Jos de Mul. Transnationalizing tragedy. Comment on Jürgen Habermas' lecture "How Europe faces the challenge of transnationalising democracy". Rotterdam, October 10, 2014.
Dear professor Habermas!
In the past decades, you have been an inexhaustible supporter of the Idea of Europe and of the European Union, as well as a profound analyst of the forces that threaten to undermine the ‘faltering project’ of Europe (to quote the title of the English translation of your book Ach, Europa). In the lecture you gave this afternoon, you focused on one of these threats: the democratic deficit of the European Union.
I fully share your enthusiasm for Europe. Just like you, my enthusiasm is closely connected with my personal history. Born a decade after the Second World War I had the privilege to grow up in a democratic and peaceful European welfare state, which enabled me, moreover, to enjoy the great variety of European culture. However, only in the past ten years, in which I had the opportunity to live and work in the United States and in China for some time, I became fully aware of the fact that I’m not only Dutch, but a European as well.
This does not mean that it is easy to define Europe. Europe in many respects remains a mythic phenomenon. Even the most basic questions – What is Europe? Where is Europe? When is Europe? and (especially since the Euro crisis that has strongly undermined the public support of the European Union) Why is Europe? – are very hard to answer.