Supporters of the European Union have long promoted their vision of the EU as being a utopia which will help heal the planet and create a new order where all peoples and cultures will live side by side in peace and harmony in a new enlightened age.
In an article by Damian Thompson published in the Daily Telegraph a few months ago entitled ‘Can Christians Vote for Ukip’, Thompson stated that “Britain’s mainstream Churches abhor Ukip. Anglicans, Catholics and Nonconformists have been uncritically and naively pro-EU for decades and now that immigration has become Ukip’s primary focus their opposition is even more entrenched. Bishops tend to be to the Left even of Labour on this subject. The Catholic Church in England and Wales has essentially embraced completely open borders and an amnesty for illegal immigrants. It’s a ‘Gospel imperative’, we’re told.”
Christian sceptics of the European Union are often given a hard time and face a hostile reception. I’m a Christian, I don’t buy into the so-called “European Dream”, and I fail to understand why so many mainstream churches actively support the European Union.
The utopian vision espoused by the supporters of the EU and as set out in the EU’s constitution worries me immensely. Those in favour of the EU project believe that they can create a utopia on earth and in order to do so power must be taken away from the people, sovereignty stripped from the nations, and so-called “intellectuals” be given the power to manage us so as to herald in a new progressive age. The message of the so-called founding fathers of the EU appears to be that the people cannot be trusted with power and to manage their own affairs, and stripping power away from the people is benevolent in the grand scheme of things. The EU doesn’t promote direct democracy and back-room deals are common. By handing over powers and entrusting bureaucrats with so power we are in essence elevating them to God-like figures and accepting the notion that all men are equal but some are more equal than others.
Why should we trust in this utopian vision promoted by the EU and its supporters and hand power to a centralised and bloated bureaucracy? I would argue that heaven is heaven and earth is earth. I don’t recall reading any passages in the Bible which state that earth will ever be the same as heaven. As Christians we are called to make a difference, but I’ve never seen any passages that state that man can be God and create heaven on earth. As such I am weary of claims by any persons who believe that they can heal the planet. Man is Man and God is God.
No human being in my opinion is perfect. We all have flaws and the wise man seeks to grow and become a better person. But in my opinion it is the arrogant man who claims that he can create a heavenly utopia on earth, hence why it would be foolish to hand power away to bureaucrats in Brussels and trust in their assertions that they will create a utopia and that they will never become corrupted by power.
A Communitarianism of the people can take place free of the overbearing arm of the state. In fact, this can be seen in Clacton-On-Sea where Douglas Carswell, who is anti-EU, won the by-election to become Ukip’s first MP by a landslide. Douglas believes in direct democracy, localism and recall, and has espoused an optimistic vision, which was popular with the resident’s of Clacton-On-Sea.
Thomas Sowell has talked about a clash of visions in the world, namely between the “constrained view” and the “unconstrained view”.
Sowell argues that “the constrained vision relies heavily on belief that human nature is essentially unchanging and that man is naturally inherently self-interested, regardless of the best intentions. Those with a constrained vision prefer the systematic processes of the rule of law and experience of tradition. Compromise is essential because there are no ideal solutions, only trade-offs. Those with a constrained vision favour solid empirical evidence and time-tested structures and processes over intervention and personal experience. Ultimately, the constrained vision demands checks and balances and refuses to accept that all people could put aside their innate self-interest”
Sowell argues that “the unconstrained vision relies heavily on the belief that human nature is essentially good. Those with an unconstrained vision distrust decentralised processes and are impatient with large institutions and systemic processes that constrain human action. They believe there is an ideal solution to every problem, and that compromise is never acceptable. Ultimately they believe that man is morally perfectible. Because of this, they believe that there exist some people who are further along the path of moral development, have overcome self-interest and are immune to the influence of power and therefore can act as surrogate decision-makers for the rest of society.” Sowell refers to them as “the self anointed.”
I believe that the so-called founding fathers of the European Union and its supporters believe in the “unconstrained view” whereas the founding fathers of the United States of America believed in the “constrained view”. The constitution of the United States of America set out to ensure that the government exists for the sole purpose of serving the people and not ruling the people. Abraham Lincoln famously said “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.”
Friedriek Hayek warned against the sort of centralised planning and one-size-fits-all approach favoured by the bureaucrats in Brussels. Hayek said “The more the state “plans” the more difficult planning becomes for the individual” and “While an equality of rights under a limited government is possible and an essential condition of individual freedom, a claim for equality of material position can be met only by a government with totalitarian powers.”
In respect of the open borders agenda, there are many conservative arguments for opposing such a scheme. Roger Scruton has stated that conservatism is about conserving worthwhile institutions against rapid change. Scruton also said that “The conservative response to modernity is to embrace it, but to embrace it critically.”
A conservative who understands Scruton would challenge liberal politicians who argue in favour of mass immigration and open borders. Unlike liberal metropolitan politicians, journalists and commentators, the values of the working-class and blue-collar workers are very much rooted in “faith, flag and family”. I am not opposed to immigration, and it is good to consider employment options abroad.
Nevertheless the open-borders, mass immigration and globalisation agenda promoted by the European Union and elites can be problematic for those whose values are rooted in a more conservative tradition. It can be argued that the growth of the welfare state has been fuelled by the breakdown of family ties. Further it could also be argued that the open borders agenda is an attempt to create a sort of Tower of Babel.
Disenchantment with politics has increased the more Britain has become tangled up with the European project. If we want a more humble politician then it can only be achieved by having a smaller state.
Christians should be weary of any institutions which claim to create a utopia on earth if only we hand over our freedoms. Karl Marx talked of such a utopia and we all witnessed the collapse of communism in Russia and Eastern Europe.