"European patriots" warn that Europe is in peril

Thirty intellectuals and writers from all over Europe have published an appeal to Europeans urging them to resist the populists who want to destroy the EU. The European elections could be calamitous if a majority fails to fight back against the populists, they warn. We present an excerpt from the manifesto and the debate it has triggered.

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La Repubblica (IT) /

Firebrands must not gain the upper hand

The appeal made by philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy was published in La Repubblica:

“In response to the nationalist and identitarian onslaught, we must rediscover the spirit of activism or accept that resentment and hatred will surround and submerge us. Urgently, we need to sound the alarm against these firebrands who, from Paris to Rome, with stops along the way in Barcelona, Budapest, Dresden, Vienna and Warsaw, want to make a bonfire of our freedoms. In this strange defeat of 'Europe' that looms on the horizon, this new crisis of the European conscience that promises to tear down everything that made our societies great, honourable, and prosperous, there is a challenge greater than any since the 1930s: a challenge to liberal democracy and its values.”

Libération (FR) /

Social issues the main topic

Libération's editor-in-chief Laurent Joffrin hopes the manifesto will wake people up:

“This text is a rallying cry: the times of being on the defensive are over. For those who believe in the future of civilisation, in the virtues of freedom, in the benefits of cooperation and exchange, it's time to show courage and willpower. First and foremost in addressing the key question: social issues, the Achilles heel of the economic liberalism that has long dominated EU policy and which has continually created rifts between the leading classes and the people. Europe is sturdier than many people think, especially when you look at the mess the Brexiters have got Britain into. But it is often unambitious and disappointing, and forgets that it was created to protect the people. It can, and must, become an ideal once more.”

Suomenmaa (FI) /

Liberals can be patriotic too

Suomenmaa finds one term in the manifesto particularly interesting:

“It's worth noting that the signatories call themselves 'European patriots' of whom more exist than is generally believed. The problem is that far too often they are too quiet. Being a 'patriot', according to this, is not just the preserve of nationally minded people. Democrats and liberals can also be 'patriots' - and perhaps them more than others. At any rate 'patriots' who believe they are superior to others by reason of their nationality are simply victims of populism and totalitarianism.”