ON Friday the Guardian and other newspapers published an open letter in defence of ‘the idea of Europe’ by a group it described as ‘30 top intellectuals’. It caught the eye of two of our writers, Robert James here and Chris McGovern.
WITH the Brexit knot seemingly entering its critical phase and the EU elections dead ahead (in which Eurosceptic parties are forecast to make gains), panic has set in for the intellectuals of Europe. The prominent French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy has written a sort of call to arms to save Europe. It claims Europe ‘is coming apart before our eyes’ and adds that liberal values in Europe face a challenge ‘not seen since the 1930s’. The 800-word manifesto to save the continent has been published in various papers, and the novelists Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan and historian Simon Schama are among its signatories.
There are a number of points worth making about Lévy’s remarkable and rather absurd public address to the world.
The document mentions liberal values. Which liberalism is this? Is this really classical liberalism with its emphasis on freedom and the rule of law? Or is this the dictatorial Left-liberalism that pushes political correctness, secularism and mass immigration? Lévy and his chums need to get that straight. Vast numbers of people across Europe are fed up with the latter, and they will not be changing their minds in the foreseeable future.
You will notice that the words European Union do not appear in the letter. Clearly Lévy and his associates are of what I like to call the EU romancer class: Europe is the EU and the EU is Europe. That is a lie, an error or wishful thinking, call it what you will, that has already cost Lévy’s side of the argument much heartache.
Then the letter decries the ‘abstractions’ of ‘soul’ and ‘identity’ when used to describe individual nations. That’s some chutzpah, isn’t it: intellectuals decrying abstractions – abstractions being the lifeblood of their position on the EU. Does not France have its soul and its identity? Is that soul and identity not different to the soul and identity of, say, Poland or Iran? This is another mistake of the intellectuals’ pro-EU mentality: in their view, once you build the Babel of Brussels, you can remake and remodel countries via social engineering and laws initiated and steered behind closed doors by unelected panjandrums. This comes, if you dig deep enough, from postmodern French philosophical gobbledygook: a nation and its culture is nothing more than a mask for power, revolutionaries therefore build a supra-national power to do away with it – the EU as it is today. Lévy after all was taught by Jacques Derrida, the Algerian-born deconstructionist. Oddly enough, Lévy was born in Algeria as well.
From this Lévy moves on to quite the most irritating, insulting and adolescent element of the pro-EU camp’s arguments: the assertion that supporters of the EU are defenders of all the high points of European culture and civilisation, alongside the insinuation that Eurosceptics are boors, philistines and even fascists. This laughable conceit of the educated elite can be refuted quite easily: civilised life has declined in inverse proportion to the growing influence of the globalisers, Left-liberals and technocrats. One only has to consider the ease which mass-murdering Islamist terrorists have moved around in the Schengen area, a fact remarked on by French MPs.
Lévy claims that ‘Europe is being attacked by false prophets’. He means populist eurosceptics but his phrase more than adequately covers his favoured elites’ extraordinarily poisonous policy mix of deviant capitalism, multiculturalism, open borders, liberal interventionism, Frankfurt School Marxism, human-rights-as-a-social-compensation system and social engineering by immigration. We are now in this imbroglio of division precisely because of the behaviour of the EU and its supporters. Sadly, people in European cities will continue to hear Allāhu akbar followed by gunfire because of what the EU and the globalists believe. And the more they undemocratically press for their unlovely vision of the future, the more people will push back. Certainly there are deeply unpleasant far-Right goons who hate the EU. However, there are also intelligent, cultured and educated people who have come to see the EU as a creator of serious long-term problems, not solutions. The bien-pensants’ refusal to admit this is pure intellectual arrogance. At least the Tory/big business pro-EU axis more or less admit, if only by implication, that their motive is greed and a willingness to sacrifice all principle for market certainty.
I believe Lévy must be aware of all this on some level, which would explain the absence of the words European Union from his manifesto. The document merely mentions ‘mistakes’ without further clarification. At this point in the EU debacle, its defenders are going to have to be a lot more open about the organisation’s shortcomings than lazily and hazily deploying ‘mistakes’ to cover the bloc’s disastrous hubris.
And it is a lazy document, written with a bombast and exaggeration which its signatories would all sneer at if it had been written by an opponent.
How much better it would have been if it had offered a mea culpa, an admission of the institutional deceit that the EU and its political supporters have used from the start to achieve its aims.
The only way the EU would have worked was if it had been what it claimed to be: a trading group. It was never going to work as what it is was in fact: a clandestine attempt to build a socialist superstate which was also a vehicle for German dominion on the continent by means other than military. Strange isn’t it, how a mere 74 years after Auschwitz, it is the British who are the bad guys. Lévy can adduce Goethe and Beethoven to his heart’s content but in the light of the UK being painted as semi-fascist it worth recalling that within living memory Germany had Kristallnacht and the Hitler Youth where England had Arthur Askey and flower shows.
In short, the signatories of Lévy’s missive must own up to the flaws in what they chose to believe. Most of the names I recognise on the list are baby-boomers who have hit retirement age and are looking aghast at the world they helped to build. Well, what did they think was going to happen in the long term? Stupid ideas have come home to roost, as they always do. For example, the insane euro project plunged Italy into years of economic stagnation, a problem now compounded with North African migration and the near-impossibility of extricating itself from the single currency. Can anyone wonder why hostility towards remote technocrats and their dictatorial abstractions has soared? Evidently the Lévy tendency do not consider it. Their narrative of ‘Europe wreckers’ plays into a fantasy of a noble and beleaguered EU under attack rather than the truth: an institutionally dishonest organisation coming apart under the strain of its own flaws and weaknesses. Fairly soon Brexit will be blamed for everything, including bad weather, earthquakes and stubbed toes.
Carping, whining and snivelling intellectuals will have to be told time and again: It’s the result of everything you wanted, so suck it up.