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July 12, 2024

PI Newsletter #73

1. The EU is no haven of democracy

The European Parliament is merely a democratic figleaf for the EU. The right to vote is a cornerstone of democracy which had to be fought for. But this right loses its meaning if it is not imbued with any true decision-making power. EU citizens have little to no influence on the EU and its workings. EU decisions are generally irreversible. A change of government after a vote, which could change the direction of politics, cannot happen in the EU system.

. Many citizens now recognize that the EU has deprived their countries of the opportunity to respond to these problems decisively. This is especially true for the Eurozone, where Euro membership makes country-specific currency adjustments impossible. Similarly, when labour laws, social policy and environmental policy are designed at the EU level, they do not take into account the very different circumstances of each member state. Even the refugee crisis, which is undoubtedly an international crisis, cannot truly be resolved without the democratic participation of citizens in each individual nation state.

The EU is no haven for democracy. Instead, the EU has presided over the weakening of democracy in Europe and the increasing influence of experts, commissioners and judges who have no democratic accountability. For most citizens, the EU is an opaque and confusing entity that has little regard for their interests. Those who really want to strengthen democracy should demand a new politics that brings decision-making and accountability back to their own countries and parliaments.


2. Hungary and the Future of Europe

“Hungary must protect its ethnic and cultural composition,” he said at Kötcse (which more or less rhymes with butcher). “I am convinced that Hungary has the right—and every nation has the right—to say that it does not want its country to change.” France and Britain had been perfectly within their prerogatives to admit millions of immigrants from the former Third World. Germany was entitled to welcome as many Turks as it liked. “I think they had a right to make this decision,” Orbán said. “We have a duty to look at where this has taken them.” He did not care to repeat the experiment.


His [Orban’s] dissent split Europeans into two clashing ideologies. With the approach in May 2019 of elections to the European Union parliament, the first since the migrant crisis, Europeans were being offered a stark choice between two irreconcilable societies: Orbán’s nationalism, which commands the assent of popular majorities, and Merkel’s human rights, a continuation of projects E.U. leaders had tried to carry out in the past quarter-century. One of these will be the Europe of tomorrow.


Orbán urges his aides to take one day a week off to devote to their reading and writing. He does so himself, clearing his Thursdays when he can.

Out of a regime of deep reading and disputation come his larger theories about the direction of Western civilization, and many people probably find voting for Orbán satisfying in the way that reading Jared Diamond or Yuval Noah Hariri is satisfying. Orbán believes that Western countries are in decline, and that they are in decline because of “liberalism,” which in his political vocabulary is a slur. He uses the word to describe the contemporary process of creating neutral social structures and a level playing field, usually in the name of rights.

This project of creating neutral institutions has two problems. First, it is destructive, because the bonds of affection out of which communities are built are—by definition—non-neutral. Second, it is a lie, because someone must administer this project, and administration, though advertised as neutral, rarely is. Some must administer over others.

Carried to its logical conclusion, liberalism will, in Orbán’s view, destroy Hungary.


3.  Sir Roger Scruton: ‘Get Rid of Universities Altogether’

This comment drew applause from the audience attending the conference sponsored by the Bow Group, and featuring other leading conservative thinkers such as Yoram Hazony, author of ‘The Virtue of Nationalism‘.

Scruton’s comments were part of a wide-ranging lecture on nationalism, conservatism, and history delivered at Westminster Central Hall in London.

This conference also featured Anna Maria Anders, Phillip Blond, John Fonte, Nile Gardiner, Dan Hannan, Daniel Kawczynski, John O’Sullivan, Balazs Orban, Melvin Schut, Marion Smith, and more. Sponsors included the Bow Group, Common Sense Society, Danube Institute, Institute of World Politics, International Reagan Thatcher Society, Polish National Foundation.

The full video of the day’s events can be viewed [in the link] below, with Scruton’s speech beginning around the 1 hour 50 minute mark.


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