Nobody could have asked for a better encapsulation of the fatuity of the deluded liberal elites, hermetically sealed in their bubble of self-reference from any contact with reality, than a recent line in the Financial Times: “Our FT View says that the results from the Austrian parliamentary elections show that populism is still a problem for Europe.”
In other words, those pestilential voters have got it wrong again. They have departed from the script. After half a century of politically correct Marxist cultural indoctrination they are still clinging, in growing numbers, to such politically incorrect heresies as national identity, historical memory, European culture, freedom of expression, family affections trumping allegiance to the state, as well as Christian heritage and moral precepts.
“Populism is still a problem for Europe” is the elite’s way of saying that electorates are a problem for the European Union. To the liberal establishment “Europe” is the EU, for which it has been made a contrived synonym. In reality, the EU is a more un-European institution than the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama.
The EU is a complete contradiction and bastardisation of everything that Europe has represented, created, thought and achieved over two millennia. Its agenda is the dissolution of authentic Europe, not its integration. Now – and it could not have come at a more apposite moment – a clarion call has been sounded to reaffirm and implement the true values of Europe and discard the malignant delusions and perversity fostered by the crumbling European Union.
The Paris Statement, just published, is signed by ten significant European conservative thinkers, including Sir Roger Scruton. It is the outcome of a meeting held by the signatories in Paris last May. The preliminary explanation states: “They were brought together by their common concern about the current state of European politics, culture, society – and above all the state of the European mind and imagination.”
“A Europe We Can Believe In” is the title of the statement, which begins: “Europe belongs to us and we belong to Europe. These lands are our home; we have no other.” That applies to Britain: no matter in what style, deal or no deal, we exit the European Union, we shall not be one iota less European the following day. Indeed, by the logic of the Paris Statement, we shall be more truly European by having emancipated ourselves from the toils of the false Europe.
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“The patrons of the false Europe,” the statement reads, “are bewitched by superstitions of inevitable progress. They believe that History is on their side, and this faith makes them haughty and disdainful, unable to acknowledge the defects in the post-national, post-cultural world they are constructing.” Precisely: though they might not be capable of articulating the problem so clearly, that is the experience that is driving European voters to rebel in increasing numbers against the false Europe that squats like an obscene toad in its Brussels swamp.
The statement does not explicitly prescribe the dissolution of the European Union, but every one of its aspirations is incompatible with the “values” and policies of the EU. The subject headings indicate the preoccupations and principles canvassed by the authors: “We are not passive subjects”… “The nation-state is a hallmark of Europe”… “Christian roots nourish Europe”… “We are losing our home”… “A false freedom prevails”… “We are regulated and managed”… “Multiculturalism is unworkable”… “Elites arrogantly parade their virtue”… “We must restore moral culture”… “Markets need to be ordered toward social ends”… “Education needs to be reformed”… “Marriage and family are essential”… Do you get the drift?
Every blasphemy against orthodoxy is gloriously rehearsed in this document, which could be the charter for a post-EU European revival. Of the ten signatories, three are French (the meeting took place in Paris), the remainder respectively Czech, Hungarian, Polish, British, German, Dutch and Belgian.
Despite their scholarly backgrounds, not all are strangers to the public square. The Polish signatory, Ryszard Legutko, Professor of Philosophy at the Jagiellonian University, Cracow, edited a samizdat publication under communism, is a former Polish education minister and now co-chairman of the Conservatives and Reformists group in the European parliament.
The Paris Statement is a profoundly thoughtful document, very different from the pseudo-intellectual claptrap churned out by jargon-ridden apologists for Brussels, or the vapourings of “post-modernist” commentators. It reflects the fact that as politically correct groupthink in universities has atrophied the European mind, the intellectual wellsprings of the continent now flow from the East, notably from Poland and Hungary. The Visegrad Group increasingly poses an intellectual and moral challenge to the spiritually bankrupt nations of the West.
Democracy has metamorphosed into tyranny in Europe, exactly as the far-sighted Austrian political scientist Erik Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, the genius who was Vienna correspondent of the Spectator at the age of 16, predicted 60 years ago. Although the new intellectual repudiation of the EU’s false Europe is predominantly inspired from the east – Hungary’s splendid Burkean constitution, reviving the social compact between the dead, the living and the unborn, is an inspiring example – Britain can take pride in its own contribution to the reclamation of the real European identity, having voted to leave the EU.
Brexit will renew Britain’s authentic European identity, making us the first country to re-embrace that heritage. History, culture, religion, legal principles, political concepts, philosophy, art, architecture and a myriad other legacies and affections affirm our identity as Europeans. That identity will be less muddied once we slough off the yoke of the sclerotic EU and emerge from behind Merkel’s Berlin Wall. We shall be able to listen to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony again without a frisson of political distaste.
Britain can only leave Europe – as distinct from the EU – if there is some major glacier movement or seismic disruption of tectonic plates. We retain full cultural integration within the true Europe and so have an interest in the continent’s rehabilitation. The best manifesto for that renewal so far published is the Paris Statement. It can be read here.