The Times reports that Russia is becoming the darling of the European far right, because it supposedly offers a moral and geopolitical counter to the United States and European elites. Here’s an excerpt quoting a foreign policy adviser to France’s National Front:
Russia offers the prospect of a new European order free of what Mr. Chauprade, in his own speech, described as its servitude to a “technocratic elite serving the American and European financial oligarchy” and its “enslavement by consumerist urges and sexual impulses.”
The view that Europe has been cut adrift from its traditional moral moorings gained new traction this month when Conchita Wurst, a bearded Austrian drag queen, won the annual Eurovision Song Contest. Russian officials and the Russian Orthodox Church bemoaned the victory — over, among others, singing Russian twins — as evidence of Europe’s moral disarray.
At the National Front’s pre-election rally, Mr. Chauprade mocked the “bearded lady” and won loud applause with a passionate plaint that Europeans had become a rootless mass of “consumers disconnected from their natural attachments — the family, the nation and the divine.”
Here’s what makes me squeamish: I believe what Chauprade says is true, but I want nothing to do with the anti-Semitism and racism of many on the far right. Who offers this neotraditionalist political and cultural vision without the anti-Semitism and the racism? The Catholic Church offers it, at least in theory; Pope Benedict XVI’s book Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam, which he co-wrote with an atheist philosopher who nevertheless shares his fear for rootless Europe, offers a strong critique of what Western liberalism has become, and a Christian alternative to it.
Are events in Europe now telling us that secular liberalism cannot sustain itself, and that some form of neofascism, or at least nationalistic authoritarianism, is the alternative? What if one doesn’t want either? Is that middle ground going to be possible?