Macron has talked of creating networks of European universities, schools and cultural institutions to ensure that “every European recognizes their destiny in the figures adorning a Greek temple or in Mona Lisa’s smile,” as well as similar networks of European police forces and militaries to keep Europeans safe in an era of radical Islamist terrorism, Russian espionage and U.S. disinterest.
In other words, counter nationalism with a kind of super-nationalism and throw in a dose of anti-Islamist rhetoric. Mimic the caricature you have developed of your opponents, and beat them at their own game.
It’s a clever response. However, there are problems with it. First, staffing a network of universities that preaches a European destiny and extols Greek temples and Mona Lisa’s smile won’t be easy.
To be fair, this wasn’t the EU’s first attempt at a version of Whig history, where, instead of all of history being a prelude to the classically liberal England of the 19th and early 20th century, all of European history leads to the glorious founding of the transnational “progressive” EU. Recall the outrage in 2012 when the EU opened a museum focused on “The European Civil War,” or as sane people like call it, World War II. As Bryan Preston wrote at the time:
That’s a rather provincial attitude to take, regarding a conflict that saw action from Guam to Alaska and the Philippines to North Africa. For a continental civil war, it was a very far-flung conflict. I’ve personally stood atop Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima, and walked the streets of Paris, France. They’re…pretty far apart.
If this is to be Europe’s revisionist attitude going forward, then on behalf of everyone outside Europe, I ask the continentals from now on to keep their “civil wars” to themselves.
Indeed. In the meantime though, if Macron wants to shift how European history is taught in the classrooms of EU nations after decades of academics teaching victimhood-steeped “black armband history,” have fun storming the castle.