Eastern Europe holds the key to save Europe
Wherever we travel in Europe, we are surrounded by beauty. It might not feel like it, if we are in an industrialised area, but even in the fires of industry, beauty lives.
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This beauty permeates everything. It connects us all, from the Cypriots in the South to the Scandinavian Arctic Circle, the furthest coast of Ireland to the Russian borders. It smells of Suquet de Peix. It smells of pierogi. It smells of beef with gravy, cannelloni, haggis and kryddsill. It smells of home. You can feel it when you walk the streets of the nations of Europe. You experience it when you are far from your own nation and are suddenly struck by a curious sense of deja-vu. That intangible feeling of belonging; though we are in a foreign land. In industrial Rhineland, the shores of Las Islas Baleares and on the streets of Budapest, the same strands of history are woven.
Though we all live in different ways, there is more that connects us than separates.
This is the beauty of our shared European Culture. under this broad term lies our heritage, inextricably linked by centuries of shared fate and oceans of spilt blood. It sounds like Gorecki. It sounds like Debussy and Brahms and Elgar. It sounds like Iron Maiden, cutting-edge techno from Berlin, flamenco and Disco-Polo. It sounds like the silent fjords of Norway at midnight. Our connected history, brothers and sisters of Europe, is deep and dark as the earth beneath our feet, beneath our city streets.
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Though we all live in different ways, there is more that connects us than separates. The roots that spread to Christianity and the Roman Empire persist today, blended with the even older pagan faiths that we remember today only in ritual. Our art is a kinship, clearly identifiable as European in origin, as is our schools of philosophy, science and literature. Together, our nations are the current manifestation of the most successful civilisation in history.
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Europeans, bonded together by history and blood, have made this culture. We bear the proud duty and responsibility to care for it, in the name of our ancestors and in trust for our descendants. Of course, we are not perfect. Our mastery of war brought such carnage to our continent again and again- but without these horrors, would we be in such a fraternal position now? More, our bellicose ancestors are glorious examples of what it means to fight for what you believe in, to fight for your homelands.
Though the self-serving bureaucrats in Bruxelles claim that their red-tape machine is in service of Europe, it is in our hearts that Europe lives.
It is with you and me that the love for Europe must be renewed
Since the end of the Second World War, European identity has been pushed aside- at a national level as well as continental. The forced unity of the European Union doesn’t wash with us, as the events of recent elections and referendums show. Our individual nations, save for a brave few in the East, have become lesser copies of what we were. Love for one’s homeland does not mean hatred of others, though that, somehow, is what far too many of our people now believe.
Yet, so many of us are already in love with the lands of our neighbours. If you are German, it is fine to be a Francophile. If you are British, you can happily adore Italian culture. If you are Greek, you can be an anglophile and no one will care- in fact, you will likely gain social status for your broad-minded worldliness. In fact, in a strange coincidence, I experienced this myself in a very public way.
No doubt you saw the explosion of media lunacy that tarred Poland’s independence day as neo-nazi. As a Briton with a Polish fiancee, it would be fair to say I was… irked. A thousand word excoriation of the fake news media posted to my Medium account later, I certainly felt better. What happened next moved me in huge, life-affirming ways. The piece went viral. 17000 shares on Facebook alone, over 50000 hits to the article, and a deluge of gratitude and comments from Polish people and people of Polish descent. If you will excuse my use of my own experience as an example, it showed me that however we feel about our own countries; when foreigners come to praise us, it’s a wonderful thing.
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Such an obvious thing. And yet, I wrote what I felt to be true because it had not been until I had visited Poland for an extended period that I understood national pride at all. In England, we have been drilled for decades in doublethink. British values are important, we are told- but the values are those told to us by politicians, not the real ones of our people. On the other hand, we are told by the Leftists that we should atone for our colonial past, that diversity merely for the sake of diversity makes us rich. Then the meme is propagated that the Cross of St. George is a racist symbol. The Cross of St. Andrew is not a racist symbol, as Scotland is a colony. The Flag of Wales is not racist, the Welsh are colonised too. The Ulster Banner, flown until 1973 in Northern Ireland and also used as a symbol of the loyalists- this is racist, but St. Patrick’s Saltire is not. The Union Flag is a racist symbol, which incorporates both the Cross of St. Andrew and the Saltire of St. Patrick, as collectively, one assumes, the pure racial hatred of the English for the rest of the world makes Britain more than the sum of her parts.
When even the most basic symbols of our nationhood are said to be tools of dominance, control, authoritarianism; what hope for true patriotism?
I for one, felt shame for years for my being English. I know many who are like this today, across the world. Angela Merkel cannot stand to see a German Bundesflagge waved anywhere near her. Leftists in that country are at least honest enough to openly proclaim their disdain for German people in public. Sweden, poor Sweden. Even the Americans, scorned by our Old World Elites, even those fine proponents of patriotism for the sheer joy of it are not immune. What I learned from the Polish people and their story made me feel shame in a new way, not because of my country and her history but because I had fallen for the narrative. I had become as the globalist agenda demands- a rootless citizen with no national identity. A tourist in my own lands.
Perhaps you felt a similar thing in your country. The sum of our European experience has been reduced to a blue banner with stars that represents nothing about us. Centuries of competition and conflict, betrayal, alliances and sectarian hatred, age after age of struggle. Are we to accept that our continent has become the toy of plutocrats, Neo-Marxists and Islamists? Is that really the price of peace in our time? Surely not.
The Neoliberal agenda is one that has valued money over people for far too long. In service of a fundamentally flawed economic system, we have allowed ourselves to become deluded. We can see the lie when we walk in European countries that are still proud of themselves, ironically they are invariably countries that have suffered terrible times at the hands of totalitarians. Strange it is for a Westerner like me to look eastwards with envy at the people of the East, so long the derided and unwanted. Is that our fatal hubris? Today the nations of Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and too few others, it is these victims of Communism who lead us by example on what it means to be European.
How do the leaders of the West treat these brave nations? With disdain. With threats- threats, of sanction, financial penalty and worse- because these nations see ours, and reject the false dawn of a multicultural society that belongs to no-one. Those of us who live in the former ‘free’ Europe- take note. Our brothers and sisters in the East have seen what is happening to us before.
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Well then, that is indeed a dark turn; but let us end with a little light. We are the inheritors of a culture that stretches back millennia. This is a great honour and responsibility, to curate our world for the generations to come. We are not merely individuals, with our singular travails and worries. We are Europe. We are a generation in a line of many, whose sons and daughters will, in turn, define what it means to be People of the West.
This happy weight, we must choose to carry- you and me, as brothers. The chances are we will never meet, but if we did, and you see the world as I do, perhaps we can overcome our barriers of language, culture and the fact that your football team beats mine. We are kin, a family of nations that are greater than any fake corporatist alliance in Brussels, or any backwards religion that despises our ways.
Our culture is forged in the crucible of the wars of our ancestors. It has been fragmented and sold by fools and charlatans with no concept of who we are. It is up to us to reclaim it, for ourselves, for the future. For Europe.
Originally published at voiceofeurope.com on December 3, 2017.