Friday, July 09, 2021

Robert Schuman: A European Buddhism

Buddhism is centripetal, but Christianity is centrifugal 

(GK Chesterton)


Yet another interesting figure that pops up in relation to the life of De Gaulle is Robert Schuman.  Jackson's biography only mentions Schuman very briefly which is a shame because when you begin to understand what de Gaulle is all about he deserves far more prominence. He is also a great example of how an "orthodox" Christianity can be self-defeating.

It would quite easy to forget, especially with the modern EU's furthering of the globohomo agenda, that it was founded by men men with a deep Christian faith. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the political landscape of most of Western Europe was dominated by conservative--i.e. center right--Christian political parties. Adenauer, de Gaspari and even de Gaulle, for example, were all profound believers and the political climate of the time was strongly influenced Christian social theory.

Monnet was not Christian, but his supra-nationalist ideas "synched" closely with the opinion "mainstream" Christian politicians and senior public servants. One such politician was Robert Schuman and it was his political patronage which put the Monnet plan in action. Essentially he was the midwife of the EU.

By all accounts Schuman was a very pious man. As one politician said of him, "What can you do with such a man who prays all the time." Religious from an early age, devotional and a man committed  to seeking peace among the European peoples, he embodied what one considers the ideals of a holy "layman": Prayer, asceticism, regular mass, daily rosary, etc. were all parts of his life and at one point he considered being a priest. While being pursued by the Gestapo during the war, his most prized possession was his missal. He was seriously religious.

Schuman was also a Thomistic scholar and lawyer. His political position was strongly influenced by Papal documents and a political reading of St Thomas, among other authors. It was his Christianity which impelled him to bring about a lasting peace in Europe.  This, of course is a laudable aim. What he was trying to do is bring into being  a Christian political vision. But here is where it's starts to get interesting: de Gaulle was also profoundly religious, but not a "churchy" type of way. De Gaulle's faith was deep but he wasn't a wannabe monk, and his politics reflected his own Christianity. De Gaulle was a Christian nationalist, Schuman a Christian internationalist.

Schuman felt that many of Europe's problems were as a direct consequence of nationalism. Now, his studies of Thomism meant that Schuman could not get rid of national identity entirely, but he wanted to subordinate it to the notion of "Europeaness."  He felt that the best way to do this was by breaking down borders as much as possible; through economic integration, the free movement of goods and people and the management of the continent by supra-nationalist bodies governed by technocrats (no local favoritism) . These supranationalist bodies, run on majority rule (of the member states), would have binding powers on those who disagree. The aim was to break down the borders, both materially and cognitively.  But the essential idea is that national identity in any meaningful sense was an evil.  The solution to the evil of nationhood was the incorporation of the sense of self into a greater being.  This is Christian Buddhism 101, and the political application of Christian theology of kenosis.

De Gaulle's view was totally different.

He realised the need for a united Europe but the idea that France could be France when governed by a supranationalist Dutch, or German was insane to him. In order to preserve French identity France, like German, Italy, etc had to act independently and in a way which furthered their own interests.  From him, Europe was a collection of states, each with its own identity, but which shared a common culture.  If Europe was to unite, it should do so through co-operation and not incorporation, as this preserved the individual identities of the states. De Gaulle's conception of identity was rooted in a Christianity similar to that of Chesterton's and Charles Peguy (one of de Gaulle's formative influences) it emphasised identity and was anti-keanotic. Once again to quote Chesterton:

This is what makes Christendom at once so much more perplexing and so much more interesting than the Pagan empire; just as Amiens Cathedral is not better but more interesting than the Parthenon. If any one wants a modern proof of all this, let him consider the curious fact that, under Christianity, Europe (while remaining a unity) has broken up into individual nations. Patriotism is a perfect example of this deliberate balancing of one emphasis against another emphasis. The instinct of the Pagan empire would have said, "You shall all be Roman citizens, and grow alike; let the German grow less slow and reverent; the Frenchmen less experimental and swift." But the instinct of Christian Europe says, "Let the German remain slow and reverent, that the Frenchman may the more safely be swift and experimental. We will make an equipoise out of these excesses. The absurdity called Germany shall correct the insanity called France."
De Gaulle tried to maintain this tradition. What you begin to see when you contemplate the Christianity of de Gaulle and Schuman is that they were two different Christianities: One emphasised identity and one de-emphasised it, and the question is which was the truly Christian? My own understanding of Christianity--which delights in the particular-- would lead me to the conclusion that Schuman was the heretic.......but he said a lot of prayers and went to church a lot and that counts you see.

As the EU thunders against Orban for pushing back against it's LGBT agenda, one wonders what Schuman must be thinking now. As for the Catholic Church, it regards de Gaulle as a politician and has beatified Schuman.

And they wonder why the faith is dying.

As I say, we're in the midst of a heresy.


John Rockwell said...

Until recently I suspect the Christian influence helped to limit the extent of War compared to Asia. Asia and in particular China had Total War far more earlier than it has occurred in Europe.

Which fostered homogeneity and destruction of Nationhood. Asian Machiavellianism was far more ruthless.

In Europe that development was retarded or delayed.

Else Europe may have become like China far sooner.

Hoyos said...

Well that’s the trick, but before I say my piece I want to have a serious disclaimer, I don’t know anyone’s heart and I should not presume to judge another mans servant. What follows is speculation and maybe. There are gaps in my knowledge so if anyone knows please point them out,

First of all, high religious observance doesn’t necessarily mean closeness to God (Matthew 23), and plenty of men will do good works in God’s name and come up short (Mathew 7). I think it’s possible though that Schumann was a sincere Christian and honestly wrong; but it should have been a clue that he was seeking a unity without God. You avoid conflict by being the kind of man who pursues wisdom and doesn’t let pride overwhelm him (Proverbs 13:10). The only really reliable way to start to achieve any of that is through the fear of God (Proverbs 1:7).

Unless his vision of a united Europe started with “first of all let’s repent and believe in Christ”, then it was doomed. And don’t let that sound silly, Christian kings and Christian republics were not shy historically about direct appeals to holiness to better the nation.

Next, God Himself divided up a united humanity it seems (Gen. 11) and seems to treat nations directly and differently according to their merits and demerits (just all over the place in the Bible). Trying to bust up peoples and borders indiscriminately seems like a bad plan.

There is an impulse towards unity and peace, but any such impulse without God at the center seems vulnerable to far worse things. It seems possible that until God Himself brings unity, we are supposed to have particular loyalties towards our own nations and tribes. Before someone gets in a twist, this isn’t racial, even ancient Israel had codes governing who was in the congregation and how outsiders could get in (Deut 23). Your religion, who your family is, and your culture seems to be key here.

The Social Pathologist said...


Else Europe may have become like China far sooner.

Agree. I think the cultural milieu provided by Christianity limited the totalising tendencies of power. It's that that this tendency tends to start reversing with the onset of modernity and modern Christianity. What's fascinating about medieval christianity is the multiplicity of small states and political organisation.

I mean look at the constituent elements of modern Germany. All German but each different.

@ Hoyos

I think your qualifications are well founded.
I didn't want to go into a deep post about Schuman for a variety of reasons, but Schuman always envisaged a Christian Europe. There no biographies, as far as I'm aware, of him in English, so what I've been able to determine about him I have from various sources.

The thing about him was that he would be considered by many people today--including the trads--as profoundly orthodox. Schuman was almost a lay-monk.

Here's a link you may find interesting. He says all the "right" things.

I don't think that he was being dishonest in any way in his faith by advocating for a supranational Europe.

Christian kings and Christian republics were not shy historically about direct appeals to holiness to better the nation.

Schuman saw the conflict between the European peoples as being a result of their individual identities and interests. There are two ways to circumvent this:

The traditional, de Gaulle method, emphasised the christian perfection of the individual nations, so that there was respect and co-operation between states.

The second, Schuman method, was the elimination of states so there could be no individual interests, only common ones. Germany can't go to war with France if we got rid of "Germany" and "France".

De Gaulle wanted France AND GERMANY to be great Christian nations, Schuman wanted a effectively homogenised Christian Europe. And he took this position from his Christian fatith.

The question that at stake here is what is Christianity's relationship between personality and identity. Modern Christianity would seem to want to seek its elimination in the pursuit of some other good, traditional Christianity its preservation. The other issues is does "peace" have the right to override identity.

I would think not. As you say:

Next, God Himself divided up a united humanity it seems (Gen. 11) and seems to treat nations directly and differently according to their merits and demerits (just all over the place in the Bible). Trying to bust up peoples and borders indiscriminately seems like a bad plan.

There's a subtle evil that has crept into the modern church.

John Rockwell said...

@Social Pathologist

There used to be plenty more types of Europoid people in China. But this is what happened to them:

"As the non-Chinese tribes continued fleeing Yecheng, Shi Min realized that he would not be able to use the Hu (胡 Barbarians), so he issued an order to the ethnic Chinese according to which each civil servant who killed one Hu (胡) and brought his head to him would be promoted in rank by three degrees, and a military officer would be transferred to the service at his Supreme Command. Shi Min himself led Chinese in killing the Hu (胡) people without regard for sex or age; during the day tens of thousands of heads were severed. In total over 200 thousand people were killed; their bodies were dumped outside the city. Troop commanders in various parts of the state received a rescript from Shi Min to kill the Hus (胡); as a result half of the people with high noses and bushy beards were killed.[5] Among the 200,000 people who died in the massacre many were in fact ethnic Chinese who had high big noses, deep-set eyes and thick full beards, which in combination were considered to be the indicators of non-Hanness."

Compared to the Middle East and Europe which would typically spare women and children(selling them into slavery) or even in the Bible (Deuteronomy 20;21:10-14)
Complete Genocide was more common in Asia.

There was even a punishment for treason that resulted in the whole family regardless of age and sex. And all the friends and associates of the person accused of treason to be killed.

Failure to obey orders would also result in the soldier's entire family to be butchered.

Therefore the homogenization is created and maintained through terror.

Christianity I think prevented such demonic behavior. And compared to that the Old Testament is far more mild by comparision.

The Social Pathologist said...


I haven't done a deep study of Monnet because my main focus has been on de Gaulle, but the in the few articles that I have read about him, all of the authors have been amazed at his ability to access the worlds most important people given that his qualification was that of a cognac salesman. It's all very odd.

Is it true that Monnet ghost-wrote some of Schuman’s speeches?

Yes. Schuman acknowledges it himself. Though researchers think that Schuman was deprecating himself. The famous speech which started the European Coal and Steel community was ghostwritten by Monnet and another fellow. Still it needs to be understood that Schuman and Monnet were on the same page when it came to policy ideals. There a French paper out there which comments on their odd relationship. Schuman being a lay monk and Monet a "man of the world".