The City of God is not Brussels

Christians are duty bound for theological and historical reasons to support the ever closer union of Europe (which does not imply a superstate) and to deny the value of absolute sovereignty or the lone nation-state. Tragically, the Reformation, Roundhead, nonconformist, puritan, whig, capitalist, liberal version of Britishness last night triumphed over our deep ancient character which is Catholic or Anglican, Cavalier, Jacobite, High Tory or Socialist. The spirit of both Burke and Cobbett has been denied by the small-minded, bitter, puritanical, greedy and Unitarian element in our modern legacy. Unfortunately it has duped the working classes, once again to their further ruination.

John Milbank. Aside from its rather massive condescension — We of the cultural elite know what’s best for those poor duped working-class folk who simply can’t be trusted to act in their own self-interest — this comment perfectly embodies what we might call Zombie Hegelianism. The genuine and full-blooded belief in the irresistible forward march of the Weltgeist has long-since died, but here’s its reanimated corpse: a vague notion that there’s some correspondence between the current European project and the transnational, transcultural Body of Christ. But if we’re going to immanentize the eschaton can’t we ask for something more robust than a bloodless bureaucracy?

Better still, perhaps we could think of the European political order as a set of practical arrangements for improving the common weal and evaluate them in that pragmatic spirit, rather than as spiritual prostheses, extensions of the Church of Jesus Christ.