Imagining Pan Mediterraneanism.


A town in the Moscow Region famed for little else than being the location where Anna Karenina threw herself under a train may not be the best observation post to reflect on the state of the European Union and whether it is based on certain incompatible realities but there may be some advantage in avoiding the details and trying to generate a question as to what the real schisms are. Is there another alternative to a European state not as a series of nation states but rather regional blocs which could engender other forms. While there may be figures in the European Union who still aim to maintain a more-or-less rounded and more-or-less unitary vision of Europeanism they seem to be few and far between.

It seems that it was Martin Shulz alone who was ready to give an interview with a popular national newspaper saying that his country too should open its borders to immigrants from northern Africa. Yet the borders do not and will not, it seems, open in much of the North. Even in Italy, too, solidarity is a strange thing. It is more evident from those closer to the influx of migrants than those further away

In England the news regarding immigration seemed overshadowed by the fact that the bigotted Daily Mail attacked the father of the present Labour leader, Ralph Miliband, for having been anti-British. The kind of smear that this paper is famed for. A fine show of solidarity highlighting, it seems, British decency turned the Daily Mail into the ogre of the moment. All fine and good but how many would really defend Ralph Miliband’s splendid internationalism and his skepticism about the British character. Far too few. And while the ‘decent majority’ rejoices in its English sense of decency what British politician would ever call for a migrants corridor so that migrants who land on Southern European shores would have the right to settle in any European country of choice, including Britain. My guess is that no UK politician would have the guts, or having checked, it seems that the only UK politician to argue tentatively for this policy has just been sacked from Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet. This rather proves Ralph Milliband’s quote about the British being the most nationalist of nations. Only in the United Kingdom would a reigning political party consider withdrawing from the European Convention of Human Rights This is part not even of the discourse of a non-systemic protest party but a consolidated party in power.

Whether there is enough to keep together Northern Europe with its more protestant model (and reflected in a finance capitalism) and a Southern Europe – whether Catholic or Orthodox with a Muslim underbelly (and with an essentially distinct culture of greater openness) and essentially alien to the neo-Liberal model is doubtful. It seems that the fundamental project even of europhiles like Martin Shulz is an integration process of southern Europe that is uncannily similar to that of Eastern Germany to Western Germany under Kohl, a kind of Anshluss deeply disadvantageous for the former as the writer Vladimiro Giacche’ has argued in a recent study. The only genuine alternative seems to be some kind of Pan Mediterraneanism which two recent texts intimated.

Giorgio Agamben

Giorgio Agamben’s call for a counterstrike from the Latin Empire of Southern European countries is perhaps one of the most suggestive proposal in this direction for some time. Along with his original text springing from an old essay by Kojeve, the Italian migrant writer, Federico Campagna, has added some points to Agamben’s provocational proposal with a call for an anarcho-papist Holy Southern Empire These pieces are surely, in part, transgressive provocations, yet are the fruit of a genuine search for an alternative to the straitjacket model that much of the European elite seems intent on imposing on the South.

Is there an intellectual basis and body of thought- a creative imagination- in which Pan Mediterraneanism could gain a grounding? Could Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain (possibly France?), the Balkans invent a new form of civilisational regeneration along with countries to the South of the Mediterranean shore (the Maghreb etc). Where, moreover, could these ideas lead? What ideas could provide the source of some form of Pan Mediterraneanism?

For the moment these are just some of the texts and authors that may be of use in giving this Pan Mediterraneanism some force:

Albert Camus – La Nouvelle Culture Méditerranéenne
Jose Saramago – A jangada de pedra (The Stone Raft)
The ideas of Gabriel Audisio
Jean Senac
Juan Goytisolo -Reivindicacion del Conde Conde Julian and other works

Juan Goytisolo

Predrag Matvejevic- Mediterranean Breviary etc
Elisee Reclus and Pierre Kropotkin on the anarchism inherent in Latin culture as opposed to German culture
Davide Turcato’s historical study of the transnationalism of Italian anarchism – including his description of the Cosmopolitans discussion group of exiles in London’s Covent Garden of which Errico Malatesta was part.
Another author brought to my attention by Federico Campagna himself is Alfredo Bonanno whose call for an anti-authoritarian insurrectionalist international based in the Mediterranean is extremely suggestive.

Then there are the poetic/prophetic texts that are of equal value in imagining the present moment in historical context. Pasolini’s text ‘Ali degli occhi azzurri’ deserves a reread as this extract shows:

About afoniya

I am a translator, language teacher, independent film scholar who is interested in many aspects of culture. I have my own blog on Russian and Soviet cinema at and I have also written for journals such as Film Philosophy and Bright Lights as well as Ribbed magazine. Outside of film my interest runs to language, politics, literature and my world is centred around the Meditteranean, Russia, Southern Ukraine as well as the UK.

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