Une certaine idée de l'Europe – leçon magistrale Patrick Boucheron

This time, the applauses are not pre-ordered, they are sincere

and I praise, I admire your journey

your ambition, and I acknowledge it as necessary Today, at the beginning of this conference, taking place in such pleasant company which I salute those here, with us, and those watching us in the same time thanks to technical means it is worth considering what brings us all together and why the series of conferences’ title, A certain Idea of Europe, feels oddly familiar I have thought at length about its oddly familiarity briefly, what do you mean by “ A certain idea of Europe”? Should we understand it in a gaullien sense meaning raising the voice, asserting, in a deep and solemn, manner “A certain idea of Europe “, implying its greatness,

as great as “A certain idea of France” could be a way, in sum to galvanize with a hollow voice a political fiction regardless of the fact that Europe, for de Gaulle, was what he called un machant. That is to say a shapeless gutted institution, empty inside, necessitating a resonant and powerful voice to fill this void since nothing more can be said about it than its greatness, the strength of Europe would come from what it lacks. That is exactly its consistency a consistency which is not, I’ll come back to it, imperialistic. I am not being ironic at all. This is a very serious issue and, basically, we could stop here, we could think that what we we are lacking today, what we’ve lost, what my generation has seen disappearing to some extent, is this obviousness, and why not call it Gaullien indeed, that Europe is valuable, not because of what Europe makes us miss but, on the contrary, because of what historically enables us to avoid I am 52 years old, and for me, this is still obvious It is still obvious because, would you believe it? I was born in 1965, which is not very far from the war and in any case, a lot of time has passed by ever since. And, basically, we could be disappointed, from a melancholic perspective , with the claim that our societies, to quote Achille Mbembé, are pleased with not remembering anything. And what happens when we do not recall anything? It is not just that we are not doing our duty of remembrance – I can very well grasp the exasperation that may be very natural, very legitimate, of young generations, which would see in the duty of remembrance, something like a school duty: “have you completed your remembrance homework?”, with all the dimensions of such a speech that treats people like children When Achille Mbembe talks about our societies as trading with the world in a very strange manner of taking nothing into consideration of having no consideration for anything that is not ourselves this is what he means by “having no record of anything”.And one must understand that this calm amnesia, basically associated to a free consciousness, moves away from Hannah Arendt’s historical capacity what she described when she said that history is memory’s directory the art to remember of what men and women are capable of in a society. Capable of the best no doubt, of the worst sometimes, obviously it is this historical consciousness that, in the aftermath of the war, for generations which are not yours, I am of course addressing the youngest people people amongst you, it is this consciousness that lacks that is insufficient today, inevitably from a movement perspective or even of the movement of generations, against which there is no need to revolt; one just has to note that they pass and by passing, they makes Europe lacks what has been the main opposition to its criticism that is: realising that by constructing Europe are avoiding war. But from this perspective the statement could be easily and sadly conclusive, because this is a serious question, as we think about history, and I cannot speak about anything else than history. I am a historian who does not talk about the past, but who takes the past as a starting point who tries to look into it for intelligibility resources for today but who, has no particular skills regarding the issues regarding the issues that interest you and stir you up geopolitics. I am only a historian among historians no more and no less, perhaps only a more or honest observer but who has no privilege in terms of the knowledge which should be conceded

So basically, the historical speech has an interest only if we look for intelligibility resources Well, I will come back to it because obviously, as soon as this Europe, that has been built on the “Never again” motto has to lose unfeelingly its historical consciousness how can we equip it historically? Today, history is not only the chronicle of what has happened but, and you know it , you know it well, the history of all possibilities, of all that has basically, opened, at some point some possibilities, whether as a hope or as a disillusion, is the heart of the questionnaire of historians which has therefore been considerably lengthened in this perspective I am not just speaking of counterfactual history. I am speaking more broadly in terms of the history of all of what has been possible To put it more clearly, if, in several years, we are told that future historians which are writing the history of Europe, chose as the end of it and of the idea of Europe that interests you, the summer of 2015 would we be that surprised? After all, if I take the question of what has Europe enabled us to avoid: is it war? death? shame? recession? tyranny? And even if we have all of this, Europe, instead of being a pole of stability suffers from a permanent dynamic dynamic of instability. When in a few weeks’ time we concomitantly had the Greek debt crisis the crisis of what should not be called “the refugee crisis”, but the crisis of Europe confronted to the necessity of welcoming refugees, and the crisis of democracy when Viktor Orban effectively takes power in Hungary with a policy that as you know, is openly xenophobic, overtly anti-migrant and he is not excluded from Europe, contrarily to the Greeks suffering the difficulties you know. And when all of this occurs only in a few weeks’ time if future historians tell us that during these few weeks of June, July and August 2015 Europe has died, what do we ought to say? find it wrong? ? I am not saying that it is true; it is only possible And that if we speak of what Europe’s lacks, of its political or moral faults , this is a possible future. Maybe we are already talking about something that does not exist anymore. And it’s a serious idea, or at least a serious hypothesis You see to what a hopeless conclusion this first meaning, resting on A certain idea of Europe in the perspective of Charles de Gaulle’s grandeur has led me This is why I prefer, in order to not end on a dark note to obviously understand it today in a maybe less geopolitical and more moral meaning and I am not saying that I have a certain idea of Europe, that is explicitly a great idea that would fall into pieces against reality and its breaches, but that I have a certain of Europe, that you can understand as an uncertain idea This means that now, Europe’s consistency, which is not geopolitical but moral and cultural, is saved by its uncertainty.It is not Charles de Gaulle’s Europe, it is George Steiner’s Europe, in his conference of 2004 precisely published with the title“A certain idea of Europe”, where the aim is not only to play humanism against bureaucracy to play the existential consistency of the European culture against its institutional construction, but to reassert the rights of the idea

against the institutions in which this idea could be lost As I understand your invitation, this is what I should deal with There is a European idea, but where is it, if we no longer talk about what it will become? We are, if not wiping it out, at least dimming it , making it invisible in the institutional arrangements, where it becomes literally impossible to understand it. This is why George Steiner reasserted the importance of a european pedestrian statement, I am quoting him , Europe is made up of coffee houses, of cafés. These extend from Pessoa’s favourite coffee house in Lisbon to the Odessa cafés haunted by Isaac Babel’s gangsters. They stretch from the Copenhagen cafés which Kierkegaard passed on his concentrated walks, to the counters of Palermo. And furthermore, draw the coffee-house map and you have one of the essential markers of the ‘idea of Europe’ This is a soothing idea. Beautiful and soothing. It is not because it soothes us that it is false, but it is not because it is beautiful that it is true We can prefer, sometimes, to take shelter in literature’s beauty why not, we are all made alike, but we must try to know what we gain from it and what we flee Something essential. That is something that all of us acknowledge as soon as we see it vanishing or being endangered, that is the European civilisation, and I am sorry to say that in this pedestrian statement, in these cafés, this blending this circulation, there is something that is eminently desirable I would not say specific, not specific at all, but let’s simply say desirable We can well observe that one of today political philosophy’s possibilities is to redefine values, common values, by styles, even by lifestyle. The term way of life could also be employed, and we must acknowledge that this latter expression is problematic since it can be appropriated by different types of people which have a xenophobic relationship to the world, leading them to defend their way of life against others, against the rest of the world We must depict contrasts, there is a path, an important path in which geopolitics losses itself This loss, the territorial consistency, is linked with our economic or political moral, since we can quite naturally prefer the cafés map than the steel and coal map, or or the map of the Cistercian abbeys. Indeed, Jacques Le Goff had this belief that Europe was born in the Middle-Age when monks developed over all the Christian, Latin-speaking countries of Europe a fabric constituted of broad mesh, but also composed of nodes of polarization focal points. This account of the foundation of Europe is crucial I am myself an urban historian, and it is in a way thanks to cities that the consciousness of the possibility of a European story was born. In the thirties, the European commission for urban history presented a clear schedule of urban comparative history. For George Steiner, it is fairly easy to achieve a comparative urban history since raisons que dit george steiner parce que on peut comparer d’une certaine manière it is possible to compare circulation modes, dwelling habits, forms of governing and to display what is fundamentally different from one shore of the Mediterranean Sea to another What is Europe but an urban archipelago? Once again, it is one of the refuge of the idea of Europe. When we lose hope in a state-based Europe we reconsider the possibility of an urban one, which would save its civility thanks to cities, acknowledged as more responsible, more democratic,

more open and cosmopolite. This is what I name the “archipelago thought” It has its pros, most notably a literary beauty: Edouard Glissand magnificently described what is an archipelago. But it has its cons when it is reinvested by technocratic thought: today a great dream of bureaucrats is to reconstruct Europe by forming a metropolitan archipelago of bureaucrats. This is fostered by a belief that when we live in Paris we cannot understand people from suburban areas, who vote so differently, so badly On the contrary, we are understood by and we understand other cities, which allows to create bridges. But we would be solely as depicted by Jacques le Goff, travelers from cities to cities, or as Umberto Ecco said in the The name of the Rose: going from one abbey to another, crossing some deserts areas where one does not recognize anyone, where one feels like a stranger to oneself, but when one is in the yard of Cistercian abbey, finally one recognizes the setting, precisely as one recognizes and, more precisely reconnects oneself in an airport hub In sum, there is a fantasy of a Europe which would reconstruct over meshed networks, owned by those the most connected the most favored, the most cosmopolitan. This is a simplistic perspective This overly simplified view is linked to what I called in the beginning the oddly familiarity of A certain idea of Europe I would then like to understand this expression in its original meaning, that is its Freudian meaning, and flip it as “worrisome oddity”.This unheimlich that means a familiar noun, this “before” which is a familiar “formerly” and which, forgotten or outreached, comes back to us. So obviously, when you are a historian as soon as you are told “it is the return of the Middle Ages, of feudalism, of the Treaty of Westphalia, or of anything else” you are hackle-raised because you think that no this cannot be history, this is not why our historical knowledge is useful” We mistrust, instinctively, any thought of a return, beyond modernity But this issue is all the same very interesting, because I was saying that this idea of Europe is undoubtedly haunting your generation. And what haunts us, what worries us Freud observed, is precisely the spectrum: it is not because it is extraneous but because it is dangerously familiar that it comes back. Why? Basically, once we’ve calmed down and we’ve calmed our our moral indignation, why most European don’t want refugees, whatever their history with the notion of refuge and exile may be? Why don’t they want them? In France, there is no issue with refugees, as an activist told me recently: there is no issue since nobody wants them. There is no debate about this. What important political force has a proposition, for the European elections for instance, on what to do on how we deal with the right of exile on a European scale, on how to get out of Dublin? Look for it, or work in order to contradict me In his recent book, Passer quoi qu’il en coûte Georges Didi-Huberman (a small and biting book he has just dedicated dedicated to Niki Giannari’s poem that feeds the voice-over of the film Spectres are haunting Europe we are indeed tackling this issue) described what really scares us. Why is this image of of a spectrum standing out?

Because refugees are not disembarking from nothing or nowhere: they are coming back. They are just coming back. When we see them as crowds of of invaders coming from hostile regions, when we confuse among them “the enemy and the stranger”, this basically means that we are trying to ward off something which has, consequently, already happened This thing is that we are all children of migrants and that migrants are only our parents coming back Our parents coming back. Here is the key And at this point, the worrisome oddity becomes oddly familiarity, the unheimlich And here is what I call the past: not only our history but this foreign country where we acknowledge that indeed those who passed, are coming back. And it is from this european past that I am talking today by wondering, by flipping the question that Europe asks so often to the world: what has Europe been lacking? As the idea of comparison (I was speaking of comparative history and of the fact that in the 1930s there was the humanistic ideal of a comparative history of Europe by its cities, by its city networks, but we could indeed carry out a more ancient, older and genealogical history of this will to compare). I am honored to serve, or to try to serve, an institution, the Collège de France, which is the school of the Other as has been so since the 16th century. And if it is a school of the Other , it is because it is a school of comparison which, in its origins, in in the first chairs it founded (Greek, mathematics), was not only focusing on orientalism, but more deeply on the capacity (I will speak about this later with Montaigne if I have time) to, why should I refrain from saying it , is it a big world? to put things in perspective. This means conceiving that if we are ourselves, we are also the others of other people And that we just have to switch perspectives to make identity teeter And this is what we call the comparison tool. We started by comparing grammars, and languages, and civilizations and then histories. But by doing this, we are always being asymmetrical. Take Braudel’s history: it always builds, in a big and symbolic confrontation Europe against a great Other (in this case, China). There has been since the 18th century and the historians know it well, a Chinese challenge The Western modernity is experienced confronted to this great Other, that we build in mirror which is China. When you read great texts, or even Pierre Chaunu on the Western expansion he is obsessed with this face-to-face confrontation between Europe and China that he considers besides as two balanced powers from a demographic point a view, for a very long time, in any case until the industrial era. And consequently, the counterfactual question of Kenneth Pomeranz’s book, entitled The Great Divergence, is: why, with comparable initial conditions in social, political, cultural, geographical terms in social, political, cultural, geographical terms (not by comparing England and China but by comparing England and the Yellow River) why here and not there? Why has the take-off happened here and not there? This is a big question And Kenneth Pomeranz, you know, this is a very important book also has a relation to this great opening of what is possible

It is a very deflationary history Max Weber: is protestantism necessary? No Is the modern bourgeois necessary? Not necessarily In the end, what is necessary is coal And there was none in China. So it becomes a matter of circumstances But basically, this always amounts to judge the world with respect to what it has lacked to become Europe. What I offer, indeed, is to give some elements to flip the comparison to ask what Europe has been lacking. Why?Let me shelve this So obviously, we can acknowledge in this an effect (but do not take it as an effect that makes guilty) (but do not take it as an effect that makes guilty) such as Dipesh Chakrabarty’s book, Provincialising Europe Dipesh Chakrabarty, by the way, gauge the importance of such a historian He is not only the author of Provincialising Europe, he is also one of the firsts, in an article of the beginning of this century, to have drawn the historical consequences from the perspective of the historical condition of what the chemists of the world were starting to call Anthropocene He was the first one to define it. We have here all the same a great historian who has a striking power to conceptualize. Saying that provincializing Europe is necessary necessary is not only a way to wounding our pride, it is just a continuation of this work of comparison: : being the others of other people. So obviously, working to make the world less Western-centric, this is what we now know to do, and it is a both moral and heuristic way of trading with the world. Romain Bertrand, a historian who wrote an important book History in equal shares, said in his subsequent book (to my view as important but less observed and less reputed maybe) entitled The long remorse of the conquest, showed how basically there is no happy conquistador. , how there is no innocence in the conquest in Europe, that what hassles Europe is its disquiet (in Pessoa’s meaning), meaning both its anxiety and its desire of action.This explains why Europe is not calme that it does not stay calm, that is does not consider itself as the world as was the case of China a long time ago. So Europe is projected forward What constitutes, let’s say, its lack in itself, also constitutes its moral stature, a certain idea of Europe, and an uncertainty of its destiny : an uncertain idea of Europe. Its stature is the motor of its power The greatest discovery among the great discoveries is the vulnerability in the Western human (I’ll attempt to come back to it). What we discover with the great discoveries is what Montaigne says in “Des cannibales” in 1580, that we are the barbarians of the world, that that there is no happy conquest. There is even no moment of exaltation. And we could discuss the history history of the empire, the history of colonisation as we are rewriting it today and which shows that at all the moments of the expansion, all the opinions were expressed. The history of colonisation is also that of

the anti colonialist struggle. The history of the universal exhibition of 1931 is also that of its contestation by the surrealists So there is a two-sided history, a worried history to which I would like to restore its rights This concern of being in the world as said by Camille de Toledo, a writer to whom I feel close and who wrote (as he spoke of obsession in Le Hêtre et le Boulot (Essai sur la tristesse européenne), precisely something like this sort of cartography of the intranquility. And he writes in another book L’inquiétude d’être au monde: “This is where we find ourselves after the twentieth century Europe prides itself on being ashamed. It flatters itself, as it has a sense of indignation about not being able, once again, to universalize its shame ” We cannot find a way to cope with it! This certainty of being the barbarians of the world reflects also how do we project ourselves to the outside world, and makes us conquer it This desire, literally, this curiosity (curiositas, set its mind on, take care of pay attention to the world) We could actually say that: it is a sort of greatness, for which Georges Steiner is criticize. Basically, the most precious legacy of Europe is to constantly criticize itself. What is called the evil of Europe What all the European literature calls the evil of Europe It is obviously something which, in my opinion, is magnificent: this uncertain idea of Europe which fails, which is misses And it is nothing but this lack. And at in the same time, we must see that this is what sets it in motion to conquer, to dominate and to exploit. And even when Europe is ashamed, it prides itself in its shame So, how can we escape? I remember what Camille de Toledo said Historians, anthropologists, poets, creators, invited in 2014 I believe, at a meeting a performance in Berlin called Secession. And it was precisely the idea that I suggested starting August 2015. One day the people, become exasperated to be no longer represented by the European institutions intractable with the treaties, decides to secede And finally, decide to obey (obey is baldly chosen), let’s say, they decide to consent to what Michel Foucault described precisely as criticism: the art of not being so governed. And he was therefore working not to be so governed To become ungovernable. It’s a fiction. And I said that it is always a serious business to scold political fiction That’s what I’m trying to do. So we fictionned the end of Europe destruction by abandonment. It was in 2014 In a way, today, we can see with more clarity, that all people want to leave Europe. All! If we ask them their opinion (well, that’s it, you’ve seen and we will not get back to it.) We’re vague, we are governments, it will not happen again but the British referendum is exactly what President Macron told the BBC

: if we did the same in France, it would have had the same result) Finally, this is one of the possible scenarios. The possible scenario is that, in a way, secession is a serious possibility. So we tried, from this political fiction, to say: what was missing? ? I had played, for example (the text was published in the magazine Poetry) the idea that finally, when there is nothing left of Europe, it remains the euro. But what about the euro? There is indeed this idea, an idea paved with good intentions, to put doors on the front and bridges on the back. Doors and bridges, you cannot be nicer, in order to make alliances And then we may remember that in the Middle Ages, a pontifex, a pontiff, is the one who launches bridges. We may remember less about Ivo Andric’s Drina Bridge and the way in which all European wars have helped pound bridges. But finally, it’s a good, a good example of of bridges reconciliation. And then it’s also a way to make an oriented European history since on the small denominations there are Roman bridges (five euros) and then, for the higher ones, contemporary art, cleanly untouchable. This actually gives a good idea of what a currency is. And then, , a currency, have a course, runs under the bridges So all this is good for liquid, small denominations. But why did we do that? And I went back to the designer from Berlin who drew the euros: that’s what we have left. Bridges and doors An oriented history of architecture. In 2000, and even a little before, a series of polls on how Europe could be considered were conducted Because there are not many currencies that do not adorn a face So which one? It was necessary to find someone who did not displease the greatest number I have polls, I’m not sure I really want to give them to you. We were in the 2000, and it’s a little depressing, but in any case David Beckham was well ahead Jean Monnet, Freud, Mozart, Vaclav Havel ceiling at 1%. And Goethe pleased only the Germans, Dante only the Italians and Cervantes only the Spaniards There were only three that were possible but we needed more than three faces, , we needed six or seven. There were three that stood out a little: Leonardo da Vinci, Martin Luther and Christopher Columbus Rather in this order: Leonardo da Vinci, Christopher Columbus and Martin Luther This is the head’s trifecta. Born in 1452, 1451, and 1483 There has been a moment in European history, when apparently something quite lively took place, this fifteenth-century history of which I will say a few words later. This fifteenth-century history, is so intimately linked to the history of our modernity, that is to say an uncertain and whimsical moment in which the same impetus was claimed to be measured by the immensity of the world and the intensity of oneself. And basically, we gave up on this capacity of incarnation, which today is missing, absolutely lacking. It’s nobody’s fault, but it is neither incarnated nor considered. It remains this oriented history of bridges or doors which are following the history of the European construction The question we can ask is basically , how to tell the story of the dispersion of European memories? How to do justice to the diversity and heterogeneity of European histories? I am

indeed part of a generation who thought that it would denationalize history by proposing a European recite And, you may have noticed, the current Minister of Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer told the National Assembly, the day before yesterday I believe: “we must root the European spirit in the heads of schoolchildren.” So there was some reaction, but basically it’s something normal because we believed it. We have worked on Franco-German history textbooks on the construction of European remembrance sites and we continue to do so) and with necessity, with talent: think of the last Europa book which is basically a pacifying attempt to gather places of European memories in a completely honest and critical way by telling dispersion story The error is perhaps geopolitical: it consists in pretending writing a European novel as smooth as homogeneous as the national novels were, as if the idea was developing, unfolding, losing itself, finding itself, but still remaining identical to itself We laugh at the young Lavisse of our childhood who described France as a blot of oil always identical to itself going towards its fulfillment, going to meet its shape and stumbling on its borders But what else are we telling when we’re speaking about about the European construction as a series of enlargements? As if it was the same idea that, widening, was not transforming frontières il ya plus les mêmes institutions There are no longer the same borders, there are no longer the same institutions, we were 6, now we are 27 but it’s still the same Europe. It’s absurd Describing it this way, in a smooth and well-oriented way, would, if it was said about a country, we would sneer There are 3-4 pages that I found incredible, disagreeable So it’s always good: history must be horrifying, otherwise it’s not worth it. If one smooths in the direction of the shiny hair of history as said Walter Benjamin, one may as well caress his cat On the contrary, it is necessary to go against the wave So let it be horrifying, unpleasant, it’s a good beginning On the French intellectual scene, it seems to me that there is an author that is very horrifying, Jean-Claude Milner for example Often when he speaks, he picots, it’s good. His considerations about France start with 3-4 pages on Europe where he says something like , I quote from memory: why are we talking about the European idea that would be identical to itself after these successive enlargements, and not seeing that, in a certain way, these ruptures profoundly changed its consistency As long as it was the Europe of the 6, it was basically, from a geopolitical perspective, sorry I stray beyond my area of expertise, the Europe of 6, is the Europe of the treaty of Campo-Formio, of the treaty of Lunéville. It is the French Republic and its sisters With an alliance of the republican model which went beyond the Rhine We may say Luxembourg and Belgium are not republics. But finally, at that moment, the republican model dominated. As soon as Great Britain joined joined the European construction, it radically modified Europe’s historical consistence, which ceased to be republican We witnessed it once again some days ago: with the English monarchy. Then came the Spanish monarchy It already changed things. Then, as recalled by Miller, now there are 27 member states, following central

Europe’s integration, which is a Europe shaped by the Counter Reformation.This is what has to be understood We must stop complaining and saying : they are failing in their duty, which is to imitate us Well, this Europe doesn’t fail. It doesn’t lie, it doesn’t want us This Europe what at the heart of Mitteleuropa, it collapsed and this is in fact a powerful model today powerfully authoritarian, xenophobic, identitarian, , based on ethnic identity. It is so sad you could cry I know, but that’s how it is. So this is not a history of central Europe that we need, but a central history of Europe, from the center, from its collapsed center, which means from its Lands of Fire And this is another chronology. It is not war, the two world wars don’t have the same importance It starts before, ends later The history of refugees starts there. As Machiavel used to said, go out not you, but the rulers. It is from this Europe, from the center of this Europe, that today one can say that the European construction is in no way after all the continuation of a same idea which has widen but still remained itself Then perhaps, one should invent new institutions and think about how a real European republic could look like. I will say a few words about it at the end. But what is interesting is to consider and thus I am going back to the history of the XV century, that from this moment one can have a rather clear idea of what Europe has been lacking. Precisely at the moment of its greater power. Because I define this certain idea of Europe as this structural unquietness, which makes its strength its vigor, what not say its dignity. A value both universal and that can be opposed to the universality as a universalization of individual points of view There is a beautiful paper by Bruno Latour entitled “Recalling modernity”. Modernity should be recalled should recall of itself, of its necessities of its requisites, of its universality, but also, and this is the cheeky part of Bruno Latour, a defective product can be recalled, because doesn’t work anymore.It is recalled, but not with the purpose of depriving others: but to fix it and putting it back into circulation. Therefore, Europe has to recall modernity it has to recall also that this is only one of the places where this modernity was invented, not the only place where an individual point of view has been universalized All these questions are linked to the history of the XV century And when I look back on my choices as a historian, I studied France and Italy’s history urban Italy, with the idea that starting with cities one could do history on an archipelagoes basis After the Italian cities, I studied the history of the urban Europe, than of the world The history of Italian cities lead me quite shortly to the world without a long stay at the European scale

Not because a lack of love or dismay, but only by choice, the choice to go and question this unquietness of the heart And when we worked on this collective book called The History of the World in the XVth century it really was an attempt to make Europe a province, and to show that, if you do not read this century backwards, starting with starting with the westernization of the world, and following, lighthearted the caravels, but starting with Tamerlan’s death in 1405, you could follow the history of a world which was first built as a confederation of empires, the national shape was absolutely not dominant yet, nor the most needed. The beginning of the XV century could be called the Turkish century. The years 1420-1430, marked the collapse of Islam’s center, as Islam had been the vehicle of the modernization of the world – one should never forget it The vehicle of the modernization of the world, from its most interconnected region, which is the Indian Ocean, as Sanjay Subrahmanyam demonstrated. But when, for different geopolitical reasons, when trade and other things collapsed, they are replaced not yet by the Portuguese, but by the Chinese. There is this famous story, chinois vivement la grande affaire sous la ivème dynastie la quatrième épreuve under the Emperor Ming, of the maritime expeditions of Zheng He, who sailed along the coasts of Mozambique, and shows once again to the historians what has been a failed civilization of the world. This story that China denied for a long time, or a least tried to forget because from its point of view it was the guilty oversight of the fact that China didn’t need the rest of the world that China itself was its own world. This has been exalted again afterwards, and keeps on being exalted You might remember this extraordinary moment, the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing, which was entirely designed as a history lesson for the Westerners, including a majestic moment for the treasury ships of the great expeditions of Zheng He, admiral and eunuch, a Muslim, who navigated on behalf of the Chinese emperor And at this moment, it was the precise year when the Chinese Chinese investments were mastering the African market, the precise year when China became the factory of the world What this history was saying to the Westerners, , what the Chinese were saying, is: we could have been what you have been, we will be what you no longer are It is also what history is made for: give power lessons Then what was interesting when we were writing this history of the world in the XV century, was to show that the European form of government was invented in the Italian laboratory during the XIV and XV centuries, for example with the negotiation procedures in embassies, as the Italian people where the first to invent a common diplomatic language a negotiation language The embassy, in Italy after 1454, does not define someone who travels abroad anymore, but someone who lives in a foreign country These are permanent embassies. In the Italy of the XV century, there is a game between powers a balance of powers is invented, which

will be tested later on at a larger scale in the Europe of the XVI century. Therefore, one can say that Europe, in the XVIth century was Italy, only bigger. This is why, as an Italy expert, I always give some credit to the theme of the Italian laboratory, to the idea that something of the European policy is experimented there. And I say it today specifically and not yesterday. I admit it is not totally reassuring But there is a Berlusconian history of the world they have been a step forward Here is our model, let us call it the system of the competitive and prosperous states. A kind of oligo polarity, connected, competitive, constantly waging war at oneself. Then building up models of negotiation rejecting a low-sound war at the borders and organizing a space of co-prosperity. It is the model of a very small minority. The world in the XV century is a world designed by empires What is interesting when you tell the history this way, is that what happened, namely the westernization of the world, was the less likely scenario All central empires collapsed all right, this is also true for the great African empires and kingdoms. There is a littoralization of the world, all right, and thus in a way coastal states are morphologically similar to the Swahili, Venetian or Portuguese cities But the fact that the incorporation of the world started from its very edge from the Finistère of Europe, from the edge of Portugal, this was definitively the less likely scenario. And yet, this is what happened Therefore, I am do not know what Europe has been lacking is its imperial shape. I am saying that it is always interesting to write the history of Europe though a change of scenery, that is to say on the basis of a template for the explanation of history which is not European. For example, I have lead with others, like Gabriel Martinez-Gros, a comparison between Ibn Khaldoun and Machiavel, one thinker of the beginning of the XV century and one of the end of the XV century Ibn Khaldoun is a thinker of history and a thinker of empires. Ibn Khaldoun is a thinker of universality One does not want to admit it because , for him, Islam is the universal, and for us Islam is explicit, but is explaining nothing. And the idea that we become ourselves through the eyes of an Islamic thinker, hurts us terribly Nevertheless, it is possible to make a Khaldunian history of the Algerian war That’s what Gabriel Martinez-Gros did, and it shocked everyone: “but it’s an anachronism”. Oh? And making a Marxist history of the Thirty Glorious, it is not anachronistic? If we consider that Ibn Khaldun is a thinker, a philosopher of history, we can use his model to understand what is happening to us His model, is that there are central empires. And that these empires, are sedentary, and build their power starting with citizens’ disarmament. They are exporting therefore what we call asabiyya solidarity in violence) at the margins. So there are sedentary people and

Bedouins. Bedouins’ violence manifest itself regularly, and it is projected outside the empires. But sedentary empires are weighed down by the weight of their own power. They become prey, for the asabiyya, for the Bedouins We can call Charlemagne a Bedouin: he’s a Bedouin Charlemagne was a Bedouin who came and seized a sedentary empire. We can tell all Machiavelli’s stories from this perspective The condottiere are Bedouins: they are conquerors by admiration They actually admire what they will seize If we make a Khaldunian history of Europe, we will wonder what did we miss. What has Europe been lacking for not being an empire? ? I’ll leave aside the details, but I would like to let you meditate only one reason In the Khaldunian schema, the state is by definition a state of conquest. In this sense Islam is indeed a continuous antiquity. This makes it incompatible with the institutional construction of Latin States’ history Ibn Khaldoun said to himself: but why is it weird in Europe? Why nothing works as in the history of mankind, with great empires that are built and then that collapse because they are taken by Bedouins who restore it, build it and then it collapses and like that over and over again. What is happening? Well it happens that there is growth. The economic growth since the 13th century made from the region an effective area of co-prosperity, which meant that we do no longer need to constantly dispute limited resources. It’s interesting because in this case we say: ok, but that means that our system is doomed to growth, and that if we seriously think that we have returned (in any case from an European perspective) in a world that will no longer experience great economic growth, we can no longer know stability. We will be reborn in a Khaldunian historical recite. A word to conclude perhaps It will inevitably be very disappointing. Have we really, completely abdicated the reasons, the hopes, one’s capacity to act by saying: this certain idea of Europe related to the world’s history, which tells what we lacked, is uncertain. And that this uncertainty is the only thing we still have. Isn’t it just a pirouette? I do not believe so. Especially if we remember the need to find, or refind, or perhaps invent, a republic And I would just like to say a word, a reference to a recent book that seems to me very rich in teachings, by Claudia Moatti called Res publica: l’histoire romaine de la chose publique, which precisely proposes a discontinuous, heterogeneous history of public affairs. Place under the sign of she proposes to call altéronomie, that is to say the social aptitude of the political imagination, the otherness as the alteration, the cleavage in conception and in practice. This unoriented history that gives right to discontinuous, heterogeneous diversity. Where we can have the same political language but where we do not agree on words. We do not agree on words. And this Res publica, is in the end

for the Romans, what they inherit from the Greeks in the sense used by Nicole Loraux: the link of division In other words, what really makes the public affairs is the varied forms of civic dissensions It is enough to say, for the moment that public affairs do not refer to an origin, a birth, or even a model to remain, to imitate, but that means, I quote Claudia Moatti: a mobilizing reference, which certainly does not allow to define the res publica’s nature, but which says something unique, that the public affairs are uncertain and imprecise Fluctuating and open as it is citizens’ responsibility. The very effect of their conflictual of their original and surmountable disagreement The only condition of politics as a common world. At that moment, the res publica is what Claude Levi-Strauss would call a floating signifier Which applies to an infinite number of material or immaterial referents Res in Latin means everything and not necessarily something. It is the emptiness that defines res. And this original indistinction makes the res publica anything but a regime. It will become so in the 15th century The Republicans did not know that they lived, finally the Romans did not know that they lived in a republic. It is the Latin, finally the neo-Latin, Lorenzo Valla or Francesco Patrizi in Siena in the 15th century that translates the Greek politeia into respublica making it a political regime. At the same time saying that the Romans lived in a republic, means that we, modernists should imitate the Romans But until then it did not mean that. And if it endured, , and if it was livable, it was because it was uncertain. And uncertainty, actually means a way of orchestrating, call it the way you want. The discord with Machiavelli the agreement of disagreements, but a certain way of orchestrating the fact that we want to live together despite everything, despite actually not forgetting our differences Walter Benjamin described Weimar parliament members as dying from forgetting the constitutive violence that had made them necessary. If Europe does not remember anything, if it forgets the constitutive violence that made it necessary, that is to say its strength of dissension. And that, is called politics and one can agree, that what is missing in Europe, today what the word of European construction designates as a lack, is politics. And politics are not for historians to say or desire, they are up to the citizens to organize, and that’s why I will stop talking