Interconnected

Thoughts about the Preamble (quoted earlier):

I like that it states that Europe is a continent of immigrants, and the long time-scale over which this has happened. The reference to humanism is also welcome, and that it's tempered by a mention of the important of religion in European thought. Two things that make me uneasy about this:

  • Most of the proposed amendments to the Preamble are about inserting references to Christianity. I don't like that: concentrate on the actual shared mindset rather than one of the models of such.
  • There are two ways of understanding "equality of persons". One is that people are essentially equal of ability and opportunity; the other is that people are essentially varied but are to be held as ethically equal. The second has generally been a European perspective and underpins socialism (and feels pretty French too, I think); the first is more American. The only way to tell the difference between the two is how the word "equal" is couched -- unfortunately the Preamble leans towards the first: this can be seen in the repetition of the individual and the State, but lack of reference to fraternity, community, intermediate, geographically distributed, multi-scaled networks of people.

The phrase "reunited Europe" is especially resonant, especially given that Europe has never been politically united (although various bits of it have at various times). Europe was last united in neolithic times, before the inseparable meshwork of land, people, community and trade separated into hierarchy, nations and cities. To force memory back to these times conjures an image of a diffuse Europe, an association or condensation of ideas, indivisible again into objects, but more like a topology: a landscape maybe, intertwined, with identifiable parts that bleed into one another, holistic; and it gives a future Europe a mythological base stretching across the whole of the Holocene. I wouldn't expect any less from a Convention chaired by a man from the country and generation that gave us poststructuralism.

Tying us back to the land is also good ("a continent"), and to the rest of the world is wonderful -- striving for people "throughout the world", and giving Europeans responsibilities "towards future generations and the Earth" (although I would have preferred small-e earth, giving us a duty towards the soil itself -- this would also give a hook for the ethics of information, which itself is an extension of environmentalism). Identification of "public life" as an entity which should have transparent nature is also a good step forward (both identification of it and the nature). I get the feeling there are many points of this constitution that we'll be able to (and other nations will be able to) point at in the future, and the shape this'll force on the Union is a good one (outward looking, respectful, modest and open hierarchies), or at least in general.

I'll admit that the language is clumsy in places, and parts could be read as bolshy. But Constitutions are supposed to be part descriptive, part prescriptive and part aspirational, so the tone suits me fine. The ponderous language goes hand-in-hand with a dense Preamble, almost every word of which carries fine European concepts, and this undertone is quietly spoken, and has the appearance of tough negotiation. So at least it's balanced and faces in all directions at once. Another European quality.

One last thing. Acknowledging "ancient divisions" and that we should "transcend" them is wise, and gives us direction. And reason.