To see the zeal with which Tory Remainers are doing their utmost to thwart Brexit puts one in mind of covert communists during the Cold War. Or is it religious zealots in pursuit of a higher cause? Perhaps these are really the same thing.
One useful way of understanding religion is in terms of the deep human impulse to serve something greater than oneself. Marxism has long been recognised as a substitute religion because of its historical determinism (giving adherents a powerful sense of destiny) and its claim to serve humanity by liberating the oppressed masses from their servitude to their capitalist overlords.
We however are European and liberal (so it is said), not communist or Marxist (however much ‘cultural Marxism’ has infiltrated our culture). So while Europeans do not in general have a Marxist ideology to measure their lives by, EU-philes have the ideology of the EU to provide them with their overarching purpose and transcendent goal.
Actually, it isn’t just the ideology of the EU. It’s also the ideology of the UN and internationalism and human rights more generally. But it certainly includes the EU. The EU has become the European corner of the great progressive project – that endeavour to take humanity forward into the wondrous utopia of individual self-actualisation, where all those pesky obstructions to personal authenticity – national borders, family commitments, basic biology and so forth – are eliminated.
To EU-philes, the EU is very much like God. Many have the same basic relationship with the EU as a lot of Europeans once, not so long ago, had with the Deity: a significant commitment to it, a deep fear as to what it might do if they anger it and a sense of duty to serve it even if it doesn’t really bring them any great joy.
Have you ever noticed how ‘ever-closer union’ is much more akin to a religious goal than a political one; more nirvana than GDP? It is about a dissolving of divisions for the sake of approaching a universal oneness, regardless of what human beings actually want or value, or the forms of life needed to express them and make them possible – like the democratic nation state.
The EU even has its own ascetic movement in the form of environmentalism, alongside vegetarianism and veganism, which ensure people can make those crucial personal sacrifices necessary to please their god. Religion has to hurt, right?
Just as religion reduces all to an equality before the greatness of God, the EU is animated by its own ideology of equality, and has a fervour for breaking down the barriers that distinguish people to make them all equal before it. Except that God understands the needs of the creatures he has made, whereas the EU, like all ‘progressive’ institutions, is fixated on dissolving the distinctions that give human life meaning and make it work – citizen and non-citizen, male and female, married and non-married, and so on.
How else, other than that the EU is a religion, are you to explain the fanaticism with which EU-philes advance the interests of their project to the point of betraying the interests and needs of their fellow citizens? It is not just about pay – though I’m sure it helps that the EU rewards its loyal servants handsomely. For many – not least Guy Verhofstadt – their zeal goes way beyond mere monetary considerations:
There is a frightening, solemn single-mindedness about the way its acolytes go about their machinations.
The EU is a dogmatic religion, with its high priests. No amount of evidence of its costs or failures will dissuade the convinced EU-phile of the worthiness of the cause. The EU is good by definition, good in itself, for it exists to bind Europeans together in transcendent oneness and dissolve their conflicts, and that is a higher goal than mere happiness or prosperity. Tragic, then, that so often it breeds only division and discontent, though entirely predictable when it pays so little heed to the needs of human nature.
It can be no coincidence that the advancement of the European project has coincided with the decline of organised religion. As faith in God declines, a godless continent finds itself in thrall to an EU superstate which it looks to (albeit vainly) to provide its sense of unity, security and purpose. A resurgence of the old faith would certainly help to limit devotion to the EU, as nations remember once more to trust in God for their security and respect the boundaries he has established for their good. That, sadly, seems unlikely to happen any time soon. The only alternative religion to the EU has arrived from outside – and the speed with which it is gaining ground will be anything but a source of unity.
In any event, the pressing issue for Leavers is the unremitting energy of Remainers working behind the scenes to subvert the democratic mandate for Britain’s exit from the EU. It is becoming increasingly clear that this is a position they hold with a kind of religious passion, according to which no amount of sacrifice of their country’s ability to govern itself or the legitimacy of its democratic institutions is deemed too great to keep their European project alive. To EU zealots, sceptics are not political opponents; they are heretics, deplorables, blasphemers who have no place in public life. Reason and evidence of the usual kind are not effective, and EU-philes use all the means at their disposal to suppress any questioning of the wisdom of their project.
Faced with this ideological wall, what are Leavers to do? Get a lot more cunning for a start – and a lot less naïve.
In another context, Jesus told his disciples that they are to regard themselves as ‘sheep amongst wolves’, and be ‘as cunning as serpents and as innocent as doves’. Innocence is, as ever, a luxury in politics, and an impediment if it compromises the truth. Cunning, on the other hand, is sometimes a necessity, and is a trait which Leavers would do well to be much better acquainted with.