“Umberto Eco: ‘It’s culture, not war, that cements European identity'”

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“‘When it comes to the debt crisis,’ says Eco, ‘and I’m speaking as someone who doesn’t understand anything about the economy, we must remember that it is culture, not war, that cements our [European] identity. The French, the Italians, the Germans, the Spanish and the English have spent centuries killing each other. Today, we’ve been at peace for 70 years and no one realises how amazing that is any more. Indeed, the very idea of a war between Spain and France, or Italy and Germany, provokes hilarity. The United States needed a civil war to unite properly. I hope that culture and the [European] market will do the same for us.’ . . .
So whose faces should we print on our banknotes, to remind the world that we are not merely ‘shallow’ Europeans, but profound? ‘Perhaps not politicians or the leaders who have divided us – not Cavour or Radetzky, but men of culture who have united us, from Dante to Shakespeare, from Balzac to Rossellini.’ ” [. . .]    –Gianni Riotta, The Guardian, January 26, 2012