Schiller Institute Conference
Fulfilling the Dream of Mankind
November 25-26, 2017
What Europe Should Contribute to the New World Paradigm
by Jacques Cheminade, former French presidential candidate
Europe and the nations of Europe, who are we? “Of course one can jump up and down on one's chair like a kid goat bleating Europe, Europe, Europe, but it leads nowhere and means nothing.” This is what General de Gaulle provocatively said, in an interview given on December 14, 1965. Some still today maintain that in reacting that way, de Gaulle was only concerned with France's political Grand Design and prestige, while others claim he was mainly inspired by commercial and economic motivations, especially agricultural, by a conception of protectionist national interests raised against all other nations. Both are wrong. It is now key for European nations to ask themselves why it is wrong, because that raises the question of what a nation-state and a world region like Western Europe really are. It is the first question to raise to muster a sense of a mission, to realize what we could and should contribute to the new world paradigm, to our World Land-bridge. To identify the source is indeed key to understanding what could and should spring from it. All the more so as it was the same de Gaulle who, after recognizing the People’s Republic of China in January 1964, declared quite prophetically what nobody then was able to foresee: “It cannot be excluded that China will once again become what it was for centuries, the greatest power in the universe.”
What de Gaulle rejected was a supranational institution and a pseudo-federal model of integration launched against the very principle of nation-states. He understood that solidarity, as opposed to what is happening in the current European Union, means to have a common mission and not to undermine national sovereignties, but to base solidarity on a mutual understanding. He told his press secretary, Alain Peyrefitte, the following: “What the Anglo-Saxons want is a Europe without shores, a Europe that would no longer have the ambition to be itself. A Europe without borders. Europe à l'anglaise... A Europe in which every European country, beginning with ours, would lose its soul.”
The key word here is “soul”. Because if Europe can contribute today to the New Silk Road and the World Land-bridge, it is with the soul of each and all of its nations, the soul of its main composers, poets, philosophers and statesmen, with their science, their art and their technologies, and not with the sterile product of an artificial entity ruled by a monetarist bureaucracy. De Gaulle, in that sense, was definitely and absolutely pro-European. In the same interview about the “young goats”, so often misquoted, he said:
“As long as I am French, I am a European. Given the fact that we are here in Europe – and I would have to say that France has always been an essential if not a capital part of Europe – therefore I am of course European... Our countries have their history, their language, their way of life, and they are French, German, Italian, British, Dutch, Belgian, Spanish, Luxemburgese. These are the countries that we have to progressively accustom to live and act together. In that sense, I am the first one to recognize and think that our Common Market is essential, because if we manage to organize it, and consequently to establish a real economic solidarity among these European nations, we will have done a lot for the fundamental coming together of the people and for our common life.”
And he added, in a speech given in Bonn on June 11/12 1965:
“We Europeans are builders of cathedrals. It took us a long time. We have made a lot of efforts. But we have succeeded... Anyway, there is a foundation, it is the reconciliation of France and Germany. The pillars are our six members of the European economic community. There is going to be a top made of the arches and the roof and it is going to be our political cooperation. The pillars are built after the foundation is fixed. The top is going to be settled when the pillars are going to be properly built... When our cathedral will be built, it is going to be opened to others. Who knows if, with then, when we will have acquired a taste for building, we are not going to build an even greater and more beautiful cathedral, the union of the whole Europe?”
De Gaulle, in the middle of World War II, on November 11 1942, had already invited “Europeans to join together in a practical and lasting fashion”.
It is key to understand this concept. Of course, things have changed a lot since the 1940s and 1960s of the last century, but the challenge remains the same and even more clear. There are two traps. The first is to think that there is way out that leads to the past as such, as a withdrawal of a nation into itself, a fixed model. The second is to subjugate our nations to a European Union which has become a tool of a one-world monetarism, ruled by money fakers such as Mario Draghi, through the euro and the financial institutions of the fake Europe and NATO. Both mean submitting to the ruling financial oligarchy, the ideology and financial power of the British Empire with its somehow Anglo-American new skin, which is the very reason why de Gaulle vetoed British admission to the European Union.
It is very important for our American and Chinese friends to understand this point: it means Europe must break away from the geopolitical rule to be truly itself, and European nation-states must work together for common projects and therefore not give in to that geopolitical rule, one by one or together. It should be clear that the present day European Union is based on a betrayal of the best historical and cultural sources of Europe, and I mean sources, not roots clinging to the ground. But it should also be clear that the European nations and their leaders, and their so-called populist opponents as well, have also given away their souls. Therefore, where is hope? What could our European contribution be? It is obviously in the sense of an understanding of what a nation-state is, something which is, even if concealed, latent in all the hearts of true Europeans. Our task is to inspire the awakening from the sleep of reason.
A nation-state is much more than a territory or a given state of the population, or even a religion or a tradition, it is the dynamics of an idea evolving and increasing in power and scope over the course of history. Friedrich Schiller, Heinrich Heine, François Rabelais, Miguel Cervantes, Dante Alighieri, Alexander Pushkin, Percy B. Shelley or, at their best, Adam Mickiewicz and Victor Hugo brought forth this “idea” in their writings, as many poets did in their own ways. This idea is dynamic, as all ideas are, and its political embodiment, I am convinced, is the best contribution that we can make to the new world paradigm.
If you are inspired by them, you begin to understand the Confucian tradition of China and you won't fall into the traps of geopolitics or monetarism. Great minds always tend to coincide over the main issues. In the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, we have this conception of the advantage of the other and in the Preamble of the American Declaration of Independence, we find the pursuit of happiness, which is the same conception of happiness developed by President Xi Jinping, a happiness that it is only possible to reach for oneself if you make it possible for others to reach.
To have something to contribute demands that all we Europeans engage in a profound heart searching, since the path to reason is opened by the heart. Such an effort by us, understood by the Chinese, would be the best way to respond to the challenge of the Belt and Road Initiative. To build, out of the present European Union, the euro and NATO, a true Europe of the nation-states, as de Gaulle said, “from the Atlantic to the Urals”. And this time building well beyond, to connect the Atlantic with the Western Pacific on the one side, and to a renascent America on the other, should and would be an education for the world, and the basis for the great World Land-Bridge. Such an effort would take us out of the ideology that says that success can only be made at the expense of the other, with the expectation that the winner takes all. And the Chinese would appreciate that. It would also get us out of the foolish idea that the New Silk Road is good, because it is a tool against the United States. And the Chinese could appreciate that.
President Trump's visit to China proved that the Chinese authorities are committed to a community of development among all nations, because they understand that their interest coincides with the interests of all of them. Here in Europe, we should work to surpass the cultural pessimism of geopolitics and financial greed, and revive those moments, such as in our great Renaissance, when we attempted to contribute to creating a Republic by reaching out to the shores of America to free ourselves from the grip of the European oligarchy. In that sense, we can contribute by reappropriating our own history and rediscovering how we brought about our revolutions in science and art.
It also demands shedding a self-destructive euro-centrism to bring to the world the gift of a true internationalism, freed both from narcissistic nationalism and from the cosmopolitanism of financial slave herders. Then, we can understand and joyfully share with others the fact that Europe was only able to exist because between the fall of the Roman Empire, despite the reign of Charlemagne, and our great Renaissance, remarkable achievements took place in other parts of the world. Mainly in China, but also in India, Cambodia and parts of Africa. In that sense, to make our contribution fruitful, we must understand that our civilization has sources other than Greek and Judeo-Christian. This does not mean to underrate those fundamental, great Judeo-Christian contributions but, on the contrary, to realize that they are not only key for the world of the future, but also substantial for us.
Europe has not only been made from within European territory. For example, without the visitors from China who came to meet Toscanelli at the time of the XVth century Council of Florence, America would have probably been “discovered” by us Europeans much, much later, and the cause of freedom against the oligarchy would have been, at least temporarily lost.
Today, the Belt and Road Initiative, together with the existence of the BRICS, is not only a network of infrastructure projects, economic institutions and high-speed trains, but a change of paradigm which is not only Chinese, although inspired by China, but universal, as the Chinese understand it much better than we do. It is a potential leap from a geopolitical and financial order based on the possessions of goods and territory to an economic order of exchanges and mutual development, based on connections and permanent innovations, and not on annexations and possessions. To understand this, we should contribute and share with the Chinese the approach of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz on this point.
Starting from the principle of the universality of reason, Leibniz, at the end of the 17th century, notably in his Novissima Sinica, not only concludes that Christian revelation theology and the Chinese natural theology of Confucianism are compatible, but that it is necessary to launch an econmic, scientific and cultural cooperation between the two “more developed extremes of Eurasia”, Western Europe and China. He writes:
“A specific arrangement of the Providence, according to my opinion, has made that the highest culture and ornament of the human race are today somehow concentrated at the two extremities of our continent, Europe and China, the latter as the Europe of Orient embellishes the opposed side of the Earth.”
Leibniz considers that Europeans are more advanced in the science of non-physical things and metaphysical speculations, on geometry considered from the standpoint of philosophy, while the Chinese have a better management of practical philosophy and rules of life. Hence the Belgian Jesuit Ferdinand Verbiest taught the “European sciences” to Emperor K'ang hi, trigonometry and astronomical mathematics, so much that the Emperor became a highly learned man, looking at geometry from the standpoint of philosophy and not mere craftmanship, and composed a book to promote the principles of such a beautiful science to children. The Jesuits priests sent to China by the French monarch were organized by Leibniz to share more generally this knowledge with a Chinese literate elite, as the communication of ideas accompanied the exchange of goods. But for Leibniz this was not a one-way relation. He points out, both seriously and ironically, that “The state of affairs among us seems to me such, through the overflow of corruption, that it would seem almost necessary that the Chinese should send us missionaries to teach us the use and practice of natural theology, as well as we send them some to teach them the revealed theology.”
Europe should contribute to deepen the knowledge, on both sides, of this first draft of a global silk road, as a web of both physical and mental exchanges. A good lesson for us all is to understand how this mission was historically killed. First, by the ultramontanes of Rome, who refused to admit that the ren and the li, the idea of a sovereign universal good could be compatible with the spirit of Christianity, and second by the brutal assault of the British Empire, supported, as Victor Hugo denounced it, by the French, notably through the opium wars and the murderous gunboat “diplomacy” and plunder.
This shared historical knowledge should contribute to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, to then consider our relations with the eyes of the future.
There are of course many areas of cooperation now ongoing, but in a far too limited way. On the history of sciences, looking to the input we Europeans can have, there is the common study of the works of Vernadsky, the German and Russian schools of cosmic and astronautic sciences, the Italian school of hydrodynamics, the French developments in laser fusion...
Concretely, there is a lot to share, provided there is a political will and not ideological mistrust. I have been told so many times that if scientists organize their own channels of communication, they work very well together because science does not belong to one single country, but to all of us, to build a better world. But the problem in all ventures is the lack of collaboration from the European administrations which, too often, think in terms of the Chinese situation of five to ten years ago, without taking into account the enormous progress accomplished in China in the last years. The French seem to be even more bureaucratically paralyzed than the Germans: there are presently about 5000 Chinese doctoral and PhD students in Germany, but only 500 in France. The last Franco-Chinese science commission took place 6 years ago and there have been less than five visits of scientific supervisors on both sides in the last ten years! The worst is the censorship of many initiatives by security and defense services on our side and the lack of a long-term strategy of cooperation.
France does have, for example, two projects in the aerospace sector with China: CFOSAT, a satellite to be launched in 2018 for the observation of the oceans, and SVOM, set for 2020, for the observation of gamma ray pulses. The French project Cardiospace has been embedded in the Tiangong 2 Chinese space mission.
But all of this is far, far away from what we could and should contribute. I am fighting for the launch of an area of common and far-reaching cooperation, on the Franco-Chinese and European-Chinese levels, for a truly ambitious space policy, the blossoming of an oceanic “blue” economy and the development of Africa. All that cannot be decided or arranged, at a French or European level, from bottom up. A strategy from top down, vertically promoted within an aufstragstaktik approach, is needed to contribute in a cross-roads type of exchange of ideas, research, innovations and goods, which have to be reached to establish a community of development and world peace. For us, as Europeans, the emergence of China presents the opportunity to open our eyes, look at ourselves, and lift our heads—instead of walking on them. It will make us happier, like all those Chinese children driven by joyful curiosity and all those from the Yemeni youth cabinet. The challenge for us adults is to care for them, being rationally and wholeheartedly proud of our nations once again, proud to work together for a future based on a community of principles, solidarity and peace.
Let us stop crawling from the past and leap ahead toward the future to rediscover and recover our souls, the souls of Europe and of our nations. It is for us, true Europeans, a mandatory contribution and it is time to be human.