Acton Institute Powerblog

Extending Europe Eastward

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A Polish friend recommended this NYT piece by Roger Cohen reflecting on the most recent tragedy visited upon the Polish people. Cohen’s friend, Adam Michnik in Warsaw, “an intellectual imprisoned six times by the former puppet-Soviet Communist rulers,” had said to him in the past that:

…my obsession has been that we should have a revolution that does not resemble the French or Russian, but rather the American, in the sense that it be for something, not against something. A revolution for a constitution, not a paradise. An anti-utopian revolution. Because utopias lead to the guillotine and the gulag.

Cohen observes the smooth constitutional transition of power upon the death of the Polish head of state, and points hopefully toward the potential for reconciliation between Warsaw and Moscow. In Cohen’s words, the show of grief by Vladimir Putin upon the anniversary of the Katyn murders signifies “the miracle of a Europe whole and free been built. Now that Europe extends eastward toward the Urals.”

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • Nathan Barton

    Adam’s words reflect a truth that so few people realize: that the American Revolution is totally different from that of France, Russia, Iran, Haiti, most Mexican ones, and indeed most of history’s recorded revolutions. “For” rather than “Against” is key.
    So, too, is Poland’s potential role in today’s and tomorrow’s Europe – for the Old Europe is falling and failing rapidly, in part because it is “against” much and “for” little – except, apparently, “vacationing as a human right” and abortion and a total absence of faith in God in society (except as an expression of diversity and tolerance towards Islamic invaders). Poland no doubt must find itself playing the role once occupied by Germany, and offer liberty and freedom in Europe the same helping hands its expatriates once offered to the nascent American Union.