THE EUROPEAN UNION ON THE FUNDAMENT OR ON THE SAND
Lidia Dudkiewicz talks with prof. Ryszard Legutka, an MP for the European Parliament, about the political governing system in the European Union, a crusade against Poland and playing with commandments of Decalogue
LIDIA DUDKIEWICZ: – You were studying works of Platon and his criticism of democracy. What would Platon say to today’s European elites?
PROF. RYSZARD LEGUTKO: – Since the times of Platon and Athens democracy a lot has changed I the democratic systems, but also a lot has remained unchanged. Hence a good book by Platon should be read by politicians, although, I am very skeptical whether they will read philosophical books. The problem is that democracy has got a lot of disadvantages and we cannot cope with them, because we do not recognize them. There are some such disadvantages. In democracy nearly everybody believes that there is a diversity of opinions, whereas democracies are prone to create a massive conformism. In the European Parliament, for example, the same political system has been governing for a lot of cadencies, there has been the same ideology; MEPs, excluding very few of them, think the same and use the same jargon, but everybody boasts how different we are. Well, we are not. It is the other way round – the European Parliament is a clinical illustration of disappearance of respect to diversities. Or, there is another example of the democratic disadvantage: legislative bodies are starting to believe that they can do everything – so, they can outvote not only the fact that a carrot is a fruit, but also – what is good and what is bad. Legislation of the recent decades, similarly as case law in democratic countries, are a terrifying example of playing with commandments of Decalogue, with fundamental norms concerning life and death.
– Where is the source of astonishing interest in Polish matters in the European Parliament?
– It is quite easy to explain. The Polish government and the governing party do not belong to the main trend which has nearly completely taken possession of political life of the western world. When we take a look at political parties, in most cases of European countries, from the left and the right side, we will notice an astonishing similarity.
Let’s analyze the example: the so-called homosexual marriage was introduced by the socialists in France, and the conservatives in Great Britain. In Europe, and, in fact, in the whole West, during the last several decades, there appeared a definite movement to the left. Parties belonging to the right or centre-right wing – like the Law and Justice Party in Poland or Fidesz in Hungary - are treated as a strange body which should be removed as quickly as possible. Various accusations are appearing – that these are the fascists, populists, nationalists who are aiming at dictatorship. Whereas these are just the rightist parties, like the two mentioned above, which are supporting freedom and civilization. Reluctance to them is mixing ignorance and prejudices. In fact MEPs in the European Parliament do not know what is happening in Poland, and are fed with extremely biased media reports and they have created their image of the Polish government which is completely compatible with their ideological prejudices. When somebody from the mainstream governs in any country and is doing terrible things – for example the Civic Platform in Poland or the socialists in Hungary for 8 years, he can do what he wants then and nobody in European institutions will not protest. When the rightist wing appears, hysteria breaks out at once.
– What moods are there in the European Parliament now, in reference to our country?
– I think that for the time being the atmosphere is calm. We had an election of a new chairperson of the European Parliament and MEPs from other political groups were looking for our support. A lot of them said that they were ready to block the crusade against Poland for being supported. I do not completely believe them. However, for now it seems that the European Union has got more serious concerns: the election in France where Marine Le Pen may win, Brexit, anti-EU concerns in other countries – all this is a danger for the federalist model of the Union. Also matters in Poland has happened in such a way that the European Commission finds it more and more difficult to continue it. The thing is that what will they do with the Constitutional Tribunal? Will they tell us to dismiss appointed and sworn judges? But the commissioner Frans Timmermans who is the main man in the Commission for a fight with the Polish government, will try to maintain the fire. It is a personal matter for him. He got so engaged that he will not want to give in. However, I think that there is no reason to worry as reforms in Poland are more important than content of colleague Timmermans.
– What direction will Europe go to? Where are the most dangerous reefs?
– The European Union is experiencing the biggest crisis in its history; it is not known what state it will be in when coming out of this crisis and when it will happen. It has been several months since the Union stopped being a vehicle of development and is rather working on justifying its policy than helping member countries. So, if a country is doing well and is developing, it must do it with its own means and strengths because it will not get any help from the Union which is more and more lethargic and bureaucratic. This stasis of the Union is somehow a consequence of the general collapse in Europe. A lot of countries have got serious financial and structural troubles, as well as serious social problems resulting from, among the others, a high number of immigrants. The project of the multi-culture society, which was accepted some time ago, turned out to be impossible to implement: instead of peace, we have conflicts. There is more and more police in the streets, there are stricter and stricter safety means, there is atmosphere of danger, and what is the most important – there is no idea to solve the problem. A big part of elites seem to say: we want more the same situation, that is, more immigrants, more multi-culture, more EU and national bureaucracy, more indoctrination and more safety means. It will not lead to anything good. In addition, there are demographic problems – most societies are getting old – there is a breakup of families, growing number of children in illegitimate relationships, vulgar culture, worse level of education. Here we have got a paradox. At the time of the highest economic development and unknown level of wealth in history of the society, there is a feeling of doubts and uncertainty of the future.
– Can we expect – on the Warsaw-Berlin line any improvement in relation to the visit of chancellor Angela Merkel in Poland?
– These relations between the governments of Poland and Germany were not and are not bad. Today I would evaluate them as correct and substantive. There is only the question: how many issues will we be able to settle? Germany is the most important economic partner for Poland, and Poland is an important neighbouring country for Germany. But also Germany is a difficult partner for weaker countries, including Poland, because Germany does not willingly go on a compromise. We have important energy matters to settle – for example, a conflict between interests of Poland and Germany, as for the energy sources and energy future – and here, for the time being, there are no sign of mollification of the attitude of Germany. Surely Germany decided that the present Polish government is not ephemera, but something permanent. This is the government which has got a big democratic legality, is going to hold the authority for a long time and now it is necessary to make agreement with it. It is good. But also, Germany presents irritating condescension not only towards Poland, but also other weaker countries. The Germans want to tell Poles, Czechs, etc. what they must do. The Germans find it difficult to get used to the fact that these are Poles who have a right to define what lies in the interests of Poles, that these are the Czechs who define what is in their interests, etc.
– How should Europe behave in relation to skepticism towards European structures from president Donald Trump?
– The European Union has got a problem with Trump. Firstly, Trump has often spoken about the Union as a project not quite approvingly. Secondly, Trump expressed his acknowledgment towards Brexit. Thirdly - we can also see that he has got some likes – how they will be implemented towards dissident countries in the Union such as Poland and Hungary, it is too early to say. It will undoubtedly be the reason for which anti-American atmosphere, strongly present in the Western Europe, although rarely described, will still remain, and EU politicians will have a lot of occasions to be irritated. On the other hand – the new American administration will maintain and develop bilateral relations with European countries which will cause a situation that it will keep its influences in Europe. Knowing the western elites to some extent, I can risk saying that hatred to Trump will remain, that protests will be going on, but I do not think that the relations between the USA and European countries will be inhibited. I also think that it is a good time – just when anti-Trump craziness is going on – so that Poland would activate its policy towards the USA. I am pleased to say that it is just happening so.