A cry from Europe 1

A document titled The Paris Statement: A Europe We Can Believe In has recently been published that calls for the preservation, or restoration, of Europe. Its authors recognize that Europeans are losing their European home.

We agree that is the case. And we agree with some of the analysis of what is killing it.

But there is much in the Statement that we do not agree with.

The signatories are three French authors (a preponderance which, with the title, suggests that the initiative came from one of them), and seven others, respectively Czech, Hungarian, Polish, British, German, Dutch, and Belgian.

The Statement as a whole has a sentimental, romantic quality which expresses the continental spirit rather than a rational Anglo-Saxon one, despite the co-authorship of one Englishman.

The whole thing may be read here.

THE PARIS STATEMENT

Europe belongs to us, and we belong to Europe.These lands are our home; we have no other. The reasons we hold Europe dear exceed our ability to explain or justify our loyalty. It is a matter of shared histories, hopes and loves. It is a matter of accustomed ways, of moments of pathos and pain. It is a matter of inspiring experiences of reconciliation and the promise of a shared future. Ordinary landscapes and events are charged with special meaning — for us, but not for others. Home is a place where things are familiar, and where we are recognized, however far we have wandered. This is the real Europe, our precious and irreplaceable civilization.

Europe is our home. Europe, in all its richness and greatness, is threatened by a false understanding of itself. This false Europe imagines itself as a fulfilment of our civilization, but in truth it will confiscate our home. It appeals to exaggerations and distortions of Europe’s authentic virtues while remaining blind to its own vices. Complacently trading in one-sided caricatures of our history, this false Europe is invincibly prejudiced against the past. Its proponents are orphans by choice, and they presume that to be an orphan — to be homeless — is a noble achievement. In this way, the false Europe praises itself as the forerunner of a universal community that is neither universal nor a community.

One fact lies in all that fluff, in part of the last sentence. It could be worded for clearer communication, as: the globalist rulers of Europe see the EU as a model for a world union under world government. 

Those flesh-and-blood traitors are turned into an abstraction as “the false Europe”.

The Statement goes on to elaborate on the “false Europe” – the Europe led by those globalist rulers who are letting millions of Muslims into their countries; not demanding that they assimilate, or adapt to the customs of the host countries, or obey their laws, or even learn the indigenous languages. In its high-flown style, it does not plainly state that the Islamic invasion is killing Europe, but continues to complain about the wrong attitude of the “false Europe” to the invaders.

And they believe that “the true sources of the humane decencies” that they think characterized pre-Islamic  (or “post-national. post cultural”) Europe comes from its “Christian roots”. We have argued, in many articles on this site, against that thesis, but will not make more of our disagreement here than merely to note it.

The patrons of the false Europe 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. Moreover, they are ignorant of the true sources of the humane decencies they themselves hold dear — as do we. They ignore, even repudiate the Christian roots of Europe. At the same time they take great care not to offend Muslims, who they imagine will cheerfully adopt their secular, multicultural outlook. Sunk in prejudice, superstition and ignorance, and blinded by vain, self-congratulating visions of a utopian future, the false Europe reflexively stifles dissent. This is done, of course, in the name of freedom and tolerance.

The words in bold say something with which we emphatically concur. The stifling of dissent is a plain and horrid fact.

Then comes a flat denial that “the  greatest threat” to Europe is the Muslim invasion. It continues shadow-boxing the “false Europe”, as if, were those globalists who believe (with Karl Marx) that “History is on their side” to be defeated in argument, the facts on the ground – the Islamification of Europe – would disappear.

We are reaching a dead-end. The greatest threat to the future of Europe is neither Russian adventurism nor Muslim immigration. The true Europe is at risk because of the suffocating grip that the false Europe has over our imaginations. Our nations and shared culture are being hollowed out by illusions and self-deceptions about what Europe is and should be. We pledge to resist this threat to our future. We will defend, sustain and champion the real Europe, the Europe to which we all in truth belong.

Next it describes the Europe that has been lost, the Europe the authors take pride in. It is a rosy picture of “open political systems” born out of “love for the homelands”. It misses the main point, that because the Enlightenment broke the near-totalitarian power of the Christian churches, European greatness grew with rational thought, the doubt which drives science, and the freedom that allowed European man to innovate and explore. 

The next two paragraphs continue the description of the virtues of theEuropean system as the authors perceive them. So does part the following one, which, however,  ends with the assertion of an important fact:

[The] nation-state …  became the hallmark of European civilization.

But that is followed with a passage that includes this:

… In the aftermath of the terrible bloodshed of the world wars in the first half of the twentieth century, we emerged with an even greater resolve to honor our shared heritage.

Which is simply not true. It was in the aftermath of the Second World War that many – even most? –  Europeans began to lose confidence in their cultural heritage. Birth rates began to fall and have fallen drastically. Fear that the welfare states would not have enough people to maintain them contributed to the disastrous acceptance of the hordes of Muslims who are changing the character of Europe. The Muslim newcomers have many children. That is the process of Europe’s Islamization, which is insufficiently dealt with in this document.    

The next few paragraphs praise Christianity as a “spiritual empire” that was better than “political empire”, in that it brought “cultural unity” to the continent. (Yes, but it was a cultural unity of illiteracy and terror.) It also ascribes the growth of secular order to Christianity’s separation of the divine and mundane powers. It lists the “gentle virtues” of Christianity: “fairness, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, peace-making, charity”, those ideals more honored in the breach than the observance throughout the history of Europe in our common era.

It goes on to praise marriage and the raising of children, and on that we can again agree.

We also like its acknowledgment of the “inspiration” modern Europe drew “from the Classical tradition”; and its declaration that “men and women of Europe” crafted “musical and artistic works of unsurpassed beauty” and achieved “extraordinary breakthroughs in science and technology”.

“We are losing our home”, the authors cry. 

The false Europe … sells itself as liberation from all restraints: sexual freedom, freedom of self-expression …

But not of speech,

The Generation of ’68 regards these freedoms as precious victories over a once almighty and oppressive cultural regime. They see themselves as great liberators, and their transgressions are acclaimed as noble moral achievements, for which the whole world should be grateful. … [In fact] the Generation of ’68 destroyed but did not build. They created a vacuum now filled by social media, cheap tourism and pornography.

There’s truth in that.

But most wrongly, the authors condemn the ’68 generation – which is to say, the New Left – for promoting individualism!

Our societies seem to be falling into individualism …

Good grief! They were Marxists, Maoists, collectivists through and through. Individualism was the very thing they most abominated.

Then again comes truth:

European life is more and more comprehensively regulated. Rules — often confected by faceless technocrats in league with powerful interests — govern our work relationships, our business decisions, our educational qualifications, our news and entertainment media. And Europe now seeks to tighten existing regulations on freedom of speech, an aboriginal European freedom — freedom of conscience made manifest. … Europe’s governing classes wish to restrict manifestly political speech. Political leaders who give voice to inconvenient truths about Islam and immigration are hauled before judges. Political correctness enforces strong taboos that deem challenges to the status quo beyond the pale.

Right.

And they come to a direct denunciation of multiculturalism, and at last touch on the damage done by “Muslim newcomers”:

The false Europe also boasts of an unprecedented commitment to equality. It claims to promote non-discrimination and the inclusion of all races, religions and identities. Here, genuine progress has been made, but a utopian detachment from reality has taken hold. Over the past generation, Europe has pursued a grand project of multiculturalism. To demand or even promote the assimilation of Muslim newcomers to our manners and mores, much less to our religion, has been thought a gross injustice. A commitment to equality, we have been told, demands that we abjure any hint that we believe our culture superior. … Europe’s multicultural enterprise … trades on the Christian ideal of universal charity in an exaggerated and unsustainable form. It requires from the European peoples a saintly degree of self-abnegation. We are to affirm the very colonization of our homelands and the demise of our culture as Europe’s great twenty-first century glory — a collective act of self-sacrifice for the sake of some new global community of peace and prosperity that is being born.

But they have not apparently noticed the mind-set of those European “multiculturalists” who long for total capitulation; the self-contempt; the positive preference for the primitive, woman-enslaving, enlightenment-suppressing ideology of Islam, the longing for it to replace the culture of Europe – expressed most explicitly by a former prime Minister of Sweden that his country does not belong to native-born Swedes but to the [Muslim] immigrants.

Most in our governing classes doubtless presume the superiority of European culture — which must not be affirmed in public in ways that might offend immigrants. Given that superiority, they think that assimilation will happen naturally, and quickly … that, somehow, by the laws of nature or of history, ‘they’ will necessarily become like ‘us’ — and it is inconceivable that the reverse might be true.

No, no.  Those “governing classes” do not “presume the superiority of European culture”. They urge their citizens to adapt to the ways of the immigrants.

Next the authors speak of  “globalization”:

There is more bad faith at work, of a darker kind. Over the last generation, a larger and larger segment of our governing class has decided that its own self-interest lies in accelerated globalization. They wish to build supranational institutions that they are able to control without the inconveniences of popular sovereignty. It is increasingly clear that the “democratic deficit” in the European Union is not a mere technical problem to be remedied by technical means. Rather, this deficit is a fundamental commitment, and it is zealously defended. Whether legitimated by supposed economic necessities or autonomously developing international human rights law, the supra-national mandarins of the EU institutions confiscate the political life of Europe … This is the soft but increasingly real tyranny we face.

Right again.

And this is right too:

European societies are fraying badly. If we but open our eyes, we see an ever-greater use of government power, social management and educational indoctrination. It is not just Islamic terror that brings heavily armed soldiers into our streets. Riot police are now necessary to quell violent anti-establishment protests

They then throw in a complaint about “drunken crowds of football fans”, and try to make it relevant by adding: “The fanaticism of our football loyalties is a desperate sign of the deeply human need for solidarity, a need that otherwise goes unfulfilled in the false Europe.”

How does the violence of rival football fans become a sign of a need for solidarity? That’s plain nonsense.

Deploring what has become of the universities is on the mark:

Europe’s intellectual classes are, alas, among the chief ideological partisans of the conceits of the false Europe. Without doubt, our universities are one of the glories of European civilization. But where once they sought to transmit to each new generation the wisdom of past ages, today most within the universities equate critical thinking with a simpleminded repudiation of the past. A lodestar of the European spirit has been the rigorous discipline of intellectual honesty and objectivity. But over the past two generations, this noble ideal has been transformed. The asceticism that once sought to free the mind of the tyranny of dominant opinion has become an often complacent and unreflective animus against everything that is our own. This stance of cultural repudiation functions as a cheap and easy way of being “critical”. Over the last generation, it has been rehearsed in the lecture halls, becoming a doctrine, a dogma. … As a consequence, our universities are now active agents of ongoing cultural destruction.

Our governing classes are advancing human rights. They are at work fighting climate change. They are engineering a more globally integrated market economy and harmonizing tax policies. They are monitoring progress toward gender equality. They are doing so much for us! What does it matter by what mechanisms they inhabit their offices? What does it matter if the European peoples grow more skeptical of their ministrations?

They imply scorn for a market economy, and again misrepresent the globalists, who want global trade, yes; but they are children of the New Left and favor socialism – ideally world socialist government.

We hope they are right that “the European people are growing skeptical of  their [the globalists’] ministrations”.

That growing scepticism is fully justified. Today, Europe is dominated by an aimless materialism that seems unable to motivate men and women to have children and form families. A culture of repudiation deprives the next generation of a sense of identity. Some of our countries have regions in which Muslims live with an informal autonomy from local laws, as if they were colonialists rather than fellow members of our nations. … Globalization transforms the life prospects of millions. When challenged, our governing classes say that they are merely working to accommodate the inevitable, adjusting to implacable necessities. No other course is possible, and it is irrational to resist. Things cannot be otherwise. Those who object are said to suffer nostalgia — for which they deserve moral condemnation as racists or fascists. As social divisions and civic distrust become more apparent, European public life grows angrier, more rancorous, and no one can say where it will end. We must not continue down this path. We need to throw off the tyranny of the false Europe.

How might that be done?

They propose that European public life be “re-secularized”. Which means they rightly see the globalist Leftist movement which despairs of Europe and promotes the Third World as a new religion – which it is.

Some well thought-out paragraphs follow which we suspect are of Anglo-Saxon authorship:

The work of renewal begins with theological self-knowledgeThe universalist and universalizing pretensions of the false Europe reveal it to be an ersatz religious enterprise, complete with strong creedal commitments — and anathemas. This is the potent opiate that paralyzes Europe as a political body. We must insist that religious aspirations are properly the province of religion, not politics, much less bureaucratic administration. In order to recover our political and historical agency, it is imperative that we re-secularize European public life.

This will require us to renounce the mendacious language that evades responsibility and fosters ideological manipulation. Talk of diversity, inclusion and multiculturalism is empty. Often, such language is deployed as a way to characterize our failures as accomplishments: The unravelling of social solidarity is “actually” a sign of welcome, tolerance, and inclusion. This is marketing language, a language meant to obscure reality rather than illuminate. We must recover an abiding respect for reality. Language is a delicate instrument, and it is debased when used as a bludgeon. We should be patrons of linguistic decency. Recourse to denunciation is a sign of the decadence of our present moment. We must not tolerate verbal intimidation, much less mortal threats. We need to protect those who speak reasonably, even if we think their views mistaken. The future of Europe must be liberal in the best sense, which means committed to robust public debate free from all threats of violence and coercion.

Breaking the spell of the false Europe and its utopian, pseudo-religious crusade for a borderless world means fostering a new kind of statesmanship and a new kind of statesman. A good political leader stewards the commonweal of a particular people. A good statesman views our shared European inheritance and our particular national traditions as magnificent and life-giving, but also fragile gifts. He does not reject that inheritance, nor does he chance losing it all for utopian dreams. Such leaders covet the honors bestowed upon them by their people; they do not lust for the approbation of the “international community”, which is in fact the public relations apparatus of an oligarchy.

Recognizing the particular character of the European nations … we need not be perplexed before the spurious claims of the multiculturalists. Immigration without assimilation is colonization, and this must be rejected. We rightly expect that those who migrate to our lands will incorporate themselves into our nations and adopt our ways. This expectation needs to be supported by sound policy.

Yes. But then the Statement goes off the rails again:

The language of multiculturalism has been imported from America.

It has not. The United States have encouraged and proved the value of multi-ethnicity, not multiculturalism; many ethnicities, one culture – and that an open, hospitable one that integrates anything from any other culture that is useful to it. (An enriching eclecticism now condemned by the Left as “cultural appropriation”.)

At least one of the authors then got it right:

But America’s great age of immigration came at the turn of the twentieth century, a period of remarkably rapid economic growth, in a country with virtually no welfare state, and with a very strong sense of national identity to which immigrants were expected to assimilate. … That experience tells us that …  a generous welfare system can impede assimilation … We must not allow a multicultural ideology to deform our political judgments about how best to serve the common good, which requires national communities with sufficient unity and solidarity to see their good as common.

“Demographic change” is called by its name at last:

After World War II, Western Europe cultivated vital democracies. After the collapse of the Soviet Empire, Central European nations restored their civic vitality. These are among Europe’s most precious achievements. But they will be lost if we do not address immigration and demographic change in our nations. Only empires can be multicultural, which is what the European Union will become if we fail to make renewed solidarity and civic unity the criteria by which to assess immigration policies and strategies for assimilation.

The Statement then drifts off again into high-falutin sentiment about “spiritual greatness” needing to be restored to “counter the growing power of mere wealth”, and the need for “the populace” to be “guided toward a virtuous life”. And this:

While we recognize the positive aspects of free-market economics, we must resist ideologies that seek to totalize the logic of the market. …  Economic growth, while beneficial, is not the highest good. Markets need to be oriented toward social ends.

No, they do not. They need to be left alone.

After going on a bit about the arts needing to be about “the sublime and the beautiful”, and stressing that “marriage and family are essential”, they come to weigh the merits of “populism” – the movement begun in America by Donald Trump (and spreading rapidly and effectively, we hope, in Europe). They see it as a source of “anxiety”, but acknowledge that it may be a salutary correction to the “globalist” trend.

There is great anxiety in Europe today because of the rise of what is called “populism” — though the meaning of the term seems never to be defined, and it is used mostly as invective. We have our reservations. Europe needs to draw upon the deep wisdom of her traditions rather than relying on simplistic slogans and divisive emotional appeals. Still, we acknowledge that much in this new political phenomenon can represent a healthy rebellion against the tyranny of the false Europe, which labels as “anti-democratic’” any threat to its monopoly on moral legitimacy. The so-called “populism” challenges the dictatorship of the status quo … and rightly so. It is a sign that even in the midst of our degraded and impoverished political culture, the historical agency of the European peoples can be reborn. …

In this moment, we ask all Europeans to join us in rejecting the utopian fantasy of a multicultural world without borders. We rightly love our homelands, and we seek to hand on to our children every noble thing that we have ourselves received as our patrimony. As Europeans, we also share a common heritage, and this heritage asks us to live together in peace as a Europe of nations. Let us renew national sovereignty, and recover the dignity of a shared political responsibility for Europe’s future.

We must take responsibility.

Phillipe Bénéton (France)

Rémi Brague (France)

Chantal Delsol (France)

Roman Joch (Česko)

Lánczi András (Magyarország)

Ryszard Legutko (Polska)

Roger Scruton (United Kingdom)

Robert Spaemann (Deutschland)

Bart Jan Spruyt (Nederland)

Matthias Storme (België)

  • liz

    That is a great statement, and step in the right direction, even with It’s flaws.
    A confrontation between globalism and nationalism seems to be inevitable.