10 years since he was murdered in a provoked car wreck still masqueraded as accidental, the life of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas (1952-2012) appears to readers of David Hoffman’s new biography—Give Me Liberty (2022)—like a 60-year-long race against Fidel Castro. What the two men were racing toward came into sharper focus upon Fidel’s natural death in 2016. By removing every obstacle in his path, the socialist strongman lived to perpetuate into the 21st century the tyranny dressed up as egalitarian utopia he had launched in a revolution the year before Payá’s birth. By envisioning, instead, a Cuba where the people freely ruled themselves, the Christian dissident had become Fidel’s main such obstacle by the early 2010s. And so it came to pass, that on a deserted highway near Bayamo, in Cuba’s east, in the sweltering mid-July heat in 2012, the world’s oldest dictatorship got a new lease on life. Despite Oswaldo’s steely resolve to outlive his regime, Fidel won that day the race to Cuba’s future. In this interview with Jorge González-Gallarza, Pulitzer price-winning author David Hoffman reflects on the legacy of the Cuban dissident.
Herewith, a double paradox. The EU’s set of driving motives—its telos, so to speak—are undergoing a two-track inversion. The bloc was initially designed to slide gently towards federalization whilst remaining a largely toothless actor on the world stage. And yet, it has since grown into a geopolitical player of its own that’s internally at peace with the present deadlock of integration. Sometime between the eurozone crisis of the early 2010s and Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the bloc’s entire architecture has been thusly turned inside out. Scholars, journalists, and practitioners in Brussels and national capitals are still at pains to gauge the depth of this sheer revolution. Stefan Auer may have lost some sleep over it. A former—and likely future—recipient of the prestigious Jean Monnet Chair for EU studies, Auer is as astute an observer as any of the EU’s institutional dynamics, a skill honed with the distance afforded by successive professorships in Australia and Hong Kong. In this interview with Jorge González-Gallarza, he surveys the tangle of crises the EU has faced over the past decade, all compellingly diagnosed in his newest book, European Disunion (2022).
Yoram Hazony is best known for reinvigorating the Western right through the National Conservatism series of conferences, premised on the need to restore nationalism at the heart of the conservative movement. The American-Israeli author’s most recent book, Conservatism: A Rediscovery (2022), is a strident call to root out the liberalism that has progressively crept into conservatism since the 1960s, one of whose ill-guided assumptions is the “myth that politics can address itself to the public sphere alone, whilst avoiding influence on our private lives”. When not backed up by conservative deeds, all the world’s talk of conservative values, claims Hazony, is in utter vain. He submits an alternative to that liberalism in the form of the so-called “Anglo-American conservative tradition”, and after surveying the societal havoc wrought by abandoning one for the other, he ends by intimating his journey from Princeton in the 1980s to building an orthodox Jewish household in Jerusalem. The result is a timely masterpiece, one that buttresses an erudite argument with the imprimatur of personal experience. In this interview with Jorge González-Gallarza, Hazony discusses the need to uncouple conservatism from liberalism and a few more topics addressed in the book.
American—and by extension, Western—conservatism is in flux, and Gladden Pappin sits on the frontlines of that realignment. A graduate of Harvard, where he obtained his BA in history and his PhD in government, Pappin is assistant professor of politics at the University of Dallas and senior adviser at the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture. In 2017, Pappin co-founded with Julius Krein American Affairs, a heterodox journal of public policy that has been widely credited with fleshing out the agenda of Donald Trump’s administration in more intellectually robust terms than the former President ever could. Pappin has spent the past academic year in Budapest, where he has served as senior visiting fellow at Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC). In this interview with Jorge González-Gallarza, Pappin shares his views on where American conservatism should move on in the post-Trump era, and addresses some of the policy questions relevant for the European right too.
The conservative movement has high hopes placed on Francesco Giubilei—and for good reason. Hailing from the bucolic city of Cesena, tucked between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea, Francesco serves as president of two of Italy’s most dynamic conservative groups—Nazione Futura, which he initially launched as a journal in 2017, and Fondazione Giuseppe Tatarella, named after the so-called “father of Italy’s democratic right”. Additionally, he works to bring the world’s most renowned conservative writers to market in Italy through his role as editorial director of the Giubilei Regnani imprint. As if that weren’t enough, Giubilei is also a scholar in his own right, with an astonishing number of books published for someone his age, most notably The History of European Conservative Thought (2017). More recently, he wrote Conserving Nature: Why the Environment Is Dear to the Right (2022). In this interview with Jorge González-Gallarza, Giubilei discusses some of his latest work, along with such topical questions as conservatism’s philosophical affinity for conservation and the lessons to be drawn from Viktor Orbán’s latest victory in Hungary.
The Christian legacy is certainly immense and yet, paradoxically, its transmission seems to have been interrupted in our days. There are several reasons for this: the prevailing emotionalism, a certain shame on the part of Christians themselves for their own sins, or the triumph of the woke ideology, hand in hand with moralistic capitalism, in the West, seem to be some of them. And we are increasingly seeing their consequences: from the contents of the subject of Religion drawn up by the Spanish Episcopal Conference, indistinguishable from the pillars of any human organisation, to the loss of the practice of the sacraments, to a call for dialogue that often leaves out the most traditional Christians. We talk about all these exciting issues with the philosopher Miguel Ángel Quintana Paz in a new interview for New Direction and Revista Centinela.
There is a nobility other than that of blood, the one we all know, and that is nobility of spirit. A series of personal qualities, of virtues, within the reach of any family tree and any pocketbook. An aspiration that reminds us of the real possibility of being the best among the many that we could be. A noble ideal that is achieved, among other means, through liberal education, a close knowledge of the Classics, as well as contact with those goods, material or otherwise, that our elders bequeathed to us and that are worth preserving. We talked about all this with the poet and writer Enrique García-Máiquez, author of the essay “La olvidada idea de la nobleza de espíritu” (The forgotten idea of nobility of spirit), which can be read in Nueva Revista.
The division of the world into two clearly defined blocks, the liberal capitalist and the communist, is a thing of the past. Today, temporal power is increasingly wielded by bio-ideologies, new religions that falsely promise to realise the myth of the new man by making tabula rasa, constructing and deconstructing nature according to the dictates of emotions and feelings. However, there are realities worth preserving, which, no matter how much circumstances change, will remain in man’s being. Nevertheless, the new bio-ideologies seem to be just another excuse to perpetuate the political system that has always prevailed: oligarchy, the rule of the few, under the apparent rule of the people. We talk about all this and much more with the philosopher Dalmacio Negro Pavón in a new interview we conducted for New Direction from Revista Centinela.
Although conservatism still enjoys a certain amount of bad press, we cannot fool ourselves: even the most progressive person has a deep-seated desire to preserve something. It’s just a matter of finding out what. So, we conservatives are in good shape. Not so much as the Classics, reviled in the education system when, in reality, what they have to say to us is much more important than our reading of them. Only from this perspective can we listen to them, because they continually challenge us. And they remind us of our moral duty to be intelligent. Duty? Yes, just as it is to take care of our physical integrity and to prevent, at all costs, our arm from being amputated. It is the same with our intellectual capacity. The philosopher, pedagogue, writer and, above all, reader, and Marisa de Toro talk about all these issues and more for New Direction and Revista Centinela.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.