The New Totalitarian Temptation: Global Governance and the Crisis of Democracy in Europe
By Todd Huizinga
Encounter Books, New York 2016
HC, 250 pages, $23.99
Could the European Union, for many a symbol of freedom and cooperation, be viewed from a perspective other than that of a union of states concerned with keeping international peace? Is there something that most have been missing when analyzing this modern construction? Tod Huizinga seems to believe there is, indeed, a different point of view to the EU, one which he discusses in his book The New Totalitarian Temptation.
The way in which the author describes the European Union might be looked at as reminiscent of international utopian thought, while Europe itself is portrayed as a post-Christian continent, where secularism has taken such a hold that it has, in fact, created a spiritual void. The United States of America, on the other hand, is seen as a nation shaped by traditionalist Christian thought, whose relations with the continent of Europe are, in fact, hindered by the latter’s abandonment of God.
Huizinga, the director of International Outreach at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty and co-founder of the Transatlantic Christian Council, addresses the dangers of the utopian vision on which the European Union was built.
His book is structured into six parts: 1) Defining the Soft Utopia, where he describes certain EU problems and issues that accompany a union created with the purpose of achieving world peace; 2) Intended and Unintended Consequences; 3) Case Studies in Soft Utopia; 4) Transforming Human Rights; 5) Our Best Friends and Our Worst Antagonists; and, 6) Soft Utopia at a Crossroads.
The New Totalitarian Temptation addresses obvious and well thought out issues such as the problem with the common European currency. Here, the author notes, “Introducing a common currency into countries of radically different cultures and levels of economic development and production has shown itself to be disastrous.” He also observes that there is a problem with the redefinition of ideas such as women and children’s rights, where the EU’s so-called ‘women’s rights’ are not asserted, for example, to protect the role of women as mothers to the next generation who nurture and cherish their offspring, subordinating their own interests to their children’s needs. Rather, the term ‘women’s rights’ has come to mean liberation from the constraints of motherhood, and a right to abort one’s children, if one wishes.
The European Central Bank is also addressed in Huizinga's book and described as “the true hegemon of Europe,” which can “do what it chooses, in full independence, with a substantial share of the Europeans’ wealth.” The author describes the process of self-authorization of the ECB as going “far beyond its monetary policy mandate and […] decisively change the real structure of Europe” as “post-democratic.”
Another very important subject addressed is that of Europe’s aging population and Islamic migration to the continent. As Huizinga states, “there are no European countries in which the estimated total fertility rate (TFR) for 2014 is at or above the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman of childbearing age, the average number of babies per woman that is generally necessary in the industrialized world in order to sustain population levels,” while the “Muslim population of Europe is growing both through higher birthrates and by immigration that has recently reached explosive proportions. And unlike the ‘native’ European population, Muslims in Europe are not losing their religion. Today, Islam is the only dynamically growing, vital religious faith of Europe.”
As an addition to the dangers presented in previous chapters, Huizinga also brings to light more complications of aging population, including that of the common European currency and the lack of democratic representation around the EU, as evidenced by King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, who stated, “As a result of social trends like demographic ageing and internationalization, our labor market and system of public services no longer fully meet the demands of the 21t century…[W]e must recognize that public services and schemes have to be adjusted” and that “everyone who is able will be asked to take responsibility for their own lives and immediate surroundings,” announcing thusly the “end of the classical welfare state.”
The last part of Huizinga’s work focuses on whether or not America will be going on the same path as Europe. One might have to note that the focus of the book is not all on the problems or on predictions of an impending end to the EU, but rather it emphasizes the difficulties, while also taking a look at how it is, in fact, still not too late to change the trajectory on which the continent is headed. The fight is, indeed, not over.
Todd Huizinga’s book is a well put together composition that draws attention to the most evident yet often ignored problems of 21st century Europe and its relations to the U.S. and the world.
For anyone interested in the history and troubling issues of the modern day EU, the book provides an intriguing and useful readout of which may be extracted valuable facts and ideas about the future of globalization.
Originally published as European Disunion by the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research News and Analysis