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The City of Europe’s Future
Erasmusbrug or Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam, Netherlands on 25 February 2018. (NurPhoto/Getty Images)

The City of Europe’s Future

Ben Judah

Forget economic anxiety. Rotterdam is a warning that the emerging political fight across Europe really is about cultural assimilation after all.

I’ve often wondered, “Where is Europe?”

Its essence could never be found in a modern megacity—any place too particular cannot really be “Europe.” It could not be found in too ancient a city either, because truth be told very few Europeans live in ancient homes. Europe, the Europe we live in, is really a continent of suburbs, supermarkets, and business parks, the Europe of Carrefour and le Corbusier knock-offs, its concrete tower blocks hidden behind the cathedrals.

I felt it, Europe as it is, watching the Eurolines pull into Victoria Coach Station, in London, at 6:00 AM, full of bleary eyes—migrants, students, tourists—on busses from Bucharest, Paris, and Rome. I felt it too, watching the truckers pull out of the mist at motorway service stations in Germany; or early in the morning, at the edge of Turin, where African migrants huddle at the camp gates, making plans to reach France. I thought this emotion, this feeling, maybe couldn’t be found in cities at all: Maybe the Europe of the twenty-first century was too diffuse to have a capital, like Walter Benjamin’s Paris was for the nineteenth century, with its arcades and its velvet sedans.

Read the full article in the American Interest here

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