The Ides of May: Brexit, Irexit, and the Shape of Europe to Come
Since she succeeded David Cameron in the wake of the Brexit vote, the accidental British prime minister, Theresa May, has been trying without success to have things both ways. On the one hand she's having to pretend to observe the wishes of the British public, which voted to leave the European Union, but her own inclination -- shared by many Tory Remainers -- is to keep fumbling the football until the clock runs out. Meanwhile, the Labour Party, which is now led by an out-and-out communist in Jeremy Corbyn, is delighted with the whole mess.
Across the Irish Sea, Britain's ever-restive former colony, Ireland, is having its own troubles. The withdrawal from the EU by the United Kingdom will mean that the rump state of Northern Ireland (whose votes Mrs. May needs to keep her in power, as shaky as her current hold on it is now) will require some sort of border with the Republic to the south.
Meanwhile, in central Europe (where I am as I write this), the old European cultural fault line of the Alps that once divided the Protestant north from the Catholic south has been rotated vertically to the Oder-Neisse line, which used to simply separate postwar Germany from Poland, but now splits most of Western Europe from the former captive nations of Eastern Europe, with Germany, France, and Britain on one side and Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia on the other -- the group of four nations that constitute the Visegrad Group.
Each one of these flash points is fraught. If May can't work out a deal with the EU by March 29, it's entirely likely that her government will fall. Already, two of her cabinet ministers, the eccentric Boris Johnson and the steady, impressive David Davis, have resigned in protest over her handling of Brexit, and either of them could well succeed her as party leader should the Ides of May approach; Tory political circles at the moment resemble the plotting of Brutus, Cassius et al. in Shakespeare's play. Keep your eye on Davis, the former Brexit minister, who's something of a sleeper here, especially given his deep knowledge of the intricacies of Brexit itself.
Poetically, one of the major sticking points over Britain's departure from the EU is the Irish border. Since the Good Friday Agreement (the crowning achievement of the Clinton presidency) succeeded brilliantly in shutting down the sectarian violence of the Troubles, there have been no militarized checkpoints at the internal Irish line of division, but as the Brexit negotiations continue, the EU has been pushing for a hard customs border, which neither the Irish nor the British want. Despite the sometimes rancorous relations between the two nations, Ireland and England have long had a de facto open border, with people and goods moving relatively freely between the two countries, even after partition and independence. But the EU bigwigs in Brussels see the revival of the hard border question as yet another stick with which to beat Britain.
The result has been the stirring of an Irexit movement, which is still relatively small, especially in the face of overwhelming opposition by the Irish version of our own Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party. There's no longer a euro's worth of difference between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, who both are the very models of the modern major Europarties -- statist entities committed, whether openly or covertly, to the elimination of nationalism and the nation-state. The Irish people, having fought for a thousand years to win independence, managed to squander it in less than a century. As we Irish-Americans like to jokingly (?) say, the smart ones got on the boat and the dumb ones stayed home. Just kidding!
And then there's simplest solution of all: return the Six Counties of rump Ulster province to the Republic and be done with it. Problem solved.
No matter what happens, though, the real action is now in Central Europe, where a major showdown between Poland and Hungary and the rest of the EU is brewing. At issue is, of course, Merkel's Folly, otherwise perfumed as the "immigration crisis." Having survived hundreds of years of foreign occupation -- including Muslim occupation -- relatively small states like those of the Visegrad Group want no part of Islam ever again. With declining birthrates across Europe, their leaders, such as Viktor Orban in Hungary, know their nations would soon enough be demographically swamped by unlimited "immigration" (the correct word is "invasion") from North and sub-Saharan Africa, where their limitless social and economic problems are matched man for man by their populations.
So what do you expect them to do? Exactly this:
Hungarian leader Viktor Orban attacked EU migrant quotas and pledged to protect Poland from EU sanctions in Warsaw on Friday (22 September). "We don't want a mixed population, as is being created in countries to the west of us. We want other solutions, so please respect that," he said.
With Muslims accounting for most EU asylum seekers, he said he did not want to see "the Christian element constantly decreasing" in Europe. "We accept that some [EU] states have become immigrant states. We don't want to be like that and we want them to accept it, but they want us to become like them," Orban said.
Orban spoke on an official visit to Poland, where he met Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo, president Andrzej Duda, and the head of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), Jaroslaw Kaczynski. The European Commission has threatened to fine Hungary and Poland for defying EU votes and court rulings on taking asylum seekers from Greece and Italy. But Poland's Szydlo attacked the migrant quotas the same way Orban did.
"The path our governments chose on the matter of illegal immigration turned out to be right … the main basis of our actions has to be the security of our citizens," she said.
Let the French, who have already surrendered to the Crescent, laugh and eat their cheese. They last stopped Islam at Tours in the 8th century, when Charles Martel ended the invasion of what would become France from Muslim Spain. The Hungarian memories are more recent; they were ruled by the Ottomans for more than a century in the 16th and 17th centuries, and that was plenty for them. As for the Germans, their exposure to Islam was confined to the still-secular Turks who entered the country as Gastarbeiter in the 1960s and basically never left; the Turks mostly did menial jobs and tried not to rile their hosts. What they have not experienced -- until now -- is the level of rape and violence endemic to Muslim societies. So it's no wonder that the AfD party is on the rise.
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has overtaken the Social Democrats (SPD), the junior party in Germany's governing coalition, in voter popularity to become Germany's second-strongest party, behind Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, according to the Deutschlandtrend poll by public broadcaster ARD.
The AfD moved up two percentage points since the last survey on September 9, bringing it to 18 percent — one percentage point more than the SPD, which lost a point. Merkel's conservative CDU/CSU bloc, which has led German governments since 2005, also slipped a point to 28 percent, representing its worst result since the survey was launched in 1997. The growing support for the AfD comes almost a year after it first entered the national parliament as the third-strongest force in German politics, winning 12.6 percent of the vote.
What's needed in Europe now is a revolution on a Trumpian scale, one that sweeps away the tired, barren generation of European leaders (they are nearly all childless) and replaces them with younger and vital leaders who understand the importance of the nation-state to the world's welfare, and who are not afraid of the Leftist taunts of racism every time they rise to its defense. And who might even father or give birth to a child or two, just to have a stake in the future.
None of this will be pretty, and much of it won't be pleasant. But if Europe -- real Europe, not the "Europe" of Belgian, Luxembourgian and German fantasy -- is to survive, it must happen. So let's do it, and get it over with. Otherwise, it will be the Ides of Merkel and Macron soon enough. And who know where that ends?