Historical, Civilizational and Legal Perspectives
As the European Union’s power over its members continues to expand, the rights of these members are increasingly being challenged by rules emanating from Brussels that are not granted to the EU by treaty, but which are imposed on flimsy or even unconstitutional grounds. This is particularly the case in the realm of social policy, where EU bureaucrats seek to establish rules for members that are without foundation in EU law and often are in direct contravention of the social norms in a member state’s society. This scenario was recently highlighted when the EU sued members Hungary and Poland for imposing restrictions on the inclusion of material dealing with homosexuality in textbooks for young school children. Not only that, but Brussels held up funding for Budapest when it failed to comply with the EU intervention over this matter.
The United Kingdom left the EU, since a majority of voters there believed the EU was violating Britain’s national sovereignty by imposing an excessive number of (unnecessary and unwelcome) rules on their country. Brexit was a warning shot across the bows of the Brussels ship of state, but there is little evidence the shot was heard, based on the high-handed manner in which Hungary and Poland have been treated since Brexit.
I believe that there are profound principles at stake here, not only for the EU but for other would-be or actual regional or international organizations (such as the United Nations and the World Economic Forum) that are tempted to wield enormous political, economic, financial and/or military power to impose their will on others.
The sacred value we must protect and uphold is individual freedom, whether of a person or a nation. The American revolution was historically important because it was fought in the cause of freedom, in this case from the outstretched hand of a distant ruler, the British monarch. The republic forged on that principle changed the world for good. The same cannot be said of the influence of socialist-minded leaders who, in the name of securing equality and ‘social justice’ for all, are seeking to use the institutions and mechanisms of the European Union to impose their own values on all institutions and individuals within the EU. We saw all too much of that in the last century, and we paid an enormous price in human death and misery beating back the forces of Socialism, Communism and Fascism.
I suggest that the rules of good human behavior apply to good international relations, and that we have to look to pre-history for the archetypal behavior that caused (and still causes) human conflicts, on all levels. I elaborate on this theory in a book I published recently: The Triumph of Good: Divine Providence, The Cain-Abel Paradigm, and the End of Marxism. In it I describe history as being shaped by an invisible Divine Providence that is constantly being opposed by a Satanic Anti-Providence. In modern times, these two trends have been evident in very different movements to secure personal freedoms and just government: The first represented by Magna Carta, England’s Glorious Revolution, the American Revolution and the rise of morally-grounded democracies; the second by the French Revolution, Russian Revolution, Marxism and Neo-Marxism and the destructive ideologies and brutal regimes they produced.
The American revolution led to the establishment of a republic that deemed its citizens’ rights to be God-given, and set in motion a global trend towards the establishment of democratic systems that respect individual rights, and delivered unprecedented freedom and prosperity. In contrast, the French Revolution gave birth to the destruction of the ruling class through a violent and bloody uprising that denied Divine Sovereignty and foreshadowed Communist and Fascist revolutions and regimes. These brought about great suffering, loss of life and widespread poverty in totalitarian states.
Marxism claims to be the “scientific socialism” that was missing in the French Revolution of 1789 and which Marx, Engels and Lenin saw was also missing in the bloody uprising in the Paris Commune of 1871. (It was Lenin’s additions to Marxism that made it an effective instrument of violent revolution and Communist dictatorship.) Dissatisfied Marxists in the 1920s and 30s would seek to apply what was essentially a politico-economic theory of revolution to wider social and psychological issues, and founded the Frankfurt School, which developed Critical Theory. This was followed by an even more radical break with traditional Marxism by a French school whose luminaries were Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. They rejected any notion of absolute values or natural laws, let alone a Divine origin for our existence. Their ‘Postmodernism’ began to gain influence in the 1960s and 70s, and today their Critical Theories are the dominant social theory in Western academia. (Foucault is the most cited source in the social sciences.
It’s worth noting, however, that Marxism is anything but scientific: It certainly does not meet the tests of the physical sciences and is not supported by the social sciences either, most glaringly by modern economic theories and practices—as demonstrated by the failure of every single attempt to use Marxism to run an economy. By making no claims to conform to the principles of science, Postmodernism has developed Critical Theories like post-colonialism, CRT, Queer Theory and Transgenderism that are the product of skewed research and personal prejudices unfettered by science.
Yet policies based on Marxist and Critical Theories are being forced on EU members by activists animated by personal agendas and power ambitions that are producing harmful social trends. This is a dangerous trend that needs to be understood and countered.
This analysis has two parts. In the first, it looks at the broad issue of EU overreach, why this is inconsistent with the founding purposes of the European Union, and why it represents a trend that could destroy the union, if not checked. The second looks at the specific case of Hungary and its dispute with the European Union based on Budapest’s insistence that it has every right to preserve its own cultural values.
European Union Overreach
The overreach of a central European bureaucracy has always been a concern for independent-minded people and governments, and only intensified as the European Economic Community (EEC) morphed into the European Communities (EC) and then, in 1993, into the European Union (EU), this last step signifying a move from an economic to a political union—with a single currency (the Euro) introduced in 1999 and a massive corpus of laws and regulations binding on all member states. According to British Social Attitudes surveys, from 1993 to 2015 “Euroscepticism” increased among the population from 38% to 65%.This would suggest that the sentiment leading to a 2016 referendum vote for Brexit was building over decades.
Another warning signal of this Euroscepticism trend occurred when the EU proposed a European Constitution that was rejected in 2005 by voters in France and the Netherlands, despite a massive publicity push to get it approved by all members. In France, only French socialists approved of this further step towards European integration.
More recently, on August 10, 2022 Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki accused the EU of imperialist behavior towards smaller Member States, stating that ” the positions of Germany and France count more than all the others, so we are dealing with a formal democracy and a de facto oligarchy in which the strongest hold power.” These are strong words, but they reflect the frustration of smaller European countries that cannot compete with the influence of France and Germany in the EU. The EU lawsuits against Hungary and Poland demonstrate Morawiecki’s point perfectly, and all member states would do well to pay attention to these simmering frustrations if they don’t want to force further Brexits.
A Historical, Legal and Moral Framework for Judging EU Overreach
Later in this article we will look at some of the specific problems of the EU’s prosecution of Hungary and Poland, but at this point I want to set up a framework for looking at EU overreach from the perspective of benefit versus harm, good versus evil. This may sound strange, or irrelevant, but if you consider that the Mosaic Law is foundational to the rule of law in Judeo-Christian Civilization, it is far from irrelevant.
What is the Mosaic Law? It is based on the Ten Commandments that for the first time set moral parameters for the Jewish people—upon their exodus from captivity in Egypt. All their laws (as elaborated in Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers), as well as many of the laws that govern our societies, derive from these basic commandments.
But even before Moses there were moral laws embedded in society, since the first story of human existence in the Bible describes the first man and woman being instructed to refrain from eating “the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” Their disobedience resulted in their alienation from the Creator and the appearance of evil on earth, first fully manifest when Cain killed his younger brother Abel.
As Jordan Peterson put it in a 2017 lecture: Cain and Abel are “prototypical human beings… Humanity enters history at the end of the story of Adam and Eve, and then the archetypal patterns of human behavior are instantaneously presented… The first two human beings engage in a fratricidal struggle that ends in the death of the best one of them. That’s the story of human beings in history.”
Cain and Abel represented relative standards of good and evil. Neither was perfect because of their shared alienation from the perfect Creator, but Cain represented the values and policies that diminish individual freedom and rights in favor of irresponsible self-interest and the use of force to achieve selfish ends, while Abel represented those values and policies that advance personal freedoms as God-given rights. History has been shaped by these two opposite forces contending for influence in society. When ‘Abel-types’ prevail, the Divine Providence and good advance; when ‘Cain-types’ prevail, the Satanic Anti-Providence and evil advance.
The great advance for good represented by the establishment of a democratic republic in America was due to the Founders recognizing that government itself should exist to protect the individual rights of citizens rather than the citizens existing to protect the rights of government and the ruler. In totalitarian states, the government plays a Cain-type role in society by subordinating the rights of citizens to the self-interested will of the state.
In the EU context, for national governments to do good, they must protect the rights of their citizens, while the pan-European institutions should protect the rights of the national governments to perform these rights-protecting functions of national government. As Lord Acton noted, however, power is corrupting and few governments can resist the temptation of accruing ever greater power over their people (in the name of “serving the People”, of course). In Marxism-Leninism, the government of the Socialist pre-cursor to the perfect Communist state should be a “dictatorship of the proletariat”. The wretched, blood-stained history of Socialist and Communist countries has been written by Cain-type megalomaniacs seeking ever more power over increasingly less-powerful, Abel-type citizens, with the rulers always resorting to force when they deem it necessary to retain power.
When the EU imposes the social agenda of a small minority population on the national governments of its member-states, it is abrogating its responsibility to protect national governments in their prerogative to protect their citizens’ rights and freedoms. This is Cain-like and destructive. It must be resisted by the national governments on behalf of their citizens.
We are contending here that laws seek to translate moral virtues and values into enforceable statutes. As such, the ‘moral law’ provides the background to the nation’s laws. In the United States, the Supreme Court is often divided on issues because so-called ‘originalists’ (notably Thomas, Alito, the late Scalia, for example) insist that the Constitution must be interpreted as its authors intended, whereas ‘liberals’ (Breyer, Sotomayor, the late Ginsberg, for example) see the Constitution as a ‘living document’ that should be updated to meet the needs of our time. Rulings that favor the wider ‘liberal’ agenda (i.e. influenced by Left-leading ideology, including removing religion from the public square, or making ‘gay marriage’ legal nationwide) are typically the work of ‘liberal’ majorities on the court, and they represent the undermining of the traditional values that guided the Founders.
In the EU case, we would argue that interpretation of the law should be guided by the foundations of European civilization, namely the morality embedded in Judeo-Christianity. That morality is summarized in the Cain-Abel paradigm, which can serve to inform the view of European justice systems as they decide on how European laws should be applied or modified to serve the interests of a morally-anchored Europe. If Lady Justice (Justitia) is unable to make such discernments wisely, she will be unable to provide the much-needed guidance to limit the overreach of a Brussels intoxicated by its ever-expanding power.
 See, for example, this May 12, 2016 survey from the London School of Economics (LSE), by Elliott Green: What are the most-cited publications in the social sciences (according to Google Scholar)? Only Foucault has two books in the list of 25 most cited books in the social sciences, giving him a winning total of 108,655 citations.
 Jordan B. Peterson. 2017. Biblical Series V: Cain and Abel: The Hostile Brothers.
Thomas Cromwell was born on a Christian communal farm in Shropshire, England. He moved to America with his parents at age 14. After 13 years there, he spent 25 years in the Middle East as a journalist, publisher and peace-builder, studying the monotheistic faiths in their homelands and working to promote understanding among the diverse communities in the region. He traveled throughout the Communist world before the fall of the Soviet Union, learning first-hand about life under Marxist regimes. His work and curiosity about human civilization have taken him to 130 countries so far.