Foremost European conservative philosopher explains why he has hope Europeans will come to their senses.
Roger Scruton has no doubt: the European Union will collapse as it happened with the Soviet Union. Hailed as “Britain’s foremost conservative philosopher” by the The Wall Street Journal, Professor at Oxford and St. Andrews, Scruton is author of twenty books, including, “The Meaning of Conservatism” and the latest “The Face of God.” He is one of the very few intellectuals who predicted the implosion of the European project.
“The European crisis has come about, in my view, for two reasons,” Scruton tells me. “First, there was the original project, to create a united states of Europe. This project was conceived without any Plan B. It seemed imperative to achieve it, and no provisions were made for failure, or for a change of direction. The machine lumbers forward without feedback, and can make no adjustments to a changing reality. Second, the project was entrusted to a bureaucracy, with extraordinary legislative and administrative powers. Those responsible for pushing things forward are neither elected by the people nor answerable to the people in any election. They proceed at uniform speed in a straight line until reaching the inevitable immovable obstacle. When that happens, it will all be over. But the damage will be enormous.”
Given those two features of the European project it is inevitable that it should reach a big crisis. “The failure also has two important causes. First, as everybody knows, there is a growing deficit of legitimacy in the European institutions. Once or twice the institutions have appealed through their political spokesmen to the people. But whenever given the chance to vote the people of Europe say ‘no’ to the project. The project continues as before, unaffected by this ‘no’. But the people draw their conclusions, and gradually withdraw their trust.”
The other cause has been the complete failure of the European political elite to consider the culture of Europe. “The culture of Europe is founded in the Judeo-Christian revelation, and our laws, institutions and educational traditions are unintelligible without reference to the lessons taught in the Bible. But the culture of Europe is also a secular culture, as I explain in my book ‘The West and the Rest’, based in territorial loyalty of a national kind. Both the religious and the national sources of our culture are repudiated by the European elites, who believe that culture is of no significance, and will change in obedience to the political and economic imperatives. Hence those who invented the Euro and imposed it unthinkingly on the people of Europe failed to see that the attitude of people to debt is profoundly affected by culture, and that the culture of Greece (for example) is totally different, in this respect, from the culture of Germany, and that of Italy of course different to both of them.”
Scruton gives me an image of the European collapse: the end of Brussels. “Brussels is the capital of Flanders, but thanks largely to the European Union the Flemish have been forbidden to have a nation of their own. The Allies spared the city from bombardment in the War, since it was to be the site of a Victory Parade, and a symbol of the rebirth of Europe. However, the European institutions have colonized the place, destroyed much that was beautiful and dignified, and defaced the remainder with their sterile blocks of concrete and glass – symbols of the moral emptiness within. When the European project collapses they will hand back to the people of Flanders a city without a soul. To rebuild it as a dignified capital will be expensive, and will require a great labour of demolition. But it could be done, provided the Flemings are allowed to exist as a nation state, and allowed to build as they wish.”
In twenty years or so, Brussels will have a Muslim majority. Sharia courts are already operating in the city. I asked Scrunton, will Islam fill the European desert?
“The vacuum that is growing in the heart of Europe is of course a spiritual phenomenon,” Scruton says. “There is no doubt that, demographically, Islam has the chance to fill this vacuum. However, we should remember that, despite the weakness of the Christian faith, the European peoples remain committed to secular government and the rule of law, and will not accept government by the kind of ‘holy law’ that is the foundation of the Muslim faith. I suspect, therefore, that Islam will not be able to impose itself in any clear and officially sanctioned way on Europe. And, at a certain point, the people of Europe will wake up to what is happening to them, and, in casting off the European Union and its shackles, will repossess themselves of their national identities and the cultural inheritance that goes with the national idea. That is my hope, at least.”
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.