I’m writing from Warsaw, Poland, my first time behind the previous Iron Curtain and first journey again to Europe for the reason that onset of COVID-19. Despite the overcast climate endemic to this a part of the globe, the temper on the bottom is unmistakably buoyant. Poland, together with its fellow Visegrad Group members Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic — and maybe additionally Austria — has emerged as a maybe unlikely floor zero within the battle to save lots of Western civilization from a debilitating and more and more all-encompassing liberal decadence.
The unhappy historical past of the area continues to pervade every day life right here. Locals routinely reply to questions on what websites vacationers ought to go to in one among two methods: “The Nazis destroyed everything in the war,” or, “The Soviet occupation ruined everything.”
Few areas on the planet know totalitarian repression and occupation like this space of the blood-soaked European continent does. The Visegrad states, which have hardly ever tasted nationwide independence over the vicissitudes of the previous millennium, felt the complete brunt of each Nazi fascism and Soviet communism in all-too-recent reminiscence.
The silver lining, and the explanation this area is so attention-grabbing from a up to date financial and geopolitical perspective, is that out of the joint tyrannical fires of Nazism and communism had been solid, within the many years following the autumn of the Berlin Wall, a strong appreciation for the integrity of the impartial nation-state and the significance of Judeo-Christian-inspired societal objectives, equivalent to household formation and fortified communitarian ties.
Put extra merely, the 4 Visegrad states and Austria have emerged as veritable redoubts of conventional Western values and substantive political priorities, equivalent to nationwide borders, immigration correctly restricted to advertise assimilation and intergenerational cultural stability and the transcendental that means and success that solely faith can present.
In Austria, the precocious Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is a dependable conservative who, at 34, is the youngest head of presidency on the planet. In Poland, the ruling Law and Justice Party is a right-wing nationwide conservative bulwark that cozied as much as the Trump administration and is now correctly skeptical of each Vladimir Putin-led Russian predations and Angela Merkel-led staunch European integration.
In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban is commonly lambasted as an “authoritarian” by the predictable Western media critics, however in actuality, he has overseen a profitable nationwide revival characterised by the continent’s — and arguably the world’s — preeminent family-centric public-policy agenda.
These leaders are unabashed in regards to the superiority of their distinctive cultural and nationwide heritages over the Brussels-based European Union siren tune, publicly defensive of the Judeo-Christian code and its manifest goodness, and unapologetically sided with the United States over Russia and Israel over Hamas terrorists. As the post-Trump American proper continues to cohere and slowly finds itself, it ought to look to trendy Central and Eastern Europe for some concrete pointers.
For occasion, whereas these states correctly guard their distinct nationalities regardless of a previous marked by frequent battle, shifting borders and occupation by nefarious empires such because the Third Reich and the Soviet Union, America is concurrently within the throes of an enervating id disaster of “1619 Project”- and “critical race theory”-inspired racial fractiousness and nationwide self-doubt, regardless of a historical past the place, some deeply lamentable pitfalls however, there’s nonetheless way more to take satisfaction in than to lament.
Americans can and ought to look eastward — previous Paris and Berlin — for inspiration on how each substantive coverage and even sheer rhetoric will help foster a tradition of nationwide satisfaction and civic cohesion. If Poland and Hungary can take satisfaction of their distinct nationwide identities and methods of life regardless of every little thing this a part of the world has suffered by, then certainly Americans can do the identical.
Many conservatives in America are at present misplaced within the wilderness and looking for themselves. All round us, the shortcomings of post-Cold War neoliberal globalism are more and more clear. The time is now to theorize and put into motion a extra sober, restrained, traditionalist strand of nationwide conservative thought. That strand of thought elevates household, tradition, neighborhood, nation, house and fireplace over universalism and the liberal imperium.
In so conceiving of and promulgating such a conservatism, Americans may do a lot worse than look to the ascendant nations and economies of Central and Eastern Europe.
Josh Hammer is Newsweek opinion editor.