This statement may anger most of my friends, with slings and arrows already pinging through the air.
In my defence, I’ll point out that the title above doesn’t say that the EU isn’t evil. Quite the opposite: I’m confident it is.
A Europe bossed by a giant unaccountable bureaucracy, using a tissue of lies to cover up its Marxist, or at least quasi-Marxist provenance, is wicked in so many ways that simply listing them would require more space than this format allows.
Hence I hope that this wicked contrivance will burst like a helium balloon touched by a needle – and the sooner, the better.
Many good people share this hope, but the trouble is that they sometimes don’t think beyond it. They forget that, like most things in life, evil has a hierarchy.
They don’t ask themselves what’s going to happen after the EU balloon is pricked. My contention is that this very much depends on what kind of needle does the pricking.
Alas, we’ve been infected with the contagion of presumptive progress, which is the central tenet of our post-Enlightenment modernity. We’ve been brainwashed to believe that any change can only be for the better.
This Panglossian mentality with a forward-looking dimension puts blinkers on people’s eyes and brakes on their thought. When they don’t like something, they want it changed, full stop. And then what? is a question seldom asked.
They ought to remind themselves that the two most satanic regimes in history came into being largely because of this kind of misapprehension, widely held. What we have is bad, was the battle cry, which means that anything else could only be better.
Messrs Lenin and Hitler went on to demonstrate the fallacy of such thinking. They proved that things can always get worse. And superficial thinking driven by emotions, if sufficiently widespread, guarantees that things will get worse.
Of the two examples, that of Hitler is more relevant to today’s situation. For Nazism was to a large extent a reaction to the weak-kneed internationalism of the Weimar Republic.
Hitler screamed and harangued his way to public support by appealing to German nationalism, promising the revival of German dignity and the downfall of all those who had stamped Germany into the dirt.
Under his leadership the German nation did indeed do a Phoenix – for a short while. What happened afterwards should have disabused everyone of the notion that any change is always for the better if the starting point is deeply unsatisfactory.
This brings us back to the metaphorical needle that may puncture the EU balloon. Unfortunately, many good people I know are ready to welcome any such implement, as long as the balloon is indeed punctured.
This position is, to me, neither conservative nor wise, and I use those two adjectives almost interchangeably. I dearly wish to see the EU collapse – provided the collapsing is done by good people and for good reasons. And I’d rather the EU survived than be replaced by something even worse.
Our present situation is fraught with danger. European countries, including Britain, lack real conservative forces (never mind mainstream parties) that could dismantle the EU in the name of everything conservatives hold dear.
Germany at the time of the Weimar Republic had exactly the same problem.
There were plenty of conservatives who detested Weimar and went on to detest the Nazis. But they lacked the political force and energy to reshape the country in their image. The political force was with Hitler, who in temporary alliance with Stalin plunged Europe into its bloodiest catastrophe ever.
One doesn’t espy a potential Hitler anywhere in Europe, but there are plenty of fascisoid parties that alone seem to present a realistic threat to the EU. If the EU is the disease, these groups are the only likely cure. But the cure may well be worse than the disease.
Much as I detest the EU, I’d rather be governed by the European Commission than by the likes of Tommy Robinson, formerly of the BNP and the EDL. The EU is evil, but at least it’s the evil we know.
Looking at the manifestos of some such parties, one finds things with which any conservative would agree: patriotism, national sovereignty, appeal to traditionalism and Christianity, etc.
But underpinning it all is hatred, not love.
The two sometimes coexist dialectically: when something we love is threatened, we hate the threat. However, for conservatives love is primary and hate is strictly derivative. For this lot, it’s the other way around.
One detects fascistic impulses there, the same urge to externalise evil and ascribe it to easily identifiable groups. For the Nazis it was mostly Jews; for today’s fascisoid groups, it’s mostly Muslims (anti-Semitism is only a footnote for the time being); for both it’s homosexuals.
Now any good conservative bewails the importation of millions of those whose view of life is typically hostile to ours. A desire to curtail, or better still stop, Muslim immigration is therefore a normal conservative impulse. However, hatred of Muslims isn’t.
Hate the sin, love the sinner is the quintessence of the Christian position on such matters – and it also applies to homosexuality.
Any real conservative would refuse to regard sexual perversion as an equally valid ‘lifestyle’, and he’d see homomarriage as an obscene abomination. However, and this is a critical distinction, he wouldn’t hate homosexuals. But the fascisoids do.
Interestingly, few such groups are economically conservative, in the modern sense of championing free enterprise, free trade and small government. Most of them, such as France’s National Front, are both nationalist and socialist, which isn’t my favourite combination.
Until such parties take over, their nastiness comes across mostly not in what they say but in how they say it, their style, their passions, their methods. It’s only when they get into government that the torrent of hate rushes out in full flow.
Hitler circa 1932 also said many things that made sense to most Germans and even to German conservatives. They missed the nuances of hatred and vicious malice – they forgot that, as Buffon put it, the style is the man.
Given that historical precedent, Steve Bannon’s self-appointed mission to Europe is worrying. In general, I don’t think it should be up to foreigners to call for a popular revolt against anything in Britain, including the undoubtedly wicked EU.
We don’t need foreign powers to sort out our problems, and that goes not only for eurocrats but also for Americans. However, when asked whether his animadversions represent a call to arms, Bannon replied: “Absolutely”.
Nor should foreigners be allowed to offer tangible support to British politicians they happen to favour, in Bannon’s case the eminently likeable Jacob Rees-Mogg and moderately likeable Boris Johnson. If we oppose foreign meddling in our affairs, we should oppose all such meddling. Nothing else is logically and morally sound.
But Bannon, who until a year ago was one of Trump’s closest advisers, goes beyond supporting nice people like Rees-Mogg and rather less nice ones like Johnson.
He’s out to promote a sort of fascisoid International of France’s National Front, Belgium’s Vlaams Belang, Germany’s AfD, Austria’s Freedom Party and other likeminded groups (incidentally, most of them are financed by that great friend of the West Col. Putin).
These include British parties like the English Defence League, led until recently by the out-and-out thug Tommy Robinson, whom Bannon calls “the backbone of England”. The backbone of Britain boasts a string of criminal convictions for hooliganism and is currently serving time for breaching bail conditions.
Some of my friends have petitioned the government to free Robinson, and I haven’t studied the details of the case enough to argue against them with any forensic precision. But on general principle I’d rather see the likes of Robinson in prison than in government.
I’d caution those good people against adopting an attitude similar to that popularised by the French Left in the early twentieth century: pas d’ennemis à gauche (no enemies on the Left).
Pas d’ennemis à droite is potentially as dangerous a slogan – especially since most of those fascisoid groups are no more on the real Right than the Nazis were.
Those who allow their hatred of the EU to drive them towards supporting groups like the EDL and cheering people like Bannon, ought to remember another popular saying:
Be careful what you wish for: you might just get it.