The nation-dream and reality of the nineteenth century-seems to have reached both its apogee and its limits when the 1929 crash and the National-Socialist apocalypse demolished the pillars that, according to Marx, were its essence: economic homogeneity, historical tradition and linguistic unity. It could indeed be demonstrated that the Second World War, though fought in the name of national values (in the above sense of the term), brought an end to the nation as a reality: it was turned into a mere illusion which, from that point forward, would be preserved only for ideological or strictly political purposes, its social and philosophical coherence having collapsed. To move quickly towards the specific problematic that will occupy us in this article, let us say that the chimera of economic homogeneity gave way to interdependence (when not submission to the economic superpowers), while historical tradition and linguistic unity were recast as a broader and deeper determinant: what might be called a symbolic denominator, defined as the cultural and religious memory forged by the interweaving of history and geography. The variants of this memory produce social territories which then redistribute the cutting up into political parties which is still in use but losing strength. At the same time, this memory or symbolic denominator, common to them all, reveals beyond economic globalization and/or uniformization certain characteristics transcend ing the nation that sometimes embrace an entire continent. A new social ensem ble superior to the nation has thus been constituted, within which the nation, far from losing its own traits, rediscovers and accentuates them in a strange temporality, in a kind of “future perfect,” where the most deeply repressed past gives a distinctive character to a logical and sociological distribution of the most modern type. For this memory or symbolic common denominator concerns the response that human groupings, united in space and time, have given not to the problems of the production of material goods (i.e., the domain of the economy
and of the human relationships it implies, politics, etc.) but, rather, to those of reproduction, survival of the species, life and death, the body, sex and symbol. If it is true, for example, that Europe is representative of such a socio-cultural ensemble, it seems to me that its existence is based more on this “symbolic denomination,” which its art, philosophy and religions manifest, than on its economic profile, which is certainly interwoven with collective memory but whose traits change rather rapidly under pressure from its partners.