L'Histoire contre l'Europe

PRINCETON – L'Histoire compte, mais de plusieurs manières. A certains endroits et pour certaines personnes, l'Histoire signifie des affrontements éternels formés par des forces géopolitiques profondes : les événements de quatre siècles auparavant sont semblables à ceux d'hier. Ailleurs et pour d'autres personnes, l'Histoire suggère la nécessité de trouver les moyens d'échapper à des situations délicates anciennes et à des préjugés dépassés. C'est ce clivage qui définit la bataille intellectuelle qui se déroule actuellement autour de l'Europe et en son sein.

Avec le centenaire du déclenchement de la Première Guerre mondiale cette année, des dizaines de nouvelles analyses de « la Der des Ders » sont sorties des rotatives. Et il est tentant de faire des parallèles contemporains avec la complaisance de l'Europe impériale, en particulier dans sa ferme conviction que le monde était si interconnecté et prospère que tout revers était impensable. Aujourd'hui, malgré les effets civilisateurs supposés des chaînes d'approvisionnement mondiales, des poudrières comme la Syrie ou la mer de Chine du Sud pourraient faire sauter le monde, tout comme le conflit en Bosnie en 1914.

Réfléchir sur l'héritage de la Grande Guerre a également été l'occasion de faire revivre les mentalités de l'époque. Au Royaume-Uni, le Secrétaire de l'Education Michael Gove a récemment publié une polémique contre les historiens qui a souligné la futilité de la guerre, la qualifiant de « guerre juste » dirigée contre le « darwinisme social impitoyable des élites allemandes. » Cela ressemble à une allusion à peine voilée aux luttes de pouvoir de l'Europe contemporaine.

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