The Bear's Lair

It’s now or never!

The following post was contributed by Charles Baillieu. It can also be found at

When Jankélévitch was trying to define the philosophical aspects of morality, he came up with a variation of the maxim: “It’s now or never.” Recently this maxim has been again embraced by another philosopher, Cynthia Fleury, who applauds as a courageous act, one that makes us move urgently, overcome our fears and provoke destiny.

It would be welcome if the European heads of states could take such ideas on board. What Europe needs now is courage and morality in its public policy. Europe must question the viability of a monetary policy disconnected from any coherent economic and social policy. We are ready for a radical change, with the only question being the direction. 

A change borne out of contempt, annoyance and short-termism will likely lead to a “more” integrated Europe but also one that is more authoritarian, with an enhanced economic governance that would remain unresponsive to a democratically elected assembly. A shift in the opposite direction would mean that Europe would stand to give up some of its most fundamental achievements. Neither scenario should be welcomed and both ultimately spell a future dissolution of the European project.

However another solution is still possible. To implement it, we would have to fight against the tides above and and head in a different direction. This new direction would refute any renunciation and instead herald a new form of deeper and more democratic integration that would combine long-term reflection with a new openness to risk-taking and inventiveness in policy making.

Observers are quick to compare the current crisis facing Europe with that facing the United States in 1929. They should also remember that the latter crisis led the US to federalize their budget.

For Europe the mantra remains: “It’s now or never.”

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