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Culture Wars in the EU

Writing about the dramatic division between the East and the West, a British man of letters, Rudyard Kipling, insisted that “Never the twain shall meet.” Well, they have actually met in the European Union. In terms of the political and economic systems, parliamentary democracy and free-market capitalism both obtain throughout the EU.

However, there is a vast cultural difference between the component parts. The West tends to be politically correct and awfully woke; the East significantly lags behind in this respect and, in places, actively opposes cultural innovations imposed by Brussels.

That is not to say that the people of the Intermarium – the lands between the Baltic, Black, and Adriatic seas – march in unison like the Prussian army. Each nation in Central and Eastern Europe is rather divided between progressive and traditionalist orientations. The former dream about pushing the latter out of the dominant position. Sometimes they succeed; at other times they get sidelined, particularly in places like Hungary and Poland.

In a way, then, the European Union is like the United States: the Red States with the flyover country (like the Intermarium), on the one hand, and the Blue States with both coastal rims and their mega-cities (like Western Europe), on the other. Further, there are Blue liberal urban enclaves in the sea of Red, e.g., Budapest and Warsaw, both ruled by liberals.  By the same token, there are Red enclaves, monarchist actually, in the dominant Blue swamp, for instance in France’s western region of the Vendée.

There are also political forces in both the Western and Eastern parts of the EU that unite and work together in Brussels. For example, just recently, top populist, conservative, and Christian nationalist leaders of the European parliamentary Group of Conservatives and Reformers have signed a joint declaration to protect traditional values, like faith and family. The signatories included, among others, Poland’s Jarosław Kaczyński, Hungary’s Viktor Orban, France’s Marine Le Pen, and Italy’s Matteo Salvini. In addition, over a dozen right-wing European parties from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Holland, Lithuania, Romania, and Spain affixed their signatures to the declaration as well. Some on the right sorely miss the like-minded Brits, who are out because of the Brexit.

Yet, for the most part, socially and culturally conservative attitudes prevail among the electorate in the eastern part of the EU. Because of that and because of the legacy of the Soviet Communist occupation, the peoples of the Intermarium are less eager to experiment with social engineering and cultural innovation, like the critical race theory, LGBTQ, and other such phenomena.

Sometimes the contrast between the attitudes of the Western pansexual glitterati and the Intermarium’s good old boys and girls is shockingly stark. For example, Poland has very tough pro-life laws. They include the prohibition of eugenic abortion, or killing infirm babies in the womb.

Meanwhile, Germany’s government has just introduced a bill to ban destroying chicken embryos that are at least six days old (counting from incubation) because “they feel pain.” Aborting human beings is just fine, of course, as long as it’s done up to twelve weeks before the term. Most conservative folk in the Intermarium are aghast at Berlin’s ditching its moral compass.

But the most violent spat has been over the sexual revolution. Hungary has just passed a law barring minors from pornography, gay advocacy, and transgender surgeries. In response, the European Union had a fit. The Netherlands called for an outright expulsion of the Magyars from the organization.

Prime minister Orban fired back by charging the western part of the EU with colonialism. He proudly affirmed his nation’s Christian roots and vowed to uphold tradition. How we raise our children is none of your business, Brussels.

The Croat opposition has just proposed similar measures, but the conservative and Christian politicians were immediately attacked by the left (backed by the EU). The oppositionists were doxed and their families threatened with death.

There are other bones of contention between the West and the East. Rather significantly, Western progressives have criticized Poland in particular about the alleged interference with the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. The problem is that the courts are choke-full of post-Communist judges who quite openly cavort with leftists and liberals.

Suddenly, it turned out that Slovenia has similarly offended Brussels. The former moved to neutralize its “Communist judges,” implicated in totalitarianism before 1989. EU Western elites whined in their defense and sharply criticized the Slovenians.

Their prime minister Janez Janša retorted: “If someone thinks that the EU, consisting of 27 member states, will become within a few years or few decades a melting pot, where everyone holds the same opinion, one should think again.” This is significant because it is Slovenia’s turn at the Presidency of the Council of Europe.

And so it goes. The East defends conservative values from the onslaught of the West, where a conservative minority awaits salvation from the woke revolution imported from the US.

Marek Jan Chodakiewicz
Washington, D.C., 9 July 2021

A version of this article was published by Newsmax