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Reflections on Europe’s identity and future

December 28th, 2015

Left-wing commentators believe that further integration is the only way to save the vision of a free and unified Europe. Conservative pundits, on the other hand, caution against using Europe to tame those who do not agree with what they regard as liberal dogma.

Only by returning to core European values and strengthening solidarity among its member states can the EU overcome the multiple crises it is facing, Paul Lendvai writes in Élet és Irodalom. The main lesson the Hungarian-born Austrian pundit draws from the recent economic and migration crises, is that the EU needs further integration in order to become strong enough to tackle major challenges. Lendvai thinks that the EU has lost its vision of a free Europe notable where the free movement of goods and persons is undisputed. “The hope of progress, as well as of a European way of life and sense of freedom have been replaced by fear,” Lendvai writes. He fears that unless Europeans overcome the everyday fear of terrorism and economic decline, right-wing nationalist parties will thrive. “Nationalism and exclusion have led to catastrophe in Europe in the past,” he writes.

Europe is in bad shape,” Tamás Rónay comments in Népszava. The left-wing columnist finds it sad that politicians in the EU are becoming increasingly sceptical about the EU itself, and blame all their national ills on the EU. “If EU member states reject the idea of belonging together, the EU becomes unfeasible,” Rónay complains.

In Heti Válasz, Gábor Borókai ascribes what he describes as ‘Europe’s state of confusion’ to the abandonment of what he calls its core civilizational values. The conservative commentator accuses champions of what he calls “liberal fundamentalism” and modernity, of forcing ‘value neutrality’ on Europe. Without preserving their national and religious heritage, Europeans have become rootless and disoriented, Borókai surmises. In order to regain its strength, Europe should abandon the “cosmopolitan worldview” which creates nihilism and must return to its original ideology marked by national, Christian and family values, he recommends.

”The West’ and ‘Europe’ have become ideologically loaded concepts that left-liberals like to use as trump cards”, András Lánczi, Director of the pro-government Századvég think-tank writes in Magyar Idők. The conservative philosopher accuses the Liberals and the Left of expropriating the concept of Europe in order to portray all those who do not agree with their rational vision of society and their values of liberal democracy as backward, irrational, uncivilized rednecks. Lánczi claims that this ideological construction of Europe serves as a ‘secular surrogate religion’ for liberals who reject all traditional values, belief and authority, but cannot live without a moral compass that gives them hope in the future.

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