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The Space of Crisis

Images and Ideas of Europe in the Age of Crisis: 1914–1945

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Vittorio Dini and Matthew D'Auria

Focusing on European cultural and intellectual history in first half of the twentieth century, The Space of Crisis investigates how notions of crisis and changing perceptions of space influenced the way Europeans imagined themselves, their past and their future.
The book is an attempt to reassess some of the main assumptions of historians and political theorists about the way intellectuals, artists, legal theorists and historians interpreted Europe’s crisis during the 1920s and 1930s. By so doing, it investigates the intellectual foundations of the ensuing federalist and Europeanist movements, highlighting the importance of the writings of those years in understanding today’s Europe and its current predicaments.

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PART II: POLITICS AND THE SPACE OF EUROPE

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PART II POLITICS AND THE SPACE OF EUROPE 91 Reason of State in the European Intellectual Space During the Interwar Period Laurie CATTEEUW In the Modern Age the concept of ‘reason of State’ gains a central place in the intellectual debates on the moral and political crisis investing Europe. Perfectly epitomized by the figure of Machiavelli, the reason of State expresses the separation between moral virtue and the political practices used to solve conflicts jeopardizing the State’s safety. These may concern the relationship between rulers and ruled within a single State as well as those among great powers in the international arena. Such a concept is rethought, through time, depending on circumstances, when instability of public order arises or crisis of political rationality take place. With an eye to the intellectual background of the interwar period, this chapter will discuss some of the ways in which the reason of State is construed in Germany, Italy and France. It will try to combine the national dimension of the issue, unique to each of these countries, and the transnational one to reveal the importance of the notion of reason of State in the way Europe imagined its own space between the two wars. The reason of State immediately brings to mind the violation of mor- al and legal rules when the safety of the State is at risk. Calling for the sacrifice of individuals in the name of public interest, it symbolizes the arbitrary exercise of political power. However, it also refers...

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