The Centre Condorcet is a think tank which aims to stimulate Enlightenment core values of reason and humanism, inspired by one of its most innovative thinkers, Nicolas de Condorcet.
The principal common project in Europe today, the European Union, may be in need of deep conceptual and operational innovation. The mantra that there are no alternative trajectories for managing common interests cannot be taken at face value. Many leading political and social scientists and economists have remarked that its dominant political and economic paradigms jeopardize the necessary social compromises in its societies. The fundamental consensus forged in the 1950s is fragmenting, a new one does not seem in the making. Indicative are the deepening inequalities within countries and between them, threats to the essence of democracy and civic rights, uncontrolled technological advances, neo-nationalism and eurocentrism, and alienation of large groups of citizens.
At the end of the 18th century, Europe too was faced with deep social and economic shifts while political stagnation prevented adaptation. Then like now they are systemic problems which demand critical thinking, creativity and serendipity, and courage, as shown by Condorcet.
The Centre Condorcet has a double purpose:
It will seek more attention for those thinkers who raise questions which may require the dominant paradigms to be re-evaluated.
The Polish poet and diplomat Czeslaw Milosz analysed in the 1950s how European intellectuals became captive to system thinking and admiration of communism; others voiced similar concerns. It serves as a general warning about all –isms, to keep an open and critical, evidence based mind. Why should centralising Europeanism and globalism, with their benefits, but equally with collateral effects, be an exception? The voices of contemporary intellectuals should be heard and enrich current debates about future social and economic arrangements in Europe.
It will serve as the platform for the independent tripartite High Level Groups for Policy Innovation.
One such approach of re-evaluation started when the first group was launched by the EU’s Council Presidency in December 2011. Since then, they have developed into an original model for brainstorming about paradigm shifts in public policy. Their use of the Socratic method and the mutual belief of its participants in a European Common Good stimulate creativity and serendipity. Their independence allows them to engineer truly new ideas, free of formal and legal constraints, and to produce reports which can inspire a new generation of policies to deal more effectively with disruptive challenges that the countries and their Union are facing. Since the beginning, they have been served voluntarily by EPPA; ten years later, their expansion has led to setting-up a new home in the Centre Condorcet.