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25 juillet 2009 6 25 /07 /juillet /2009 21:11




The catholic  French who consider as obvious that  a Christian  has to be “for Europe” (1)  should not miss being astonished that the countries which pose today the most problems with the European process of integration are Poland and Ireland. Admittedly Poland, which had art to multiply the objections at the time of the Kaszinski brothers,  calmed itself  since the return of the liberals  in power (2). But Ireland, the very catholic Ireland, has just inflicted “one   snub in Europe” as say the leader-writers called to comment on the results of the referendum of June 11, 2008 which saw this small country of hardly 5 million inhabitants voting no to the treaty of Lisbon, re-examined and hardly corrected version of the late European Constitution.

That countries reputed a  the most catholic of Europe are also the most reticent with European construction, at the origins of which many saw, wrongly or rightly, the hand of the Vatican, is carrying a double lesson, at the same time on  Catholicism and on Europe.


Catholicism and resistance


Many sticks to the traditional diagram according to which the catholic Church is initially an authoritative organization, liking   great organic structures, yesterday the   Holy German Empire, today the European Union. Poland and Ireland are held, from this point of view, for two special cases  where as well  adhesion with the catholic religion as the spirit of rebellion are explained by a very singular history, that several centuries of oppression where religious adhesion  was used as catalyst with national resistance.  That this history did ones and others of the “hard heads”, hostile even to  the best projects, like European construction,  these countries remain, will say one,  exceptions. Some would add, scorning,  that Catholicism having left them a long time in ignorance and  superstition, that they are restive with  progress of the Lights incarnated by the European project could not astonish. With the risk to forget that France,  also of catholic tradition, but to  which one could not make the reproach be unaware of the Lights had already  said  “no to  Europe” on May 29, 2005 ! Without speaking about the Netherlands of Protestant tradition.

This scorning attitude is not  different from those of the French, ultra counter-revolutionaries,    who showed themselves  , though catholic, reticent in front of the Polish revolution of 1830, considering  it as  a subversion of Europe of  the Holy Alliance and thus a distorsion with the principle of authority.   The same ones left the republican party, generally  anticlerical, alone to support the Poland catholics.   

Useless to say how much these designs are reducing. We do not think, for our part,  that it is necessary to see in the Irish and Polish exceptions.

First because these countries, in spite of their situation at the margins of Europe (if one puts aside  Russia, which should be discussed),  contributed an eminent share to the history of Christian Europe. Without going up until the part played by the Irish monks in the conservation of  the Latin heritage   at the time of  barbarian darkness, who can ignore  the eminent contribution of Ireland to the building of the United States, to the missions overseas, and as well  the  English  litterature?  For the country of Copernic, Jean Sobieski and Jean-Paul II, who could deny its role  in the European history?

Second, the history of these countries is not as exceptional as one believes. It is not true that the catholic Church has in any time favoured the party of the order. Let us forget its early alliance with the barbarians kingdoms which made fly in glares  Roman Empire. Italy of the Middle Ages, though the center of Christendom, lived in a continual disorder. The Italian cities were already republican . The popes did not play a small part in   weakening  along centuries  the emperors of Germany, until also plunging this country in anarchy. The very positive  Machiavel reproached papacy this destroying role. On the contrary, Protestantism consolidated the capacity of the princes in Germany of XVIe century, as orthodoxy consolidated  Russian Empire. In France, vis-a-vis an aristocracy in majority gained by the reform,  the Ligue, organization formally directed by the duke of Guise  but  with  a  strong popular component which defended nozzle and nails Catholicism. The sociology of the Parisian Members of the Ligue of 1590  preceded  moreover  that of the Jacobins of 1792. Ultimately the alliance of the Church with the party of the order, in spite of the emblematic figures of  Constantin  and  of Charlemagne (this last,  so obligingly called upon in Brussels),   was in the history of Europe, rather the exception than the rule. Exception,   Spain of XVIe sicle;   exception,   France of the XVIIe century: it is not  just by chance that  these two countries where the alliance of the Church and the Crown had been narrower than everywhere else,  saw the most violent anticlerical convulsions of the European history: France in 1789, Spain in 1936?

The genius of Chateaubriant had  perceived well, against his  reactionary  contemporaries , this multisecular  pact  between Christianity and the spirit of freedom: “freedom is on the cross of Christ; it goes down from there with him”;  “ the evangelic genius is eminently favorable to freedom” (3).


Vis-a-vis an imperial project


Here is for Catholicism. For  Europe, one will say: the first goal of this entreprise, such as the Fathers founders conceived it, is to exceed the national competition to found peace, and to promote close co-operations to ensure prosperity. Is such project so    oppressive so that people liking freedom as the Irish people can refuse it? Europe is not the British Empire, it is not the Russian “prison of the people” nor, at least one expects , the expression of  triumphing germanism  (neither the Irishmen, nor the Poles are the germans  and  they had on the contrary to fight against germanic neighbours  ).

Initially, Jean-Jacques Rousseau said:  any too geographically wide political entity  is inapt for   democracy; this one is  only possible in small republics like that of Geneva. “More the State increases, he says ,  more the government must be tightened” (4)  . Following the rousseauist logic, even if European Union , though  it does not  have formally the quality of empire, the democracy is   technically  difficult to organize in it ;  controlling of a so vast unit is likely to move away   concerns  of the component people:  Is it not what   we see  today?  Rather than to fulminate against  the low capacity of listening of the European Commission as does  Nicolas Sarkozy,   we should  wonder  whether, in a so vast unit that Europe of twenty-seven, such  separation  between the ruling class and the people  is not  intrinsic and thus irremediable?

The more so as the reality of the European project does not fail to let plane some doubts about its really liberal character: not only one sees proliferating more and more complicated and invading regulations , as  already Margaret Thatcher and the school of Bruges denounced, but one sees more and more  at work  an open refusal of the democracy itself:   with what a sufficiency the partisans of all edges of the treaty of Lisbon   deny any value to  the Irish referendum, as they denied it to  the French and Dutch referendums! They  arrogantly  require to-day  that this country revote until it  says yes - that it is, if one dares such statement,  “submitted to the question”  until it acknowledges that at the bottom it is not hostile to the treaty of Lisbon!  

This refusal of democracy on behalf of people who consider themselves  , according to the Leninist schedule, like one  “enlightened avant-garde” leading Europe in a promethean transformation process , is  enough  to show how  ideological is  the European project, if not such as it was in the beginning, at least such as it became today? Not only  the  Polish and Czech people  see some king of  analogy  between the European and  the Soviet project  , this is also recognized  by dissidents of the old Soviet empire like Alexandre Zinoviev or Vladimir Boukovski. “It is astonishing, says the latter , that after having buried a monster, the Soviet Union ,  one builds a similar whole of it,  the European Union”, and Boukovski  underlines  that one like  the other   were or are   directed by a score of not elected people.

All the dissidents who expressed themselves perceived  the analogy between  the European project and the Soviet project - without it being necessary to  put an equivalence between the brutal repression of the oppositions in the Soviet system and the insidious but more benign disqualification  of the dissidents of  the  political correctness  in the European system.  

The instinct of freedom is one, it is frank, it is  clear ,  it does not compromise.  It forms part,  much more than  mirific projects of subverting  the nations, of the genius of Europe. But contrarily to the legend , Catholicism  was historically  rather the ally  of this spirit of freedom that its antithesis. That two   very  catholic countries  are opposed to the increasingly extravagant building that the authorities of Brussels are obstinated to erect,    is far  to be  an accident  or a peripheral phenomenon. It is on the contrary the expression of the hidden truth of the  European project. Those who have got through a  long   experience  of oppression know,  better   that others, how  to recognize the multiple faces which it takes. In spite of all,  these small rebellious people express  the best of  the  genius of Europe: the spirit of freedom.


                                            Roland HUREAUX


1. We do not take again naturally on our account these expressions of everyday usage . Quite to the contrary we think that they are the adversaries of supranational  Europe  who defend civilization European, founded on diversity and freedom.


2. And even the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk was annoyingly distinguished a few days ago by being made the speaking pipe of the Commission to answer with a not very diplomatic violence the remarks of Nicolas Sarkozy.


3. We develop this aspect of the thought of Chateaubriand  in:   Roland Hureaux, Actuality of  gaullism, chapter II: “The sources of the Gaullism:  Chateaubriant and catholic liberalism”, page 49 sq., François-Xavier de Guibert, 2007


4. These ideas are developed in: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The social contract, Part  III, chapter VIII. The United States seems to be an exception to the principle stated by J.J.Rousseau: that democracy is impossible democracy in a too great unit. At least up to now…




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