The inestimable Paul Johnson has an excellent piece on how Europe has turned its back on its own history:
The fundamental weaknesses of the EU that must be remedied if it is to survive are threefold. First, it has tried to do too much, too quickly and in too much detail. Jean Monnet, architect of the Coal-Steel Pool, the original blueprint for the EU, always said: “Avoid bureaucracy. Guide, do not dictate. Minimal rules.” He had been brought up in, and learned to loathe, the Europe of totalitarianism, in which communism, fascism and Nazism competed to impose regulations on every aspect of human existence. He recognized that the totalitarian instinct lies deep in European philosophy and mentality–in Rousseau and Hegel as well as Marx and Nietzsche–and must be fought against with all the strength of liberalism, which he felt was rooted in Anglo-Saxon individualism.
Had the French rejected the European Constitution because it was an economic, social, and political straightjacket that eroded the most basic freedoms that keep a society stable and prosperous they would have done a great deed. Instead the French rejected the EU Constitution because they felt it was insufficiently contemptuous of “Anglo-Saxon liberalism.”
What Europe is embracing via their “social market” is less some new ideology for the 21st Century, it’s a throwback to the Dark Ages. State socialism is in form a more “enlightened” form of feudalism. Instead of the feudal lord controlling the serfs, the state takes the place of the lord and the serfs remain subserviant to the state. The arguments that European quality of life is better than that of the United States is prima facie foolish. One’s quality of life is diminished in a culture where 1 out of every 10 workers is unable to find work. Being on the government dole is deeply destructive to the values of self-reliance that make a society strong, and the success of a society is not measured by the size of its welfare programs, but on how few people need it.
The EU has no intellectual content. Great writers have no role to play in it, even indirectly, nor have great thinkers or scientists. It is not the Europe of Aquinas, Luther or Calvin–or the Europe of Galileo, Newton and Einstein. Half a century ago, Robert Schumann, first of the founding fathers, often referred in his speeches to Kant and St. Thomas More, Dante and the poet Paul Valery. To him–he said explicitly–building Europe was a “great moral issue.” He spoke of “the Soul of Europe.” Such thoughts and expressions strike no chord in Brussels today.
Europe has a rich intellectual history descending from great thinkers like Locke, Kant, Montesquieu, and Hayek. Yet Europe has embraced the ideologies of destructive narcissism and state control that have led to some of the most horrendous human suffering in all of history. Instead of looking to those Europeans who stood on the side of freedom, the European Union and the European populace seems all too willing to embrace the ideologies of ever-expanding state control.
F.A. Hayek warned Europe about the perils of the road to serfdom – and yet Europe has apparently failed to heed the warnings of some of its greatest minds