It's time to ditch belief systems based on political make-believe
The Pope joins the European Union in a sad world of deluded fantasy, says Christopher Booker
What has a Papal Encyclical calling on the world to end its use of fossil fuels and to pray to God for the success of the global "climate summit" in December got in common with the Greek euro crisis, the ominous rift between the West and Russia, and the shambles Europe is making over the desperation of African and Syrian refugees to find safety this side of the Mediterranean? They are all different aspects of the two greatest acts of political make-believe of our time, so all-pervasive that it is hard for us to grasp just how much effect they are having on all our lives.
When future historians come to look back on our age, few things will puzzle them more than the extent to which our politics became so dominated and bedevilled by two belief-systems, each based on an obsessive attempt to force into being an immensely complicated political construct which defied economic, psychological and scientific reality.
One of these was the peculiar way in which Europe's politicians, with full support from the US, had set out to unite their continent under a form of supra-national government unlike anything the world had seen before. The other was the way those same politicians fell for the idea not just that human activities were disastrously changing Earth's climate, but that by taking the most drastic measures, they could somehow change it back again.
Although for quite a time these two belief systems seemed to carry all before them, each was essentially based on a fantasy view of the world; and it is in the nature of trying to act out a fantasy that it must eventually overreach itself, to the point where it collides unpleasantly with reality.
The essence of the "European" fantasy was not just that it could gradually weld all Europe together in "ever-closer union" by overriding and eliminating the kind of nationalism which had led to wars; but that it could continually expand its own "empire". We now see in all directions how that sense of national interest cannot be eliminated.
We see it in the desperation of the Greeks to escape from the trap created by forcing them, through corruption and dishonesty, into the euro. We see it in how the EU's reckless bid to absorb Ukraine into its empire aroused that sense of Russian nationalism which drove the Crimeans into voting to rejoin the country where they felt they belonged. We see it in the sense of national self-interest which makes it impossible for EU countries to agree on how to deal with that flood of refugees from across the sea.
The attempt to create a Europe at one with itself, living prosperously and happily under a new kind of unelected government, has led it to become such a sad, unhappy, divided place, economically in decline compared with the outside world, ruled by a strange form of government that it no longer trusts, respects or understands.
Similarly, the last desperate throw by the EU and the US to achieve a world agreement next December to "halt climate change" is not going to succeed, not just because the "science" on which it is based is so increasingly questionable, but because the emerging powers of the East, led by India and China, are simply not prepared to go along with it. If the West wishes to commit economic suicide, so be it. In their own national interest, they are not willing to follow.
In fact, what we are seeing here is a geopolitical shift of huge proportions. So lost is the West in its bubbles of self-deceiving fantasy that the hegemony it so long exercised over the rest of the world is passing to the world outside it, to India and China, even, in its own way, to Russia, still a nuclear power which can prevent us pushing too hard in our support for a bankrupt Ukrainian dictatorship, and which also still supplies Europe with a third of the gas it needs to continue functioning.
How forlorn in light of all this looks that would-be well-meaning 300-page document in which the Pope, under the spell of his chief scientific adviser, a zealous German climate activist called Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, calls for an end to use of the very fossil fuels which keep the Vatican's own lights on. In asking us to pray for that global climate treaty, Pope Francis solemnly trots out all those familiar plaints about "melting polar ice caps", "rising sea levels", unprecedented droughts, "extreme weather events" and the rest of that greenie litany which has no basis in honest science whatever.
The outside world is no longer listening to this claptrap. But it is not just the world outside the West which is beginning to call the shots.
Reality itself is now knocking loudly at the door.