The effort needed to do this is not the same everywhere. It is particularly hard for those non-EU European countries, which, in contrast to, say, Switzerland or Norway, are excluded from Europe not because they want to be or because they have chosen to be, but because they are neither wanted nor welcome in Europe. Not being wanted or welcome is not a particularly nice feeling. Wanting to belong, but not being allowed to, is just as bad. It can have a serious effect on a country’s self confidence. This is true of other parts of the world too, but it is particularly true in Europe.
The conviction that they are part of Europe is nowhere weaker than here in these countries. Nowhere is this conviction disappearing faster than here. Nowhere are European feelings of inferiority as pronounced as they are here. And nowhere are they as widespread as here. European self-doubt has reached desperate proportions and European self-loathing is so strong that people are convinced that they have brought all this upon themselves and deserve to be punished by not being allowed to join Europe.
It is particularly hard for those non-EU European countries, which, in contrast to, say, Switzerland or Norway, are excluded from Europe not because they want to be or because they have chosen to be, but because they are neither wanted nor welcome in Europe
This is why people are clinging on to history out of the belief that it is somehow a history that is significant and meaningful to Europe as a whole, which of course it is to a great extent. But it is the passion with which people use this history for selfaffirmation or with which they cherish and nurture it that may appear somewhat strange amongst those whom it is assumed do not belong and who could share a common history and culture with those who do belong. History is our favourite excuse and our main – and apparently only – argument. The obvious is often staring us in the face, but unfortunately it is of little use because we generally don’t recognise it.
You will rarely find as many weird collectors and guardians of historical traditions that point to a one-time common European past than we have here. You will rarely hear stories that are as inextricably bound up with a perceived past and a hoped-for and coveted future. Facts that would be considered a joke in other places are celebrated here with an unparalleled, almost existential seriousness. People may well find this strange or a something of a joke or dismiss the whole thing as obscure or old-fashioned. But this kind of thing gives me hope. Firstly because it shows that there is a genuine desire to belong, to use all available means to prove that they really do have a legitimate claim to being European. And secondly because it is far better and much more productive to take this kind of approach than trying to use a second and much more dubious way of proving their European provenance: the fact that they are white.
This obsession with history is a form of regression. Too little of it can lead to rigidity, stagnation and schematism. But if there is too much history you risk drowning in it, disappearing from sight and losing your place in the here and now. Psychological regression is the same, it is like water where you can swim and enjoy the sensation of buoyancy, but where you can also drown or lose yourself in ist dark depths forever. You can become an amphibian.
There should only be as much history as a given community needs at a given time. But then again, who decides how much is enough? Perhaps there is some kind of social intuition that decides these things. A healthy person should be able to decide when and to what extent he will indulge in regression and should know how to regulate it or even sometimes how to provoke it and so confirm its value. A healthy person will use regression to rejuvenate himself, to gain inspiration and to change. The bottom line is that a healthy person will enjoy regression and reap the benefits.