The Many Faces Of Europe

Seven journalists from the Corriere della Sera trying to explain what are these nationalities. America trump far. Whether Europe will be able to cope on her own?

What does it mean to be English?

Severgnini Beppe (Beppe Severgnini)

We dedicated the first article to the British, because June 8, 2017 in the UK elections were held, a year after the referendum, which gave the nod to the state’s withdrawal from the European Union (23 June 2016, Pexit). It was the English — not the Scots, not the Welsh and Northern Irish people chose this path. Held a week ago, the vote marked another crucial transition for English identity, the UK, Europe and beyond. Who are the British? Young men and women in London for over 50 years, changing outfits and hairstyles, dictate the direction of music, art and fashion? The old lady, who in the morning in these last days of spring before the attack of foreign students regularly occupies the benches on Eastbourne seafront in Sussex? A daring young man who promptly does (or did) the money in the city? Working, born in Britain to a family of Pakistanis working in the car factory in the Midlands, and on Saturdays carries his wife in niqab shopping at the discount stores? Lecturer of Oxford and Cambridge, which is known for its manicured lawns and shiny head (outside and inside, shiny bald head — prominent thoughts)? It would be easy to answer: English is all of the above! But there must be something in common that unites them all. To find out what it is, I wouldn’t start from here. National identity grows out of a vague mixture of climate, geography, history, religion, birthplace, language, culture, rules, traditions and habits. The ratio of these elements varies from nation to nation. “English cake”, in my experience (45 years of travel!), prepared from four basic ingredients: geography, history, habits and language. Religion and the birth is not so important. Life on the island away from the continent, the impact on the peculiarities of the national character: it is no coincidence that those who love England and Sardinia, there are some common minor and curious traits. This mental separation, not physical. Channel — a narrow Strait, and it became virtually invisible (you drive it under ground or fly over it by plane). But it stays in place, symbolizing the distance between us, which today can be mistaken for arrogance. UK is a European nose of the ship, not the ship. To sail in troubled modern waters, we need a ship. And not just a ship, and cruiser. History plays an equally important role. Land which has not won even once in a thousand years, the monarchy that possesses one of the largest empires in history: it is quite obvious her craving for self-sufficiency. The continuous history of England; she did not have to cover or demolish monuments. And that’s saying a lot, believe me. Finally, habits and language. The nation is also composed of floating in the air smells of Breakfast, automobiles, television, games and memories, drink and words. The lawn and paint, fried eggs with bacon, slobozhany coffee, drive on the left and the BBC, football on Saturdays and traditional Sunday lunch, warm beer and the rich variations in the language that immediately puts all the points over i in the hierarchy: you open your mouth, it becomes immediately clear where you were born, if you studied, where you live, what you do, how many times in the country. But long live the British, no matter what. They are friends, which we desperately need, and they need us (but how much effort is to explain it to them).

What does it mean to be French?

Stefano Montefiore (Stefano Montefiori)

In fact, the French like to eat long bread in the shape of a baguette and produce hundreds of types of cheese that serves as an excellent proof — in the opinion of General Charles De Gaulle — impossible to manage such complex people. The Frenchman also is probably the most grouchy of all other Europeans, and Parisian waiter really will behave a little standoffish in relation to the millions of tourist that come up in admiration for millefeuille cake. Some stereotypes, as always, firmly rooted in reality, but, perhaps, a genuine French identity is that it is elusive and changeable. It is so evasive that it becomes a form of national obsession. President Nicolas Sarkozy (Nicolas Sarkozy) in 2007, has dedicated her whole Ministry, creating a Ministry of “immigration and national identity”, as if the first one questioned second. This story continues for a long time, because no other European nation is not a product of such mixing and subsequent integration of Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Greeks, poles, Latinos, and then the Algerians, Tunisians and Lebanese. There is a catastrophic event where thousands of times quoted marine Le Pen (Marine Le Pen), such as Renaud Camus (Renaud Camus), who developed the theory of the “great substitution”: in the peripheral areas, and already in polupronicaema blocks, is still far from Central cities, immigrants from North and sub-Saharan Africa take the place of these Frenchmen, replacing them, taking the slow and inevitable conquest. The philosopher by Alain Finkielkraut (Alain Finkielkraut) wrote a bestseller called “the Unhappy identity” against the progressivist aspirations too to listen to the “Other arguments”: “We must not confuse those who take and those who do, otherwise France will turn into nothing like an airport.” Polemicist Eric Zemmour (Éric Zemmour), sold thousands of copies of his essay “the French suicide,” States that the Frenchman — in his view, it is extremely rare — must eat cheese, drink wine and not to allow the passage of girls in short skirts in a cafe. It’s sore and nostalgic vision dominated the cultural debate in recent time in France. Along with the mediocre economic performance and rising unemployment, the loss of the French identity seems a crucial feature of our era. Including why the victory of Emmanuel Macron (Emmanuel Macron) in the presidential election was a surprise. The new head of state, it seems, agrees with that of Balzac, and takes it for granted: “the French love to fight, can’t stop, even in peacetime”. To be French means to argue about what it means to be French. The news is not expected until may, is that, in the opinion of a large majority, it also means to be optimistic and to feel themselves Europeans.


What does it mean to be German?

Danilo Taino (Danilo Taino)

Sandals with socks, of course, are the hallmark of German. A towel laid out on the best loungers on the beach early in the morning, when the hotel has been going on for Breakfast: it is prudent and a bit annoying. There is also something else. Goethe? Bach? Kant? Humboldt? Yes, he reads a lot of books and many Newspapers; he goes to the theatre and to the Philharmonic; he worships science, knows the types of centipedes and cacti. The bad thing is that that’s not all: moreover, such a German could tell even before the global tragedy 80, 90 and even 100 years ago. Still surprising, how could such an educated, strong people to create the Holocaust. German remains educated, pedantic, sometimes falls into mentoring. But there is much more. Immeasurable evil and guilt turned him into the new man, which is sometimes disoriented. Recently in Germany has renewed the debate that will never be closed. The discussion about Leitkultur, the dominant country culture. What makes a German a German, asked the Minister of the interior Thomas de Mezieres (Thomas de Maizière), standing in front of a crowd largely composed of immigrants arriving in Germany in the last two years that have yet to integrate. He said freedom, democracy and the fact that he hides his face behind a veil. He introduced criteria such as meritocracy and the mechanism that makes it work. However, the Minister was showered with criticism from Germany, for which there is no dominant culture. Discussions have arisen, and kind of disorientation. All this, however, is insufficient for understanding. Why, for example, Donald trump is experiencing some awkwardness in relation to Germany, perhaps even irritation, despite the fact that his grandfather was a German (originally, his name was TRUMPF)? Probably because it is an open country, with only 13% of the population believes that to be German to be born in Germany. Probably because it is a pacifist state that of all European countries it is less prepared (only 40%) to go to war to defend a NATO ally. Probably because it’s a “green” state: it puts the environment and the climate at the head of everything (including the production of cars). Probably because it is obsessed with rules. A few days ago, in the late spring in Berlin I saw, not for the first time, a group of families of Turkish immigrants around a barbecue in the shade of the large Tiergarten Park: women with a covered face and with scarves on their hair. Two hundred meters in the sun naked on the lawn sunbathing, a group of young Germans-nudists. All this two steps away from Bellevue Palace, where the President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Frank-Walter Steinmeier) certainly appreciated the sharp smell of roasted meat and sunscreen. The fact that the Germans, especially the young, are not the same as before, they are open and tolerant. But, as the old Germans, they have strong roots, they wear sandals with socks and listening to Bach. Complex people.

What it means to be a Spaniard?

Rosaspina Elisabetta (Elisabetta Rosaspina)

A taxi driver in Barcelona often prefer to communicate with foreigners in English, not in Castilian dialect of Spanish. Most of the Galicians, in contrast, does not attach so much importance to the language issue, at least not as much as the Catalans and the Basques, however, they probably feel closer to the Portuguese than to the inhabitants of Mallorca, because from the first they share a pride for their glorious Maritime past: what there the edge of a continent! Long before the beginning of the Golden age at their ports could not go to the great travelers for Atlantic. Valencies can feel like a stranger in the city of Extremadura, Andalusia in Cantabria and even in Madrid, where on public holidays and not left for the local inhabitants, they run into “Pueblo”, their villages, where they are usually still waiting for the old family home and native dialect. The question of Spanish national identity is a very difficult task. Not counting common areas associated with the bulls, flamenco, Siesta and jamon (the latter, I must say, remains a very important argument for all gourmets of the Peninsula). The problem is that, except in certain cases, such as when he plays Rafael Nadal (Rafael Nadal) or opens the exhibition of Francisco Goya in London or Paris, today the Spaniards are rarely proud of the fact that they’re Spanish. History. Yes, of course, it also plays a role. Even the kings of the Catholics sought to create a national community, small enough to survive under the rule of the Habsburgs and strengthened their hand for centuries to be Patriotic lawmaking of deputies of the Cadiz Cortes, the first Spanish Constitution in 1812. Had the 40 years of the Franco dictatorship in the 20th century, the Spaniards, or at least their new generation realized how stifling it can become nationalist rhetoric. So they went beyond those limits to their grandfathers were terrifying walls, built of bricks and tradition customs. By the time of the death of Francisco Franco (Francisco Franco) the esteem of his fellow citizens was already razed to the ground. Two of Spain who fought in the Civil war, decided in haste to forget old quarrels. It was easier said than done when still hundreds of mass graves, awaiting autopsy. Needed a common area, a space of mutual understanding, and the Spaniards found it. In Europe. For 15 years, “Eurobarometer” of the Royal Institute Elcano records in the Iberian Peninsula consistently good weather. Despite the clouds in the North-East of the country, and a policy of harsh measures dictated by Brussels and Berlin, the Spaniards believe that to be Hispanic means to be European. And let someone from the Galicians will remember that one very authoritative German, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, argued that Europe was born during a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, and, therefore, Galicia became part of Europe before Castille-La Mancha and Catalonia, where, however, as you can see in Barcelona, taxi drivers are often immigrants not from the European Union. And the Spaniards are very prone to get lost in endless discussions of this issue at the bar in Madrid with a glass of Rioja and a plate of pintxos.

What does it mean to be Scandinavian?

Offed Luigi (Luigi Offeddu)

The word “love” in Finnish- “rakkaus”. In Norwegian — “kjaerlieghet”. In Icelandic — “àst”. Swedish — “karlek”. In kalaallisut is “asannissuseq”. At least with regard to dictionaries, between the peoples of the North is not too much in common. The same thing in their kitchen: the Danes love herring with cherry, the Swedish — “aig grytta” fricassee of moose, Norwegians — “lutefisk”, cod, marinated in soda, the national dish of the town in the Lofoten Islands is simply called “Ä”. This also applies to more serious things: the Finns have plunged into the European Union, Norway and Iceland remain outside, the Danes followed the example of their Prince hamlet, and stand with one foot on the threshold of the EU, i.e. to become Europeans, but not too much. As for the rest, of course, they have common roots, as not to be of our ancestors-the Vikings — and this is not some folk tales, they are still studying the whole group of professors to the world rankings of wealth that these countries consistently head; to sprout (social) democracy and the system of social security that evolved in the so-called flexisecurity (you can be fired, but the state then provides you with support), is still thriving in the Nordic countries. In Oslo and in Reykjavik, massively participating in the parliamentary elections as if voting for “the hunting party” lost in the wilderness of the village: “freedom and participation”, Gaber sang these words, and perhaps it’s trite, but it remains in the heart of every Scandinavian. If there was a Scandinavian tramp, which would be a hated, would never have been elected, as he would not have received universal support, abstained from voting, as happened in the United States. The very name “Scandinavia” is historically implies only Norway, Sweden and parts of Finland”. But today it also includes Denmark, Iceland and Greenland. The name probably comes from the name of the goddess Skadi, the patron Saint of snow and forests. Snow, however, is disappearing as global warming, regardless of, he believes in trump or not: for example, the reindeer and the Laplanders migrate to the North, and the big-eyed Russian submarines are all closely eyeing the South. This Vikings to anticipate could not. But the role of women — Yes: in 975, according to the sagas, Madam Hallward Leggy refused to save the life of her husband, because a few years before he gave her a slap in the face. Iceland is ranked first in the world in terms of equality between men and women — the Prime Minister is a woman, a lesbian Johanna Sigurdardottir (Jòhanna Sigurdardottir), in Stockholm post Lutheran Bishop is also a woman, a lesbian Eva Bruno (Eva Brunne), raising a child with her friend the priest. Scandinavia is the smell of pine trees and dried fish, Northern lights and dark shadows: in Norway, the Bastion of democracy, lives Anders Breivik (Anders Breivik), a Nazi, killed in 2011, 77 persons; Sweden still does not know who killed in 1986, her Prime Minister Olof Palme (Olof Palme). The Norwegians shyly say “catch” of whales and baby seals, which they slaughtered with harpoons and ice picks. In the Danish soul live together cute little mermaid Andersen, “Fear and trembling” and “the Concept of anxiety” Kierkegaard. “The scream” by Munch rises from Paradise in the Norwegian fjords. In the North, even in the North, someone is suffering.

What it means to be a Slav?

Gargole Mara (Mara Gergolet)

Slav is suffering from a misunderstanding. And even more — what about it know nothing. It is from this misunderstanding is born of distinctive Slavic complex towards the West, compensated by an equally persistent conviction, verging on fanaticism, that they are not worse. (A small digression: the Slavic peoples are not Hungarians, Gypsies, Romanians and Albanians; the Bosnian Muslim Slavs). Representatives of the Slavic peoples throughout the late. They later appear in the alphabet (Cyril and Methodius — 863 year), they later accepted Christianity, the printing press in the national languages, you receive them when the other was Dante. Only after 1848, in Ljubljana, Prague and Warsaw, the inhabitants begin to define themselves as Slovenes, Czechs and poles. They had a special of the bourgeoisie instead of it, an infinite number of peasants, and when the bourgeoisie was in Central Europe, and its representatives spoke among themselves in German, and in St. Petersburg in French. The poet Franz Presern wrote beautiful sonnets to his beloved Slovenian Yulia in Germany; however, she rejected him, answering him in German. The Slavs have survived the long period of oppression and subordination, which they perceived as inevitable and worried, rather, not so much with the feeling of humiliation, but with fatigue. We must not forget about the powerful presence of Russia, infinitely exceeding in scale all other Nations, around which was born the idea of pan-Slavic unity (“children of the Sava owed the greatest part of the world”, wrote the same Franz Presern). This idea always made up suspicions that Moscow may be the worst oppressor, which is what happened in Communist 20th century. In spite of it in the basement, smoked cigarettes in Prague or Bratislava, lonely and courageous intellectuals looked to Europe as the only possible solution and alternative, they were full of complexes and admiration, but also harbored the hope of becoming a part of that as a result turned out. That is why, when faced with unaffected for centuries the inability to deal with government, management and even decision-making, the Slavs — all, regardless of the state found its refuge in language, both in the shelter and the attempt of self-preservation and preservation of society. Poetry and lyricism — as communication, confidence in the existence of a world, over-the-top, sentimental feeling of shared experience and of the absolute — much more important and truer than any policy — do not leave indifferent even the most callous of Russian, even Limonov (“Russian soul is crying”). And that’s what no Frenchman, no Englishman can never comprehend. Finally, the Slav does not exist. You fellows, if you call a Serb, Slovene, Slovak “Slav”, because he will think: here is another man who knows nothing, the Slavs had split into dozens of nationalities over thousands of years ago. However, nothing will prevent him to sit watch the sunset over the gilded dome of St. Isaac in St. Petersburg or a view of the river Ibar in Kosovska Mitrovica and feel, thankfully, home.

What does it mean to be Italian?

Antonio Polito (Antonio Polito)

Our outstanding national quality is the fact that we can not be overlooked. We attract attention to himself. Not always for this are the best reason, but always and everywhere, we draw attention to himself. Abroad, for example, we cannot not know. Usually, we are the most noisy, dressed the best, the most beautiful (with the exception of the Persians), we huddle together, instead of standing in line, we earn the as, starting from zero, we do not give anyone to push you around and bargain to the last penny, we — those who knows how to circle the other around your finger (the more sophisticated call it quality flexibility), we — those who can sing, those who tell jokes and do “peek a Boo”, those who work hard and when not working, know how no one in the world to enjoy the beauty. We can not fail to notice. We the people of the sea — no one can boast of so many miles of the sea coast, as we are; we cannot without traffic jams; we hustlers, we love the risk and trade, we always (was) hospitable to those who come to our region, in recent years, it is not always the case, just that, we are ready to move, we love to travel, if we don’t speak any language (we don’t own any), we can do this by using gestures or drawing. Or export. Within a couple decades, we were Chinese, in one single generation made the leap from starvation to the production of Fiat 500 for all. Maybe we are even able to do it again. We inhabitants of the plains and the mountains, we are careful, cautious, Thrifty, never cut, not measured out seven times, we’re always proven expensive, we are strong and we stand firmly on his feet, even when the earth is shaking, and shaking it frequently. We are people of the heart but also the liver, we are not weak. Take a trip to Amatrice or in Castelluccio, and then tell me. We are savvy, smart, fast, cunning to death. So cunning that our country has the third largest public debt in the world, and we are confident that we will pay. We hope not too far with the trick, because if you fail, we will replay, and then certainly we can not be overlooked. And then we southerners one and all, even those who call themselves northerners, however, once they cross the border of Switzerland, how immediately is that they came from the South. Put some Salvini (Italian politician, member of the nationalist party “Northern League” — approx. transl.) in Berlin, it seems Sicilian. Keep a man from Piedmont on the papal throne, and he immediately becomes the Pope of all margins of the world. We invented almost everything — Empire, Christianity, humanism, perspective, anatomy, double entry, electric batteries, wireless Telegraph, telephone and Moplen. Very rarely happened to earn some money. Englishman Tony Giddens (Giddens Tony) one day come up with the perfect recipe for Europe: Finnish technology, German performance and Swedish egalitarianism, the Danish employment rate of Irish economic growth, French medicine, the Luxembourg income per capita, Norwegian education, British cosmopolitanism (so they are cosmopolitans that have recently emerged from our community), Cyprus weather. He forgot the Italian genius. Sometimes even forget about it ourselves.