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The Amsterdam Lecture: Is There a Chance for a European Renaissance?

English Pages, 8. 5. 2019

Many thanks for giving me a good reason for visiting your country. Many thanks for inviting me to deliver the 2019 Renaissance lecture. I am also glad to get the opportunity to be in touch with your political party, especially after its successful performance in the March elections.

I was surprised to find out that my last visit to your country took place already eleven years ago. I almost couldn´t believe it. My feeling is that I am permanently “on the road”. My average number of lectures and talks abroad is around twenty five a year. Does the absence of trips to your country say more about me or about your country? I don’t know.  You probably didn´t want me here because of my very nonconformist views.  

The uncritical admirers of the EU probably suppose that it is not necessary to come here, that it is sufficient to stop in Brussels. That is not my case. I dislike Brussels so much that I go there only very rarely. In the last years not at all. I prefer “flying over this specific cuckoo´s nest” (to quote the title of a famous movie made by the Czech filmmaker Miloš Forman). To be fair, the city itself is not the problem, the institution which has its headquarters there is the reason for me to avoid trips there.

My last visit of the Netherlands in 2008 was connected with the Dutch edition of my book in which I criticised the doctrine of climate alarmism and the ideology of man-made global warming. The title of the book was “Blauwe planeet in groene kluisters”.[1] The question raised in the subtitle of the book “What Is Endangered: Climate or Freedom?” was more explicit. My answer to it was and is very simple: the climate is OK. The freedom is under a huge attack.

This book of mine was presented to the Dutch readers not here in Amsterdam, but in The Hague which gave me a chance – at that time as the President of the Czech Republic – to bring it the next day to Queen Beatrix. I should admit that she was not very happy about it.

I should also mention that there is another book of mine in your language. It was published in Belgium under the title “Volksverhuizing”.[2] The book, which has already nine foreign editions, is devoted to the issue of mass migration. I will return to it later.

These days my fundamental topic is the ideology of europeism, the irrational adoration of the European Union, and the post-democratic reality there. To my great regret, there is – directly – nothing about it in Dutch. Or, perhaps, there is. Both the doctrine of climate alarmism and the ideology of multiculturalism (and its use as a source of legitimization of mass migration) belong to the pillars of the thinking of European political, academic and journalistic elites.

I am not sufficiently informed about your political party, about the Forum for Democracy, but what I know tells me that you have very similar views on Europe, on the European Union, on the sovereignty of nation states, on migration, on multiculturalism. I had a chance to meet your chairman Thierry Baudet whose views – which he presented during his visit in our institute in Prague two years ago – impressed us very much. I hope to learn more about your views and political stances during my today´s visit.

Let me discuss some of the European issues in more detail. I am convinced they are – directly or indirectly – connected with the future of all of us here in Europe, and also with the hypothetical, but much needed renaissance of our continent.

1) Let me start with the Brexit issue (and its today´s almost desperate fate). Brexit is about Europe, about us. The arrogant dealing of the EU with Great Britain reveals its true face as well as the untenability, unsustainability and unacceptability of the current version of the European integration scheme.

We, the citizens of the Czech Republic, have our own, relatively recent experience with a specific exit, which led to the termination of the existence of our former country, Czechoslovakia, and with the way how to efficiently handle it. Luckily, we had one great advantage. Both our countries – the Czech lands and Slovakia – wanted, each for different reasons, to make a deal, to achieve a friendly split of our original common state that would not endanger our relations in the future.

In the terminology of the theory of games we both played a cooperative game. In the year 2016 many Europeans, and, regretfully, many Brits as well, subconsciously assumed that it would be the cooperative game also in the case of Brexit negotiations. They couldn´t have been more wrong. The EU was playing – since the very beginning – a non-cooperative game. The EU didn´t want a positive outcome. The EU wanted to punish the rebellious Great Britain, to humiliate the proud Albion, to do harm to it. The EU elites also wanted to demonstrate to all EU member-states that there is no friendly exit from this very proud, conceited and self-assured organization.

The EU behaviour has not been accidental. It has been connected with the whole concept of the EU which has undergone a fundamental change during the last three decades. (This change started not far from here, in Maastricht.) The people in Europe have mostly underestimated it. They didn’t take into consideration that the original idea of integration has been slowly, silently, in a creeping style, transformed into a totally different concept. The original idea was a friendly integration, based mostly on cooperation, on the liberalization of Europe from its overregulation and on the elimination of all kinds of unnecessary barriers between European countries (established in the interwar period). This model has been replaced by an unfriendly concept of unification, centralization and de-democratization. We should consider it our task to explain this shift to the citizens of our countries.

2) My second concern, which I would like to share with you today, reflects the continuing attempts to downplay the destructive consequences of the mass migration into Europe. The European political and intellectual elites pretend not to see them. They do want mass migration. This is for them one of the ways how  to get closer to their main ambition, which is to weaken the European nation states and to create a new sort of Homo sapiens, a new European man, Homo bruxellarum. To bring life to this artificial creature has become the dream and goal of the politically correct multiculturalists. They want to get rid of the Czechs, Hungarians as well as Dutch people.  

To calm down the existing atmosphere, the current fashion among the European politicians is to claim that the episode of mass migration is over, that we are already behind the peak of the migration influx. I can´t disagree more. The mass migration is here, and is here to stay.

Let me repeat my two arguments which I consider important:

When discussing this topic, we should always strictly differentiate the phenomenon of individual and mass migration. The European political elites, even though they know that they are confronted with mass migration, use – almost exclusively – the arguments relevant for individual migration only. This difference represents the core of my disagreement with them.  

There is no doubt that the absorption capacity of countries for individual migration is relatively high but this is an irrelevant and misleading argument. The mass migration is something else. It represents a fundamental attack on the cohesion, coherence, traditions, habits, institutions, cultural patterns and social systems of countries which have become the target of mass migration. It necessarily leads to substantial cultural, social and political conflicts, shocks and tensions. It touches upon fundamental aspects of citizenship, community and identity of these countries. The European political leaders pretend not to see this. Maybe, they do, but they are in favour of such an attack on Europe.   

As an economist I am schooled to apply the terms of “supply” and “demand” in all possible circumstances. Most commentators speak about mass migration without differentiating its supply and demand side which is a methodological mistake. There is no doubt that there are big problems in many developing countries of the world, in the Middle East, North Africa and West Asia. This, no doubt, creates a reservoir of potential migrants.

This is, however, not sufficient. The supply of migrants must eventually find its demand. Without it, no migration can come about. The European countries are strong enough to stop mass migration on condition they decide to do it. Due to it, the demand side is the crucial one, not the wars in Syria, Afghanistan, or Somalia. The migrants find themselves in the European countries and cities because there has been an explicit or implicit demand for them. The demand came from Europe.

I don´t have in mind only the well-known explicit gestures like the one made by Angela Merkel in 2015 (even though I don´t underestimate their huge impact). Similar gestures and statements have been made repeatedly by many other European politicians, journalists, public intellectuals and especially by political NGOs. Such gestures also belong to the official position of the European Union.[3] 

The less visible implicit demand is the outcome of contemporary European culture and ideology, of multiculturalism, of the – very authoritative – progressivism of liberal democracy, of the pseudo-humanism of political correctness, of the European version of its social system which reminds me more and more the communist era.

The European elites understood that to succeed in their ambition to get rid of the nation-states and to create a State of Europe (and a European Nation), they have to dissolve the existing nations by mixing them with migrants from all over the world. This is the main reason why they are supporting and promoting mass migration without paying attention to all kinds of negative and destructive side-effects.

They don´t want to stop migration. They need it for their irresponsible destructive plans to change our society.

3) The third topic I want to raise this evening is the danger of the new era of indoctrination and manipulation of all of us, and especially of our children, based on the irresponsible ideologies of genderism and feminism. Maybe, your country, which used to be in some respect in the forefront of it, sees and feels it differently but in our part of the world this destructive attack on the nature of human beings and on the traditional family has become the issue of the day. The pressures from abroad as well as the activism of foreign-based and foreign-financed NGOs contribute to the fact that we, the conservative people believing in traditional views and values, are not on the winning side.

The exponents of these ideologies deny the evident and for centuries and millennia undisputable differences between sexes (innovatively called genders) and try to tell us that the sexual identity is a question of choice. Similarly, the family (and its basic function to guarantee the reproduction of human race) has been pushed back and relations of all kinds of sexual minorities are being put on the same level, if not above it.

This has become a fundamental attack on everything normal, on everything which has been the basis for a functioning human society, at least until now. The voluntarily interpreted concept of discrimination turned to be the basis for a fatal attack on the freedom of individuals and on the free society as such. The monstrous campaign “Me Too” is a good example of the atmosphere of fear which starts to dominate the Western world. Let me stress that it doesn´t come from the East.

We have to continue defending the past, the traditions, the inherited values and behavioural patterns proven by history. It is disgusting that the EU holds the opposite views. 

4) My final comment will be a short one. We witness the birth of a new Cold War mentality which is demonstrated by the demonizing of Russia and by using the failed country of Ukraine for it.

In our part of the world, we have many reasons to remember the imperialist Russian (or perhaps Soviet Russian) ambitions and their consequences. For my generation, this experience was a fundamental part of our life, something the people in Western Europe are not able to imagine. We are sensitive, perhaps oversensitive in this respect. We can´t, however, accept the current attempts to hide the domestic problems in our countries and in the whole of Europe by shifting attention to pseudo problems in international politics.

I am convinced we should accept Russia as it is, not demonize it. We should respect its national interests and – with all our criticism of its political and economic system – we should try to find a peaceful coexistence with it. It has no connection with communism. It doesn´t mean that Mr. Juncker should speak in Trier at the Karl Marx statue inauguration or that you should find Karl Marx Platz and Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg metro stations in Berlin (thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall).

On the contrary. We should resist Marxist ideology in all its versions. The old Marxism is dead, in Russia not less than in Europe. The no less dangerous Neomarxism is, however, stronger in Western Europe now than it is in Russia. The illiberal doctrines come to us in Central Europe these days not from the East but from the West. Because of our past we have a comparative advantage to feel this danger very strongly and to see it very early. Please, listen to us.  

The Renaissance of our continent is a long way ahead. We should do our best to make it shorter.           

Václav Klaus, The Renaissance Institute, Amsterdam, May 6, 2019.

[1] ”Blauwe planeet in groene kluisters“, Quantes uitgeverij te Rijswijk, The Hague, 2008.

[2] The book “Volksverhuizing ” was published by Uitgeverij Egmont, Brussels, 2016.

The book, originally published in Czech in 2015, was written together with Jiří Weigl. Its English version has a title “Europe all inclusive”, IVK, Prague, 2017.

[3] There are, in my understanding, two main motives the authors of these gestures have. They do it either as an expression of their own feeling of humanism, philanthropy and compassion with human suffering (which gives them the feeling of being good), regretfully, without serious thinking about the side-effects and consequences. Or they invite migrants more or less ideologically in connection with their almost religious belief in the ideology of multiculturalism, with their belief that

– diversity is more than unity;

– heterogeneity is better than homogeneity;

– sharp conflicts of values, behavioural patterns, cultural principles and religions contribute to human happiness (and social progress) more than social, cultural and religious harmony.


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