Bringing back to fruition Europe’s human and common good-oriented cultural substance

by Karl-Jürgen Müller

The Western claim that Russia attacked Ukraine “without provocation” does not hold up on closer inspection. Rather, the US government and NATO have conjured up this “proxy war” (“down to the last Ukrainian”) against Russia with long advance planning. Even if the local propaganda roller constantly wants us to believe the opposite – a peace-loving West against an aggressive Russia.
  Most European governments are also taking part in this proxy war. Not only those of the European member states of NATO and the EU, but also previously neutral states like Switzerland have bowed to the massive pressure – if they are not acting out of their own conviction.
  None of those responsible yet wants to admit publicly that this policy is a dead end. This makes the demand for an independent European path all the more important – not as a power-political variant to US policy, but as a peace-political way out on the basis of Europe’s human and common good-oriented cultural substance.

“War of Civilisations”

In his contribution to Current Concerns (No 11 of 24 May 2022), Guy Mettan said that the war in Ukraine not only had a regional dimension, but was also a “war of civilisations”. It was a “war of individualism and abstract values against a more traditional and humanistic vision of human society”, of a “so-called progressive morality” against a worldview “more concerned with respecting the heritage of ancient Greek, Latin and Christian humanism”.
  On 21 October 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin had given a fundamental lecture on the values important to Russia, which was also published in this journal (“The importance of a solid, value-based foundation. Values in today’s Russia and the radical change in values in the West”, No 24, 11 November 2021). It was already noticeable in this speech that the Russian president had not delivered anything specifically Russian, but reminded us of foundations and values that are constitutive of what can also be called the European system of values.
  Henry Kissinger was right when he pointed out at this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos that Russia, for 400 years, had a determining influence on Europe’s destiny.

2015: “Manifesto for Europe”

Almost seven years ago, the annual conference of the “European Working Group ‘Mut zur Ethik” adopted a final declaration (also published in Current Concerns (No 24 of 23 September 2015) recalling the European system of values. This “Manifesto for Europe” expressed the great concern of the conference participants about an ever-increasing erosion of the European substance of values. Already seven years ago they stated:

“Side by side with the US and in an almost slave-like allegiance the governments of EU-states and NATO have been breaking international law for many years. […] The 1999 War against Yugoslavia was the Fall. […] In 2004, as well as in 2013 and 2014 the US, together with the EU, massively interfered in the internal affairs of the Ukraine and contributed to a war being waged in that region – in the heart of Europe.”

Europe’s cultural heritage

The Conference contrasted this with “Europe’s cultural heritage” and reminded:

“Europe’s history is a history of injustice and violence, but it is as well a history of overcoming the latter evils from its own moral insight and political strength. The Western and Christian humanist tradition has developed viable foundations for equality before the law, humaneness and respect for human dignity. Whenever in history these basics could wield their influence, human coexistence has been peaceful, just and secure.”


“Europe is characterised by a rich diversity of cultures and nations in a small space, from Crete to the North Cape, from Lisbon to Yekaterinburg. People across Europe have contributed much in all spheres of life in more than 2,500 years. For the people’s coexistence in peace and freedom, the development of law and right towards ever greater justice was of fundamental importance for Europe and the world. Europe has significantly contributed to the fact that human rights and the principles of international law are today guaranteed in international agreements (Charter of the United Nations, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) and in national constitutions.”

Good faith

Participants of the Conference also stated:

“Good faith must be the basis of all human coexistence and political activity again. Without this principle, there is no confidence in agreements within and between the states, and the floodgates are open to arbitrariness. Control mechanisms (such as “governance”) and manipulation techniques of all kinds, which aim at influencing people by the abuse of psychological methods without full and open information, deprive the citizens of the possibility of independently forming their opinion. Thus, they violate the dignity of the person and destroy the basis of political dialogue and the legal system.”

In contrast, it was said:

“People are capable, with their reason and their empathy, to recognise the necessary fundamental orientation of a moral and political action, to think and feel in a humane and social way, and to learn to act accordingly. This is the disposition embedded in the human heart. Guided by reason and conscience, these fundamental orientations are intended to form the basis of the whole of the moral, legal and political determinations that guide the life of man and society. They guarantee the dignity of the human person in the face of transitory ideologies.”

Important voices for an independent Europe

In the past seven years, the Europe of NATO and the EU has moved even further away from all this. It is therefore very important that books keep appearing that call for a separate European path, independent and autonomous from the previous US hegemony and its guidelines for Europe. At this point, we can only refer to three very readable German-language publications: “Ami go home! Eine Neuvermessung der Welt” (A remeasurement of the world) by Stefan Baron from 2021, “Die scheinheilige Supermacht. Warum wir aus dem Schatten der USA heraustreten müssen” (The hypocritical super-power. Why we need to step out of the shadow of the USA) by Michael Lüders from 2021 and “Nationale Interessen. Orientierung für deutsche und europäische Politik in Zeiten globaler Umbrüche” (National interests. Orientation for German and European Politics in Times of Global Upheaval) by Klaus von Dohnanyi from 2022.
  Even in the mainstream media, which are currently almost forced into line, the reader finds valuable exceptions from time to time. For example, the article “In der Ukraine sollte die EU nicht den USA folgen, sondern nach Frieden streben” (“In Ukraine, the EU should not follow the USA, but strive for peace”) in the “Berliner Zeitung” of 28 May 2022. The author is Michael von der Schulenburg, a former senior German diplomat at the OSCE and the United Nations.

Hoping for the EU would be an illusion

The path towards an independent Europe, a Europe that recalls its historical roots, its human-oriented cultural and state political substance and thus contributes to peace in Europe, will not be easy. Christianity, humanism and the Enlightenment certainly belong to this substance. But culture always also means cultural development. Europe has always made progress when it has opened its doors to other cultures and their achievements for the benefit of mankind. The exchange, the dialogue of cultures is indispensable.
  Such a “renaissance” would most likely be unrealistic if one wanted to rely on the structures of today’s European Union. These structures and this entity are also an art product with strong US-American influences, much stronger than in the various European nation states, which still have remnants of their historical and cultural identity. The EU lacks liberal and democratic, historical and humane substance. A metamorphosis towards an adequate instrument of European autonomy is probably an illusion.
  All the more important are the citizens of all European countries. They will be crucial in bringing Europe’s substance back to fruition.  •

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