throughout Europe, in order to ask the others about their opinions. He did not travel empty handed, for he carried in his arms a big, black cat.

The picture is wonderful. Here is used a cat as metaphor for a special accompaniment of a Polish fellow who left his home country to grasp the cultural dimension of Europe. Why? Alone through its presence at the level of the senses the cat is capable of underlining the importance of a special cultural perception of Europe. That is important to notice because it contains a dimension of commitment to the importance of the ‘senses’ as counterweight to all abstract concepts.

But such cultural elements of commitment appear to have been lost in modern Europe. Instead of being vibrant in terms of the dialectic between senses and reality stirring the imagination, something Cornelius Castoriadis talked about when assessing the life inside of institutions compared to what people project upon buildings like the European Parliament in both Brussels and Strasbourg, there is fore mostly talk about a Europe having no other meaning except for the bureaucracy in Brussels. Such image is repeatedly tainted in the press. Any failure to mediate, for example, in the Middle East, is commented immediately as proof that Europe does not count in the world. Even worse and in contradiction to that, at national and regional-local level, it appears as if no voice counts when speaking out on behalf of the whole of Europe. Only specific, local or national needs are recognized but not those of Europe: a reproduction of Euro-centricity but in various forms of Egotisms.

Even the introduction of the EURO since January 2002 has merely confirmed the self-understood: Europe is a formalised organised administrative approach to political questions, but with not much substance to go with it. There is something lacking. Next to the question about what is the will of Europe, there goes largely unnoticed and therefore unanswered the more subtle one: but what is the need of Europe?

Progress of reform and media coverage

The process of reform linked to Enlargement seems to have gotten stuck, while the member states are eager to upstage the Commission and with it the president Prodi, when it comes to making appearances in public. This was especially the case during the Belgium EU Presidency, but also is noticeable when national leaders such as Blair, Chirac or Schroeder undertake their own initiatives. For example, all threewent separately to New York to show solidarity with America after the 11th of September event, but not Prodi nor anyone in the name of Europe.

Like everyone else, the national politicians follow the usual media logic, especially if they face elections. They are dependent upon what has impact or rather what sells easily as news. The options of publicity are few and too many are still too far away from any real potentiality of Europe. The coverage of what is going on in Europe is limited to occasional articles. Thus the valuable learning process in response to what Europe needs is not reported. Instead European politics is repeatedly presented as the nitty and grinding process of deliberations about some obscure regulation. Naturally details or small technicalities such as the length of the banana does not interest anyone else than those importers or exporters directly involved and affected by EU regulations. This is why the EU is totally unprepared when having to face now the press with larger issues, issues that cannot be resolved any longer internally, but requires taking stock. Fore mostly that means seeking and listening to public opinion in order to be in a better position of knowing in which direction the people want Europe to develop in.

But while some efforts are made in that direction, such as all NGO’s being called to express their opinions at the Citizens’ Forum held December 2001 in Brussels, there are still unanswered the questions of legitimacy and how to be convincing. Europe can only be convincing if honest with itself and if that substance comes across: from the European public to the policy makers and vice versa through the press but not only from the policy makers to the people. If it is really seriously meant that all get involved in European matters, then shape has to be given to various coalitions of responsibilities and not only to powerful groups of interests, before there would be something like active European citizenship the baseline from which to start and end up with things going on in Europe.

One difficulty is encountered when a process of deliberation requires informing the public but the receptivity of information depending upon participation in the decision making process. Another one is encountered by any Parliamentary democracy; the logic of dissemination of information is not the same as the logic that rules the press. What counts in democracy is accountability and reliability, in the press what sells as news. Thirdly, the articulation of what Europe needs is not the same as making only one’s own interest be felt. There follows a fourth difficulty for too many actors define success as a combination of political and economic advantages to be gained merely by having one’s way regardless the needs of others. Altogether this has reduced politics to the lowest common denominator without outlook for any change in what everyone shall be able to agree upon in future.

There is not so much reason and institutional obstacles standing in the way of further clarification, but confusion about what is due to conflict, cultural differences and just plain misunderstanding. Political discourses should take care to clarify that at all times and not fall victim to the usual measures of success. Authentic cultures are created only after having learned out of failures and become innovative out of a need to be just and creative.

That is definitely not the case in the world designed by film and dominated by the media. After all what counts in this world is success with the public as portrayed and documented by the press. Someone like Berlusconi knows very well about such power mechanisms. As Umberto Ecco remarked in his criticism of such state of affairs, Berlusconi is helped by the silence of the traditionally politically minded people while the greater public has gotten so used to what is being served by the media, that they do not like to hear the truth, but rather wish for the ‘spectacle’ to continue. Life as an endless entertainment leads to vanity and hubris, while the punitive chords struck by the news is only possible by mistaking that news has to be sensational, in order to be considered as news.

Someone capable of breaking with his story or rather symbolic act literally into the news room to break-up all previous images of reality has grasped the power of the media: its capability to absorb energies unloaded in reality by but few images (Baudrillard), in order to shape the next set of actions. These images need not much more. They are usually framed by such accompanying words that can soothe the nerves, as if to say despite all of that, everything is under control. CNN demonstrated that ability of the media especially during the aftermaths of 11th of September.

In brief, what Europe needs is another way of approaching the logic of the media while making the political process become more authentic in substance. The many overt attempts to cover up this lack of democratic quality has lead to the repetition of endless symbolic acts terminating in key or buzz words being used over and again until they mean everything and nothing at all. Such terms as ‘network of excellence’ to outline a prerequisite for research in the Fifth Framework have a long and short history behind them. Such terms exclude already many potential researchers in such call for proposals without necessarily needing to say that explicitly; it is rather the implicit that spells out the arrogance of power in its obscure form and means in reality the need to avoid accountability.

The evolving European Commission

Usually in this grabbing the media’s attention, the Commission ends up getting the blame for things that do not work. Or the images the Commission portrays to the outside world appears to be of such make-up that they can neither absorb the various kinds of oppositions to the European Union nor claim convincingly success according to some truly European measure.

The effective public media campaign of the member states at the expense of the Commission is, therefore, to be regarded as deterioration in this relationship between Member States and Commission. That is, after the departure of Delors and the débâcle of Santer, the Commission under Prodi had a much harder time to find its own independent political weight. Many experts fear that the Commission is loosing more and more influence, and with it the power to undertake any initiatives on its own. The promised reform of the Commission as initiated by Kinnock seems to reinforce this negative trend with many capable individuals being ousted or sidelined, while internal reshuffling is going on. Things take time and their toll.

While Prodi seems to ensure that the Commission is composed at the very top of engaged Commissioners with their own high profile e.g. Monti on Trade Matters, overall they remain within a very limited profile that reflects two tendencies: to become much more a strictly administrative body capable of fulfilling tasks as given to the Commission by the Council and approved or modified by Parliament, while Prodi tries to reach out to a kind of intellectual think-tank dealing with ethical values bordering even on new religious values, in order to gain some substantial arguments. Whether or not he shall succeed, it is too early to tell, but such activities reflect a concept of governance that may take the Commission outside its usual sphere of activities and this at the neglect of practical administrative reform needs. Consequently many of the problems confronted on a daily basis are left unresolved.

Gone is the Idealism of the Delors followers, and by the signs of many Commissions also the innovative capacities of many experts who had worked and engaged themselves endlessly for the Commission and who had helped to develop tremendously successful programmes by taking the initiative themselves. Rather there is fear of being admonished for doing something innovative. The positive attitudes have been replaced consequently by a strategy of a structured wish to avoid extra work and unnecessary exposures. Less, not more experts take nowadays the initiative to introduce something novel.

As a result the Commission has become conservative in what it takes on board. Its management methods rely too much on what is called out-sourcing the many activities needed to be done or especially now under Kinnock the tendency has to been reinforced to simply put assigned tasks, programmes and projects on a list of negative priorities, that is on hold. Here the Commission does not say ‘no’ (because it has not the authority to refuse in crucial points the joint requests of the Council and of Parliament) to projects that need to be implemented, but they are put on hold. The Commission claims in these cases that it cannot implement them for the moment due to a lack of resources.

Indeed almost all European Programmes are being implemented by but a very small team incapable of doing a thorough monitoring and evaluation as would be required to ensure that not only real results, but also outcomes of high quality or excellence are secured. For demanding programmes, e.g. in the Information Society, the Commission cannot even create the necessary infrastructure for accompanying the projects progress in work. Hence the Commission cannot even reap the benefits of these projects. It means that the Commission looses in the degree of sophistication as superficiality begins to reign. Simplification is attempted everywhere, which would be good if things could be made really simple, but if only a reduction in managerial work and no answer to the elaborate need alone in communication between partners, then the overall approach to things makes no longer sense.

In particular, the reduction of projects to something ‘manageable’ contributes instead to loss in perception as to where the real problems are. In reality, it leads to a contradictory development for co-financing of manageable projects are upgraded to the level of ‘critical mass’, meaning huge amounts of resources are deployed to really move things. Consequently these European funded measures spill over into the European landscape in the form of ever greater and bigger mega-projects with their impacts no longer measurable since entities of their own and thus simply beyond any need of accountability. On the other hand, and out of the need to satisfy the political will of Parliament, some programs like CONNECT are used in the form of tokenism by spreading the money so thin, that many projects can be financed, but whose resources are no longer competitive with the budgets available to local project managers for other projects. As a result these small European projects end up at the lowest priority level and are just dealt with whenever there is some free time.

The reduction in managerial competence makes also no sense since all European projects need to come to terms with such a high degree of complexity. This is the case the moment a co-financed project is not only a matter of international co-operation but if to be successful and achieve something, has to confront and challenge ‘bad practices’ before advancing at all in any positive way. Besides problems of honesty in both theory and practice, such changes and reforms of administrative practices in the Member States are not easy nor self-understood especially if previous practices are upheld if not by dominant (cultural) values, then cemented by social habits.

In an attempt by the Commission to be still somehow ‘symbolically’ in control, overt actions meant to bring about international co-operation are taken to be already successful when in fact it is nothing more than bringing together people once again somewhere for a weekend in some hotel. Also due to extrapolating the managerial form what the Commission itself can do under these circumstances upon European projects means loss in possibilities of managing and co-ordinating European activities at quite another degree of complexity. Consequently the Commission is less and less willing to confront and to deal with the reality European projects find themselves. In order to advance they would need definite support from the Commission to overcome ‘bad practices’, in order to attain such quality of work as it satisfies standards of a ‘culture of excellence’.

European Commission, European Parliament and Council as Representation of Member States with Committee of Regions as body of consultation for the regions

But to admit Europe needs some extra quality, including a philosophical and practical reflection gained from practical experiences of co-operation, while advancing methodologically speaking, that is still not possible when the Commission reports to Parliament. Rather everyone seems to prefer symbolic actions while silencing any discussion about real, but still unresolved issues. Indeed the Commission is being hard pressed by the Council to take notice of only such needs that lead to the kind of actions, that put Member States into a superior position vis a vis the Commission, so that they can sell through the media back home the same old message over and again, namely that all is well with Europe because they get the most out of Europe.

Only rarely there is heard a contradiction to such political nonsense, such as when Commissioner Schreyer refuted the thesis of Schroeder that Germany is a net payer. She tried to admonish the statements made by the chancellor insofar as Schroeder failed to mention all the benefits flowing from Europe back to Germany, in particular through the Structural Fund to the former East German part. One could add that there are also other beneficiaries such as the Max Planck Institute, or even VW and other major industrial or scientific enterprises. It seems as if all of them obtain EU funds without having to substantiate what this has to do with fulfilling not the German, but the European dimension.

The contradiction between striving for a European society based on knowledge and a central administration subject not only to all kinds of political pressures, those of the lobby groups included, but to direct political influence leading to still further loss of independence of the Commission, that could not be greater. Knowledge is not propaganda, but knowing what goes on in reality. That requires indicators and such a monitoring methodology that does not bow to political pressure just in order to avoid unnecessary and even embarrassing exposures. Yet all indicators are watered down until in the final end they confirm to what can be reported safely by the media without upsetting too much the course of the government.

Thus the problem of the Commission is its lack of independence from those bodies trying not only to influence and to shape its work programme, but also to take up the good news while leaving the bad one to the Commission to get rid off somehow. In the end the Europe sceptics shall join the chorus of bashing once again the Commission for what it failed to do. While criticism is needed, and after all Parliament is there to ensure accountability at all times, the Commission should not be silenced by any political authority if there is a need to speak up. What holds for the quality of knowledge to be attained in European projects, namely by a fruitful working together of independent experts and political authorities, that should be equally so the case at European level.

There are efforts made by the Commission in that direction, but the true loss of independence means facing hard pressed times without the means to retain the high level of innovativeness that had marked earlier years of the Commission. Then, and especially under Delors, the Commission was beginning to practice novel forms of ‘cultural adaptation’. This is being still continued where implementing European programs substantiates itself through a learning process on how to face issues together.

Most likely the ready abuse of such open climate that the Commission offers has lead to the usual bags of tricks used by many actors who come into contact with the Commission. Unfortunately there are too many interested merely in taking advantage of EU co-funding as meaning not to take all too serious own contributions, and who cares about results, for those in Brussels never have the time to read anything of substance or of interest to the local population. That then has not helped promote Europe, but on the contrary spread more widely cynicism across the entire continent as if the only philosophical answer left, namely resignation.

Adaptation and Sustainability – Articulation of Europe’s culture

Only now, with the Convention under way, does Prodi try to counter this tendency by speaking out especially when Europe needs to articulate its views with regards to such grave issues as the Middle East conflict. This can also be seen in him supporting the ‘intercultural dialogue’, but which is only a first attempt to unify different strands while trying to get out of the typical unilateral types of responses to world issues as exemplified by America and its ‘nation state building project’ attitude towards foreign matters.

The difference between Europe and America has not been understood as of yet. America can understand only reality as it understands itself, therefore within a given tautology always only as a nation state. Europe is about another kind of governance and way of bringing about mutual recognition. The latter is based on respect for the cultures of the others. It presupposes that such a ‘cultural consensus’ exists throughout Europe, that coming together has to be made possible by all agreeing that it is possible to disagree. If so, then that makes it necessary to refine the concept before being implemented. This is done in order to avoid anything being imposed upon any Member State or party and entails, therefore, the freedom of Europe.

Cultural Diversity and the languages of European Identity

Still, despite efforts undertaken by the Commission to advance in the reform process, without proper use of language appealing to and carried by the senses, this will, however, not go far. Europe, so it seems, remains still captive in the same old picture dispute: how concrete should be made the envisioned Europe and how abstract shall remain the overriding governing principles? The introduction of the Euro as a single currency is no answer to that dilemma. Instead practical decisions are needed to realign representation of interests existing in European societies with what are real demands for constituting a true European identity.

For instance, national representation, whether at national, regional or local level does nothing in terms of ‘cultural diversity’, but instead reinforces mono-cultural thinking. In reality, there are larger proportions of cultural groups that are not French, German, English, Scottish, Welsh, but have one Turkish father, a German mother and who have grown up in England.

True representation of the European identity is, therefore, not merely about political accountability to a constituency that allows local residents to stay in contact with their elected representative, but about how to stay just to the reality all live in. Every elected Member to Parliament should and ought to keep European interests in mind and not merely the place of origin where he or she comes from.

As James Clifford in ‘Predicament of Culture’ would say about someone like the Polish writer Josef Conrad working first in Africa together with a French woman but then ending up marrying a British one and writing in that language, cultural identity is at the very least composed of the ‘language of origin’, ‘the language of desire’ and ‘the language of social norms’. By evolving and developing through all three layers, something like a first notion of European citizenship in need of being represented would become visible.

Once accepted as the languages of the common European identity, it would require of every citizen to speak at least three languages, so as to fulfil the practical notion of growing up in Europe. Reference systems would alter and the notion of being at home could not be reduced to being at home just in Italy or Baveria or England. Political representation is only good as it is just to the reality everyone lives in and experiences.

Equally the Commission would have to move away from the single notion of origin as a cultural claim for one product e.g. Greek Feta cheese, when instead opening up to interactions Feta can be produced equally elsewhere. To link, however, cultural identity with specific market privileges, that would mean giving way to particular vested interests in contradiction to a European openness for future developments.

Cultural Adaptation to the imagined and lived reality of Europe

Constitutionally it means articulating the sense of justice in relation to reality as a sign of being alive and free within and because of various cultural complexities make up Europe. Differences would be explicit in terms of different philosophical and political outlooks and, therefore, in need of being discussed way beyond what is happening ‘here and now’. For life to be understood is about realizing that open questions can never be answered, but must be fully lived in reality lived. The answers attained are then at best a reformulation of these open questions.

That means the governing sense for Europe is an imagined one that can never be taken as an absolute one. There is no absolute truth; that is why Europe has undergone such a change also with regards to ‘universal truths’. Instead Europe has come to recognise the need for practical truths: simple and honest by human nature. They are to be derived out of lived through experiences, or ‘le vecu’, as Sartre called it.

To realise such practical truths, it takes the imagination to fill the gaps, culturally speaking, and requires such political freedom that can safeguard this ‘creative imagination linked to the European identity’. If guaranteed by the Constitution, and related to in practical forms by the Commission and a reformed Parliament, then it will give everyone the chance to find answers for him- or herself rather than having to follow some doctrine or religious canon. It would counter also effectively some misconstrued myths about the history of Europe. There is a need to overcome many misleading types of legitimacies claimed by present forms of governing things e.g. a non elected city manager replacing real accountabilities through elections and thereby managing city affairs as if a company. Such misconstructions of local authorities is derived from the past as well as from technocratic orientations linked to a criterion like ‘efficiency’. Quite another governing synthesis is needed if the different levels of reflections are to relate to reality in a practical manner, politically speaking. Europe’s strength has been always the dialogue with an imagination as an open-ended process touched by the senses and experiences made on the way.

Thus to come back to the reform process, including the ‘intercultural dialogue’, what Europe needs and what the Commission ought to be doing, is to further through programmes and projects in all Member states such ‘cultural adaptations’ to an ‘enlarged unity’, that in end Europe does make ‘sense’ to everyone.

Consequently the ‘cultural dimension’ of the Convention must relate to such diverse experiences in the ‘cultural adaptation’ process as to allow the shaping of the future constitution of Europe out of practice, but philosophically and politically reflected upon prior to being formulated as a written text. The verbal level of communication should not be forgotten in the process, as is the case of the British constitution. ‘Cultural adaptation’ to these different experiences and at the same time to the need of an enlarged Europe is most urgently needed, so as to make the Constitution itself become the Logos of all things. Only then can it be assumed that innovative actions for Europe shall continue to upgrade everyone’s experiences and allow for such consistency, that ‘cultural sustainability’ of Europe’s development as a whole and in its parts means no longer a contradiction between cultural aspirations and economic necessities, but a resolvable practical solution for everyone.

Who is next on the European Stage: Over-alienation and the ride on the Carousel

Given the condition in which Europe finds itself in at the moment, it is not at all self-understood which politically evoked picture about Europe is the real one. The usual one begins with ‘those in Brussels’. It is extended in the UK, by other anti-Europe vocalists, when they shout ‘that superstate no one wants’. When doing so, they evoke not pictures or images, but rather ‘nightmares’. Funny or tragically enough, they cannot communicate themselves what they need and therefore want from the others, because that would mean entering an inter-cultural dialog. Rather they prefer like everyone else to project their complaints but also own deeds onto the European screen put on display in the European Parliament. Unfortunately when that is the case, there is usually no other audience around but the one composed of own followers. The others don’t listen, for they too are busy in presenting themselves either somewhere else or at another time.

Such events leave always the European stage at best empty. However, as a sort of local flavour, there is always added in Brussels a touch of Belgium Surrealism with emphasis upon the unquestionable and unmovable and unthinkable, all while the stark nakedness of the greed for money stalks in the background. In reality, it means facts and fictions are in need of being constantly juxtaposed because no one in such a structure is anything worth, except if he or she can provide further information on how to get more money. Washington and Brussels are in that sense very similar.

The danger to loose oneself in such an over alienated environment eliminating any human senses is a given. Usually the mind goes blank after having been over flooded by all kinds of information and still it ends up with some useless experience, that is with no relevance to further going reflections.

If not careful, then the carousel of people rotating in jobs between national and European level shall continue. Why carousel is used as metaphor, that can be best reflected on hand of a story narrated by the Italian painter Ferruccio Marchetti. Since it can happen to anyone going to Brussels, it is worthwhile to repeat it here: ‘some people after work decided to go together to eat and once that was over, everyone wished to have some more fun. So they decided to go for a ride on a carousel, including its owner. Unfortunately only once everyone was on the swings and the thing started to rotate ever faster, did they remember that they forgot to leave someone standing on the ground ready to switch off the machine when everyone had enough of the ride. They ended up going round and round but without any merriness any more in terms of either spirit or body. There was no longer a happy tune on their lips and they had gone numb in their minds.

If this over-alienation of Europe is not overcome, and it goes only by having an authentic culture in place so as to prevent the economy driving out all life (Michael D. Higgins), then no dialog with reality will be possible.

Euro-language is not the Language of the Poets

But to be fair and just, it has to be said that quite to the contrary of the usual pictures evoked, the Commission is far more accessible and much more transparent than most of the national bureaucracies, whether now in Italy, Greece, Germany, Belgium or UK. Only there is a need to know that coming and staying in contact with the Commission requires a dialogue that many feel unable to practice, since it has to be carried out in the Euro-language. The latter is a mixture of specialist terminologies, insider codes and references. In practical terms it means really the need to take still other factors into consideration before knowing when, if at all, some conclusions or decisions can be reached.

In short, this demanded dialogue with the Commission is not one of the people. It also did not result out of a constant ‘cultural adaptation’ to the institutions being created in the process. Instead the European Commission and also the European Parliament, Council and Committee of Regions have bred a language of their own. It complements that bureaucratic void where no children, elderly people, immigrants, gypsies, farmers, artists exist. Thus a language has come into use whose origin is completely unknown and, therefore, it is a language without a vision but also of no desire to fulfil the norms it has set for itself. As such this Euro-language fails to convey any practical wisdom and, therefore, makes no sense to ordinary people when trying to make use of such a language.

Indeed, the language spoken within European institutions has not been formed by poets e.g. the Russian language and Pushkin, and although some voices have intervened in that direction, it cannot be compared to the murmuring of people’s voices like a stream playing with the pebbles while rushing towards the open sea.

Subsequently the cultural dimension needed by a Convention preparing the future constitution of Europe makes only then sense, if not identified with just any conventional political approach to the question of Europe. For politics, media logic and ideologies blend too easily into a network of justifiable actions. As a matter of fact the ability to bend almost any media language into a mere array of justifications is not the kind of ‘cultural adaptation’ model Europe needs to be looking for, when going for a substantial linkage of Integration with Enlargement.

Rather such a language of the senses and of practical wisdom is needed, that the future constitution of Europe cannot to be misused to justify things as they have always been, namely to use the discrepancy between theory and practice to justify a negation of the original value premises and then take flight not to the woods, but to the next pragmatic options made available on a day upon day basis.

Only if Europe gives strength and recognition to such human language that appeals to the senses as expression of the immediacy of reason, in order to further open mindedness to doubt and integrity of the human being, then the constitution formulated in such a language shall be able to uphold for generations to come but one simple truth:


the wisdom of living together in peace

is the question to the answer

as to what needs to be recognised

so that people can

live, work and create

together in peace.


The practical truth of active citizenship

Peace gained through active citizenship is not the same as some fake or real (but then in being unjust to the other side) guarantee of security by military means. While the former solution has future perspectives, the militarisation of society is but a waste of resources. Given the time horizon of Europe, and what experiences it had gone through, including the First and Second World War, the Funeral Speech of Pericles ought to be remembered. He said then as it applies still now, that Athens shall not be defended by standing armies, but through its openness based on active citizenship.

Hence Europe needs to guarantee its independence by not leaving out the ‘practical truth of active citizenship’ as basis for its constitution. Such a constitution must entail value premises, basic canons, principal laws and critical measures for purpose of evaluation when it comes to uphold this main principle of ‘active citizenship’.

James Boggs, when evaluating the American Constitution, pointed out that the critical aspect was not so much the text itself. That was quite revolutionary in those times, and still is, especially with regards to the need to preserve the human dignity of everyone by treating everyone as equal. The real tragedy came with an incomplete implementation, or rather the pragmatic solution meant accepting the double standards of the Southern States who had everyone counted, when it came to allocating seats in Congress, but not everyone had the same right to vote and to participate in the political process. Such inequality in practice, and testified by the holding of slaves, in particular the Black People, meant discriminatory practices were upheld despite a constitution based on equal rights and the dignity of every human being.

Europe needs to anticipate future contradictions between theory and action, words and practice, so as to strengthen in all one and the same conviction what would be the best constitution for all ‘citizens’. It cannot be stressed that the language spoken will already be a measure of what is allowed to unfold, what not.

There must be avoided, for example, this contradiction in the German constitution departing from an ideological claim as if the people are sovereign, when in fact ‘die Gewalt vom Volke ausgeht’ – ‘the violence comes from the people’. The contradiction means while the state and specifically the government of such people derives its sovereignty from the people in order to have the power to pass laws, the fact that ‘violence’ is in play, means that the government has a need to disarm or if not possible to protect itself against its own people for being violent. Their freedom is put immediately into doubt the moment the government is legitimised to use power and can prove at any given moment that the people are dangerous. Not trust and non-violence is, therefore, the value premise of the German constitution, but distrust and institutional hostility against the people who supposed to be the sovereign, but are not fully recognised citizens since violent by history, if not by nature, the government acts and decides not only in their name, but decides like parents for their children what is good for the people so that they feel secure. Crucial is, therefore, that everyone accepts that the state has the monopoly of all violence – ‘Gewalt’: a most ambiguous term.

By the way, such constitutional contradiction prevents furthermore any other laws from being passed than for strictly business interests (Kant) and, therefore, leaves public interest undefined with tragic consequences as developments in Germany, economically and militarily, have shown both before and after Second World War. As Shonfield’s analysis shows, the danger is when one company attains such a monopoly that it can force the government to accept only its own economic structure and nothing else. There will be then no other articulation of interests possible. Politics will not be independent of any economic force. Indeed, the constitution does not even foresee any independent declaration of interest by the public. Also there is nothing included as provision by which it can be prevented that one-sided interest groups gain power over the whole state.

Of interest, but hardly noticed, is by contrast one positive element in the German constitution, namely the right of everyone ‘to unfold his or her creative personality’ – a perquisite of active citizenship and one of the key questions of what kind of cultural dimension one would have to refer to, if people are to remain active and creative in their daily lives? With some further elaborations, this premise of the right to unfold one’s own personality, can be extended to fulfil the precondition of the ‘human language’ being used in society. Any constitution should ensure that all institutions safeguard such a language. It should not be affected, distorted or even destroyed by hatred, incitement to violence and finally not be abused as mere complementary base to a military - slave language upheld within artificial hierarchies. Hierarchies of the military kind are there to see that orders are obeyed, while the ‘self consciousness’ of a free citizen is only given when in language the other as human being is recognisable. Clearly that would put constraints on political speech so as to prevent incitement of Violence, Racialism, Anti-Semitism or in general Xenophobic forces. The problem how to counter speeches that violate free speech e.g. by irresponsible political demagogues is a cultural, institutional and legal one. In some cases free elections with true alternatives will show that the general public will not compromise democratic principles even in hard pressed economic times, but still there is no sure solution, given the ‘Failure of Enlightenment’ (Adorno and Horkheimer) in Europe and with it the many unresolved moral issues.

The issue of morality or values

Values, or rather value premises must apply equally to all actions undertaken compared to those not although part of the obligation as set forth by the constitution and, therefore, what a government has to undertake in accordance with such a constitution. These value premises being difficult to discuss, for they are usually set and if altered, bring about conflicts, even wars (Cornelius Castoriadis), they have to be approached from the angle of commitment as evaluated by people and their given sense perceptions e.g. when it is a matter of creating full employment or avoiding harm being done to people not only by war, but also by all kinds of poverty.

Only by declaring a constitution that is based on meaningful value principles, the respect as to what has become practical wisdoms and therefore the cultures of Europe can be conveyed. It will signal a liveable and sustainable European culture can guarantee that all European institutions shall be filled with the tensions that life in authenticity entails. In acknowledging that there is a difference, indifference will not prevail and the economy shall be counter-balanced by the cultural articulation.

To recall the downfall of the French Revolution started despite its emphasis upon all being ‘citoyon’, that is citizens of the world, when taking this back to mean but a national subject. However, it was not only the morality of Robespiere, that is the law for the sake of the purity of the law, that denied the ‘morality of the senses’ of becoming the premise of all human rights. Instead, as pointed out by Jean Pierre Faye, once the commune in Paris introduced a ‘health police’, then reactionary forces had a field day in practice. Anyone considered to be a threat to the people’s health could be arrested, even eliminated.

By analogy, there is given today the danger that a similar justification system shall replace the real constitution and manifest the failure to uphold human rights. This negative development can be seen in particular in the United States, but not only there in the wake of an all out war against terrorism. It has lead already to the assassination of people without having stood trial; apparently the only proof needed was being identified as ‘terrorists’ by secret agencies, that is organizations not subject to any direct public accountability. Other, more hidden infringements upon human rights are in the making due to all kinds of surveillance methods, including tapping into computers and private telephone calls, with no one knowing not only how to control the information gathered about oneself, but what kind of profile of oneself is being created as a result of all this data collection. The legal implications of the Information Society go much further than what meets the eye and breaks in reality with any ‘common sense’ policy.

In view of such developments, there should be evoked again the ‘certainty of the senses’ (Sinnliche Gewissheit). What is being done currently to Europe is not a result of the sense for unification and integration, but due to a process beyond any sense of comprehension. The reform of Europe has only meaning if kept ‘open ended’, that is away from any drive towards a ‘final solution’ (Joschka Fischer). The path of integration and enlargement must be allowed to unfold like any articulated artwork. The European Constitution should make provisions for further going interpretations of the original text in order to attain in future a still better text. Institutions would not become reactionary and the agreed upon principles of governing Europe could stand as outcome of a discursive practice based on exchange of experiences and learning from one another in recognition of basic needs, human rights, civic duties and principal accountabilities of all institutions, organizations and companies with political bodies such as parties, trade unions, NGO’s obliged to adhere to the principles of Civic Society.

Cultural diversity, to take but one example, as a term has hardly lead in practice to a recognition of basic needs; instead it has become a principle for side-lining any need of appreciating what the other(s) is (are) doing to sustain life in Europe and in the world. As a matter of fact ‘cultural diversity’ can be used to exclude others and then be applied too easily to justify all sorts of non-commitments to the whole. At the same time, the term has furthered the danger of cultural forces from becoming dictatorial at the practical level of application e.g. one culture – one language in Catalonia or in the Basque region. That can lead even to a violent assertion of such single folded cultural identities and, thereby, violate equal rights for everyone in terms of both getting a job and achieving mobility throughout Europe.

Cultural Consensus as prime value

Another form of contradiction is the move away from the cultural consensus at the highest level of decision-making and towards simple majority voting procedures, so as to prevent decisions from being blocked or obstructed by but one or two Member States. Yet if there is no ready agreement conceivable on a certain set of values, precisely because there are so many valuable cultural differences making up the whole of Europe, then ‘cultural consensus’ as binding power is needed to link institutional procedures with the possible decisions everyone can agree upon. The latter process would be an expression of a ‘coalition of responsibility’, if based on such a ‘cultural consensus’ that would allow respect of diversity while unifying all of Europe with lest number of institutional rules e.g. European elections to be held every six years.

If this need to strengthen cultural diversity by cultural consensus is not respected, then the process of unification, integration and enlargement will end up in cultural relativity and thereby weaken, not strengthen any binding powers Europe may develop over time.

In many speeches about Europe, there can be noticed a general loss of reality. In particular due to the reversal back from the European level to the national state one, the Commission has to face the risk of further losses of competencies. To many who had been initially engaged for Europe are hardly interested anymore. This withdrawal of active support goes hand in hand with deliberate efforts by the Commission to discourage from too many applications being filed for ‘calls of proposals’: a negative strategy to economise in turn its own resources without remaining responsible to what these programmes evoke in terms of both expectations and ideas. Overlooked is in such a case, that the realization of a trans-national idea requires many intellectual activities, in order to be able to shape policies with regards to integration and expansion. A Commission being reduced to a mere administration to be used for distributing funds cannot achieve this.

Rights of Member States

Not quite so simple is the re-nationalisation of European programs - a recent reduction of the Commission’s competencies or rather a further assertion by the member states that they wish to determine themselves the rights to participate in European programs. It leaves international co-operation thin spaced and a rare outcome as pre-arrangements out-manoeuvre the objective criteria of any program and quietly replacing them with what is most convenient to a coalition of administrative bodies and fake independent NGO-types of co-existences. The latter are needed to fulfil the obligation of having usually not only a minimum of international partners, but also locally to be comprised of a partnership that includes NGO’s as non-governmental representatives of Civil Society.

Unfortunately re-nationalisation of European Programs is an attempt to cut the direct contact between local actors within a European Project and the Commission as if such qualification strategy towards becoming active citizens of Europe is not desired by the Nation State. For once citizens gain such experiences, that they acquire methodological sophistication and thereby come into a position that they can challenge prevailing practices, then this empowerment of citizens poses a political threat to those who prefer merely a top-down administration of responsibilities while leaving everything else to insiders taking the larger cut from the pie. By asserting again more forcefully the Rights of the Nation State at the expense of further participation of citizens in European development, a potential challenge to the current political state of affairs is blocked off while preventing citizens moving towards a multi-representational method.

Anyone knowledgeable about developments in Europe realizes that the negotiations about the Rights of the European Union are very tough. Unfortunately this process about national advantages at European level ends the debate before it could really start. To European citizens is not of interest as to who obtains what position in the name of what national and regional interests. But the common practice has it, that as soon as positions within the Commission have to be filled, every member state wishes to have own interests safeguarded. Although Kinnock admits that a modern managerial concept should not allow this national flagging of certain positions, it is practically the case. Out of that follows a fake effort to come to terms with the dimensions of Europe and this especially in terms of true accountability and responsibility.

With that not everything has been said, but these remarks should make plain that it is not only the ‘irrational’ but a grave danger for a joint policy in favour of Europe to let the Rights of Member States over-dominate everything. For it will lead to the breaking down of the Commission as intellectual motor for the integration process. The reduction to a mere administrative functioning body with no political, that is innovative impulses of its own, is already a confirmation of such negative tendency. Without any conscious shaping of political measures, although necessary for both integration and expansion, there can no continuity. All the more serious is the constant interference into the inner affairs of the Commission by the EU member states in the name of the citizens who they disenfranchise constantly and never really inform. It leaves European matters stranded in the many in-between stations, but well above any level accessible to ordinary citizens, while the overall fight about how to distribute EU funds casts not only the Commission, but all European institutions, including the European Parliament, into a rather doubtful light as to motives and interests.

As soon as the Commission is reduced still further to being just spokesperson for business interests, then there is being repeated what Kant conceived to be good advise for government, namely to pass such laws that make possible good business. Politics that is subservient to economy leaves completely aside culture, especially the one that could oppose the market forces at both local and global level. Over and again in recent developments it has been shown that once such a conscious cultural policy does not exist, then the market drives out all of the life from cities and regions, leaves people stranded and the political institutions unable to work due to a lack of consensus about basic needs in correspondence with human rights. What the Commission has rightly so been aiming for when directing, for example, the Structural Fund towards Social Cohesion, can cost a great deal more, and not only in economic but equally in human terms, if no longer upheld. The drive towards Ethnic Cleansing in former Yugoslavia is such a tragic case. In other words, there has to be upheld a greater interest in Europe than just doing business for whatever reason, if sustainable development is to be achieved.

The member states want in a contradictory way such a process because on the one hand they want to see their demand for power be fulfilled within this new Europe; on the other hand, they made it for themselves quite easy all along by putting the blame on the Commission, the moment something went wrong. But to understand the practical reasons as to why something cannot succeed, that would require a positive problematization of how Europe as a whole could function. It would require furthermore some concrete resolutions as altering the way Europe handles its budgetary commitments and, linked to that, how the Commission manages European funds. Right now the budget is primarily a political one with the consequence that it leads to ever greater false dependencies due to being subsidies in nature e.g. the entire agricultural sector of Europe strives on such financial illusions. Prodi has taken here a first and real initiative by opening the discussion about Europe financing in future its programmes on a direct taxation system. Since revolutions have been provoked even by small tax impositions e.g. the British Crown and the new American States when it came to levies on tee, it is clear that Europe has still a far way to go until direct accountability is translated into a political concept of sovereignty of all European Citizens.

Further observations about the current reform process would have to refer as to what influences as of late the political world. As shown dramatically by the 11th of September, politics and dramatic events are being merged increasingly by the so-called media culture perceiving very quickly a change in symbolic actions. While the whole world watched as the Twin Towers collapsed, the press is excluded from reporting about Israeli’s army cracking down on the Palestinian people. The two events are not the same, but the merging of all political and military measures due to the unknown factor of Terrorism has allowed for a new kind of blurring different levels of reflections. Exactly here Europe needs to think about possible cultural rather than unilateral military responses, if the world is to regain confidence that diverse and very different problems can be resolved politically. After all, it is a sign of cultural strength if conflicts can be resolved through dialog rather than using violence as a way of not agreeing, not talking but also not being sure which way is the best one to develop in.

Noticeable in these recent European searches for adequate responses is that the right to equality between member states and EU Commission is being replaced by something else. Everything seems to point in the direction that the Commission should be degraded to something of second rank. Contrary to that the EU member states are pushing into the fore ground. For observers it is becoming more important what nuances exist between what the member states decide themselves and what is still negotiated with the Commission. For example, the boycott of Austria is not a European measure, but one of the 14 member states. Presumably they hope to gain in the eyes of the public an advantage when referring to Europe, in order to determine independently from the Commission the next phases of European development. The same goes with initiatives by member states in foreign matters e.g. Middle East plan of Joschka Fischer. If this continues unchecked, then old fashioned models of thinking as if still in the 19th and 20th century and its belief, individuals and not structures make a difference, will re-affirm themselves (Lepenies).

Added to that has to be the change in what characterizes European affairs. Since Kosovo the increased concentration upon a unified security and foreign policy as actual European affair has been accompanied by efforts to take back at the same time competencies from the Commission. It signals that task areas like education and culture as well as the immediate contact between the Commission and the citizens of Europe should be neglected even more so, then what has been the case up to now.


Inherent Aspects of European Realities – in Search of positive Elements

Departure for Europe with Kafka

Kafka compared the spoken language in politics and daily life with people who want to go on a journey. As always the case, there will be some people who are already finished with packing their things and hence are waiting impatiently, while others have not even begun to collect their most important things, never mind to start packing them. And once they are finished, the others remember something that they have forgotten: the one his toothbrush, the other a watch. Consequently they put down their suitcase and then it is not fast enough when returning to familiar surroundings. In short, people are turned towards language in such a way according to Kafka that they shall never leave a concrete location. The departure is aborted prematurely.

The human dimension or the lesson about proportions

Europe lost already its human dimension when converting its name from European Community to European Union. A lot depends upon whether or not human proportions are respected or whether a mega-Europe is being created out of the competition with America and the global economy, especially when in the name of competitiveness quite other interests can claim the power for themselves.

Lack of a concept that could emancipate

The Europe that is being constructed at the moment should with all its failures take at least a critical look at political reality. At the same time, there should be made a start to shape things creatively, in order to have for practice a concept that would help to emancipate while allowing foreseeing things to come.

Subsidiarity as counter balance for regional and local interests

Even the wish to retain cultural diversity in Europe is being used ideologically to claim more support for regional or even locally limited identities instead of participating in the development of a European identity. However, Europe can be used to protect small against the large cultures. This is why there exist differences in the need for more or less Europe. In England or in Denmark Europe is perceived fore mostly in a negative light, that is, as a necessary negativity. European influence should, wherever possible, be restricted to the minimum.

Values of Civil Society

If anything has developed itself further, then civil society. It understands itself as coming in a non-violent way to terms with the consequences of politics, in particular the disenfranchisement of the citizens. Presumably the values of the civil society have to be secured first, in order to be able to raise the demand for cultural governance of Europe as a whole. It is done to ensure that the dignity of the human being is guaranteed. Only thereafter it appears to make at all any sense to make proposals for further reforms of European institutions. Everything else would be premature and as a sign of impatience indication of an irrational attitude, especially if it is demanded that everything and nothing should be deduced from thoughts about finality as well as be accelerated from there. Well known is the fact that a dramatically intensified situation was always a good excuse to legitimate the hierarchy that is deemed necessary in such a situation of crisis. But Europe suffers exactly under the unresolved problem of hierarchy as well as that the EU member states do not want to allow the needed transparency, after which the citizens could only then begin to trust European institutions.

Unification process as chance to shape Europe

Furthermore, a correction of the concept ‘European unification’ would be, that it does not concern merely the new accession countries, but opens up at the same time perspectives in the direction of active participation by all in shaping Europe. That would go hand in hand with the political wisdom; only a consensus developed by all people with regards to the values of the civil society for the purpose of democratic governance of the law in respect of human dignity could uphold Europe. Such consensus requires other political foundations than the ones existing in Europe and dating back to the nineteenth and twentieth century. Therefore the cultural dimensions as they exist in Europe have to be perceived prior to deciding about a political system of representation.

Europe as independent development in the direction of European Citizenship

Whether rhetoric or self-deception, the unification process cannot proceed as long as there does not exist an independent development at European level. To that belongs the concept European Citizenship, which, once thought of positively, should bring about a common, equally accessible identity for all. The CONNECT program attempts this by linking culture and education. The idea is good, but the resources made available for implementation so limited, that there exists hardly any management capacity within the Commission for the program. As a result 90 projects work completely left to themselves, that is, without any feedback mechanism in operation for contact with the Commission. Only later on, once some engaged civil servants like Ana Magraner, herself a soul of European cultures, joined the CONNECT Unit, there were given feed-back to the projects. But she too would be better placed directly within the overall scope of the Culture 2000 Program, than to be put in charge of a program without future. CONNECT 2000 shall end without the Commission having been able to convince Council and the European Parliament that the vital linkages between Education and Culture are too important as to be left to one-time co-financing schemes at very restricted budgetary levels.

As a matter of fact, the same misfortune struck the Article 10 - ERDF Innovative Actions in the Cultural Fields Projects. Changes in the administration and independent unit of evaluators and technical experts left continuity and thereby consistency out on a limb. The learning process with Commission and Projects acting together was reduced to a minimum. Over and again such administrative practices are not good for the development of Europe. The loss of investments in cultural consistency marks failure insofar as the Commission proves once again of being itself not competent enough to prevent ‘any shooting into the own feet’. The reasons for this lie, however, not really within the Commission, but elsewhere.

Constitution for Europe instead of mere institutional reforms

After Joschka Fischer’s announcement, that he would like to strive towards a reform especially of the European Parliament, president Chirac followed this up by proposing that a special group of experts should work out a constitution. Consciously he emphasized that other than politicians should participate in such a working group. If so, then these efforts should include analysis of Boguth about the English constitution. Equally it would be advisable to re-examine all efforts made in the past in order to understand as how through a new constitution war could be avoided, e.g. Constantin Francois de Volney’s reflections about ancient ruins or revolutions of past empires. Maturation of an idea that can be taken up by a new constitution for Europe, that would have to go parallel with the ability to anticipate as to what possible future developments could jeopardize constitutional rights. At all time it is imperative to let a comprehensive wisdom rule, in order to be certain that the basic text is written by a lucky hand.

A possible European constitution would want to take the Charta of Basic Rights into consideration, but this should not apply solely to the individual, but equally there is a gap in need of being filled, namely ‘rights and obligations of organizations’. It cannot be that the Europe of the future gives to all economic actors privileged free spaces from law, only because they are economically active and, therefore, need not to fulfil certain obligations.

At political level, as shown by the case of Sharon, when Prime Minister of Israel, a Belgium court tried to start legal procedures against him due to his actions in Lebanon as being a ‘crime against humanity’, that was overruled by the International Court of Justice. This ruling is significant in this sense of ambiguity and is termed by advocates of Human Rights as a set-back. For the International Court ruling states that no charges can be pressed as long as someone is in office. The reason given is at odds with ‘common sense’, but the International Court argues, it would hinder him doing his job. But if a citizen would like to just do exactly that, namely to stop his work as Prime Minister in the interest to uphold human rights because he continues to be someone who over extends the powers of his office and while defying all United Nations Resolutions, he drives everyone still further into such abuse of power, that ever more human rights are violated, then there will have to be answered at least the question, whether or not a Constitution foresees if all all, what kind of legal challenges to ‘abuse of power’. Already the problem of holding Pinochet accountable for his actions in Chile after 1973 provoked many discussions around a similar twist between political actions and legal accountability.

How dangerous neglect of this political dimension is, and why the current Constitution based on Basic Rights has so many short-comings, can be explained by way of looking more carefully as to how the political influence of philosophy – the argumentation used to legitimise things - can give a different content to concepts intended to have quite another meaning in ‘theory’. Already Popper pointed out that Hegel ended his search for a reasonable state once he came upon the Prussian state and then identified his concepts with that reality without realising all implications – with fatal consequences for both philosophy and subsequent political understanding of philosophical concepts.

There is, for example, the formulation by Heidegger in ‘Time and Being’ that the masses of people remain anonymous and, therefore, are neither responsible nor innovative; consequently there is needed a leader to step outside the common practice in order to bring about that innovation society is in need of. By so doing this courageous act, Heidegger gives to such leader ‘the right to make mistakes’ – its grave consequence was Hitler making mistake after mistake, but no one in the masses having become obedient able to challenge him.

While it is always said, that it is ‘human to err’, any political office should not be misused to being able to make mistakes, even that means loss of human lives, and yet not be held accountable. Thus a lot more needs to be done, in order to secure the Basic Right of the Freedom of every individual to unfold his or her own personality. There may have to be included in such a European Charta other progressive concepts such as ‘equality of opportunity’ – as advanced by Anthony Gidden. All this is to say the European debate needs to reflect upon all these previous experiences while exploring further the European dimension in all its facets. There is a definite need to take up more seriously these intertwining logics taking from philosophy and applied in politics even before the legal implications are understood, but then in this search for a European constitution there may come a time when something has been learned out of the past, in order to know how to shape the future.

Time for the constitutional proposal

The American constitution emerged out of various streams and ideas and made in a decisive moment the lucky throw into the future, so that two hundred years later ‘The Declaration of Independence’ is still valid for both government and citizens with the demand to live together in freedom. Compared to that, Europe is not being carried forward by a spirited and creative movement, but rather dominated by national politicians either to win national elections or if not, obtain some extended retirement scheme for themselves at European level.

By all praise heaped upon Giscard d’Estaing, he is still one of the old guards and may be clever enough to handle agendas and compromises needed to get the delegations together at one table, but the doubts remain about both the legitimacy and substance of such a Convention when the delegates are really there, because of being praised to the ‘top’ as a way of dealing with their need to remain still active in ages of retirement. Such old guard will ensure only that the real issues will not surface and Europe shall rest in peace that prevailing power structures privileging after all very few will remain virtually untouched.

As such the merely limited discussion about the real implications of a future Constitution reflects that the majority has no fears any plans in that direction will affect their future, that is have any significant impact upon their lives. The policy of ‘rest assured for we shall change things in order not to have to change’ seems to work quite well.

Clearly if Europe wishes to prevent the ‘Transformation of Democracy’ (Johannes Agnoli) from re-occurring by converting the reform process into a backward attempt to solidify the ‘status quo’, then time is needed to work out the proposal for a true European Constitution. That is needed all the more, if next to Member States and Regions also the Cities of Europe and the European Citizens are to have a voice in how to give shape to such a Constitution. If no magic solution can be found, then at least discussions out to spell out on how Europe thinks is best to govern itself.

Time is needed to gain distance from the many war games, which threatened during the First and Second World War not only specific people – fore mostly the Jews, but also Gypsies, Intellectuals, others - with genocide, but also the entire world. The aristocrat together with the military and the scientists conceived battlefields as game boards for experiments with human lives. Europe was created to get out of such messy entanglements threatening the entire world with fatal ideas, including the misconception that war would reveal the truer self and could be at the same time ‘a lovely game’, provided there would not be so many killed. Collateral damage was then a safeguard that things were not directed against the power holders, but merely against those who would protest against things being directed against human beings. A relic of those times is Blair’s all out enthusiasm to support the war efforts of the United States while keeping the rest of Europe guessing about proofs or not why diplomacy needs to fail and the militaries should have again the say. Naturally it is done for the sake of security, but whose that remains part of the guessing game.

Philosophy of the European Praxis

Europe needs a philosophical and political model that is up to date with the thinking process that has emerged after the First and Second World, in order to make possible peaceful co-existence, and that free from any kind of national confinement.

What would be then the intention of an alternative orientated reflection that wants to fulfil above anything else the demand to continue the tradition of parliamentary democracy at European level?

The question must be posed first of all in the context of perception and daily practice, for not every parliament follows the same tradition, as does the English one. But for a beginning, there is the verbal exchange of opinions at home with everyone asked to stand up to his or her own opinion while respecting the opinions of others. The future European Constitution has to be rooted in such democratic self-understanding.

These and other questions about legal safeguards need to evaluated in their structural and institutional context. It may become even important to distinguish what are Rights of Children compared to those of Adults. The free conscience, so the likely thesis, can only be guaranteed, if no individual finds only the state to be the sole determining factor in daily life. To secure that no one is exposed to a monolithic power structure, another kind of set-off from state institutions is required, e.g. free citizens and their right to an assembly.

All these problems need further studies, for in the past the free conscience emerged only after politics emancipated itself from religion, that is from an autocratic church. The full consequences of a dialectic of securalization between religion and state have yet to be understood, but there is another, still greater problem in need of being resolved, namely the relationship between culture and state. While the latter represents power as based on the economy, judicial system, police and army and institutions declared to be a part of the legal order of things, culture is fore mostly a measure of being truthful, that is free to be creative. Culture in that sense has not yet the same rights and yet needs independence from the state. Clearly Cultural Rights next to Human Rights have become a major theme in recent discussions, but again no real conclusions have yet been reached. The wavering of the Council with regards to what is the common position of all Member States on that question indicates that it shall not be easy to resolve that particular question within the present European context of statehood and the understanding of Cultural Policy at all levels.

It is likely that all of this has nothing to do with the kind of constitution being prepared under the auspices of the Convention. Aristotle defined ‘constitution’ as holding body and mind in a healthy condition together, and he went even further when stating that such a constitution must prevent everyone from mixing with everyone else, for that could give rise to some explosive mixtures. That has many implications, but also there is inherent in such an observation some wisdom in need of being not merely understood, but also heeded. For Aristotle considered the Constitution being a reflection of the soul, that is in the ‘psyche’ of the Human Being. As such lawfulness and how art unfolds, go together, and explains why people cannot take one thing, and that is arbitrary ruling by power doing one day this and on another day something else. Any Constitution must, therefore, ensure that Culture attains a significant degree of consistency, for other wise solutions cannot be worked through. Out of that follows the ‘grammar’, the rules, the legal system and the means of arbitration, that is mediation between two parties if in conflict with one another. And always it is human that dialog is possible, for then facts are not created prior to asking the other for his or her opinion, but first alternative decisions are evaluated together before they are taken. Being just to the opinions of others is a way of ensuring that justice shall prevail throughout the cultural life of every citizen.

If wisdom about the Constitution is passed on mainly in a verbal manner, then this has to be taken into consideration. Compared to written ones, such as the case in the Federal Republic of Germany, the narrative has the advantage that it can be lived and experienced also out in the streets of everyday life. To step outside of all institutions while retaining a linkage to what goes on inside, that was the understanding of Michel Foucault’s ethnological and anthropological approach to institutions. He wrote about the birth of the Clinic or traced the patterns when it came to creating Prisons. There are involved categories of reason and of insanity, but his approach meant really an effort to overcome the automatic dualism inherent in the 19th state philosophy that would conclude immediately, ‘he who does not give recognition to the state, is not reasonable, but sick’. In having learning out of tragic events that followed such short sighted dualism, Europe has matured somewhat. It is important that that finds its way into the Constitution being drafted.

Indeed, Europe is not yet a state complex, hence it would be an advantage if the Constitution could be approached as an artwork only now in the making. That demands a careful coming to terms with new demands, in order to attain continuity and change of the general cultural identity. In that case the created institutions for that purpose must be really able to solve the problems they were set out to do.

Possibility of full access and an open information policy

Pictures that take on a life of their own, they burden considerable any mediation process, if they do not make that altogether impossible. That is finally of relevance as to what images people have of Europe, or rather if that what politicians tell them, is desired or not, they can understand. After all politics of the present should depart from the demand to create the possibility of full access for all and leave the imagination free to explore what is desirable to actively support when it comes to the creation of life in Europe. With that two things are implied: first, the citizen has direct access to European institutions and their programs, which demand of them to participate in the shaping of Europe; and secondly, the EU information policy has to be promoted at both formal and informal level while reversing the logic of the usual media in terms of what is news, what is not. In a diverse world people will sell to themselves different things as news. That is why an open information policy must complement the communication patterns of people finding themselves to become active citizens at last.

Unseen Simultaneous Events – out of the Perspective of South England

A trip to the South of England, where many join at local level initiatives to save their cultural landscapes, can make very quickly evident, that information about EU programs is but the bare minimum, if at all perceived as a possibility. Computer and Internet-connections are absent so that no one can find direct access to the WEB-sites of the Commission. Also the negative balance with here England, there the EU bureaucracy as advanced by the British press and in public creates so many contradictions in the perception, that no one thinks really and truly about existing possibilities. Thus there is organised in England a parliament for school children that discuss exactly the same themes as at European level, but alone the connection is absent. So they repeat separated from one another the same discussions and efforts, but without any consciousness for the common cause at European level.

Participation in European Projects: another History of Socialization

With that it becomes evident, that the different experiences within Europe in the various EU member states and subsequent evaluation of Europe is conditional upon who participates in European projects, who not. European projects with a bottom-up approach entail a chance to validate knowledge at horizontal level by developing co-operation and international partnership. Also the designs of the methodologies deployed by European projects will bring about coalition of responsibilities. Further work is then based more easily on the concept of networks. The latter develop their work out of shared experiences made comparable while communication is reinforced by co-ordination to achieve outcomes both in terms of learning from one another as well as attaining tangible goals.

It appears as if, as the case of England, only certain institutions participate in EU projects, e.g. British Council. Money allocations reinforce thereby alienation of citizens from the European level rather than bringing them closer in contact with other, but similar minded people and projects. It goes so far that the British Council and the Foreign Office work together to ascertain British interests abroad – a contradiction to the need to work together in order to find out what Europe needs in order to attain social cohesion and equal distribution of resources.

That negative trend to by-pass the participation of Citizens is reinforced at European level. Ever more, the various administrative units of the Commission are demanded and asked to develop, for example, huge projects, which are co-funded by the Structural Fund. Their magnitude goes beyond the understanding of any normal citizen, while it will have an impact upon his or her life, but with the added uncertainty whether or not citizens have or can develop the capacity to sustain such a development.

In brief, most of the European co-operation is conducted at levels that are not accessible to the population. They may only be informed that Europe has participated in the project by financing up to 80% of the costs in the case of a highway construction when driving past a sign with the EU logos. It is after all the case, that local, regional and national politicians gladly claim to have done everything themselves, and hence they distort the perception of Europe.

Promotional programs with international partnership

Everything appears as if the member states do not wish that their citizens become emancipated in terms of European affairs. Therefore European programs are more and more decentralized and placed in the hands of national administrations; hence a citizen has to go to the national contact points, about the European dimension he hears if anything, then only something indirectly. One consequence of that is that European projects are implemented more and more ‘single handed’, that is in the hands of one main partner. All other partners function only in appearance, robbing thereby the project of its European dimension. Experiences at the level of international co-operation are, therefore, hardly made. That is especially the case if every national state selects its own internal prime partner, privileging him so to speak over others, while inviting the participation of other European partners only at a formal level. Agreements linked to such proposals are then never translated into a partnership working on equal terms and with the same amount of resources. It leaves out the European dimension and makes everything depend upon the national selected contact partner to the Commission. The legal framework for obligations entered are then only in the hands of one partner while the rest take upon themselves enormous risks until such a project guarantees even simple coverages of costs incurred in such one sided partnership. The Commission’s way of handling projects reinforces simply the position of the project leader while leaving all other matters in the shade of practices being more or less good, but not convincing if really evaluated out of a European perspective and in terms of the program providing the co-funding.

Declaration of Interests in a new European Parliament

By the way, the same is repeated in the European Parliament where the elected politicians represent their very much limited areas of interest in the name of Germany, Greece, Austria or Wales, Hence they give hardly any recognition, if at all, to the European level nor to what is the difference between the particular and the whole. As an example, a British Conversative MEP fully against the European Union and for Britain to join the Free Trade Zone, wonders what he is doing sitting there in Parliament. But while he protests against money being squandered, to many others Europe is only good insofar as it provides something for the own area of interest. The Committee of the Regions and the Regionalists carry that game much further and wish that regions are recognized at European level like nations, that is have an equal value with the 15 member states. It would alter the distribution system even more. With Enlargement there will come more changes. The power constellations of the existing political groups will alter. The next European elections promise to be interesting since some outcomes shall not be so easily predictable. Basically, it would be important that Independents stand for election and declare themselves as being interested in a new European Parliament, one that will not in future be the privileged domain of national elites, their representatives, but a search for voices of the authentic cultures in Europe.

Financial Accountability and Contradictions in EU Policy

When expenditures of public money do not require in reality any accountability, then it means that most of the decisions are made behind the backs of the citizens. At the same time the shift in interests intensifies curious contradictions between environmental protection and Mega-projects in bio-top areas. Only once the disenfranchisement of the Commission and equally of the European Parliament by what the Member States are trying to do as consortium in the name of Europe, is understood, will the political scandal become obvious. That has to be interpreted as a systematic attempt to keep all those affected by the unification process outside of politics itself. Such political regression adds to the deeply problematic aspect of Europe trying, but not really finding its role in the global context.

Right to Community(Ernst Bloch)

Ernst Bloch named the spirit of freedom as the ‘Right to Community’: to which everyone should have free access. Insofar after Kosovo the spirit has been reduced to military security-political measures, the hope of Europe for a life without war has been pushed aside. But the fatal consequences of Kosovo are that everything has been shifted to such interests that are even further away from the normal citizen. This is alarming because even the European Parliament is not in a position to challenge this suppression of the political life in favor of the military-bureaucratic process satisfying only itself. Here then plans and working sessions counter the decision making possibilities of the ‘Intergovernmental’ conferences, that have become compared to the Commission and Parliament the main determining and hence most powerful force when it comes to give shape to Europe.

Places of Silence

What remains then as an answer, is silence. The places where silence stays, these have to be discovered first, so the advise of Michel Foucault, that is before political protest movements cover them up. Such movements take a hold of resentments against the need to think in a wider context. If these political resentments against the whole of Europe is allowed to be cultivated further, then it will drive European policy into still further mistaken views as to what is possible to be done alone, that is in an autonomous manner and regardless of what the rest of the world thinks. The dangerous fiction of state sovereignty re-translated into variations of nationalism must be countered by a Europe basing its integrity on openness and democratic practice. The example of Austria, but also the new image of Italy where Berlusconi has no hesitation to enter a coalition with neo-Fascists, in order to gain power, that indicates Europe has still a long way to go before this lack of democracy can be overcome. All these and other developments say something is amiss.

Not sub-ordinance or dogmatic ways of pressing stereotypical schemes upon people, so as to organize the flow of things is an expression of self-understanding. Rather the thought linked to the question ensures that there is something linking theory and action in order to stay in communication with the others. That then can contribute to a European consciousness provided old and new divisions are overcome. While some have all the pleasure, others remain throughout their lives in doldrums without any outlook for creative work. Europe needs to become much more practical in terms of what is coined as the problem of unemployment, since in reality there is attached to it social exclusion and political apathy. That leaves most of the work to be done in philosophy to those still working on redemption while already new wounds polarise and create conflicts of interest.

Such hard-pressed times would be alleviated at least a bit, if the ‘morality of payment’ would be upheld. Since that is hardly the case in an era of ‘creative accounting’, financial, political and economic scandals merge with ways of handing money back and forth until no one knows anymore for sure what are real costs and what are really earned incomes. It would help for the sake of democracy if everyone would take part in accounting course and then there would be demanded accountability right across Europe. Where do the European funds come from, how are they spend, what, if any gaps exist, can explain them and what would be corrective measures. All this would be needed in order to know that budgets are handled in the most responsible way without getting dizzy due to their sheer size and magnitude. By the stretch of the imagination, the purchasing power of the EURO has become a key issue even though hardly noticed that it passes every day through every hand and bank. But here the differences begin and explanations vary on how private and public responsibilities conjoin to ensure a vital economy not ignorant of the cultural constraints and needs existing in Europe and in the world.

A European Minima Moralia – after Adorno

Only humanity makes possible philosophical recognition of what can be done in freedom to give political practice its legitimization and possible knowledge.

The Right to Community is not so much a question of accessibility, but the form of being together by which culture gives them the right to question power in all its facets so as to allow for the emancipation of the human being.

In case of EU expansion there have to be perceived first of all the contradictions between East and West, in order to be able to change the conditions under which people have to suffer if not recognised as what they are: dreamers having left the Socialist version of Utopia but unsure what the reality of the West entails.

There exists hardly a movement with a human face. Since R. Dutschke until Prague 1968, there were made efforts to bring the creative potential inside the institutions. Before, and ever since, there have been a few glimpses of the ‘Dialectic of the Imagination’. Thus the imagination remains outside of the institutions and Europe will have to wait a long time for it to show itself willing to return. As long as abuse of power prevails, and artificially created hierarchies are there to make sure that living impulses do not make any difference within the machinery of sameness, creative bursts of energy will be restricted to sometimes artists emerging out of nowhere and throwing light upon life like casting doubt upon dust. This happens when no one can feel certain when moving within the institutional, predetermined frame.

Pragmatism and “Real”-politics is helplessness made into a show.

He who wants to be always the first, he cannot even overtake the last one when all cross the finish line.

National identity is a concept that lets something be brought into language without knowing the European landscape, but about which the power politicians of the nineteenth century dreamt and then smashed in the wars that followed.

European politics can be understood as an excursion to still other political developments.

The dialogue at the local level would be important, but the impact of Europe removes the people from the possibility of saying something. They sense structures overarching their backs while the regions develop according to the wishes of those who bring into the area money from elsewhere. It is said strange breeds are introduced on farmlands that stand in contradiction to the demand of sustainability.

If there would exist a common point of departure, then in the search of new principles of responsibility. Yet there would have be developed at first a consensus about what reaches to European level only if given a perspective from there. It is called handing down of responsibilities and so wanders the hat further down the road or if there is still water in the bay, the hat will prefer to just drift with the wind.

Left and Right want to terminate the already damaged unification process because they are themselves uncertain what they want in future from Europe.

Practical understanding of people is more worth than just a speech and anyhow the danger prevails that the many political speeches by-pass their wisdom without thereby realizing what they leave out.

As long as politics does not come to terms with real needs, the perception of the cultural dimension at European level will fail to notice the constraints that go with any culture before it can unfold and be accepted by the people.

Europe is left to its own when all politicians are preparing their retraction to the national level as if there is about to be a last supper prior to sunset.

Lack of knowledge about basic democratic principles of the Civil Society leaves human dignity and cultural governance aside as if not important for everybody, but a window cleaner, taxi driver, school teacher, secretary, computer expert, saleslady have something more important to do than hide behind hurt feelings. They have to go on making a living, but the question is how, for too many leave either private life or professional work out of sheer neglect in shambles. The point is what has dignity to do with the need to combine both and get on with it?

Too much is left unsaid, thus what matters is not really talked about, but rather remains hidden, at risk to be left behind by a drive towards final resolutions due to never wanting to have a future, but merely a dramatic end.

© Dr. Hatto Fischer, 2000-2003





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