It’s time to sound the alarm. Seven decades after the end of the second world war on European soil, the Europe we have built since then is under attack. As the cathedral of Notre Dame burned, Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National was polling neck and neck with Emmanuel Macron’s movement for what he calls a “European renaissance”. In Spain, a far-right party called Vox, promoting the kind of reactionary nationalist ideas against which Spain’s post-Franco democracy was supposedly immunised, has won the favour of one in 10 voters in a national election. Nationalist populists rule Italy, where a great-grandson of Benito Mussolini is running for the European parliament on the list of the so-called Brothers of Italy. A rightwing populist party called The Finns, formerly the True Finns (to distinguish them from “false” Finns of different colour or religion), garnered almost as many votes as Finland’s Social Democrats in last month’s general election. In Britain, the European elections on 23 May can be seen as another referendum on Brexit, but the underlying struggle is the same as that of our fellow Europeans. Nigel Farage is a Le Pen in Wellington boots, a True Finn in a Barbour jacket.
Meanwhile, to mark the 30th anniversary of the velvet revolutions of 1989, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party has denounced a charter of LGBT+ rights as an attack on children. In Germany, the Alternative für Deutschland successfully deploys a völkisch rhetoric we thought vanquished for good, although now it scapegoats Muslims instead of Jews. Remember Bertolt Brecht’s warning: “The womb is fertile still/ from which that crawled.” Viktor Orbán, the young revolutionary hero of 1989 turned bulldog-jowled neo-authoritarian, has effectively demolished liberal democracy in Hungary, using antisemitic attacks on the billionaire George Soros and generous subsidies from the EU. He has also enjoyed political protection from Manfred Weber, the Bavarian politician whom the European People’s party, Europe’s powerful centre-right grouping, suggests should be the next president of the European commission. Orbán has summed the situation up like this: “Thirty years ago, we thought Europe was our future. Today, we believe we are Europe’s future.”
Italy’s Matteo Salvini agrees, so much so that he is hosting an election rally of Europe’s rightwing populist parties, an international of nationalists, in Milan later this month. To be sure, the spectacle of a once-great country reducing itself to a global laughing stock, in a tragic farce called Brexit, has silenced all talk of Hungexit, Polexit or Italexit. But what Orbán and co intend is actually more dangerous. Farage merely wants to leave the EU; they propose to dismantle it from within, returning to an ill-defined but obviously much looser “Europe of nations”.
Wherever one looks, old and new rifts appear, between northern and southern Europe, catalysed by the eurozone crisis, between west and east, reviving the old stereotypes of intra-European orientalism (civilised west, barbaric east), between Catalonia and the rest of Spain, between two halves of each European society, and even between France and Germany.
Полную версию текста Тимоти Гартона Эша читайте на сайте The Guardian
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