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The European Journal
[Re]Discovering Conservatism

Episode #09: Frank Furedi

Democracy, Besieged

What Lies Behind the Fashionable Contempt for “Populism”?

Democracy never had a smooth run, the Western mind long presuming the people’s consent to be a Pandora’s box of vexations. Yet two and a half millennia after Plato’s Republic first formulated democracy’s kinship with anarchy, all worthwhile regimes of government seemed to share, at least for a short while, a modicum of democratic features. That hiatus has come to an end, argues Frank Furedi, if it ever truly existed. The post-1945 liberal democratic consensus didn’t embrace democracy per se, but merely as a reliable mechanism for delivering liberal policy. The present furore around “populism” has merely exposed the frailty of democratic pieties, such as by typecasting Euro-realist and conservative victories as somehow foreboding authoritarianism. While elite British opinion came out of the Brexit referendum more distrustful of democracy, Furedi’s recalcitrant democratism inspired him to write Democracy Under Siege, which he discusses here with Jorge González-Gallarza.

Episode #08: Alexandr Vondra MEP

European Green Deal and “Strategic Autonomy”

The EU’s Environmental and Geopolitical Pipe Dreams

The European Commission’s unwillingness to re-examine the costs of its so-called Green Deal in the wake of Covid-19 is a testament to the dangers of environmental alarmism. In a different way, the opposing geopolitical persuasions of President Macron and his largely German contradictors on the issue of “strategic autonomy” point to similar forms of unchecked orthodoxy. Alexandr Vondra MEP is one of the European Parliament’s most sensible and heterodox voices in each of these two fronts of the EU’s future. Hear him discuss them in this episode with Jorge González-Gallarza, drawing on his experience as Czech defense and deputy foreign minister, as well as his more recent efforts to marshal the intellectual wherewithal to fashion a much-needed conservative environmentalism.

Episode #07: Anna Fotyga MEP

NATO and Europe’s Strategic Choices Ahead

Why the EU’s geopolitical future lies not in “strategic autonomy”

Anna Fotyga is one of the European Parliament’s most competent voices on foreign policy. She first dabbled in international politics as the head of Solidarity’s foreign office in the waning days of communism. After serving a first stint as an MEP in the mid-2000s, she was appointed Foreign Minister and later Chair of the Chancellery under the late President Lech Kaczyński. With that unique experience serving Poland’s strategic outlook under her belt, she returned to the EP in 2014, where she has chaired its Security and Defence Subcommittee and argues for much the same—a Europe of sovereign nation-states as part of a larger transatlantic community of Western democracies. She was recently selected by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg as part of a working group of high-level officials to advise him on the future of the alliance, with their final report submitted days before this conversation with Jorge González-Gallarza.

Episode #06: Prof. Ryszard Legutko MEP

Europe’s Culture Wars

In the EU, social conservatives have found an unlikely enemy. How did this happen?

Prof. Legutko is co-chairman of the ECR Group, where he leads the Law and Justice Party’s delegation. Perhaps lesser-known is his long and distinguished career in academia—though recently retired from teaching ancient philosophy and political theory at Jagellonian University (Kraków), he remains actively engaged in philosophical debates. His 2016 book The Demon in Democracy argued the striking thesis that far from being polar opposites, pre-1989 Soviet-style totalitarianism and the liberal democratic system that replaced it have far more in common than we tend to think. The relentless capture by politics of all spheres of life is what Legutko meant primarily, but another striking parallel has gained prominence since—both systems seem bent on imposing a single view of the good life while severely penalizing those who dare to deviate. In this episode, Prof. Legutko addresses this paradox with Jorge González-Gallarza in light of the EU’s recent involvement in the “culture wars” over abortion access, gay rights and the like.

Episode #05: Prof. Yoram Hazony

National Conservatism

Why conservatives should embrace national self-determination

Modern European history has given “nationalism” a very bad name—but what exactly is nationalism, and are the alternatives to it a better conduit to peaceful relations among nations? In The Virtue of Nationalism (2019), Israeli philosopher and author Yoram Hazony unpacks what this old notion means from the standpoint of political theory, culminating in a definition far from the stigma that European history has appended to it. Namely, “the collective right of a free people to rule themselves” and the recognition of that right in other nations, which Hazony defines in opposition to imperialism, a worldview that seeks to homogenize national arrangements towards a single, one-size-fits-all regime of laws and policies. In this interview with Jorge González-Gallarza, Prof. Hazony shares his insights into how a re-acquaintance with nationalism could guide a principled response to the EU’s proto-federalist direction of travel.

Episode #04: Roberts Zīle MEP

Covid-19 Relief and Europe’s Economy

How to survive the economic fallout from Covid-19—and thrive beyond

Upon serving as Latvia’s Finance and Transport Minister in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Mr. Zīle is now one of the ECR Group’s most competent and active voices on economic and monetary matters. He is currently hard at work on a number of negotiations with the EU Council and the Commission on everything from the Union’s Covid-19 relief fund (better known by its acronym RRF or Recovery and Resilience Fund), the so-called Connecting Europe Facility and the EU’s seven-year budget for 2021-2027 (also known as the Multiannual Financial Framework or MFF). In this conversation with Jorge González-Gallarza, Mr. Zīle unpacks what his work in each of these negotiations has been about, as well as a number of other initiatives such as the Rail Baltica Project, and issues such as the Baltic states’ geo-strategic and energy security.

Episode #03: Prof. Zdzisław Krasnodębski MEP

The Future of Europe

Security, demography, energy—and more

Prof. Krasnodebski left a career as a distinguished sociologist at Bonn University to serve in the European Parliament, where he now sits on the working group on the so-called “Conference on the Future of Europe”. He recently urged at a plenary meeting in Strasbourg to “make the EU anew”, which gives you a sense of the looming challenge facing the Union, a choice between digging in on a desperate plan to replace national sovereignty with an opaque supranational bureaucracy and trusting nation-states to cooperate on the basis of mutual interests. Watch Prof. Krasnodebski discuss with Jorge González-Gallarza his views on everything from the future of Europe, defense cooperation, energy security and demographic decline.

Episode #02: Douglas Murray

Insanity of the Woke Left

The Culture Wars that Conservatives can’t Avoid

The deep assumptions in our society about the role of gender, race and identity are slowly shifting underfoot—and conservatives risk being annihilated in the culture if they don’t face up to the threat. In “The Madness of Crowds” (2020)—which he discusses in this interview with Jorge González-Gallarza—Douglas Murray not only traces back the post-Marxist foundations of critical race theory and other woke nonsense. He also picks apart these woke claims for what they are: bigotry disguised as tolerance. Douglas’ book has been Sunday Times book of the year and has featured on that paper’s bestseller list.

Episode #01: Nick Timothy

One-Nation Conservatism

How the Right can Stave off Economic and Cultural Dislocation

The profound sense of economic and cultural dislocation across the lower and middle classes of the West is pushing conservatives to rethink deeply held assumptions about the role of markets in society. Throughout the Cold War and the neoliberal hubris that followed in its wake, their embrace of laissez-faire economics had been almost unthinking—but what kind of policy agenda should replace the old consensus? This is precisely the question that Nick Timothy—former special advisor and Downing Street co-chief of staff to PM Theresa May—grapples with in “Remaking One Nation” (2020), which he discusses in this interview with Jorge González-Gallarza.