It remains to see what the election of F. Hollande in France, the Greek vote and the emerging anti-austerity current will be able to achieve, but, if these may succeed to some degree, they will not be enough to build a stable, enduring political entity in the long term.
The vote in France has shown that national politics is not entirely dead. The hope that all the citizen body can accomplish something, this hope that we can create something new to get rid of the old is an act of freedom. It is perhaps not surprising that the French vote has been monitored with so much attention across Europe and beyond, because France, as one of the leading European countries, is the only one that can also develop enough political momentum to have a real impact across the continent. This political experience, which goes back to the Revolution, has been one of the main driving forces that has pushed for greater European integration. Monnet, De Gaulle, Mitterand are names that are associated with European unity.
German power is of a different kind. Germany’s economic power certainly gives it political clout, but it does not have the same will to create something radically new, to develop a vision that would give a united Europe stable political foundations.
The old national state, entangled as it is in a non-existent European union and in a destructive financial system which it helped create and develop, seems to have forever lost its capacity to act, that is, it has lost the freedom it was created to give. As things stand today, the old national state is like a machine that has lost steam, unable to move forward despite occasional bursts of power.
What is needed is something radically new, something not entangled in uncontrolled global currents and financial flows; a new political experience, in short, that will start everything anew. “The capacity to begin something new inspires all human actions and is the hidden spring of all great and beautiful things,” said Hannah Arendt in her essay on freedom.