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The European Journal
[Re]Discovering Conservatism
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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.