In the October issue of First Things, Pierre Manent has an article titled Human Unity Real and Imagined. He argues the European Project is a manifestation of Auguste Comte’s ‘Religion of humanity’ which does not constitute a real community of action. It is not clear why he thinks this, but based upon similar criticisms others have made, it is either because of the EU’s ‘democratic deficit’ or its abstract understanding of human nature. He says the Catholic Church is “the only real universal community.”
At the same time, he also thinks the origins of this European project are Catholic, not secular: “It was thus not by chance that the first and decisive impulses for the European project came from Catholic statesmen. Robert Shuman, Konrad Adenauer, and Alcide De Gasperi” Moreover, Manent is not against international institutions altogether. He believes they can be useful instruments for the sake of cooperation between nations.
The stronger version of the Internationalist argument is still being made in Catholic circles today. Our current Philosopher-Pope, as Peter likes to call him, famously said in Caritas in Veritate that there is an “urgent need of a true world political authority” and the UN should be reformed in such a way that it had “real teeth.” Pope Benedict does not seem as critical as Manent about European or even International unity.
It would be interesting to read Manent’s take on this encyclical, especially since it was these very passages which generated a lot of discussion. Anyone know if he has written about it?