This article explores the concept of ‘Europe’ by using it as a synecdoche for ‘modernity’. The point of departure is Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt's postulate that one can distinguish two Europes and two modernities. Modernity is, on the one hand, the historical tendency towards totalization and exclusion, and, on the other hand, the opposite penchant for fragmentation and anarchic ‘liberative’ thinking. On the basis of this duality, one can talk of a syndrome of modernity, a cultural condition that is determined by the coincidence of two views on sovereignty (self-coercion and self-determination). The article relates the theory of ‘two Europes’ to three historical forms of cultural identity and in particular to the ideals of normality which are involved in them.