Earlier this month, a group of 30 writers, historians and Nobel laureates – including Bernard-Henri Lévy, Milan Kundera, Salman Rushdie, Orhan Pamuk, Mario Vargas Llosa and Adam Michnik – published a manifesto in several newspapers all around Europe. They claimed that Europe as an idea is “coming apart before our eyes”.
“We must now fight for the idea of Europe or see it perish beneath the waves of populism,” they wrote. “We must rediscover political voluntarism or accept that resentment, hatred and their cortege of sad passions will surround and submerge us.”
This manifesto is deeply flawed: just carefully reading it makes it clear why populists are thriving. Its signatories – the flower of the European liberal intelligensia – ignore the unpleasant fact that the populists also present themselves as the saviours of Europe.