My granddad once handed me Edgar Morins book on Europe. I’ve for a long time wanted to reread it because it (tries to) explain the European culture. Now I found “Marelles: European Politics” great post on it, and it makes me want to read the book even more. Here is an excerpt:
Morin sees Europe as an entity not really well defined from the geographical, cultural or ethnic point of view. He then tries to define what common points have developed and existed along History between the nations and other political organisations which have flowered on its space and which could have explained both the extraordinary expansion and global success of Europe and its terrible implosion and decadence during the XXth century. He finds them to be what he calls a “dialogic” between nihilism and creation, a permanent instability, source of progress as well as destruction. What he calls dialogic is the opposition between two ideas which are antagonistic without being contradictory or exclusive and as the same time complementary without being stable. He goes a bit further by explaining that it is this dialogic which has created the European Nation States and the modern democratic systems, but also the ideologies that have nearly destroyed Europe: Marxism and Fascism. This dialogic has also transformed Europe, both through its oppression of the rest of the world through the colonial system, and through its adoption and integration of other cultures in its own identity. Due to this, Europe has both spread its defining principles through the world and acquired a massive responsibility in doing it. The dialogic between cultures and civilization has made European civilization in some way compatible with all cultures.
The ideas might not be all that novel, but surely are interesting. Edgar Morin has as well written “The Cinema, or The Imaginary Man”.