A Grand Illusion?: An Essay on Europe by Tony Judt

By Tony Judt

“I am enthusiastically eu; no knowledgeable individual may heavily desire to go back to the embattled, collectively adverse circle of suspicious and introverted international locations that was once the ecu continent within the really fresh earlier. however it is something to imagine an final result fascinating, relatively one other to believe it truly is attainable. it truly is my rivalry really united Europe is adequately not going for it to be unwise and self-defeating to insist upon it. i'm therefore, i guess, a Euro-pessimist.” —Tony Judt

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To appreciate this, we need to look a little more closely at some of the circumstances of its emergence. Four aspects of the European situation in the decade after Hitler's defeat contributed to the special context from which modern Western Europe grew. The first of these was quite simply the impact of the war itself. During the war belligerent and occupied states alike mobilized their resources and populations in unprecedented ways. The Germans invested heavily in their own war industries, some of which—notably in the metallurgical [24} A GRAND ILLUSION?

The question sounds odd, and one answer may seem intuitively obvious. There is only one Europe, just as there is but one Asia, one Africa, and so forth. Like the other continents, Europe has a north and a south, an east and a west, and appropriate subdivisions within these. True, the eastern boundaries of the European continent are fuzzy, shading into western Asia across a broad and topographically indefinite terrain; but elsewhere its limits are clear enough. Moreover Europe is a small continent with a long history of self-awareness, which means that to be a European is to have an identity rather more precise than that attaching to persons who are "African" or "Asian" or "American" by virtue of their geographical origin.

Ottoman Turks and the discovery of the Americas shifted the center of gravity of European history dramatically toward the Atlantic. The Counter-Reformation and the military defeat of the Protestant aristocracy of Bohemia at the Battle of the White Mountain in 1620 were undoubtedly a historical disaster for Bohemia, coming as they did in the aftermath of a flourishing of learning and the arts in sixteenth-century Prague. The rise of Muscovy ended the reality (though not the enduring illusion) of Poland's central place in European history.

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