“Tears Know No Color” – Macron and Young Europeans On Our Common Memory of Blood, Tears, and War

low angle shot of the barbarossa monument
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On the occasion of the Memorial Day Celebration in the German Bundestag today, French President Macron has reminded Germans and Europeans that peace is nothing we can take for granted but a task for every generation. In his moving speech before the Bundestag, Macron also addressed common challenges, such as climate change and trade conflicts, and called for a pooling of sovereignity of nations in Europe in a stronger European Union.

Other speakers were young men and and a young woman from Belgium, Great-Britain, France, and Germany who had visited the graves of soldiers together, and written them letters. “We have visited cemeteries in France and Belgium, which together have more deaths than guests fit into our stadium,” a young soccer player from Berlin said.  A young Belgian soccer player from Bruges today, commemorated two brothers of a local rival soccer club who died on the front lines together: “We will always remember you as friends. Tears know no color.”

“Tears know no color.” Blood is red in every country. And in our diverse European family, every single family has memories of a fallen relative, of famine, or of destruction we have brought on ourselves twice in the past century. May the similarities of such memories all over the continent bring us together as one family, the European family.

An Agenda of Discussion Amongst European Liberals

Liberals, what is our long term agenda? What is part of it? My take here:

1. Liberal institutions gave birth to nations. Now we need to adapt, develop & secure a globalized liberal institutional order. Some say cooperation of nation states is enough (think Mark Rutte); others advance a supra-national institutional order (think Emmanuel Macron). I think we’re already way beyond nation states cooperating, especially in Europe. What does liberal global governance look like for Europe and beyond? And where are the transnational liberal parties?

2. 100% commitment to “policies of opportunity for everyone”. Just protecting freedom rights is a defense of the status quo, never enough – liberals ought to invest to provide infrastructure, promote substantial opportunities for self-determination, and pursue emancipative equality beyond bourgeois interest. Think capability approach (Amartya Sen), Lebenschancen-approach (Ralf Dahrendorf), or qualitative freedom as a cosmopolitan responsibility (Claus Dierksmeier).

3. Nurse a culture of responsibility. Open civil societies in liberal republics rely on liberal virtues and an idea of the common good. Our answer to identity politics and narrow moralism must be a better conception of an inclusive liberal civic ethos. We should always insist on & embody dialogic competence!

4. Let’s reclaim all traditions within liberalism – beyond the (diversity of) economic traditions also ethical, social, human & civil rights, democratic, national and cosmopolitan traditions. Above all, our fundamental idea of human progress is driven by the productive diversity of claims from different traditions!

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European Liberals need an Agora for Dialogue

My name is Christopher Gohl, and I’m a liberal European. As an organizer, or as the participating practical philosopher, I have taken part in the past ten years in Manifesto discussions of Germany’s Free Democrats, the Alliance of Liberal and Democrats in Europe, and the Liberal International – all soul searching exercises within the larger liberal movement.

A few days ago, the ALDE Convention of European Liberals took its final vote on its ALDE Manifesto 2019. I was a member of the commitee which prepared it, and I think our debate is far from over. Europe is under pressure, and so is liberalism. In order to meet the challenges of tomorrow, we need more debate and dialogue among liberals from all over Europe.

For this dialogue, we also need an Agora. I envision this blog to be a place where I can share my own as well as the viewpoints and positions of others, where dissent is a pathway to learning more, and where I can contribute to building a shared  common ground for a free and open Europe of peace, prosperity, and progress for everyone.

Let’s walk together and talk together, liberals of Europe!