The Crisis of the European Idea

"The Crisis of the European Idea," Government and Opposition, v11 n1 (197601): 5-19.


What does the European idea, the idea of European unity mean today? In they Christian era, a kind of units he was born of a common faith. It’s found expression in the church and in the universities. It’s excluded neither ethnological diversity nor multiple and autonomous centers of power. From time to time, it’s enforced the truce of God, but it imposed neither lasting peace nor obedience to the same laws.

Since the 16th century, Europeans have meditated more on Machiavelli’s message than on the Christian Bible. The former has lost none of its mystery or power to fascinate, “Machiavelli, the most  perspicacious of authors,” wrote Spinoza, “set forth in detail the exact measures which a prince, carried away by the passion to dominate, should take in order to grasp and keep power… Perhaps Machiavelli wanted to show that a free society should at all cost be where of confiding its well-being to a single individual. For this man, who was so wise, surely loved liberty and gave very good counsel about how it should be safeguarded.

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