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 Antiquity and the New Europe

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PostSubject: Antiquity and the New Europe   Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:58 pm

Coming from the thread, "A view from the Aemilain Bridge", I thought of what
Boris Johnson once said about European Unity:
that the best way to promote it in the hearts and minds of was to point them in
the direction of a common culture - a common inheritance. He suggested that we
all should learn Latin again and read Virgil.

Now I know he is a euro sceptic, but I think there is some truth here.
It is indeed ironic that as European integration has grown, the commonality
between Europeans has diminished. The Catholic church which once united us with
the French and the Spanish has now retreated to the sidelines, and that great
common language Latin, which was the language in which Newton published his thesis
and which any scholar any where could understand, has at last finally
disappeared from the public sphere. Where, once a Frenchman and a German could
unite in their admiration of Horace, or their dislike of Caesar, they now have
little but the newly imposed Anglo-American culture to share in. It’s clear
that English is the winner here but for how long? Its roots are temporary and
will only last so long as American economic dominance does, and then what.

While I think nationalism and national identity as well as patriotism are very
important, we cannot escape the fact that the fate of Europe
is bound up with that of our own. A common European house is the best way to
protect Irish interests and culture for future generations. That is a common European
house which sees Irishness as being a constituent part of Europeaness as Dutchness
or Greekness. The economic and political benefits are there. I might disagree
with the current form of unity, which I think is undemocratic, but I do not
oppose the overall goal of unity. And before we embark on that goal, we must
see that we need a common heritage much more than we need some centralised
neo-imperialistic super state.

Nevertheless our leaders are committed, strongly and often in the face of
public opposition to closer integration. These same leaders have however
overseen a dramatic drop off in children studying for the classics. Presently
all resources are being devoted to IT and the sciences. While this is
understandable it newfound devotion to "practical" subjects should
not be at the expense of other important subjects. What we need from the politicians
in Europe is recognition that the best way to form a European
identity is to ensure that the children are taught the classics again. It was after
all in antiquity where the concepts of Democracy and republicanism were
invented and developed, not to mention literature. And it could be argued that
it was the obsession of renaissance to enlightenment thinkers with the classics
that indirectly fuelled the flames to those fateful revolutions in France
and America in
the late 18th century.

In such a time as this is it not surprising that people are becoming
politically apathetic. If they knew of the laws of Solon, of the sacrifices
made by the elder Brutus and the civic virtue of Poplicola and Cincinatius they
might see civic responsibility in a different more positive light. They may
read Virgil and take pleasure from those words. They might all speak Latin in a
real European parliament instead of the Babylon
of languages that we have now.

I'm please to say that some people are already acting on this.
Antiquity
Connects
is a project for European cultural education. Its manifesto is
written in 16 different languages.
Finland has set
up a radio station in Latin in an attempt to promote its use and the Vatican
also spoken out on the issue.
Would Latin "turn EU jargon into poetry"? Instead of the
Common Agricultural Policy, there would be the "Ratio communis agros
colendi"
The editor of Finnish EU presidencies website, Mia Lahti had this to say
"Using Latin is a way of paying tribute to European civilisation and it
serves to remind people of European society’s roots, stretching back to ancient
times. Latin isn't dead – it’s still very much in use in different forms across
the world today. After all, Italians, French and Spaniards all speak a new form
of Latin."

It should be clear though that no one is proposing that we all start speaking Latin.
Rather Latin is a neutral language with a rich cultural legacy (unlike Esperanto)
which could be easily adopted in place of the multi-lingualism which we have
now. It also sets the other languages as equals rather than having English, German
and French as pre-eminent.

On a personal note, I believe that most European politicians not only have no
interest in promoting the classics but are much more comfortable operating in a
world where the big languages pull the biggest weight and the lessons of the
classical world about the tyranny of power remain far from the reach of the
ordinary citizen. In such scurrilous hands the European project is more than
certainly doomed.







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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:08 pm

interesting post. but surely classical latin and modern english are the functions of relative empires and if ww2 was lost to the nazis wouldn't german be the business/legal/admin language of europe?

ps going to rome soon and would appreciate some suggestions of things to see there. i'm doing the vatican, pantheon, forum, campo marzio, pompeii and colleuseum. am i missing anything? don't want to derail this thread so pm me.
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:14 pm

zakalwe wrote:
interesting post. but surely classical latin and modern english are the functions of relative empires and if ww2 was lost to the nazis wouldn't german be the business/legal/admin language of europe?

ps going to rome soon and would appreciate some suggestions of things to see there. i'm doing the vatican, pantheon, forum, campo marzio, pompeii and colleuseum. am i missing anything? don't want to derail this thread so pm me.

The first day I went there I walked a circle up and down the 7 hills. They are only little bumps, so it is quite doable. Sorry - I don't seem to be able to fix this image - can anyone help?

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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:42 pm

zakalwe wrote:
interesting post. but surely classical latin and modern english are the functions of relative empires and if ww2 was lost to the nazis wouldn't german be the business/legal/admin language of europe?

ps going to rome soon and would appreciate some suggestions of things to see there. i'm doing the vatican, pantheon, forum, campo marzio, pompeii and colleuseum. am i missing anything? don't want to derail this thread so pm me.

German probably would but it would be identified as the language of oppression. The Romans oppressed people but its very very long ago, and its not a living issue with people anymore. Its just culture and history and a language.
The idea would be to make the idea of european unity more appealing and meaningful to ordinary citizens.

As for Rome, dont forget to wonder the side streets(of teh ancient city) at night. I discovered the Tervi fountain and teh Pantheon thatway and it was kind of cool to just stumble upon them.
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:48 pm

Here is the image shrunk, cactus. It is more difficult to see when it is smaller though.

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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:51 pm

Only time for a quick response Respvblica. Very interesting post. I am sure I read either in the paper or on the BBC website that some trial Latin classes in what's termed "lower income groups" have been a lot more popular than expected. I shall try to locate the report when I have time.

Another solution to the multiplicity of modern society has been reached recently in Brighton - sign language.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/sussex/7645132.stm
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:55 pm

I've always wanted to learn sign language. I find it very interesting that there are so many different types of sign language, like spoken language. Am I correct in thinking that even sign language in England is slightly different to Ireland?
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:20 pm

My other half attended sign language classes for a couple of years. Absolutely fascinating stuff and yes, there are all kinds of geographic variations.

One of the most amazing and thought-provoking books I've ever read was by Oliver Sacks on sign language.

http://www.oliversacks.com/voices.htm
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:22 pm

Mod suggestion: the sign language discussion - worth a thread of its own? - or is it within the context of European communication ?

cf
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:34 pm

johnfás wrote:
Here is the image shrunk, cactus. It is more difficult to see when it is smaller though.


Thanks - I'm off topic, but you can see how the seven hills would make a lovely walk.

I'm not sure that I would favour the cultural aspect of Rome as a foundation for the New Europe. Britain took it on to a large extent as one Empire admiring another. Also, Latin was still a lingua franca until the 18th century and was the language of the Catholic Church within living memory. In linguistic terms, we were told that learning Latin would be a foundation for learning other european languages. To be honest, Italian would be a better base from which to learn Spanish than Latin.

The learning of languages, dead or alive, really shouldn't need any justification other than that they are the key to whole cultures and worlds of literature. At the moment there is an extinction of living languages going on, particularly in the Americas. It really isn't that difficult to learn a language, everyone learns at least one by the time they are five. I knew a guy when I was at college whose hobby it was and who had a working knowledge of more than 20 languages. He prided himself on being able to learn a new language in a week.
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Tue Nov 04, 2008 7:05 pm

cactus flower wrote:
johnfás wrote:
Here is the image shrunk, cactus. It is more difficult to see when it is smaller though.

Thanks - I'm off topic, but you can see how the seven hills would make a lovely walk.

I'm not sure that I would favour the cultural aspect of Rome as a foundation for the New Europe. Britain took it on to a large extent as one Empire admiring another. Also, Latin was still a lingua franca until the 18th century and was the language of the Catholic Church within living memory. In linguistic terms, we were told that learning Latin would be a foundation for learning other european languages. To be honest, Italian would be a better base from which to learn Spanish than Latin.

The learning of languages, dead or alive, really shouldn't need any justification other than that they are the key to whole cultures and worlds of literature. At the moment there is an extinction of living languages going on, particularly in the Americas. It really isn't that difficult to learn a language, everyone learns at least one by the time they are five. I knew a guy when I was at college whose hobby it was and who had a working knowledge of more than 20 languages. He prided himself on being able to learn a new language in a week.

OK, but my point is not revive Latin for the sake of it, but rather to point out to European leaders who appear fascinated with the dream of uniting Europe that they could do so more easily and with more credibility by including Latin in their communications.The EU aspires to be a country then it needs a cultural legacy unique to it that people can identify. Beethoven was really German, and Newton was really Engish, but the ancients are really the heritage of everybody. Certainly the Romans were anti-Italian in the sense that we understand Italian nationalism today.

It doesnt mean that Latin has to be the official language, or spoken by everybody, rather just recognition. Especially for those who do a course on European Studies. Of course if the EU disnitegrates then it becomes superflous.
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Tue Nov 04, 2008 7:19 pm

Respvblica wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
johnfás wrote:
Here is the image shrunk, cactus. It is more difficult to see when it is smaller though.

Thanks - I'm off topic, but you can see how the seven hills would make a lovely walk.

I'm not sure that I would favour the cultural aspect of Rome as a foundation for the New Europe. Britain took it on to a large extent as one Empire admiring another. Also, Latin was still a lingua franca until the 18th century and was the language of the Catholic Church within living memory. In linguistic terms, we were told that learning Latin would be a foundation for learning other european languages. To be honest, Italian would be a better base from which to learn Spanish than Latin.

The learning of languages, dead or alive, really shouldn't need any justification other than that they are the key to whole cultures and worlds of literature. At the moment there is an extinction of living languages going on, particularly in the Americas. It really isn't that difficult to learn a language, everyone learns at least one by the time they are five. I knew a guy when I was at college whose hobby it was and who had a working knowledge of more than 20 languages. He prided himself on being able to learn a new language in a week.

OK, but my point is not revive Latin for the sake of it, but rather to point out to European leaders who appear fascinated with the dream of uniting Europe that they could do so more easily and with more credibility by including Latin in their communications.The EU aspires to be a country then it needs a cultural legacy unique to it that people can identify. Beethoven was really German, and Newton was really Engish, but the ancients are really the heritage of everybody. Certainly the Romans were anti-Italian in the sense that we understand Italian nationalism today.

It doesnt mean that Latin has to be the official language, or spoken by everybody, rather just recognition. Especially for those who do a course on European Studies. Of course if the EU disnitegrates then it becomes superflous.


Perhaps your theory is supported by the fact that Ireland, the rogue No voter of Europe, was never occupied by Romans ? Very Happy Question
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Tue Nov 04, 2008 8:06 pm

johnfás wrote:
I've always wanted to learn sign language. I find it very interesting that there are so many different types of sign language, like spoken language. Am I correct in thinking that even sign language in England is slightly different to Ireland?
I've been attending sign language classes for a few weeks now, just beginners' stuff but I hope to keep it up. There is indeed an Irish Sign Language which AFAIK is slighty different to the English and relies a lot on facial expression. I had a class there last night and one thing we learned to say was "myself"; I was very interested to find that it was the sign for "my" followed by making the sign for the letter F and holding it to your chest (many words are represented by the making the sign for the first letter of the word while also making another motion with your hand/s). The fact that it was and F instead of an S leads me to believe that it is derived from the Irish mé féin reather than the English myself. I could be wrong but it's food for thought nonetheless.
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Tue Nov 04, 2008 8:42 pm

cactus flower wrote:
Respvblica wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
johnfás wrote:
Here is the image shrunk, cactus. It is more difficult to see when it is smaller though.

Thanks - I'm off topic, but you can see how the seven hills would make a lovely walk.

I'm not sure that I would favour the cultural aspect of Rome as a foundation for the New Europe. Britain took it on to a large extent as one Empire admiring another. Also, Latin was still a lingua franca until the 18th century and was the language of the Catholic Church within living memory. In linguistic terms, we were told that learning Latin would be a foundation for learning other european languages. To be honest, Italian would be a better base from which to learn Spanish than Latin.

The learning of languages, dead or alive, really shouldn't need any justification other than that they are the key to whole cultures and worlds of literature. At the moment there is an extinction of living languages going on, particularly in the Americas. It really isn't that difficult to learn a language, everyone learns at least one by the time they are five. I knew a guy when I was at college whose hobby it was and who had a working knowledge of more than 20 languages. He prided himself on being able to learn a new language in a week.

OK, but my point is not revive Latin for the sake of it, but rather to point out to European leaders who appear fascinated with the dream of uniting Europe that they could do so more easily and with more credibility by including Latin in their communications.The EU aspires to be a country then it needs a cultural legacy unique to it that people can identify. Beethoven was really German, and Newton was really Engish, but the ancients are really the heritage of everybody. Certainly the Romans were anti-Italian in the sense that we understand Italian nationalism today.

It doesnt mean that Latin has to be the official language, or spoken by everybody, rather just recognition. Especially for those who do a course on European Studies. Of course if the EU disnitegrates then it becomes superflous.


Perhaps your theory is supported by the fact that Ireland, the rogue No voter of Europe, was never occupied by Romans ? Very Happy Question

The elephant in the room.

Maybe its best not say much about Latin or else the DUP really will think that the EU is the roman empire resurrected as per revelations affraid
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:59 pm

evercloserunion wrote:
johnfás wrote:
I've always wanted to learn sign language. I find it very interesting that there are so many different types of sign language, like spoken language. Am I correct in thinking that even sign language in England is slightly different to Ireland?
I've been attending sign language classes for a few weeks now, just beginners' stuff but I hope to keep it up. There is indeed an Irish Sign Language which AFAIK is slighty different to the English and relies a lot on facial expression. I had a class there last night and one thing we learned to say was "myself"; I was very interested to find that it was the sign for "my" followed by making the sign for the letter F and holding it to your chest (many words are represented by the making the sign for the first letter of the word while also making another motion with your hand/s). The fact that it was and F instead of an S leads me to believe that it is derived from the Irish mé féin reather than the English myself. I could be wrong but it's food for thought nonetheless.

You're learning Gaelic sign language ?
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:35 pm

cactus flower wrote:
evercloserunion wrote:
johnfás wrote:
I've always wanted to learn sign language. I find it very interesting that there are so many different types of sign language, like spoken language. Am I correct in thinking that even sign language in England is slightly different to Ireland?
I've been attending sign language classes for a few weeks now, just beginners' stuff but I hope to keep it up. There is indeed an Irish Sign Language which AFAIK is slighty different to the English and relies a lot on facial expression. I had a class there last night and one thing we learned to say was "myself"; I was very interested to find that it was the sign for "my" followed by making the sign for the letter F and holding it to your chest (many words are represented by the making the sign for the first letter of the word while also making another motion with your hand/s). The fact that it was and F instead of an S leads me to believe that it is derived from the Irish mé féin reather than the English myself. I could be wrong but it's food for thought nonetheless.

You're learning Gaelic sign language ?
Not Gaelic sign language, just Irish Sign Language. I just found it odd that "myself" would be "my" + "F", and thought it might be something to do with the Irish for "myself". Generally the indication is that Irish Sign Language is based on English (P for please, Q for question, R for red etc.).
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Mon Nov 24, 2008 2:43 am

Respvblica wrote:
What we need from the politicians
in Europe is recognition that the best way to form a European
identity is to ensure that the children are taught the classics again. It was after
all in antiquity where the concepts of Democracy and republicanism were
invented and developed, not to mention literature. And it could be argued that
it was the obsession of renaissance to enlightenment thinkers with the classics
that indirectly fuelled the flames to those fateful revolutions in France
and America in the late 18th century.

Yes the classics should be taught - but with a focus on how our ethical & political history can be traced from and informed by the ancients. Ancient Greek philosophy, drama and literature presupposed theories of character, virtue and the ends of human life and if properly taught and discussed provide an antidote to today's tired arguments between liberal utilitarianism and religion-tinged conservativism. And it should not just be a case of educating children, but all citizenry.

A good way to develop a European identity would also be to compare these common Greek/Roman ancient virtues (and their transmission to all Europe through Christianity) with each country's own - in our case the heroes and clans our ancient Irish literature - and not be afraid to draw both comparisons and contrasts to show that European union is not about homogeneity but about Europeans living full lives with some common and some diverse ethical and political structures.
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Mon Nov 24, 2008 10:18 am

Hi Arete, good to have you here. I am going to play devil's advocate and ask if a culture from the extreme south east of europe, whose main relationship with the rest of europe was to subdue and colonise it, is really the best model for european relations?

I'm not against teaching the classics, all the same.
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Mon Nov 24, 2008 10:58 am

cactus flower wrote:
Hi Arete, good to have you here. I am going to play devil's advocate and ask if a culture from the extreme south east of europe, whose main relationship with the rest of europe was to subdue and colonise it, is really the best model for european relations?

I'm not against teaching the classics, all the same.

Thanks cactus flower.

Most of what i said above is from Alisdair MacIntyre's theory in After Virtue, where he argues that cultural traditions have a set of virtues appropriate to their vision of human and/or social roles - but that that does not mean they are right about everything in a relativistic manner. Homeric virtues were those of the cunning warrior, who may use deceit to win (against the virtues of honesty and integrity); Aristotle describes universal virtues but spoils it by saying only rich male slave-owning Athenians can achieve them. We would rightly accept neither vision today - the model for teaching classics should be to discuss what virtues (or excellences) are appropriate to today's society.
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Mon Nov 24, 2008 11:01 am

Quote :
We would rightly accept neither vision today - the model for teaching classics should be to discuss what virtues (or excellences) are appropriate to today's society

That would make a good thread in its own right Surprised
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:53 pm

cactus flower wrote:
Hi Arete, good to have you here. I am going to play devil's advocate and ask if a culture from the extreme south east of europe, whose main relationship with the rest of europe was to subdue and colonise it, is really the best model for european relations?

I'm not against teaching the classics, all the same.


While they are very close, I would distinguish the Greek from the Roman here. The core Roman belief of assimilation and the rejection of location and race in favour of an idea suirvived the subsequent hellenisation of Italy. Its that universality which means that we can lay claim to a culture in a way we cant with others, such as the ancient egyptians or even greeks. Roman empereors were italians, greeks, spaniards, celts, germans, syrians, africans and more. We are looking for a model for Europe, and apart from christendom I'm not seeing much more.

That is notwithstanding the fact that those "more ethnic" cultures were superior to Rome in terms of making advances.
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:55 pm

Arete wrote:
Respvblica wrote:
What we need from the politicians
in Europe is recognition that the best way to form a European
identity is to ensure that the children are taught the classics again. It was after
all in antiquity where the concepts of Democracy and republicanism were
invented and developed, not to mention literature. And it could be argued that
it was the obsession of renaissance to enlightenment thinkers with the classics
that indirectly fuelled the flames to those fateful revolutions in France
and America in the late 18th century.

Yes the classics should be taught - but with a focus on how our ethical & political history can be traced from and informed by the ancients. Ancient Greek philosophy, drama and literature presupposed theories of character, virtue and the ends of human life and if properly taught and discussed provide an antidote to today's tired arguments between liberal utilitarianism and religion-tinged conservativism. And it should not just be a case of educating children, but all citizenry.

A good way to develop a European identity would also be to compare these common Greek/Roman ancient virtues (and their transmission to all Europe through Christianity) with each country's own - in our case the heroes and clans our ancient Irish literature - and not be afraid to draw both comparisons and contrasts to show that European union is not about homogeneity but about Europeans living full lives with some common and some diverse ethical and political structures.

Very interesting.
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Mon Nov 24, 2008 1:48 pm

Very interesting subject. Unfortunately don't have the time and clarity of thought to give this the attention it deserves.

We tend to read into many ancient writings values that have evolved and are perhaps different in substance to what they would have been at the time.


I take your point regarding the Roman model. It is an interesting one and preferable to the concept that religion binds us and is the continuous, common, civilising thread that endured through two millennia.This Christian model is clearly wrong and introverted. It ignores the role of Islam or Byzantium in maintaining and advancing learning and understanding.

It saddens me that our view of Europe has shrunk and seems driven, or perhaps constrained, by the views of timid people and the narrowest self interest.

What Europe needs is a set of principles, rights and responsibilities clearly and simply written. It needs a constitution and agreed structures that are open, transparent and effective.
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Mon Nov 24, 2008 4:15 pm

Squire wrote:
Very interesting subject. Unfortunately don't have the time and clarity of thought to give this the attention it deserves.

We tend to read into many ancient writings values that have evolved and are perhaps different in substance to what they would have been at the time.


I take your point regarding the Roman model. It is an interesting one and preferable to the concept that religion binds us and is the continuous, common, civilising thread that endured through two millennia.This Christian model is clearly wrong and introverted. It ignores the role of Islam or Byzantium in maintaining and advancing learning and understanding.

It saddens me that our view of Europe has shrunk and seems driven, or perhaps constrained, by the views of timid people and the narrowest self interest.

What Europe needs is a set of principles, rights and responsibilities clearly and simply written. It needs a constitution and agreed structures that are open, transparent and effective.

It is certainly something we should be sad about. However when you consider that the modern European Union is actually founded on the economic self-interest of nations, it is hardly surprising that it is to such impoverished other areas.
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PostSubject: Re: Antiquity and the New Europe   Mon Nov 24, 2008 4:40 pm

Indeed, but time to move on, and raise our sights and ambitions. With a cogent set of principles and philosophy we could become a beacon in the decades ahead. We tend to knock the EU, but there are many outside who would dearly like to be part and that aspiration is not solely due to economic consideration.
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