A visitor to Prague in the immediate aftermath of the Czech Republic’s formal entry into the European Union will find few outward signs that something rather momentous has taken place.  Your documents are still checked at the border crossing as you drive into the country from Germany; the koruna (crown) is still the legal tender; and the gold-and-blue E.U. logo does not yet adorn any Czech license plates.

There are other, more important, visible distinctions.  Compared with most of her Western European partners in the Union, Bohemia is still remarkably monoethnic and monoracial—which may help explain why Prague is one of the safest and cleanest capital cities in Europe.  Unlike those of Rome or Paris, its magnificent squares are mercifully free of the street “merchants” from Lagos and pickpockets from Tirana.

This may change soon, however, according to Michael Semin, executive director of the Civic Institute.  I met this youthful-looking father of five when I came to Prague as a guest of the Institute to attend its conference “Can the West Be Defended?” and found in Mr. Semin a Euro-skeptic who sees no reason for celebration.  He predicts that the new, postcommunist members of the European Union will no longer be the masters of their own borders and will not be able to control who will settle in their lands: “We will have to adjust completely to the immigration policy dictated from Brussels, as immigration is one of the areas over which member-countries will have no veto power.  The new members will have to have the same immigration policy as, say, Germany or France, and, in the long term, the results will be similar.  Right now, we have a very small number of Muslims, and they do not present a problem in the Central European societies.  This will start changing soon.  At the moment, we have some immigration, mostly from the countries of the former Soviet Union, specifically from the Ukraine, but that is acceptable because [the immigrants] easily adapt.  They have a similar language; many of them are practicing Christians.  But these people are not what those E.U. immigration dictators have in mind when they speak about the need to create a more ‘multicultural’ society here.  What they mean is that we will have to accept immigration from other parts of the world.”

An early sign of Prague’s loss of its freedom of action in the postcommunist period came in March 1999, when the Czech Republic joined NATO’s war against Serbia as a consequence of her membership in the alliance: “Under NATO, we were bombing Yugoslavia, which I consider a crime.  The Czech government at that time very reluctantly, under the pressure from NATO, joined other member countries in the bombing.  This was related to the fact that NATO had reformulated its principles and its objectives.  It is not any more a defense organization against Soviet communism; it is part of the structure exporting secular humanism all over the world as ‘humanitarian interventions.’  Just look at the people who took over the European and Atlantic organizations!  Basically, the Cold War was ended by the generation of the 60’s—by the Frankfurt School; by people like Lord Robertson, who, under Thatcher, was campaigning for unilateral nuclear disarmament; by Xavier Solana, Joschka Fischer, and other people of the left.  This generation had inherited all of the post-World War II Western institutions.  That is why I don’t expect any recovery of the old communism, because it is not useful to the left any longer.  The left has different means to achieve its goals now: Communism is discredited, but now they have all these institutions at their disposal.”

In Semin’s view, the European Union is an even more important tool than NATO of radical change for the left, and a far more dangerous one.  It imposes secular humanism from top to bottom through an array of bureaucratic, legal, and financial instruments.  This, Semin maintains, had been concealed from the Czechs as they were about to vote in a referendum on joining the European Union.  Those lobbying on behalf of the European Union worked hard to conceal that what the people were effectively voting for was the acceptance of the European constitution—the whole framework of unified Europe—together with its Charter of Fundamental Rights, even though that key document had not been finalized at that time.  “Nobody really knew what kind of organization we were going to join.  Now it’s clearer to those who read the Draft of the European Constitution, including the charter.  This is a dramatic shift towards centralized power within the E.U.  The Czech Republic will have only 2.4 percent of the influence, and between 70 and 80 percent of its legislation will come from the European Union.  The Czech parliament will not even formally approve those laws: They will be incorporated directly into the national legal code.  There is no possibility, there is no legal or political mechanism, to block that.  Any such attempt would result in punishment.  In the near future, Czech politics will be just a charade, nothing else.  No important matters will be decided domestically.  The centralization of power is linked to the fact that the veto power is going to be abolished in most policy areas.  The majority is going to decide for the whole of ‘Europe,’ which obviously will create tremendous tensions.”

Semin stresses that the Charter will promote the postmodern concept of “rights” and “nondiscrimination.”  It will insist on an array of minority rights based on race, sex, and sexual orientation.  A Catholic school may have to accept a Muslim teacher of history if it is to receive any state funding.  This approach may also raise the issue of the exclusively male priesthood in most Christian denominations, which proponents of the charter already call discriminatory.  Their strident demand that women be allowed into the monastic communities of Mt. Athos is only an indication of what is yet to come.  Semin warns that the judges of the European Court in Luxembourg will interpret the European constitution—and the charter—and it will have no other court above it: “The decisions of the judges will set precedents obligatory for the whole of the European Union.  Whatever they decide, there will be no judicial authority in the member states that will be able to overrule that decision.  By the decision of those judges, we may have to legalize homosexual ‘marriage’ here in the Czech Republic, although this has been rejected already four times in our parliament.”

Semin derides as absurd the argument of some Czech pro-Europeans that “it is better to belong and have a voice than to stay out and not have a voice.”  By joining, the Czechs have one 40th of the influence and a 100-percent responsibility to obey.  Had they stayed out, they would not have been under E.U. jurisdiction and would not have needed any “voice” in the first place.  He notes that most Czechs who voted to join the union did so with an air of resignation: They feared that the European Union would crush the country economically if she were to stay outside.  There was, and still is, a minority of Euro-optimists, as well as such true enthusiasts as Pan Europa, which has propagated the European Union especially in Christian circles, although Pan Europa has Masonic roots.  Another pro-E.U. group that has talked of its “spiritual dimension” is the Czech Bishops’ Conference: “They meet occasionally to discuss ‘the Spirit of Europe.’  That’s a big thing now: We as Catholics have to acknowledge that the Union cannot be just an economic free-trade area, that ‘Europe’ has a deeper meaning, and therefore it has to have a ‘spirit.’  There is nobody who has defined what that spirit is; there is only a general ‘spirituality’ that puts together all the creeds in a deistic way.  At the level of the European Union Commission, there is a department that deals with these questions.  They were given this task to define the ‘Spirit of Europe.’  On their board are Catholics, Protestants, the Orthodox, the Jews, the Muslims—and even ‘the Freemasons of Europe’!”

Michael Semin has been with the Civic Institute from its earliest days in 1991, but he has worked with its founders even longer—as a teenager in the underground anticommunist movement and the “Underground University” in the 1980’s.  People were meeting in private flats to discuss philosophy, theology, and political thought.  Then the Berlin Wall fell, and they were free to organize legally: “The Civic Institute came into being in 1991 as a sort of neoconservative outlet in Central Europe.  In the years that followed, the orientation of the Institute was changing, however, reflecting the degree to which we were discovering the false tenets of neoconservatism.  We were starting to rethink the basic ideas, although, until today, there are disagreements within the Institute.  I’d probably be considered the extreme right-wing traditionalist reactionary nut [he laughs].  To the credit of my colleagues, we still work together, and I am free to express my views.  We work on many projects, some of them related to the defense of the traditional family.  We are among the founders of the Czech pro-life movement and the homeschooling movement in the Czech republic, which later established itself into an independent organization that focuses on home education.”

Semin finds it ironic that the new secular-liberal totalitarianism is proving, in some ways, to be more dangerous for the survival of a healthy society than the oppression under the Comrades: “We have to divide the communist era into two parts.  From the Czech perspective, the 1950’s were very hard.  A real attempt was made to destroy the traditional family, to put the mothers into factories and children, from the earliest age, into government-run daycare programs.  This changed during the 60’s, and, in the following decades of ‘communism,’ the family was one of the bastions where people could keep the vestiges of a civilized life.  Yes, abortion was allowed, although not as liberally as it is today.  There was no pornography, and many other signs of decay were not so rampant, at least regarding family life.  What communism did not destroy is being destroyed now by the liberalism coming from the West, which I consider more dangerous than communism.  In fact, they are twins of the same parents, but liberalism is much more insidious.  People think they are really ‘liberated’ if they never marry, if they kill their children in their wombs, if they have access to pornography.  In all family-related indicators, the situation is worse now than before.  There is less surgical abortion but much more birth control and chemical abortion by the ‘morning-after’ pills.”

It may be time, Semin believes, for people who reject this trend—and who are being marginalized by the dominant liberal elite—to go back to the samizdat culture, to a new underground university: “It is almost impossible to do programs that really, seriously address these problems, and to do so on the official level.  It is getting less and less possible.  Probably the only difference would be that we are not jailed yet.”

Michael Semin nevertheless remains hopeful that not all is lost.  The only meaningful change for Europe would come through a miraculous conversion back to Christianity, he says, which might then affect the whole architecture of the Old Continent.  For now, however, he sees no serious political movement that could undermine the current political equation.  Echoing what a Russian Orthodox thinker, Igor Shafarevich, told a visiting Rockford Institute team in Moscow some years ago, Semin says that there may be no rational scenario for such momentous change—but that, as a Christian, he knows that miracles do happen and hopes that one may yet save Europe from herself.