The unsung pro-family heroes of Eastern Europe
I wish I had a dollar for every time some two-bit politician blathers about “family values.” Name a politician who is not for family values. Name one who is for terrorism or drug abuse. You get the picture. In today’s “democracy”, such trash talk is stock-in-trade for pandering to a pathetic, pervasive bread-and-circuses mentality.
But then there are those politicians and bureaucrats who are serious when discussion comes round to promoting society’s basic social unit, the beleaguered nuclear family. Some of them operate -- under the media radar -- in Eastern Europe.
How’s that? For several years, the ministries charged with facilitating family life in four European countries have been cooperating. In fact, their meeting last year was a historically significant event, though practically devoid of coverage in global media. But don’t be fooled -- the stunning lack of publicity does not diminish its importance.
That 2021 meeting, in Warsaw, was consequential. Representatives of the Visegrad Group of countries -- Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic -- assembled for the express purpose of launching a multi-national “pro-family coalition.” To media-addled Americans, that might sound like some vast right-wing conspiracy. But the Warsaw confab was as “mainstream” as it gets.
The gathering, hosted by the Polish Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy, was opened by Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who didn’t mince words:
For us, family is the foundation… Society without families would be like civilisation without culture or mathematics without numbers.
The family is also promotion of values. In families, the fundamental mechanism of empathy and desire for love are born… Family is, alongside the state, the greatest creation of humanity. [Thus] promoting the lives of families, support for families with many children, is an extremely important activity for every state… we [also] want to promote the family within the framework of the European Union; this is for us one of the fundamental aims of social policy in the EU.
When these Eastern European officials speak of family, they’re talking about the two-parent mother, father and children family, today widely known as the “traditional” family. In Warsaw the “traditional” family was not trivialised in a swamp of moral relativism as one among many styles, models or editions that rolls off an assembly line. Rather, they consider the two-parent family as an ideal standard to which we should aspire. It seems there was no wrangling over any “inclusive” PC definition of family. That can of worms was never opened.
This is all well and good. Nonetheless, it is a sad commentary that such a conference is even necessary in the first place. However, it signals an urgent recognition of the crisis facing families. Yes, even in “right-wing” Eastern Europe, families are under tremendous pressure, ensnared in the talons of a malevolent modernism replete with spiraling costs of living, addictive consumerism, obsessive careerism, and woke ideology. Are children a priority?
A look at the fertility rates in these countries suggests not. Prior to the influx of Ukrainian refugees, Statistics Poland (GUS) projected that Poland’s population would contract by over 10 percent (from 38 to 34 million) by 2050. The country’s current fertility rate is 1.44, over 30% below the replacement-level 2.1. The picture is no less troubling in the neighbouring Visegrad countries. Slovakia and Hungary are just under 1.6 and the Czech Republic has 1.7. However, these numbers are slightly better than ten years ago.
This is not good for families. Ageing societies lose their dynamism. People leave. Old-age pensions are threatened. The quick fix is massive deficit spending and open-borders immigration. Yet both are destructive in their way, fueling inflation and destroying social cohesion. Rising social conflict in such systems can lead to police states where every “citizen” must choose their words as carefully as a Philadelphia lawyer. Look no further than America’s “cancel culture”.
But take heart! So often there are multilateral efforts to facilitate trade and beef up militaries. But here we see countries collaborating on something far more important: preserving the family.
Rather than embrace the failed multiculturalism of Western Europe (confirmed in 2010 when German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, "This [multicultural] approach has failed, utterly failed"), the Visegrad countries are trying to rejuvenate their existing societies instead of importing new ones. Bravo!
Their approach is catching on. Poland is by far the largest of the Visegrad Group, and as a direct result of the 2021 Warsaw meeting, Prime Minister Morawiecki unveiled a family benefit known as a “family child care capital” (Rodzinny Kapitał Opiekuńczy):
… 12,000 zlotys per child (about 2,600 euros) to be paid to families from the second child onwards, i.e. 1,000 zlotys per month (220 euros) for one year, or 500 zlotys per month (110 euros) for two years... This benefit … will be independent of parents’ income and will come in addition to the existing “500+” programme.
Finally, families with a second or subsequent child under 36 months of age at the time the benefit comes into effect will also be entitled to receive it until the child reaches the age of three. This will concern approximately 110,000 additional children.
Kudos to Prime Minister Morawiecki and his pro-family cohorts! It is wonderful to see four neighbouring countries lay aside differences and collaborate on an unabashed pro-family agenda. While multinational efforts usually produce high-sounding rhetoric, the Visegrad Group folks get down to business. Their cooperation should serve as a model for the world.
While it is too early to assess the effectiveness of their efforts, one thing is clear: there is an urgent consensus that bold action is needed, and such action is underway. Soon enough more governments will come to their senses and realise that going to bat for families is a more urgent priority than wars-for-profit or trying to play God with the climate. We can only hope.
Get the Free Mercator Newsletter
Get the news you may not get anywhere else, delivered right to your inbox.
Your info is safe with us, we will never share or sell you personal data.
Have your say!
Join Mercator and post your comments.