The Day the Earth Stood Still?—Reading Jürgen Habermas’s Essay “February 15” Against Ian McEwan’s Novel Saturday†
The third essay in Habermas's collection The Divided West is entitled “February 15, or: What Binds Europeans.” The essay regionalizes the global claims Habermas makes in the longer chapter “Does the Constitutionalization of International Law Still Have a Chance?” That is, in “February 15,” Habermas makes the case for a European postnational order that he hopes will become the vanguard for the emergence of universal cosmopolitanism. Habermas concludes that all that is lacking for the achievement of this beachhead from which Europe can, in its turn, champion a “community of free and equal citizens” in a “global public sphere,” is a “European identity.” This chapter calls into question Habermas's conclusions about a European identity. It argues, by reference to Ian McEwan's novel Saturday, that Habermas overlooked the rich, persistent diversity that is the true wonder of Europe.
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