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Beata Kowalska
Do Roma people represent the free spirit of a Europe without borders?

A democratic, social and solidly united Europe without borders still remains a utopian dream that we must all work to realize.

By Beata Kowalska

I have a dream …
On the need for a European utopia
What is happiness? To live quietly, work honestly. And to be free.  
Free from very tempestuous life circumstances
They gave me a nice apartment, but if you put a nightingale in a cage, she loses everything. However beautifully she sings, she feels sad. And these walls weigh heavily on me.

Bronisława Wajs (“Papusza”)

Photo of Prof. Beata Kowalska Photo: Andrzej Banaś © Goethe-Institut To be free, work honestly and live in a place where we are not separated from each other by walls and borders - Let the words of the Polish Roma poet Papusza inspire us to a political utopia. To a utopia that could lay the foundation stone of a common European house.

Europe currently finds itself in a dead-end. Caught between the iron logic of capital and resurgent nationalisms, it has lost its political vision.  And a lack of alternatives is often the first step towards lack of freedom - a lack of alternatives which, translated into the language of politics, nourish the hope for a fairer society. Without equality there is no genuine individual freedom. The unilateral dependence of the individual on the market has led to the fact that nowadays people at the bottom of society have only the freedom to suffer defeats.  They are themselves to blame, because formally speaking they have the freedom to do anything they like.

Let us ask ourselves for once how we can transform our economy so that it no longer produces so many losers and so few - but powerful - winners. Let us dream of a Europe of working people and not of capital. A democratic, social and solidarity-based Europe. A Europe of citizens and not of banks. Let us dream of a Europe of free people and nations not in competition with each other. Let us finally demand the return of our European values, which are being drowned every day in the Mediterranean or crushed in the mud of the Balkan route. Maybe when we wake up it'll show that it's no longer just a dream...

Further reading:
Ulrike Guérot: Warum Europa eine Republik werden muss! Eine politische Utopie (i.e. why Europe must become a republic), Bonn: Verlag J.H.W. Dietz Nachf. 2016.
Amartya Sen: Development as Freedom, Alfred A. Knopf Inc., New York, 1999.

Next question:
"Can freedom and equality in Europe be reconciled once more?"