In a recent article for The Telegraph, Sir Roger Scruton discusses the importance of national borders in Europe and the threat that the EU poses to them. He explains how religion once united Europe but since religion began to fade in the 17th century, territory took over as the principle that Europeans turn to in order to find unity. Scruton says this:
European civilisation has been steadily replacing religion with territory as the source of political unity. The process began in the 17th century, as the call for popular sovereignty and national unity began to be heard above the noise of religious conflict. Following the French Revolution and Napoleon’s failed attempt at a pan-European Empire, Europe emerged as a collection of nation states.
Scruton goes on to talk about how national identity contributed to the outcome of the Second World War:
Victory in the Second World War depended upon the national loyalty and patriotic feeling of the British and American people. In the world that emerged it is national identity that has offered the best guarantee of peace, as well as the only possible foundation for democratic politics. For it is only when people define their loyalty in territorial and national terms that differences of religion, class and ideology can be put aside and an elected government accepted by everyone, included the many who did not vote for it.
Talk about national loyalty, borders, jurisdiction, and democracy are extremely relevant at the current moment given the recent events that have taken place in the UK, namely Brexit. Scruton continues in his article to discuss the EU and its threat to all of these principles.
The European Union has refused to recognize the importance of borders and the territory defined by them. It has established a trans-national, bureaucratic form of legal order in which laws are not changed or adopted by popular sovereignty but imposed by official decree. It has done this out of the misguided view that borders and nations are a threat to peace. And from the same misguided conception it has insisted on the free movement of peoples around the continent – leading to two enormous demographic crises, namely the loss of young people from Eastern Europe, and the over-crowding of Britain, which is the country where the international language is spoken. The first crisis makes Eastern Europe and the Baltic states indefensible, while the second makes Britain increasingly unliveable, as housing, planning, infrastructure and social identity are all put under unmanageable strain.
Sir Roger Scruton is a writer and philosopher. He has decades of experience teaching and engaging in political culture on both sides of the Atlantic. He will be a keynote speaker at Acton’s London conference on ‘Reclaiming the West: Freedom and Responsibility’ on December 1st. This event will include six other well-known speakers, including Ryan T. Anderson and Veronique de Rugy. To register and learn more about this event, visit Acton’s website here and in case you won’t be able to attend, a live stream will be available.