The Continental Catholic conspiracy

Peter Hitchens on the history of the EU:

After Suez had failed, largely but not wholly because the USA had wrecked it (it was a stupid plan anyway),  the German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer told Guy Mollet, Prime Minister of France, ‘France and England will never be powers comparable to the United States and the Soviet Union. Nor Germany, either. There remains to them only one way of playing a decisive role in the world, that is to unite to make Europe. England is not ripe for it but the affair of Suez will help to prepare her spirits for it. We have no time to waste. *Europe will be your revenge*.’
This is recorded in the memoirs of the then French Foreign Minister, Christian Pineau.
Adenauer and Mollet were meeting in Paris that day (Tuesday, 6th November 1956) to finalise the founding arrangements of the Common Market, which as we see here is, was and always will be an anti-American project, though the US State Department and the CIA have never, it seems, been able to work this out.

As for Britain not being ripe, I should hope we would never be ripe for such a thing. I doubt very much whether Konrad Adenauer had much understanding of Britain – few continental politicians do, Charles de Gaulle being a rare exception. The two men, for instance jointly attended Mass in Rheims Cathedral, their continental Roman Catholicism binding them together just as it excluded the Protestant British islanders from their world.

17 Responses

  1. True enough that the EU’s main architects were all Catholics from marginal German-speaking areas: Adenauer (Rhineland), Schumann (Alsace), De Gasperi (Trentino Alto Adige). De Gasperi actually sat in the Vienna parliament pre-1914.

    De Gaulle, who came from Lille was of Flemish stock (de Waal)

    In “Europe and the Faith,” Hilaire Belloc notes that Britain was the only formerly Roman province to support the Reformation.

  2. It is said that the European flag of twelve gold stars in a field of blue derives from the vision of Our Lady in the Apocalypse.

  3. The EU is a key reminder that conspiracy theories are often true and that the insult “conspiracy theory” is about speaking power to truth.

    Guys like Adenauer are also reminders that the Spirit of Vatican II was clearly in evidence before Vatican II.

  4. If you’re criticising Adenauer, I’d have to take issue with you. Adenauer was a great statesman and a great man, as well as a stand-up Catholic. Germany might had have a happier history in the 20th century if men like him – the “conservatives of the heart” – had been in charge rather than the lunacy of the Nazis. (The critique of Adenauer that is made from the left is that he was too right-wing, but that’s another story.)

  5. The principle criticism of him was that he was not rigorous enough in his denatzification of the public administration. He argued, reasonably enough that, were he to purge all non-active NSDAP members, there would not have been a public administration

    The Sovereign Pontiff, for example…

  6. I agree that he was a great statesman, with the proviso that “great” is not a normative word. He was a political liberal whose power came from his willingness to collaborate with the US. Building the CDU and today’s Germany are certainly great accomplishments, but they are not good accomplishments.

    Like all politically relevant figures on the right in recent centuries, the only viable defense of him is to claim that he did the best he could with the constraints he was under.

  7. I’m not sure that he would have appreciated being called a liberal. Nonetheless, any man in public life who achieved a fraction of what Adenauer achieved would have reason to be proud of himself. From memory, I believe that there is a process in progress for his beatification. I would have no hesitation in praying to him as well as for him.

  8. Michael,

    I will not allow communist lies to be repeated on my blog uncontested. I demand that you apologize to His Holiness Pope Pius XII immediately. I further suggest that you read Michael Burleigh’s Sacred Causes before you find yourself mouthing odious communist propaganda again.

  9. Hi Bill,

    To appreciate Adenauer’s greatness, you have to keep the Cold War perspective in mind. The United States may be evil, but communism is purely Satanic. Reconstructing Germany on more-or-less American lines was quite an accomplishment given the alternative. It’s not like the CDU wrested power from Catholic monarchists. Maybe you know more about him than I do, but to me it doesn’t seem fair to call him a liberal.

  10. @Bill – very important distinction here between ‘great’ and ‘good’. Greatness is very rare, but goodness much more so.

    @ Bonald – but surely to call someone a liberal is no big deal?

    Virtually *all* the powerful elite are liberals and have been for many decades; and even the less-liberal are only less-so in relative terms (often being mostly-but-not-fully liberal).

    Compared with the perspective you advocate there have been very few non-liberals in the West for several centuries; compared with the perspective I advocate you’d need to go back 1000 years plus!

  11. Boland

    I was referring to the Sovereign Pontiff, now gloriously;y reigning and to his membership of the Hitlerjugund, which was, of course, compulsory for boys over 14.

    Nevertheless, the GDR did require a denatzification programme for former members and suspension of citizenship rights until its completion, which the Federal Republic did not.

    As I said, Adenauer was criticized for not implementing similar measures.

  12. Boland

    I would only add that, for Europeans of my generation, any lingering credibility that the Communist Party may once have had as the “Party of the Resistance, was destroyed by the events of 1956, when the PCF disavowed its Arab comrades, whose members included Maurice Audin and expelled militants arrested for supporting the FLN, including the Jeanson network (Jeanson was Satre’s secretary.)

    For us, the self-styled “Party of the Resistance” had become the party of the collaborators with late-capitalist imperialism. Is it likely we would take seriously anything they might have to say about Pius XII, or anyone else, for that matter?

  13. Hi Michael,

    Okay, I’m sorry for misinterpreting you. As you know, the “Pope Pius XII was a Nazi” meme is very widespread, and I am understandably enraged by it.

    You are right: Adenauer would have been silly to have “denazified” the way his critics wanted him to. They have no idea what it must have been like to live under a totalitarian regime.

  14. I’m inclined to agree with this, but if we’re to cast our net that wide, distinctions must be made, since not all liberals are equal(ly bad). Obviously nonliberalism is ideal, but failing that we can at least root for American Revolution liberals (who at least had a genuine concern for order, even if their principles were unsound) to win out over French Revolution liberals (who’d just as soon burn civilization to the ground).

  15. I’d hope you would include traditional British liberals (in the lineage of Mill, Palmerston and Gladstone) in the first of those categories, Proph. We’re not all Jacobin nihilists. If I were feeling mischevious, I’d note that Burke himself was a Whig rather than a Tory.

  16. Reggie Perrin

    The last conservative British statesman was Bolingbroke


    I hold no brief for the Jacobins (I regularly attend the Mass of Reparation on 21 January at the Chapelle expiatoire) but I feel there is something to be said for De Gaulle’s view – Under the Fourth Republic, Michel Debré at first supported the Democratic and Socialist Union of the Resistance, but defected to the Radical-Socialist Party on the advice of De Gaulle, who reportedly told him and several other politicians, including Jacques Chaban-Delmas, “Allez au parti radical. C’est là que vous trouverez les derniers vestiges du sens de l’Etat” – “Go to the radical party. It is there that you will find the last vestiges of the meaning of the state.”

  17. There’s always Colonel Sibthorp, who was apparently the inspiration for Michael Wharton’s Peter Simple:

    He opposed the Great Reform Act, Catholic emancipation, the repeal of the Corn Laws and the development of the railway system. He even offended Queen Victoria because he thought that Prince Albert was a bit foreign.

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