The Catholic Thing
HOME        ARCHIVES        IN THE NEWS        COMMENTARY        NOTABLE        DONATE
Europe and America Print E-mail
By Pascal Bruckner   
Sunday, 22 August 2010
While America is a project, Europe is a sorrow. Before long, it will amount to little except the residue of abandoned dreams. We dreamed of a great diversity where we might live well, seek personal fulfillment, and, if possible, get rich – and all this in proximity to great works of culture. This was a worthwhile project, to be sure, and such a calm condition would be perfect in a time of great serenity, in a world that had finally achieved Kant’s “perpetual peace.” But there is a striking contrast between the stories that we Europeans tell ourselves about rights, tolerance, and multilateralism and the tragedies that we witness in the surrounding world – in autocratic Russia, aggressive Iran, arrogant China, a divided Middle East. We see them, too, in the heart of our great cities, in the double offensive of Islamist terrorism and fundamentalist groups aiming to colonize minds and hearts and Islamize Europe.

There is nothing more insidious than a collective guilt passed down from generation to generation, dyeing a people with a kind of permanent stain. Contrition cannot define a political order. As there is no hereditary transmission of victim status, so there is no transmission of oppressor status. The duty of remembering implies neither the automatic purity nor the automatic corruption of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. History is not divided between sinner nations and angelic ones but between democracies, which recognize their faults, and dictatorships, which drape themselves in the robes of martyrs. We have learned over the last half-century that every state is founded on crime and coercion, including those that have recently appeared on history’s stage. But there are states capable of recognizing this and of looking barbarism in the eye, and there are others that excuse their present misdeeds by citing yesterday’s oppression.
 

Other Articles By This Author

CONTACT US FOR ADVERTISERS ABOUT US
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner