David Engels is a Belgian historian currently working at the Zachodni Institute in Poznan. He is a specialist in Ancient History, particularly the Roman and Seleucid, and is also a leading thinker of European conservatism who has been dealing with identity issues for more than a decade. Engels became known through his book “On the Way to the Empire”, which describes the crisis situation in the EU with the fall of the Roman Republic in the first century BC. Compares.
Western societies have enthusiastically committed themselves to moral relativism and the culture of death (abortion, euthanasia, etc.), which, in addition to the low birth rate, can only lead to collective suicide. How is this blindness possible? Why did the European liberal right accept and even promote this agenda?
The answer can already be found in Chesterton, who viewed most of the “values” of modern liberal societies as “unhinged” Christian values. Indeed, the slow death of Christianity has not completely obliterated its values, but it has robbed them of their transcendent anchoring, so that values such as “mercy”, “tolerance”, “justice” or “equality” have ceased to be coherent building blocks of a larger one To be construction but have started to compete with each other while posing as “absolute”. That could only lead to absurdities and catastrophes, especially after the great trauma of totalitarianism. So the West has made a culture of death its own out of good intentions, while telling itself to have become an advocate of the moral “good”, since all virtues, emptied of their true meaning, have become synonyms of their exact opposite. Tolerance has led to exclusion, health care to abortion, dignity to euthanasia, self-actualization to cultural-demographic suicide, anti-fascism to a new totalitarianism, equality to exclusive quotas, anti-racism to blatantly racist identity politics, etc.
You write that “the European Union has united Europe but abolished the West”. Have we been materially united at the expense of our souls?
In any case. Right from the start, the European institutions preferred economic cooperation to political or cultural cooperation: Some of the founding fathers were probably convinced that the Christian roots of the West were strong and lasting enough to serve as the civilizational foundation of a united Europe, even without being explicitly prescribed Others thought that the unification after the catastrophe of nationalism would have to be achieved indirectly, through the slow economic and institutional necessities of the “méthode Monnet”. Unfortunately, albeit very gradually, it became apparent that this cultural vacuum, perhaps conceived as a form of voluntary neutrality, was slowly being replaced by another spirit, namely universalism, has been filled out. The European institutions have been influenced and dominated from year to year by an ideology that seeks to replace the typical identity of the West with a multicultural mishmash, which is based exclusively on human values, without taking into account the specific meaning of Western traditions, an ideology, which only has the alleged interests of “humanity” in mind and acts to the detriment of Europe. Step by step, “political correctness” has become the guiding ideology of the European Union, and the stronger it becomes, the more it shows its true colors: Today the EU does not stand for the courageous defense of European civilization, but for values such as anti-Christian secularity, LGBTQ rights, feminism.
Is the image of Notre Dame on fire the symbol of what Europe awaits?
I fear so, although it is difficult to say to what extent the current cultural decline and ideological radicalization of Europe will lead to a full-fledged crisis or to a slow decade-long downward spiral. What is certain, however, is that the material and immaterial symbols of old Europe are increasingly being attacked in the name of “progress”, “tolerance”, “historical responsibility” or the “fight against radicalism”, and we don’t just have to continue with one Expect dismantling of our patrimonial, especially intellectual heritage, but also with an ever stronger attack on tradition and historical pride. Spengler, one of my most important historical mentors, clearly showed that all civilizations, including western ones, are mortal and sooner or later will perish and die. But he could never have imagined that this decline would be brought about by internal betrayal and self-loathing rather than external pressures.
In France, the military and even some politicians are warning of the danger of ethnic war, a possibility that you pointed out in your books. Have we already reached this point of disintegration in Western societies?
Yes we have got that. France has been on the brink of catastrophe for years, everyone is talking about the impending institutional division of the country along ethnic lines, and sooner or later there will actually be major unrest: The yellow vests movement and the almost daily arson in the major French metropolises show how critical the situation is. Unfortunately, the state is not prepared for such a major civil conflict: On the one hand, Emmanuel Macron’s government strongly defends multiculturalism, tolerance and secularism; on the other hand, large parts of the French army and police are already Islamized and must be considered unreliable in the event of an ethnic conflict. And once France sinks into chaos.
In his novel “Submission”, Houllebecq sees a future in which France becomes an Islamic country. Do you think something like this could happen? That, in view of the loss of values in the West, there are Europeans who represent values that are so completely different from those of our own identity.
The greatest strength of the Islamic minorities is not (only) their growing number, but also their cultural cohesion and their pride in their identity, while most autochthonous Europeans are deeply destabilized by the decades of ideological formatting and their own culture because of its (supposedly) numerous Seeing crime as something to be collectively ashamed of. At the moment the conversion to Islam is still a marginal phenomenon, but once the state loses control of the situation it could quickly turn into a much larger development as it is to be expected that Islamic parallel societies and institutions will replace the failing French state and become an authority figure for entire geographical segments of the population. It is also important to note that we do not need a Muslim “majority” for France or Belgium to become Muslim countries: history has shown how even tiny Muslim minorities can influence and dominate entire societies when they find themselves in a situation of power and initiative. And given the level of self-loathing inflicted on the West by its current wakeful elites, as well as the self-destruction of the Christian churches increasingly striving to comply with the doctrine of political correctness, one might expect.
Poland, Hungary and other Central and Eastern European countries are resisting this progressive totalitarianism. Do you think your example can serve as a moral beacon for Western Europe?
At least I hope so. This is a big problem because, on the one hand, most people in the West depend on politically correct media for information, and on the other hand, the Visegrád states are still reluctant to launch a major media offensive, as they prevent possible reprisals from the respective countries Authorities, especially in Brussels and Berlin, fear. However, if they manage to communicate directly with the citizens, they could become an important asset in the struggle for a new conservatism that would transcend mere national borders and fight for a new form of European unification that would protect our identity and our interests defend rather than dilute and sell them.
The violence of the Strajk Kobiet (Polish pro-abortion movement), their attacks on churches and the large number of young women in their actions surprised many inside and outside Poland. Are the Poles aware of what they are facing, how much will, means and money are in the service of this totalitarianism?
Polish society is indeed very divided between the universalists and the traditionalists, or the “nowhere” and the “somewhere”. Of course this had been known for many years, but the violence of the “Strajk Kobiet” and especially the aggression against churches and public monuments such as statues of John Paul II shocked many people. Two lessons can be learned from this: On the one hand, it shows that the risk of seeing conservatism being infiltrated in Poland as well is greater than expected; on the other hand, the vandalism of these mostly young people shocked many citizens and showed them that their identities and traditions are indeed in great danger if they do not protect them and fight this emerging totalitarianism. Of course, at least the conservative media have warned people about this for many years and pointed out how these groups are financed and organized from Berlin and Brussels, but since Poland is such a calm, homogeneous and at least superficially solidarity country, many citizens believed that these warnings may be exaggerated. That is changing now.
Is It Possible to Save Rome?
As you know, in my book “On the Road to Empire” I tried to show that today’s western civilization is in a similar situation to the late Roman Republic in the first century BC. Chr .: mass immigration, demographic decline, religious crisis, fragmentation of the traditional family, globalization, plutocracy, debt crisis, a politics of bread and games, social polarization – all of this existed 2000 years ago. And the Roman elites, just like our governments today, are not only unable but unwilling to change the course of things: in their short-term thinking they try to capitalize as much as possible from the months and years to come and push the solution the ever-increasing social, economic and ethnic problems simply become the responsibility of the next generation – until the system simply collapses. Thus the Roman Republic fell victim to civil war, the rise of the army, the brief triumph of Caesar’s demagogy, and finally the emergence of the conservative restoration of the first emperor, Augustus. Sometimes I think something like that is going to happen in Europe in the next 20 years or so. Of course it would be good if we could learn from history, which is why I have outlined some alternative solutions in my book “Renovatio Europae”. But I fear that such a more peaceful transition will only be achieved in the Eastern European countries.
Good news in the midst of this decline was the opening of the Intermarium College on May 28th, which you attended, along with other personalities and organizations such as the Polish Ordo Iuris and the Hungarian Center for Fundamental Rights. What is the purpose of the Intermarium College?
The Intermarium-Kolleg is intended to be a fully fledged new university dedicated to overcoming the current left-liberal predominance and returning to the original idea of “universitas”, a place where people from all walks of life come together in the pursuit of beauty, truth and the good and where Western civilization is seen as a positive legacy and not an enemy to be overcome. Obviously, with courses not starting until October 2021, it is difficult to predict exactly how this new university will develop; Nevertheless, I am convinced that this is exactly the approach we need if we want to save our education system: to found new institutions to overcome the decadence of the previous ones.