Carey urges EC unity in face of nationalism

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The Independent Online
THE ARCHBISHOP of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, made one of his most politically outspoken speeches yesterday when he denounced nationalism as offering 'only endless suffering and conflict', attacked liberal consumerism and praised centralised EC policies.

He stopped just short of explicitly demanding a British commitment to the Social Chapter, but he specifically praised European regulations on the environment. He told the European Parliament that 'it is surely right to seek to negotiate an agreed framework of shared standards, the observance of which by one member will not . . . involve a competitive disadvantage as against the others.

'Through the European dimension . . . we can do more to realise our shared values than we could do as competing nation-states alone.'

He distinguished between a sense of national identity, which he said gave 'for most people, an important and proper part of how they understand themselves and their place in the world', and nationalism.

But 'the logic of nationalism leads to the repression and removal of those who do not share the national identity and to wars . . . Nationalism offers only endless suffering and conflict in Ireland, Israel and Palestine, the former Yugoslavia and throughout the world'.

Dr Carey quoted the president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel's warning against a 'dictatorship of consumption, production, advertising, commerce, consumer culture'. The emptiness of the consumer society was a recruiting ground, he said, 'for the false Gods of fundamentalist religion, nationalism and racism'.

This, he said, proved that Jacques Delors, president of the EC Commission, was right to say that the new Europe needed a set of shared spiritual values if it was to flourish.

Dr Carey's criticism of the materialism of the West largely follows the analysis of the Pope. There is profound disappointment in many religious circles that the overthrow of communism has left the Church grappling against the possibly more dangerous enemies of contented secularism, in a Europe where the only role of religion appears to be to fuel vicious wars on the periphery.

Dr Carey did not refer directly to the religious dimension of the fighting in Bosnia. Instead, he said that 'Bosnia holds up a mirror to the dark side of Europe's history. It was not so many generations ago that Protestants and Catholics were torturing, burning and murdering each other throughout much of this continent.

'There were times when all hope for love, goodness and peace seemed lost, but the suffering of the past gave way to the resurrection of civilised society. The new Europe represents, above all, the triumph of peace, forgiveness, compromise, co-operation, toleration and human rights over the horrors of nationalism, xenophobia and tribalised religion.

'Being European is precious because it is something additional and inclusive. I do not want to be a European instead of any of my other identities but as an extra dimension which brings extra blessings. A jealous Europeanism which seeks to supplant other levels of identity will fail and will deserve to fail.'