How hard it is to be European

Today we are sharing this text, written by one of our contributors, also available at the following link on the Centoidee blog. The text aims to discover how the current socio-political situation is experienced by a young European, amidst anxieties and fears but also a little hope…

By Filippo Zimmaro / 12.07.2022

Sometimes phenomena choose (or rather we choose) images which are iconic but not central in order to be remembered. As an Italian, I remember most of all Grosso’ run after scoring against Germany in the 2006 World Cup, rather than his last penalty which secured our win. Similarly, the uncertainty and vaccination of Europe in the common imagination is more effectively encapsulated in Michel’s awkward and astonished gaze as Ursula Von Der Leyden is made to sit by Erdogan’s entourage on a miserable little sofa away from the pompous chairs reserved for the two men. Furthermore, the impromptu and incoherent jokes that punctuated the debate on vaccines, for example, should theoretically have said much more about the crisis Europe is going through. 

A crisis should be spoken about. From an economical point of view, but above all identitarian, cultural and political. The European ruling class fails not only to unite, but also to define itself individually. Suffice it to think of immigration: some ignore it completely, clearly excluding it from the political agenda and avoiding talking about it except in tones steeped in the most prissy respectability, as if it were not one of the pivotal problems of the century. By others, however, the issue is exploited in the crudest ways. Paradoxically, the issue turns out to be beneficial even for those from whom it is silenced, in this forced dichotomy that pushes us to choose one of the two extremes. There is no one, no who offers a defined, lucid, even ideological if necessary, but coherent vision. All the political forces swing with what is currently occurring, devoid of any strategic vision, but ready to chase the whiff, the fashion, the sudden and indistinguishable polarisations of the masses.

Time and time again has it been said that the politician should be an admiral in command of his ship: the Sean is to be humoured, as well as the crew, but with a few imperceptible course corrections he should bring the boat to its destination. The one he has chosen. Today’s politics has no destination, rarely corrects its course, sarcastically innovates the debate with slogans such as ‘the left and the right no longer exist’, observes social movements aloofly, dodges environmental and ethical debates as much as possible. In fact, in recent years there has been an increasingly marked disconnect between the major political parties and social movements, with the latter tending to be more and more present and polarising on multiple levels. This complex division is difficult to apply in the political landscape: a major political party prefers the technique of abstention or superficial participation, avoiding taking a real position on any potentially divisive issue. On the other hand, politics surrenders itself to the new communication mediated by social media, which it neither understands nor regulates, but feels obliged to use.

A continent where culture overflows is paradoxically a victim, having never managed to harmonise into a common identity and vision. Succubes to a world that has not been moulded for so long, it is fast changing, becoming hyper-complex and totally escaping its still static and twentieth-century intelligence that forces it to attempt futile somersaults, while others speed by at 1600 km per hours, like the train from Osaka to Tokyo. We Europeans adapt to the various myths that have been proposed to use for decades, mainly from overseas. We turn our backs to the growing inequalities that we have been debating for centuries, we set aside embarrassing problems while we repeat what our values, our culture, our achievement have been like a nursery rhyme and then wish for the purchase of our favourite team by a Qatari fund. We fail to break free from the Americans, whose models we share, to emancipate ourselves from Arab and Chinese capital, to build a common front in Africa. 

Sometimes I think that this turnover is completely natural: it will simply be the fact that we are an old, catlike, sluggish continent. So make sa for the young start-ups in Turkey, the entrepreneurial and imperialistic spirit of China, the crazy American chase for success and the dynamism and youthfulness of Africa. Although in our line of social development these ideals are unquestionably in the rear, it is only right that their turn to dictate the rules should come.

At other times I wish for a revolution that spreads from Europe and starts from European values. A revolution that brings man back to the centre, following the capitalist-digital Silicon Valley having brought not only innovation and prosperity, but increased inequality, anonymity and precariousness. Some time ago there was talk of a New Humanism. I do not know if this is what was meant, but the name does not sound bad at all.


Filippo Zimmaro (Italy)

Languages: Italian, French, English, Portuguese

Studies: physics

Europe is… to understand that certain things are better in another language, with another accent and pronounced by moving mouth and hands in a different way

My blog


Alex Jedwab (binational Swiss/British)
Studies: MA in English
Languages: English, French, German and Italian
Europe is... my home!

Author: alessandra

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