Europe is in the throes of an internal debate between those who continue to view it as a constellation of free nations and those who see it as an entity controlled by Brussels. Pictured: The Berlaymont building in Brussels, Belgium, headquarters of the European Commission. (Image source: Romaine/Wikimedia Commons)
Although the Brexit controversy may highlight this split, the conflict -- as the former Czech President (and former Prime Minister), Václav Klaus, pointed out 13 years ago -- has been raging for decades:
In his 2006 book, What is Europeism, Or, What Should Not be the Future for Europe?, Klaus wrote:
"For half a century there has been an ongoing dispute in Europe between the advocates of the liberalization model of European integration – which was based primarily on intergovernmental cooperation of individual European countries (which kept significant majority of parameters of their political, social and economic systems in their own hands) and on the removal of all unnecessary barriers to human activities existing on the borders of states – and the advocates of the harmonization (or homogenization) integration model, which is based on unification from above, orchestrated by the EU-authorities, with the ambition to level-out all aspects of life for all Europeans ...
"Europeism maintains not a modest evolutionary belief in spontaneous order but a radically constructivist position... The Europeists do not believe in spontaneous, unregulated and uncontrolled human activity."
In an address to the European Parliament three years later, Klaus explained:
"...[O]ne or another institutional arrangement of the European Union is not an objective in itself; but a tool for achieving the real objectives. These are nothing but human freedom and an economic system that would bring prosperity. That system is a market economy."
"Democracy needs a demos [populace as a political unit] and it is an undisputed fact that there is no demos at the European level... we belong to a particular political community, to our nation states. We are not "citizens of the world" (in President Obama's sense); we are also not citizens of Europe. We are inhabitants of Europe, but citizens of our nation states... The European elites understood that to succeed in their ambition to get rid of the nation-states and to create a State of Europe (and a European Nation), they have to dissolve the old existing nations by mixing them with migrants from all over the world. By means of this procedure they want to create a new, truly European man, a Homo bruxellarum. This is the main reason why they are – without paying attention to all kinds of negative and destructive side-effects – supporting and promoting mass migration."
The prominent Czech sociologist, Jan Keller, a former Social Democrat member of the European Parliament, has pointed to the New Left's embrace of migration as an integral part of the multiculturalist worldview, according to which Europe must distance itself from its past and create a new identity. But, as Keller wrote in 2018:
"Multiculturalism is not a manifestation of Europe's generosity, or some noble embodiment of love and truth. [It] is what remains after mass migration reveals itself as a threat, rather than a benefit, to the economies of European countries."
The late Václav Havel – the first president of the Czech Republic – offered a prescient proscription, nearly 30 years ago, for the current identity crisis and debate over Europe's character and future. In his book, Summer Meditations, originally published in 1991, he wrote:
"The [European] community must rely fully on the spiritual, intellectual, and political values that in recent decades have been maintained, cultivated, and practiced in the democratic countries of Western Europe. I mean values like political and economic plurality, parliamentary democracy, respect for civil rights and freedoms, the decentralization of local administration and municipal government, and all that these things imply...
"It does not mean adaptation to something alien; it means, on the contrary, that nations once forcibly alienated from their own traditions, roots, and ideals are once again finding themselves; it means their return to a road they once traveled, or longed to travel, or were potentially destined to travel, as inhabitants of the same European spiritual and intellectual space."
Josef Zbořil, Ph.D., a Czech author, advocates a "SMART permanently sustainable free society with citizenship 4.0."