Joachim Berger deposited Between universal values and national ties: Western European freemasonries face the challenge of ‘Europe’, 1850–1930 in the group Freemasonry and Masonic Studies on Humanities Commons 1 year, 1 month ago
How did (Western) European freemasonries on a transnational level came to terms with the idea of a closer union of the European peoples? Concepts of “Europe” and “Europeanness” were the background music of the formation of masonic pan-European networks, building on transnational encounters either by individual freemasons (in the Universala Framasona Ligo or at the international masonic manifestations for peace) or by Grand Lodge representatives (e.g. in the Association maçonnique internationale). Generally, masonic discourse on a transnational level was characterized by a tension between geographically and politically confined ideas of “Europe” on the one hand and the general ideal of humanitarianism and universal brotherhood on the other.
The generally prevailing ‘European’ sense of superiority until the late 19th century, on the one hand, and the sense of threat and insecurity that grew stronger in the decade before the world war, on the other, overlapped also within Freemasonry. With the First World War, diagnoses of crisis became predominant. These negative scenarios focusing on “Europe” were an alternative mode of expression for Freemasonry that went beyond its positive image of humanity, which assumed the perfectibility of humankind. Speaking about Europe as a spatially conceived entity made it possible to articulate feelings of threat that the universalistic-optimistic talk of a “world brotherhood” had to avoid.