chapter  4
36 Pages

Europe: general crisis, collapse and recovery

The nature of modern European political culture can be grasped in terms of changing contested discourses;2 in the past these have been framed in national terms; hence the presence of numerous national pasts; 3 but Europe’s chaotic twentieth century coupled to the slow development of the machinery of the European Union plus fi nally the challenges to received ideas presented by the confusions of the period 1989/91-2008 have generated a novel sphere centred upon the nascent polity of the European Union. National pasts are being reworked: the result of the admixture of new scholarship (as relevant materials are unearthed), changed circumstances (thus, since 1989/91 no Iron Curtain4) and the social logic of generational change (thus, the last survivors of the Second World War are now in extreme old age so memories have to be recorded now or not at all and succeeding generations address the matter of the transmission of cultural resources, that is, they write new histories). It is now possible to detail the history, present and likely futures of the continent. A European national past is in prospect.