EU is leaning to the left
How are conservative and Christian politicians responding?
The European Union has evolved substantially from its original form, its “founding grandmother,” that is the European Coal and Steel Community. That Union was founded by Christian Democrats, who were genuinely guided by Christian inspirations in politics; for real, not for show.
The European Coal and Steel Community was on the one hand designed to be a barrier against communism (the threat of communists winning in democratic elections in Italy and France, tremendous influence in Greece, and considerable support in many Western European countries coupled with Moscow’s financial backing). On the other hand, it was meant to prevent a third world war (each of the previous ones started as a result of antagonisms between European states). In the name of political correctness.
When you consider the EU today in the category of ideas, you could say “the apple did fall far from the European tree,” giving a new spin to an old Polish adage. This has been the case for years. Embarrassing arguments over whether to insert a clause in the so-called EU constitution that would merely state the obvious fact that Europe’s legacy is all about Christianity were accompanied by effective measures to impose “political correctness” on the European Parliament and other European institutions. When you take a look at the activities of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in Vienna, it seems that EU official agencies (and the FRA in particular) disseminate the idea of “eternal progress” or condone its spread under their own aegis.
Let’s remember that ultimately no preamble mentioning the Old Continent’s Christian values and heritage was inserted in either the ill-fated (or infamous) European constitution or Lisbon treaty, which has been in force since December 2009. Such attempts, evidently effective, on the part of the European mainstream at making the EU an institution utterly neutral in terms of belief and religious background or reference, are intellectually preposterous. Yet, they are commonplace in the EU.
This is an exact portrayal of the facts. That secularisation is simply a European reality Anno Domini 2016, pardon my politically incorrect wording here. There are other symptoms illustrating the departure from Christian roots and embracing progressiveness. Here are some from my time spent at the European Parliament. The Parliament, with offices in Brussels and Strasbourg (plus Luxembourg, where no sessions are held but which houses the strategic financial department…), has a well organised MEP group, mainly composed of the socialist liberals, greens, and post-communists and backed by some Christian democrats (sic) and Eurosceptics, which, nearly on each occasion and resolution, tries to put its their penny’s worth of ideology, invariably on the same subjects: so-called abortion, so-called birth control or against so-called homophobia. Often grotesque situations would materilaise when, discussing resolutions on some really unrelated subjects, official EP documents become embedded with otherwise irrelevant radical asides. Let’s take the example of Africa. Basically each document devoted to this continent is very likely to feature two tried-and-tested paragraphs: one on contraceptives and the other on the harassment of homosexuals. It’s just standard-procedure at the European Parliament.
Persecuted Christians and the EU’s shameful silence
European elites often keep silent when Christians are being persecuted worldwide. This issue isn’t hot or trendy; there’s no need to bring it up. Discrimination against Christians first became an issue in an annual official review of respecting human rights on all continents, prepared by the EP’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, as recently as 2010 and, fortunately, has remained there ever since. But long before that, Christians have been murdered in their thousands. Ridiculous situations would happen, as in the case of the EP’s debate in defence of the Uighurs, an Islam ethnic minority in the People’s Republic of China. The Parliament condemned, and rightly so, the Beijing authorities for discrimination against the Uighur community but at the same time the majority dismissed an amendment that stood up not only for China’s Uighurs but also Christians. What this embarrassing episode meant to show was that the parliament of Christian Europe protects religious freedoms, but in the context of other faiths, and not Christianity. In a situation when it is Christianity at stake, a faith that is not only part of European tradition and history but is also a vital and integral part of Europe’s contemporary culture, such decision shows that Europe’s elites have drifted from their roots. No wonder than that an increasing number of Christian voters either give up voting (a dramatically low turnout in European elections – e.g. in Poland half as many) as in national elections; with similar figures in other countries) or vote for radically anti-establishment parties, for instance Eurosceptics. Incidentally, after a series of defeats suffered by British Conservatives in by-elections to the House of Commons and the House of Lords, I asked my Tory colleagues, from both the UK and EU parliaments, how they explain these electoral defeats. I heard, in plain terms, accusations against the Conservative Party leadership that the traditional, genuinely conservative voter had been scared off by the party’s leftist-liberal reorientation, which showed in e.g. the acceptance of gay “marriages.”
Some British voters, Protestants and Catholics alike, felt betrayed by a party that used to refer to traditional values to a greater degree than the Labour Party. Similar disappointment and distancing from the traditional right happened on the other side of Europe, in the Kingdom of Spain, where conservative citizens were in trouble because they couldn’t tell the difference between the centre-right People’s Party (Partido Popular) and the socialists with regards to the protection of life. The centre right, first in opposition then in the government, wasn’t willing to amend the legislative excesses of the José Luis Zapatero government era. I wonder to what extent the emergence of the new centre right in Spain, the Ciudadanos (Citizens) party, results from the disillusionment with the People’s Party, which has been retreating from its duties, that is defending Christian values.
What should be done then? Shouldn’t the development I have described —and that’s exactly how things stand—make us quote Adam Mickiewicz (“Forefathers' Eve”, Part 3): “So let's spit on the crust and go down, to the profundity!”? If in the past decades Europe’s elites have merited such critical assessment, if the EU step by step is being pulled down towards leftist-sentiment and liberalism, wouldn’t it be better to turn our backs on such a EU? Not at all.
Christian politicians won’t be stuck in a niche
Christians cannot call it day and simply let themselves occupy a niche on the Old Continent. You cannot tolerate the gradual appropriation of European institutions by people and circles who are unfriendly (to put it mildly) towards Europe’s history and tradition as marked by Christianity and, more broadly, towards conservative values. Actually, there are so many Christian voters out there, even though they may not be particularly active and even though not all of them have read John Paul II’s encyclical letters on the need to engage in society and politics (especially “Centissimus annus” and “Sollicitudo rei socialis”). They are numerous enough to effectively influence the composition of the EU’s only elected body, the European Parliament. In any case, the group of MEPs who declare their attachment to Christian heritage, more or less openly, is now large enough to veto some harmful bills and silly endeavours, or at least try to. For instance, in autumn 2013 and spring 2014, a parliamentary majority was successfully put together to reject extremely liberal and leftist bills about the protection of life and cultural models that were sponsored by Portuguese Socialist MEP Edite Estrela, in December 2013, and her colleague Ines Zuber from the GUE/NGL grouping (post-communists from the European United Left/Nordic Green Left), in March 2014.
European brave new world
It’s worth recalling the odd nature of these facts: the Western left made “recognising sexual and reproductive rights as human rights” (sic!) its programme war cry. A report by the Portuguese Socialist MEP Edite Estrela recommended that “as a human rights and public health concern, high-quality abortion services should be made legal, safe, and accessible to all within the public health systems of the Member States.” The report also said that “reproductive choices and fertility services should be provided in a non-discriminatory framework to LGBT people (lesbians, gays and transvestites).” Back then, I told the Catholic News Agency (KAI): “MEP Edite Estrela’s more than controversial report was already sent back to the commission by the EP. But, instead of changes to the substance, she merely inserted minor drafting changes. What this means is that the European Parliament can, once the report is adopted, promote the so-called abortion or, to put it bluntly, killing unborn children, but it can also promote supporting lesbians who want babies conceived by IVF… I reckoned that the report “is yet another example of senseless, unreflective turn to the left, which the EP has been doing in recent years. The so-called reproductive rights are only a vehicle for promoting the ‘civilisation of death,’ as the Polish Pope John Paul II accurately put it.” When a KAI correspondent in Strasbourg asked me: “Are the so-called ‘rights’ of LGBT people to reproduce and have children to be deemed more important than a child’s right to be born and not be administratively deprived of the right to have a father and mother?”, I replied: “by making such choices, the European Parliament is turning the world upside down. And it’s not about the ethics or faith, which is a gift of grace, but about respecting human life, which, after all, has also value for non-believers. The obtrusive, stubborn undermining of traditional values (mostly) by leftist and liberal political circles is pretty much a sign of a decline of moral standards. The European Parliament is doing this using velvet gloves, but those who believe in the same ideas elsewhere, for example recently in Argentina’s San Juan, are going from word to deed, showering with crude insults and attacking the faithful leaving a cathedral!”
As a matter of fact, a large number of MEPs wanted to take a big step forward to realise a vision presented by the British writer Aldous Huxley in his Brave New World, tampering with moral and genetical issues in those reports, which they wanted to force through at the EP on two occasions in a single quarter.
This sea, or indeed, ocean, of foolishness and the ideological offensive of joint liberal and doctrinal left forces nevertheless has islets of normality. An official judgement of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg must be recalled in this context, which said six years ago that each human egg after fertilisation is a human embryo, which must be protected (case C-34/2010).
The future holds choices
And what happened to the pathetic, extremely ideology-heavy Estrela report that did a lot to fulfil the attributes of John Paul II’s civilisation of death? Thanks to the mobilisation of all Christian groupings, conservative and traditional alike, my group, the European Conservatives and Reformists, managed to push through our own report, of which I’m very proud. We won the vote just by seven votes (334 against 327)! It came as a shock to the left-liberal-green coalition, as they expected another victory with a high turnout. The outcome of this vote is the crowning argument that traditional circles shouldn’t ease up on extreme leftism, that a democratic majority must be put together. Just as the other side exploited the democratic institutions, including the European Parliament, to be the mouthpiece of their ideologies, we should be doing likewise to protect the traditional values and promote the “civilisation of love,” to quote once again the Polish Saint John Paul II. This gives rise to the argument that, in spite of the very negative ideological evolution of the European Union, its institutions and agencies in the past few decades, we can play, and win, in the European political and institutional field. Even if these may be minor victories, they show the willpower and effectiveness, against all odds. They signal that Europe’s future doesn’t have to be without alternatives, that post-Marxist (i.e. liberal) determinism must be stopped, a determinism that pretends that the secular course of the Old Continent’s history can be longer be reversed. The Polish Nobel laureate Czesław Miłosz was right, also in this context, when writing that “the avalanche changes its course, depending on the stones it rolls over.” Christianity’s stones also do exist in an increasingly leftist European Union, including the European Parliament, something that I would like to stress as its Vice President.
And, truly, these don’t need to be “stones for the rampart.”
Source: Gazeta Polska Codziennie