A number of international speakers visited Los Angeles recently to speak out about how progressive political movements have threatened the freedom of the citizens of their respective nations.
In October, the American Freedom Alliance’s (AFA), a nonprofit, non-partisan organization aimed at defending and upholding traditional values and ideals, held a conference attended by a number of elected officials, primarily from Europe, along with many from Asia. The speakers highlighted issues their nations are facing, especially regarding communist and socialist movements, immigration, and other major concerns.
Speakers from the event included Daniel Hannan, Conservative member of the European Parliament; Dr. Thierry Baudet, leader of the Dutch Forum for Democracy (FvD) party in the Netherlands; Dominik Tarczynski, Polish member of Parliament from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party; British political activist and media personality Katie Hopkins; Hungarian lawyer and director of the Center for Fundamental Rights in Hungary, Dr. Miklos Szantho, amongst others.
The United Kingdom
Daniel Hannon, a British journalist who has served as a member of the European Parliament since 1999, was one of the founders of Vote Leave, the organization that campaigned for the UK to leave the EU in 2016. Hannon served on its board throughout the referendum.
“We are up against a political class that has never accepted the validity of the public vote. They’ve spent three years trying to undermine it in defiance of its past promises. Until that issue is resolved, we have no hope for return to civility and normality in our political discourse,” Hannan explained to The Epoch Times.
Regarding the proposed December snap vote, Hannan remained confident that the Conservative Party under Johnson would win. In the most recent poll Conservatives were ahead of Labor by 13 points.
Hannan expressed optimism towards the trade opportunities for Britain post-Brexit, after breaking away from the common standards set by Europe.
“I see one of the huge opportunities of Brexit is being a re-engagement of Britain in global trade as a voice for free trade and a champion for liberalization. I would like a situation between the US and UK, where there is complete reciprocity,” he said.
Hannan said he helped draw up a treaty for a post-Brexit trade deal between the United States and the UK. The treaty would essentially allow for regulators in both countries to recognize each other’s standards and end trade and regulatory barriers between the two nations.
“We had 11 think tanks drawing this up, including Heritage, AEI, and Cato. What we came up with was an actual treaty that could in theory be done the day after Brexit, providing mutual recognition.”
Hannon seemed optimistic that if the US and UK were to establish a post-Brexit free trade treaty, other nations like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore would follow suit, as they have compatible legal and economic systems.
Katie Hopkins is a British media personality, columnist, and former business woman, who has become known for her outspoken views on UK politics, social class, and immigration. A staunch Brexit supporter, Hopkins told The Epoch Times that it’s important for Britons to back Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his effort to get the UK out of the European Union.
“What I am trying to do is get people to back Boris. We have a situation in the UK where we have the Brexit Party led by [Nigel] Farage, who is incredibly helpful, but when it comes to it, we’re going to need everybody to back Boris if it comes to a general election, otherwise we split the vote,” she said.
Hopkins also spoke on the issue of free speech in Britain, which has over the decades developed harsh penalties for hate speech, including fines and jail time. She said that it was important to uphold that fundamental right.
“If you speak out, you lose your job. That’s the way of keeping people suppressed,” she said.
With Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) winning re-election in the lower house but narrowly losing its majority in the upper house in October’s elections, the conservative party’s leadership said it will continue to pursue its agenda of promoting reform of the judiciary and a strict immigration policy.
Polish Member of Parliament Dominik Tarczynski explained to The Epoch Times that the reforms his party is pushing isn’t for Poland alone but for all of Europe.
“It’s not about Poland itself, but to encourage others to fight for their identity and their countries. It’s very important to be aware that this is much more than politics,” he said.
Tarcynski stated that many left-of-center parties are led by former communists and descendants of communist party leaders.
“You still have sons and grandsons of communists in Poland. They don’t feel sorry for what their families have done. They are not responsible, but they are not condemning it. They are trying to protect and defend their actions from the past.”
PiS has established a hardline immigration policy and has rejected all quotas set by Brussels to accept migrants from the Middle East and North Africa. They have instead allowed 2 million migrant workers from neighboring and culturally similar Ukraine to work in Poland for 3-6 month periods to work.
“We promised that we would never agree to this quota system. We strongly said no. We never received anyone. We have zero illegal migration. If you want to come to Poland, you are very welcome. We are not North Korea. You can come, but you have to be there legally. You have to ask for permission,” he said.
Tarcynski said that the reason why his party has retained popularity and why Poland has rejected communism and retained its traditional values is that its people suffered under communist rule for so long, while other nations have taken their freedom for granted.
“We went through the Second World War, and then we went through 70 years of oppression and occupation from the Soviets. They owned us, basically. We know what it means to not be independent. When you suffer for so many years, you know how easy it is to lose it. Our scars, our past are not centuries ago. It’s recent history.”
Thierry Baudet, leader of the Dutch Forum for Democracy (FvD) party in the Netherlands, spoke with The Epoch Times about the many issues that his nation faces, including the migrant crisis, as well as his concern about the loss of the Dutch national identity.
He said that by starting the political movement in 2016, his aim was to create an “ecosystem” for conservative thought and to protect European civilization. The purpose was thus primarily cultural and only secondarily political.
Baudet shared his concern over mass immigration, the power of supranational entities, the disintegration of democratic institutions, radical climate change activism, and identity politics. He also lamented the extent to which his nation had forgotten about its own history. For all of these problems, Baudet identifies one root cause: “oikophobia,” the fear of one’s home and one’s own identity, after the Greek “oikos,” which means home.
“It’s the opposite of xenophobia. We are being denounced as xenophobes, but actually [those people] are oikophobes. They are afraid of themselves and of our sense of home. We [the FvD] were therefore founded as a movement of oikophilia, a love of home,” he said.
FvD topped the nationwide poll in the Dutch Senate elections this year and won 12 seats, tying with Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) for the largest party in the nation’s upper chamber. Since FvD had only joined the election process in 2017, this win brought the party international attention.
The FvD hopes that the Netherlands will follow suit and exit the EU like the UK, as they believe that the supranational union is beyond repair. Baudet said that the union has taken away the sovereignty of its member states and is heading towards a centralized federal state.
“I don’t think the European Union can be reformed into a [functioning] framework. I’ve studied the EU quite extensively and I’ve come to the modest conclusion that it’s impossible to reform. The whole thing is set up to drive towards a federal state. I also don’t believe the way the common market was set up is contusive to free trade,” he said.
Instead of maintaining EU membership, Baudet voiced his support for the Netherlands to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), along with other non-EU European nations, Norway, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, and Iceland.
Baudet also expressed concern about his nation’s casting away of Dutch cultural traditions, including mandating teaching of the Dutch language in many educational institutions, as well as stepping away from teaching children about the importance of Dutch history. Baudet believes that this needs to be reversed.
“We should start teaching the Dutch language again, invest in the arts, children should learn to sing songs about Dutch history. It’s really a cultural renewal we need across the board.”
Dr. Miklos Szantho, Hungarian lawyer and director of the Center for Fundamental Rights in Hungary, spoke to The Epoch Times about the policies being implemented by the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s conservative Fidesz party.
One policy in particular that Hungary is promoting under Orban is a state-sponsored policy of natalism, known as the Family Protection Action Plan, which uses economic incentives for native Hungarian couples to have children in order to increase their declining population as an alternative to immigration. These include social benefits, state grants, and subsidies for families.
“The whole Trans-Atlantic culture faces a demographic challenge. There is a liberal progressive approach to solve this problem: letting people in from alien cultures with totally different cultural codes and behavior to Europe. In their eyes, watering down national identity is not a problem, because they handle national identity as a thing of the past,” he said.
Szantho, whose organization supports the Orban government, described the government’s conservative approach to solving the issue of Europe’s demographic decline.
“The original conservative Christian approach is encouraging young people to get married, establish a family and to have children. There are several initiatives that have already been implemented. [These include] mortgage loans, tax exemptions and tax reductions for having more children.”
Szantho emphasized that most of the state subsidies for this program is connected to the recipients’ wages. After the fourth child, mothers will pay no income tax for life. Szantho said that it’s the policy of the government to promote a family-friendly environment.
“[The Government hopes to] create a family friendly environment to show people that having a family and having more children is good. It is not only to make laws towards the new family policy but to deepen the advantages of establishing big families,” he said.
Szantho said that these policies have had a positive impact on the Hungarian fertility rates, but they haven’t reached replacement levels yet.
“Eight years ago, the fertility rate was 1.2 percent. In 2018, it [rose] to 1.49 percent. So still far from [the necessary 2.1 percent], but at least it’s better.”
The fertility rate in 2019 rose to 1.5 percent.
Szantho also described his and the Orban government’s position on protecting Europe’s Christian identity, which was a staple of the Prime Minister’s platform that has kept him in power since 2010.
“It’s about God, homeland, family and work. What drives us conservative Hungarians to protect the Christian roots of our country is that we see that there is an erosion of those roots because of political correctness, multiculturalism and the misinterpreted sense of guilt of previous colonialist empires. It’s in the fundamental law in the Hungarian Constitution that it is the obligation of every state organ to protect the Christian identity.”
With the European political landscape changing rapidly, leaders and residents are waiting intently to see whether issues like Brexit and other movements will continue to have an effect on the future of the EU and surrounding nations.