Rome, July 24, 2015
To Yanis Varoufakis and Dominique Strauss-Khan
Dear Yanis, dear Dominique,
There is a place on earth that represents Europe’s very roots: Greece. Let us begin there.
Athens, April 28, 1955. Albert Camus’ conference on “The future of Europe”.
On this occasion, participants agreed that the structural characteristics of European civilization are essentially two: the dignity of the individual; a spirit of critique.
At that time (1955), human dignity was a focus of much debate in Europe.
Nobody doubted, however, the European “spirit of critique”. There were no doubts about the rationalist, Cartesian, Enlightened vision, which was agent and engine of continuous progress on the continent, as much in terms of technical-scientific domination as for political, social and economic domination.
Today, more than half a century later, we might well invert these two: human dignity is widely appreciated throughout Europe, albeit challenged by dramatic problems generated by immigration; it is the force of reason in Europe that no longer underlies continuous progress.
Why is this so? What happened?
It was not some shadowy curse that descended upon the continent. It was not some evil hand that sowed our fields with salt. So what did happen?
Just as the dinosaurs died off because an asteroid slammed into the planet, so was dinosaur Europe struck by 4 different phenomena. Each was revolutionary even when taken alone, but all together, one after another, they proved enough to cause an explosion, an implosion, paralysis: enlargement, globalization, the euro, the crisis.
And that is not all. During the process of political union, we took a wrong turn at one point. We failed to unite that which could be and needed to be united (such as defense). Instead, we united that which did not need to be united (for example, the size of vegetables).
This is why, in Europe today, it is not “more union” that we need. What we need is to propose, discuss and design new “articles of confederation”.
Dear Yanis, dear Dominique, we agree on the fact that life and civilization cannot be reduced to mere calculations of interest rates; we agree that today, in Europe, it is not the technicalities that need changing but the political vision. History teaches us that in order to reach our goal we must change what is inside people’s heads or – at the very least – admit that mistakes have been made. We agree that the piazzas of protest are to be avoided, but that we must find a new road, down which we can all walk, regardless of our country or political party of origin.
Paolo Savona, Emeritus professor of Political economy
Giulio Tremonti, Senator of the Italian Republic