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On Europe Day, Salvador de Madariaga


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Diario de Navarra

Javier Larequi Fontaneda

researcher predoctoral fellow at the School of Philosophy and Letters of the University of Navarra.

On Europe Day, Salvador de Madariaga

When it comes to studying humanism and Europeanism, in Spain we have no shortage of historical references (Luis Vives, Joaquín Costa, José Ortega y Gasset...) or more recent ones (José María Gil-Robles or Josep Borrell himself), but there is one who stands out above them all as a Europeanist intellectual: Salvador de Madariaga (1886 - 1978). One of the readings I have most enjoyed in recent months is precisely a book about this important figure of the Spanish twentieth century. It is a biography, the result of a doctoral thesis , published a couple of months ago by Santiago de Navascués, PhD in History from the University of Navarra, and is entitled degree scroll "Salvador de Madariaga. The man who entered through the window".

This week we celebrate Europe Day, which takes place annually on May 9th, and commemorates the Schuman Declaration of 1950 with which the instructions of the European Coal and Steel Community and, therefore, of the current European Union were established. The reflection on the life and thought of Madariaga has a greater sense in these days in which we celebrate the Day of Europe and we return to vindicate the value of the peace achieved throughout these 70 years of European integration.

One of the things Navascués explains in the book is that Madariaga "encouraged the creation of a European spirit through culture and faith in what is properly European". And it is worth asking what this is: if even today, in the globalized world of 2023, it includes classical, Christian and humanist thought, or if it is only about some more "practical" ideas such as peace, progress, the welfare state, equality or environmental sustainability. In reality, for Madariaga, a true liberal, the European spirit was above all the permanent search for freedom, and the truth is that Eastern Europeans such as the Ukrainians or the Georgians are the ones who at this moment represent the essence of the word freedom. And it makes sense, above all, when a people is oppressed.

The only hope for the Ukrainians' yearnings for peace and freedom is the submission of arms by the countries of the Atlantic Alliance and the economic support of the European Union. Madariaga was a referent of pacifism and of the utopian idea of a world government, but we Europeans have understood in the last year that what really guarantees peace is freedom and democracy, and not the economic interdependencies in which Robert Schuman, Willy Brandt, Angela Merkel and so many others also believed in the 20th and 21st centuries. Although the core topic of the European project is precisely that this recipe for economic and trade relations has worked between us, it has not worked with Russia and will hardly work with China.

Salvador de Madariaga was also characterized by his defense of the freedom of Eastern European countries oppressed by Soviet communism. According to Madariaga, helping the countries of Eastern Europe was essential to prevent "communist oppression from reaching Western Europe sooner or later". And this has been the same approach, eliminating the Soviet component, which has guided the European Union to lead the humanitarian and armament financial aid to Ukraine.

In recent months we have also seen mass demonstrations in Georgia against a law on foreign agents, finally withdrawn, which was inspired by Russian legislation, restricted the freedom of association and thus hindered the entrance of this country in the European Union. Many demonstrators protested against this law with the European flag, the flag of freedom.

And the truth is that the European Union will be incomplete, mutilated, without the integration of those European nations that aspire to be European not only geographically and historically, but also politically. Spain must take advantage, therefore, of the committee presidency of the European Union of the next semester to promote European integration not only at the policy level, but also from the territorial point of view, because only the expansion of our liberal democracy will guarantee peace in the European continent.

Madariaga said that "all Spaniards, even if we are blacksmiths or pharmacists, have to deal with politics". On Europe Day, it is worth remembering that preserving European democracy is the responsibility of all those of us who believe in "what is properly European": peace and the welfare state, result of the cultural, religious and thought traditions of our Old Continent.