Probably, the word that best describes Europe at this moment is “fear”. It is fear that many Europeans have come to feel. I'm not just talking about the fear of an Islamist terrorism that strikes wildly and repeatedly. I'm also talking about an unspecific fear, the feeling that everything is a threat. Globalization seen as a threat, progress seen as a threat, the evolution of everything - using Matt Ridley's expression - seen as a threat.
And that same phenomenon makes Europe itself seen by the rest of the world also with fear. Europe is now seen from the outside with mistrust and uncertainty, which is the opposite of what Europe meant for the world in the second half of the twentieth century.
Why is there so much fear in, around and about Europe, now? For me the answer is simple: because much propaganda has been made about fear.
The European Union, with its directives and regulations, promotes fear. Everything has to be regulated minutely by the interventionism of the European Parliament and by the European Commission's bureaucracy. They speak and act as if the only thing that saved every European from disaster was the Official Journal of the European Union.
Governments and national parliaments also frighten people. Political parties, the media and intellectuals - many, not all - transmit fear. Fear of competition, fear of whatever comes from outside, fear of what people do when they decide for themselves.
There are also many Eurosceptics who are using fear as an argument.
Why does all this happen? The discourse of fear comes from distrust of freedom, or the direct rejection of the consequences of freedom. It is the ideological and cultural predominance of those who reject liberalism that has generated an atmosphere of fear. And that atmosphere has itself become the main threat to Europe itself, and the greatest distrust of the rest of the world.
The European Union was not born like this. Its raison d'être was the opening. It was born as a common market, before the word "market" was seen as something negative.
Many European liberals are very critical of the EU interventionism. But it would be unfair to forget that in some aspects the European Union has served to eliminate monopolies and state subsidies. In countries such as mine, Spain, it is doubtful that it would have been possible to open up to international competition for sectors such as energy or telecommunications if it were not because membership of the European Union requires it.
In these days in Spain, the monopoly is disappearing that remained hidden, which is the union of seaports workers. And it will disappear, not because the government wants to (they know that there will be a strong conflict with the union) but because the European Union will impose heavy fines on Spain if it does not finish at once with that monopoly.
Someone very little suspicious of being fanatically pro-European, as Margaret Thatcher, knew well how to recognize this positive part of the EU. She contributed much to the signing in 1986 of the Single European Act that was the first major revision of the 1957 Treaty of Rome. Thatcher, in her memoirs, explains that "we were finally going to get the European Community back on track, to concentrate on its role as a huge market." But the problem, as she saw right away, is that "the new powers the Commission had received seemed to do nothing but stimulate their appetite."
Herein lies the problem: when the European Union is no longer an area of freedom of movement of people, goods, capital and ideas. When it has become what the German author Hans Magnus Enzensberger has called with irony “Brussels, the Gentle Monster”.
The result of the exponential growth of bureaucracy and European regulation has been a frightened, paralyzed and fractured continent.
I must confess, I was not a supporter of Brexit. I think the departure of Great Britain is going to be very negative for the rest of the continent. For decades the UK has been a brake on the desire of interventionism of the European institutions. I fear that many politicians and bureaucrats in favor of an even more socialist EU are happy thinking about what they will be able to regulate when the British are not there to prevent it.
I think Brexit is not going to be positive for the British either. It's odd. Euroscepticism began as fundamentally liberal, and closely linked to the ideological legacy of Margaret Thatcher. But I have the impression that at some point, perhaps in the referendum's electoral campaign, there was something we could call the “abduction of the Euroscepticism”, like the “abduction of Europe” in the mythology.
What began as a liberal movement contrary to the defensive barriers has ended up having a strong component of rejection to the freedom of movement of the people, the goods and the capitals.
I wish Daniel Hannan the best of luck and those in the Tory Party who remain faithful to the ideas that led to Brexit: less state, less regulation, more freedom, and especially more commercial freedom. I will be very happy if they succeed, for the good of all. But it will not be easy, I'm afraid.
The socialists of all parties have slowly and profoundly distorted the identity of Europe. Europe has as one of its distinctive features the innovation, the entrepreneurial spirit and the spirit of initiative that have allowed solid economic progress that made it possible for many people to escape poverty. That is, capitalism.
This is one of the defining features of Europe. Or, if we want to be more precise, the Western world. Because Europe cannot be understood without America.
This set of values has been a very positive contribution for all humanity. That is why I believe in the West and because of that I also believe it is worth defending the values that support it and fight for them.
Saying a little more about this, I think many people can get excited about these values, especially young people.
Why? Because they are authentic values. They are not false slogans or verbal tricks. They are values that speak to the heart: freedom, voluntary cooperation, ambition to improve ourselves and go further.
They are values that have become deeply nonconformist, almost rebellious, in the world of today. The establishment of today rejects these values. And it does so with all the strength given by its political, academic, cultural and media power.
Let me give you an example: It surprises me a lot that anyone who dresses in a shirt of Che Guevara is still seen as a rebel or a maverick, who in addition to being a totalitarian and a criminal, turns out to have become a symbol of the mainstream, of the politically correct. The rebel and nonconformist is to wear a T-shirt asking for freedom for Cuban political prisoners.
To believe in Western values today is to be a maverick, a rebel. And that means not share the speech of those who call themselves "progressives." Of those who have constructed a discourse "do-gooder", which lacks of principles and has no more objective than to silence anyone who disagrees.
Those progressives, inside and outside Europe, are still in a deep crisis of ideas. They have never admitted that the fall of the Berlin Wall was not due to the excesses or mistakes of the Soviets, but to the fact that the collectivist ideas of socialism were a mistake in themselves. From the failure of the Marxist model, the left wing has not been able to generate any alternative idea. But it has done something. What it has done is to question Western values. To say that liberal values are unfair. To say that our own values are dangerous.
What the leaders of the contemporary left wing have articulated throughout Europe is an "anti" ideology: anti-Western and anti-liberal.
I want to conclude by pointing out a field which the EU and member states are letting go of this anti-western and anti-liberal ideology. I am referring to development cooperation done in Latin America. Few in Europe focus on what Europe leads to countries like Guatemala under the way of development cooperation
There are many European cooperation actions that help poor people. They can be discussed, but for now I will not. I refer to other initiatives by governments and NGOs that disguise themselves as development cooperation, but in reality they are spreading the dogmas of the extreme left wing, and sometimes directly contribute to revolutionary disturbances.
In Guatemala you can see organizations of the Bolivarian revolutionary type that receive aid from NGOs which are financed with European public money. Ambassadors are seen publicly conditioning European aid for Parliament to approve a particular constitutional reform or a specific law.
Guatemala is not the only country where this occurs. Also in others of Central America or the Andean region.
That is unacceptable. If we talk about the future of Europe in the World, we must be aware that a part of the projection of Europe comes to other continents not to promote a freer future in an open society, but to move back into the darkness of closed societies.