An epiphany is beguiling Europe. Far from dwindling in historical significance, the Old World is about to assume an importance for humanity it has never, in all its days of dubious past glory, before possessed. At the end of Postwar, his 800-page account of the continent since 1945, the historian Tony Judt exclaims at 'Europe's emergence in the dawn of the 21st century as a paragon of the international virtues: a community of values . . . held up by Europeans and non-Europeans alike as an exemplar for all to emulate'.1 The reputation, he assures us, is 'well-earned'. The same vision grips the seers of New Labour. Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century declaims the title of a manifesto by Mark Leonard, the party's foreign policy wunderkind.2 'Imagine a world of peace, prosperity and democracy,' he enjoins the reader. 'What I am asking you to imagine is the "New European Century".' How will this entrancing prospect come about? 'Europe represents a synthesis of the energy and freedom that come from liberalism with the stability and welfare that come from social democracy. As the world becomes richer and moves beyond satisfying basic needs such as hunger and health, the European way of life will become irresistible.' Really? Absolutely. 'As India, Brazil, South Africa and even China develop economically and express themselves politically, the European model will represent an irresistibly attractive way of enhancing their prosperity whilst protecting their security. They will join with the EU in building "a New European Century".'
LRB 20 September 2007 | PDF Download