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has government been

has government been instituted at all?” asks Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 15. He answers: “Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.” There is no hint in The Federalist Papers of any notion that human nature is malleable in a transformative way. The authors would have seen it as folly to attempt to fashion a new kind of human being through a political project. In fact, the entire point of the US Constitution is to structure a government that is effective yet limited and diffuse in its power so as to constrain the irremediable human lust for power and the tendency to abuse such power. The EU’s grounding of government, by contrast, is the secularist, transformative spirit of global governance. To see this, one need look no further than the EU’s pronouncements on today’s foremost exercise in global governance, the UN’s post-2015 Development Agenda. These declarations assume human nature is so malleable that through political effort it can break the bonds of tradition and truth. The UN’s post-2015 Agenda goes to the heart of the EU’s entire reason for being: to build the structures of global governance that are needed in order to create a world that will be better than anyone dares to imagine. The EU Council of Ministers’ declaration of support for the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is emblematic. Reading it, one cannot avoid the impression that the EU is positioning itself to do nothing less than save the world: “The post-2015 agenda should therefore integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development in a balanced way across the agenda; ensure coherence and synergies; and address inter-linkages throughout the goals and targets. It is also crucial to ensure that the agenda has a rights-based approach encompassing all human rights and that it respects, supports, and builds on existing multilateral agreements, conventions, commitments, and processes.” It continues: “The agenda should leave no one behind. In particular, it must address, without any discrimination, the needs of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable, including children, the elderly and persons with disabilities, as well as of marginalised groups and indigenous peoples; and it must respond to the aspirations of young people. We should ensure that no person— wherever they live and regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, disability, religion or belief, race, or other status is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities. We emphasise the critical importance of quality education, universal health coverage, and social protection for all, which are central for the achievement of sustainable development.” Here, politics (or “governance”) is universal, global, all-encompassing, and comprehensive. No checks or balances stand in the way of the good that the global elite can accomplish. There are no constraints and no limits, neither geographical nor aspirational. The post- 2015 Agenda leaves no one behind, no one in the entire world, and calls for all ‘stakeholders’ at all levels to show strong political commitment and undertake determined actions. There is no end to the ‘coherence’, ‘synergies’, ‘inter-linkages’, ‘universality’, and ‘inclusiveness’ that it promises. It is hard to deny the religious fervour that seems to underlie declarations such as these. Thus, global governance reveals itself through such pronouncements as a secularist faith—almost calling for a veneration of ‘governance’ as if it had a salvific power of its own. The new human rights All of these contrasts—between the post-modern, secularist worldview of global governance and the West’s traditional Judeo-Christian worldview, between the global governance ideology and the commitment to democratic sovereignty—come together in human rights policy. As is becoming ever more apparent—especially as secularism gains the upper hand internationally—what you believe human rights are depends on what you believe human beings are. And in this, the transformation of the worldview of the West, especially in Europe, is readily apparent: in the anointing of relativism, novelty, and ‘choice’ as the new foundations of human rights. This phenomenon is intimately connected with the global governance ideology. Cursory observance of the human rights-related activities of the EU reveals a pervasive concern for women’s rights, children’s rights, and LGBT rights. There is a profound reason for this: These rights are all based on the notion of the absolute autonomy of the individual. They reflect the notion of choice taken to its ultimate extent. They are transformative and liberationist, like the global governance ideology itself. The EU’s view of human rights requires a transformation of the idea of what people are, redefining them as radically autonomous individuals who—by choice—can change their very nature and thus liberate themselves from traditional familial and social bonds. In the case of women’s and children’s rights, liberation from the constraints of the family is a core concern. In the LGBT arena, the push for ‘gay marriage’ and the concept of a flexible gender identity aims to transform human beings completely, liberating them from both moral and physical constraints, while ignoring the empirical reality that human beings are either male or female. This transformative and liberationist model of human rights, which has already taken root among most elites in North America and Europe, is a complete departure from the traditional Western view of human beings out of which the concept of human rights first emerged. Classical human rights are based on the Christian/Enlightenment view of human nature. This view recognizes that human beings are individuals who are embedded in communities; and it acknowledges that it is eminently appropriate for people to live within the roles they have in those communities—in accordance with values and rights that promote societal flourishing. The importance of the family The keystone of flourishing societies everywhere is the family. But the family requires considerable subordination of individual interests and rights to the 6 Winter/Spring 2016

needs of other family members. This is the traditional view of family life. But such a view flies in the face of the transformative and liberationist view of human rights as promoted by the EU and propagated by the global governance ideology, which holds that human beings are radically free to define themselves as they wish, unfettered by traditional values or family obligations. The global governancers’ view of human rights unavoidably undermines the family. Since the only rights that matter in the EU are the skewed, redefined rights of women, children, and LGBT persons, they must necessarily oppose the family. It is the one institution that militates most effectively against the idolization of personal choice; and with its preference for local control and self-government, it stands in the way of the globalist, top-down view of ‘governance’ that animates the global governance elites. Similarly, global governance undermines democratic sovereignty, especially in a secularist world without truth. And if truth does not exist, then there can be no restraints on human institutions—and government power is unlimited. This means that not only do governments have unlimited power—in principle—to determine what human rights are, but it becomes impossible to limit governance to a certain geographical area or people. And national sovereignty becomes—again, in principle— an impermissible limit on the power of global elites to decide for everyone everywhere what is just and true. Global governance is thus unmasked to reveal not a benign effort to improve humanity’s lot but instead as a voracious power grab—to define truth and justice under the banner of “universal human rights”. Liberal democracy or global governance? At its deepest level, the struggle between liberal democracy and global governance is a struggle to define the human person and the purpose of human life. In broad terms, the ideological roots of liberal democracy in the West are found in the Judeo-Christian view of an unchanging human nature embedded in tradition, religion, and family. But the partisans of global governance come down on the side of a radically secularist, post-modern commitment to individual autonomy and the virtually unlimited malleability of human nature according to each person’s choice—essentially independent of traditional institutions and social relations. We in the West must decide between self-government, on the one hand, and Fonte’s “slow suicide of liberal democracy”, on the other. The radical opposition of these two alternatives goes deeper than garden-variety political differences—and thus will be harder to overcome. In the end, the struggle is really about the purpose—the telos— of politics. It is about opposing worldviews. The turning away from the Judeo-Christian worldview to the post-modern secularist worldview is occurring in the US, too, with political and social manifestations related to those in the EU. Still, it is not too late. Reality has begun to force itself upon the EU. The same goes for the US, although that might not be as apparent. Providentially, this could end up reinvigorating the Judeo-Christian tradition. What is needed in the West is a reformation, a return to humble respect for the truths and traditions at the root of Western culture, and thus to the indispensable foundations of self-government. In Europe, a reformed EU of sovereign nationstates could be a tremendous force for good. But no one can build justice, peace, and prosperity on the basis of a deception. Global governance is a lie, and it will eventually turn on those who have fallen under its spell. In the end, democratic sovereignty—based on a humble respect for truth and recognition of the limits of politics—is the only basis for realizing the promise of the European idea. Todd Huizinga is Director of International Outreach at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is also a co-founder of the Transatlantic Christian Council and a Research Fellow at the Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin College in Michigan. A US diplomat from 1992-2012, he served in Costa Rica and Ireland, and served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Luxembourg, Political Counselor at the US Mission to the EU in Brussels, Consul for Political and Economic Affairs at the US Consulates in Hamburg and Munich, and Consul for Public Affairs at the US Consulate in Monterrey, Mexico. This article is based on excerpts from his new book, The New Totalitarian Temptation: Global Governance and the Crisis of Democracy in Europe, published by Encounter Books. The European Conservative 7

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