The rhetoric of “Europe” in its recognizably modern form dates back to the Thirty Years’ War. After all that they had done to each other between 1618 and 1648, Europeans were rightly embarrassed to talk of “Christendom” as a serious political concept. The last mention of a Christian commonwealth was made in the Peace of Utrecht in 1713.
“Europe,” said Czar Alexander I a century later, “is us”—by which he meant the political decisionmakers at the Congress of Vienna. His view of Europe as an informal association of like-minded leaders who accept one another’s legitimacy in the intricate act of power-balancing was the cornerstone of the post-Napoleonic Concert of Europe and of the Long Peace that lasted from 1815 until 1914.
The tendency to try to create “European” cultural commonalities as a substitute for the old, Christian ones is also not new: The notion of a “European” community was hugely appealing to the philosophes. Writing in 1751, Voltaire was enthusiastic in his depiction of Europe as “a kind of great republic.”
“Today, no matter what people may say, there are no longer any Frenchmen, Germans, Spaniards, or even Englishmen; there are only Europeans,” wrote Rousseau two decades later.
If those who run the institutions of the European Union today have their way, there will be, a hundred years hence, “only Europeans” indeed—some atheist, but mostly Muslim; some black, but mostly brown. They will feel at home in any former country of the Old Continent, because the native populations will have aborted and contracepted themselves into extinction.
A decade ago the European Union refused to acknowledge a Christian heritage as an element of European identity. The draft preamble to the E.U. constitution included specific references to Greece, Rome, and the Enlightenment, with a yawning thousand-year gap in between.
Brussels rejects the notion that Europeans are defined by blood ties, collective memories, emotional bonds, culture, spirituality and kinship. Instead,
reunited Europe intends to continue along this path of civilization, progress and prosperity, for the good of all its inhabitants, including the weakest and most deprived . . . to deepen the democratic and transparent nature of its public life, and to strive for peace, justice and solidarity throughout the world . . .
Secondary manifestations of such a mind-set are predictable. The European Union actively promotes and advocates abortion, homosexuality, and population replacement (unlimited immigration) as basic human rights. Its definition of human rights reflects the demonic legacy of the French Revolution, which rejected the notion that man is made in God’s image. The European Union is ignoring the persecution of Christians, notably in the Muslim world, while exalting Islam’s supposed contribution to European civilization. A report issued in 2003 by the E.U. Human Rights Commission described religion—obviously meaning the Christian religion—as one of the worst enemies of human rights and a danger to world peace.
The E.U. political process now amounts to the practice of producing ideologically desirable outcomes, defined by the unelected European Commission, before the quasidemocratic machine of the European Parliament and the member countries’ political institutions are set in motion. The preamble of the E.U. Charter on Human Rights claims to be “based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law,” as if the two were not contradictory, and concludes that “Enjoyment of these rights entails responsibilities and duties with regard to other persons, to the human community and to future generations.” Such rights are curtailed by those who decide what one’s obligations to “the human community” and “future generations” are.
The true meaning of “the rule of law” is defined by the “European Arrest Warrant,” a hideous device launched by the Lisbon Treaty, under which every citizen of a member country, or even a visitor from outside the European Union, is liable to arrest and extradition at the behest of a judge in any other E.U. member country, under one of 32 categories of “crime.” Those offenses include murder and terrorism, as well as “racism and xenophobia.” The European Union thus equates opinions and sentiments with actual crimes, in the best tradition of Soviet jurisprudence.
The functioning of this Leviathan is largely in the hands of the European Commission, chosen by the 27 prime ministers who make up the Council. The Commission has the greatest power to create and impose policies, but it cannot be removed or held accountable by any electorate. The Commission’s duty is to uphold the interests of the European Union as such, and its members must swear they will discard any vestige of loyalty to any nation. The only E.U. institution that has any claim to democratic credentials is the European Parliament, the least powerful of the three key bodies.
How and why did this monstrosity get this way?
In 1945 Western Europe was in ruins, a shadow of what it had been only four decades previously. The old, pre-1914 balance-of-power system had ended in a disaster, and the interwar mechanisms of collective security were neither collective nor secure, as shown in 1931 and 1935 and 1938. A new paradigm was needed.
The post-World War II movement for European unity was born on the assumption that a sense of a shared past had to be developed, as well as a sense of an existing and growing common identity, to avoid yet another self-mutilating disaster, after which there would be no recovery. But whenever men start playing with history and identity in the name of a greater good, they start lying for the truth. As Jean Monnet, the father of the project (and, significantly, a man never elected to a public office), put it, “Europe has never existed; one has genuinely to create Europe.”
The initial ideological basis for the project was the Gaullist concept of l’Europe des patries. In this vision, a concert of nation-states brought together by a common interest would seek the withering away of their old hostilities—with France and Germany leading the way—but all of them would retain their substance and identity regardless of the institutional arrangement. This was the “Europe” of the Six, born out of the pragmatism behind the Coal and Steel Community of the early 1950’s. Even then, however, some Euro-integralists, such as Belgium’s prime minister Paul-Henri Spaak and Monnet himself, hoped that the project would lead to some form of greater political union; but De Gaulle and his successor, Pompidou, disagreed, and for over a decade the institutional framework remained essentially the same.
Potentially more dangerous was the notion of Europe’s “unity in diversity,” which went a step further than the Europe of the Fatherlands. The increasing prominence of the new concept coincided with the European Community’s expansion to the Nine, then to the Twelve. Its proponents claimed that Europe was not only a mosaic of cultures but an organic whole. The implication that this whole required a single source of decisionmaking authority gave rise, two decades after Monnet, to the method of European integration he advocated from the outset. It was based on the gradual yet regular transfers of bits of national sovereignty—in ostensibly technical areas—to Brussels.
The Brussels apparat made a quantum leap toward this goal with the Single European Act (SEA), which came into effect in July 1987. It was a thorough revision of the Treaty of Rome in the direction of a superauthority, rather than a superstate. The distinction is essential. The standard Eurosceptic argument that the Brussels machine is plotting the creation of a single federal state is incorrect. The people who run the Brussels machine have never wanted the end result to be a superstate modeled after the United States. In the context of pan-European federal statehood they would be held more accountable and would come under far greater public scrutiny than if they operated from the corridors of the E.U. HQ at Barleymont.
The strategy behind the SEA was for the states to be drained gradually of statehood and the power transferred to Brussels, but without the unwelcome visibility, trappings, and limitations of statehood itself. Its guiding spirit was then-Commission President Jacques Delors, a French Socialist. From that moment on, the European Union became, in the words of British MEP Roger Helmer, “a slow-motion coup d’état.” In addition to the creation of the eurozone a decade ago, which has grown to 17 member-states, the Schengen Agreement (1990), the Maastricht Treaty (1992), the Amsterdam Treaty (1998), the Treaty of Nice (2000), and the Treaty of Lisbon (2009) have transferred vast powers from national capitals to Brussels.
The era of Delors coincided with the rise of the Generation of 1968 to the positions of power. The activists had cut their hair, put on suits and ties, and discovered that it was more fruitful and comfortable to take the Gramscian long road through the institutions than to blow them up. The veterans of the hard-left era, like Catherine Ashton, Javier Solana, José Manuel Barroso, Joschka Fischer, and Romano Prodi, still like the concept of permanent revolution, wrapped into the open-ended evolution of the European Union that they now control.
The result is a European Union in a state of indeterminacy and permanent flux, a postmodern edifice within which the meaning of sovereignty is relativized and the separation of foreign and domestic policies blurred to the point of interchangeability. What all of these E.U. enthusiasts share, as John Laughland has noted, is a love of indeterminacy, multiplicity, and permanent change, and a dislike of what they regard as inadequate, old-fashioned, and simplistic certainties of classical sovereign statehood.
Far from being the “capital of Europe,” Brussels has become the headquarters of the post-Christian, and therefore anti-Christian, European elite class—just as the regime of the United States has become a tool of the post-Christian, and therefore anti-Christian, North American subsidiary of the same global enterprise.
Their goals are the same. They reek of sulphur. They cannot be shamed into changing their ways through arguments or defeated through the ballot box any more than a malignant cancer can be arrested with aspirin. A stronger medicine is needed.