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The failure of European intellectuals?

April 11, 2012

Intellectuals have been accused of failing to restore a European confidence undermined by crisis. Yet calls for legitimating European narratives – combined with nostalgia for a golden age of Europeanism – remain faithful to the logic of nineteenth-century nation building, argues Jan-Werner Müller. What, then, should Europe’s intellectuals be doing?

Towards the end of last year, as the Eurozone crisis was reaching (yet another) climax, a number of journalists in the German quality press alerted their readers to an aspect of the crisis which had received scant attention so far: the euro crisis marked not only the failure of Europe’s central bankers, or Greek bureaucrats, or Italian non-taxpayers, or Angela Merkel (all depending on one’s perspective) – it also signified a comprehensive failure of intellectuals. Why were they not defending the great achievements of European integration? Why were they not putting forward appealing visions of the continent’s future, instead squandering a great legacy of mutual trust and understanding among Europeans which had been nurtured over many decades? Were they simply sleeping through a crisis that might eventually usher in the return of ugly nationalisms? Or even military conflict, as elder European statesmen like Helmut Kohl never tire of warning?

Excerpt of an article written by Jan-Werner Müller at EUROZINE. Continue HERE

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